Women’s Community Club of Grafton finds long-lost box

GRAFTON, Vt. – The Women’s Community Club of Grafton will celebrate 100 years of community, philanthropy, and higher education at a Centennial Gala Aug. 18 with all the fixings. Judy Rowley, the club’s historian, eager to present a little history about the club, was puzzled that the Grafton Historical Society didn’t have any records or old photos on the club.

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Judy Rowley, the club’s historian, with original documents from 1918. Photo provided.

After hours and days of searching throughout the entire Grafton Historical Museum and insisting that “something” must exist, she and the Grafton Historical Society administrator, Maureen Fisher Fletcher, discovered a box that apparently had never been opened. The society was organized in 1962 so it could be a lost cause, but they hit pay dirt. The original minutes from 1918-1928 were found in the box. Not only that, but the original will from 1938 by Susan Daniels that left money to the club to focus on education and other beautification and maintenance projects was inside along with other historical gems.

Rowley was thrilled about the discovery and vows to store the historical documents in a very safe and prominent place in the museum. She now has the records she needs to bring the 100-year history of the club to light.

Looking back over the years, through wars, a depression, and times of recession and prosperity, the women of the WCC have helped make Grafton a better place to live. As described in the minutes of Feb. 8, 1918, it all started on that date when 75 women gathered in the Baptist Vestry to organize the Ladies Knitting Club, which raised money, knitted clothing, and gave aid and support to American soldiers during World War I. The idea for such an effort became the “seed” for the Women’s Community Club that exists today.

 

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Original documents of the Women’s Community Club of Grafton, dated 1918 to 1928. Photo provided.

After the war, and with a name change, the club turned its attention to efforts within the community. The scholarship program was launched thanks to Susan Daniels’ will. She was also the club’s first lifetime member. The gift was earmarked to promote higher education, maintain the Village Park, and tune the pianos in the Town Hall, Chapel, and Village School. Barbara Fisher Rogers received the first scholarship of $100 in 1966-67.

This year, the club awarded $20,000 in total to seven students. It has given out 225 scholarships to 127 Grafton students totaling $250,000 in just over 50 years – an accomplishment for a town of 600.

At this date, the Centennial Gala is sold out, but those eager to attend can put their name on a waiting list by writing to wccgala@gmail.com. The gala will feature a half-hour concert with musicians from Boston’s A Far Cry along with an Arts and Crafts benefit auction to highlight the artists and arts tradition in Grafton.

Money raised through this event will fund scholarships given to local students pursuing post-secondary education. Absentee bids can be placed by contacting wccgala@gmail.com. More details, photos, and description of auction items can be found at www.facebook.com/Grafton.WCC or email wccgala@gmail.com.

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