Anyway, no one ever came up with a plan for a Woman's Club until Mrs. Mary Jane Reid came along. Now there was a lady about whom we wish to tell you. With her begins the story of our club, past and present.
Mr. and Mrs. Reid owned a ranch in the Alta Loma area (called the Iowa Tract, and later lomosa, Hermosa, Cucamonga, Etiwanda and Alta Loma) - the settlements which today are incorporated into Rancho Cucamonga. In February 1863 they drove from Santa Ana to their new land in a two horse wagon with household goods and farm implements. Mrs. Reid wrote that Ontario and Upland were in a "state of nature" except that the present Euclid Avenue was ploughed but not leveled. They picked their way over the rough ploughed land and finally reached Cucamonga. The only persons they met between Pomona and Cucamonga were two Chinamen in the Cucamonga Wash, carrying a pig over their shoulders on a pole. They found the Iowa Tract (both sides of the present Hellman Avenue north of Margaret Mitchell’s present home), with no trees, no street, no cleared land and no water. After pitching their tent, they went to the Whitfield Ranch (on Wilson between Amethyst and Archibald) to obtain water. Mrs. Reid set off across the country the next day, hoping for mail. The nearest post office was in Cucamonga’s one business house — a one room saloon, post office and general store. Upon finding herself in a saloon, she backed out and never again set foot in the post office until it was moved. Soon her husband left on a four or five day trip to obtain hay from Spadra, the nearest place it could be purchased. While he was gone a bad rain and wind storm came. The tent leaked and everything was soaked, including Mrs. Reid. So - another mile hike to the Whitfields - wading through the storm. After the storm she returned to her tent home, tried to dry things, but there came a forty-eight hour "norther”, first setting the tent on fire temporarily, and later blowing it down. Back to the Whitfield’s again, where she lived for eleven days, while a temporary wooden shack was built by her husband. They lived for eleven years in that “temporary” shack.
The communities of lomosa, Hermosa and Cucamonga began to grow. By 1885 the Kincaid Grocery Store was started on San Bernardino Road, and the post office moved into it. By 1886 - 1867 the Santa Fe Railroad was built. This was to bring a great boom to the area, but after a terrific wind in December of that year, the boom became a "busted boom," Mrs. Reid wrote, and the settlers planted wind breaks.
By 1908 Mrs. Reid and thirteen other ladies decided it was time for the women of the communities to start a "current Events Club" — soon changed to the Woman's Club. They promoted lectures, concerts, current events and California history, showing the progress of the area from the 1880’s to the early 1900's.
The very first meeting
was held on Saturday, January 11, 1908 when Mrs. Hamilton Johnson hostessed a
meeting for these ladies in her home to discuss starting a Woman’s Club. Mrs. Johnson
was elected President and Mrs. Reid's daughter, Miss Gertrude Reid, was elected Secretary. A
Constitution and Bylaws were written, stating the name of the club to be The
Cucamonga Woman’s Club, and that they would meet two times a month at the
President’s home. However, at the two meetings held in February of 1908 the
minutes refer to the club as The Cucamonga Current Events Club. Current Events
were the topic for each meeting for many years. Subjects discussed were: the
American Indian; Mexico; South American countries; books by popular authors of
the time; health & hygiene, etc. San Antonio Community Hospital celebrated their
100th Anniversary in 2007. Our minutes state that the women of the club canned
fruits and vegetables for the hospital for many years. (Imagine doing that in
today’s world.) January of each year was set aside to mend and cut bandages two
days a week for the entire month. In 1910 they talked of building a club housie
and two gentlemen offered a piece of property to the Woman’s Club but for some
legal reason they backed out. However, a Mrs. Salsbury stated, “We have left in
the treasury $80.33, not much of a club house in that”.
In 1913 the women discussed having refreshments at their meetings and Mrs., Reid said, “We meet to feed our minds, not our stomachs”. Some years later they started having punch and wafers. (It is not known if “wafers” were cookies or crackers.)
