Stephen F. Austin State University

History of Women's Clubs in Cherokee County Begins with the Bachelor Girls in 1902 (May 2013)

History of Women's Clubs in Cherokee County Begins with the Bachelor Girls in 1902 (May 2013)

D burkett headshotHistory of Women's Clubs in Cherokee County Begins with the Bachelor Girls in 1902
By Deborah Burkett

Women in Cherokee County have long been getting together for literary purposes. The first club on record was the "Bachelor Girl's Library Club" established in Rusk (the county seat) on October 4, 1902.

Formed by 15 young single women with fewer than 50 books, this library club would later donate to the City of Rusk a volume of books that greatly contributed to an inventory in excess of 23,000 books. The Book Club, originally housed in downtown Rusk at the Acme Hotel, is also believed to be the first public library established in Cherokee County.

Bachelor Girls Library ClubIn 1904 the club changed its name to "The Maids and Matrons Library Club" and rescinded its rule prohibiting married members in order that several of its original founders who had since married could continue in the organization. In 1916 the name of the club was changed once more to the "Library Study Club." In 1936 the members formed a club for younger women called "The Thalian Study Club." The size of the library's holdings continued to grow so that by 1966 the club had for some years required the services of a paid librarian. That year the club donated all of its books and furnishings to the City of Rusk. In 1969 they became part of the permanent collection at the newly constructed Singletary Memorial Library building. The Library Study Club and its offspring the Thalian Club meet monthly and continued to support the Rusk Community Library.

In the city of Jacksonville women were also involved in club work; their first club of record was organized April 4, 1904, named appropriately the Twentieth Century Club. It met for forty years before disbanding. Later in that same year (1904) the Shakespeare Club, a literary organization began meeting and continued until 1942.

Two other literary clubs in Jacksonville were: the Wednesday Study Club first organized as San Souci Club in early 1923 and second the Utile Dulce Club organized in 1928. This year the Jacksonville Wednesday Study Club (a Texas Federation Women's Club) is celebrating 90 years, led by President Mary Sue Bruno.

Past Jacksonville Wednesday Study Club members and notable projects include: Minnie Lattimore Childs, as President of the Federated Club, appointed a committee to look into a Jacksonville public library and was elected Chair of the Board of Directors. She spear headed a building for the library, along with Mrs. George Singleton, Mrs. H.H. Parker and others. Government W.P.A. workers provided the labor.

Cherokee County is stronger because of club women who have banded together; established libraries and made a positive impact on all its citizens. According to Mary Sue Bruno, "Whether a long time member of the Jacksonville Study Club or a newbie, we all look forward to the future…to staying committed to the mission outlined by the General Federation of Women's Clubs, all the while doing what we can to make Cherokee County a better place. As we celebrate this momentous anniversary, it's fitting we chosen the following slogan: 90 Years of Service and Still Reaching for the Stars!"