Secret Societies of Washington County, Nebraska

In all enlightened portions of the globe today one finds numerous secret or semi-secret fraternities of both men and women, separate and in conjunction, all of which have for their one high aim the betterment of humanity and formation of true, lasting friendship, and while not all, many of such societies or lodges, as they are usually denominated, have sick benefits and life insurance connected with their charters. It should be stated, however, that there are at least three great secret orders whose history dates far back and which do not have such insurance features connected with them. We refer especially to the Masonic Order, the Odd Fellows Order and the Knights of Pythias Order, which are secret fraternities pure and simple.

The beneficiary orders, or really mutual life assurance societies, have grown to legion in number in the last score of years. The first of all such lodges was the Ancient Order of United Workmen, established at Meadsville, Pennsylvania, in about 1868, and from such lodges has grown up many others along similar lines, including Modern Woodmen of America, Woodmen of the World, Ben Hur, Eagles, Maccabees, Red Men of America, Yeomen, etc. They afford a cheap rate of life assurance, some are standing the test of time, while many others are fast sinking on account of the fees required not being sufficient to meet the death losses. The beneficiary orders that furnish members life insurance worth much are those whose charges are nearly as much as "old line" insurance costs.

Free Masonry in Washington County

Masonry is without doubt the most ancient of all secret fraternities known to men.

The oldest Masonic Lodge in Washington County, Nebraska, is Washington Lodge, at Blair, which was first organized at Cuming City, but later removed to Blair.

Masonry at Blair

The oldest Masonic Lodge in Washington County, Nebraska was organized at Cuming City, February 25, 1868, and known as Cuming City Lodge No. 21. Its officers included: Mathew Carter, master; J. W. Hungate, senior warden; S. R. Fletcher, junior warden.

The charter members were:

Nathan Carter
J. W. Fletcher
J. W. Hungate
A. T. Johns
Wm. E. Hill
James H. Thompson
Ben Newkirk
M. Cameron
W. H. Cuming

August 5, 1869, there was a dispensation authorizing Cuming City Lodge No. 21 to change place of meeting from Cuming City to Blair, October 27, 1869, by resolution of grand lodge the name of the lodge was changed to Washington Lodge No. 21, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.

The present total membership in September, 1920, is 111. The present elective officers are: Harry Morris, master; Fred W. Jones, senior warden; Walter Larsen, junior warden; Charles E. Gaydou, secretary; William Palmer, treasurer.

The Masonic degrees at Blair include the Blue Lodge, Washington No. 21; Adoniram Chapter No. 13; Jordan Commandery Knights Templar No. 15; McKinley Chapter, Order Eastern Star No. 161. In 1919 the old Masonic hall of Blair was sold and ground purchased for a new Masonic hall, but owing to the high price of building material it was decided to postpone the work for some later date.

John S. Bowen Lodge No. 232, Kennard

The Blue Lodge of Free Masonry at the Village of Kennard was organized in 1895 and had for its charter members the following:

John Klotz
William H. Pruner
John W. LeCrone
James M. Parker
Abram D. Rose
Henry F. Hetrick
Charles M. Weed
Jabez Charles
William T. Burgess
Eugene M. Cook
Jay Vestal
Isaac McCann
James Hawley
William Murley

 The present membership is forty-nine. Other lodges of this order are found in this county at Arlington, Blair, Herman and Fort Calhoun. The present, or 1920, elective officers are: John Blaco, worshipful master; Edward F. Cushman, senior warden; Francis E. Dolan, junior warden; Charles W. Weed, treasurer; J. Floyd McCann, secretary; J. Ansel Toft, senior deacon; Edward E. Cushman, junior deacon; Gabriel R. Stewart, tyler.

This lodge owns its hall over the Home State Bank ; cost $2,200 ; built in 1915, of brick.

