LAYTON — Women adorned with lace gloves, mink scarves, and antique hats met in a historic Layton home recently to celebrate a 100-year legacy of the pursuit of knowledge, friendship, and service.
The Bay View Club, established in Kaysville on Sept. 23, 1912, is a private women’s group that produces friendships that span generations and fulfill a lifelong thirst for knowledge for its members.
The club celebrated their 100-year anniversary by holding their November meeting in the vintage “Peacefield” home of former Bay View member, Oma Wilcox, and dressing in period attire.
In 1956 Wilcox’s sister, Carol Ellison Morgan, joined the club which consisted of about 20 women, including her mother and two other sisters.
Today, Morgan is the oldest living member of the club that has provided her with a lifetime of friendships and knowledge. The generational links continue as her daughter, Ellison Green, joined the club nine years ago.
“At first I was asked to join to do something fun and unique with my mom. But it has been an extremely educational experience for me,” Green said.
Membership is not limited to family relationships; however, many of the women can trace their involvement back several generations.
The group now meets once a month at one of their homes, limiting membership to 23 women so they can fit in a typical living room.
The club was established by a group of nine women with Kaysville ties that were looking for a social outlet and a way to expand their knowledge. One of the original members was Minnie Barnes Blood, wife of the future Utah Governor, Henry H. Blood.
According to Evelyn Call, Bay View’s current president, the club occasionally met in the governor’s mansion while Blood was governor from 1933-1941.
“The women who started this (club) were real movers and shakers in the community,” said Ann Marie Atkinson of Smithfield, who has been a member for 25 years.
The club begins each meeting with a recitation of the club’s “collect” — a daily prayer or meditation — which was written in 1904. The older women recite the pledge by heart, while some of the newer members read from a small notecard.
The collect expresses hope for freedom from pettiness, fault-finding, and selfishness. The women express a desire to be generous, straight-forward, and kind.
Every two years the group determines a new subject to research and explore. They take turns teaching monthly lessons or inviting experts who can speak on the subject.
“We study for the edification of the women,” said Call. “We’ve studied many things: past Utah governors, art, literature, famous people, important people, the Supreme Court and their decisions. We even had a rabbi who came and taught about the Jewish religion.”
Atkinson said that while they were studying the Supreme Court, one of their members had a son who had worked closely with Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.
The son came to the group and shared his firsthand, personal experiences of working with Rehnquist.
“One time he was walking around (the Capitol with Rehnquist)… and a tourist walked up and asked if he would mind taking a picture of their family ... The Chief Justice of the United States took their picture and didn’t say a thing,” Atkinson related.
The club tries to find “the stories behind what the people were really like,” Atkinson said.
She also said that when they studied the governors of Utah, they asked former first ladies to share their husband’s stories. Many of them obliged.
For two years the group studied Utah artists. Morgan said that Del Parson, Eric Dowdle, James Christensen, and Al Rounds each made presentations at the club’s meetings.
While the knowledge they gain from their studies is important, it is apparent that the friendships between the women is paramount.
“These are people that I have known ever since I came to Kaysville ... They are wonderful,” said Margaret Allen, who has been in the club for 15 years.
“I absolutely fell in love with that generation — the 70-, 80-, and 90-year-old women — they are all just beautiful. I needed that connection with that generation of women,” said Farmington resident Kristen Hansen, of her reason for joining the club five years ago.