Bertha Smith, leader of Kennebunkport Women

Bertha Smith was born in Kennebunkport before the Civil War, to Horace and Mary A. Murphy Smith. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1881 and taught in local schools during the 1890s.

Miss Bertha Smith, Mrs. Gertrude Hanson, Mrs. Hope Littlefield and Miss Annie Merrill went for a ride together on their bicycles. On their way home they stopped near the Iron Bridge school house and had lunch. Bertha finished first and was up gathering flowers in the field for her botany pupil, Louise Wheeler. The ladies started talking as they watched and decided that they too wanted to learn Botany from Bertha. The group met every Saturday through summer and fall. Their last excursion for botanicals, in 1901, was on the day the Savannah was launched at David Clark’s Shipyard.

Even after all the flowers had gone by for the season, their little group hated to be separated. Annie Peabody Brooks, the librarian, gave them the use of a small furnished room for their meetings. Their society adopted the name The Olympian Club with Bertha as their President. Their winter course of study in 1901 would be classical mythology. Their textbook, Bullfinch’s Age of Fable with side lights from Hawthorne, Tennyson, and Mrs. Browning.

They resumed their study of botany when spring flowers returned in 1902. Author, Margaret Deland invited members of the established Olympian Club to meet at her house to learn about flying insects. After the meeting, members enjoyed a tour of Margaret’s Garden by the river. The club members were later invited to a mushroom party at the home of Mrs. Rice of Kennebunk Beach. A variety of mushrooms were brought in for study, and a dainty lunch of mushrooms was served.

In 1921, when women finally had the right to vote at town meeting, the ladies of The Olympian Club conducted programs to prepare the town’s female voters to execute their new responsibility. I would have loved to learn with these women!

Did any of your ancestors belong to The Olympian Club?

The Launching of the Schooner Savannah at David Clark’s Shipyard in Kennebunkport in October 1901.
(Sarah) Bertha Smith was born before the start of the Civil War. She grew to be a teacher, leader of Kennebunkport women as the founder of The Olympian Club, Editer of Kennebunkport summer newspaper, Kennebunkport Items. Single until she was 57 years old, she married Kennebunkport artist, Charles Sherman in 1917.
The Olympian Club was founded in 1901. That fall, their last botanical outing was on the day that the schooner Savannah was launched from David Clark’s Shipyard
Margaret Deland invited the Olympian Club ladies to meet at her home on the Kennebunk River to learn about flying insects and tour her beautiful garden.
The Olympian Club members met at various town locations until their number far exceeded 100 members. The Olympian Clubhouse on Temple St was built in 1929

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