King's Daughters Organization


the Past, Present, & Future of KDO

A History of the Circles


Willing Circle

1st Row (Left to Right): Jan Knuckey, La Verda Wenzel, Evelyn Farris, Jeanette (Jan) O'Brien, Mina Bentsen, Velma McGee, Barbara Farris

2nd Row (Left to Right): Helen Lambert, Myrtle Brady, Gladys Gewe, Fern Bryden, Marge Kirschner, Merle White, Anna Mae Goss, Donna Dormire, Barbara Burris, Joan Hall, Lowanda Medley

In January of 1888 Reverend F.W. Clampett came to Springfield from New York City to be the rector of Christ Church.  Members of his church in New York were connected with The Central Ten and he brought with him the enthusiasm for the organization.  It was his wish to continue the good work started by Margaret Bottome and Edward Everett Hale.  On Sunday evening, June 24, 1888, ten women received the little Maltese cross tied with purple ribbon.  The first circle, Whatsoever, was born.  Their work was to aid and give sympathy to the sick in homes and in the hospitals.  Word of the organization spread quietly and other circles began to form.  The first circles and their focus were:

  • The Whatsoever Circle  - aid and sympathy for the sick, or burdened, received assistance and gentle compassion
  • The Bible Class Ten - to study the King’s message

  • Pastor’s Ten - handmaidens at work in the Master’s vineyard (Congregational Church)

  • Chautauqua Willing Band - largely public school teachers who pledged to work In His Name

  • Tongue Guard Circle - case of twenty-six girls in St. Agatha school, their object being to guard  that unruly member, the tongue

  • The Charitable Ten - whose motto was to think no evil

  • Inasmuch Circle - worked month the newsboys and the boot blacks, striving to plant seed in their hearts that might yield a harvest of true and loyal manhood and hoping to inspire them to be good men

  • The Lend-a-Hand Circle - Sabbath School girls

  • Opportunity Circle - increase interest in temperance cause and cheer the loneliness of strangers

  • L-O-A-N-I - young women decided to “Look out and not in”, thereby leading unselfish lives

These First 10 Circles came together to form the Sangamon County Union of the International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons.

The following circles were formed after April 1880 following an enthusiastic delegation which returned home from a state meeting in Bloomington, soon however three of the sons circles disbanded.

  • The Kindergarten Circle - was the first created after the Union’s formation, followed by the Willing Ten Circle, shortened to the Willing Circle later and whose name has been a synonym for active work in the King’s Daughters Organization.  Willing Circle is the oldest circle active at the present time, having formed March 3, 1890.

  • Industrial Circle- started a good work for poor girls, teaching them to sew and the many uses of the needle 

  • Sunset Ten Circle - embodied a band of elderly ladies interested in any good work

  • Quiet Circle – strived to do their good deeds without ostentation

  • Watchful Circle- adopted the motto: “Speak no evil, and report no unkind remark”

  • Earnest Workers Circle was renamed Wayside Gleaners - Many of the circle members were employed.

  • Noblesse Oblige Circle – was composed of young women whose earnest efforts to be living exponents of their name, made brighter the lives of many other girls and women.

  • Work Together Circle- was a group of diligent women always working in harmony for the interest of the Order.

  • Whatsoever Ten Circle – formed by the 2nd Presbyterian Sunday school, concentrated their efforts in assisting young girls who were not well provided with the needed things of life?

  • According to Our Power Circle, renamed Cheerful Workers Circle - was formed from Grace Lutheran Church.  The group gave their Pastor needed help and later were valuable assistants in the work of the organization.

  • Dorcas Circle and In Memory of Me circle formed and were of the Christian Church.

Two years later in May of 1892 there were 26 Circles with a membership of 379.

Grateful Daughters (last week this circle was featured), 1893, and still in existence today, and Helping Hand were formed.  Capitol Circle and Elizabeth Rose Circle were other additions.

The following are the names of the circles that have come and gone, and mixed in are the highlighted 9 Circles that are in existence today.

These Circles have done a great deal of service work, raised money, and ran a Home for Aged Women for 111 years.  They came together for fellowship and service. Watch for more on this in later posts.

Abide In Me, Alice Gottschalk, Ann Clark, The Badge of the Princess, Bertha M. Nicholas, Capitol, Carrie Post, Cheerful  Workers, Elizabeth Downing, Elizabeth Rose, Esther, Etta May Johnston, Faith, Friendship (December 1920, Active), Garden, Georgiana Post Gardner, Gertrude McKelvey, Golden Hour, Golden Rule, Good Samaritan, Grace, Growth, Hannah Lamb Palmer, Helen Gross, Helping Hand (1893), Hope, Ida Prather(1926), 5 Infant Jesus of Prague, In His Service, Irene Smith, Jane Gray, Julia Lindley, Kathryn Eberle, Lincoln, Loyal, Madonna, Margaret Garfield Circle(formed 1956, Active), Marjorie Post, Marjorie Post/Nightingale (Active), Mary Vienna, Mary Vienna/Esther, Mary A. Lawrence(Active), Mary E. Merchant, Mary Grummon,  Mary H. Blackstock(formed 1936, Active), Nan Hudson, Nancy Jane Makie, Neighborly, Nightingale, Pope John, Progress (Active), Polly Roesch(formed 2013 and Active), 75 St. Monica, Reford-Hope(1919), Seven Keys, Sophia Marsch, Sunshine, Third Day, Worthy Workers, Workers in His Name

The Nine Circles that currently active are:

  • Friendship Circle
  • Grateful Daughter’s Circle
  • Margaret Garfield Circle
  • Marjorie Post/Nightingale Circle
  • Mary A. Lawrence Circle
  • Mary H. Blackstock Circle
  • Polly Roesch Circle
  • Progress Circle
  • Willing Circle

If you have interest in being part of a circle and the organization, please click here for more information.

Jennifer Sylvia