Founders of the Hudson Historical Society – Fortnightly Club Reunites at the Hills House

July 22, 2016

Last Thursday, July 14, a group of members of the old Fortnightly Club came together for a reunion at the Hills House. During the get together Vivian Moore was presented with a bouquet of flowers for being the oldest person to attend the reunion. Moore will turn 97 on July 31.

This committee of women was recognized as the founding organization of the Hudson Historical Society. First named in 1953, the committee assumed the role of a historical society. With the cooperation of the Hills Memorial Library Trustees, they established an historical room, collected and cataloged historical items donated to them, and organized historical displays for special events including annual displays for the students of Hudson schools. As their collection grew and space became an issue at the library they recognized the need for added space and presumably the need for a town-wide historical organization, an organization, one that could draw on the entire community for support and membership. In 1965, when the town came so close to losing an historic landmark, they saw the opportunity and rallied the town of ultimately defeat the article to raze the building, thus providing the impetus and opportunity to organize an historical society and restore the Hills House as a museum of the town’s history.

The then president of the Fortnightly Club served as the organizing chairman for the Historical Society after which most, if not all, members of the committee joining the society and volunteered numerous hours toward the restoration of the Hills House; the continuance of cataloging artifacts; and researching and writing the history update, “Town in Transition”

Recognition is extended to the Hudson Historical Committee of 1965 and to its members: Hazel Austin, Hazel Buxton, Dorothy Crompton, Sylvia Fleming, Nettie Fuller, Doris Lyon, Natalie Merrill, Ruth E. Parker, Zoula Rowell, Claire Smith, Ethelyn Smith, Josephine Stevechwitz, and Chairman Effie Winn.

History of the Hudson Fortnightly Club

The Hudson Fortnightly Club was organized in 1910 with 18 charter members. It was originally a literary club formed in 1907 and comprised of both men and women. When the club’s leader, The Rev. Edward J. Blanchard, moved from town, the men dropped out but the ladies continued to meet retaining the same club name. In 1914, the club joined the NHFWC (New Hampshire Federation of Women’s Clubs) and in 1924 voted the name, the Hudson Fortnightly Club.

During the early years the meetings were held in the homes of the members and the membership was limited to 50. Larger quarters were needed when the membership was increased to 100 and the Rebekah rooms at the Old Fellows Building (now known as the Veterans Memorial Building) became its meeting place. With the growth of the town, membership became unlimited and the club has used the assembly rooms of the churches, Grange Hall, library and most recently the new town building.

Early programs were planned and given on art, studies of foreign countries, musicals, book reviews and special parties – the year usually closing with a club picnic. In later years, many speakers of note and panel discussions on many subjects (youth, education, dru8gs, law and order, etc.) have been enjoyed. Programs still continue t be interesting, educational, constructive timely and entertaining.

Many special interest groups have been formed: the Dramatic Group, the Women’s Chorus, the Historical Committee (functioning since 1953), and the Garden Committee since 1958. The club, usually meeting in the evening, has held all-day meetings with demonstrations, style shows and awards. The Homemaker’s Holiday was staffed by members at Carde Rochambeau in Nashua in 1959 and 1960 and at the N.H. State Armory in 1961 and 1962. Members have participated in sewing contests within the club and at the district and state levels. Bus trips have been organized and all-day trips taken to many points of interest in the neighboring state of Massachusetts.

The club has always been on the Gold Star list. The first Child Welfare Clinic was organized in Hudson in 1925 with the help of the school nurse, a club member. Interested in the civic growth of our community, the club has often served with other organizations on many worthwhile projects. It has always contributed generously to the numerous drives in town with members serving as chairman on many occasions.

During World War I the club devoted much time to making surgical dressings and sewing for the American Red Cross. Eye glasses were furnished to children during the depression years with the club joining the Mothercraft program and Holiday Cheer. Club members were very active in the bicentennial celebration of our town in 1933. During World War II regular meeting were devoted to Red Cross work and later to Civil Defense.

A Teacher of the Year was sponsored several years with an Oscar presentation and dinner. Committees have worked for veterans and state hospitals and the Laconia State School. A memorial bookshelf has been installed at the town library. A marker has been placed at the town pound and a boulder marks the training ground of the Minutemen of 1765 at the Hudson Center Common.

For the past 10 years, the Historical Committee has arranged exhibits in the town library for the fourth grade pupils of the public and parochial schools. Two hundred forty-nine children with their six instructors attended this exhibit on May 21 and 22, 1968.

In 1959 the Hudson Fortnightly Club planned the 50th anniversary of the dedication of Hills Memorial Library and Alvirne Memorial Chapel in conjunction with the trustees. In 1964 they sponsored a Junior Women’s Club. In 1966 they were instrumental in forming the Hudson Historical Society and is currently working with them on the project of restoring the Hills House on Derry Road as a historical and cultural center. The club has also sponsored Girl Scout troops and participated in programs with them.

Club members also lend their help to “get out the vote” for national elections.

Through the efforts of the Community Improvement Committee, picnic tables were installed on several of the state highways in town, the lower room of the town library has been redecorated, the Youth Center kitchen was equipped and improvements made throughout the building, and a Hudson Improvement Council was organized with two delegates responding from every organization in town. This group, which has been in existence for five years, was responsible for landscaping the grounds at Hills Memorial Library and for organizing the Hudson Family Fair for four consecutive years. It also conducted a survey of the town library’s needs which resulted in members cooperating with the librarian and trustees in installing a beautifully equipped children’s department.

Members of the club have taken the school census for several years to earn money that provides scholarships to graduates of Alvirne High School each year. The club also earns money for this fund by running food sales and selling coffee and doughnuts at town meetings.

The names of nine of the members have been placed on the State Honor Roll.

One member, Maude French, served as district chairman and then went through the various NHFWC offices until she was president in 1961-1963. She is still taking an active part in federation work.

Hazel Austin has served as business manager of the N.H. Clubwoman and then as editor for 10 years. She is now serving as state treasurer.

Others taking active part in the State Federation are Zoula Rowell, Josephine Steckevicz, Mildred Ahrendt, Gloria Binks and Virginia Smith.

Fortnightly continued until early- to mid-1990s with community activities including cookbooks, curtains for school auditoriums.

In the 1960s Fortnightly became the parent organization for the historical society through the Historical Committee of Fortnightly.

The last president of the club was Barbara Tellinghuisen.