A Record of Settlement, Organization,
Progress and Achievement
Volume 1
Chicago, Illinois
The Pioneer Publishing Company



One of the first societies organized in Dickinson County was a literary society. This was the Okoboji Literary League, established in the fall of 1863. It is said upon good authority that as early as 1861 other literary societies had flourished at both Okoboji and Spirit Lake.

Perhaps the strongest fraternal order in Dickinson County at the present time is the Masonic. The Twilight Lodge No. 329, Ancient Order of Free and Accepted Masons was organized under dispensation from the Iowa Grand Lodge on September 18, 1873 and a charter was granted to the chapter on June 3, 1874. The first officers elected were: Alfred Davis, worshipful master; C. H. Ayers, senior warden; A. L. Sawyer, junior warden; A. M. Johnson, secretary; and Zina Henderson, treasurer. A chapter of the Eastern Star, the ladies' auxiliary, was established at Spirit Lake in the winter of 1876-7; Mrs. Fannie Jemerson was the first worthy matron, Mrs. Anna L. Rice, associate; Mrs. Jane Ayers, secretary; and Mrs. F. I. Pillsbury, treasurer. The charter was granted to the chapter February 26, 1880, and the first worthy matron under this was Mrs. Anna L. Rice.

The Spirit Lake Chapter of the Royal Arch Masons, was organized at Spirit Lake under dispensation May 15, 1901. The first officers were: Charles I. Reigard, high priest; Dr. Q. C. Fuller, king; T. E. Burt, scribe; J. W. Cravens, treasurer; W. A. Sidall, secretary; L. H. Farnham, captain of the host; W. P. Stone, principal sojourner; A. B. Funk, royal arch captain; H. A. Miller, master of the third vail; P. E. Narey, master of the second vail; C. T. Chandler, master of the first vail; O. Crandall, tyler.

An interesting sidelight upon the Masonic history of Dickinson County is the securing and building of Templar Park on the shore of Spirit Lake. The first move toward securing a park in this vicinity was made by the Grand Commandery of the Knights Templar, in consequence of a decision to start a resort somewhere upon the lakes to serve as a summer outing ground for the members of the order. A committee was appointed to select a suitable site and after investigation this committee decided upon a spot on West Okoboji Lake since known as Fort Dodge Point. This report was presented in due form, but owing to a strong opposition developing from the officials of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway, it was defeated. A second committee was then appointed. This body viewed and selected about twenty acres of land on the southwest shore of Spirit Lake. The tract of ground was bought from A. Kingman by the people of Spirit Lake and the railroad and donated to the commandery. The improvement of the park was begun in 1885 and is now one of the principal and most attractive places in the lake region.
Minnie Waukon Lodge No. 274, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was organized at Spirit Lake March 5, 1874. The first officers were: A. A. Mosher, noble grand; L. E. Holcomb, vice grand; William Helms, treasurer; N. J. Woodin, permanent secretary; R. D. Owen, recording secretary. A Rebekah lodge was organized in conjunction with the above on September 5, 1876.

Winget Post No. 226, Grand Army of the Republic, was granted a charter on November 24, 1883. The first officers elected were: C. C. Perrin, commander; D. L. Riley, senior vice commander; E. L. Brownell, junior vice commander; H. Wood, chaplain; Isaac Tucker, quartermaster; S. B. Miller, officer of the guard; Peter Flemming, quartermaster sergeant; E. L. Brownell, surgeon; J. O. Stewart, adjutant.

Summit Lodge No. 86, Knights of Pythias, was organized at Spirit Lake on October 18, 1882 and the charter was granted October 26th, the same year. There were just sixteen charter members. The first officers were as follows: G. P. Hopkins, past commander; W. A. Siddall, chancellor commander; W. B. Brown, vice commander; D. L. Riley, prelate ; E. F. Newell, keeper of records and seals; William Hayward, master of finance; F. E. Hopkins, master of archives; C. S. Fletcher, master of exchequer; S. P. Fisher, inner guard; J. F. Olmstead, outer guard.
Spirit Lake Camp No. 4479, Modern Woodmen of America, was organized at Spirit Lake on January 21, 1897, with the following first officers: Charles I. Reigard, venerable consul; A. D. Gray, worthy advisor; H. E. St. Clair, banker; A. H. Jemerson, local clerk; D. C. Wells, escort; J. B. Stair, physician; R. S. Miller, watchman; E. Kephart, sentry; D. N. Guthrie, W. F. Beerman and H. H. Buck, managers.

