Dr. John Henry Wilson

Dr. John Henry Wilson

Though the Moose fraternal organization was founded in the late 1800s with the modest goal of offering men an opportunity to gather socially, it was reinvented during the first decade of the 20th century into an organizational dynamo of men and women who set out to build a city that would brighten the futures of thousands of children in need all across North America.


When Dr. John Henry Wilson, a Louisville, Ky., physician, organized a handful of men into the Loyal Order of Moose in the parlor of his home in the spring of 1888, he and his compatriots did so apparently for no other reason than to form a string of men's social clubs. Lodges were instituted in Cincinnati, St. Louis, and the smaller Indiana towns of Crawfordsville and Frankfort by the early 1890s, but Dr. Wilson himself became dissatisfied and left the infant order well before the turn of the century.

James J Davis

James J. Davis
Founder: Mooseheart & Moosehaven

It was just the two remaining Indiana Lodges that kept the Moose from disappearing altogether, until the fall of 1906, when an outgoing young government clerk from Elwood, Ind., was invited to enroll into the Crawfordsville Lodge. It was on James J. Davis' 33rd birthday, October 27, that he became just the 247th member of the Loyal Order of Moose.


Davis, a native of Wales who had worked from boyhood as an "iron puddler" in the steel mills of Pennsylvania, had also been a labor organizer and immediately saw potential to build the tiny Moose fraternity into a force to provide protection and security for a largely working-class membership. At the time little or no government "safety net" existed to provide benefits to the wife and children of a breadwinner who died or became disabled. Davis proposed to "pitch" Moose membership as a way to provide such protection at a bargain price; annual dues of $5 to $10. Given a green light and the title of "Supreme Organizer," Davis and a few other colleagues set out to solicit members and organize Moose Lodges across the U.S. and southern Canada. (In 1926, the Moose fraternity's presence extended across the Atlantic, with the founding of the Grand Lodge of Great Britain.)


Davis' marketing instincts were on-target: By 1912, the order had grown from 247 members in two Lodges, to a colossus of nearly 500,000 in more than 1,000 Lodges. Davis, appointed the organization's first chief executive with the new title of Director General, realized it was time to make good on the promise. The Moose began a program of paying "sick benefits" to members too ill to work--and, more ambitiously, Davis and the organization's other officers made plans for a "Moose Institute," to be centrally located somewhere in the Midwest that would provide a home, schooling and vocational training to children of deceased Moose members.

   

The Birth of Mooseheart

 

After careful consideration of numerous sites, the Moose Supreme Council in late 1912 approved the purchase of what was known as the Brookline Farm--more than 1,000 acres along the then-dirt surfaced Lincoln Highway, between Batavia and North Aurora on the west side of the Fox River, about 40 miles west of Chicago. Ohio Congressman John Lentz, a member of the Supreme Council, conceived the name "Mooseheart" for the new community: "This," he said, "will always be the place where the Moose fraternity will collectively pour out its heart, its devotion and sustenance, to the children of its members in need."

 

So it was on a hot summer Sunday, July 27, 1913, that several thousand Moose men and women (for the Women of the Moose received formal recognition that year as the organization's official female component) gathered under a rented circus tent toward the south end of the new property and placed the cornerstone for Mooseheart. The first 11 youngsters in residence were present, having been admitted earlier that month; they and a handful of workers were housed in the original farmhouse and a few rough-hewn frame buildings that had been erected that spring.

 

Addressing Need on the Other End of Life: Moosehaven

 

Mooseheart's construction proceeded furiously over the next decade, but it only barely kept pace with the admissions that swelled the student census to nearly 1,000 by 1920. (Mooseheart's student population would reach a peak of 1,300 during the depths of the Great Depression; housing was often "barracks" style - unacceptable by today's standards. Mooseheart officials now consider the campus' ultimate maximum capacity as no more than 500.) Still, by the Twenties, Davis and his Moose colleagues thought the fraternity should do more--this time for aged members who were having trouble making ends meet in retirement. (A limited number of elderly members had been invited to live at Mooseheart since 1915.)

