A-J Women’s Club president Jane Bauer, education chairperson Lillian Milam and history chairperson Barbara Bauer met with Dr. Susan Whitemountain at her shop, The Gathering Place, to make arrangements to archive the A-J Women’s Club history collection at the shop, which is located at 313 S. Main St. in downtown Anna. Whitemountain will make the records available to all those who are interested in the history. Photo provided.

A-J Women’s Club’s history shared at The Gathering Place

General Federation of Women’s Clubs Illinois Anna-Jonesboro Women’s Club is the official name of a local group of women who have been volunteering support to their community for over 100 years.

Locally, the group is known as the A-J Women’s Club.  

In recognition of the bicentennial of the State of Illinois, Union County and the City of Jonesboro in 2018, the club is calling attention to the value of its history to the welfare of the Union County community it serves.

Representatives of the Anna-Jonesboro Women’s Club recently placed a collection of records and files of the organization at The Gathering Place in Anna to make the histories more accessible to citizens.  

A-J Women’s Club president Jane Bauer, education chairperson Lillian Milam and history chairperson Barbara Bauer met with The Gathering Place’s owner and director Dr. Susan Whitemountain to make arrangements to archive the history collection at the Anna South Main Street location.

The history files include club minute books and program booklets that describe in detail the happenings of a vibrant community.  

In the early 1900s the club in Anna was known as the Lilac Club. In Jonesboro the ladies belonged to the Matron’s Club.  

In 1912, the Anna club was federated with the National Association of Women’s Clubs and the Lilac and Matron’s clubs became a part of the Anna-Jonesboro Women’s Club. 

The records explain how members and others supported education, culture and public issues for the benefit of the community.

Examples include lobbying to have unsightly electric lines and poles removed from Anna’s Main Street.  

Over the years, the club has lobbied to have a tunnel built under the railroad on a major street.  

Neither of these projects has been accomplished by the petitions of the organization, but another matter was remedied: the city did ban livestock pens from residences in the city limits.

Regular meeting minutes tell how residents rented aluminum molds from the women’s club to be used to build bird baths in their yards. Several of those iconic bird baths still grace lawns and gardens in the Anna-Jonesboro area. 

None of the molds have survived, as they were donated to the war effort in World War II.

Early records report about art exhibits and programs that featured local artists like Amy Kirkpatrick and Dan Perrine.  

Essay contests sponsored by the club recorded interviews with historical characters in the community over one hundred years ago.  

Many art contests were sponsored by the club. One art contest involved designing a flag for Anna, which was won by the late Adolph Walter, who designed the current Anna flag that now flies over Anna City Hall.

In view of the fact that the Anna-Jonesboro Women’s Club records have many stories to tell about life in Union County for over one hundred years, the members of the A-J club said they are pleased to place the records in a public place to make them accessible to all those who are interested in the history.  

The Gathering Place is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on occasion by special arrangement with Whitemountain by calling 833-6525 or email gathermyhistory@gmail.com.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158
Email: news@annanews.com

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