Masonry at Fort Calhoun

From an early date Fort Calhoun has had a Masonic Lodge. Information blanks were sent to this lodge by the compiler of this chapter, but no response, hence no history appears. Suffice to say that a Blue Lodge and Eastern Star are both represented in Fort Calhoun. The history of the Order of Eastern Star will be found with other Eastern Star chapters within this work.

Hiram Lodge No. 52, at Arlington

This lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons at Arlington was organized June 26, 1874, by Charter Members

S. G. Glover
J. A. Unthank
L. F. Jenks
H. F. Christ
N. R. Turner
Z. G. Wilcox
L. H. Wilcox
J. S. Thompson
Peter Hammang
J. C. Blackburn
W. S. Cook
G. Tripp
U. S. Wilcox

 The present (1920) total membership of this lodge is seventy-seven.

The first and present elective officers of this lodge have been:

First Officer Title Present Officer
S. G. Glover Worshipful Master Joseph C. Chapman
John H. Unthank Senior Warden Raymond E. Planck
Z. T, Wilcox Junior Warden Harold D. Weber
L. F. Jenks Treasurer D. C. Weber
John J. Thompson Secretary James C. Badger
L. S. Wilcox Senior Deacon ...
S. Tripp  Junior Deacon ...

 The lodge building occupied by this lodge is mostly owned by stockholders in the order ; it is a two-story brick and stone structure.

Landmark Lodge No. 222, A. F. & A. M. Herman

This Masonic Lodge was formed June 21, 1894 and its records were all destroyed by the great cyclone of 1899. But transcript records from the Grand Lodge of Nebraska show the following facts: The charter members were as follows:

John C. Bailey, first worshipful master
Thomas B. Bailey
John M. Bovee
Eugene W. Burdic
Frank F. Burdic
Charles H. Burdic
John H. Chambers
Malcolm Cameron
William C. Cameron
Jesse L. Conant, Jr.
Orton C. Dorsey (secretary)
Samuel Dorsey
John Estaque,
Stanley Gray
Levi Johnson
Thomas Leonard
Isaiah Luckens
E. C. McConnaha
John Patrick (treasurer)
William Rutledge (tyler)
John A. Sullivan
Melville S. Wilcox

The total membership is now about 120.

The present (1920) elective officers are: C. J. Thone, worshipful master; Fred Robertson, senior warden; James Van Horn, junior warden; E. W. Burdic, treasurer; C. R. Gray, secretary; Charles Nelson, tyler.

Order of Eastern Star

This is an auxiliary of the Masonic Order and within the last few years has become quite universal and popular in the great field of Masonry.

Sarepta Chapter No. 48, Order of Eastern Star, at Arlington, was organized June 15, 1892, under direction of the Masonic fraternity. The chapter now has a membership of sixty-eight. Herman and Blair in Washington County also have chapters in this fraternity. The sisters who made up the charter membership of the Arlington Chapter were as follows:

Minnie Jewett
Rita M. Badger
Alida Dyer
M. A. Whitney
Jessie Turner
Johana Olesen
Jennie Glover
Barbara Hammang
Z. G. Sharp
Rose Sharp
Orilla Hammang
Jane A. Unthank
Carrie M. Roth
Tilla Osterman
Lydia A. Mansfield
M. A. Reynolds
Eva Fink

The original and present (1920) elective officers of this chapter are as follows:

Original Officers 1920 Officers

Original Officers Title 1920 Officers
Jane A. Unthank Worthy Matron Drusilla McCann
John A. Unthank Worthy Patron Ernest Planck
Julia A. Whitney Associate Matron Jennie Glover
W. D. Badger Secretary Florence Planck
Barbara Hammang Treasurer Mary Gilfrey
Minnie Jewett Conductres Anna Glover
Jennie Glover Associate Conductress Harriet Lawson

Naomi Chapter No. 121, Order Eastern Star

This chapter was organized at Fort Calhoun February 17, 1898, and now enjoys a total membership of forty.

