What started as eight women sewing for a widower in 1911 has turned into a century of sowing friendships and alliances with needles and thimbles as the primary instruments.
On Thursday, the Waterloo Needlework Club celebrated 100 years of handiwork and companionship at a luncheon at the Hankerd Inn Bed and Breakfast in Pleasant Lake.
More than 50 women shared songs, poetry and skits that attempted to re-enact the rich history of a club that has persisted through both world wars, the Great Depression and the turn of the millennium.
Marge Perkins of Stockbridge, who was asked by a friend to join the club 10 years ago, said it has survived because of its invitational, inclusive nature.
“Women invite people for their personality and their talent because they think they would be a good fit,” she said. “This is a community of history, and I think young people in the area need to know these kinds of things are going on.”
Dozens of colorful quilts made by members, friends and family members were on display Thursday.
Carol Brown, a member of the club for three years, brought a purple and white quilt decorated with ornate flowers that her mother had sewn for her own wedding in 1938.
“I enjoy quilting, but it’s just the camaraderie that is so great,” she said. “We can get silly and we can get serious.”
The club started out as the Neighborhood Sewing Circle in 1911, when eight women took it upon themselves to sew for William Huttenlocher, who was left to raise six children on his own after his wife Mary died.
Meeting at people’s houses, the group became quite patriotic during World War I, donating much of its work to the Red Cross.
A historic record book indicates the group sent out 988 articles and 56 Refugee garments in 1917 and 1918.
Over the years the club has sold its crafts and given money to local charities and families.
That holds true today, as the club meets regularly in the “Old Katz School” in Munith.
Club secretary Lenore Rogers said she didn’t quite know what she was getting into 46 years ago when she was invited to a meeting, but the “biggest blessing has just been meeting so many wonderful women she wouldn’t have otherwise met.”
“When I first joined, I was young and I was the one threading needles for women who had trouble seeing,” she said. “And well, now, I’m one of the ones who needs a little help.”
Club President Janice Powell said the club will bury a time capsule at the Waterloo Farm Museum on Saturday.
The capsule will have old needles and thimbles, articles about the club, a historic “housewife” kit made during the war and a quilt square signed by all of the current club members.
As published in the Jackson Citizen Patriot on May 13, 2011