Topaz Sagehens' genesis

It is time once again for the annual Fall Boutique, sponsored by the Topaz Sagehens, now just a little over a month away. The Sagehens still have room for more vendors but they are filling up fast. If you would like to participate in this fun event and share your particular art or craft with others, call Micki Joye and reserve a space. The cost is $25 for a table or outdoor space. The event will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 3 at the TRE Community Park Building.

Talking to several of the club members while gathering the information about the up-coming boutique, it got my curiosity peaked. How long had the Sagehens been together? How did it all begin?

After conversations with the current president, Janice Roberts and Micki Joye, I got names of others to call that might be better able to answer my questions. Micki told me to talk to Patsy Tolman, a 17-year resident of TRE, who in turn gave me the names of Jean Estrella, Peggy Larson and Jeanette Baust. It turned into a history lesson, not only of this wonderful community oriented organization but also of the community itself. I had a great day.

According to Patsy, Peggy and Jeanette, the Sagehens have been together almost as long as TRE has been consider a community.

It all started with a loosely organized group called the Firebelles, about the time that the area realized the need for a volunteer fire station. A group of women got together and hosted a spaghetti feed, the first being in September of 1972 at the Smith Valley Community Hall in Wellington. The event was very successful and made $2,800. In 1973, the Firebelles became a real organization, dedicated to fundraising for the benefit of a volunteer fire department. In the following three years, the group had raised over $10,000 towards the building of what is now East Fork Station 4. That was a lot of spaghetti.

By 1975, interest waned in the Firebelles and membership was dropping off. As referenced in The Record-Courier, in one of the first Sweetwater Notes, author unknown as no by-line was given, the Firebelles called their last meeting in March of that year.

"There wasn't many of us out here back then, we didn't have really anyone to lean on so we just had to lean on each other," Jeanette Baust said. "Seven, or so, of us would still get together, we cooked together, sewed together and just got together."

In a Sweetwater Notes column written by Joan Morhmann in a Feb. 17, 1976, edition of the paper, it announced a meeting of what was referred to as the Homemakers Club at Eloise Fancher's home. It was decided at that meeting they would organize a homemakers club through the National Homemakers Cooperative Extension organization. They called for another meeting for March 17 that again took place at Fancher's home with 18 women attending. They invited Sheila Burns from the extension to talk to them and officers were elected. The first officers were Marge Mullner, president; Darlene Warn, vice president; Roberta Hinton, secretary; Janie Godin, treasurer and Jean Estrella was historian according to the Sweetwater account in the paper.

"It was Marge Mullner who came up with the name, Topaz Sagehens," Peggy Larson said. "Jeanie (Estrella), she was an artist. She designed the logo for us. We used it on everything, even our letterhead used that logo."

Peggy and her husband Bruce were some of the first residents of TRE having purchased their property on what is now Sandstone Road in 1971 with the dream of a retirement home for their future. They completed their home in 1976.

"We were an interesting bunch of women," Larson said. "A lot of us had been professionals in a lot of different areas. We were all community minded and the Sagehens have done a lot of good things in the community."

Through fundraising efforts and community involvement, the Topaz Ranch Estates Park Building, the surrounding park and play ground were due, in large part, to the Sagehens. They still maintained their involvement in the volunteer fire department and provided scholarships to deserving students. Among some of the projects Larson listed was the Vial of Life project, initiated by Donna Sutton, Sagehen member and past Sweetwater Notes columnist. The Vial of Life was a program to have people fill out all their vital information (medications, doctors, DNRs, next of kin and contact numbers) placed in a small container on or in the refrigerator to be found in case of an emergency.

"We went door to door and did senior surveys to better serve the community," Larson added.

As then, the Topaz Sagehens continue to serve the communities of the south county with two yearly fundraisers, the huge two-day rummage sale at the park building and the Fall Boutique.

The Fall Boutique and Bake Sale will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 3 at the TRE Community Park Building. Along with arts and crafts, there will be a general raffle as well as several specialty item raffle where you can place your tickets in bowls for specific prizes. The grand prize will be a fur coat. Tickets are 6 for $5 or 32 for $20 and you need not be present to win. Lunch will be available for purchase. For information, contact Micki Joye, 266-1025.

Want to be a Sagehen? For membership information contact president, Janice Roberts, 266-1076 or attend a meeting, 1 p.m., the third Wednesday of the month, at the TRE Community Park Building.

Until next week, may we all, like the Topaz Sagehens, just keep on keepin' on.

-- Jonni Hill can be reached through The Record-Courier at or by calling 782-5121, ext. 213, or after hours at


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment