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July 22, 2009 > History: Clubs, Societies and Associations

History: Clubs, Societies and Associations

Clubs, societies and associations have been an important part of life throughout the history of Washington Township. Revered W. W. Brier organized the Sons of Temperance in his study at Centerville in 1855, two years after Alameda County was formed. This was reported to be the first fraternal order in Washington Township.

Crusade Lodge NO.93, I.O.O.F., organized in 1859 at Alvarado, was said to be the first Odd Fellows' lodge established in Alameda County. Mission Peak Lodge NO 114, organized at Irvington in 1863, was the only Odd Fellows lodge remaining in the township in 1950. They dedicated their cemetery in 1872 and erected their large brick building in 1890.

Alameda Lodge NO. 167, F&A.Masons, was organized at Centerville in 1863. They erected a two-story building on the present Peralta Boulevard that later housed the first high school in the township. The Ancient Order of United Workmen was organized at Mission San Jose in 1878. They also constructed their own building.

Many local fraternal groups were organized by Portuguese people. There was no help for immigrants, so they created benefit societies. The first was Irmandade do Divino Esperito Santo (I.D.E.S.) formed at Mission San Jose in 1889. They erected a lodge building on Ellsworth Street and held Holy Ghost celebrations that were the greatest events in town. The Sociedade Portuguese Rainha St. Isabel (S.P.R.SI) was organized in 1900 and Council Mission San Jose NO. 16 of the Portuguese Protective Society (U.P.P.E.C.) in 1902. There were several others.

Literary societies were prominent from the 1870's to the early 1900's. Irvington had a Dramatic Club and Lyceum followed by Literary and Social Clubs. The Centerville Literary Club was organized in 1877 with Charles Shinn as president.

The economy of Washington Township was based on products from the soil. Residents were farmers or workers who depended on them. Farmers realized that there was strength in unity, so they formed farm-related organizations. The first was the Alameda County Agricultural Society formed in 1858. They held the first annual fair the next year. Eventually other organizations such as the Niles Co-Operative Fruit Association were formed.

The Pioneer Society formed in 1876 was made up of men who had arrived in California prior to March 1853 when Alameda County was formed. Sons were also eligible and wives and daughters became honorary members.

Towns sometimes had their own improvement clubs formed to meet specific needs. The Niles club was organized in 1898. Later the work was carried on by the Niles Women's Club. Newark had a very active Women's Improvement Club. Much of the work done by the clubs was taken over by Chambers of Commerce formed after 1900.

The Men's Club was organized in 1919 for township men. Sometimes towns had their own organizations. Mission San Jose had a Men's Social Club, a Women's Civic Club and a Women's Association.

The Woman's Club of Washington Township was formed by Lida Tilden Thane and Mary C. Allen in 1896. The name was changed to Country Club of Alameda County and finally The Country Club of Washington Township. They soon began emphasizing historical activities, and in 1904 published their first history of Washington Township. The history was brought up to date, re-published in 1950 and reprinted in 1965.

The club research committee organized the Washington Township Historical Society in 1949 to continue researching and recording the history of Washington Township. The society has continued working for the public interest and will celebrate 60 years of service this November.

A number of clubs and groups were organized to serve the needs of residents. The local Women's Club sponsored a clinic for children in 1919 that led to formation of the Health Center Board, the Centerville public health office and several child welfare organizations.

Perhaps the best known is the Child Welfare Club of Washington Township organized by 15 ladies, led by Mrs. Frank Dusterberry, in 1928. They operated a facility for homeless children for many years. Eventually their program led to their current support of Sunrise Village, SAVE and Kidango.

There were many other kinds of clubs and societies. The arrival of the men's international service clubs added another layer of community service and welfare programs. Now integrated, the first of them was the Centerville Lions Club formed in 1931 followed by the Niles Rotary in 1937, the Kiwanis, and the Elks in 1959. These groups have expanded and continue to serve the community in countless ways.

Over the years there were groups for athletes, sportsmen, veterans, professional people, home owners, book readers, actors, musicians, pet owners, gardeners, dancers, sailors, historians, firemen and many others. There's now a group to meet just about every need.

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