 

They bought 26 acres of shoreline property just south of Jacksonville, Florida, and in the fall of 1922, Moosehaven, the "City of Contentment," was opened, with the arrival of its first 22 retired Moose residents. Moosehaven has since grown to a 63-acre community providing a comfortable home, a wide array of recreational activities and comprehensive health care to more than 400 residents.

As the Moose fraternity grew in visibility and influence, so did Jim Davis. President Warren Harding named him to his Cabinet as Secretary of Labor in 1921, and Davis continued in that post under Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover as well. In November 1930, Davis, a Republican, won election to the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania, and he served there with distinction for the next 14 years. As both Labor Secretary and Senator, Davis was known as a conservative champion of labor, who fought hard for the rights of unions--but felt that the workingman should expect no "handouts" of any sort. In the Senate, it was Davis who spearheaded passage of landmark legislation to force building contractors to pay laborers "prevailing" union-level wages in any government construction work. The law bore his name: the Davis-Bacon Act.

   

Katherine Smith

Katherine Smith
First Grand Chancellor
Women of the Moose

 

 

An Independent, Autonomous Women's Component

 

Though the Women of the Moose (originally termed the Women of Mooseheart Legion) had received formal recognition as a Moose auxiliary in 1913, they at first had little structured program of their own beyond the Chapter level. That changed in 1921, when Davis met and hired a remarkable woman named Katherine Smith. When the 19th Amendment had granted women the right to vote in 1920, Smith, (from Indianapolis,) reasoned correctly, that women in politics would be a "growth market." She quit her secretarial job to go to work in Warren Harding's successful Presidential campaign--and, still in her 20s, she was rewarded with an appointment as Director of Public Employment in Washington. Labor Secretary Davis was her boss, and he immediately recognized her talent and drive. It took him five years to convince her to quit her government job and go to work for him running the Women of the Moose. A stereotypical "women's program" held no interest for her, Smith argued. "So get out there and make a program," Davis retorted. She did exactly that, as the organization's first Grand Chancellor, for the next 38 years until her retirement in 1964, at which point the Women of the Moose boasted 250,000 members. (It has since grown to more than 540,000, in approximately 1,600 Chapters.)

 

Malcolm R Giles

Malcolm R Giles
Director General
1947-1953

 

As Davis committed more time and energy to his Washington duties in the 1920s and beyond, he had less time to run the Moose fraternity. In 1927 the day-to-day management of the Order's business was assumed at Mooseheart by Malcolm R. Giles, in the office of Supreme Secretary. Giles, an accountant by training who had worked full-time for the Moose since 1915, set out to implement a reorganization of the fraternity's finances, and in 1934 modernized its recruitment apparatus into a formal Membership Enrollment Department, under the direction of a gregarious and talented young man named Paul P. Schmitz.

 

Davis' health was uncertain as he left the Senate in early 1945, and he settled into an elder statesman's role with the Moose. He collapsed on the podium while addressing the Moose convention in August 1947, and died that November. Giles continued to run the organization's business as he had for 20 years; in 1949, the Supreme Council granted him the title of Director General.

   

The "Proof of Our Value": Community Service

 

For a quarter-century the Moose had directed its efforts almost completely toward Mooseheart and Moosehaven; now, with discharged WWII Veterans driving Moose membership to nearly 800,000 members, Director General Giles set out to broaden the organization's horizons. In 1949 he conceived and instituted what was to become the third great Moose endeavor of the modern era, the Civic Affairs program (later renamed Community Service). Giles explained his rationale: "Only three institutions have a God-given right to exist in a community, the home, the church and the school. The rest of us must be valuable to the community to warrant our existence, and the burden of proof of our value is on us." The Community Service program has since flourished into a myriad of humanitarian efforts on the local Lodge level, as well as fraternity-wide projects such as the Moose Youth Awareness Program , in which bright teenagers go into elementary schools, daycare centers and the like to communicate an anti-drug message to 4- to 9-year olds.

