The Friendly Fifth

History of Lodges

Norse Valley 491
Appleton, Wisconsin

The ''birth'' of Norse Valley Lodge 491 was in the spring of 1969 in Appleton, Wisconsin. This was to be the first lodge north of Milwaukee in the eastern part of the state. Forty-two members were taken into the lodge on July 26, 1969 in ceremonies conducted by Andrew Vedvick and Ruth Nelson, Fifth District President and Secretary; assisted by Bernard Jacobson, Conrad Garmager, and Olav Eide.

By the time the charter was presented in October there were 102 members and by the end of the first year, the membership was up to 134. The name of the lodge .. Norse Valley .. was appropriate because Appleton is in the northern end of the Fox River Valley.

The lodge started a Norwegian class almost immediately, supported the charter flight program and began the usual activities which have been so important over the years - Syttende Mai celebrations, lutefisk dinners, Christmas parties, and community functions.

The first big project the lodge got involved in was the Viking ship "Norskedal" which symbolized Norse Valley Lodge for 14 years in many local events and even as far away as Chicago, Stoughton, and Westby.

In 1983 the Lodge took on a new challenge, that of raising $1500 to restore one ofthe flags carried by Colonel Heg and his Norwegian regiment in the Civil War. The undertaking was successful, and the flag is now displayed at the Grand Army of the Republic Museum in the state capitol in Madison.

From the beginning ofthe Sports Medals Program, Norse Valley has been a leader in the District, many of its members having earned medals. In August 1989, it was announced that Harold Lovdahl was the first member in all of Sons of Norway to have earned all 16 Sports Medals.

Conrad Garmager, who became a member of Norse Valley in his retirement years, went on from the District Board to the Supreme Board of Directors, serving one term as Supreme President. Another stalwart supporter has been Mary Lovdahl, member of the district board for 14 years, serving in several capacities. Her first concern was the Heritage Camp for the young people, and for several years she has taken care of all the enrollment work for Youth and Adult Heritage Camps. She has worked as tirelessly in the lodge.

Norse Valley as a lodge has been a big supporter ofthe Heritage Camp, and over the years many, many youngsters have been sent to camp. At the end of 19 years, the membership of Norse Valley is about 250.