Rancho Cucamonga's public library system, as we know it today, actually received its start from the Cucamonga-Alta Loma Woman's Club. Between 1913 and 1914, the club worked very hard to secure a branch of the San Bernardino County Free Library for the area. George T. Morris graciously donated space in his drugstore for use as a library. This first facility was located at Archibald Avenue and Foothill Boulevard. Morris became, logically, the first custodian of the newly formed branch. To facilitate the books of the new library, the ladies of the Woman's Club purchased used doors and cut them in order to build bookcases. Thus it was, on March 30, 1914, that the Cucamonga Branch of the County Free Library was established. Some other noteworthy undertakings of the club during the early 20th century, besides the establishing of a library, included the endorsement of a Sierra Club bill for the establishment of the John Muir Trail. This took place during the years 1914 and 1915. In 1915, a movement was begun by the club to bring a chapter of the San Bernardino County Farm Bureau to the area and, in 1917 the club began aiding local Girl Scout organizations. In 1918, the group showed its interest in the safety and welfare of the community by making application to the State Highway Commission for the installation of a safety button (signal) to be installed at the corner of Archibald Avenue and State Highway (Foothill Boulevard). During World War I, the ladies held meetings which dealt with the conservation of food and the use of flour substitutes.
In 1925 the club's community service activities included the donation of a room at the old San Antonio Hospital in Upland Also in 1925-26 the California Federations of Woman's Clubs (CFWC) San Bernardino District's Convention was held at the Red Hill Country Club in Cucamonga with lunch served at the Sycamore Inn. (Remember in those days there were no paved roads and folks traveled mainly by horse-drawn buggies, on horseback or walked.) Can you imagine our members walking that distance today? In 1928-29 the Cucamonga Woman’s Club took part in the dedication of the “Madonna of the Trails” statue, which still stands today at Foothill Blvd. and Euclid Ave, in Upland.
During the Depression years in the 1930’s the women discussed the serious unemployment. In 1932, at a dinner, Mr. George Parsons was chosen as the “most popular man”. His prize was a bowl of applesauce. A basket of sweet peas was the gift to the outgoing president of the club.
In 1940 the club entered a buggy in the “Then and Now” section of the All States Picnic held on Euclid Avenue – an annual event still today. In 1941, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the start of World War II, the members did defense work, helped with Red Cross work, helped in the canteens, and purchased Savings Bonds. 1943-45 Minutes mention that the Club President stated “These two years were troubled and uneasy. However, the skeleton of Club life was held intact. The programs were most rewarding and a close bond of understanding and friendship between members was strengthened since all were united with a single purpose – to be of service to each other and our country.”
In 1956 the Woman’s Club and the Cucamonga Men’s Club combined their resources and purchased the old Center School on the northeast corner of San Bernardino Road and Hellman Avenue. It became known as “Sweeten Hall”. With lots of hard work by both clubs the first meeting of the 1956-57 year was held there. The Woman’s Club had 80 members at that time. The CFWC San Bernardino District gave them an award for their efforts in this project of cleaning up the property, both inside and out. While meeting in Sweeten Hall our members cooked and served the luncheons themselves
On May 14, 1958 the Club won first place in the CFWC for the Community and Beautification Achievement Contest, sponsored by Sears and Roebuck. The award was presented at the State Convention in San Francisco.
In 1985 the members of the Rancho Cucamonga Woman’s Club decided to sell their interest in Sweeten Hall and began to meet at different restaurants in the area such as Magic Lamp, Ponderosa, Polo Club, Cecelia’s, etc.
In December, 1990 we started meeting at Alta Laguna Mobile Home Clubhouse, where we still meet today. We have a caterer to cook and serve our lunches and enhance our monthly meetings with speakers and other entertainment.
The name of our club has
changed several times over the years:
1908 – The Cucamonga Woman’s Club
1938 – The Cucamonga Alta Loma Woman’s Club
1977 – The Rancho Cucamonga Woman’s Club
In 1992, when Norma Davis was President and Shirley Odom was Vice President, Shirley got the idea of a living memorial for our past presidents. She contacted the Superintendent of Parks for Rancho Cucamonga to see if there was room for some trees. Red Hill Park was choosen. The Superintendent suggested half to be Redwoods and half Liquid Amber. The Liquid Ambers were planted near the ball fields and the Redwoods in the southwest corner of the park. The club ordered 50 trees at the cost of $2,250 and had a Tree Planting Ceremony. Honored guests included the Mayor of Rancho Cucamonga, our District President, Marian Jensen, as well as the ten Past Presidents: Ruth Acres, Lois Nuernberger, Norma Howard, Virginia Atkins, Eunice Lewis, Shirley Leman, Marian Johnson, Kathryn Wilson, Ada Cooper, and Marie McBride. The Sequoia trees were about 4 feet tall (they really weren’t sure these Sequoias would grow in Southern California as they are really a Northern California tree). But, they have survived and matured into a beautiful, tranquil retreat. The tradition has continued to the present. Every time a President retires, we honor her with a new Sequoia. Please visit our “Grove of Sequoias” located at the southeast corner of Red Hill Park on Vineyard Avenue, south of Base Line Road. As of 2011 there have been 62 trees planted to honor our Presidents. (Pictures of 2011 Tree Planting Ceremony)
Over the years we have donated thousands of dollars, and volunteered hours of time for many causes. We provide a scholarship for a graduating senior at each of the four high schools in our town, as well as two scholarships for Chaffey College students … one for a continuing Nursing student and another for a student perusing either a Business or Education degree. We donate the fees needed for a sophomore from each of our four high schools to attend a HOBY Conference each summer. We provide a classroom set of “Kind News” to eleven elementary schools in the area and continue to help the local Head Start with books, toys and monetary donations. Every spring, at each of our seven middle schools, we give a $50 savings bond to two 8th grade “at-risk” students (a boy & a girl) who have improved the most during the school year. We feel these programs reach all children in our city.
