A brief history of the Knights of Columbus
Thanks to the efforts of Father Michael J. McGivney, assistant pastor of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven and some of his parishioners, the Connecticut state legislature on March 29, 1882, officially chartered the Knights of Columbus as a fraternal benefit society. The Order is still true to its founding principles of charity, unity and fraternity. The Knights organization was formed to render financial aid to members and their families. Mutual aid and assistance are offered to sick, disabled and needy members and their families. Social and intellectual fellowship is promoted among members and their families through educational, charitable, religious, social welfare, war relief and public relief works. The history of the Order shows how the foresight of Father Michael J. McGivney, whose cause for sainthood is being investigated by the Vatican, brought about what has become the world's foremost Catholic fraternal benefit society. The Order has helped families obtain economic security and stability through its life insurance, annuity and long-term care programs, and has contributed time and energy worldwide to service in communities. The Knights of Columbus has grown from several membersin one council to more than 13,000 councils and 1.7 million members throughout the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Poland, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Guatemala, Guam and Saipan.
Birth and Life of St. Lawrence Council 2950
by Edwin C. Theut
The men responsible for the birth of St. Lawrence Council were Albert H. Jackson, August Vanker, P.T. Smith, Reed Powers, Jack Russell, Herbert Nieman, Edward Schodowski, John F. O'Hara, Emil Grunewald, all members of Mt. Clemens council #744. These men felt there was a great need for a council in Utica. They made up their minds there was going to be a council here. Dur ing the month of October, 1945 they put on a membership drive at St. Andrews at Rochester and St. Lawrence at Utica. Lead by that great leader Albert Jackson, they watched as the men came out of church any promising men were pulled to one side. Sometimes you would see one man holding on to as many as three men. The men were escorted to a vacant room, told about the great benefits they would receive and what a good job they could do for the Church after they became Knights; most men were signed up before they left.
On June 5, 1946 Albert Jackson, August Vanker, as delegates and Edwin C. Theut as chauffeur and their wives drove to Marquette, Michigan to attend their first state Convention. The council gave the two delegates $25.00 each for expenses. The war was on, rationing was in effect and my car ran on T stamps. Flour was hard to get in Utica. Mrs. Jackson, Mrs. Vanker, and my wife each brought back 25 pounds of flour as my wife baked bread. The $50.00 that was paid to the two delegates was expense money for the 500 mile trip to Marquette and back also for food and lodging for four days. Quite different than today. We had true K of C spirit.
On October 23, 1946 the St. Lawrence K of C Building Corporation was incorporated, the 2 1/2 acres on which our clubhouse stands was purchased from St. Lawrence ·Parish for $2500.00.
On April 10, 1947 many members will remember the comedy put on which nobody knew about when Edwin C. Theut on good of the order is interrupted by Batch-a-wana Joe and Indian guide of Ed's from Canada. With about 25 live wiggling fish across his shoulder knocking down the guards as he entered the hall and his stinking clothes which he had not changed since last year. The first insult was he caught those fish in that dirty ditch (Clinton River) that runs through Utica.
He slept in Vankers chicken coop last night and had a terrible itch. He continued to throw digs and insults about the members present and had the members in a turmoil. No wonder he knew so much for after the grease and paint was removed there stood one of our charter members, Adam Gerlach. So this 30 minute program ended with a round of applause that shook the hall.
