History of Lodges
Norskeland is not the first attempt at establishing a Sons of Norway lodge in the area of Waupaca County. On September 23, 1928, John Jevnaker, a representative from the home office, came to lola to canvass the Norwegians to see ifit was feasible to organize a unit here. He was able to bring together 39 persons who became the charter (medlemmer) members of Fram Lodge 357. The president elected and installed at that meeting was Dr. Fred Moeller.
In July 1932 Fram Lodge disbanded due to the economic problems brought on by the depression. Little interest was shown until 1970 when Norse Valley Lodge 491 in Appleton recruited in the area and took in about thirty to forty members from the lola area.
Then in 1980 Arnold and Klara Johnson, who had moved to lola from Appleton, inquired of the Fifth District how a lodge could be formed in lola. Eugene Steensma, president, advised that the first step would be to select a steering committee. That committee, with the help of Joe Thompson, Field Representative, contacted a number of prospective members in the area.
At an organizational meeting in October 1980, 99 persons were present, indicating an interest in establishing a lodge in lola. On February 7, 1981 Lodge 580 was instituted at the lola Country Club with Fifth District officers and visitors from area lodges in attendance. Despite a severe snowstorm, two hundred twenty-two members answered roll call.
The name'''Norskeland'' was chosen at a special meeting in September. At the first meeting Arnold Johnson was chosen to lead the new lodge. On October 17, 1981 a charter dinner meeting was held at Tony's Restaurant and Lounge, and our lodge charter consisting of three framed pieces was presented. We were told the list of 285 charter members was one of the largest ever presented on a charter.
Norskeland Lodge has had numerous and varied activities, recorded in the scrapbooks and the picture history of the organization. Special celebrations are Youth month, Syttende Mai, and Saint Hans Aften. Programs have included talent shows, auctions, travel talks, art and craft shows, and trips to points of interest. Raffles are an on-going part of our program.
Lodge members have participated in the work of the old car show in lola to raise money for the lodge, and have represented lola at seminars and conventions. Monetary donations have been made to area groups as well as those which promote Norwegian heritage, thus carrying out our service club responsibilities.
The lodge newsletter, "Brevet Fra Norskeland", was begun in the late summer of 1981, and has been recognized for its excellence. A singing group was organized in 1983 and a folk dancing group in 1985 to share our music with our lodge, rest homes, fairs and talent shows.
During the years 1986 and 1987 several new things were initiated. A program of physical fitness was added and a number of medals (merker) were awarded.
A donation made to Vesterheim in Decorah, Iowa, was used to restore a stabbur from Olmsted County in Minnesota. Norskeland received a Fellow's Certificate in appreciation.
Then in 1987 Norskeland chose Rib Fjell of Wausau as its Sister lodge. Several meetings and contacts have taken place between our lodges, helping us become better acquainted.
A recent membership drive in Norskeland Lodge increased our membership by 29 new members. We hope the enthusiasm will continue as we strive to maintain interest in our heritage.