The Friendly Fifth

History of Lodges

Nora Lodge No. 1 R.H.K. 415

The Oldest Norwegian Lodge in America

On July 18, 1860 a group of Norwegians assembled in a carpenter shop at 13 N. Wells Street in Chicago and organized "Norwegian Society Nora". The name was changed to "Nora Lodge No.1, Knights of the White Cross" on January 30, 1863, and was incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois. The emblem was the cross of Saint Olav, a white cross on a field of red, surrounded by a ring of gold, topped with a crown. These were emblematic of the three degrees conferred on candidates when initiated.

In 1862 Nora Lodge presented a banner to the Fifteenth Wisconsin Volunteers, the Norwegian Regiment of the Union Army under the leadership of Col. Hans Christian Heg. At the close of the war, the banner was returned to Nora Lodge and is now on display at the Norwegian American Museum in Decorah, IA

When the Sleipner sailing vessel left Bergen on May, 1862 with its 107 passengers bound for Chicago, the trip took 71 days, arriving on August 2, 1862. The passengers were met by Nora Lodge members who gave them money, food and housing, as well as being a support system for the newcomers. Three more trips were made in the following years by the Sleipner; with the immigrants always finding haven through Nora Lodge.
The lodge was host to Jenny Lind, world famed Swedish Nightingale, and to Ole Bull, famous Norwegian violinist. On his visit Ole Bull presented the lodge with its first library.

Nora was one of the principal hosts to Captain Magnus Andersen and his crew who arrived in the Viking Ship which they sailed from Norway to Chicago for the Columbian Exposition in 1893. The entire crew were made honorary members.ofNora. One ofthe prized possessions of Nora Lodge was the silver gavel presented to the lodge by Capt. Andersen and his crew. On a visit to Norway in 1968 the Jondahls presented the silver gavel to the St. Olav Order for their archives.

In 1897 Hans Hansen, a past president of Nora Lodge, returned to Drammen, Norway, his home town. Remembering Nora Lodge and what it had meant to him, he and some friends organized Knights of the White Cross (Riddere av det Hvite Cors) on the 27th of March, 1902 in Drammen. Nora Lodge has been recognized in the St. Olav Order as their mother lodge.

Because of the depression and h:igh unemployment, lodges were not flourishing so Nora merged with Sons of Norway on December 1, 1938, with permission to use the name Nora Lodge 1, RHK No. 15, Sons of Norway. Seven ofthe members made a trip to Norwegian-American Historical Association in September 1965 to present to the archives the protokall (minutes) books dating from 1860 to 1960.

In 1880 Nora was known as the most influential Norwegian society in America. When President James Garfield was murdered, the lodge sent expressions of sympathy to the president's family, but fifty ofthe members in full regalia and draped with banners, took part in the funeral procession.

A plaque in honor ofthe Sleipner's first arrivai was presented to the City of Chicago and placed on the State Street bridge tower on August 2, 1962. On its 125th anniversary a tribute was proclaimed by the mayor of Chicago to Nora Lodge for its contributions to the city (August 2, 1987).

Nora's 100th Anniversary was celebrated in the R.K.H. hall on October 22,1960 with Einar Hammar, then Editor of the Viking Magazine as the main speaker. The following year the hall was sold. For a number of years Nora met in a rented hall, but for the past fifteen years they have met in member's homes. Lucinda Jondahl, the present secretary, has held that position for thirty years. She, with others, is trying to keep Nora Lodge alive.

Nora formally disbanded in December of 1988