Founding Members of the Oregon City Woman's Club

Oregon City Enterprise, Friday, April 3, 1903

Woman's Club of the Lewis and Clark Exposition.


On Wednesday, Mrs. William Galloway organized the first club in this city in aid of the Lewis and Clark Exposition. Considerable enthusiasm was manifested, and the following officers were elected:

Mrs. George A. Harding, president; Mrs. S. M. McCown, first vice-president; Mrs. M. M. Charman, second vice-president; Mrs. W. S. U'Ren, secretary; Mrs. Ernest Linwood Jones, assistant secretary, Mrs. Frank A. Sleight, treasurer. 

A meeting will be held next Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 o'clock in Willamette Hall to perfect organizations and appoint committees. One of the leading women in the work said this afternoon that before long there would be 300 women in Oregon City as members of the club and helping in the work. The following women signed the charter list:

Mrs. J. C. Bradley, Mrs. J. W. Loder, Mrs. S. M. McCown, Mrs. M. M. Charman, Mrs. William Gardiner, Mrs. J. R. Humphrys, Mrs. A. S. Dresser, Mrs. T. E. Gault, Mrs. W. S. U'Ren, Mrs. Geo. W. Bibee, Mrs. F. A. Sleight, Mrs. May A. Waldron, Mrs. J. J. Cooke, Mrs. T. W. Fouts, Mrs. W. L. Block, Mrs. Mary A. Ingram, Mrs. J. J. Tingle, Mrs. Eva Emery Dye, Mrs. Ernest L. Jones, Mrs. T. F. Ryan, Jennie Barlow Harding (Mrs. George A.), Mrs. Roswell Holman, Mrs. F. E. Wood, Mrs. Matilda Ganong Miller, Mrs. John Adams. Miss Zilpha Galloway, Miss Mina Kelly and Miss Amy Kelly. 

Mrs. Galloway will organize clubs throughout the state, having been appointed for that purpose, and her selection was an admirable one, as she is awakening interest in her work. Mrs. Dye also made a short address on what could be accomplished. Mrs. Galloway has taken up the work and will visit the entire state. 

Eva Emery Dye

Eva Emery Dye,  arrived in Oregon City with her husband Charles in 1890, and had two books published prior to the founding of the Woman's Club. Her first book, McLoughlin and Old Oregon, included information she gathered through interviewing old city residents who had known Dr. McLoughlin personally, as well as other research. Her second book, The Conquest: The True Story of Lewis and Clark, featured a very central role for young Native American mother, Sacajawea. Although most scholars now believe Mrs. Dye overstated Sacajawea's part in the exploration, the tale of her bravery led to her image being adopted by the suffragist movement in Oregon and other states.   

As a way to bring the women of Oregon together and increase their influence in their communities, Eva Emery Dye traveled around the state with Mrs. Emmaline Galloway to help form new woman's clubs in early 1900. In addition to authoring several books of historic fiction, she was a noted essayist, poet, and historian, and was a driving force behind the Chautauqua movement in Clackamas County. She continued as a member of the Oregon City Woman's Club until her death in 1947.

Women's clubs

The women of Oregon City have a long history of contributing to the community, providing leadership in civic affairs and promoting education and public health. 

Living in one of the commercial centers of the territory, male residents of Oregon City included doctors, lawyers, bankers, mill owners, business people and skilled workers. City living meant more free time as, instead of the long hours on a farm to produce what the family needed, there was a wide variety of stores within walking distance of home. With dressmakers, milliners, 

bakeries and butcher shops a short walk away, or providing home delivery, many of the wives and daughters were able to spend their time promoting literacy, supporting education, sharing literature and the arts and raising funds to help those less fortunate than themselves.

In 1903, led by local author Eva Emery Dye, the women of Oregon City came together as the true "movers and shakers" of the city's future. 

Many of the early members had similar backgrounds. A portion were descendants of early Oregon City pioneers who had arrived in the 1840s and 1850s. Others had arrived around the turn of the century as their husbands sought new opportunities in the law, manufacturing and mercantile businesses. 

Founding members Jennie Barlow Harding and Sarah Meldrum McCown were from pioneer families and were both very active in the life of Oregon City.