Ladies of the Twentieth Century Club of Garrettsville met on Oct. 18 at the home of Joyce Fashing. Roll call responses, following the year’s theme of Hats Off to Little Known Women, brought mentions of each member’s favorite first lady. These ranged from Dolley Madison to Michelle Obama, through Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Mary Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt, among others.
Thank you’s for club donations were read from the Nelson Garrettsville Community Cupboard Snack Pack program and the Friends of Melana.
The program for the evening was presented by secretary Carol Torda, whose topic, Lucy Ware Webb Hayes aptly fitted the year’s theme. The presentation was in the form of diary entries stretching from the subject’s early years and college experience (She was the first first lady to be a college graduate … followed by Lucretia Garfield) to her meeting with the young Rutherford B. Hayes, an up-and-coming lawyer in the Cincinnati area.
After their marriage and subsequent move to Fremont came the start of their family (which eventually encompassed five surviving children) and the beginning of the Civil War in which her husband was a commander in the Union forces.
Correspondence during the Civil War revealed her anxieties as a military wife as well as her commitment to service to the men under her husband’s command; she was sometimes called "Mother of the Regiment." After the war, she became a congressman’s wife, a governor’s wife, was involved in establishing a state soldiers’ home, and continued her support for women’s rights. Following her husband’s election to the presidency in a disputed election, she moved the family to Washington, D.C., and the White House — which she updated, even bringing in indoor plumbing.
She determined to be a moral example and banned the serving of alcohol in the White House; she supported various charities and education. Her abolitionist beliefs before the Civil War devolved into support for the newly-freed African-Americans. She began the custom of the White House Easter Egg Roll, was the first first lady to visit the West Coast and learned to use a typewriter.
After one term, the Hayes’ retired to Spiegel Grove near Fremont where the Hayes Memorial Library and Museum may be seen today.