Rotary International District 5870
THE DISTRICT 5870 HISTORY
Prepared by the district and not verified by Rotary Global History
A brief history of Rotary District 5870
As part of Rotary’s 2005 Centennial Celebration, Rotarians from throughout the state gathered on the steps of the Texas Capitol on February 23, 2005. The day was formally proclaimed Rotary Day in Texas. During a ceremony arranged by the Capital of Texas Rotary Club, Centennial District Governor Gene Davenport spoke, as did other dignitaries including Texas Governor Rick Perry. Official copies of Texas Senate Resolution 79(R) SR 60 and Texas House of Representatives Resolution 79(R) HR 452 were pro-vided each of the ten Rotary Districts in Texas. Now part of the historical record in our state, these resolutions document the history of Rotary in Texas. The resolutions were merged, abridged and augmented to form this version of our district history. The district historian also acknowledges with appreciation research provided by Kaye Boyd of wacoWaco. 74waco
Rotary began when Paul P. Harris, a Chicago attorney, invited several friends to meet in downtown Chicago after work on February 23, 1905. During that small informal meeting they discussed forming a club to enjoy camaraderie and enlarge their circle of business and professional acquaintances.
Early meetings rotated among club members’ offices, so they referred to themselves as the “rotary” club. The meeting location chart was circular, indicating that after each member had hosted the club the cycle would repeat. New members became new spokes on the wheel. With many prospective members visiting and joining, name badges were needed. Rather than customary rectangles the first Rotary Club’s first name badges were round like the meeting chart.
A wagon wheel representing business executives who were on the move and going someplace was adopted as Rotary’s emblem. Bowing to technology it later became a gear wheel. With its purpose expanded to serving community needs, Rotary spread throughout the United States, coming to Texas in 1912.
The National Association of Rotary Clubs issued charter number 39 to the Rotary Club of Dallas on 9 April 1912. Rotary’s popularity had clubs forming every month by the time San Antonio and Houston received club charters numbered 52 and 53 respectively (both dated 1 November 1912). Austin was the next club chartered in Texas; number 63, signed at Rotary headquarters 1 May 1913. A month later, on 1 June 1913, club charters were issued to Beaumont (# 72), Galveston (# 73), Waco (# 74) and 1 July 1913 a charter was signed for the Rotary Club of Fort Worth (# 75).
With a growing number of clubs in Canada and the British Isles, the National Association of Rotary Clubs became the International Association of Rotary Clubs; so 2 June 1913 then-President Glen Mead sent new charter certificates to all clubs. In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the first meeting of the first Rotary club, the 1 July 2004 – 30 June 2005 club year was declared the Rotary Centennial Year causing clubs to review their archives. Some clubs had discarded their original charter after receiving Glen Mead’s International charter, resulting in confusion for those chartered before June of 1913.
Rotary districts were created in 1915. District 12 included all of Texas plus Shreveport, Louisiana. The first governor was William H. “Billy” Richardson, Jr, who was a member of the Rotary Club of Austin. Governor Richardson is quoted as having said on Septem-ber 6, 1915 that “ten percent of the entire Rotary membership resides in Texas.”
District Governor Richardson held his district conference in Waco November 1, 1915 in rooms used by the Retail Merchants Association in the Amicable Building with ten of the thirteen clubs in Texas participating. Conference speakers included Rotary International President Allen D. Albert of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and 2nd Vice President Robert H. Cornell of Houston. Kaye Boyd, Executive Secretary of the Rotary Club of Waco, found a notation in that club’s 1915 minutes that Waco Rotarians paid $1 apiece for the confer-ence banquet so out-of-town delegates and international officers would be guests of the club.
In 1917 District 12 was reduced to include only Texas, which then had 19 clubs. The next year Texas became District 18 with the president of the University of Texas, Dr. R. E. Vinson, serving as 1919-1920 Governor of District 18.
Several significant things happened during Rotary’s 1922 international convention. The Constitution and Bylaws were revised to require all clubs chartered after 1922 to adopt the new Standard Club Constitution. The name of the parent organization was changed to Rotary International. Our district was renumbered 13 with 83 Texas clubs – the entire state except for the area south of the eastern boundary of New Mexico.
With about 100 Rotary Clubs in the state by 1925-26, Texas was split into Districts 41, 47 and 48. Austin, Waco, and the area northwest became District 41. Harry H. Rogers of San Antonio became the first Texas president of Rotary International in 1926-27 when Texas had nearly 6,000 members in about 125 clubs.
Our district number became 128 in 1937, then 131 in 1948, then 187 in 1949, and in 1958 we became 587. During 1991 each of Rotary’s 491 districts added a zero at the end in anticipation of a much larger number of smaller districts to ease the workload on district governors. Instead, Rotary’s legislative council created assistant governors. Today Rotary has nearly 32,000 clubs meeting weekly in 529 districts in 166 countries.
With the addition of the Rotary Club of Austin-Lakeline, District 5870 begins its 2005-2006 year with 62 clubs.
PDG Jack Mayo, District Historian Member of RGHF