Scandia -- September 01, 1900The Dania Society By Kristian Baun
In 1872 Henry L. Hertz arrived from Copenhagen. He immediately joined Dania, and in course of time he became very popular with everybody whom he came in contact with. His first activity was to remove the dissension within the society. In 1874 he brought Consul Emil Dreyer triumphantly back to the fold. From this time on Dreyer worked with renewed energy and determination, and his sudden death on his way back from Denmark in 1892 was a source of grief and regret to Dania. Henry L. Hertz himself became the soul of many movements in Dania, and thus it was he who first sounded the note for the acquisition of Dania's own building, and he was a powerful support to the committee with acquired the structure on Chicago Avenue.
Old Hertz enjoyed an enviable career, which culminated in the great moment when 2the citizens of Illinois elected him to the office of State treasurer. For a number of years he was Dania's beloved honorary member until he also departed to join the old guard in the beyond.
The great fire of 1871 gave Dania a setback. All the furniture, the bookcases, the ample library, the records, and the accounts were destroyed by the flames. Nothing was saved but Dania's banner and a picture of the Danish king, Frederick VII, which hangs on the wall of Dania Hall today. The man who rescued this bit of property was Niels Uhrenholdt. The election of a new board and a new set of officers, with Fritz Frantzen as president, George Hoffman as vice-president, C. Hansen as treasurer, and Carl Larsen as secretary, began a new chapter in Dania's history; the Society now entered upon a new era of prosperity. In 1864 Dania had collected quite a sum of money for the veterans of the Danish-German War, and a donation of money was sent to France after the war of 1870. Later a collection was taken to help the Danes who had lost everything in the destructive 3gale of 1872. Denmark sent a resolution of thanks to Dania for its efforts.
In 1875, four years after the Chicago fire, Dania was quite propperous. It had 150 active members, of whom 100 belonged to the sick-benefit group, and the treasurer at that time reported $1,200 cash on hand. All the Danes in Chicago used to participate in every affair conducted by Dania; in those days it was quite an honor to be a member of the Society. And thanks to the work and the efforts of Niels Uhrenholdt, Dania is today an esteemed and flourishing Society. The by-laws for the sick-benefit group were passed on July 5, 1876, and the signature of Niels Uhrenholdt is followed by the names of Henry Hertz, Ludvig Hoffenglad, and many other pioneers. Niels Uhrenholdt is the uncle of Dr. Jenny Baun, the wife of the editor and educator Kristian Baun.
In the same year, 1876, the "Danish Veterans' Society" was organized, which 4for a while hampered the growth of Dania. The old comrades of war, veterans of 1848 and of 1864, were excellent organizers and under-stood how to attract the best elements of all the other societies. There was a great deal of enthusiasm on the Northwest Side, when the Danish veterans marched in full uniform with officers on horseback, led by a large band.
Dania grew and became stronger year by year, and its growth continued during the great immigration of the eighties and the nineties. Among the old-timers who are still alive we find under the date of August 6, 1867, Lauritz Olesen, Pedar Kristensen, Charles Wilde, Herman Hansen, Mike Mickaelsen, Martin Houlberg, Peter Bjerrehus, Emil Jorgensen, Fred C. Jensen, Joseph Jensen, and Sophus Mathiesen.
At the close of the eighties the membership was 200, and in the beginning of the nineties it reached 250. The trustees at that time invested the funds in 5good securities, and the investments aggregated thousands of dollars. The idea of Dania's owning its building became more and more popular, and on December 17, 1891, the secretary, Pedar Kristensen, read the resolutions by which a separate committee received authority to purchase the property at 249-251 West Chicago Avenue, designated as lots 12,13, and 14 in block 42 of Ogden's addition to Chicago, and the buildings thereon. The price was $23,000, and the initial payment was $5,000. The rest was covered by the guarantee of the members and the support of a few wealthy men in the colony. The Society took possession on May 1, 1892. The first meeting at the new location took place on July 2 of the same year. The dedication festivities occurred on July 23, 1892; nearly every Dane in Chicago attended.
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