The West End Historical Society started out as the Pioneer Club but initially, for a couple of years anyway, it was called the Old Timers Club.
It seems one day some friends asked Howard Wilson if he wasn’t interested in anything, because he didn’t go out much and he said he was interested in the early history of the West End and would like to start a pioneer club before the old-timers were all gone. Then he turned to his wife Monty and told her to get busy on his club.
The original bylaws of the club were drawn up by Nanson Anderson, and Roy and Theodora Smith. One of the outstanding rules was that no husband or wife who married a pioneer and were not pioneers themselves were eligible to be president, but their children were eligible. The club was started in February 1959.
Although Wilson wished the club to be named Pioneer, he was out voted and it was called the Old Timers Club at first and then later changed. Pat Klahn wrote up the list of all eligible people, but he never joined the club himself! Olive King was the first president and she also was the first white child born on the Forks Prairie. Lena Fletcher was the first vice president and the secretary-treasurer was Dora Smith.
Others who were charter members were Alma Anderson, Grace Brandeberry Anderson, Roland Anderson, Hope Ford, Elizabeth Huelsdonk Fletcher, Fred Fletcher, John Fletcher, Dorothy Smith Klahn, Charles Lewis, Marie Lewis, Sheil Parker, Dora Richmond, Dave Richmond, Archer Smith, LeRoy Smith, Albin Wahlgren, Lucy Hosack Wahlgren, Ruth Sands Williams and Montana Milnor Wilson.
Eventually, the club dropped the rule about being a real born here pioneer because … well all the pioneers have passed on, but today the West End Historical Society (WEHS) carries on the history of the West End.
The community is invited to attend the next meeting of the WEHS on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at the Rainforest Arts Center. There will be a Timber Museum meeting at 11:30 a.m. followed by the WEHS program at noon which is scheduled to be Lonnie Archibald and his new book.