On the first Friday in January of 1936 a large group of ladies gathered on the third floor of the San Saba Courthouse to discuss the organization of a garden club in San Saba. Alma (Mrs. Lawrence) Hamrick had invited several ladies from the Brownwood Garden Club to discuss and outline what the procedure might be to form a new club in this district. The next week officers were elected with Fannie (Mrs. W. C.) Dofflemeyer serving as first president of the newly named San Saba Garden Club.
As the war years came upon us, the members voted to meet once a month and not to meet in the summer. The club sponsored a variety of fund-raising projects, hoping to be able to build a clubhouse. The club voted to purchase a Liberty Bond to aid in the war effort.
After the war, in the early 1950’s, Mrs. Sallie (Mrs. G. A.) Arhelger invited Katy May to grow water Garden Club flower beds in Mill Pond Park. The big mill wheel for the mill building had just been sold to Japan, and now a wrecking crew was in the process of removing the mill building. Sallie and Katy Lee stopped the men, and promptly found the Mayor of San Saba and requested the building for the Garden Club. The City of San Saba gave the Garden Club a 99 year lease on the property for $1.00. The club had the Liberty Bond money to begin the restoration process and there was much to be done. One wall had already been destroyed and there was no floor for the building.
It took members many years of fundraising to earn enough money for a concrete floor that had to be built (the foundation had a gaping hole). The wheel area had to be closed, the front wall had to be rebuilt and a roof put on, and the cost for such an undertaking seemed insurmountable.
After many years and fundraisers the club finally was able to reconstruct the front wall, pour a concrete floor, add electricity and plumbing to make it a fine clubhouse. The ladies’ efforts were rewarded by the Texas Historical Society presenting the club with a Texas Historical Marker in a beautiful ceremony.
The ladies accomplished this by constructing floats for businesses in town for the rodeo parades held in June. Some years the ladies made 3-4 floats in addition to the Garden Club float. Their first float featured summer flowers handmade from paper.
Another project to get donations to add electricity and plumbing to the building was the Christmas Pilgrimage where families agreed to allow the Garden Club to decorate their homes for Christmas. The public was invited at no charge to view the decorations of trains, angels, candy canes and so forth. This project was discontinued for a while and restarted in the 1970’s as a “Tour of Homes” with families doing their own decorating and serving refreshments at one home. It has been the primary fundraiser for the club for many years.
To provide our community with a fitting Veteran Memorial, members built and sold bluebird houses for two years in order to purchase the Blue Star Memorial for Highway 190 to honor the Veterans in San Saba County. The ladies had to build and sell many birdhouses to purchase the $900 marker. The dedication ceremony was awesome with many veterans and folks from all over the state in attendance.
Another successful project was the scattering of wildflower seeds along the four entrances into San Saba. Pounds and pounds of bluebonnet seeds were purchased, mixed with sand, and placed in bottles for the sixth graders to spread. For several years you would see the children spreading seeds in the fall for spring blooms. Their participation developed into a Green Thumb Junior Garden Club that was very active for many years.
Another memory from the early years was the first “Formal Tea.” Mrs. Ward Holman invited the ladies of San Saba to her home where Garden Club members wore formal attire and tea was served in every room of the home. Another party rememberd was the celebration of Washington’s birthday. Formal colonial dresses and colonial hairstyles were chosen by Garden Club members and guests enjoyed a garden tea in the backyard of Lady Wynne (Mrs. R. C.) Felts.
There have been many tree plantings, buckets of flowers watered, landscape seminars, programs, laughs, tears, and all to embrace the beauty of San Saba County. The Garden Club exists to serve the community to enhance the gorgeous natural environment of our county. We are thankful for the work of many, and to Sharon Hayes who, years ago, thought to interview and record these reminisces of Katy Lee May and Maxine Miffleton and others who were instrumental in the club.
The clubhouse is in need of continual repair. Recently, the building received a major rejuvenation both inside and out; with plans for more work on the drawing board. The unique structure was almost lost, but now with the constant care of the Garden Club and the City of San Saba, the clubhouse will be a reminder of days past as well as exciting days to come.