Many women took an interest in the Brooklyn Garden Club. They met in the members’ homes on the fourth Wednesdayafternoons during February through October; records show from 1932 to 1969.
Their constitution limited membership ‘We may have 25 members of which 5 may be associate members.’ The regularmembers paid 50c each year and the officers paid $1; they were not required to host or plan programs. The hostess must find someone else to host, if unable. She may invite ‘no more than 2’ and serve one thing and drink. President appoints person to supply flowers (only from own garden). These rules were read at the beginning of every year. (Later in the fifties, it was decided to ask for dues from the associate members too.)
Over the years, the members were Mabel Johnson, Della Ames, Clara Olson, Edith Morgan, Grace Bennett, Maggie Johnson, Doris Wackman, Jenny White, Emma Graves, Pearl Patterson, Etta Smith, Mary Waite, Sadie A. Ellis, Helen Gray, Tilla Odegard, Clara Olson, Betty Peach, Sadie P. Ellis, Helen Curless, Jessie Tullis, Beth Armstrong, Jen Inman, Lillian Norton, Elvira Ross, Ann Erickson, Mabel Hanson, Cora Jenson, Esther Hansen, Phoebe Miller, Ruth Ross, Mrs. Hormig, Jean Brickenridge, Gladys Johnson, Selma Pernot, Edna White, Anna Waste, Ruth Anthony, Gertrude Chandler, Ethel Chandler, Eva Burgess, Mayme Farnsworth, Emma Graves, Della Ames, Pearl Roberts, Eleanor Mess, Pearl Patterson, Lillian Bund, Bernadine Johnson, Marie Bennett, Fern Johnson, Florabelle Waite, Zelda Stanke, Elizabeth
Raun, Mrs. Henry Blumer, Mary Armstrong, Mable Curless, Clara Borst, Ella Smith, Vivian Ellis Larsen, Winefred Salisbury,Helen Duquette, Lucille Smith, Clarice Every, Katharina Smout, Mary Wittenwyler, Mable Peterson, Ava Lyons, Charity Spencer, Eleanor Mess, Edna Ames, Mable West, Irene Neuhaus, Gertrude Zwickey, Maxine Heimann, Ione Anthony,
Eva Burgess, Mickey Duquette, Esther Roberts, Marion Snow, Freida Frautschy, Cleo Ringhand, Ruth George, Mary Clark,Genevine Farnsworth, Florence Vogt, Hazel Stryhn, Virginia Cook, Beverly Smith, Irene DeRemer, Thelma Klingensmith, Dowyle Hook, Hannah Pernot, Lucille Tilley, Nina Farnsworth, Amy Johnson, Ella Ellis, Lily Elmer, Isabelle Smith, Anna Onsurd, Maxine Heimann, Irene Neuhaus, Ruby Templeton, Minnie Jensen and Mary Waite.
Different replies were used when responding during roll call; they were garden poems, spring quotations, garden hints,hot weather recipes, favorite wild flower, favorite annual flowers, favorite hobby, an enjoyed vacation, interesting garden experiences, flowers for the current season (March), giving botanical name of flowers, plans for 1941 gardens, spring poems, most embarrassing moment, favorite hot weather salads, and favorite garden magazine. Every month, the members would bring certain flowers, containers or some information to exhibit. In July 1941, Tilla Odegard brought a beautiful hooked rug which she had made herself and a set of bridal spoons carved from a piece of wood that came from Norway. Jean Breckenridge showed an unusual glass pitcher and some material, looked like wool, and was made from skim milk. Another time, each member brought a single flower- the others tried to name them; Clara Olson and Tilla Odegard got 18 out 19 correct. Knowing the regular names of flowers, they desired to learn the botanical names too.
March 1938, Lillian Bund and Grace Bennett organized Junior and Senior Garden Clubs for the children. Seeds were purchased for this project. There were twelve in the Junior Club; their works of Conservation began too. Members would bring a potted plant to be sold (within the club) – the proceeds would benefit this work in 1938.
The women decided to arrange the triangle planting at the junction of roads 14 & 92. In 1940, two letters were receivedfrom the highway commission regarding the filling of dirt and the planting. Discouraged by Dane County, the project came to a halt. In 1958, the club purchased shrubbery for the Village Park, planted by Fred Peterson (bill was $3), guided by Bernadine Johnson and Mr. Conkle from McKay Nursery. Three years later, a picnic table appeared at the park ($37.95). $5 was donated towards the community playground in 1968.
The club purchased two Liberty Bonds in October 1942, which were turned over to the treasurer (cashed in Nov. 1955).Originally, their constitution said ‘one thing and a drink but grew into a lunch. One time it was scalloped potatoes and ham, buttered peas and carrots, cranberry jello ring mold, rolls, apple pie with cheese served; frequently scalloped chicken, mashed potatoes, vegetable salad, homemade hot rolls, angel food cake with whip cream was served; Ham Loaf was popular too. Their annual picnic in 1943 was a meatless meal. Coffee was their beverage. The 1943 picnic was casseroles made by the committee, joined with salads from everyone else. Another favorite was chicken in patty shells.
