January 29, 2016

"Our Day Out": Women in White Sulphur Springs

by Sierra Ross, MHS Volunteer

What did meat canning and the history of costumes have in common during 1937? According to this typewritten program, they were both topics of interest for the women of Meagher County. The “O.D.O” embroidered on the cover stands for “Our Day Out,” the name of a home demonstration club organized by women from White Sulphur Springs. Its hand-cut pages record over a year’s worth of monthly meetings, each demonstration hosted in the home of a different member. The contents of this pamphlet not only lit a trail of research into the lives of these women, but intimately captured the setting in which they learned and shared the skills and knowledge that pertained to their everyday lives.

The club offered demonstrations that could appeal to a variety of members. Themes ranged from daily housekeeping such as houseplant care and winter meal planning to hands-on crafts like apron-making and bouquet arrangements from local weeds. As the name of the club itself suggests, these women valued the club not only for its practical uses but as an opportunity to socialize with other ladies in their community. In addition to their monthly meetings, members of the O.D.O. celebrated holidays and club anniversaries together with gifts, refreshments and prizes.[1]

Those who held officer positions in the club ranged in age and experience from a 20-year-old newlywed to her middle-aged mother.[2] Their individual educations varied from completion of the eighth grade to college graduate.[3] The club accordingly provided demonstrations useful to both young housewives and experienced homemakers alike, and also continued the educations of women in the community. Fun and relevant history lectures included the July meeting for “History of Meagher County,” and the May meeting for “Past Influence on Present Dress.”

These club officers were active in  numerous organizations throughout their lifetimes. Club president Eleanor Mast served on the boards for Bozeman Family Planning and the Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, and was a lifelong advocate for abortion rights.[4] Vice president Rosabelle Mayn was president of her community’s American Legion Auxiliary and a member of both the Republican Women’s club and the Order of the Eastern Star.[5] Project leader Dovie Zehntner held a Matron position in the local Eastern Star chapter and also involved herself in the American Legion Auxiliary.[6] Even with so many commitments elsewhere, the O.D.O. endured as a cherished part of life for some of its members. Ethel Musgrove not only served as the club’s secretary treasurer in 1937, but remained a dedicated charter member throughout her life,
attending the O.D.O. well into her
nineties before passing away in 2015.[7]

Community involvement shaped the lives of the members recorded in this program’s hand-cut pages, women who ultimately became remembered for their active presence in the clubs they formed and participated in. The Meagher County O.D.O. Club is only one example of numerous home demonstration groups in Montana at the time. However, its remnant leaves behind a vivid picture of the personal and social lives of Meagher County women during the late 1930s.

Independent Record
February 17, 1955
Image captured from Newspaper Archives

[1] “White Sulphur Springs,” The Helena Independent, February 17, 1955.
[2] “Ethel L Zehntner,” Montana, Select Marriages, 1889-1947. Retrieved October 26, 2015 from Ancestry.com.
[3] “Mamie Buckingham,” “Eleanor Mast,” “Rosabelle Mayn” and “Dovie Zehntner.” 1940 United States Federal Census. Retrieved October 26, 2015 from Ancestry.com.
[4] “Eleanor M. Mast”,” Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 18 March, 1991.
[5] “Funeral Services Are Held For Rosabelle Mayn,” The Meagher County News, November 24, 1966.
[6] “Dovie R. Zehntner Passes Away After Lengthy Illness”
[7] “Ethel L. Musgrove age 98 of White Sulphur Springs,” Stevenson Wilke Funeral Homes, accessed October 26, 2015,