TAKEN FROM "COLUMBIANISM IN
THE BALTIMORE CHAPTER OF GRAND KNIGHTS
The earliest mention of a Chapter was made at the 1901 State
Convention when a Resolution was passed for the State Deputy to form a
Chapter of the Councils in the Baltimore area. Nothing came of this and
several attempts were made in succeeding years, all unsuccessful.
The real impetus was given by State Deputy, Philip C. Mueller, Past
Grand Knight of Baltimore Council No. 205, when he stated the following
in his address to the 1909 State Convention: "I recommend to the
Grand Knights of the Councils in Baltimore, the organization of a
Chapter. Often prompt action is required in matters concerning the
Councils in Baltimore only. Degrees ought to be arranged on such dates
as will be most convenient to all of the Councils and best adapted to
the prompt admission of new members after their approval and election.
Other advantages to the Order in the city would follow the institution
of such a Chapter -- for instance, the greater success of joint Council
entertainments, the quicker helping of visiting Brothers in distress
applying to us f or aid, and the relieving of State Officers of much
detailed work in their duties of extension and supervision of the Order
in the entire State."
The Grand Knights of the six city Councils and their immediate
predecessors in office were entertained by State Deputy, Philip C.
Mueller, at dinner at his home, 1931 East Baltimore Street, on Tuesday,
January 18, 1910. A very enjoyable time was realized. During the dinner
selections were played on the graphaphone from the operas featuring such
voices as Caruso and Madame Schumann-Heinck. At this informal meeting,
the Grand Knights took steps to meet on the Saturday following, and form
themselves into a Chapter for the better conduct of affairs in the city.
On Saturday, January 22, 1910, in the Knights of Columbus home at 109
West Mulberry Street, the Grand Knights of the six Councils in the
Baltimore area met and organized the Chapter of Grand Knights of
Baltimore. Grand Knight, James J. Lindsay of Baltimore Council No. 205
was elected President and Grand Knight, Dr. Frank J. Powers, of Maryland
Council No. 370 was elected Secretary. The member Councils were:
Baltimore No. 205, Calvert No. 352, Maryland No. 370, Marquette No. 380,
American No. 493 and Carroll No. 1451, the newest Council in the State,
having been instituted on December 5, 1909.
There were no rules or regulations concerning Chapters in the Supreme
Charter, Constitution and Laws of the Order in those days. In fact, a
set of Supreme Charter, Constitution and Laws dated 1911 that is in the
author’s possession, does not even mention Chapters.
A Constitution and By—Laws were adopted and the regular meetings
were held on the first Saturday of each month at the Knights of Columbus
The object of the Chapter was, and still is, to further the interests
of all of the Councils in the city and suburbs, and to work for the
common good of the Order.
The By-laws provided that the Chapter should be composed of the Grand
Knights of the member Councils. Since a Treasurer was also provided for,
Grand Knight, J. Leo Mueller of Carroll Council No. 1451 was elected to
The other three Grand Knights of the Councils which met to form the
Chapter were: Joseph A. Sutton of Calvert No. 352, David C. McGraw of
Marquette No. 380 and D. Frank McNenaniin of American No. 493.
The Chapter flourished and became a permanent part of the Columbian
scene in Baltimore. The Chapter took over the activities previously
sponsored by local Councils acting together, and the first among these
was the Annual Vesper Service. It was held on February 6th at St. James
Church. The extremely cold weather did not deter five hundred Knights
from participating in this beautiful and impressive ceremony. Auxiliary
Bishop, the Most Reverend Owen B. Corrigan, D.D., State Chaplain,
presided at the service in mitre and cope and gave the Benediction of
the Most Blessed Sacrament. The Fourth Degree turned out in full
regalia. Columbus Day was celebrated in that first year of the founding
of the Chapter by a Solemn High Mass at St. Vincent’s Church in
October and a banquet at the Hotel Rennert on October 12th.
The Chapter took over the operation of the Orphan’s Santa Claus
Party that had been functioning since 1905. Grand Knight, Joseph N.
Smith of Maryland Council No. 370 proposed a Christmas treat for the
children of the members of his Council. He later amended his plan to
treat the orphans of some Catholic home rather than the children of the
members. The idea found immediate favor with all, and the other Councils
were invited to participate. Out of these joint Council meetings came
the plan to treat all of the children of every Catholic orphanage. To
defray the expenses, the members contributed individually and it is a
matter of pride with the membership that Knights alone are solicited.