The discussions were on transplanting perennials, favorite annuals, favorite seed catalog, published articles, poems during Memorial Day, window boxes, poems on roses, vines, phlox, gladiolas, winter protection and preparation, a flower show in Chicago, early flowering shrubs, and garden items from magazines. In 1961, there was discussion on the problem of Dutch elm disease hitting Brooklyn.
In April of 1934, a saving account was started at the local bank. In 1936, Edna White conducted a riddle contest at theWhite Elephant Sale- proceeds went to buy books on gardening for the library. In March 1941, the club chose the Petunia as the Brooklyn Flower. That year, Betty Peach hired Mr. Holmes to landscape her gardens. After picnicking at the Evansville Park, the club toured Betty’s gardens.
They visited various sites; University Rock Gardens, Mr. Warner’s garden at Cooksville, Mrs. Peter Anderson’s garden-rural Brooklyn, Mrs. Peter Templeton’s garden- rural Evansville, Mr. & Mrs. Gillies at Evansville (also seen hooked rugs and antiques), picnics at Evansville park, Henry Smith’s woods, Riverside Park in Janesville, Mike Armstrong’s garden in Cooksville, Brooklyn Village Park and the New Glarus State Park (afterwards visited the Lace Factory there and the Woolen Mills at Monticello); the gardens at the homes of Edith Morgan, Florabelle Waite, Pearl Roberts, Mrs. Baumgartner, Marie Bennett, Ruth Ross, and Mabel Curless, Phyllis Sanner; all of Brooklyn, Gladys Johnson’s garden in Orfordville- 1940, the gardens of the Carpenters,J.E. Montgomery, Mrs. Funk and Dr. & Mrs. Dennison’s gardens at Evansville, C. Genske’s rock garden and lily pools, a ceramic shop in Madison, and Silo Acres in June 1951. At a meeting at the Community Building with guest speaker, Reverend H.L. Oriens of Monroe with lecture and film, ‘Wildlife on Your Doorstep’- other Garden Clubs and the public were invited. Annually, invitations came from Invited to Evansville’s Garden Show. Visiting the Edgerton Garden Club, they heard Harold Pelikan, Director of Arts in the Milwaukee Schools talked about blending colors. Meetings were, also, at the Tallman House and Waterfall Restaurant. Meetings, open to the public, occurred once a year. In 1933, it was at the church; Doris Wackman played her violin, accompanied by Helen Gray. Sadie Ellis and Gray sang a duet. One year, Prof Cust showed slides at Mrs. Waste’s home (parsonage). The club did some plantings on the church grounds- 1941 (committee was Bernadine Johnson, Zelda Stanke, Lillian Bund and Florabele Waite). Ruth Anthony showed her collection of butterflies and moths. Professor Morris showed slides on rock gardens and perennials with illustrated slides and gave talk. The following year, it was at the Legion rooms. George C. Morris of Madison spoke of ‘The Raising of Iris and Gladiolas. He invited all to visit the Madison Garden Club’s Flower Show, June 16that the Park Hotel and his own private garden near Madison. Prof. Geo. A. Zeigler of the UW Horticultural Department talked on landscaping home lawns, flowers and shrubs in March 1950. Mr. and Mrs. Russell Clemens of Madison showed colored slides of gladiolas, iris and roses from their garden and autumn scenes in northern Wisconsin (they usually judged at the local flower shows). Another time, Della Ames reported on her bus trip to Texas where she seen the largest greenhouses in the world and modern office buildings. Slides of Wisconsin State parks (17 state parks and five state forests- 172,811 acres) were shown by Mildred Winter and exclaimed by Clarice Every (she emphasized the slogan ‘See Wisconsin First’). Mrs. Clyde Fischer talked on birds she has seen on trips in woods and swamp and then colored slides taken at the Brookfield Zoo. Mrs. Haven from Stoughton talked and showed slides on trip in Hawaii. Ione Anthony gave a short summary of her trip to Boston with the Homemakers. Nancy Smith of Basco gave a demonstration of gift wrapping. Maude Spooner and Phoebe Franklin gave information of landscaping farm homesteads (students of Prof. Holmes of the UW). The members drew rough sketches of their own homestead which were criticized by Holmes with suggested improvements. Mrs. Koehler of Madison talked on ‘birds. Using pictures, she talked about feeding winter birds, value of birds in a garden, describing different kinds and banding. Mayne Farnsworth gave ‘each one’ a small bouquet of flowers from Florida in April 1939. Mr. Brunner from Belleville showed slides of his trip to Alaska in 1959. Amy & Phil Johnson showed many slides (Labor Day, Rose Parade and their own garden). The club enjoyed Sgt. Donald Brocker’s slides of Europe and Africa in 1963 and Mildred Winter’s slides of Canada too.
In May of 1934, contributions were made to Brooklyn’s Library Fund and many books in honor of former members, RedCross, Cancer drive, to the Mt. Hope Cemetery Ass’n for painting the small buildings, recreation projects and memorials of those passing. Discussion of buying a permanent Christmas tree for the village in 1934 (had a Tag Day to raise fundswith the Legion). This tree is west of the track on West Main.
