The History of Theodore Roosevelt Lodge #322
Excerpt from: The Short Talk Bulletin November, 2000, Vol. 78, No. 11
by: Brother Robert Morris, Secretary of Manchester Lodge, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Manchester, MA.,
(article text posted here with permission)
…The first meeting of Roosevelt Lodge #322. Under Dispensation, was held on Oct. 30. 1919. It was organized by members of Washington Lodge #21 who wanted the opportunity to be officers, but were unable to because of the size of that Lodge. Officers were elected and the meeting nights set for the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month. Lee F. Blood was elected the first Worshipful Master. A motion was made on Nov. 13, 1919 that the 27th day of October (Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday) be observed each year in a fitting manner and to be commemorated as the founding date of the Lodge. Grand Lodge met on June 9 . 1920 and voted to constitute the Lodge. On July 16, 1920 a special communication was held to constitute the Lodge, present the Charter, and install officers. Grand Master Shaeffer presided and gave a “splendid address”. The Lodge name was later changed to Theodore Roosevelt #322 to clarify which president Roosevelt the lodge was named after.
Initially the fees were set as follows: petition fee – $10, EA degree – $15, FC degree – $25, and MM degree – $25. The Tiler was paid $5 and the Secretary served gratis until Nov. 1920, then he was paid $150/year. In 1928 an Official Poster was paid $1.50 per degree, not to exceed $100/year. As late as 1956 the fees were the same, but the dues were now $7.50. Our present fees are $100.00 for the petition and three degrees. Dues are $30.00 per year. Meetings for the first few years consisted mainly of conferring several degrees and balloting on candidates. Attendance was good then. On Sat. June 3, 1922, 350 members and visitors attended a Fellow craft Degree. By 1956. the date of the last printing of the Bylaws the meeting night had been changed to the first and third Tuesday of each month.
The early Lodge brothers were dedicated to meeting on Thanksgiving night and Christmas. However, on Thanksgiving (Nov. 25. 1920) the minutes state “on account of small attendance matters of importance were put off until next stated communication”. The Bylaws were read and accepted on Dec. 9. 1920 and 200 copies were printed. The dues were raised to $5/year at this time. Lee Blood served as Master until Dec. 29. 1921 when W. M. Knudson was installed.
The Lodge had many petitioners and the members were very careful in their selection of new Brothers. Many petitioners were rejected then. On June 9, 1921 a Masonic trial was held and “Brother Robert L. Whittenburg was found guilty of charges as specified and sentenced to expulsion”.
These early Brothers cared for each other. On Dec. 22, 1921 the members voted to donate $10 to fund Christmas dinners for disabled soldiers, and also set up an “employment committee” to assist Masons out of employment. Another example of generosity is a vote of the members to help the widow of a Brother who was in “destitute circumstances” by paying 50% of her house rent or $6.50 per month, later increased to $10 per month.
The Lodge met in a building co-owned with Washington Lodge on Cherry Street in Green Bay until it burned in the mid-1970’s. For a few years the Lodge met in a building owned by Des Peres Lodge, until that building was sold. They later met in the Oddfellow building. On Sept. 8, 1979 the Northeast Wisconsin Masonic Center was dedicated as the home of Theodore Roosevelt. Washington, and Des Peres Lodges as well as all other Masonic bodies in the area. This building is still used today and is an impressive witness to the Masonic Fraternity.
To date Theodore Roosevelt Lodge has had 77 Masters with six of them serving more than one year – Lee Blood 1919,1920,1921). Leo Eichelberger (1928,1929). Cecil Forehand (1962, 1975), William Duhm (1976,1977). Milt Berger (1973,1981) and Dennis Siewert (1978, 1983). One Master. Kurt Wallinger. presided while his father. George, was Grand Master of Masons in Wisconsin. And Dale Vollrath (Master in 1986) is the father of Tom Vollrath (Master in 1993). Several members of the Lodge served as Grand Lodge Officers. Morman Smith, a member of our Lodge, was Grand Master in the 1940’s and Ralph Knowlton, Secretary of the Lodge for many years, served as Grand Lecturer.
Lodge membership is currently about 167, down from 300 in 1987, and a high of 601 in the 1961. This is partly due to a decline in Fraternities in general and follows the decline in the number of Masons in Wisconsin. We hope that we can reverse this trend and begin to attract new members as Masonry in Wisconsin.