On May 10, 1947 Albert Jackson, August Vanker, Emil Grunewald, Reed Powers and Edwin c. Theut staked out the hall. Albert Jackson was helping me square up the lines for the footings and as we stood there looking at it, "Power House" Reed Powers was in back of me yelling "where do I start digging?" It kind of got on my nerves and as I turned around there stood grinning "Power House" Reed Powers with a little folding trench shovel and before I had a chance to think I said, "You’re not going to dig with that little shovel?" The joke was on me. I got laughed at by all, but the first shovel full of dirt was taken out by that shovel. The shovel was later chrome plated and is today in our trophy case. The days that followed each evening about six to ten members would turn up to dig the foundation, pour the concrete, put blocks on the scaffold for the block layer the next day. Harold Nielson layed our blocks for 12 cents each and the brick for 1 1/2 cents each. August Vanker each morning after his cows were milked and his farm chores done would fill his milk cans with water and take .them to the hall to be used in the mortar. He would then help the block layer the rest of the day. Emil Grunewaid hauled the sand and the road gravel around the building. John Kehrig built the roof trusses at cost. Theut products furnished the blocks, brick, cement, mortar and ten men would show up and all this done without one cent of pay, · not even a bottle of beer. Men true to our order, Unity-Charity and filled with brotherly love. The roof boards were put on by the light of the moon with the constant urge by Rev. Monsignor Edward J. DeKeyser "let’s do a little more" and when we poured the concrete floor who was it that helped shovel cement and gravel into the mixer until 1:30 A.M. in the morning none other than our good Monsignor. The first picnic of St. Lawrence Council was held August 3 , 1947 at the Edwin C. Theut home on Lake St. Clair and Jefferson. August 19, 1947 St. Lawrence Parish held their homecoming and church dinner in our new building. August 21, 1947 our first meeting was held in our new hall. During the rest of 1947 and until June of 1948 there were no special events except the old work horses of the council Albert Jackson , Reed Powers~ August Vanker, Herbert Nieman, Edwin C. Theut, August Troy, Emil Gruenwald, Harvey VanDenBrouck, Wm. Gritzinger · spent every evening they could spare putting down the maple dance floor, putting up the ceiling tile, building and installing the kitchen cabinets, doors and other equipment all without cost to the council just the satisfaction they were doing something for the members of the K of C to be proud of.
In the years that followed many varieties of entertainment were offered to the members. Boxing matches ·were held using local talent and later wrestling matches were held featuring Bert Ruby with the educated toe.
Our council excelled in its Church Activities in 1952 and in 1953 it brought home the District Deputies Trophy for having the largest attendance at the Corporate Communion at St. Peters Church of the five councils in its District.
During the months and years that followed our Council continued to progress through the efforts of good leadership and dedicated members.
On July 15, 1965 our Brother Knights again began to look to the future. The St. Lawrence K of C Building Corporation bought 25 acres of land on 21 mile and M-53 By Pass for $50,000 and started to make plans to turn it into a recreational project. Dance pavilion, tennis courts, baseball diamonds and a new clubhouse to be used by the members only were in the plans. Our property is a sign of the time and a plan for the future and so our Council continues for a better tomorrow. Proud and never ashamed of the progress it has made. Always a leader of all the Councils of our State. Blessed with good leaders, backed by loyal members St. Lawrence Council #2950 will continue to march forward and attain even greater laurels.
Bishop Neumann General Assembly
The Fourth Degree in the Knights of Columbus is the Patriotic Degree. The Degree devoted to honor our flag and country. It also works very close with our Holy Mother the Church furnishing Honor Guards for Dedication of Churches, Ordination of Priests, Corporate Communions and so on.
The Fourth Degree also has a Chalice Society by which a small portion of each member’s dues goes into a fund to buy chalices. When a member passes away a chalice with the name of the departed brother inscribed on it is presented to the family to be given to any newly ordained priest or missionary used in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This is one of the main reasons why every Third Degree member should become a member of the Fourth Degree.
The Fourth Degree members of St. Lawrence Council at one time belonged to 205 Assembly i n Detroit and all Commandary men belonged to Detroit Commandary under Dr. Lundy. Talk about long marches many a time we marched from Warren Avenue and Woodward to Detroit River and over to Knights of Columbus men in uniform. We men were getting older and did not want to go to Detroit nearly every Sunday so on October 24, 1953 Edwin C. Theut organized Bishop Neumann General Assembly in Utica and was given St. Pious Council in Warren, Queen of Peace Council in Imlay City and St . Lawrence Council in Utica to service. Edwin c. Theut was elected the first Faithful Navigator and served three terms. On October 24, 1953 Edwin C. Theut was appointed Commander of the Bishop Neumann Assembly by Worthy Master Vincent O'Meara.
On March 6, 1964 Bishop Neumann Commandary bowed out of existence and the Bishop Neumann Color Corps took itsplace all decked out in those new uniforms and plumes. We had the honor of being the first Color Corps in Michigan with the new uniforms ordered to be worn by Worthy Master Sullivan.