   
Leadership: Our Directors General
 

J Jack Stoehr

J. Jack Stoehr
Director General
1953

Malcolm Giles' term as Director General was cut short when he suffered a heart attack and died, at just age 59, in September 1953. He was replaced on an interim basis by J. Jack Stoehr, the well-respected Director of its most successful geographic region, which included Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. For a permanent successor, the Order turned to the commanding presence of Schmitz, the Membership Director who in 19 years had nurtured the fraternity from a low of 240,000 members during the worst of the Great Depression, to nearly 900,000 by the early 1950s.

 

Paul P Schmitz

Paul P Schmitz
Director General
1953-1974

Schmitz, an Aurora, Ill., native, led the Moose for nearly 21 years, longer than anyone except Davis. During his tenure, both the Mooseheart and Moosehaven physical plants received substantial modernization, and he guided the Moose smoothly through the tumultuous 1960s into the 1970s with continued steady membership growth, to more than 1 million men (in more than 2,000 Lodges) and 300,000 women before he retired in April 1974.


Herbert W Heilman

Herbert W Heilman
Director General
1974-1984

Mr. Schmitz turned over the Director General's office to Herbert W. Heilman--the first time a Mooseheart graduate (Class of 1934) had risen to lead the organization that had raised him at its Child City. Heilman, a teacher and athletic coach, had been hired by Giles in 1948 to run the fraternity's sports program, then had worked for 17 years as Membership Enrollment Director under Schmitz. Heilman's tenure saw men's and women's combined Moose membership rise to nearly 1.8 million before his retirement in January 1984.


Paul J O'Hollaren

Paul J O'Hollaren
Director General
1984-1994. 1999

When Paul J. O'Hollaren, a lawyer and insurance executive from Portland Ore., became the Supreme Council's choice to succeed Heilman, it was the first time since Davis that a non-employee had assumed the Director General's chair. O'Hollaren had of course, been an active Moose for a quarter-century: charter Governor of his Lodge, President of the Oregon Moose Association, Chief Justice of the Supreme Forum, and, in 1978-79, Supreme Governor.

 

Director General O'Hollaren's whirlwind decade in office saw a full computerization and modernization of the fraternity's business operations; the change of its corporate name to Moose International; the stirring observances of the organization's Centennial in 1988, a completely updated redesign of the fraternity's ceremonial degree regalia (away from headgear and robes to distinctive color-coded blazers and neckties); a rebuilding of Mooseheart's utilities infrastructure, and the start of a long-range construction program to completely renovate or build new residential space for every Mooseheart student and Moosehaven resident.


Frank A Sarnecki

Frank A Sarnecki
Director General
1994-1999

O'Hollaren retired in February 1994; his successor, Director General Frank A. Sarnecki, continued the pattern of coming to Mooseheart from the Moose "volunteer corps." Sarnecki, a real estate and insurance executive from New Jersey, served as Secretary of the Perth Amboy Lodge for 12 years in the 1960s and '70s; he rose to become Supreme Governor in 1988-89.

 

In his first few years in office, Sarnecki guided the fraternity into four sweeping changes: a fully equitable relationship between its men's and women's components in use of Lodge facilities; a drive to transform those facilities into "Moose Family Centers"; an extension of Moosehaven eligibility to all Moose men and women, and an expansion of Mooseheart admissions to accept applications from all children in need--a move that inspired renowned ABC Radio commentator Paul Harvey to refer to efforts of the Moose Family fraternity, in an August 1994 broadcast to his 24 million listeners throughout North America, as "a dynamic demonstration of civilized man's better self."