The first party was held on December 24, 1905, at Ford’s Theatre on
Fayette Street. Philip C. Mueller of Baltimore Council No. 205 was the
first Chairman. He was also Santa Claus. Dr. Frank J. Powers and Edgar
N. Ganster, both of Maryland Council No. 370, were Assistant Chairman
and Secretary respectively. The total amount donated was $490.00 of
which the members of Maryland Council No. 370 contributed $168.00, the
largest amount. Six hundred orphans attended and heard a Christmas
message from His Eminence James Cardinal Gibbons and received his
blessing. They were entertained by a movie and vaudeville. Each orphan
received a pair of stockings, a handkerchief, an apple and an orange, a
pound of hard candy and a box of assorted nuts. In addition, each girl
was given a doll and each boy a mechanical toy. The Honorable Charles J.
Bonaparte, Secretary of the Navy, and the Honorable E. Clay Timanus,
Mayor of Baltimore City, also addressed the children.
The Committee transported all of the children in trolley cars and
buses to and from the homes. There were always some children who could
not attend, the sick or crippled and those too young. The Committee did
not overlook their pleasure however; as their gifts were sent to the
institutions before the other children returned in order that they could
all enjoy them together.
Every Catholic orphan in the Baltimore area was invited. To some of
the orphans, the greatest part of the treat was the opportunity to meet
brother or sister after possibly a whole year’s separation. It was the
custom to arrange for the meeting of brothers and sisters who are in
different orphanages, to allow them to enjoy each other’s company
during the entertainment.
When the music, motion pictures and speeches were over, the curtain
rose and there was disclosed to the orphans’ eyes a most beautiful
sight. In the dim light could be seen a magnificent tree, gorgeously
decorated, half hid by the darkness and it’s beauty only partially
disclosed by the lights on the tree itself and around the tree was a
lavish profusion of gifts for the children. Tumultuous applause greeted
the sight, but it was stilled as quickly as it was heard, for there in
front of the tree surveying with satisfaction the work of his hands,
stood Santa Claus. He asked the orphans to sing for him and they
cheerfully responded with "Adeste Fidelis" and "Holy
Night". Then, after a few more words, some of encouragement, some
of warning, some of praise, he invited them all, each and everyone of
the children to come up to him on the stage and receive the gifts that
had been provided for them by the Knights of Columbus.
Each one was greeted by the jovial old man with a merry twinkle in
his eye, and each one in his own way thanked him for the gift -
"Thank you Santa", "Merry Christmas Santa", and by
the deaf children with a smile, a brightening of the eye and a touch of
St. Mary’s Industrial School Band furnished the music for several
years and the orchestra of Brothers Joseph and John Dowling of Maryland
Council No. 370 served for several decades.
Supreme Knight, James A. Flaherty, attended the Santa Claus Parties
in 1913, 1914, 1915 and 1919. To the various Councils in the Order that
he afterwards visited, he spoke of the Baltimore Orphan’s Santa Claus
Party. A number of Knights of Columbus groups in various cities adopted
the idea for the orphans of their own hometowns.
Today, the parties are held at St. Vincent’s Center, The Gallagher
Center and Villa Maria, both at Christmas and in the spring. Past State
Deputy Edgar N. Ganster served as Chairman for fifty years until his
death in 1959.
The Charity Ball for the Tuberculosis Fund was first held on February
19, 1914 at the Fifth Regiment Armory. Past Grand Knight, Dr. Frank J.
Powers, of Maryland Council No. 370 and a distinguished physician was
the first Chairman. Almost seven thousand tickets (each admitting a man
and a lady) were sold at $2.00 each. The beautiful decorations, the
flowers, the full dress of the men, the gorgeous gowns of the ladies,
the arrivals in the hansom carriages, all added to the splendor of the
evening. The Ball opened with addresses by His Eminence James Cardinal
Gibbons, Supreme Knight Flaherty and Mayor Preston. This was undoubtedly
the grandest, and most spectacular event ever attempted by the Chapter.
