O’FALLON WOMAN’S CLUB, INC HISTORY
The O’Fallon Woman’s Club began with a group of twelve women organized in January 1910 as the ‘Reading Room Club’ to establish a place “where young men and boys could go to read, rest and play, free from many evil influences.” This proved to be unsuccessful so the reading room was closed. In 1911, their name changed to the O’Fallon Woman’s Club and a constitution and by-laws were adopted and the first minutes were taken as permanent record. The purpose of the club being “intellectual and social development of its members and general good of the community” remains the objective today.
In 1915, the Club cleaned and took over care of parks on First Street by the railroad tracks and the park was famously known as Woman’s Club Park. In 1933, the Pioneer Club of the 49ers donated the flag at this site.
From 1911-1920, Community projects included:
- Playground equipment
- Lab equipment & large American flag for the high school
- Christmas baskets for the poor
- 3 quilts made, raffled and proceeds donated to the O’Fallon Homecoming for the benefit of the city park located at Lincoln and Washington streets by the original City Hall
- Sold wastepaper, flavoring extracts, coffee, bulbs, seeds and shrubs in order to raise money for its projects.
- Sewed carpet rags for disabled veterans and gave them presents at Christmas time.
In 1921, the Club joined the 22nd District Federation of Women’s Clubs. In 1926, it joined the St. Clair County unit and in 1928, the Illinois Federation of Woman’s Clubs. In 1992, the club left the Federation of Woman’s clubs and became the O’Fallon Woman’s Club, INC.
The Club voted to use their Liberty Bonds to start the first Public Library formally opened April 12, 1930. Miss Jeannette Reiss was first librarian and remained until 1937. In the beginning the members operated the library until the city maintained and the library board managed the library since 1943. The library has benefited through the years by many gifts and donations from the Woman’s Club.
During World War II membership was less due to many women supporting the war effort and having to go to work. The Club supported World War II by making comfort kits for British women, sending clothes to the Red Cross for foreign aid, sending food packages to the Netherlands and purchasing War Bonds. During this time and into the sixties, the Club continued to support the community with donations of park benches, sponsoring band concerts, Girl Scouts, the Hope Box, Grade School Band uniforms, high school graduate scholarship for $150.00, sponsoring blood mobiles, rummage sales, art contests, sewing contests and continuing Hope Chest raffle, planting and landscaping the flagpole in the City Cemetery, furnishing the O’Fallon High School Home EC Room, and playground equipment for toddlers.
Since 1959, the Club has sponsored the Hope Chest at Homecoming. As adjunct to the Hope Chest, the Prince and Princess Contest began in 1967. In years prior to 1966 members of the Club solicited residents for donations to the Hope Chest and tickets were sold at the O’Fallon Homecoming. In 1966, the Club gathered donations from members and businesses and contestants for Woman’s Club Prince and Princess sold the Hope Chest raffle tickets. This fundraiser continues to present day and proceeds go to early education, children 10 years and younger; the library being the biggest beneficiary.
The Memorial Corner located at First and South Lincoln was established by the Woman’s Club in 1968. There the American flag flies in honor of O’Fallon veterans who gave their lives in the service of their country and their names are changed monthly on the bulletin board. The Flag was raised and lowered each day until January 1980 when a spotlight was installed so that the Flag could fly 24 hours a day and seven days a week. In 2002, a $300.00 grant was received to provide in-ground lighting for the flag and memorial sign. A ceremony honoring an O’Fallon veteran is given on the first of each month by the Woman’s Club members. Local Boy Scout troops and local young talent provide the flag raising and singing of the Anthem respectively.
In 1967- 1969, the Club began giving bookmarks, cookies and school supplies to teachers. In November 1970, Club began the “Apples for Teachers” program to recognize the outstanding efforts of the area teachers. Members visit both public and private O’Fallon schools and give teachers, administrators and staff an apple. In 2009, the Club delivered 880 apples.
Since the 1950’s, the Club has awarded an O’Fallon Woman’s Club Scholarship to an O’Fallon High School senior. Presently, the club offers a $1500 needs-based scholarship annually to a senior majoring in education or medical field. An annual grocery raffle in cooperation with the local grocery store, Schnucks formally Hart Grocery raises the needed monies to support this scholarship. Mrs. Segraves, former President of the Woman’s Club (1949-1951) upon her death bequeathed a sum of $10,000. The accumulated interest on this account is used to award a merit-based medical or education scholarship of $1000 or more. The first Irene Segraves Scholarship was awarded in 2008.
The O’Fallon Woman’s Club continues their mission to support the local community by their involvement in the following:
- Annual student art contests
- Adopt a Street
- Face painting at ”Salute to Scott Day”
- Red, White and Blue Breakfast provided for the Police, Fire and EMS
- Civil Leaders Potluck during October Membership Luncheon
- Prince and Princess
- Hope Chest
- Grocery Raffle
- Apples for Teachers
- Memorial Corner
The beneficiaries of the Club’s fundraisers include:
- O’Fallon Public Library
- O’Fallon Food Pantry
- Violence Prevention Center
- O’Fallon Historical Society
- O’Fallon Needy families
- Rally for the Cure Golf Tournament
- OUSART Children’s Christmas Party
- O’Fallon Parks and Recreation-Kiddy Playground
- O’Fallon Veteran’s Monument
- Crop Walk, Relay for Life
- Kids Caring for Cancer
- Law Explorer’s Post #560
- Fire Explorer’s Post #4300
- OTHS Blizzard & After Prom Party.
Meeting places through the hundred years have been member’s homes, Masonic Lodge second story of 121 East First Street, VFW building, West First Street, and presently at First United Methodist Church, East Highway 50.