Farm women say farewell at group’s final meeting

Twenty-six members of Ohio Federation of Farm Women’s Clubs gathered Oct. 16 at Camden Falls for the centennial meeting and finale for the organization. The women came from Seneca, Sandusky, Erie, Allen and Huron counties.

President Jean Schumm, of Tiffin, opened the meeting to thank all for coming. Margaret Nugent of Kum Join Us Club gave welcoming remarks, followed by a devotion from Marilyn Hoover, “Look for the Best” and “Wings of Prayer.” Linda Moyer, of Fremont, led the Pledge of Allegiance.

During roll call, Secretary-Treasurer Carol Lynch of Shiloh Club asked each member to explain how she became involved in farm women’s club. Lynch then gave the secretary-treasurer’s report.

There was some discussion about the fate of the club’s records. The officers are to investigate possible places to archive them. The members decided to donate the day’s collection as well as any remaining funds to Ronald McDonald House of Northwest Ohio, which has been the club’s continuing state project for 26 years. During that time OFFW Clubs have donated $7,644 (not including the Oct. 16 collection), hygiene products and many gallons of pop can tabs.

Marjorie Wagner, of Fremont, offered a blessing before lunch.

The Federation of Farm Women’s Club began as a result of a state Grange meeting in 1911. Farm wives wanted to get together during the daytime with other farm women to discuss homemaking problems and have social contact with neighbors. This was before the Farm Bureau movement began.

An organizational meeting took place in November 1911. The first annual meeting was Sept. 5, 1913, on the Ohio State Fairgrounds. The original constitution adopted is nearly the same as today’s. Annual dues were 5 cents; in 1980, dues increased to 50 cents. In 1925, there were 145 clubs from 38 counties with total membership of 3,124 women.

After lunch, the women shared many memories of bringing small children to club meetings, doing projects and taking trips. A member since 1969, Eileen Gabel remembered the farm women were instrumental in getting crossbucks installed at rail crossings in Ohio and doing other projects to improve their communities. The annual meetings took place in different towns each year.

“When I first joined, 300 to 500 people would come to this (annual meeting),” Gabel said, “but it has dwindled down.”

“It’s sad because they used to take busloads to the annual meeting. … Now, we’re down to less than 30,” Lynch added.

Carmie Hartenstein conducted a memorial service for those who died this year: Evelyn Weller, Dorothy Bogart and Doris Swander from Seneca County; and Mildred Kircher and Olive Lay of Van Wert County.

Schumm recognized past presidents at the final meeting: Lois Zeigler, Bellevue; Lelia Funk, Willard; Catherine Hunker, Margaret Schleter, Eileen Gabel and Carol Lynch, all of Tiffin; Pat Gross, Elida; Roma Wallace, Burgoon; Marjorie Wagner and Linda Moyer, Fremont. Ruth Souder and Velma Stacy, both of Seneca County, were unable to attend.