Donald H Ross

Donald H Ross
Director General
1999-2006

After 5 years in office, Director General Sarnecki resigned in April 1999 to return to business and family interests in New Jersey. Paul J. O'Hollaren stepped in as Director General on an interim basis from mid-April to mid-June. On June 15th, 1999, Donald H. Ross , who had served 16 years as Supreme Secretary, was appointed by the Supreme Council to become the organization's eighth Director General. Two months shy of his 50th birthday as he took office, he became the fraternity's youngest chief executive in more than 75 years.


Scott D Hart

William B Airey
Director General
2006-2012

In March 2006, Director General Ross stepped down, and was succeeded by the man who had served as Director of Membership for 18 years, William B. Airey of Ohio.

Director General Airey sought to emphasize a "back-to-fraternal-basics" philosophy during his early months in office, reviving the traditional Membership Department structure and stressing the importance of properly appreciating the member-sponsor.


William B Airey

Scott D Hart
Director General
2012-Present

In December 2012, Director General Airey retired at age 71; the successor named by the Supreme Council on Dec. 21, was, at 43, the youngest since Davis. Scott D. Hart became the Moose fraternity’s 10th Director General/CEO after having successfully led Mooseheart Child City & School to national and worldwide prominence as its Executive Director since 2003.


 
ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS
Loyal Order of Moose and Women of the Moose

