GFWC IL Pekin Woman’s Club History

In 1895, the Pekin Woman’s Club sent delegates to the State convention.

In the next few years, the club formed a “City Improvement” committee.  They oversaw work done at the cemetery, and installed an ornamental hitching post in the cemetery at a cost of $10.00.

In 1899, the club had a membership of 63.  Books and pictures were donated to the public schools.  They also placed 50 ivy plants around churches and schools, and bulbs and roses to be used to beautify the school yards and cemetery.

Mrs D. D. Velde was sent as a delegate to the National Convention at Los Angeles.  She and Mrs. Schenck, state delegate, gave reports.  In 1902, Mrs George Steinmetz invited the ladies to stay for refreshments.  This was the first mention of Tea following a meeting.

In 1901, Mrs. W.E. Schenk was elected 16th District President.

In 1903, the club gave the Pekin Public Library a clock.  Mrs. F.M. Smith and Mrs. Statham were chosen to find “The handsomest clock” they could find for the Library.

In 1905, the club donated to the Woman’s Relief Corps for the erection of a Soldiers Monument.  In 1905, the Education Committee also reported there was enough money raised to equip a Domestic Science room in the High School, and Miss Lena Cutleer had volunteered to teach the class two hours after school each week.

In 1907, Mrs. George Steinmetz was elected 16th District President.

During the next few years: the club donated baskets for waste at Mineral Springs Park and at the school buildings,  A $65.00 Victrola had been purchased for the Pekin High School, gave furniture for the hospital room furnished by the club, later replenished bed linen for the hospital room, gave to the YMCA, they decorated the walls and ceiling of the auditorium of the Tazewell Club house at a cost of $175.00 along with other projects.

The club adopted a French war orphan in 1918, and in 1921 Mrs Elliff reported of the happy Christmas given to the little orphan girl that the club had adopted.

One of the major projects under-taken by the club during World War I was the production of: "The District School" under the presidency of Mrs. John Shade.  This netted a sum of over $400, which was donated to the Red Cross.  Also at this time was organized the Tazewell County Federation of Woman's Clubs.

In 1920, Mrs. George Steinmetz was again elected 16th District President/

In 1922, four gymnasium classes for girls were organized at the Mission with Pekin Woman’s Club paying $4.00 a week to a teacher.  Thirty girls and women were in this class.  The club raised $963.82 for the Salvation Army during this year.

In 1923, Mrs Fleugel offered the use of the Empire Theatre for a children’s matinee during the holidays.  One-thousand children paid for admission fee of 2 potatoes.  Twelve bushels were received.  These were given to the Salvation Army and the Pekin Hospital.  During 1923, the club joined the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.

March 1933, Mrs. G.J. Rickard was elected 16th District President.  Correspondence was read thanking the club for furnishing clothing for girls who needed it in order to attend High School.

Tickets, for the May Breakfast being held at the Country Club, cost 85 cents.

The next few years coats were collected to give to needy children, Scholarships for Indian Children, Christmas stockings distributed to the Salvation Army, clothing given for needy High School and Junior High School students, fruits and jellies given to the Pekin Public Hospital.

In 1940 Pekin Woman’s Club celebrated the Golden Jubilee of Federated Woman’s clubs at the Jefferson Hotel and Pioneer medals were presented to the four pioneer women of the club.  The Honorable Everett M. Dirksen was the speaker at the November meeting.  Following a plea from the Red Cross, garments were completed and donated to the Red Cross.  Several scholarships were given to students to attend summer camps.

In 1944, it was decided that a new book be placed in the Pekin Library in memory of each deceased member.

During the next few years, a bedside table was given to the Pekin Public Hospital, proceeds from the Benefit Card Party were given to music Scholarships, Trail Rangers, the Veteran’s Hospital Chapel at Danville, IL and annual campership to the YWCA.

A gift of $1,000 was given to the Pekin Hospital Building Fund in 1951.  A piano, was donated to Peoria State Hospital at Bartonville by member, Mrs. J.B. Morehouse.

By 1950, membership has grown to about 200 and Mrs. Harry Apfel was president.  Bimonthly programs were organize around four topics:  The American Home; Art, Drama, Literature and Music; Civics; and Science and Education.  

