The Dirt Daubers: A Brief History
The Spartanburg Men's Garden Club (SMGC) was founded in 1948 as the "Dirt Daubers" by a group of civic-minded men who enjoyed gardening and sharing this passion with each other and the community. Mr. W.B. Rich was elected President, A.T. Grant as Secretary, James M. Culcleasure as Treasurer, and Clyde Burwell as Historian. Membership was limited to twenty-five. In 1950 the name of the Club was changed to Spartanburg Men's Garden Club. Membership was opened to any interested male in 1951. In 1953 the Club joined the National Men's Garden Clubs of America (now named The Gardeners of America / Men's Garden Clubs of America, TGOA/MGCA). There were 26 member names on that charter list.
The early days of the Club were spent maintaining dozens of local flower beds in the city. W.O. Ezell is the name most associated with these efforts. One of the earliest and largest plantings in the 1950s was on South Pine Street across from Pine Street Elementary School. This area was renovated in 1997 and is now known as the Pride Trail.
Fund raising at that time consisted of auctioning plants brought by members to the October meeting. Club auctioneer George Drummond managed to raise a total of $28.06 in 1965. SMGC was the first group in Spartanburg to pick up litter beginning in 1974.
In 1972, Harold Hatcher joined the Club and continued the story of progress by donating his garden to the citizens of Spartanburg through the Spartanburg County Foundation after years of personal effort developing the garden. The Spartanburg Men's Garden Club continued their support of Harold Hatcher at Hatcher Garden & Woodland Preserve (also see our Hatcher Garden page). SMGC branched out in the 1970s by beginning the highly successful Plant Sale. Trees grown at the "tree bank" at "Gas Bottom" (the current location of Vic Bailey Honda) were taken to various locations where sales were conducted. The nursery was later moved to Hatcher Garden. Many dedicated men have been responsible for the success of the Plant Sales: Jess Taylor, Dick Look, John Nevison, Henry Pittman, Walter Soderberg, and Winston Hardegree, to name a few.
Women began joining the Club in the early 1990s. In 2000, Hatcher Garden began offering annuals and perennials for sale to complement the trees and shrubs sold by SMGC. Other well-known Club projects include: Landscape Evaluation, Street Trees, Community Garden Spots, and Litter Pick-Up. The Club hosted the National Convention of TGOA/MGCA at the Marriott in 2006 with more than 150 attendees from all over the United States. In 2007 the Club elected its first woman president, Linda McHam.
In 2010 the Club moved its plant nursery and other property from Hatcher Garden to Spartanburg Community College. Photos plus other information about the move are found on The Move to SCC page.
Club History Book
In 2008, anticipating the 60th Anniversary Celebration (see below), several long-standing members (Henry Pittman, Jess Taylor, Jim Bagwell, Bob Hamilton, Tom Bartram, Bob Reynolds, and Bob Almond, with the editorial assistance of Dianne Fergusson) began to assemble a detailed history of the Club. Pulled from old minutes, brochures, newspaper clippings, club newsletters, and personal recollection, the information was sorted, assembled and shaped into the collectible book "And the Trees Remain". There are over 140 pages of text and rare photographs, plus 25 extensive appendices.
In 2010 Lyn Pesterfield arranged to have 250 copies printed. See the Photo Album titled "Book Signing (October 2010)" for photos taken at the book signing in Spartanburg. Books were sold at Club events, and by several local businesses. Copies were also given as door prizes and to new Club members.
The entire book can be viewed by clicking here. The book's PDF file is about 15 MB in size, which can take a few minutes to download on slow Internet connections. A reader can then save the book to their PC to view at their leisure.
60th Anniversary Celebration & Slide Show
On November 13, 2008, the Club celebrated 60 years of horticultural activity in Spartanburg. Held at The Piedmont Club, over 120 members attended, as well as members of Mr. W.O. Ezell's family. During the festivities, a slide show developed by Linda McHam was presented looking back over the years. In addition, Mayor Bill Barnet presented the Club's Henry Pittman with the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian honor. Jess Taylor was also presented a lifetime achievement award for his leadership and support for over 30 years. After the celebration, Linda McHam and Lou Adams enhanced the slide show with additional photographs and music provided by gracious permission of Meira Warshauer, a composer from South Carolina.
At one time newsletters were sent by US mail to members. At the end of the year the Club president compiled a list of the year's highlights and accomplishments, including donations made by the Club, and projects completed. Sometimes that information was included in a newsletter, and sometimes the list was printed in a letter or report that was physically attached to a newsletter. We have collected as many of the attachments as we could find, and put them into an archive of past accomplishments, which you may browse.
The Club has a collection of newsletters arranged by year, going back to the early 1950s. Valuable Club history can be obtained by downloading the newsletters. The current year is by month (see left side of this page).