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Circle History

King's Daughters Organization currently has nine Circles of Friendship with a total of just over 340 members. A "Circle" is the organizational and functional building block of the KOO. Much like other organizations which have different "Lodge" numbers or branches, KDO has Circles. Each circle consist of a group of ten or more KDO members who have joined together to serve the mission of the organization.

Just like the organization itself, each Circle has a rich history in the Springfield community. They supported many charities in the early and even later in the years financially, sewing clothes and linens for them, and in other ways. Some of the organizations supported in the early years include: Anti-Tuberculosis Society, Lincoln Colored Home, Social Welfare, an Infantile Paralysis clinic The Day Nursery, Traveler's Aid, YWCA, the Home of the Friendless, the Springfield Hospital and of course the King's Daughters Home. There were also notes that clothes were gathered and sewn for in need families and even the digging of a well for a family. Circle history documentation has been left to each Circle to preserve. While some Circles have a deeper history that has been well documented, each is equally important in its service to the King's Daughters' Home and the elderly.

The Friendship Circle of King's Daughters was organized in the fall of 1920. Mrs. Ida Prather was President of the Carrie Post King's Daughters' Home for Women at the time. The intention of the House Board of Directors was to have every room in the Home sponsored and cared for by its own circle. Mrs. Prather made the request to form a circle of friends to Mrs. Alva Shepard and Eva Northcutt Barber. Mrs. Barber was closely associated with the Home since early in 1900.


Mrs. Prather and Mrs. Council, Alva Shepard's mother, were members of the Willing Circle and were greatly interested that a group of younger women form a Circle of their own, instead of going into their Mother's Circles.


The first five who would accept an office were selected: Mrs. Millicent Seifert Taylor, wife of Dr. Percy Taylor and close friend of Mrs. Shepherd, agreed to be the first President of Friendship Circle. Mrs. Bess Council Shepherd, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Council agreed to be Vice President. Mrs. Gertrude Canham accepted the office of Treasurer.

M Canh was a member of the Jewelry Firm of Canham and Tobin. Mrs. Harriet Van Me- ~ am fi ter Barber was Secretary. Mrs. Eva Northcutt Barber was the rst board member and remained on the board as House Chairman for twelve years.


In 1920 Mrs. Sidney Breeze, wife of a well-known attorney was the "organizer" of the King's Daughters. The first five selected to form the circle ~et at ~er_home on_ South Fourth Street to plan, name and select a membership. Membership was hm1t~d to thirty. The first five asked five friends to join. After about two years the membership was completed to thirty. Three hostesses would serve together for the ten months pledged to meet. The hostesses were chosen alphabetically. A tea and refreshment period were planned after the meeting at i:oo p.m. This arrangement did not work too well, because it ran too closely to the dinner hour. All of the members had families to look after as well. Soon it was changed to a lunch menu instead of tea and the lunch was to be at 1:00 p.m.


The rooms at the Home when the Friendship Circle originated were limited. Several of the rooms were cared for and furnished by individuals as memorials for certain especially interested people or donors. So in 1920, the Circle was organized with aims to aid where help and money were most needed. Once a small room was redone for the private use of the Matron of the Home. Another time a much neglected, old dark, dank cellar was cleaned by the Friendship Circle. Another time, much time was spent cleaning and rearranging in a business like attic.


Friendship Circle has always been a dependable prop for any chore assigned at the Home. Teas were hosted for many occasions, the Home decorated for the Holiday Seasons, Circle members worked on improving the grounds and always kept the room in good condition. Many birthday parties were held through the years for the Circle Lady. Often chicken, oysters, apples, vegetables and canned goods for special days, like New Year, Easter and Christmas were furnished by Friendship Circle.


Historic Note oflnterest: One of Friendship Circle's members was Charlotte Ide Jess (January 31, 1887-December 11, 1993) Mrs. Jess (widow of Robert Emmit Jess) is buried in Springfield's Oak Ridge Cemetery. Her obituary reads in part like this:


"Mrs. Jess was a member of the First Presbyterian Church and the Friendship Circle of King's Daughters. In addition to being a homemaker, she enjoyed painting and was an amateur artist, and displayed several of her works in her home. The daughter of a prominent Springfield family, Mrs. Jess grew up in a sprawling white house a~ Fifth Street and Keys Avenue. Her grandfather was Albert Ide, an inventor and personal friend of Thomas Edison. Ide developed the Ideal engine - a high-speed automatic engine used to produce electricity. The engine, marketed worldwide brought the family a sizable fortune.

Mrs. Jess, in her youth, attended parties at Susan Lawrence Dana's Home and dances at the Leland Hotel. One of her lasting memories was when Charles Lindbergh flew the first load of air mail into the city."


The Circle has been able to trace back a two-generation membership in Friendship Circle: charter member Mrs. Harry (Alice Watts) Luehrs and her daughter, Margaret Luehrs Summers (November 27, 1920- April 24, 2002). Margaret always jokingly considered herself a "charter member" of Friendship Circle since she was born the year the circle was formed. Margaret was a very active member of Friendship Circle for many years.


Another noteworthy mention is current member Maryann Walker. She joined Friendship Circle in 2005 after having served as Administrator of the King's Daughters' Home from September 11, 1989-November 16, 2003.


At this time, there are 11 Active members; 3 Sustaining members; and 1 Honorary member (Beth ~illian, joined 1977). Circle meetings are held at 5:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the following months: September, October, November, February, March, April, and June. The location is decided at the current meeting for the following meeting and reservations are made by the Vice leader.

“We assisted one particular client who is a single female in her late 60s with her utilities. She had some unexpected health issues, which resulted in unexpected medical bill. Being on a fixed income making sure that her all of her bills were paid on time was becoming a challenge. Thankfully through the assistance of KDO we were able to pay her CWLP bill so she didn’t get disconnected. Her appreciation was so great that she was moved to tears and later mailed us a thank you card. So many of our senior clients are like this individual in that they are living on a fixed income, their dollar isn’t going as far, they face unexpected bills, but don’t have the money to fall back on.”

Catholic Charities

Patrick McConnell, Area Director

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Brenda Staab, Mary Blackstock Circle, 2018 - 2020

Cindy Denby, Progress Circle, 2016 - 2018

Suzie Stables Duff, Mary Blackstock Circle, 2014 - 2016

Teresa McElwee, Margaret Garfield Circle, 2012 - 2014

Sue Shevlin, Progress Circle, 2010 - 2012

Cathy Schwartz, Mary Blackstock Circle, 2008 - 2010

Donna Jean Gibney, Margaret Garfield Circle, 2005 - 2008

Jean McLain, Progress Circle, 2003 - 2005

Barbara Archer, Mary A Lawrence Circle, 2001 - 2003

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