Spirit Lake Lodge No. 254, Ancient Order of United Workmen, was organized at Spirit Lake August 1, 1893. The first officers were: C. B. Fountain, P. M. W.; George S. Tuttle, M. W.; R. F. Gruhlke, foreman; James P. Miller, overseer; C. W. Price, recorder; Wilbur Evarts, financier; S. B. Miller, receiver; B. W. Blanchard, guide; O. Sterner, J. W.; A. Hartley, O. W.; T. H. Price, A. Hartley and E. Kephart, trustees.

Spirit Lake Homestead, No. 273, Brotherhood of American Yeoman, was organized at Spirit Lake on October 18, 1899, with the following first officers elected: W. T. Davidson, foreman; A. F. Merrill, correspondent; H. E. St. Clair, overseer; Henry Arthur, master of ceremonies; James Crowell, watchman; Frank Ellston, guard; Hattie Farnham, Rebecca; Mrs. Clara Jones, Rowena; and C. P. Soper, physician. There were sixty-two charter members.

Prominent among the organizations of Spirit Lake is that of the Daughters of the American Revolution. On August 29, 1916, under the auspices of this local chapter, there was formally dedicated at Spirit Lake a boulder and bronze tablet marking the site of the stockade and old courthouse, where people were sheltered during the uprising of 1861-2.

In Spirit Lake, as in other places, there was at one time a grange. This was Spirit Lake Grange, Patrons of Husbandry, organized March 17, 1874. The first officers were: W. B. Brown, master; S. E. Evans, overseer; C. E. Abbott, lecturer; Isaac Ames, steward; H. C. Owen, assistant steward; William Helms, chaplain; George Hilbert, secretary; James Cousins, treasurer; James Evans, gatekeeper. This organization continued with decreasing success until 1886, when it became a thing of the past.

A lodge of Good Templars, the champions of prohibition, was instituted at Spirit Lake in the early '70s, but did not continue more than eight years. G. S. Needham, A. W. Osborne, J. L. Coppoc and C. H. Ayers were prominent members.


Gloaming Lodge No. 482, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at Milford, was organized under dispensation granted July 7, 1886. The first officers were: A. Case, worshipful master; C. Stuart, senior warden; Frank McDonald, junior warden; T. S. Seymour, treasurer; R. B. Nicol, secretary. The charter for this lodge was granted June 3, 1887, and A. Case, B. Pitcher, W. B. Jones, W. A. Meek and R. B. Nicol filled the offices of worshipful master, senior and junior wardens, treasurer and secretary, the first officers under this charter. There were seventeen charter members enrolled in the lodge.

A chapter of the Eastern Star was organized at Milford in 1895, with these first officers: R. F. Price, worthy patron; Mrs. W. H. H. Myers, worthy matron; Mrs. E. F. Miller, associate matron; and Mrs. E. A. Case, secretary.

Monitor Lodge No. 491, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, at Milford, was first organized in April, 1886.

Wallar Post No. 223, Grand Army of the Republic, was organized September 13, 1883. It has the distinction of being the first society, fraternal or civic, to be established in Milford. The charter members of the post were: R. B. Nicol, Daniel Bennett, James Heldridge, Thompson Emerson, A. D. Inman, William Chase, Horace Bennett, Charles A. Darrow, R. R. Wilcox, D. H. Cole and Ira Foster. William Chase, H. H. Shipman, Zina Henderson, A. D. Inman, James Heldridge, R. R. Wilcox, R. B. Nicol, W. H. H. Myers and Daniel Mead were some of the early commanders.
Okoboji Lodge No. 429, Knights of Pythias, was organized in May, 1895, with thirty charter members. C. H. Perry was the first chancellor; C. A. West, vice chancellor; H. S. Abbott, clerk; E. A. Case, master of archives; James McElroy, master of exchequer; L. C. Miller, master of finance; George Paton, keeper of records and seals.

Live Oak Camp No. 2567, Modern Woodmen of America, was organized in 1892 with fifteen charter members. D. L. Van Housen was venerable consul; L. H. Miller, worthy advisor; J. J. Lee, banker; C. H. Perry, clerk.

Goldenrod Homestead No. 250, Brotherhood of American Yeoman, was organized in March, 1899. C. E. Blackert was foreman; Mrs. C. M. Coldren, master of ceremonies; H. H. Burch, physician; G. M. Sherburne, master of accounts; W. A. May, overseer; Mrs. Alice O'Farrell, Lady Rebecca; Mrs. Jennie E. Price, Rowena; R. F. Price, correspondent; Mrs. May Hemphill, guard; William Paton, watchman. There were thirty-two charter members.


Silver Lake Lodge No. 527, Ancient Order of Free and Accepted Masons, was organized under dispensation April 15, 1893. The charter was received in August of the same year. The first officers were as follows : Theodore Strathman, worshipful master; John Linder, senior warden; Frank Buffum, junior warden, John Buffum, treasurer; J. M. Buffum, secretary; G. A. Triggs, senior deacon; W. W. Harris, junior deacon; A. A. Kingsley, S. S.; J. W. C. Salyard, J. S.; J. M. Dunlap, tyler.

A lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was organized at Lake Park in October, 1895, with the following first officers: W. B. Highbee, noble grand; M. D. Green, vice grand; C. W. Flint, secretary, and H. F. Asmessin, treasurer. There were seven charter members of this lodge, which quickly increased to thirty-two members by the first meeting. In 1899 a Rebekah lodge was instituted, with fifty-six members to start. In the '90s a lodge of the Ancient Order of United Workmen was established in Lake Park, but did not prosper. However, in February, 1900, a reorganization was accomplished and the lodge was placed on a solid basis. H. C. Knox, G. A. Stouffer, G. W. Palmer were chosen as officers after the reorganization.

The first officers of the camp of American Yeoman, organized in Lake Park in 1897, were: W. B. Hignee, foreman, and J. G. Chrysler, correspondent.


In December, 1875, a musical association was formed in Spirit Lake, the following account of which appeared in the Beacon: "An organization was formed last Monday night in town under the name of musical association, with the following officers: President, S. L. Pillsbury; vice president, C. H. Ayers; secretary, J. A. Ellis; treasurer, Miss Dena Barkman. About forty names were attached to the articles of organization and a lively interest seems to be taken in the matter. The object of the association is to keep up a musical interest in the community and to furnish an opportunity for advancement in the art by continued practice and mutual instruction. Meetings will be appointed once a week and strict rules will be adopted to insure the attendance of the members."

In 1878 there was also organized in Spirit Lake a cornet band. The Beacon had the following to say of it at the time: "There is a series of commonplace events that occur uniformly and mark epochs in the history of a town. The first church, the first lodge, the first sidewalk, the first railroad, all these things come and form, in their turn, starting points in the ordinary system of chronological mnemonics that serve to guide us in remembering our daily transactions. Coming in the regular order with the numerous improvements that mark the progress of our town, sounding brass and tinkling cymbal unite in harmonious effort to proclaim our metropolitan yearnings. A full set of instruments in the latest style and with all the modern improvements arrived here last Friday. The previously organized band was waiting to receive them, and after the trial they were distributed as follows: W. F. Pillsbury, E. flat cornet; S. P. Middleton, E flat cornet; T. J. Francis, B flat cornet; A. W. Middleton, B flat cornet; Carl Blackert, tenor; T. L. Twiford, alto; J. A. Ellis, alto; S. L. Pillsbury, baritone; J. A. Smith, E flat bass; C. W. Bowne, snare drum; J. S. Johnson, bass drum. The instruments are from the well known house of Lyon & Healy of Chicago, and give perfect satisfaction. After a few weeks' practice the boys will be ready to discourse sweet music. For the present, they have retired to hidden recesses and practice their lessons under the rose."

About 1892 a Pioneer Girls' Club was formed in Spirit Lake. Chief among the women who started this organization were: Mrs. Ella Arnold Stevens, Mrs. L. H. Farnham, Mrs. E. L. Brownell, Mrs. A. B. Funk, Mrs. E. G. Blackert, Mrs. H. A. Miller, Mrs. J. S. Everett. Mrs. Stevens was the first president. Annual banquets were held, special attention being paid to all the old settlers and the children of old settlers. Meetings were held weekly and a program offered, generally of a literary nature, reminiscent of the early days in Dickinson County. Time, however, has passed its effacing hand over this club and the active work is no longer continued.

The Spirit Lake Chautauqua, now a thing of the past, but popular in its day, may come under the head of organizations. The Chautauqua idea had its inception in 1892, when the Spirit Lake Park Association was organized. An auditorium was built on the shore of East Okoboji, between the town and Spirit Lake. E. C. Whalen, superintendent of the Chautauqua at Lake Madison, South Dakota, stopped here shortly after and found that the site would be a good one for a local Chautauqua. He advanced the subject to local people, with the result that the Spirit Lake Chautauqua Association was formed from the Spirit Lake Park Association. F. W. Barren was president and E. C. Whalen was chosen secretary and superintendent. Stock was issued at $100 per share. The first assembly was held in July, 1893, and for quite a time meetings were held every year. The first meeting brought forth such notable men as Rev. Frank Gunsaulus, Rev. Joseph Cook, Rev. T. DeWitt Talmage, Rev. Russell Conwell, Henry Watterson and others. A large debt hindered the progress of the association in the earlier years, and eventually caused the meetings to be held intermittently. After about ten years the association was permitted to decline and nothing was done to maintain it. An attempt at a revival of the Chautauqua was made, but was not successful, so the auditorium was sold and the association disbanded.