DeFuniak Springs Woman’s Club

Sep 4, 2023 | Businesses, DeFuniak Springs, Walton & Beyond

Hero Image for DeFuniak Springs Woman's Club Page

DeFuniak Springs Woman’s Club History

By Christine Guzowski

Over a hundred years ago on a February Saturday in 1915, a group of women gathered at the request of the mayor who saw the need for beautification and sanitation of the town.  Representatives from each of the five churches in town met at Mrs. Burris Cawthon’s home and formed the Civic League which later would become the DeFuniak Springs Woman’s Club.  The group met in member’s homes, the library, the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood and the Masonic Temple.  The club was formally founded April 17, 1915.  Their numbers became so great they purchased a clubhouse on 6th Street in 1922.  Except for some structural changes, this building is still used by the current club members.

The Woman’s Club worked with city officials to pass ordinances prohibiting free roaming of livestock and secured an extra policeman to keep stray farm animals off the streets.  They removed an unsightly fence from around the lake yard, cleaned up roadside refuse piles and planted gardens in parks and near the train depot. They sponsored two public playgrounds and began work on mosquito control. Later they worked with city water works to remove outhouses and improve sewer systems and drinking water.  For years the club kept open the only public restroom in Walton County.

Once the mayor’s initial request for beautification and sanitation of the town was met, the women enabled the county to engage the services of a public health nurse and a home demonstration agent to provide care for new mothers and babies and promote health and home sanitation. They brought free health and dental clinics to school children and pushed for compulsory school attendance laws.  They also provided clothing and hot lunches for school children.

When the Chautauqua organization decided not to continue their winter assemblies, the Woman’s Club contracted with the traveling Redpath or “tent” Chautauqua group to continue to provide education and entertainment to the town for several years, sometimes free of charge to attendees.  They published a special edition of The Breeze which was distributed all over the USA to advertise the county and city.  They helped purchase fire trucks and books for the library.

In the 1940s, meetings were suspended as members worked for the Red Cross in WWII. In the 1950s they gave gifts to disabled veterans at  Eglin AFB.  The club also began to use radio to advertise.  The members contributed to the school milk fund for needy children and to the Children’s Home Society.

In the 1960s the club held a Christmas party for mentally challenged children at the special education school.  This tradition continued for thirty years. In the 1970s it contributed to Special Olympics.  The club’s 1980 Special Committees included crime reduction, Hacienda Girl’s Ranch, Immunization and Energy.  In the 1990s the members were sending mail to troops in Saudi Arabia, making lap robes for a local convalescent center and joined the Downtown Association.

During the 2000s the club organized the town Christmas Parade and Halloween Trick or Treating Around the Lake.  They began buying Christmas gifts for the clients of Resources for Human Development, which continues today.  When Hurricane Katrina evacuees made their way to DeFuniak Springs, the club sponsored a lunch for them, collected clothing and worked with a local doctor and pharmacies to provide needed medicines to evacuees.  In 2014 Fashions to Share was opened, a shop which sells gently used woman’s clothing and accessories at low prices.

To celebrate their 100th Anniversary, the club launched a Women of Light program which honors women past and present who have made significant contributions to DeFuniak Springs.  Women are honored with a ceremony and placement of a granite marker at the base of lampposts around the lake yard.   To date eleven women have been honored.

To honor the Woman’s Club as it turned 100 years old, it was given a Congressional award by Congressman Jeff Miller.  Several paragraphs on the club’s achievements were read on the floor of Congress and entered into the congressional record and recorded at the Library of Congress.

As years passed, other organizations have taken over many of the projects of yesteryear, but the club still has as its objective the enrichment of  the lives of women and children and making the community a better place to live.  Each year the club helps the local schools by contributing to their art or music programs.  The club helps the local Boys and Girls Club programs when needed.  The Christmas Parade, Trick or Treating Around the Lake, Women of Light and supporting Resources for Human Development are ongoing sponsorships.

The club meets the third Thursday of the month at 2 pm at 23 S 6th Street in DeFuniak Springs.  All women are welcome to join.


Follow Us Ride or Die Partners

Banner ad for Twin Lakes Camp Resort

Glamping, RV Spots, Tiny Homes, Lake Houses & Cabins

If a quiet getaway is what you need then the best place for you is right here at Twin Lakes in DeFuniak Springs. 

A picture of shrimp and a logo for T's Catch in Freeport.

T's Catch Seafood Market

T's Catch is a seafood market located in Freeport, FL. The market offers fresh, local seafood, prime steaks, steamed shrimp, homemade sauces, dips, soups, and grab-n-go meals.

Sushi Image

The Bay

At the foot of the HWY 331 bridge, The Bay is a family-friendly waterfront restaurant features mouth-watering Southern gulf coast cuisine, sushi, a 12-draft beer system, excellent wine selections, and inventive bar-crafted cocktails.