In the second half of the 19th century fraternal organizations provided fellowship and connections in the community.. Organizations for women or mixed membership were also founded as companion groups to what were originally groups just for men. Many of the organizations provided insurance, promoted specific occupations and provided burial services for their members. Mountain View Cemetery includes two early burial grounds, one for members of the Masonic Lodge and the Eastern Star and the other for members of the International Order of Odd Fellows and the Rebekahs. Graves in other areas of the cemetery include markers with organizational emblems, such as the tree stumps of the Woodmen of the World.
Today’s “news” is a list of organizations meeting in Oregon City in 1896. Information on the groups follows the listings. It appears that many of these organizations were established in Oregon City in the 1880s. As very few issues of the local newspapers from this decade are available, exact charter dates are not available for all organizations.
This is just a “picture” from a single year, there were many other organizations before and after 1896 – watch for more in the future..
Oregon City Enterprise, August 14, 1896.
- MULTNOMAH LODGE NO 1, A. F. & A. M.
Holds its regular communications on first and third Saturdays of each month at 7:30 P. M. Brethren in good standing are invited to attend.
G. L. Gray, W. M.; T. F. Ryan, Secretary
- CLACKAMAS CHAPTER, NO. 2, R. A. M.
Regular Convocation, third Monday of the month at 7:30 P. M.
W. E. Carll, H. P.; H. S. Strange, Sec’y.
- PIONEER CHAPTER NO 28, O. E. S.
Meets second and fourth Tuesday in each month at Masonic temple. Visitors always welcome.
Miss M. L. Holmes, W. M.; Miss Hattie Wetherell, Secretary
In February 1846 a notice was printed in the Oregon Spectator inviting men interested in forming a Masonic lodge to meet to sign a petition. Seven men signed the petition requesting a charter, which was delivered to the Grand Lodge of Missouri. The charter, granted in 1846, did not arrive until 1848. Originally chartered as Multnomah Lodge No. 84 under the Missouri Grand Lodge, it later became Multnomah Lodge No. 1, Ancient Free & Accepted Masons. It is the oldest Masonic Lodge west of the Missouri River. After meeting in a space over a grocery store, the lodge moved to the “statehouse” at 6th and Main Streets before building their own two-story wooden structure across Main Street just south of 6th. After a fire the building was replaced with a brick structure and remained in use until the 1907 when a new four-story building was constructed on Main Street between 7th & 8th Streets. By 1896 the Royal Arch Masons (R. A. M.), part of the York Rite of Masonic degrees, were also meeting at the Masonic Lodge along with a chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, which was chartered February 28, 1894.
- OREGON LODGE NO. 3, I. O. O. F.
Meets every Thursday evening at 7:30 o’clock P. M. in the Odd Fellows’ Hall, Main street. Members of the order are invited to attend.
W. A. Hedges, N. G.; Thos. Ryan, Secretary.
- WILLAMETTE REBEKAH DEGREE LODGE NO 2, I. O. O. F.
Meets the second and fourth Friday in each month at 8 o’clock p. m. in I. O. O. F. Hall.
Mrs. J. C. Bradley, N. G. ; Mrs. M. M. Charman, Sec.
- ABERNETHY REBEKAH DEGREE LODGE NO. 70.
Meets the first and third Friday in the month at 7:30 P. M. in I. O. O. F. Hall.
Mrs. D. H. Glass, Secretary; Mrs. J. M. Meldrum, N. G.
In the late 1840’s a charter from the Grand Lodge of Maryland, International Order of Odd Fellows, was obtained through what were considered “irregular circumstances” and sent with a member bound by ship for the Oregon Territory. However, the ship first stopped in the Sandwich Islands and the charter was used to establish Excelsior Lodge No. 1 in Honolulu. One of the signers of the charter of this first Odd Fellows Lodge west of the Mississippi River was King Kamehameha. Oregon City finally received a charter in 1853 and established Oregon Lodge No. 3. In May 1895 the first Degree of Rebekah Lodge, an affiliated order for women, was established in Oregon City. The I. O. O. F. hall was built on the west side of Main Street between 5th and 6th Streets, between the Masonic Lodge and the Willamette Building (Harding’s Drugs). In 1922 the lodge moved the their new two-story building at 7th & Washington Streets on the hill.
- FALLS CITY LODGE NO. 50, A. O. U. W.
Meets every Saturday evening of each month in A. O. U. W. hall 7th St. All sojourning brethren cordially invited to attend.
Max Schulpius, M. W.; Geo. Califf, Recorder
- ELECTRIC LODGE NO 65, A. O. U. W.
Meets second and fourth Wednesday of each month at A. O. U. W. hall. Visiting brothers made welcome.
A. M. Crosby, Recorder; Thos. F. Ryan, M. W.
- MYRTLE LODGE NO 24, DEGREE OF HONOR,
Meets every Friday at A. O. U. W. Hall. Visiting members always welcome.
