The Eastern Star Also Rises


Because the wives of the Masons who belonged to Compass Lodge #265 A.F. & A.M. decided they, too, should have an organization, Robbinsdale Chapter #238, Order of the Eastern Star, was started in 1921 with 78 charter members. Julia Randall was the first Worthy Matron and Dan Libby, Worthy Patron. As the Masonic Temple was just a “gleam in the eyes” of the members of Compass Lodge, meetings of both groups were held in rooms over a garage on main Street (West Broadway). The meetings were constantly interrupted by cars coming into and leaving the garage so the members had to pause in their deliberations until silence prevailed. Their dreams were realized when the Masonic Temple was built during the summer of 1922 and dedicated September 30, 1922. Times were hard in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s and the Masons faced losing their building. In 1933, plans were made for Robbinsdale Chapter to assume ownership of the building after learning that a Night Club was interested in it The members of the committee appointed to handle the transfer were Elmer Lillehei, Willard Randall, Otis Galloway, Gwen Brown, Ella Mueller, Ann Hamilton, and Hilborg Wiklund. Efforts to pay the mortgage via rummage sales, card parties, etc., proved insufficient so in 1937, Vern Harrington, Worthy Patron of the Chapter, suggested, “put up a stand at the State Fair.” The lot was selected near the Grand Stand, and under the direction of William Bursch, the Brothers of the “Star” built the kitchen (which still stands). A tent was erected which served for two rainy years. The present Dining Hall was built in 1939. The members of the Chapter volunteer their services, the Job’s Daughters of Bethel #39 serve in the Dining Room and the boys of Robbinsdale DeMolay are the dishwashers. This proved to be a successful money-raising venture and on November 26, 1947, they “Burned the Mortgage.”

December 2, 1921, witnessed the first of two bank robberies. A man robbed the bank of $1,500 and Miss Carrie McDougall proved to be the heroine of the affair by courageously touching off the burglar alarm. Justice V. D. CrandaII, summoned by the alarm, shot and killed the robber. Crandall gave the reward money to the slain bandit’s daughter. On April 19, 1930, a second bandit attempted to get away after taking $5,000 from the bank funds; he was shot by John Bloberger, Jr., police officer, who had been notified by Ted Haight, janitor, that something was wrong. In those days the bank was open from six to eight p.m. Saturday evenings for the convenience of its depositors. Since then no police officer has ever had to shoot anybody, according to present Police Chief Roland “Bud” Thurman.

The Jefferson Hy-Way Tea House

Amy and Edith Robbins began excitedly remodeling a house for a tea room. They went to a gravel pit and picked out most of the stones for the entrance pillars themselves. On May 12, 1920, Amy Robbins again entered the Government service, teaching in the Army School at Fort Snelling, Minnesota.  Ginn and Company of Boston, publishers of school books, with the assist­ance of Thaddeus Giddings, director of the Department of Public SchoolMusic in Minneapolis, “discovered” Edith Robbins, through some of her published verses and se­cured her cooperation as contributor and adviser on the publication of a series of school music readers, of which four volumes are already in use in Minneapolis and other cities. Pursuant to this work Edith Robbins and her little daughter, Helen Mary, spent the summer in Boston, writing and conferring on the publication. Several hun­dred songs with words by Edith Robbins appeared in the series.

These days we take air travel for granted, but in 1921 Captain Billy Fawcett made the papers when he flew to a trap shoot competition in Chicago in his “areoplane”. Whiz Bang magazine was going like gang busters and Fawcett knew how spend money. In February he purchased 80 acres on Big Pelican Lake near Brainerd, Minnesota and began construction on Breezy Point Resort. By the end of the year Whiz Bang magazine had a million subscribers.

1921 Real Estate Advertisement

The first reference to any water supply for the Village of Robbinsdale was made on October 18, 1921, when the president of the Village Council, Thomas P. Howard, called a mass meeting to find out public reaction to a public water supply. Up to this time residents had wells and cisterns, the cistern water (rain water) being used by the Fire Department. The results of this meeting are not recorded but on February 1, 1922, the Charles L. Pillsbury Company reported the tests revealed the best water was found in the area surrounding 38th and Vilas (later changed to Noble) at a depth of 500 to 600 feet. On February 17, 1922, the Village Council (T. P. Howard, William J. Mueller, William Bursch, John A. Trump, and William H. Meyers) voted unanimously to sell $35,000 worth of bonds and hold a special election on March 7th, but the water issue was defeated. It took a good fire for Robbinsdale to get city water.

Probably the most outstanding event of the year was the dedication on June 11 of the memorial trees on Victory Memorial. The “Father of the Minneapolis Park System Park System”, the Honorable C.M. Loring, spoke at the event and reminded those assembled that , “The trees we planted today will on each recurrent spring, put their beautiful robes of green to remind our children and our children’s children for many generations of the great debt they owed to the heroes who’s memories they will ever keep green. These trees will be fresh memorials each year new life and buds and leaves appear- a living monument and true type of immortality.”

This post is part of a series loosely based on the book Robbinsdale Then and Now by Helen Blodget. The image at the top of the post provides another view of the Victory Memorial Drive dedication ceremony. The postcard is courtesy of  L.F. Appel at