Friday, May 17, 2013

Bessie Morgan, Nokomish Literary Club, 1910.

 The Salt Lake Tribune’s January 30, 1910 Woman’s Society and Club Page noted what Grandmother Bessie Morgan Rex was up to. She is mentioned in Club Notes.

Had her picture been included on this page,
 I believe this one would have worked well.

From Club News

The Nokomish club met Monday afternoon at the home of Miss Bessie Morgan, at 359 Bryan avenue, and elected officers for the ensuing year. The new officers are: Miss Bessie Morgan, president; Winnifred Saunders, secretary and treasurer: Ahna Rohlfing, editor of the Nokomish Comet, a paper published by the club. Light refreshments were served after the election and arrangements were made for the taking up of a study of higher branches of literature.

The first Ladies’ Literary Club in Salt Lake was formed in 1877 by a small group of broad minded and forward-looking women. It was one of twelve chapters founded in America and the first west of the Mississippi River. At that time becoming a club woman required great courage. The majority of the women involved were non-LDS women, looking for a social outlet and the opportunity of self-education.  The organization welcomed all women interested in “literary pursuits and the development of mental culture.” The club’s purpose was to provide an environment where ladies could educate themselves and each other in many different aspects of culture and knowledge. The club was divided into sections including art, drama, music, literature, history and others. Ladies could belong to one or several sections depending on their interests. [1]

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest

Nokomis is the name of Hiawatha's grandmother in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, The Song of Hiawatha. Nokomis is an Iroquois Indian name meaning "Daughter of the Moon" and "Grandmother". Nokomis nursed and educated Hiawatha after his mother died in childbirth. [2]

The literary club's name interests me, as does these young women’s interest in “taking up of a study of higher branches of literature”. That interest never left Grandmother Bessie. She continually thirsted for knowledge and studied. Her sister called her the “brain”. Bessie had a sharp intellect and was interested in literature, music, politics and current events—local and worldwide.

It is interesting to me now to recall my own mother’s interest in The Song of Hiawatha when she helped me memorize it in grade school.

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