The original idea was to raise enough money to build a Tuberculosis
Sanitarium in the Maryland mountains. The Charity Ball continued on for
many years. The Sanitarium was never built, but a building was dedicated
at the Eudowood Sanitarium in Towson. The State Council reinstated the
Charity Ball in 1962.
From 1938 until 1965, a banquet to the Catholic High School Football
Champions was an annual event. The winning team was awarded custody of
the trophy emblematic of football supremacy for the year. The trophy was
retired and became the possession of the first Catholic High School to
win it three times.
At this Annual Football Award Banquet various sportswriters of the
city selected the "Catholic All Star Team". Each young man
chosen for the team was presented with a miniature gold football.
For the parochial school children, the Chapter sponsored an Annual
Track and Field Meet. Team trophies and individual medals were awarded
to the winners.
In 1944, a motion picture was made for His Excellency Archbishop
Michael J. Curley, D.D., which showed the work of the Catholic orphanages.
The movie was called "Thoughtful Care", and was in
Technicolor. The premier showing was on April 30th at Ford’s Theatre
amid a concert setting with soprano Jessica Dragonette of radio and
stage fame as guest soloist. It was subsequently shown in all of the
parishes in and around Baltimore.
The Baltimore Chapter entered into an agreement with the Shrine of
the Masonic Order and the B’nai B’rith to sponsor a huge night at
the Baltimore Stadium on July 9, 1946, to witness a baseball game
between the Baltimore Orioles and the Jersey City Little Giants. Thus
started the famous "Interfaith Night" which was proof that
Catholics, Protestants and Jews cannot only work together and fight
together, but can play together. The Chapter realized over $50,000.00
from these games and all was spent on charity. The last night was held
In 1959, five thousand dollars was removed from the surplus in the
Orphan’s Santa Claus Party Fund and was given to Archbishop Keough for
use in building the Children’s Village.
The Baltimore Chapter’s 50th Anniversary Dinner-Dance was held on
February 11, 1960 at Notre Dame Council No. 2901. The history of the
Chapter was also distributed at this event. This was the first of a long
line of Anniversary Dinner-Dances and the first of our histories to be
In 1961, the title of Chairman was changed to President, the title of
Vice-Chairman was changed to Vice-President and the Office of Marshal
The Chapter President’s jewel of office with a similar jewel for
Past Presidents was adopted this year. The State Deputy has presented
the Past President’s jewel each year since.
In August 1963, the Summer First Degree was exemplified for the first
time on the evening of the regular Chapter Meeting. A team of
exceptional exemplifiers conducted the Degree at the Alcazar.
State Deputy Charles H. Zeunges installed the Chapter Officers at the
September 1970 meeting at Our Lady of Lourdes Council. This was the
first installation ceremony ever held. Past State Deputy, Francis G.
McFarland, wrote it. A concelebrated Mass followed the ceremony.
The Chapter started the practice of honoring all Council Knighthood
Degree honorees at their May meeting in 1976. Certificates were
presented to each honoree. This has become an annual event.
The Chapter meeting in December of 1980 was a Christmas Party for the
members and their wives at Holy Trinity Council. Each person brought a
man or lady’s gift to exchange and some canned goods for baskets for
the needy. There was dance music, singing of Christmas Carols and Santa
Claus. This has become an annual Christmas Party.
On August 13, 1981, the new First Degree was exemplified for the
first time in Maryland at the Chapter’s Summer First Degree Meeting at
Our Lady of Lourdes Council. The team from Bishop Sebastian Council did
the honors for 41 candidates. These were the first candidates in
Maryland for the 100th Anniversary Year of the Order. Father Richard P.
Wojciechowski became Chapter Chaplain for the first time this year. The
Summer First Degree was in his honor. Father Richard had served as
Chaplain on the Council and District levels, as Friar on the Assembly
level and as Associate Chaplain on the State level. Besides, he was
Chaplain for the Fire and Police Departments.
The annual Christmas parties in December 1981 were held at Villa
Maria, St. Vincent’s Center, The Gallagher Center, School No. 304,
Little Sisters of the Poor, Villa Louise and the House of Ruth. Dancers
from the Polish National Alliance, children from St. Rose of Lima School
and the Irish Dancers performed. Visits were also made to Fort Howard
Veterans’ Hospital, the House of the Pines and the F. B. Church
Nursery School. Charity donations, materials bought and materials
donated amounted to $27,574.20.
