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Collection 2154 - Alpha Social Club minutes and Samuel Griffith diary, 1882-1891

Creator: Griffith, Samuel

Content Description Note: The Alpha Social Club Minutes and the Samuel Griffith (ca.1819-1891) Diary are the records of the establishment of an early Bozeman social club and the diary of a man who had moved to Illinois in the 1830s and then to Montana in the 1880s, respectively. These two documents, seemingly unrelated, were accessed as the contents of a single, standard business-style ledger book. They have been removed from the binding because of the warped condition of the binding due to the effects of water damage and time.

The Alpha Social Club was created in November 1882 with the intention to provide an organization for "prominent young men of social standing" and to promote "culture, refinement, and ... mental and moral improvement". Another purpose behind the formation of this organization was apparently that these same young men were being ignored by the one other (unnamed) social club in Bozeman. The membership list for the Alpha Social Club includes the names of several important Bozeman residents. Among these are A.K. Yerkes, Joseph M. Lindley, Edward C. Alderson, Walter Cooper, and others. Later additions to the membership included F.H. Benepe, Nelson Story, and others. The minutes were recorded by Professor J.W. Daniels and, after Daniel's resignation, Philip Dodson. Secretaries Pro Temp who wrote entries were George Davis and William Nevitt. The last entry of minutes concerns the meeting of February 1, 1883. Presumably, the recording of minutes either took place in a different ledger or were discontinued after the occurrence of said meeting.

Samuel Griffith moved to Illinois ca.1838. He settled in and was a resident of Vandalia, IL, until the 1880's. In 1888, Griffith began using this ledger as a diary. Starting on January 1, 1888 and ending on May 19, 1891, he made daily observations about the weather, important dates in his relationship with his wife, and comments on events which he determined to be important enough to record.

The transfer of the ledger from Dodson to Griffith is convoluted but it can be traced with some certainty. Eleanor Griffith, one of Samuel's several daughters, moved to Bozeman prior to June 1872. On June 27, 1872 she married Bozeman resident Thomas B. Warfield. During a trip to Vandalia in February 1881, Thomas died. Eleanor returned to Bozeman and, nineteen months later (September 21, 1882), she married Philip Dodson. Shortly thereafter, the Alpha Social Club was formed with Dodson eventually becoming the organization's secretary. Sometime later, Samuel Griffith took up residence in Bozeman. Presumably, Griffith's residence in Bozeman was the home of his daughter and son-in-law and this ledger was stored in that residence.

Updated: 4/3/09