Mrs. F. T. Barlow, C of H; S. A. Gillett, Recorder
The Ancient Order of United Workmen was a mutual aid society formed after the Civil War. The organization provided an insurance plan that provided death benefits to members as well as advocating for better working conditions for laborers. A female auxiliary, the Degree of Honor, was established in 1873. The A. O. U. W. Temple was a two-story building on the southeast corner of 7th and Center Streets, with a grocery store and meat market on the lower floor in 1900.
- ACHILLES LODGE NO. 38, K. OF P.
Meets every Friday night at the K. of P. hall. Visiting Knights invited.
Joseph Lynch, C. C./ H. J. Thorn, K. of P. and s.
- K. OF P. STAR LODGE NO 95.
J. F. Risley, C. C.; Thomas Neilson, K. of P. and S.
meets every Wednesday evening at 8 o’clock in Castle hall, I. O. O. F. building. Brothers from other K. of P. lodges invited.
The Knights of Pythias was established in 1864. The Grand Jurisdiction of Oregon was instituted in November 1881 and in 1884 they reported 20 subordinate lodges in Oregon. The two-story Knights of Pythias Hall was on the east side of Main Street, on the north side of the alley in the block between 5th and 6th Streets.
- WOODMEN OF THE WORLD.
Willamette Falls Camp. No. 148, meets every Tuesday night in each month in Willamette hall. Visiting neighbors made welcome.
J. K. Morris, Clerk; I. D. Taylor, C. C.
Founded in 1890 in Omaha, Nebraska, by a member of the Modern Woodmen the W. O. W. was another fraternal benefit society, offering insurance to its members. From The Enterprise, July 28, 1893: “Woodmen of the World. A camp of this popular order will be organized at Oregon City this Thursday evening at the K. of P. hall. The Woodmen of the World is a beneficiary order paying upon the death of a member, one, two or three thousand dollars, as the member may designate. The exclusive membership as to occupation in the order has made the cost below the average of any beneficiary order in the country. The camp at Oregon City starts out under the most favorable auspices, having on its list a number of the best citizens in the city.” In the early 1900’s Harley C. Stevens and W. H. Howell constructed a two-story building in the middle of the block on the east side of Main Street between 6th and 7th Streets. The building was designed to provide a modern retail space on the ground floor for the Louis Adams’ Golden Rule Bazaar. The upper floor, including a ballroom, became the headquarters for the Woodmen of the World and provided meeting space for other organizations. In 1919 the Methodist Church to the north of the W.O.W. building burnt to the ground. The fire spread to the upper floor of the Stevens-Howell building but was extinguished before that building was also destroyed. After the fire the upper story was lowered, leaving behind a low attic space with a beautiful ballroom floor.
- COURT ROBIN HOOD NO. 9, F. OF A.
Meets 1st, 2d, 3rd Fridays of each month at Willamette Hall.
A. W. Horn, Chief Ranger; Geo. R. Wilehart, Recording Sec.
Court Robin Hood, Ancient Order of Foresters, is first mention in the Enterprise in 1894 when they announced a change in their meeting days. In September 1895 the national organization changed the name to Foresters of America instead of the older British name. The Court was one of many groups who met in Willamette Hall, the second floor above George A. Harding’s drugstore on the west of Main Street one lot north of 5th Street.
- WACHENO TRIBE NO 18, REDMEN.
Meets Tuesday evening at A. O. U. W. Hall. Visiting members invited.
A. Asmus, Sachem; Chas. Kelly, C.of K.
The Improved Order of Red Men, still in existence today, traces its roots back to the Sons of Liberty. After changing their name to the Society of Red Men following the War of 1812, the organization was renamed the Improved Order of Red Men in 1834. They are the oldest fraternal organization established in the United States and uses a form of Native American customs and language in their ritual. The earliest mention of the Wacheno Tribe in the Enterprise is from March 1893.
- MEADE POST, NO. 2., G. A. R. – DEPARTMENT OF OREGON.
Meets first Wednesday of each month, at Willamette Hall, Oregon City. Visiting comrades welcome.
C. A. Williams, Commander; J. T. Apperson, Adjutant.
Established in May 1881 the Grand Army of the Republic Post was in existence until 1930 when they surrendered their charter to due the loss of most of their members. In the fifty years the Post was active over 350 veterans of the Civil War were mustered in as members. The few surviving members were given honorary memberships in the Waldo Caufield V F. W. Post when it was established in 1925.
- MEADE RELIEF CORPS, NO. 18, DEPARTMENT OF OREGON
Mrs. Jennie Harding, President; Mrs. T. W. Fouts, Treasurer; Mrs. Edith Clouse, Secretary
Meets on first and third Thursday of each month at Willamette Hall. Members of corps from abroad, cordially welcomed.
Established in approximately 1889, the Women’s Relief Corps continued as an active organization into the 1940s. At first made up of the wives of the Meade Post G. A. R. members, membership was later extended to any woman who wanted to help support their work in the community and in providing assistance to veterans of any war. Founding members Jennie Barlow Harding (Mrs. George A.) and Sarah Meldrum McCown (Mrs. F. O.) were driving forces behind many Oregon City organizations, including the Equal Rights Club, founded in the 1870s and the Oregon City Woman’s Club, founded in 1903. Jennie was also the founder of the Susannah Lee Barlow Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, which she named after her grandmother. Both Jennie and Sarah served as state officers of the W. R. C.