It is stated upon the best of authority that the first Eastern Star Chapter in Nebraska was organized at Fort Calhoun, about 1868, became defunct after two years or so, and its records and money were all turned over to the Grand Chapter of Nebraska. It is thought this pioneer chapter was formed under the Grand Chapter of the State of Iowa. Many of the old settlers were members of the chapter.

Returning to the present chapter at Fort Calhoun, let it be said that its charter membership was as follows:

Mrs. Hannah M. Beals, Worthy Matron
George R. Whitney, Worthy Patron
Mrs. Caroline M. Tresler, Associate Matron
Hugh A. Stevenson, Secretary
Fred H. Frahm, Treasurer
Catherine C. Beales, Conductress
Mrs. Jessie M. Foster, Associate Conductress
Sadie C. Beals
Myrtle Whitney
Elizabeth Bradley
Wm. R. Duncan
Edwin N. Grenell
Mrs. Sarah Coflfman
N. Sheridan Craig
Mrs. Maud Craig
Dr. Thomas A. Reed
Edward G. Grenell
Mayme Duncan
Edith H. Grenell
Mrs. Johanna Schmidt
Mrs. Rhoda Craig
Mrs. Carrie Jipp
Camille Saltzman
Mrs. Jessie Foster
Miss Anna A. Carter
Emma C. Craig
Austin W. Beals

The 1920 officers of this chapter are as follows: Mrs. Ella C. Beales, worthy matron; Fred H. Frahm, worthy patron, Clara H. Cofifman, associate matron; Catherine C. Beals, secretary; Elsie R. Cook, treasurer; Sadie C. Frahm, conductress; Mary E. Rowley, associate conductress.

McKinley Chapter No. 161

McKinley Chapter Order of Eastern Star at Blair was organized May 7, 1902, by J. D. Hawthorne, grand patron. The present total membership is 160. Other chapters in Washington County are at Fort Calhoun, Arlington and Herman.

The charter members of this chapter (McKinley No. 161) were as follows:

Eugene S. Beaty
Mrs. Alice J. Foley
Mrs. Nellie Smith
Miss Maud L. Carter
Mrs. Fanny Kelly
Mrs. Lulu Hahn
Mrs. Lou Beaty
Miss A. C. Kenny
George W. Sellers
Mrs. Belle Davis
Mrs. Addie E. Sellers
Will H. H. Davis
John C. Johnson
William Kelly
Miss Laura M. Lantry
Miss Bertha Crouch
Miss Sue M. Kenny
Mrs. Sarah A. Haller
Mrs. Sophie Arndt
Frederick Arndt
Frederick W. Kenny
Mrs. Minnie Williams
Mrs. Nanny A. Crouch
Mrs. Matilda A. Bross
Miss Bertha Taylor
Miss Stella Taylor
Mrs. Margaret C. Palmer
Mrs. Florence Carter
George Carter
Lyman A. Williams
Mrs. Anna McKeen
Miss June Fletcher
Miss Louise Kline
Miss Genevieve Davis
Miss Nellie Haller
Miss Cora Hester
Mrs. Nettie Carter
Miss Mittie Foley
G. S. Haller
Henry H. Hahn
Mrs. Annie J. Kenny


First Officers Title 1920 Officers
Mrs. Alice J. Foley Worthy Matron Mrs. Gussie Lippincott
 Frederick W. Kenny Worthy Patron Oliver M. Ireland
Mrs. Sophie Arndt Associate Matron Ethel Mead
Mrs. Minnie Williams Secretary Mrs. Minnie Williams
Mrs. Lou Beaty Treasurer Miss Fanny Langtry
Mrs. Lulu Hahn Conductress Mrs. Sadie Higley
Mrs. Nellie Smith Associate Conductress Mrs. Blanche Rhoades


 Herman Chapter No. 216

Herman Chapter Order of Eastern Star, at Herman, was organized March 3, 1908. The present membership of this chapter is 138. The charter members in this chapter were as follows:

Clara Bailey, Worthy Matron
Allen J. Cameron, Worthy Patron
Cora Burdic, Associate Matron
Axylphia Hungate, Secretary
Dora Rose, Treasurer
Lena Russell, Conductress
Josephine Hart, Associate Conductress
Eugene Burdic
Miss Birdie Fletcher
Carl Hansen
Mrs. Josephine Hansen
Floyd Van Valin
Charles Gray
George Hart
John Bailey
Minnie Ackerman
Maimie Cameron
Bessie Meador
Estella Gray
Thomas Hungate
Louie Fitch
Iredale Van Valin
Emma Spoore
Miss Alma Fletcher
Mrs. Elizabeth Gray
George Rose

This chapter assemble in Masonic Hall, erected soon after the great cyclone in Herman. June 13, 1899.

The present (1920) elective officers are: Estella Gray, worthy matron; Hiram B. Cameron, worthy patron; Mrs. Mae Johnson, associate matron; Mrs. Effie M. Godsey, secretary; Miss Caroline Wachter, treasurer.

Independent Order of Odd Fellowship

This ranks next in the age of its organization to Free Masonry and is now over a century old in this country.

Probably the first lodge of this fraternity, representing Friendship, Love and Truth, in Washington County, was Blair Lodge No. 14, organized in 1869 and now has a membership of 165. Its charter members were as follows: J. W. Hewell, Sr., S. B. Taylor, M. C. Huyett, James Denny, B. F. Hilton, Niles Noyes, J. H. Van Horn, James S. Stewart. The original Noble Grand was S. B. Taylor and the vice grand was J. W. Hewell.

The officers today (1920) are: George Kuhr, noble grand; A. W. Rose, vice grand; J. L. Pounds, treasurer; T. H. Wright, secretary.

Washington Lodge No. 41

Washington Lodge No. 41, Independent Order of Odd Fellows was organized at the Town of Arlington, October 11, 1873, with charter members as follows: William J. Crane, William Unthank, William H. Kingdon, William Shulze and Haman Chapman.

This lodge owns a handsome lodge room property consisting of the lower floor of the opera house. It is a two and one-half story building constructed of brick. It was erected in 1892 and is worth $10,000. Prior to this the lodge owned another building which was burned in 1891; the first was a frame building.

The first and present officers were as follows:

First Officers Title 1920 Officers
William Unthank Noble Grand M. W. Winset
William J. Crane Vice Grand Frank Wolf
H. Chapman Secretary G. I. Pfeiffer
William H. Kingdon Treasurer F. W. Pfeiffer

Kennard Lodge No. 266

Kennard Lodge Independent Order of Odd Fellows, No. 266. was organized at the Village of Kennard, July 23, 1902. The charter members were as follows: William E. Swihart, L. A. Green, John Nissen, W. H. Menking, Henry Drevsen, B. Widener, Andrew D. Andersen, Mark I. Swihart, W. H. Harrison, Willis E. Anderson, Rasmus Larson, Nils P. Hansen, H. C. Blaco, Charles E. Edmondson.

This lodge now has a membership of 121 in good standing. The first elective officers were: W. H. Menking, noble grand; W. E. Swihart, vice grand; L. A. Green, secretary; John Nissen, treasurer.

The present ( 1920) officers are: Carl A. Monson, noble grand; Peter Cook, vice grand; E. E. Cashman, secretary; C. E. Kronberg, treasurer; H. C. Blaco, C. B. Hansen and O. W. Marshal, trustees. This lodge owns its own hall, costing $2,000, purchased in 1914.

Rebekah Degree of Odd Fellowship

This auxiliary to Odd Fellowship is represented at several points in Washington County including the following places:

Rebekah Lodge No. 42 - Arlington

This lodge was organized December 3, 1888, with charter members as follows: J. Blessing, H. Chapman, O. Unthank, R. E. Roberts, John Hammang, Nellie Blessing, R. C. Smith, Mrs. L. B. Wilson, John Close, A. Masters, C. Saffenfield, D. C. Kennecutt, James Hitchcock, Fred Menking, W. J. Crane, P. Z. Wilson, Mrs. W. J. Crane, Mrs. R. C. Smith, Mrs. D. C. Kennecutt, Mrs. E. Fuller, Miss Lottie Fuller.

