Skandinaven -- October 26, 1890The Scandinavian Workers' Society
The Scandinavian Workers' Society was organized June 13, 1870. A few of the old timers are still with us, among the most active ones we have are: John Hafsten, (Norwegian), H. S. Mathisen (Dane), and M. Handerup (Dane), one of the organizers of Dania. The history of the society is very interesting, and we will give a few of the highlights.
The first meeting place was on the corner of Desplaines Street and Milwaukee Avenue, which was, at that time, a residential neighborhood. At the time of organization, there were only about ten or fifteen members, but the following winter they numbered three hundred fifty.
In 1871, the following well-known men became very active: Fritz Frantzen (Dane), Hoffman Smith (Dane), Moller and Lundin. Then, after a successful period, came the Chicago fire, which destroyed everything they owned.2
In the Fall of 1872, they bought an old church on the corner of Desplaines Avenue and Randolph Street. The church later was moved to the property the society owned on Halsted and Richlieu Streets. The membership, during the time after the fire, dropped from three hundred fifty to sixteen, and in 1873-1874, this membership dropped to seven, so they moved in the Dania Hall.
This seemed to help. It was a better location, as the neighborhood around Peoria Street and Milwaukee Avenue had not suffered so much from the fire.
In 1881, the society sold its building, and rented the Aurora Turner hall. Here they stayed until 1883. Now they again had over three hundred members, and they kept on growing. In 1881, two prominent people joined. They were Martin Fjeld (Norwegian), and P. Nielsen (Dane). These two people helped build the society to what it is today.
Late in 1883, the society moved to larger quarters, The Norwegian Singing Societies' hall, and in 1884, they moved to still larger quarters in Concordia Hall.3
In 1888, the organization became so large that it was necessary to divide it into eight branches, as follows:
1. Concordia; 2. Skandia, at Morland; 3. Humboldt, at Humboldt Park; 4. Crown, at Lake View; 5. Maplewood, at Maplewood; 6. John Ericksen; 7. Phoenix, at Englewood; 8. Eau Clair, in Wisconsin. The total membership now is eleven hundred, of which seven hundred thirty belong to Lodge No. 1, Concordia. The total assets are $62,000.
Following are the names of the men who built the organization to what it is today, they all held office in the years given:
John Nielsen (Dane) 1876; A. Midling (Norwegian) 1877; John Nielsen, 2nd term, 1878; H. S. Mathisen (Dane) 1879; Ole Bendixen (Dane) 1880; John Hafsten (Norwegian) 1881-1882; H. Gorder (Norwegian) 1882; Svend Olsen (Dane) 1883-1884; M. Julsrud (Norwegian) 1885; O. Thorud (Norwegian) 1886-1887; J. Thorwold (Norwegian) 1887; M. Fjeld (Norwegian) 1888-1889; John Olsen (Dane) 1890.4
We think this is an excellent piece of work and grand results to show after twenty years.
II D 1, III B 2, IV
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