Ladies Columbian Reading Club Has Roots in Rushville History

By Diana Robins-Mansell

On March 3, 2016, Ladies Columbian Reading Club Life Member Cathleen Burbach shared the club history and the original LCRC Secretary Book with me. Cathleen is the current LCRC caretaker of the club’s historical material, which she received from Addis (Dee Dee) King, who had been a member for over 60 years.

The Secretary Book outlines the starting of LCRC on the afternoon of November 19, 1895, when a group of seven Rushville women met at the home of Mrs. Cornelious Patterson (Clara). Mrs. Patterson was the wife of Sheridan County’s first judge. 

The club’s purpose was to “pursue a systematic course of study for mutual improvement and service to others”. It was the duty of each member to promote reading and lifelong learning. Each member of the club was expected to be loyal to the ideals of the organization and act in whatever capacity she might be called upon for. 

Other original members of the club included Mary Ann Wilson – the physician’s wife, Millie Farnam – the pharmacist’s wife, Capitola Tully – the storekeeper’s wife, Sadie Woods – an attorney’s wife and two single ladies, Adele Hayden – a teacher, and Maude Markee who worked in the court house. 

Mary Wilson was known as an intelligent, educated, dynamic, tall, thin model of a woman, who knew and recognized the need for constant study and learning. 

Another colorful member of the LCRC was Millie Farnam. Millie and her husband were very active in the Rushville Equal Suffrage Club. 

One might ask the question, “what might these ladies have been studying at this time on the national and international level? 

In 1895, Cuba was fighting Spain for independence. 

The future King George VI of Great Britain was born. 

Hilaire Belloc wrote “Sonnets and Verses”. 

H.G. Wells wrote “The Time Machine”. 

T.H. Huxley, the English scientist, died. 

The first complete performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” ballet was given at St. Petersburg. 

Wilhelm Rentgen discovered X-rays. 

Marconi invented telegraphy. 

Sigmund Freud published “Studies in Hysteria”. 

King C. Gillette invented safety razors. 

Baseball great Babe Ruth was born, as was Jack Dempsey, U.S. boxing champion. 

At this time, the first professional football game was played in the United States at Latrobe, Pennsylvania and the United States Open golf championship was held. 

In addition to being a very special group of ladies, LCRC is proud of being the only ladies club in Nebraska to have not discontinued meetings since November 1895, as some clubs suspended meetings during World War II. The organization has held regular meetings the first Tuesday of the month and celebrated the clubs 120th birthday, November 19, 2015. 

A Proclamation was presented to the LCRC in December 1995 by then Rushville City Mayor Martin Palmer to recognize the club for its 100th birthday. For the birthday celebration, the club hosted a special “Open House” at the Rushville American Legion, along with the Rushville Christmas Lighting Ceremony. 

The club continues to carry on the goals and traditions of the original charter group. Meetings are conducted on the established Tuesday, beginning with the “Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag” and reciting the “Club Collect” written by Mary Stewart in 1904. Club colors remain Red, White and Blue. The motto is “He who does not advance goes backward” – these seven words sound the keynote and primary goal of the organization for providing a common meeting ground for women interested in continuing their education. 

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The Rushville Public Library Association was organized by LCRC members in 1923. One of its most noteworthy undertakings was the establishment and staffing of the first library in Rushville. As time passed, this building had deteriorated and needed repair. In 1990, Mrs. William Hewett purchased the Masonic Temple building and donated the property to the City of Rushville for the purpose of a new library location. The contents of the older building was transferred to the better and larger facility. 

The club continued to meet at the new library location until it became too difficult to go up and down the stairs to the library basement meeting room. In their search for another place to meet, the club is grateful to be allowed to gather when needed at the Security First Investment Center. 

The library continues to be of special interest to the club. Books are donated, and specific books are purchased and dedicated as a memorial to honor a deceased Life Member. Members earn the title of Life Member after completing 20 years of continuous membership. 

The club has also shown their special commitment to youth beyond reading by providing and furnishing a room for scouts in the library and depression era projects, starting the school milk program and providing shoes for needy children, an annual educational scholarship as well as supporting schools, the food pantry, and Parkview Lodge Assisted Living. 

Today, the group members are from all walks of life. Some are relative newcomers to Rushville, others are from families of Sheridan County’s original settlers, yet they all share one common thread – a desire to be continually educated. 

The LCRC 2016 officers are: President – Katherine Stava, VP – Ruby Tiensvold, Secretary – Shirley Gill, Treasurer – Deanne Bruns, Nominating and Installation – Patricia Wellnitz and Geraldine Bruns, Parliamentarian – Patricia Wellnitz. Committee members are: Calling – Karen Palmer, Courtesy – Shirley Gill, Library – Ruby Tiensvold and Marlene Dykes, Auditing – Glenna Vodicka and Wendy Etuk, Scholarship – Deanna Bruns and Karen Plamer. 

The 2016 LCRC program is Presidents of the United States of America. The March 1, 2016 meeting was hosted by LCRC Vice President Ruby Tiensvold, response: fact about one of your DC Senators and Program: Franklin Pierce.

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