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Fayette County Leader

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December 3, 1942





This week I publish a history of the Fayette Shakespeare Club recently prepared by Mrs. C. R. Carpenter for a club program.


Shakespeare Club History


One bright afternoon in the fall of 1906 three Fayette ladies, Mrs. J. H. Boyce, Mrs. A. E. Bennett and Mrs. Charles D. Neff, were taking a walk thro' Robertson's Woods. The trees were gorgeous in their autumn coloring and as they were voicing their admiration of the beauties of nature one of the three gave a quotation on Nature, I think from Bryant's thanatopsia which you will remember from your early school days begins with these lines: "to him who in the love of Nature holds communion with her visible forms she speaks a various language."


Then another gave a familiar quotation from Shakespeare. then came a discussion on literature and poetry especially. They agreed that it was too bad that those of use who were busy in our homes neglected the reading and the study of the many literary gems. So they then and there made the plan of devoting some time to the study of Shakespeare and would meet one afternoon in two weeks for reading and discussion. Thus our Shakespeare Club came into being.


These three ladies enjoyed it so much that first winter that at its close they decided that each one would invite a lady to join the circle. so Mrs. W. A. Shanklin, Mrs. J. D. Parker and Mrs. C. R. Carpenter were added to the number and we took the name "The Shakespeare Club" which we have always retained. These last years though it has been something of a misnomer for we have studied and made our programs on a great variety of subjects. However, our study thro' the years has been largely literature-mostly modern. We have occasionally turned to drama and the study of a Shakespearian play and we older members at least have a bit of sentiment in connection with the name.


These six ladies carried on the club work for three years when in 1909 Dr. Shanklin resigned as president of U.I.U. and we were forced to lose a very valuable member in Mrs. Shanklin. However, we added to our number Mrs. J. E. Dorman and Mrs. Cooper, the wife of the new president.


In a very strange, mysterious way our first secretary's book was lost so the record for those earlier years is a blank. When I was asked to write this little history of the club I felt very insecure for all we have of those years is what is written on the tablets of memory of Mrs. Parker, Mrs. Dorman and myself. But some of the memories of those years are written too deeply to ever be erased.


As I look back over the years I think perhaps we stressed the social side a bit. There were but twelve or fourteen when we included the husbands so it was quite an easy task to entertain in our homes.


We have had many very enjoyable parties thro' the years, but I thought perhaps you would be interested in hearing of some of the club parties of these early years. They are different as you will see and perhaps would not prove such a success these days. The first one given by "The Merry Wives of Windsor" was given in my home in 1907. Quite an elaborate turkey dinner with many frills and two young college men, Joseph Neff and Beecher Beale, served for us. 


Some other parties were: The "fagot" party at the Stevenson home;

The "kid" party at the Dorman home;

The "advertisement party", where we dressed to represent well known advertisements.


This may sound rather facetious for a dignified literary club but we did work and all work and no play you will remember had a very bad effect on poor little Jack's intellect.


Mrs. Parker says that we studied Shakespeare exclusively for seven years. I have here the first program after changing our course of study. It is on early Roman history and if you don't think we worked please look it over. There were but seven of us and each one appears on the program five or six times during the year. But what you get out of a club or any organization for that matter is what you put into it, and I am sure we all derived some benefit from that year's study.


After being "wined and dined" by the club for several years the husbands decided to give us a return party in 1911. The invitations were sent out by "The Gentlemen of Verona" to "The Merry Wives of Windsor." If I remember correctly it was held at the Bennett home-a grand dinner supervised by the "gentlemen" but aided by a very competent female cook hired for the occasion.


Needless to say the Merry Wives were overwhelmed with the grandness of the occasion.


Here I should mention the profit and pleasure we derived in our study of Shakespeare by the helpfulness of Dr. Cooper. He was an especially fine English student and after we had finished the study of a play he would give us his interpretation of it, bringing out points many times that we had overlooked in our study.


Our study of Roman history was 1913-14 and in 1915-16 our study was Japan. That year's study is very vivid in my memory. We enjoyed the study of that picturesque country, lauded the Japanese for their industry and ambition, little thinking that the time would come when we would despise them for their treachery and look upon them as our bitter enemies.


About this time we had one year's study of drama, alternating one of Shakespeare's plays with a modern play, which we found most interesting. Two or three walking 'walking rehearsals' were given in connection with the modern drama.


I am not sure as to the date but I think it was 1918 that we enlarged our club to twelve members. Mrs. Bennett had moved to Des Moines but was again a member in later years. Mrs. E. B. Scobey, Mrs. O. W. Stevenson, Mrs. W. N. Clothier, Mrs. Charles Hoyt, Mrs. f. O. Brown, and Mrs. T. I. Bachus were added to our number.


In the fall of 1921 we enlarged our membership to 18 which we have continued to the present time. that year also we joined the State Federation.


On the programs of the early 20's appear the names of Mrs. Claxton, Mrs. Fox, Mrs. Deming, Mrs. Maude Finchc, Mrs. Eva Barrett, and Miss Harriet McLean. Many others I might mention who belonged to the club not for so long a period but who were always ready and willing to do whatever was assigned them. 


