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Home Learn & Share Local History The Ladies Aid Society—Pillar of the Church Ladies Aid of the LaAnna Methodist Episcopal Church
The Ladies Aid Society—Pillar of the Church

Ladies Aid of the LaAnna Methodist Episcopal Church

Members of the Ladies Aid of the LaAnna ME Church are finishing a pinwheel quilt, c. 1905.

When the people of LaAnna contemplated building a church to serve their small community, the first thing they did was organize a Ladies Aid Society to help raise money for the building project. The LaAnna Ladies Aid was formed in 1895 with Mary Wallace Houck as president and Sarah Mole Carlton as vice-president. For nearly two years the needlewomen held quilting bees at each other’s homes to create beautiful handmade quilts to offer for sale. Their first event, a bazaar and supper, was held at the home of Catherine Lauer Carlton in 1897. Dozens of brightly colored quilts hand-pieced in traditional patterns were displayed on the rough timber walls of a shed on the property, and they set out tables for the aprons, bureau scarves, pillow cases and other articles of fancywork that were also offered for sale. Later that evening a supper was served at the nearby home of Angeline Carlton.

The LaAnna Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1898 and dedicated in 1899. Civil War veteran George Carlton served as the first chair of the Board of Trustees, superintendent of the Sunday School, and director of the church choir, filling those posts for seventeen years. The early years showed a deficit, and the Aid worked tirelessly to fill the financial gap. Under the leadership of ? Houck and ? Carlton, the church bazaar and supper became an annual summer event. The bazaar continued to feature handmade quilts and fancywork, and suppers were served in the Sunday School room. At first the basement kitchen had no running water so food was prepared at home, brought to the church, and kept hot in the kitchen until it was time to deliver the dishes upstairs to the banquet room by means of a dumbwaiter.

Before the Church was built, the one-room schoolhouse had served as a place of worship for families of the village, and services were held there on alternating Sunday evenings with an average of sixty-five people attending. The school and church were built on adjacent lots donated by the Houck family. Each, in turn, became the focal point of the village with many socials and “entertainments” being held on their premises.   

The Aid was known for its delicious meals, and in 1916 they were asked to host the banquet for the newly-formed Greene-Dreher Alumni Association, for which guests paid $1 per plate. They continued to organize this event even after it was moved to the meeting hall of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Newfoundland in 1931. For a few years in the 1920s the Aid held their annual bazaar and supper at Ward’s Lyceum in LaAnna. The Lyceum had the advantage of being able to accommodate large groups and had enough storage space for all of the dishes, glasses, cutlery and cookware needed to serve them.

In 1976 ownership of the WSCS Hall in South Sterling was transferred to the LaAnna United Methodist Church, and the women of the LaAnna and South Sterling quilted together under a new name, LaAnna United Methodist Women. The group continued its fundraising and quilting work into the early 1990s, maintaining a membership roll of between 40 and 50 women, including several second and third generation quiltmakers. Annual dues were raised from $1 to $2.  During those years they sold their full-size quilts for $80 to $100, and charged a fee to finish a quilt for someone else, which could range as high as $180, depending on the pattern, size and cost of materials. Baby quilts were popular and sold for $30 to $40.