On Thursday, March 25, 1982, a special dinner for the Chapter
Officers, Chairmen, Former Chapter Chaplains, Past Presidents, State
Officers and their wives was held at Bishop Sebastian Council. It was in
cooperation with the Order’s Centennial Celebration. A skit was
performed depicting the first meeting of the seven men who founded the
Knights of Columbus in the basement of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven
At the Installation of Chapter Officers on September 12, 1982, each
Officer was presented with a new officer’s jewel designed by Past
State Deputy Francis G. McFarland, who also provided for their
manufacture. The jewel consists of a black anodized disc inserted in a
gold ring, two inches in diameter. The emblem of the Chapter is in the
center with the Officer’s title engraved above it. The ring is
suspended from a Third Degree emblem in full color and attached to a
black and gold ribbon.
In observance of the Chapter’s 75th Anniversary in 1985, a series
of articles on the history of the Chapter and the coming 75th
Anniversary were prepared by the General Chairman, Past State Deputy,
Francis G. McFarland, and began to appear monthly in the State Bulletin
and in Council bulletins.
On Saturday, January 26, 1985, the Officers and Past Presidents
placed a memorial wreath at the gravesite of our first President, James
J. Lindsay, at Mount Maria Cemetery adjoining the Church of the
Immaculate Conception in Towson.
On Sunday, January 27th, was held the Anniversary Mass at the
Cathedral of Mary Our Queen with His Excellency, Bishop John H. Ricard,
S.S.J., Ph.D., concelebrating the Mass and preaching the homily. The
combined Color Corps of all Assemblies in the First Maryland District
participated. The Chapter Officers and the Past Presidents, along with
the State Officers and the Officers of the Bishop McNamara Chapter of
Grand Knights were seated in the sanctuary with their ladies. A large
floral seventy-five graced the sanctuary, along with the official
Chapter Banner. The Singing Knights of Notre Dame Council No. 2901
performed as the choir. Mrs. William F. Cornelius, Jr. was the organist.
A buffet followed at the home of Maryland Council No. 370. After the
buffet, anniversary cake was cut, using the gold Master’s sword of the
second Chapter President, Edgar N. Ganster. The anniversary cake was
especially decorated with the emblems of the Order and the Baltimore
Chapter. Bishop Ricard was the guest speaker.
On Tuesday, January 29th, all of the Past Presidents of the Chapter
were honored at a Mass and Dinner at the Church of Christ the King in
Dundalk. Each received a black and gold Past President’s cup.
The regular monthly meeting was held on Thursday, January 31st at
Baltimore Council No. 205, the oldest Council in Maryland. The ladies
were invited and several Past Chapter Presidents performed a special
skit, written by the General Chairman of the 75th Anniversary. The skit
portrayed the first meeting of the Baltimore Chapter.
On Saturday, February 2nd, the 75th Anniversary of the Baltimore
Chapter was concluded with a gala Dinner-Dance at the magnificent La
Fontaine Bleu in Glen Burnie. Each couple received a souvenir Program
Book, a Chapter history and a specially designed trivet. Black and gold
cups were made available for sale. State Deputy, Richard C. Bumstead, was
the guest speaker.
Today, the Chapter consists of forty-two Councils in Baltimore City,
and the following counties: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford,
Howard and Queen Anne’s.
The Baltimore Chapter is proud of the fact that seven Past Presidents
have gone on to be State Deputy. They are: Edgar N. Ganster, Isaac S.
George, George R. Callis, Jr., Joseph G. Loeffler, John J. Schwarz,
Charles I. Reese and Andrew C. Bauer. Two Past State Deputies later
became Chapter Presidents. They are: Frank A. Shallenberger and Francis
G. McFarland. Three men also served in the three remaining Chief
Executive Officer positions of Grand Knight, Faithful Navigator and
Master; the only three to do so in the history of Maryland. They are Edgar
N. Ganster, Francis G. McFarland and Andrew C. Bauer.
For several decades, the Baltimore Chapter sponsored both the State
Council’s Memorial Mass and the Founder’s Day Mass. The Officers
arranged for all of the details and the speakers. Originally, the
Memorial Mass took the form of a Vesper Service. That later became a
Holy Hour, then a Renewal Service and finally, a Mass. Today, the
Chapter does not make the arrangements. That is up to the State Chaplain
and the State Church Activities Director. The Officers of both Chapters
today serve as usher, readers, acolytes and servers.
