Freemasonry in Wisconsin first took an organized form on the night of December 27, 1823, when seven army officers and three civilians met at the home of Brother George Johnston on the west bank of the Fox River in what is now Green Bay. The soldiers were attached to the 3rd US Infantry Regiment, stationed at Fort Howard, under the command of Col. John McNeil, also a Freemason. Wisconsin was then part of the territory of Michigan and very lightly settled. The regiment was there to maintain order and protect the settlers in this vast wilderness.
Desiring to form a lodge, the men sent a petition to the Grand Lodge of New York requesting a charter. Dispensation for the formation of a lodge was granted, and on September 2, 1824, the interested brethren met again to organize it. Their charter from the Grand Lodge of New York was dated December 3rd.
During the following year, Menomonie Lodge № 374 ceased to be a military lodge and became civilian. An 1854 address given in Green Bay showcased the Lodge’s records dating back to 1827 and its cessation as a Lodge in 1830. It was, therefore, never chartered as a “Wisconsin” lodge; moreover, its New York charter was destroyed in a fire during 1870 at Washington Lodge № 21, Green Bay.
Carved out of the original Michigan Territory in 1836, the rich lead mines of the southwestern Wisconsin territory attracted a large influx of settlers, including influential men from Missouri and Illinois. These men also formed Masonic Lodges.
Melody Lodge № 49 under the Grand Lodge of Missouri received a dispensation at Mineral Point on October 8, 1840. Organized on July 27, 1841, it was granted a charter in October 1842 and began work on February 15, 1843. On January 10, 1843, a second dispensation came from Missouri to form Lodge № 65, about 20 miles from Mineral Point in Platteville. With dispensation granted on June 12, 1843, The Grand Lodge of Illinois, as that area’s Grand jurisdiction, chartered Milwaukee Lodge № 22.
On January 17, 1844 representatives of these Lodges established the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin. The Lodges were re-chartered according to seniority: Mineral Point № 1, Melody № 2, and Kilbourn № 3 (who changed its name to Milwaukee founding father Bryon Kilbourn). Fifty years later, in 1894, there were over 260 Lodges and more than 15,500 members. Membership in Wisconsin peaked in 1960 with over 300 Lodges and more 59,000 brothers.
Wisconsin freemasons support a wide variety of charities. First is the Wisconsin Masonic Foundation that provides worthy students educational scholarships. The Foundation provides care for the aged at its Three Pillars Senior Living Communities in Dousman, the Masonic Home Foundation Fund and Masonic Medical Fund. The service and Assistance Fund improve the lives of veterans at four Wisconsin VA Hospitals but is also ready to assist in time of national natural disasters. Lastly, the Grand Lodge sponsors a state-wide youth soccer game for exceptional athletes. Of course, most Lodges sponsor and support local charities and philanthropic endeavors.
Today Grand Master L. Arby Humphrey presides over 181 Lodges with a membership over 11,000. Among the many distinguished and honored masons of the Badger State are all five Ringling brothers’ circus owners, former Governor and Secretary of Health & Human Services Tommy Thompson, former Wisconsin Governor Lee Dreyfus and former Wisconsin Attorney General, and Past Grand Master, J.B. Van Hollen.
