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December 21, 2010 > History: Who wrote the History of Washington Township?

History: Who wrote the History of Washington Township?

Our most interesting and probably most useful early day history of the area was written in 1903-1904 by members of the Country Club, the Woman's Club, of Washington Township. The book is entitled History of Washington Township and is dedicated to Mary C. Allen and Lida Tilden Thane.

The first meeting of the Country Club was held in December 1897 at the home of Mrs. Mary C. H. Allen. Twenty-five women who were present from different parts of Washington Township became charter members. The preface, apparently written in 1904, notes that the women began gathering the history of the township early in 1903. It states, "Every active member contributed something to it, and the heads of the various committees compiled the material into papers which were read at a Golden Jubilee meeting held May 19 in the Centerville Town Hall to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the township."

The book does not really say who wrote the information, but a later newspaper lists the first officers as: President Mary Allen, Vice President Helen Turner; Secretary Emily Mowry, Financial Secretary Grace Huxley, and Treasurer Charlotte Emerson. Emma Liddeke, Eleanor Whipple, and Emma Jarvis made up the music committee.

Another article notes that Mrs. F. O. Bunting supplied the funds and Mrs. J. E. Thane (Lida Thane) was editor in chief of the 1904 publication. That makes sense as Lida Thane had been writing newspaper articles under the name of Mrs. L. E. Thane (Laura Eliza Tilden Thane). She obviously was a very talented and experienced writer who knew a great deal about the local history and put her talents to good use as editor of the book.

It is evident that Lida Thane and Mary C. Allen were leaders in forming not only the Country Club of Washington Township, but also in the production of the book, History of Washington Township. Mary was the wife of a Civil War doctor, Cyrus H. Allen. They came to Centerville in 1867 where they established their home, and the doctor practiced his profession for many years. Mary was described as a woman with "serenity, gentle wisdom and sympathy." Lida's intelligence and forthrightness were credited with boosting the township into an era of modern social and civic awareness over a period of 57 years."

The Golden Jubilee of Washington Township was celebrated at the Centerville Town Hall May 19, 1903. Its program notes that the histories of the villages in the township prepared by Club members were read but does not explain who wrote those histories.

A list of members dated 1897 gives 36 names, and an 1898 list adds 10 more. These 46 ladies were probably the ones that gathered and organized the information for the book. Most of the ladies are listed as Mrs., and the first name is not given. The list includes the names of ladies we have selected for the purpose of illustrations.

Emily and Mrs. M. C. Mowry were members of the Mowry's Landing neighborhood originally founded by Origin Mowry. Julia Shinn married into the Shinn family. She was a sister-in-law of Dr. Millicent Shinn. Mary Tilden was the wife of the famous Judge H. J. Tilden, mother of Lida, and grandmother of Laura Whipple.

Miss Guliema Crocker was the second teacher hired at Washington High School. She began teaching there in the spring of 1892, the year the school opened. A 1936 article noted that Mrs. J.E. Thane (Lida) was the editor of a second edition of History of Washington Township to be published "in the near future." It was finally published in 1950, 14 years later.

Other pioneer names of members include: Whipple, Bunting, Overacker, Brier, Ellsworth, Patterson, Mayhew, Tyson, Clough, Ford, Clark, Crosby, Cutter, and Salz.

Members of the Country Club Research Committee who wrote the chapters for the 1950 second addition edited by Winified Bendel were: Helen Clough Ford, Clara Hawley Whipple May, Edna Hammer Overacker, Mary Liston Griffin, Estelle Riley Hirsch, Lesda Sayles Brown, Ann Mayock, Miss Elizabeth Dusterberry, and Miss Nancy McKeown. All of these ladies collected data on schools, churches, post offices, organizations, adobes, and old homes in their respective towns.

Florence Mayhew Shinn compiled the list of pioneer descendents. Dorothy Marriott was the treasurer. Jane Corwin did all the manuscript typing. Edna Overacker served as secretary and gathered the material for the Industrial Chart, Ann Mayock did the research for the vineyards story, and Winifred Bendel was the editor.

We are indebted to this group of pioneer women who had the foresight, dedication, and skills to gather and organize material for this History of Washington Township. We are also indebted to the members of the Country Club of Washington Township who preserved and protected the records of their organization and made them available for our use some 100 years later. Thank you ladies.

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