The Thomaston Garden Club celebrates 85 years

By Janice Goins Special to The Thomaston Times

February 25, 2014

An Anniversary Tea was held in the Grand Jury Room of the Upson County Courthouse on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 to honor the memory of the remarkable ladies and one gentleman that organized The Thomaston Garden Club and set the high standards for all the clubs that followed. Tables displayed the early history, names of Charter Members and Past Presidents. Also on display was a book with the original hand written minutes and treasurers’ reports of meetings from January 1929 until October 1934. Scrapbooks, yearbooks and photos were also on display.

Mr. A. J. Nitzchke, who served as the County Agent in 1929, held a meeting on Saturday, January 12, 1929 for the purpose of organizing a garden club. He stated the purpose of the club would be to study horticulture, landscape design and flower arranging. There were 27 persons present and from them a temporary committee was appointed to perfect the clubs organization.

The name decided on was “The Thomaston Garden Club.” It was decided the monthly meetings would be held the third Wednesday afternoon in the courthouse and $1 per year was agreed upon as the club dues. They wrote a Constitution composed of seven articles which stated that anyone applying for membership at the next meeting would be accepted as Charter Members.

Four days later on Wednesday, January 16, 1929, the first official meeting of The Thomaston Garden Club was held with 37 persons present applying for membership and regarded as Charter Members. The temporary committee presented nominations for officers: Mrs. Julian Hightower for President, Mrs. Worthy Wheeless for Vice-President, and Mrs. William Britt, Jr. for Secretary/Treasurer. These names were voted on, approved and the new officers were immediately installed. Twenty-five members paid their dues that day so the beginning assets of the club was $25.

The club was sponsored by the Thomaston Kiwanis and in January 1930, the club became federated with the State of Georgia and became one of the sixth oldest clubs in Georgia.

The club was only nine months old on October 29, 1929 when it witnessed the Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression that followed, yet during the 1930s, great gardeners were molded. They began the foundation work for many accomplishments of later years. These ladies and one gentleman were truly pioneers that led the way. Some of their accomplishments in the 1930s included planting of shrubs and irises at Weaver Park, beautification and plantings at Glenwood Cemetery, highway beautification, planting flower beds at the post office and donating books to the library. They sold plants and candy as a fund-raising project and made $1.80. It was noted in the minutes of one of their meetings that the refreshments served consisted of hot tea and buttered bread. They held their first Flower Show with the total expenses being 70 cents. Their hand-painted scrapbook won the 1st Place State Award and they had three members hold State Offices (Hightower, Paulk and Colquitt).

The 1940s were war years… no flower shows, no yearbooks and no refreshments. All this expense went into war bonds and stamps. They planted Victory Gardens with the emphasis on canning to meet food rationing. These members stayed the course and they never canceled a meeting. Then after resumption of normal life, their scrapbook and yearbook both won a first place State Award. They held a Violet Flower Show, a Camellia Flower Show and later weekly flower shows in the local stores that were judged by the public. They organized and hosted the very first State Garden Tour with three local gardens featured at the homes of Mrs. Julian Hightower, Mrs. Alvah Nelson and Mrs. Albert Matthews. They began presenting “Garden and Horticulture Talks” on the air at WSFT Radio Station. As a memorial to the WWII dead, they landscaped the entrance to Southview Cemetery. They decorated four large trees on the square at Christmas. They established Thomaston as a “Bird Sanctuary” and they began the first garden club booth at the Upson County Fair.

These remarkable members accomplished all this during the hardships of the 1930s and 1940s and that is why we wanted to recognize and honor their memory and their contributions with a celebration The Thomaston Garden Club’s 85th Anniversary.