Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lake County Mini-Profile -- The Mentor Miscellany Club

Lucretia R. Garfield (1832-1918), Virginia Small (1921-2013), Mabel Miller (1921-2014) and Marthajoy Waite (1937-2015) all share one thing in common.  They were past-presidents of the Mentor Miscellany Club.  Here is the story of the first woman's literary club in Lake County, a club that remains active to this date.

The story of Lucretia R. Garfield is fairly well-known.  Born in Garrettsville, Ohio in 1832, she met her future husband while he served as professor and president of The Western Reserve Eclectic College (Hiram College).  James A. Garfield left Hiram College to serve in the Civil War before embarking on a meteoric rise in political circles that led to his Presidency and tragic assasination in 1881.  Lucretia was a well educated woman and noted player in all circles of the day including her brief time in Washington D.C.  It was their time there that they attended literary socials together and discussed topics of the day among the Washington power players.

Upon her husband's death, the shy and reserved nature that Lucretia once possessed resumed upon her return to their beloved Lawnfield in Mentor,Ohio.  For the next 36 years she was a formidable women in history.  In 1898 she co-founded the Mentor Miscellany Club - a women's book club fashioned on her experiences in Washington socialite circles.  It was the first of its kind in the county and perhaps Ohio.  They met at members homes and discussed books or topics related to a yearlong theme, i.e., American History.

Lucretia moved to Pasadena, California in 1901 to avoid the winters of Ohio.  Her commitment to these book clubs continued through the remaining years of her life.  Lawnfield remained in the family possession into the 1930's.  Lucretia continued to be a juggernaut with the Parade of Roses, Democratic Party and other intellectual passions but the book club in Mentor always remained foremost in her legacy.  She visited the club as time allowed upon return visits to see her children and grandchildren - still prominent names in Mentor History.  More importantly her club has remained vibrant for 117 years now - a link to our past.

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