The Southern Area of The Links, Incorporated came into existence on the Monday after Easter, April 19, 1948 at 1:00 P.M. with the organizing of the sixth club – Rocky Mount-Wilson-Tarboro. The establishment of this group came after more than a year of intense planning and activity by the founders of The Links, Incorporated, Links Sarah Scott and Margaret Hawkins, and their seven friends of the Philadelphia Club. They felt it was time to expand their organization into the south. This duty was given to their friend Julia Delaney of Raleigh, NC and Link Doris Joyner Reynolds, who became a member of the Philadelphia Club late in 1947 (Link Reynolds was born in Winton, North Carolina).
Julia Delaney discussed this with her daughter, Nan Delaney (Hines) Johnson, who lived in Wilson, North Carolina. Nan felt that eastern North Carolina was an ideal place to extend the chain of friendship. With the help of her friend Ann Armstrong of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, five friends from Rocky Mount, five friends from Wilson, and one friend from Tarboro, North Carolina were named and this began the Rocky Mount-Wilson-Tarboro chapter of The Links, Incorporated Julia Delaney brought her cousin, Link Doris Reynolds of the Philadelphia Club, to Rocky Mount to induct the thirteen ladies into the first southern club of Linkdom. Link Doris Reynolds administered the pledge in an impressive candlelight ceremony to Ann Armstrong, Marguerite Armstrong, Sallie Armstrong, Nancy Bowens, Esmeralda Hawkins, and Jessie Pash of Rocky Mount, Grace Artis, Addie Butterfield, Norma Darden, Ethel Hines, Nan Delaney Hines, and Vera Shade of Wilson, and Helen G. Quigless of Tarboro.
Even though the Club was organized in Rocky Mount at the home of Esmeralda Rich Hawkins, and initially called Rocky Mount-Wilson-Tarboro, the name later changed to Wilson-Rocky Mount-Tarboro because the inspiration from the idea of having this group came from Nan Delaney (Hines) Johnson of Wilson, NC, who served as the first president of the club.
One year later the Raleigh Links Club formally organized at noon on the Monday after Easter, April 18, 1949 at the home of Mayme R. McCauley. Link Doris Reynolds of the Philadelphia Club directed an impressive initiation ceremony. Julia B. Delaney, organizer, served as the first president of the club, which became the second Southern Area Club. All Clubs were later called Chapters of The Links, Incorporated. Currently there are 274 chapters.
In 1954, The Links, Incorporated was decentralized into four geographic areas: Eastern, Southern, Central, and Western. Chapter growth was maintained by having existing chapters sponsor chapters in other cities. For example: the Raleigh Chapter sponsored the 3rd chapter in the south-Winston Salem Chapter in 1950, and the Wilson-Rocky Mount-Tarboro Chapter sponsored the Charlotte Chapter (#14) in 1955. Later this rule was limited to a radius of 25 miles.
The Southern Area has grown from two chapters in 1949 to 77 chapters in seven states and the Bahamas (the Republic of South Africa chapter retired in 2004). There are 9 chapters in Alabama, 19 in Florida, 15 in Georgia, 1 in the Bahamas, 8 in Louisiana, 5 in Mississippi, 14 in North Carolina and 6 in South Carolina. Prior to 1965 West Virginia and Texas were part of the Southern Area.
Of the 13 National Presidents, 5 were elected president while residing in the Southern Area. Links Pauline Weeden-Maloney, Helen G. Edmonds, Julia Brogden-Purnell, Regina J. Frazier, and Patricia Russell-McCloud, J.D.
Seven National Assemblies have been held in 5 different Southern Area cities.
1. Bluefield, West Virginia in 1954 (when part of the Southern Area)
2. Atlanta, Georgia in 1957 and 1980
3. Nassau, Bahamas in 1964 (Hosted by the Greater Miami Chapter
4. New Orleans in 1972 (Hosted by the Baton Rouge Chapter, and 1996 (50th Anniversary)
5. Miami, Florida in 1988 6. Atlanta, Georgia in 2004.
The first Southern Area Conference was held in 1955 in Charleston, SC. and the 40th area conference in 2009 in Jacksonville, Fl. Other cities hosting Southern Area conferences included Charleston, SC, Orlando, FL, Jackson, MS, Charlotte, NC, Birmingham, AL, Mobile, AL and the Bahamas.
Area Conferences and National Assemblies were held annually until 1975. After such time, meetings were held biennially and Area Conferences convening in odd-numbered year and National Assemblies convening in even-numbered years.
There have been 17 Southern Area Directors (once titled Area Chairman)
1. Link Bernice Martin 1955 – 1957 – Southern West Virginia, WV
2. Link Georgia Schanck 1957 – 1958 – Orlando, FL
3. Link Esmeralda Hawkins 1958 – 1961 – Wilson-Rocky Mount-Tarboro, NC
4. Link Linda Reddick 1961 – 1965 – Orlando, FL
5. Link Maude K. Reid 1965 – 1969 – Miami, FL
6. Link Gladys D. Wood 1969 – 1973 – Greensboro, NC
7. Link Julia B. Purnell 1973 – 1978 – Baton Rouge, LA
8. Link Juanita Johnson 1978 – 1981 – Tallahassee, FL
9. Link Regina J. Frazier 1981 – 1984 – Miami, FL
10. Link Martha Boone 1984 – 1985 – Wilmington, NC
11. Link Carolyn C. Washington 1985 – 1987 – Vicksburg, MS
12. Link Barbara Moore 1987 – 1991 – Durham, NC
13. Link Katie P. Bell 1991 – 1995 – Montgomery, Al
15. Link Nancy Shade-Anderson 1999 – 2003, Greenville, SC
16. Link Margaret T. Johnson 2003 – 2007 – Jacksonville, FL
17. Link Mary F. Currie 2007 - 2011 - Atlanta, GA
18. Link Eneid A. Francis 2011 – Present - Pontchartrain, LA