On December 28, 1900, a little over a month after first 100 employees of the Consolidation Coal Company moved from Muchakinock to Buxton, plans were underway for the Twentieth Century Club banquet. Part of those plans were to invite well known people, such as Buxton Superintendent Ben Buxton, Iowa Governor Leslie Shaw, and President McKinley. All men declined and McKinley even sent a letter.
Executive Mansion, Washington, Dec. 15, 1900.
Mr. B.F. Cooper, Muchakinock, Iowa.
My dear sir: In the president’s behalf I beg leave to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 11th instant with enclosure, and to express his regret that owing to the pressure of public business he is precluded from accepting many of the kind invitations which come to him. Assuring you that your thoughtfulness and courtesy are appreciated, believe me
Very truly your,
Geo. B. Coleteyou,
Secretary to the President.
What’s the Twentieth Century Club?
The first mention of the Club that I found was in a 1897 edition of the Iowa State Bystander. The article detailed The Sixteenth Session of the Iowa Annual Conference that was held in Mt. Pleasant on September 15, 1897. Reverends and bishops of the Methodist Episcopal church traveled from all over Iowa to attend. It was here that Bishop B.W. Arnett suggested that all churches organize a Twentieth Century Club.
Was this the same Twentieth Century Club as the one in Buxton? It seems likely. Though the article on the Iowa Annual Conference, with its long list of religious clergy attendees and meeting-like structure, compared to the one on the Twentieth Century Club in Buxton, with its lack of ministerial staff listed and its mention of music and waltzes, sound a bit different. More research is needed on this one.
Regardless, I find it interesting that Present McKinley’s office responded to a request coming from tiny (by comparison) Buxton. Could that be a testament to Buxton’s importance at the time? Or did McKinley’s secretary answer every polite inquiry sent to the president’s office?