Sudlersville Betterment Club celebrates 100 years
SUDLERSVILLE — The Sudlersville Community Betterment Club has been in existence for 100 years. Over the years, the club has had many leaders, members and followers, who have been instrumental in keeping the oldest meeting organization in Sudlersville going.
The club celebrated its 100-year anniversar y with a luncheon, Saturday, June 25 at the Sudlersville
Volunteer Fire Company. Club President Loretta Walls said she hoped the celebration would leave those in attendance with good memories of Sudlersville and the surrounding area.
“It is so nice to have former members of our community here today,” she said. “It is like having our Sudlersville family back together again to share this day with us.”
In addition to the lunch, provided by fire company auxiliar y members, the event featured a slideshow of photos from the 1980s through the present compiled by member Madeline Hubbard. The slideshow showcased activities the club had been involved in and old friends and relatives who had visited throughout the years, Walls said.
According to a 1996 article found at the Sudlersville Memorial Library, the club began in 1916 with Minnie H. Walls serving as the first president of the club until 1918. During her time as president, the club took part in projects such as paying for the town traffic light and paying $5 a year for the town clock to be wound.
Anna Roberts Ware was one of the special speakers at the anniversary celebration. Ware’s mother was the first vice president of the club when it officially formed in 1916.
“Women’s Clubs were just beginning to be the thing in 1916,” Ware said, “and the women of Sudlersville thought to organize a club. Weren’t those Sudlersville women smart? They knew it from the beginning”.
Ware shared her recollection of rummage sales held by the club at Four Corners and members sending items that didn’t sell to “poor countries.”
One of the first things the club did, Ware recalled, was to put a traffic light at Four Corners.
They would also establish the Sudlersville Library in memory of Emma Chance and members served as librarians. The library opened with 400 books donated by Mr. Al Chance, said Ware and Dr. Metcalf gave a revolving book case to help display the many books.
The librar y sur vived the scarlet fever epidemic, which broke out in 1926. In a desperate act to safe guard the library books and to counter the spread of infection, no one was allowed to check out books from the library during the epidemic, and books inside homes of the afflicted were destroyed.
The library would grow to hold 1,900 books, and Dr. Metcalf’s revolving book case is still on display today, Ware said.
Ware shared her memories of the club’s sponsored Girl Scout troop, of which she was a member. She remembers at age 11 gathering at a club member’s house to learn the carol, “The 12 Days of Christmas” and singing at the Christmas tree provided and lit by the club.
The club also organized a yearly trash collection, Ware said, and, in the 1940s, worked to beautify the town, planting pink dogwood trees in all the Sudlersville yards.
Although the Betterment Club has sponsored of some of Sudlersville’s most historic moments, like the Bicentennial Celebration of 1976, the first Sudlersville Day in 1973, and paying for the railing of Sudlersville Memorial Library in 1963, none had a bigger impact on the town than the Sudlersville Train Station Museum or the Jimmie Foxx statue.
The long standing train station was acquired in 1987 after being used as a passenger station until 1939, then as a freight station until 1965. It was turned into a museum in 1991 after the club received a grant from Maryland Historical Trust. Current and former town residents were asked to provide anything that would help expand on the museum.
Walls said the club still owns the train station.
“Historical preservation has been our focus for the last 25 years,” said Walls, “and the Sudlersville Train Station holds much history of our community.”
The station is sponsored in part by a toy and train show fundraiser to help with maintenance and a hoped for museum expansion. The next show will be held on Oct. 15 at the firehouse.
Baseball Hall of Fame legend Jimmie Foxx is Sudlersville’s most famous resident and is a big part of the town’s history. His statue sits in the middle of the town diagonal from the stop light. The Betterment Club played a critical role in acquiring the statue as well as sponsoring tributes in 1933, 1981 and 1987. The club also raised the money to acquire a bronze statue of Foxx in 1997 with the help of baseball legend Ted Williams, who was a former teammate of Foxx. He served as honorary chairman during the project.
In honor of Jimmie Foxx, the club started the Jimmie Foxx Textbook Scholarship program and awarded its first winner in 1988. The scholarship is given annually to a student who has attended school in Sudlersville and shown athletic and academic potential.
This year’s winner, Hannah Schauber, was recognized at the anniversar y celebration. Schauber is a 2016 graduate of Queen Anne’s County High School who plans to attend college in the fall on a pre-med pathway. Her career goal is to become a physician’s assistant specializing in pediatric oncology.
Currently, there are 12 members and several other honorary members and assistants who contribute to the club. Meetings are held at the Dogwood Village Senior Center. The mission of the club has grown from promoting the betterment of the town through beautification and civic support to a dedication to preserving and promoting the history of Sudlersville and the surrounding area. Keeping with that tradition, another one of club’s many important projects is bringing the annual second-grade class at Sudlersville Elementar y to visit the librar y, where the children learn about the history of Sudlersville.
“It is with great pride that we [recognize] this milestone,” said Walls, “much as been accomplished through the years. We do honor the members that came before us for their dedication to help create a better community in which to live. Time has changed many things, but we still strive to enhance our surroundings for a better quality of life and to preserve our history.”
SCBC members and former Sudlersville residents gather to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the club and remember Sudlersville history.
Sudlersville Betterment Club Loretta Walls welcomes guests to the club’s 100th anniversary celebration on Saturday, June 25.
Hannah Schauber receives the Jimmie Foxx Scholarship at the 100 year anniversary celebration of the SCBC.