The Birth of the Charles City Rotary Club
It was in September of 1918 when Lyman H. Henry was invited to a luncheon
by his long-time friend, Mr. Bide Way at Mason City, who suggested that they
should have a Rotary Club in Charles City. Mr. Henry agreed with the suggestion
and on his return he interested Walter J. Fluent, C.H. Holden, E.R. Ernsberger
and M.W. Ellis into the movement, and they enlisted the businessmen of the town
to join in this great endeavor. At a later date, the charter men were selected and
Mr. Northy, then president of the Waterloo Rotary Club, was called upon officially
to organize the Charles City Rotary Club.
In the early days of Rotary International, it was believed that a Rotary Club
could only survive in a community of 10,000 or larger. The organization of the
Charles City Club was considered experimental, since it would be the first community anywhere under 10,000 population to attempt such an undertaking. Our
Charter Number was to become #433. The success of this experiment is attested
to the fact that today there are hundreds of Rotary Clubs flourishing in communities
The Charles City Rotary Club was organized on October 18, 1918, with the following 23 charter members:
Rev. Wm. Bimson, Laurence Bradbury, Edward Brouillard, Alfred Burnham,
James Burns, Dave Darrah, A.L. Dodd, Walter Dray, M.W. Ellis, E.R. Ernsberger,
F.W. Fisher, Walter Fluent, W.I. Fredrickson, N. Frudden, P.R. Guiwits, Ernie
Hausberg, Lyman Henry, E.L. Holden, Dr. James Miner, Ralph O’Harrow, Allen
Ruste, Richard Smith, W.F. Wichman.
The first Board of Directors was composed of: Tad Burnham, Dave Darrah,
Melvin Fisher, E.R. Ernsberger, Frank Fisher, Walter Fluent.
The first officers were: President - Dave Darrah, Vice President - Tad Burnham,
Treasurer - Frank Fisher, Secretary - Ernie Hausberg, Sergt-at-Arms - C.L.
No meetings were held from Oct. 8, 1918, to Nov. 18, 1918, and on Dec. 16,
1918, and Dec. 23, 1918, due to an influenza epidemic quarantine. At a ladies
night party held Jan. 27, 1919, D.C. Northey, then president of the Waterloo
Rotary Club, was present and the officers were installed.
Meetings were originally held at the Hildreth Hotel and the dinner price was
$.65 for noon meetings. Later on, $1 and eventually $2 per week was allowed the
waitresses for tips. The Hildreth Hotel was destroyed by fire in 1934, and unfortunately, most of our early records were lost. The club moved to the American
Legion rooms in the Ellis Building for its weekly meetings. Later, when Roy Wright
from Jefferson, Iowa, moved here and leased the Y.M.C.A. building for a hotel, our
meetings were held there for many years until moving to Club Iowa. Other meeting
places included Club 218, the Union House, Brook’s, the Elks Lodge, Granny’s Kountry Banquet & Buffet, The Back Door restaurant, the Copper Lantern, The Sleep Inn & Suites and, most recently, Dave's Restaurant.
The Charles City Rotary Club shared responsibility for club development in the
district by sponsoring the Osage Rotary Club in 1946. Our club hosted the District
Assembly in 1950.