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"History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin, 1914, Past and Present"

Chapter  18

The Old Settlers' Association

by Miss A. E. Kidder

(-as transcribed from pages 345 - 346)

On July 25, 1881, a club was organized under the name of the Eau Claire County Settlers' Association, of which any person who had settled in said county twenty years or more previously should be eligible as member.  The object of the association, as set fort int he preamble, was "to the end that the reminiscences and memories of the early history may be preserved, mutual acquaintance be more strongly cemented, social enjoyment promoted and influence for the well-being of the future better felt and more effectually directed."  The following named persons signed the constitution, duly prepared by a committee, and became members of the association:  George W. Sprague, Henry W. Butler, Peter Truax, John Pettipher, Archie McVicar, Stephen Marston, A. S. Bostwick, Daniel J. Chandler, B. C. Dann, William P. Bartlett, Alexander Meggett, John T. Tinker, John Hobbs, C. R. Gleason, A. E. Blake, and Alma A. Sprague.  Alexander Meggett was elected president; Peter Truax, vice-president; C. R. Gleason, secretary; W. P. Bartlett, treasurer.  John Hobbs was elected a vice-president from the town of Washington and George Sprague from the town of Brunswick, and later  S. E. Coolidge from otter Creek, H. W. Jones from Union, O. Works from Lincoln, John Ward from Seymour and J. C. Hackett from Augusta.  In 1889 the constitution was amended to permit the election of three directors, who with the other officers constituted an executive committee.  As time passed it seemed best to change the limit of date at which persons should be eligible to membership, and it was decreed that sons and daughters of active members born before January 1, 1870, should be admitted.  In 1890 there were 500 members, 178 active, the remainder honorary.  In 1894 the honorary members present at a banquet voted to tax themselves 50 cents annual dues.  The financial resources of the association are the $1.00 admission fee for active membership and the 25 cents annual dues from active members.  By careful management the club has for every year, with one exception, had a balance, greater or less, in its treasury.  In 1901 the qualification to membership, both active and honorary, was extended "to all those who have had an actual residence in the county for a period of thirty years," and in 1904 sons and daughters of active members "born prior to 1880" were admitted as honorary members.  Mr. Meggett was the president of the association for twenty-five years, until the time of his death, which occurred in March, 1907.  His services to the organization can hardly be measured, his labors were constant and unwearying, his enthusiasm keen, and at the banquet of October 17, 1894, the appreciation of the association was shown in the presentation to him of a handsome gold watch as a token of esteem and gratitude for his successful efforts to maintain the high character of the fraternity whose affairs he had administered so long and so well.

Mr. Meggett's successors in the president's chair have been:  W. P. Bartlett, A. E. Blake, C. A. Bullen, O. H. Ingram, A. D. Chappell and R. J. Kepler.  The social meetings held by the association in the form of banquets and picnics are attended by large numbers and are seasons of genial gayety, in which age forgets the years, business lays aside its cares and the moments at well filled tables, attended by light music and good cheer are all too short.  These meetings are often supplemented by neighborly gatherings of old settlers in all parts of the county, but these festive evenings when a larger number still are brought together to recall early days, compare experiences, comment on the changes "since then," and exchange friendly greetings -- these are truly fraternal and heart warming and prove that the Old Settlers' Association has good sanction for a long and useful existence.  The membership now numbers 225.

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