by Greta Hanson Maurer
Four vintage scrapbooks (1932-1961) handmade for the Beulah Home Demonstration Club—supported by Cooperative Extension Services—contain rich history and have been held in safekeeping for over 50 years by Ruth Asher Simonson, and her daughter, Beulah resident Ilona Wahl. The scrapbooks serve as a solid record of the many services and events the club contributed, adding greater quality of life to the rural Beulah community.
The albums leather covers are bound with a sturdy string and laced through 2 - 1” long metal grommets that holds over 50 black pages together. All measure approx. 13” wide x 10.5” high. Both sides of the felt-like black pages are covered with colorful magazine illustrations, black and white photographs, newspaper clippings, hand-painted accents, glitter, local and state programs, member lists, hand-lettered captions, meeting dates with topics and activities typed out on cards. Curiously, the archive holds a story with roots in the early 1860’s when federal land grants offered the opportunity to farm and ranch in Colorado.
In 1862, the Morrill Act made room for the state's first land grant college, and in 1870 Colorado Agricultural Colege in Fort Collins (now CSU-Fort Collins) was founded, and rural outreach programs began. In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act officially established Extension service as a cooperative effort —between the USDA, land grant institutions, state and local governments—to inform people about current developments in agriculture, home economics, public policy/government, leadership, 4-H, and economic development. Making expert instruction available to rural areas through the introduction of home instruction.
Agents started assisting Colorado communities in 1916, with the Beulah Home Demonstration Club forming in 1932. Other clubs in the area included, Burnt Mill, St. Charles Mesa, San Carlos, Nepesta, Vineland, Baxter, Columbine, West Lake, Heights Club in Pueblo, and Mountain View of Wetmore. Clubs would host each other with luncheons, and offer programs they had developed, some competing against other club programs in district, and state contests.
According to Wahl, clubs ranged in size from five to 60 members, noting that the majority of women at that time worked in the home (a particular challenge at that time with no modern conveniences), they met during the day to accommodate women with children in school. Younger children often accompanied their mothers to the monthly meetings, initially held in member’s homes. There was great value in a club where members ‘learned by doing’, making rural life more satisfying, progressive, and social.
The first history of the club was compiled in 1941 by 'Mrs. Ward Stryker and Mrs. John Bland' (married women were formally called by their husband's surname), the BHDC story continues...
"The community groups banded together for the first time to form Home Demonstration Clubs. The Colorado Home Demonstration Council was formed, choosing Mrs. L. A. Edmondson of Beulah, Pueblo County, as first president.
We would go into Pueblo for Leader-training lessons, which were held in the basement of the Colorado Southern Power Co. Arriving early in the morning, the meetings would not be over until four o'clock in the evening. Each leader took part in actual doing. If the lesson was soap making, we made soap; if it was cheese, we made cheese."
The club would plan out a year’s worth of programming, topics might include refinishing furniture, making a foot stool, food preservation, pattern-fitting, sewing tips, and more. Before long, they would also be known for raising funds for the community. At times in the history, BHDC supported 4-H youth, sponsored melodramas, and the Beulah Yule Log Festival.
They headed up pageants, food sales, white elephants, card parties, dances at the Mountain Park and the Gay Way, Forty-Niner Parties, Chuck Wagon Dinners, Christmas Parties, May Luncheons, Club Picnics, luncheons, suppers and dinners! And they moved buildings.
"In June 1940, our club realized the need of a Library and Community Meeting place. We found we could get a government project (help from the WPA) if we could raise the cost of materials. Two lots on the main intersection of Beulah were donated to us for this worthy cause by Dr. Senger.”
With the loyal support of friends and members we gave benefits and raised five hundred and forty dollars. The Beulah Chamber of Commerce voted to donated $200 to the cause. At this point, the Defense program utilized the work force [WPA was needed for war effort], not allowing themselves to be discouraged bought the North Creek School building and move onto the lots. The men of the village donated their services and this was done. We used the money on hand to repair and condition building and lots. We now have a very neat and attractive Club House and Library Available to all organizations."
The BHDC club house now had a central location on the northeast corner of the intersection of Pennsylvania and Grand Avenue (now equipped with a steeple, and identified as the Beulah Valley Baptist Church).
In 1949 a “major problem of the club is the lack of a meeting place large enough and well enough equipped to accommodate its members.” Members set their sites on expanding the building, and on Red Creek School, another school house no longer in use.
Anxious to raise funds for the expansion of their club house, the BHDC members entered a national contest to plan and edit an entire months issue (October 1950) of the women's section of the Country Gentlemen. The fourth album is the actual entry, a scrapbook of article ideas, complete with illustrations, photos, and even beauty secrets. The mammoth effort won them 5th place, including $50 in prize money that went to their building fund.
In February, 1953 the decision was made to expand the meeting place, “We are more than appreciative the school building which was given to us by the Red Creek School, District 70.” The second school building was moved to the southside of the first school building. The original building was raised, and a basement was incorporated.
In the early 1950’s BHDC organized mother’s in the community after a recent outbreak of polio in Pueblo. After consulting with the Polio Volunteers of America, they learned of a series of four lectures on the topic of caring for a polio victim by leading Pueblo physicians, physiotherapist and dieticians. BHDC providing transportation and babysitting to 12 participants who learned how to recognize polio symptoms and with the guidance of a doctor, institute hot pack proceduress. The information empowered the women, who in turn, brought the info back to the community that supported them.
By 1961, many women were now working, and the focus of a household shifting with modern times, the Beulah Home Demonstration held its last regular meeting on November 16, 1961. A decision was made to sell the building, and change the name of the club to ‘The Beulah Belles’ finding new direction and format to their monthly meetings.
Today, The Beulah Belles meet and enjoy lunch every month at the Beulah Inn, where they enjoy catching up with each other. They play Beulah trivia, and enjoy special readings. Monthly dues allow them to donate to a worthy cause at the end of the year. v
To establish progressive communities;
To make all lives more liveable;
To establish and maintain a high standard of American rural life that the coming generations may profit by our labors;
To make home life and first and highest thought of every homemaker;
To make homely tasks more interesting by increasing neighborly competition in doing them;
To realize at all times we are examples to the children of today and they are the men and women of tomorrow; that as we respect our government and its laws, maintain our homes and estimate our neighbors, so will they;
To endeavor to submerge self and look above and beyond the trifling things of our everyday lives; and
Help us, O God, that our efforts may not be confined to the four walls of our homes, but reach out and help all who need help, not in pity or condescending, but in fellowship and understanding.
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