Long-defunct Native Sons parlor finds new life in Glen Ellen
On Feb. 19, 1887, the Native Sons of the Golden West opened up a parlor in Glen Ellen to preserve the area’s history and to help the members of the community.
By the end of the 20th century, the parlor was lost to time. Even current Native Sons members in Sonoma are cloudy on its demise; it was shut down for unknown reasons at an unknown time.
Now, on the exact day of its founding, nearly 130 years later, NSGW is reinstituting the Glen Ellen #102 parlor at a ceremony taking place at 6 p.m. today, Feb. 19, at the Glen Ellen Firehouse.
“It doesn’t happen often that we open or reinstitute a parlor,” said parlor president Dean Zellers.
But NSGW found Glen Ellen to be too rich in California history to be kept closed, according to Pat Stevens, the event chair and a Glen Ellen parlor member.
Native Sons of the Golden West had its origins following the gold rush and California becoming a state – when native-born Californian men decided they did not want newcomers to wash out California’s beginnings. So in 1875 they formed NSGW to preserve that history while helping the community through fundraising and other efforts.
Since its founding, NSGW has established more than 400 parlors; most of those came and went, much like Glen Ellen’s. Today the Native Sons boast around 8,000 members and 75 active parlors in California.
“Membership goes down over time when members get old and tired and don’t recruit new members,” Zellers said, which is why he thinks the Glen Ellen parlor originally closed down.
NSGW has continued to complete the mission the founders started as they continue to fundraise to fix up and assist communities throughout the state. Accord to Stevens, in Glen Ellen they hope to raise fund to repair the bridge near the Jack London Lodge, help with the lack of parking at Dunbar Elementary School, and stage fundraisers for future projects.
“Anyone in the area that needs help, we are their go-to guys,” Stevens said.
The restitution ceremony will be a time to talk about projects, welcome the new members and elect parlor officers.
Zellers hopes the community will embrace the parlor.
To be a NSGW member, you simply must be born in California. The Glen Ellen parlor allows women members, as well, though they can also join the Native Daughters of the Golden West.
“What makes a parlor succeed is community involvement,” Zellers said.