In the fall of 1922 we with the Twentieth Century Club entertained the District club convention.


During the 20's we devoted one year's study to Travel, one to the world's condition and problems after the close of the First World War. One very delightful year I remember was the one on "Modern Drama and Standard Opera."


Outstanding in my mind are the walking rehersal of Ibsen's "Dolls' House" and "An Afternoon with Grieg", a guest day party at the Stevenson home. The music from the "Peer Gynt Suite" was given by Mrs. Neff and Mrs. Parker, piano, Miss Farquhar, Violin, Miss Griesel, soloist, and Mrs. Dorman with a fine description of Norway and Greig's birthplace. a very lovely program.


For the past twelve years or more we have studied modern literature and our programs have been mostly book reviews. We have tried each year to put in one play. the years since Mrs. Collett has been a member this program has been assigned to her and we have enjoyed them very much. "On Borrowed time," "Able's Irish Rose" and "Life With Father" deserve especial mention.


One year in the 30's Mrs. Edna Lee gave us and our guests at Mrs. Dorman's a very delightful afternoon as she read for us "Of Thee I Sing."


I will not go into further detail of these later years as familiar to most of you as it is to me. Books and more books but we all enjoy it tho' sometimes we think them a bit too modern-but we must keep up with the procession.


I think that the fact that our club has always been so informal is one reason why we have enjoyed it so much. Socially we have had many happy times. Once each year a dinner to which our husbands are our guests and a luncheon for the members the first meeting of the year.


I do not know how many members we have had during these many years. Now they are widely scattered, some on the Atlantic coast and the far East, others in California, and the West coast. Many, wherever they may be, still show an interest in the club. Quite a number have gone to that "far country from which no traveler returns." The only one of the original number now deceased is Mrs. Boyce.


I have enjoyed giving you what I can remember of the years of which we have no record and perhaps at the end of the next thirty-six years a more able pen than mine may record the activities of the club years which we trust they too will have enjoyed GERTRUDE CARPENTER.


In 1938 I was furnished this list of members of the Shakespeare club "since its organization," thought to be arranged in about the order of their admission. If any one notes any errors or omissions, please let me know, to correct for permanent publication.


I venture to say that some woman fifty or one hundred, or more years from now will be interested to see one of her ancestor's names in this list. (O.W.S.)

Mrs. Henry Boyce 

Mrs. A. E. Bennett 

Mrs. C. D. Neff 

Mrs. W. A. Shanklin 

Mrs. J. D. Parker 

Mrs. C. R. Carpenter 

Mrs. J. E. Dorman 

Mrs. R. W. Cooper 

Mrs. O. W. Stevenson 

Mrs. E. B. Scobey 

Mrs. F. E. Finch 

Mrs. W. N. Clothier 

Mrs. F. O. Brown 

Mrs. F. Q. Brown 

Mrs. T. I. Bachus 

Mrs. C. H. Hoty 

Miss Lora Wharton 

Miss Harriet McLean 

Mrs. H. N. Hoyt 

Mrs. F. R. Winegar

Mrs. Grace Finch 

Mrs. L. W. Sampson 

Mrs. F. B. Claxton 

Mrs. W. L. Alexander 

Mrs. L. C. Rawson 

Mrs. Ida Tidgwell 

Mrs. C. M. Holmes 

Mrs. R. M. Deming 

Mrs. J. W. Dickman 

Mrs. J. P. Van Horn 

Mrs. Will Kirwin 

Mrs. C. B. Swaney 

Mrs. Emma Clothier 

Mrs. Ray Anderson 

Miss Eleanor Garrison 

Mrs. Fred R. Lyford 

Mrs. Vera Payne Miehe 

Mrs. B. W. Lodwick 

Mrs. A. J. FOX 

Miss Cora Beach 

Mrs. J. F. Grim 

Mrs. C. S. Parker 

Mrs. R. A. Swartz 

Mrs. J. V. Mullin 

Mrs. Cora Thomas 

Mrs. Dorothy Goebel 

Mrs. E. H. Cates 

Mrs. Ruth McChesney 

Mrs. Margaret Collett 

Mrs. R. L. Learn 

Mrs. Loren Dillon 

Mrs. Paul Davis 


Mrs. Paul McElroy 

Mrs. M. W. Perry 

Mrs. L. J. Lyons 

Mrs. D. C. Eyeson 

Mrs. V. T. Smith 

Mrs. Paul Potter 

Mrs. M. J. Hartman (Jr.) 

Mrs. L. A. Carlson 

Mrs. Elizabeth Coffman 

Mrs. K. R. Schliepsiek

I wish every local club that has not yet done so, would furnish me with a club history written by some member, or the information for my files from which I may write it some time.


Thanks to Mrs. Emma Reed Doughty, Mrs. Nora Graf, Mrs. Helen Knos, Mrs. Ione Potter and Mrs. Lelah Loban for some valuable data already received about the Twentieth Century, the Kil Kare and the Rural Improvement clubs.



~ transcribed and contributed by Crystal A. Bingham <>

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