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Flocking to Fargo

6/3/2015:

Masonry has a long history in the Dakotas. The first known Mason to visit the Dakotas was Meriwether Lewis, and several Mason lodges were issued charters prior to statehood. The first of those lodges was founded in Fargo in 1874. In 1875, five lodges banded together to form The Grand Lodge of Dakota. In 1889, it divided into the Grand Lodges of North and South Dakota.

On this date in 1913, trains stopping in Fargo were filled with hundreds of Masons arriving for Homecoming Week. They came from North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota. The Masonic Lodge was joined by other fraternal organizations including the Scottish Rite and the Knights of Malta. The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican gave extensive coverage to the occasion. It was an opportunity to show off the city to out-of-towners. The weather was exceptional. It was a perfect week for visitors flocking to Fargo.

The Masonic Temple was lit up for the occasion with 2,000 electric lights. The newspaper reported that thousands of people came to view the spectacle. That number was expected to increase as more lights were added, to be topped with organizations’ lighted emblems.

Some of the events were official in nature. Fifty Masons were elevated to the fourteenth degree of the Consistory. The newspaper reported that the ceremony included a performance by a very impressive choir made up of thirty-second degree Masons. Further degrees were scheduled to be completed throughout the week.

Unofficial events included a picnic in Oak Grove park attended by hundreds of Masons with their wives, families, and friends. Special activities were planned for the children, and the Grand Knights Templar Ball was expected to be the highlight of the week.

The Masons were not the only ones descending on Fargo. Businessmen from Duluth were arriving as well. This would be their last stop as they made a tour of North Dakota by train. The businessmen hoped to drum up interest in what Duluth had to offer. They were giving out souvenirs and promotional materials. They planned a parade headed by a band.

It all made for a week of excitement and spectacle in Fargo on this first week of June in 1913.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher

Sources:

“Masonic Temple Ablaze with Lights.” Fargo Forum and Daily Republican. 3 June, 1913.

Grand Lodge of North Dakota. "http://www.ndmasons.com/history-of-the-grand-lodge/dakota-territory/" http://www.ndmasons.com/history-of-the-grand-lodge/dakota-territory/ Accessed 4 May, 2015.