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A Brief History of the Halifax Area Garden Club

Updated: Apr 28

By: Dylan Bowman, HAHS Board Member

April 25, 2024

(Left to Right) Faye Leitzel, Lynette Schlegal, Grace Clouser and Darla Fulkroad at Kauffman's, June 10, 2008. Photograph provided by Halifax Area Garden Club.

Seeds of a Story

Spring is here...and gardening is on many a mind.

At the recent passing of Arla Bowman, the entire Halifax community felt the loss of a citizen who left a lasting impression. As a member of our family, we were given some historical documents, photos, and trinkets that Arla had kept over the years.

As I sorted through one of the boxes stuffed with old letters and newspaper clippings on behalf of the family, I stumbled across several hand-written pages of beautiful cursive documenting in great detail the origins of the Halifax Area Garden Club (of which Arla had been a part of for many years...some say she had one of the most beautiful gardens in the valley).

I knew what I had to do.

I contacted Debra Frantz (the current president of the HAGC and one of my former elementary school teachers) and Pam Graff (current vice president of the HAGC and lifelong neighbor to my family) to get the inside scoop on their complete records and their modern achievements and activities, getting a full view of their history. This is what I found from those records of Arla and the interview.

Archival photographs of the Halifax Area Garden Club over the years. Photographs provided by the Halifax Area Garden Club.

Arla Bowman's Records (As Found)

Below is the documentation of the Halifax Area Garden Club as written by Arla Bowman. They have been kept as unaltered as possible for historical accuracy:


A meeting was held at the Triangle Restaurant on May 19, 1959, to discuss organizing a Garden Club in the upper part of Dauphin County.

Mrs. Durborow, Dauphin Co. Home Economist; Mrs. Lynn Smith, instructor in Floriculture, Ent. Penna. State University; and Mrs. Harold Ruth, Chairman or President of the Dauphin Co. Ent. Garden Club Council; outlined the procedure for forming a garden club. Copies of A. “Topics for Garden Club Discussion,” B. “Suggested Constitution and By-Laws for Garden Clubs,” and C. Flower Arrangements Correspondents Course,” were distributed to the ladies from the Halifax, Millersburg, and Elizabethville areas, attending said meeting.

The group then divided into two sections, one for the Halifax Area, and the other for the Millersburg, Elizabethville Area. The Halifax group decided to hold another meeting June 9, 1959, 1:30 P.M. at the home of (Charlotte) Mrs. Joseph Facer.

Nine ladies met June 9, 1959 and held election of officers, including the names of ten additional ladies who expressed their desire to join the garden club.

The election of officers resulted as follows: President, Mrs. Jay (Arla) Bowman; First Vice Pres., Mrs. Joseph (Gladyce) Whitaker; Second Vice Pres. Mrs. James (Jane) Rode; Secretary, Mrs. Kenneth (Lau) Lebo; Treasurer, Mrs. Mills (Winnefred) Rummel; Board of Directors, Mrs. Charles (Stella) Chubb, Mrs. Varnes (Almeda) Miller, Mrs. Joseph (Charlotte) Facer, Miss Hertha Richter, and Mrs. Marlin (Sara) Wolfgang.

It was decided the name of our club would be the “Halifax Area Garden Club.” Also that all meetings would be held the second Tuesday of each month in our own member’s homes.

(Left to Right) Gladys Sweigard, Lynnette Schlegal, Sara Miller (HAGC president at the time), and Dauphin County Council of Extension Garden Clubs president Tess Barbush at the 25th anniversary Christmas Show at the Linglestown firehall. Notice Gladys's handcrafted "Apple Dolls" on the table, as described in our previous article on Sweigard and her work. Document (dated Nov. 15, 1982) provided by the Halifax Area Garden Club.

Our first year constituted a variety of interesting programs such as “Flower Arrangement demonstrations and workshops;” Speakers on “house plants;” “Holly;” “Rock gardens + pools;” “Garden and Lawn soil management and improvement;” tour of “Azalea Gardens,” and our first Flower Show.

Our Flower Show was held June 14, 1960, at the Halifax Area School. A seed, plant and bulb sale, and also a lovely Birthday Tea were also featured.

(INSERTED AFTERTHOUGHT:) Also, our club participated in the Est Xua Show held at the RP L Rd. no Hdge. The ladies from the other garden clubs were all too eager to help our new club get started. Throughout the years, our club has continued its high standard of (EDITOR'S NOTE: Thought was not finished here.)

As a result we had excellent educational programs such as, “Flemishing of Flowers and Cones,” “Paper Mache;” “Christmas Wreath, Swages and etc.” and “Easter Egg workshop techniques for matting;” also Horticulture Programs” and “Garden Tours.”

Our club keeps a steady membership of thirty active ladies and since meetings are held in our own homes, we find this number of members ideal.

A.    Each year our club holds a “Flower Show” and all club members and residents of the community are urged to attend and participate.

B.    The Halifax Area Garden Club sponsors an “Art Award” yearly, to the most artistic Senior boy and girl of the Halifax Area School.

C.    Our club also places seasonal artistic arrangements in the lobby, office and library of the Halifax Area School.

D.    Council Projects we participate in annually are, the “Dauphin County Council of Garden Clubs’ Garden Days” and the “Christmas Show.” The “bus tour to the New York Flower Show,” and “Garden Days at Penna State University.


It is my earnest desire and Prayer, that the Halifax Area Garden Club will continue being an inspiring, creative, and interesting Club.

Comprised by Arla G. Bowman

Jan. 29, 1968


Just a couple of the many preserved thank you letters and notes given to the HAGC over the years. Documents provided by the Halifax Area Garden Club.

History to the Roots

As I sat with Frantz and Graff yesterday evening with a glass of ice water and a small plate of Pam's buttermilk cookies at the center of the kitchen table, we paged through the intricate details and richly documented history of the Halifax Garden Club and its extensive contributions to the whole community from decades in the past until most recently.

With 46 members and the desire to continue growing and servicing the community, they are on a clear track to success. We thank the Halifax Area Garden Club for all they have done for our community and the positive influence they have had on generations both past and present. It has certainly brightened many a heart over the years.

Their next event is one of their greatest, and you won't want to miss it, especially with Mother's Day right around the corner. On May 11, their annual Garden Club Plant Sale will be taking place at Word of Life Chapel in Halifax on Fellowship Drive. Be sure to stop in, purchase one of their beautiful Spring arrangements, or, at the very least, swing by and say thank you!

Halifax Area Garden Club president, Debra Frantz, and vice president, Pam Graff, look over their organization's scrapbooks, April 24, 2024. Photographs by Dylan Bowman.

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