The original and present-day elective officers of this lodge are:

First Officers Titles 1920 Officers
O. N. Unthank Noble Grand Miss Carrie Cowles
Mrs. E. Fuller Vice Grand Mrs. Euphemia Osterman
Miss Lizzie M. Wilson Secretary Mrs. Bessie Gaines
Mrs. R. E. Roberts Treasurer Miss Inez Wages
.. Chaplain Miss Gertrude Gaines
Mrs. J. G. Blessing Ward Mrs. Maymie Winset
Mrs. Letta A. Fuller Conductor Mrs. Sophia Conley
Mrs. W. J. Crane Inside Guard Helen Menking
H. C. Saffenfield Outer Guard Addie McKibbon

  "Faithful" Rebekah Lodge No. 332

This lodge was organized at Kennard April 16, 1918, with charter members as follows:

Merie Blaco
Mamie Wright
Mae Jones
Tillie Nelson
Belle Bouch
Nathan Bouch
Ernest Nelson
Emma Nelson
Edna Anderson
Helen Berry
Elna Nissen
Charlotte Berry
Cleo Anderson
Christina Hansen
Anna Rosenbaum
Elizabeth Kronberg
Anna Kempche
W. B. Rosenbaum
Taylor Meadows
Chris Hansen
H. C. Blaco
Gus Kempcke
G. E. Kronberg
Adolph Kroigard
Homer Ward
J. B. Anderson
Burr R. Jones

The present total membership of this lodge is seventy-one. Other lodges in Washington County of this order are at Blair and Arlington. The 1920 officers are: Tillie Nelson, noble grand; Nena Meadows, vice grand; Edna Anderson, secretary; Leona Nelson, treasurer; Mae Jones, warden; Angle Hall, conductor; Merie Blaco, chaplain.

Knights of Pythias Order

This is one of the more modern secret societies in this country. It was established with Lodge No. 1, at the City of Washington, soon after the close of the Civil war in 1866, and has become quite popular in many portions of the country, not as strong, however, in this county as elsewhere.

Garfield Lodge No. 6

This lodge was instituted at Blair April 7, 1883 by Deputy Grand Chancellor of Nebraska. The charter members were as follows:

J. Altschuler
E. S. Noble
J. R. Bryan
Perry Selden
Fred Noble
Douglass Smith
O. W. Cook
J. H. Sheen
Chris Boyer
Harry Higley
Thomas Finnell
H. Noble
T. P. Noble
W. G. Higley
Henry Hunter
E. S. Hewett
Charles McClatchie
Dr. H. Noble
C. A. Buffoon
J. Keppel
J. L. Conant Jr.
J. Brookwalter
E. Perry

 Only one of the original charter members are still with this lodge-Thomas Finnell.

This lodge was formed in the Masonic Hall, and has used various halls to the present date.

The present or 1920 elective officers are: Thomas T. Osterman, chancellor commander; J. H. Stewart, vice chancellor; C. R. Mead, prelate; Ed Matthiesen, master of exchequer; J. E. Carver, master of finance; H. N. Thone, keeper of records and seals; L. A. Farnberg, master at arms; A. J. Croudy, outside guard; Henry Grimm, inside guard.

Ancient Order of United Workmen

On account of the charter of this lodge at Herman, Washington County, having been destroyed in the great cyclone of 1899. the date of its organization cannot be here given, but it was a number of years previous to that never-to-be-forgotten wind storm.

It is, however, known that the following were first elective officers:

Charles A. Marshall, Past Master Workman
John H. Cameron, Master Workman
Elsworth Z. Russell, Foreman
Carlton Saunders, Overseer
Walter G. Cleuver, Recorder
Silas Harris, Financier
John H. Chambers, Receiver
James E. Dorsey, Guide

The present total membership of this Workman lodge is fifty. The lodge does not own its hall but leases one. The 1920 elective officers are as follows: Fred Robertson, master workman; J. P. Lowe, foreman; Charles Nelson, financier.