Wisconsin/U.S. – Barnes freemasons present firefighting tool to Solon Springs
Wisconsin/U.S. – Merrill Freemasons donate fire suppression tool
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Wisconsin/U.S. – Freemasons provide new firefighting tool to Douglas County departments
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Rod Rommel and Masonic Day of Light in Wisconsin
- Ripon Brothers Help Out at Polka on Ice March 20, 2023An annual winter festival, Polka on Ice, took place on February 18th in beautiful Ripon, Wisconsin. Manning the beverage sales at this fun community event were the Brothers of Ripon’s very own Prairie View Masonic Lodge No. 95. Pictured from left: Kevan Nault, Junior Warden; Jeff Hermes, Senior Warden: Greg Frounfelter, Master; and Phil Wepner, […]Jeffrey Schoenfeldt
- Prairie du Chien Lodge Presents FST to Boscobel Police March 17, 2023The Brethren of Prairie du Chien Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Wisconsin presented the Boscobel Police Department with a state-of-the-art GreenPort Portable Fire Suppression Tool on February 13th at a presentation held at the Boscobel Police Station. The Boscobel Masonic Lodge had been a part of the community prior to merging with the […]Jeffrey Schoenfeldt
- Eagle River and Rhinelander Lodges Present 7 FSTs March 16, 2023Members of Eagle River Freemasons Lodge No. 248 and Rhinelander Freemasons Lodge No. 242, working with the Wisconsin Masonic Foundation, presented seven Fire Suppression Tools to northwoods fire departments that are greatly understaffed. The recipients included Pelican, Pine Lake, Little Rice, Monico, Fire District Alpha, Crescent, and Cassian fire rescue departments. These departments are responsible […]Jeffrey Schoenfeldt
- Oregon Lodge Presents 10th Fire Suppression Tool! March 15, 2023Oregon Masonic Lodge Junior Warden Scott Magnusson recently had the honor to present a state-of-the-art Fire Suppression Tool to Belleville Fire Chief Brian Hollis (pictured on the far left). The Belleville Fire Department appreciated the gift as it will be an important tool in their fire-fighting arsenal. This is the 10th Fire Suppression Tool Oregon […]Jeffrey Schoenfeldt
- Barnes Brethren Support Solon Springs Volunteer Fire Department March 14, 2023The Brethren of Barnes Masonic Lodge No. 365 in Iron River, Wisconsin recently presented the Solon Springs Volunteer Fire Department with a state-of-the-art GreenPort Portable Fire Suppression Tool. These small devices fit in the trunk of a squad car or other first responder vehicles and can dramatically reduce fire and water damage in enclosures like […]Jeffrey Schoenfeldt
- Franklin Lodge Presents Life-Saving FST to Lone Rock Fire Department March 13, 2023The Brothers of Franklin Masonic Lodge No. 16 in Lone Rock, Wisconsin recently donated another Fire Suppression Tool to the Lone Rock Fire Department. Small, all volunteer fire departments like the one in Lone Rock are especially appreciative of getting these life-saving, firefighting tools. The Fire Suppression Tool is a state-of-the-art device about the size […]Jeffrey Schoenfeldt
- Wisconsin Masonic Center 100th Anniversary Gala May 4th March 10, 2023By Brother Tom Ewald The planning by the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Masonic Center for the May 4, 2023, Wisconsin Masonic Center Centennial Anniversary Gala Extravaganza at the Wisconsin Masonic Center (WMC), 301 Wisconsin Ave., Madison, is well underway. We are thinking of starting the celebration in the afternoon and concluding in the […]Jeffrey Schoenfeldt
- Chetek Masonic Lodge Supports Dallas Fire Dept March 9, 2023The Brothers of Chetek Masonic Lodge No. 277, partnering with the Wisconsin Masonic Foundation’s “Acts of Kindness” program, recently donated a Fire Suppression Tool to the Dallas/Sioux Creek Fire Department. Pictured from left: Safety Officer Jonny Fowler; Brothers Jim Sells and Jim Olson; Chief Aaron Grant; Brothers Darryl Dahl, Tom Nicolaides, and Jim Toman; and […]Jeffrey Schoenfeldt
- WSAW: Merrill Freemasons Donate Fire Suppression Tool March 8, 2023By Alicia Schumacher Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 11:53 PM EST MERRILL, Wis. (WSAW) – Lincoln County officials now have another new tool to fight fires. On Tuesday, the Merrill Freemasons donated a fire suppression tool to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department. The tools are thrown into a fire and release a chemical gas to quickly drop […]Jeffrey Schoenfeldt
- How to Turn Stone Soup Into Nearly 8,000 Meals March 7, 2023The Brethren of McKinley Masonic Lodge No. 307 in Brookfield recently hosted their annual Stone Soup event as a fundraiser that provides money to Feeding America. Pictured above, Brother Nick Nicklosovich presents a check to Feeding America’s representative. Brother Nick and a good friend and Brother of his who flies in from Arizona every year […]Jeffrey Schoenfeldt
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