Kevin L. Green
Local Extension Homemakers clubs are celebrating a major anniversary this year and will host a public birthday party in the spring to help mark the occasion.
Although Rush County Extension Homemakers is actually only 83 years old, the organization and its 12 local clubs are celebrating 100 years with the State Extension Homemakers.
Organizers are hosting a birthday party at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 7, 2013, in the Root Building at the Rush County Fairgrounds.
“There will be lots of memorabilia for all to see and we are hoping to have lots of former members,” Homemaker Jane Hallgarth stated. “We are inviting state and district officers and hope to have some of them with us. We plan to feature past state president and Sagamore of the Wabash award winner, local club member, Eleanor Arnold. She was responsible for a series of five books, ‘Memories of Hoosier Homemakers’ and a film on homemakers, ‘Rich Lives.’ The books will be on display and we plan to run the film during the party.”
Also featured will be past state officer Marjorie Emsweller.
“Marjorie was a talented weaver and excellent at many other crafts. Her family established the Emsweller Award of Excellence in 1997. It has been given each year at the Rush County Fair to an exhibitor who has achieved overall excellence in a minimum of three categories. Nancy Kuhn was the first winner of this award. Nancy served as State Secretary from 1999-2001 and is a Rush County Hall of Fame winner,” Hallgarth continued.
She also shared the following history of the Rush County Extension Homemakers.
On Feb. 5, 1916, 18 Rush County homemakers met in the DAR Room of the courthouse. They organized a club to affiliate with Purdue University so that specialists could come to Rush County and give lessons for the betterment of the home. At that time, it was a “whole county club.”
The origin of Homemakers Clubs as we know them today dates back to Jan. 6, 1925. County Agent, Mr. VanMatre, called a meeting of women from all parts of the county that were interested in home economics.
Attendance at this meeting was very good and they organized and voted to accept the “clothing project.” Following this meeting, groups in nine townships selected two leaders each to attend the four training meetings that would be given during the year. After the first training session, the local leaders held 17 meetings in the townships and the lesson was given to over 300 women.
At the March Council meeting in 1934, it was suggested that a County Chorus be organized. At the June meeting it was reported that all clubs were in favor of a County Chorus, and an organizational meeting was set for July. We believe that each club provided a soprano, second soprano and an alto singer for the chorus. They made their first public appearance at Achievement Day on Oct. 23, 1934. So, get it done was how it was done! Rush County Chorus was active until about 2005.
Achievement Day was always a big event for Rush County and is still the highlight of our year. In 1937 Rush County had 12 clubs with a membership of 693, and the Achievement Program had over 2,000 persons in attendance. They viewed 12 booths arranged by the clubs and enjoyed a pageant “My Home, My Hobby,” and the County Chorus sang. I believe this was an all-day event with the highlight that evening being a program by the Jack Zurkowoski Xylophone Band. Our 2012 Achievement Night was not that elaborate, but a very enjoyable program was given by Lois Liggett on her “hankie” collection. Rush County has 12 clubs and a little under 150 members at this time.
We have helped with First Books from the beginning. Many clubs help with our local food pantry. Our clubs work to make possible county fair exhibits. We sew for Riley, provide bibs for the Baby Show, help with Mental Health Christmas Gift Lift, Nancy Bell Scholarship (she was the first county chairman “president”), donate to the Food & Nutrition Program, cancer research and volunteer in countless other ways.
Time does not permit us to tell of all the things past State President Eleanor Arnold accomplished nor to tell of the many wonderful agents and educators we have had. They have truly been inspiring and have led us all to go beyond where we would have had we not had them. It is our hope that this organization will continue to “infinity and beyond.”
Watch for feature stories on each of Rush County’s 12 Extension Homemaker clubs in upcoming editions of the Rushville Republican.
Contact: Kevin Green @ 765.932.2222 x108