The Danish Brotherhood

In Washington County among the beneficiary lodges is what is well known among the Danish people-the Danish Brotherhood of America. Lodge No. 173 of such an order was organized at Herman, this county, September 5, 1903. It now enjoys a total membership of forty-eight. Its charter members were as follows:

C. A. Beck
N. P. Iversen
H. P. Hansen
John P. Ericksen
Hans A. Nelson
James Jacobsen
R. N. Rasmussen
Peter Knudsen
L. P. Ericksen
Fred D. Christensen
Peter N. Petersen
L. P. Skov
Lars Jacobsen
H. P. Christensen
Thorwald Hansen
C. M. Hansen
W. H. Christensen
Hans Petersen
H. F. Enges
C. H. Kruse

The present elective officers are as follows: W. H. Christensen, president; R. P. Rasmussen, vice president; R. H. Rasmussen, secretary; Anton Rasmussen, treasurer; J. M. Jensen, H. P. Christensen and one more, are the trustees.

Blair and Kennard in this county also have lodges of this order.

Kennard Lodge Danish Brotherhood No. 159

This lodge was organized February 5, 1903, and now has forty-six members-three more than the original charter members. The first officers were as follows: John Niessen, C. B. Hamen, Hans Andersen, A. P. Andersen, Nick Cook, Jens P. Sorensen, Hans P. Christensen, John C. Jensen, Jens P. Hansen, Mogens Petersen, D. Hall.

The 1920 officers in charge are : C. B. Hansen, Ben Haaselstiam, L. Buck, Nick Cook, Nels E. Clovertemen, Nels O. Hansen, Peter Jorgensen, and Nels Andersen.

Modern Woodmen of America

Blair, Fort Calhoun, Arlington and Kennard, all have lodges of this fraternity which is really one of the leading beneficiary orders in which many people are insured on the mutual plan.

Kennard Camp No. 1347 of Modern Woodmen of America was organized March 6, 1891, at the Village of Kennard and now has a total membership of 156.

The first charter members were: G. A. Compton, David Demaree, W. H. Epling, Frank McCracken, W. J. McCann, Christian F. Nelsen, W. H. Pruner, John Rosenbaum, W. H. Rosenbaum, H. J. Rosenbaum, S. M. Wright and F. P. Vannicle.

The first elective officers included these:

H. J. Rosenbaum, Worthy Advisor
Chris S. Neilsen, Banker
G. A. Compton, Clerk
F. P. Vannicle, Escort
W. H. Rosenbaum, Watchman
S. M. Wright, Sentinel
Dr. W. H. Pruner, Physician

The present elective officers are:

George Nelson, Venerable Consul
A. E. Wright, Advisor
E. E. Cashman, Banker
C. M. Weed, Clerk
I. C. Lantrup, Escort
E. R. Cunningham, Watch
Harold Bates, Sentinel
Dr. J. B. Anderson, Physician

Trapbois Camp No. 1295 of Modern Woodmen of America was organized January 5, 1890, by J. C. Root. The charter members were as follows: John G. Power, John A. Schmahling, A. M. Schumaker, B. F. Monroe, W. C. Vaughn, M. M. Tomlinson, D. McMurtrie, W. E. Marsh.

The original officers were: John G. Power, counsel; W. C. Vaughn, adviser; J. A. Schmahling, clerk; W. E. Marsh, banker. The present (1920) elective officers are as follows: N. W. Cole, counsel; E. F. David, adviser; T. H. Wright, clerk; J. E. Carver, banker; the trustees are Lou Vaughan, W. J. Koopman, W. H. Underwood.

Nebraska AHGP

History of Dodge and Washington Counties, Nebraska, Rev. William H. Buss and Thomas T. Osterman, Volume 1, The American Historical Society, Chicago, 1921.

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