The Owen Masons

Travis Rogers, Jr.

The Owen Masons

5 mins
June 29, 2021

by Frank Olszewski and Travis Rogers, Jr.

The year was 1917 when Bert C. Spaulding and Lewis W. Cattanach, whose names were to be found in any and all forms of media, during that period, thought that there was a need for a Masonic Lodge. When word of this quest became known, thirteen Brother Masons demitted from their home lodge to join in this effort.

Two prominent Masons named Frank W. Kellogg-Lodge #61, Neenah, WI and C.S. Stockwell-Lodge #163, Neillsville, WI had knowledge of Masonry and the process of forming a new Lodge.  In a short time, Grand Master W.S Griswold issued a dispensation on Sept 3, 1917, at a well-attended meeting in a temporary Lodge room, and Owen Masonic Lodge #317 was born.

 The officers of this new Lodge were as follows:

Bert C. Spaulding -W.M

Eliel F. Wilson -S.D

Lewis W. Cattanach -S.W

Henry M. Wollum - J.D

John P. Weirich - J.W.

James C. Andrews -S.S

Edward A. Owen - Treasurer

Louis Krom -J.S

William C. Tufts - Secretary

Ernest Buss -T

The Lodge operated under dispensation, as is customary in the establishment of a lodge for a period of one year.

On the evening of June 28, 1918 amid great pomp and formality, the Charter was presented by the Grand Lodge of the State of Wisconsin.

The Lodge membership slowly grew and after meeting in a vacant “Fairchild and Northwestern Railway” depot, or above the “Griebenow-Weirich” company store, then to the “Episcopal Church Hall” which served well for many years.  As membership continued to grow there were several occasions when conversation would turn to “Lets Build our own Temple.”

 By 1945 the movement almost happened but when the cost and location and architect information was handed out to the membership, the idea began to wane.  However it did not die, as Bro. Roy Segerstrom, Manager for O & N Lumber Co offered a design and estimate of cost that was within our capacity to handle.  A Real Estate Mortgage was received from an Eau Claire Bank and paid off in full in 1977. Dedication of the temple took place on June 2, 1962 with L.E. Bulgrin acting as Master of Ceremonies.

As time went on, interest in Masonry began to lessen throughout our nation resulting in other Lodges in Clark County were unable to continue. This led to consolidation of Lodges.  The following Lodges became members of Owen #317: 1981-Loyal, 1989-Thorp/Stanley; 1994-Abbotsford & Greenwood; and 1995-Colby. This resulted in Owen #317 becoming the only Masonic Lodge in Clark County for which we are most thank full! Unfortunately we do not have histories from the other lodges.

Fund raising Projects that have taken place since 1962 include:  Brat Stand, Pancake Breakfast, Caramel-Apple Stand, ATV drivers for Farm Technology Days and for 25 years the “Corned Beef Dinner” which has been the most successful. This has allowed us to fund scholarships to high school graduates from Abbotsford, Colby, Greenwood, Loyal, Owen-Withee, and Thorp/Stanley. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to continue all these schools, so currently it is only Owen-Withee and Loyal. Scholarships range from $250 to $500. Since 1981, over $45,000 were awarded to graduates from our communities.

In 2007 a “Legacy Stone” was placed in the “HighGround Veterans Memorial” west of Neillsville, WI. The message reads as follows: 

“Owen Masonic Lodge #317 

 Brethren Remembered.”

Civic projects we participate in include: “Care Bears” given to local EMT departments as a comfort to children during a period of trauma, Personal care items collected for hospitalized veterans, and local donations to charities. We are part of a group that provides and delivers food for school children K thru 6th grade in families living under the poverty level.

It will be quite obvious that the principles of Free Masonry have been taught and exemplified to a great many men during this time. Owen Lodge No. 317 has been a faithful Institution and has brought infinite good through the years.  Its founders may well be proud.

This year, two long-standing Masons passed and they are missed: Bob Bredlau and Charles “Chuck” Edgar. The numbers of Masons, and all charitable and church organizations, tend to diminish. The Masons are always looking for men of good character. Masonic membership does not require being approached by a Mason, as the saying goes, “If you want to be a Mason, just ask a Mason.

Past Masters Since 1962

Louis Burhop 1962,1963

Melvin Smith 1964

W.R. Haire 1965

Dr. R.E. Arneson 1966

Carl R. Vater 1967

Victor R. Jessen 1968

Roy O. Segerstrom 1969

Vern Hansen 1970

S.C Scherf 1971

Shurleigh Grimes 1972, 1973

Frank R. Olszewski 1974-75,1989-90,1991

1994, 2004-05, 2009,2014-15, 2018

Lee Jensen 1976

H.V. Christensen 1977-1978

Andrew Smith 1979

Donald Little 1980

Dennis Anderson 1981

David E. Smith 1982,1995-96-97, 2003

Brian Bredlau 1984-85-86,1988,2009, 2020-21

Arnold Rasmusen 1983

David McVey 1987,1988

Charles E. Edgar 1992

Vernon “Bud” Smith 1993

Leslie Craven 1997,1998, 2016, 2017

Paul Stasek 1999, 2000,2006

Edw Masevicz 2001

Norman Reineking 2002

Anthony Ring ….  2007, 2008

Leslie Himes 2010, 2011

Jack Vater 2012, 2013

Present Officers

Brian Bredlau – WM

Leslie Craven – SW 

Bud Smith – JW

Lyle Roe – SD

Frank R. Olszewski- JD

Jeff Conger - Treasurer

Travis Rogers Jr. – Secretary

Tony Ring -Chaplain

This article was orginally reported by
Travis Rogers, Jr.

Travis is the Publisher with Nicole and is the Editor-in-Chief and Sales Manager.