Most of their needed supplies were purchased at the local Dietz Drug Store, later Finks. Often, candy was sent to the school to treat the high school girls typing class (the girls usually typed up their program booklets). In 1952, a donation went to the school for band uniforms. The expense of a bench for up-town was split with the Twentieth-Century Club (their cost was $13).
In 1943, they purchased a mirror for the Community Building which was placed in the women’s basement rest room,costing $4.95.
The members were encouraged to raise ‘new and different’ flowers; Ann Erickson chose the Moon Flower (which was seen in the 50’son the corner by Larsen’s Service Station), Selma Pernot chose the Morning Glory, Grace Bennett chose the Double Nasturtium, Edna White chose Lupines, Mabel Johnson chose Velvet Flower, Helen Curless chose Sweet Pea, Ruth Ross chose the Godetia and Clarkia. Each month, a member spoke on something special. Some of them were: Freida gave tips on gardening, grass treatment, mulch from corn cobs and roses. Della Ames reported on the origin and growing of gladioli and storing bulbs and Etta Smith spoke on herbs. Ione Anthony spoke on pruning, shrubbery, vines and insects. Florabelle talked about peonies and the poinsettia. Mildred Winter read about gourds. Tilla Odegard told of a flower show in St. Petersburg, Florida, which she attended. Florabelle Waite showed pictures of Washington in bloom. Winifred Salisbury told of visiting various gardens in England, Capistrano Garden, Lake Forest and her garden in Cooksville. The club arranged flowers for the church. Mrs. F.C. Middleton spoke on ‘Flower Arrangements.’ Many guests talked and displayed their hobbies. In 1948, Mrs. L.E.A. Kelso, president of the Wisconsin Button Club showed her collection. Gas expense was always given to their guests. Films from Ferry Morse Seed Company were sent free of charge except for return postage. Moving to California, Marie Bennett visited the garden club with pictures of her own garden in California. Ida Zerbel from California talked on visiting every country in the world, except Australia in 1943. George Bachay of Janesville, Wild Life Editor of the Gazette, talked and showed his own drawn pictures in Sept. of 1956.
Similar to the other businesses and organizations, the club always decorated a float for the Labor Day parade. In 1938,the club won $15 in the judging (in 1948, their prize was $20). Working on a float in 1940 at Edna White’s barn, a horse was rented for a dollar and 50c was paid to rent a cart. 1950-organized a ‘community outdoor Christmas decoration contest’ (the Commercial Club provided the prizes which happened the following years too). Sadie told of her family honored at the 1967 State Fair for owning the farm for 100 years.
The club had flower shows. Judging was on perfection of bloom, size, shape, color and vigor with specimens of dahlias, gladiolas, asters, Zinnias, snapdragons, phlox and lilies. The baskets of mixed flowers would be judged most tastefully arranged for dining table, bouquet and the best specimen of rare or beautiful potted plants and most artistically arranged bud vase. They had light refreshment and set-up a fruit jar (or milk bottle) asking for ‘free offerings.’ Prizes will be plants from a nursery, vases and bulbs. The judge and speaker was Mr. Rahmlow. The donations at the door were $7.87. There was a ‘White Elephant Sale’ also.
In 1934 & 1935, there annual Flower Show was held in the Graves Building (Playland) – no admission. Mr. Rahmlow wascoming. In 1939, the flower show was at the community building. A large bouquet was placed by the doorway in memory of a deceased member, Lillian Norton. Expenses were $10.85, receipts were $11.62. In August 1942, their flower show wasn’t as large as previously, but very nice; considering the year’s growing season. Mrs. Ballard of Madison was the judge, ribbons were given for prizes. Brooklyn Teller’s editor commented, “We remind you again that a community is advertised by its gardens.”
Card showers and flowers (Sunshine Club) were presented to those members passing, in the hospital, anniversaries andthe birth of Lucille Smith’s twins
Activity In 1954: Charity Spencer expressed her love for flowers, especially gladiolas. With the help of her husband, sheplanted 1100 bulbs the previous year; she was awarded 1stprize at the Wisconsin Gladiola Show. Leora Davis of Middleton gave helpful tips on growing violets. Lucille Smith showed slides of her visit to the tulip festival in Holland,
Michigan. Sadie invited all to Emelie Wiedenbeck’s garden in Verona to see 123 different kinds of peonies. Some of Emelie’s suggestions of centerpieces were shared: a pineapple dipped in white paint along with purple grapes, leafs of red cabbage and rhubarb stalks and peonies leaves. Ethel Gibbs spoke about her paintings and presented a picture to the club.
May we have keener enjoyment and appreciation of all plants names and recognize new varieties of familiar flowers, trees and shrubs. Let us have an ideal and each one work to perfect that ideal. May we serve to touch and to know the great woman’s heart of us all. And O Lord, let us be thankful. That into our life and heart has become a garden.
In 1948, these words were added: Keep us God, from fault finding and prejudice. May we each have a living room wherewe work and play and learn the mood of nature; and assist and encourage the conservation of nature and beauty.