The McWheatley Family Club was founded by three daughters of Patience McGowen and John F McGowen: Leola Harrell, Susie E Harrell (these two sisters married two brothers) and Mignon Russell (married to William Russell).


The family club was established because the family expanded and it became hard to purchase Christmas gifts for all of their nieces and nephews. The name came from combining  Patience McGowen with her maiden name Wheatley.

In the beginning, each family member would pay monthly dues. The family club meetings were rotated between each family member and were usually held on a Saturday evening. The hosts would cook a dinner for everyone in attendance. The children would play in a different room from the meeting. During that time children were seen and not heard.

The family club elected officers and everyone assisted with planning the annual Christmas party. Many times we had the party at Aunt Lillian’s (sister to Patience McGowen)  house as she lived in a large home in the Oakland hills. Many times we had the party at Aunt Vernice house in Berkeley. The family club also hosts a yearly picnic.

*Recalled by Susie Birden-Brown  (Daughter of Jewell Birden)

Family History