Masons part of Shawano for 150 years

On Aug. 18, there will be a 150th year celebration of Shawano Lodge 170 as a chartered member of The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Wisconsin. The evening will focus on the history of Masonry as it evolved here in Shawano.

Several years ago, I was invited to speak at a Masonic event. Quite honestly, I knew very little about Masons, who they are and what they do. I spent some time doing some research. Here is some of what I learned:

Masons are men who have joined a fraternity. They refer to themselves as Freemasons. The fraternity is the oldest and largest fraternity in the world. No one knows just how old it is, but it is said it probably arose from the guilds of stonemasons who built castles and cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Possibly, they were influenced by the Knights Templar, a group of Christian warrior monks formed in 1118 to help protect pilgrims making trips to the Holy Land.

In 1717, Masonry created a formal organization in England when the first Grand Lodge was formed. In the United States, there is a Grand Lodge in every state. Local organizations of Masons are called lodges. There are about 13,200 lodges in the United States. The word “lodge” means both a group of Masons meeting someplace and the room or building in which they meet.

Masonry is not a religion. However, Masons believe in the importance of religion and they encourage their members to be active in their faith and church of their choice. Masons teach that without religion a man is alone and lost and without religion he cannot reach his full potential.

The Masons’ main principles are to show tolerance, respect and kindness in their actions toward others. They practice charity and care for the community as a whole and strive to achieve high moral standards in their own personal lives.

Outside of a lodge, you will see some form of the Mason’s symbol, the “Square and Compasses.” The square symbolizes things of the earth, and it also symbolizes honor, integrity, and truthfulness. The G stands for geometry, the science that the ancients believed most revealed the glory of God and His works in the heavens. It also stands for God. The gavel represents self-control and self-discipline. The hourglass teaches time is passing.

In researching the history of Shawano’s Masonic history, I learned the following:

One of its founders was Myron Hawley McCord. He served as a Republican to the 51st Congress. In February 1865, he moved to Shawano and became the editor of the Shawano County Journal.

Another founder of Shawano Lodge 170 in 1868 was Daniel Pulcifer. The Village of Pulcifer was named after him. He served three terms as mayor of the City of Shawano.

Charles Upham, who purchased a hotel on the northeast corner of Main and Green Bay Street, was another founder. He was a successful merchant as well as a civic leader.

Antone Kuckuk was Shawano Lodge 170’s first Wisconsin Grand Lodge Officer, serving as Grand Pursivant in 1896.

The Shawano Lodge accepted William McKinley Wallrich’s petition for the degrees of Masonry on Dec. 6, 1917, while he was enlisted in the U.S. Army. He received them immediately. Wallrich was raised to a Master Mason five days after his petition was received. On July 23, 1918, he was killed by shrapnel. A portrait of Brother Wallrich hangs in the lodge hall as a memorial to a Brother fallen in World War I.

Shawano Lodge 170, was chartered in 1868, considered a cornerstone of the new Shawano, which was incorporated as a village in 1871, three years after the Masonic Lodge was formed. With a large Masonic presence, Shawano became a city in 1874.

The Masons’ meetingplace for 90 years, 201 S. Main St., was dedicated in June 1922. In 2010, after several years of research, a decision was reached to move into a handicapped-accessible building at 2324 E. Richmond St. The Masons remodeled the original Doc’s Harley Davidson building creating a meetingplace for its members, a rental for the Lutheran Thrift Store and a backyard park. Both the building and the park are available for public and other organizations’ use.

For 150 years, the Masons have been an integral part of the city. They proudly support our government, schools, nonprofit groups and, most important, our churches, as they strive for a better tomorrow.

Shawano Lodge 170 officers for 2018 are: Karl Simonson, worshipful master; Edward Kodai, senior warden; Vincent Grignon, junior warden; James Campbell, secretary; George Tincher, treasurer; Brandon Nygaard, senior deacon; Nathan Powell, junior deacon; William Ecke, senior steward; William Kussel, junior steward; Martin Kosowski, tyler; the Rev. Myke Christensen, chaplain; and Edward Mitchell, lodge councilor.

Congratulations, Shawano Lodge 170, on your 150th anniversary.

Question: What was the name of Shawano’s first hotel, when was it built, and where was it located?

Clothesline Conversation Answer: The Wescott House, erected in 1855 on the southwest corner of Main and Green Bay Streets.

Lorna Marquardt is a former Shawano mayor.