Women's Clubs in Early Texas City


The Texas City Civic Club began on April 4, 1914, when 28 women met in the Knights of Pythias hall with the aim of starting a club to beautify and improve the city (Texas City women's Civic club, 1914). Some of the first projects the club undertook were a city clean-up campaign, a petition to prevent area residents from allowing their livestock to roam freely about the town, and the provision of a public bathing pier and bath houses on the Texas City Dike. The club made dressings for the Red Cross during WWI, and from their second year had a municipal Christmas tree, with a gift for every child. Over the years, the club has regularly contributed funds to a day nursery, a scholarship fund at the College of the Mainland, and to a Galveston County camping program for boys on probation (Texas City Civic Club plays role, 1980). The club has always been interested in beautification, and quite early on got permission from the Terminal Company to plant shrubs and flowers around the city depot that was located on the corner of 9th Avenue and 10th Street, where the fire station is today. The city clean-up campaign continued for "many years," and the Civic Club also took steps to guard against dysentery and other diseases, by inspecting bakeries and dairies and other businesses, and reporting their findings to the city health officer. The Civic Club regularly organized dances and style shows for fund raising. These last usually featured the clothing from a local boutique or department store (McDermott). But the endeavor that became their chief focus over the years was to have a city library. In 1928, room for a free public library was provided in a new municipal auditorium. The Civic Club contributed $1,000 for books, and at first took responsibility for engaging a librarian and paying for her services (Library at Texas City, 1929). Eventually the City took over the running of the library, while the club assumed a supporting role, which continues to the present day (Howard, 1994).

The Texas City Garden Club began in December of 1933, at the home of Mrs. Frank Davison, wife of one of the first commissioners in Texas City. Their aims were to support home beautification, civic improvement, and to give advice and instruction on growing and arranging flowers. In the following year, they had their first flower show, which became an annual event (Texas City Garden Club, 1938). One of the Garden Club's projects was a city beautification effort following Hurricane Carla and its ravages. The club and City had agreed to cooperate in developing an area next to the Nessler Center. The City supplied water to the area and planted the trees which the Club provided. Called "Oak Corner", these oak trees today provide beauty and shade for all. The Club showed its resourcefulness by obtaining a grant from the Sears Foundation of Sears, Roebuck & Co. to assist with the city project (Oak Corner, 1964). Today the Garden Club continues its work by coordinating with other organizations to get things done. Boy Scouts have done some planting in civic projects, and each Habitat for Humanity home in Texas City receives a tree from the Garden Club (Huchzermeyer, 2004).

The Order of the Eastern Star, the fraternal Masonic order for women, was first organized in Texas City in April of 1920 by a member of the Galveston Eastern Star (Order of the Eastern, 1938). This organization, besides having fraternity as its mission, is also involved in educational and charitable projects in the community. They have raised money for the Boy Scouts, helped underprivileged children, and many other causes. The Eastern Star regularly put on style shows, featuring clothing sold by local shops. Their early specialty in raising money was having dances and sponsoring dinners, making potato salad and chili for organizations such as the American Legion and the Texas City firemen. Today they count the Women's Crisis Center among their many charities.

Another early women's organization was the Texas City Study Club. It was first organized in 1926, and began as a local chapter of the Delphian Society (Tradition is study, 1967). This was a society that was formed for educational purposes and targeted for women. The Society offered a course that had recommended readings and guidelines for discussion of the readings. In 1933 they reorganized as an independent group and took the name of the Texas City Study Club. Their purpose is the social and intellectual improvement of their members.

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