The Baltimore Chapter has perfectly exemplified the First Principle
of our Order, Charity, ever since the first day of existence. Besides
the tremendous work that it does for the children in the Archdiocesan
Centers, it financially supports several seminarians each year, the
Canteen Center at Fort Howard Veterans’ Hospital, St. Martin Home for
the Aged (run by the Little Sisters of the Poor), the Lawrence Cardinal
Sheehan Scholarship Fund, the Father Stephen F. Blazucki Memorial
Scholarship Fund for Calvert Hall High School, School No. 304 for the
retarded, all of the Maryland State Council’s fund—raising
activities, and many small charity programs.
The total good that they have accomplished could never be recorded in
the limited space that condenses their glorious history. This narrative
has only given you the highlights with the greater story being indelibly
marked on the minds and hearts of those thousands of unknowns who have
been the beneficiaries of their charity.
TAKEN FROM "COLUMBIANISM IN MARYLAND
THE BALTIMORE CHAPTER OF GRAND KNIGHTS
The Chapter had an Honored Guest for several years, but it was not
until 1988 that the Honored Guest was given special recognition by
having the annual Anniversary Banquet held in his honor. The Honored
Guest and his wife were seated at the head table and he was called on to
speak. They were both presented with many gifts and the family was
recognized in the audience.
The Presidents and Honored Guests from 1988 to the present were:
||*Francis G. McFarland, PSD
||*Charles E. Fraim, PCP
||*Herbert F. Behrens
||*Stanley F. Miedzienowski,
||Ralph J. Close
||*Francis G. McFarland, PCP, PSD
||*Joseph C. DuBay
*Burton Stromyer, PCP
||Matthew W. Bogdan
*Richard F. Gordes,
||*Charles F. Evans, Jr.
||Fr. Richard P. Wojciechowski,
||*Jack M. Schultz
*Herbert F. Behrens, PCP
||Owen M. McGinley
*Richard T. Zeller, Sr., PCP
||Timothy D. Burke
||Ralph J. Close, PCP
||William C. Kuchmas III
Daniel L. Peterson, PCP
||*Marion F. Fowler
*J. Carroll Mueller, PCP
||*Jack Schultz, PCP
||Owen McGinley, PCP
||Matthew Bogdan, PCP
*Eugene C. Cullum, PCP
||T. Gregory Crist
||*Joseph C. DuBay, PCP
||*William Jerry Davis
||Carroll C. McComas, PCP
||Steven M. Cohen
||Bill Kuchmas, PCP
||*Raymond L. Lowman
*Msgr. Chester J. Mieczkowski,
||E. Paul Jones
||Pat Ruckle, PCP
||Timothy Burke, PCP
||Michael J. Sallese
Carl Roberts, PCP
All Past Chapter Presidents
Samuel P. Orlando
PCP Steve Cohen
E. Jere Danaher, Jr., PCP
Samuel P. Orlando, PCP
* = Deceased
On July 1, 1988, the Chapter Officers shed their traditional gold
jackets and black trousers for dark blue jackets and gray trousers.
The Chapter still conducts its annual collection for the children at
St. Vincent’s Child Care Center, Villa Maria and the Gallagher Center,
and conducts a Christmas Party and Spring Picnic for them. The time
honored traditions of a Summer First Degree (dropped in 1987 for the
first time), members’ crab feast, Memorial Mass, adult Christmas
Party, Honored Guests’ Night and Ladies’ Night have all gone well.
The Chapter provides for its 61 member councils the opportunity to
meet with the State Officers, State Directors and State Chairmen each
month and to keep abreast of the many events taking place in the
Ever since that Wintry Saturday afternoon of January 22, 1910, when
the six Grand Knights of the councils in Baltimore met and formed the
Chapter of the Grand Knights of Baltimore, the original purpose has been
faithfully carried out. That purpose was and still remains to further
the interests of all of its member councils and to work for the common
good of the Order. That total good that the Chapter has accomplished
could never be recorded in the limited space that condenses its history
in the past 10 years.
The greater story remains indelibly marked on the minds and hearts of
all of those thousands of orphans, abused children and God’s special
children who have been the beneficiaries of the Chapter’s charity.