In 1953, regular meetings were held in the First Methodist Church.  Teas were served by ladies of the church for a fee of $15.00 per meeting.

The next few years several donations were made: money for cleaning up at Lakeside Cemetery for Memorial Day, YWCA building fund, money given to Pekin Public Hospital Home Care Plan, $200.00 given to the Hospital Development Fund from the proceeds of the Holiday Caravan project, $100 was given to Holiday Hills School for Handicapped Children, a hot water tank and a “Kitchen shower” was given to the Boy’s Club to meet the needs of impending cooking classes, etc.

In 1965, a President’s pin was presented to the President and the pin well be presented to each newly elected president in the future.  Thee antique Show proceeds were distributed to: Pekin Memorial Hospital (furnish room) $1000, Salvation Army Day Care Center 4500, 1964 and ’65 Conservation Scholarships $80 and 1964 and ’65 Music Scholarships $60.

1980-1982, Dorothy Clevenger was elected District President, 1982-1984 and 1988-1990, Fran Zobel was elected District 16 President, and 1986-1988, Viva Harris was elected District 16 President.

At each club meeting, a mini Bazaar fund-raiser was held.  Members could purchase jewelry and other items for personal use or for gifts.

In the following years some of the projects were: “Great Decisions” discussion group, orientation teas for new members, planting of 750 seedlings at high school, Art/Music Scholarships, Newsletter was started, membership pins presented to new members, “Meet the Candidates” night, sponsored style show and luncheon, 50 year members were recognized, etc. reporting was stressed, with copies going to district 16 and to GFWC Illinois.

Dues of $15.00 was paid beginning in 1986 and the club membership was 267.  Projects were: showers for Veterans, luncheon and mini-Bazaar, Great Decisions, etc.

A balloon blast was held in 1990 releasing 100 balloons in honor of GFWC 100 years.  During the 1990’s the club gave HOBY scholarships, sent students to Federated Art School, and gave Pekin Woman’s Scholarships.  The club celebrated 100 years in 1992.  Dorothy Munge served as District President, 1996-1998, and Mary Ann Milam served as District Treasurer.  Vera Simoncini served as District Treasurer during the 1998-99 club year.

Pekin Woman’s Club sponsored 4 book reviews each year at the Pekin Library.  The events were open to the public and refreshments were served.

Each year, a tree was donated to the Pekin Park District and the members participated in the annual planting of the tree.  

During the years from 1999 to 2001, the club members held “Gibson Girls Teas” at the historic Mineral Springs Park pavilion. Guests were invited and most of those attending wore the attire of the Gibson-Girl years.  The clothing added glamour to the event.

In 2002, the tea was changed to a Patriotic Tea and the event was celebrated in Red, white and Blue and was held at the Miller Center.

The club members held Christmas Bazaars (previously called White Elephant Sales) annually at a December luncheon as a means to raise funds for the numerous donations given to those in need nationwide and in the community and to provide scholarships for students.   

Club member Christal Dagit was pursuing the need for a museum in Tazewell County, and in 2003, the Woman’s club voted to make the establishment of a county museum their Community Improvement project directed by Dagit. During that year, a small museum opened at 1400 Broadway.  During November of that year, the club helped with a fund-raiser dinner with astronaut Scott Altman as the guest of honor.  In 2004, GFWC Woman’s club with Shell Oil donated a $60.00 grant to be used by the museum for printing brochures and the “grand opening” was held that summer. By 2006, the members were serving as greeters at the museum and in 2007, they expanded their part as docents when the museum opened at the second location in the sunset plaza.

During the years, many club members have been active, serving as officers and Chairmen at the District and State levels of the GFWC Illinois Federation of Woman’s Clubs.  By 2007, membership in the organization declined to 74 due to changes in all volunteer organizations.  The Pekin Woman’s Club has had the welfare and betterment of its community as its guiding force and will continue to do so in the years to come.

The object of the Club shall be mutual sympathy and counsel among its members and united action in all movements for the civic betterment of the community.

Through the 115 years of its existence, Pekin Woman’s Club has had the welfare and betterment of its community as its guiding force.