- F COMPANY, FIRST REGIMENT, OREGON NATIONAL GUARD
Armory, Third and Main. Regular drill night, Monday. Regular business meetings, first Monday of each month.
In the early Oregon Territory militias had been formed to protect the early pioneers. The military act of 1887 authorized the governor to appoint an adjutant general, other chief officers of the general staff, his own staff, and the State Military Board and designated the active militia as the Oregon National Guard and the inactive militia as the Oregon Reserve Militia. (History of the O. N. G.).
The 1900 Sanborn fire map shows the Armory Hall on the 2nd floor of the Eastside Railway Company warehouse on the east side of Main Street one lot south of 4th Street, which was also known as the Clark Building.
- ST. JOHN’S BRANCH, NO 647, C. K. of A.
Meets every Tuesday evening at their hall corner Main and Tenth Streets, Oregon City.
N. C. Michels, Sec’y; Herbert Hanafin, Pres.
The Catholic Knights of America was a fraternal insurance organization first charted in Kentucky in 1877. A biography of Thomas W. Sullivan, the engineer behind the first Oregon City electric plant, states that shortly after his arrival in Oregon City in 1889 he organized Branch No. 647 C. K. of A.
- A. P. A COUNCIL NO. 4.
Meets on the first and third Fridays in each month at K. of P. hall. Visiting members always welcome.
J. W. Noble, Pres.
Meanwhile at the other end of town… The American Protective Association was established in 1887. Their membership requirements limited the group to males over 18, of sound mind and good moral character, and “who, to the knowledge of two members of the council, is not a member of the Roman Catholic Church, and has not been for five years, or any other organization opposed to good government” from their constitution. A women’s auxiliary and youth group were later added.
- W. C. T. U.
Oregon City W. C. T. U. meets monthly at home of the members, notice of date given in local column. Any friends of the cause invited to attend.
Mrs. A. J. Monroe, President; Mrs. M. L. Driggs, Secretary
The Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Equal Rights Club were each established as separate organizations in the 1870s, although early membership showed many residents were members of both groups. Oregon City, with a long history of temperance organizations dating to the first days of Americans arriving in the territory, embraced the W. C. T. U. soon after its founding in 1874. The two groups diverged as efforts to achieve the vote for women failed to progress and the suffragettes tried to distance themselves from the W. C. T. U., concerned that men were voting against equal rights believing that if women were allowed to vote they would pass prohibition legislation. Despite their denial, after women won the right to vote in Oregon in November 1912, the voters of the state, now both men and women, passed the first prohibition act in 1914, well before the 18th Amendment went into effect in January 1920.
- OREGON BOARD OF TRADE.
Meets at Court House on Second Monday in each month. Visitors welcome.
J. M. Lawrence, Secretary; E. E. Charman, President.
This organization of local business owners, usually all male, existed under several names before it was reorganized as the Commercial Club in 1908. In 1914 a new two-story building was erected on the northeast corner of 8th and Main Streets and the upper floor was arranged for the Commercial Club. The space included meeting rooms, a pool table room and a small library. Although the club did not remain in these quarters for long, it continues in existence today at the Oregon City Chamber of Commerce.
- CATARACT HOSE NO. 22.
Meets second Tuesday of each month at Cataract Engine house.
W. H. Howell, Pres; G. H. Bestow, Sec’y; J. W. O’Connell, F’rm
- COLUMBIA HOOK AND LADDER CO.
Meets the first Friday of each month at Fountain engine house.
Chas. Athey, Pres; C. B. Pillow, Sec’y; Chas. Bitler, F’rm
- FOUNTAIN HOSE CO., NO. 1.
Regular meeting second Wednesday in each month at engine house, east side Main Street, between Seventh and Eighth.
J. W. Stewart, Sec.; H. Straight, F’rm; M. P. Quinn, Foreman.
In June 1854 the City of Oregon City voters passed a special assessment to raise $1,800.00 to purchase a used fire engine for the city. After the arrival of the engine, the first fire company was established by the City Council’s adoption of an ordinance on February 5, 1855 and the voters subsequent approval of the ordinance. The McLoughlin Fire Company No. 1 submitted their first list of members to the City Council in March and by June were ready to move into their newly built engine house on the east side of Main Street at 3rd Street. The fire company members elected their own Chief and Assistant Chief and the volunteer crews included laborers, mill workers and businessmen who lived in the city. By 1896 two engine houses were located on Main Street, one at the original location at 3rd and Main Streets and a second one on the west side of Main Street between 7th and 8th Streets.
The 1892 Sanborn fire maps shows 75 members of the volunteer fire department with 4 independent hose carts, 2000 feet of 2 ½ inch carbolized rubber hose, and 1 ladder truck. By 1900 the department had almost doubled in size and number of companies.