The “Pennies for Pines” which we donate at each of our general luncheon meetings go towards two annual plantings of trees in our local San Bernardino Mountains. Each month the chairman announces what is wanted and then our members bring food or place cash donations in a can that is passed for the “Rancho Cucamonga Resource Center” (food for the hungry).
Because USA service people overseas have no access to our local newspapers and magazines, we spend hours clipping many thousands of dollars worth of manufacturers’ coupons from them. With the help of wonderful volunteers, the coupons are added up, packaged and mailed to bases overseas where they are used by our military personnel and their families who shop at the commissary. The coupons can be used there for 6 months to a year beyond the expiration date.
We deliver toothpaste, books, shaving needs, playing cards, puzzles, etc. and homemade adult bibs, lap robes, knit slippers, etc. for our veterans at Jerry Pettis Veterans Hospital in Loma Linda, California. Several of our members knit and crochet baby blankets, hats and booties for the neonatal nursery at a local hospital.
We give used clothing, furniture and appliances to “Stepping Stones”, our current president’s Special Project. The mission of Stepping Stones Home is to restore and strengthen families and communities by providing residential social model treatment for alcoholism/drug addiction to women and their children.
Annual cash donations are made to a variety of charities, such as Canine Companions, Salvation Army, Santa Clause, Inc., and InterPlast. For many years we have packed gaily wrapped shoe boxes with toys, crayons, pencils, books, socks, hair items for the Christmas Child project of Walter Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse. Walter, the son of evangelist Billy Graham, distributes them to the needy children of the world. We also collect “pull tabs” for Ronald McDonald House in Loma Linda.
In 2008 RCWC donated $10,000 to the City of Rancho Cucamonga for the Jane Austin Study Room at the new Paul Biane Library at the Cultural Center in Victoria Gardens. Our gift commemorated our 100th Anniversary and our members' work for and donation of shelves to the city's original 1914 library.
We members of Rancho Cucamonga Woman’s Club today need to be very thankful for the wonderful records (Minutes & Membership) that have been kept for these past 100 years by all of the members of our great organization. We hope this history will encourage you to join your hands with ours and in the words of our current president's motto, "Come fly with me in Federation".
Watch for more History of Rancho Cucamonga Woman's Club in the years to come.
|1. Presidents, 1908 - 1970||5. Awards & Activities||9. Members - Past & Presents|
|2. Presidents, 1970 - 2009||6. Fundraisers, Fashion Shows, Parades||10. Meetings, Publicity & 100th Anniversary|
|3. Philanthropies & Charities||7. Parties, Crafts, Boutiques, Day Trips||11. 100th Anniversary Party (cont.)|
|4. Service Projects||8. Day Trips & Programs||12. 100th Anniversary Party (cont.)|
Once upon a time, there was a pleasant valley at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains, inhabited by Indians who lived near a red hill. Then came the Franciscan priests who walked through the area and claimed it for their San Gabriel Mission. Later came the covered wagons along the Santa Fe trail, bringing settlers from the east to Los Angeles.
Before the covered wagons really began to roll through this area, however, a large domain was granted to Don Tapia by the Mexican Government of California. In 1839 he established his Cucamonga Rancho and built a fortress-like adobe house somewhere on Red Hill. From that elevation he could oversee much of his Grant of 13,000 acres, where he raised cattle and grapes. Don Tapia is supposed to have buried his fortune on Red Hill, starting the legend of Cucamonga's buried treasure.
Return to RCWC Welcome Page
Return to Member Clubs Page
Return to GFWC/CFWC San Bernardino District Home Page