CITY/CITIES DATES/YEAR

01 LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY 1889
02 CINCINNATI, OHIO 1890
05 ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI 1893
08 CRAWFORDSVILLE, INDIANA SEPTEMBER 15,16 1896
09 CRAWFORDSVILLE, INDIANA SEPTEMEBER 21,22,23 1897
10 FRANKFORT, INDIANA SEPTEMBER 20, 21 1898
16 TIPTON, INDIANA 1904
17 FRANKFORT, INDIANA 1905
18 CRAWFORDSVILLE, INDIANA OCTOBER 27 1906
19 INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA OCTOBER 15 1907
20 UNIONTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA OCTOBER 1908
21 ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA SEPTEMBER 1909
22 BALTIMORE, MARYLAND JULY 1910
23 DETROIT, MICHIGAN JULY 1911
24 KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI SEPTEMBER 1912
25 CINCINNATI, OHIO JULY 28 - AUGUST 1 ST 1913
(Also, 1 st organization-wide meeting of Women of Mooseheart Legion,
later Women of the Moose)
26 MILKAUKEE, WISCONSIN WEEK OF JULY 23 1914
27 SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA WEEK OF JULY 19 1915
28 MOOSEHEART, ILLINOIS WEEK OF JULY 19 1916
29 PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA WEEK OF JULY 22 1917
30 MOOSEHEART, ILLINOIS WEEK OF AUGUST 5 1918
31 MOOSEHEART, ILLINOIS JUNE 23 - 27 1919
32 MOOSEHEART, ILLINOIS JUNE 20 – 25 1920
33 TOLEDO, OHIO JUNE 27 - JULY 2 ND 1921
34 MOOSEHEART, ILLINOIS AUGUST 20 - 25 1922
35 MOOSEHEART, ILLINOIS JUNE 20 -25 1923
36 NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK JULY 27 - 31 1924
37 BALTIMORE, MARYLAND BEGINNING JUNE 22 1925
38 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS JULY 1 - 6 1926
39 PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA AUGUST 22 -26 1927
40 MOOSEHEART, ILLINOIS WEEK OF JUNE 23 1928
41 DETROIT, MICHIGAN WEEK OF AUGUST 19 1929
42 MOOSEHEART, ILLINOIS WEEK OF JUNE 30 1930
43 ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY WEEK OF AUGUST 24 1931
44 CLEVELAND, OHIO WEEK OF AUGUST 22 1932
45 MOOSEHEART, ILLINOIS WEEK OF JUNE 25 1933
46 ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY JULY 1 – 4 1934
47 BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS JULY 1 - 5 1935
48 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS JUNE 30 - JULY 4 1936
49 CLEVELAND, OHIO AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 4 1937
50 MOOSEHEART, ILLINOIS JUNE 8 – JUNE 12 1938
51 PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA AUGUST 28 - SEPTEMBER 1 1939
52 MOOSEHEART & DES MOINES, IOWA JUNE 29 JULY 4 1940
53 INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA AUGUST 24 - 28 1941
54 MOOSEHEART, ILLINOIS AUGUST 23 - 26 1942
55 CINCINNATI, OHIO AUGUST 22 – 25 1943
56 MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN AUGUST 20 - 23 1944
57 NO CONVENTION in 1945
58 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS AUGUST 25 - 30 1946
59 COLUMBUS, OHIO AUGUST 17 - 21 1947
60 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS AUGUST 15 - 19 1948
61 SAN FRANCISCO, CALFORNIA AUGUST 14 - 18 1949
62 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS AUGUST 20 – 21 1950
63 BUFFALO, NEW YORK AUGUST 19 - 23 1951
64 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS AUGUST 17 - 21 1952
65 MIAMI, FLORIDA AUGUST 15 - 21 1953
66 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS AUGUST 22 - 26 1954
67 PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA AUGUST 28 - SEPTEMBER 1 1955
68 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS AUGUST 19 - 23 1956
69 SPOKANE, WASHINGTON AUGUST 18 - 22 1957
70 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS AUGUST 17 – 21 1958
71 PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA AUGUST 17 – 20 1959
72 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS JUNE 12 - 16 1960
73 MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE JUNE 25 - 29 1961
74 MOOSEHAVEN & ATLANTA, GEORGIA JULY 1 - 5 1962
75 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS JUNE 16 – 20 1963
76 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS JUNE 7 - 11 1964
77 LOS ANGLES, CALIFORNIA JUNE 21 - 24 1965
78 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS JUNE 12 - 16 1966
79 MOOSEHAVEN & JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA JUNE 25 - 29 1967
80 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS JUNE 16 - 20 1968
81 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS JUNE 29 - JULY 3 1969
82 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS JUNE 14 - 18 1970
83 DETROIT, MICHIGAN JUNE 13 - 17 1971
84 MOOSEHAVEN & JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA JUNE 24 - 29 1972
85 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS MAY 27 - 31 1973
86 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS JUNE 23 - 27 1974
87 NEW YORK, NEW YORK JUNE 30 - JULY 3 1975
88 WASHINGTON, D.C. JULY 5 - 8 1976
89 MOOSEHAVEN & JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA JUNE 27 - 30 1977
90 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS JUNE 4 - 8 1978
91 LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA JUNE 17 - 21 1979
92 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS JUNE 7 - 12 1980
93 NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA JUNE 20 - 25 1981
94 MOOSEHAVEN & JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA JUNE 28 - JULY 1 1982
95 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS MAY 28 - JUNE 2 1983
96 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS MAY 26 - 31 1984
97 ATLANTA, GEORGIA JUNE 22 - 27 1985
98 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS MAY 24 - 29 1986
99 MOOSEHAVEN & ORLANDO, FLORIDA MAY 25 - 28 1987
100 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS MAY 28 - JUNE 1 1988
101 LAS VEGAS, NEVADA JUNE 18 - 22 1989
102 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS MAY 26 - 31 1990
103 NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA JUNE 9 - 13 1991
104 MOOSEHAVEN & ORLANDO, FLORIDA JUNE 6 - 11 1992
105 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS MAY 30 - JUNE 3 1993
106 LAS VEGAS, NEVADA JUNE 12 - 16 1994
107 MOOSEHAVEN & ORLANDO, FLORIDA JUNE 9 - 15 1995
108 PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA JUNE 30 - JULY 4 1996
109 MOOSEHAVEN & ORLANDO, FLORIDA JULY 3 - 9 1997
110 TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA JUNE 26 - JULY 2 1998
111 MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA JULY 2 - JULY 8 1999
112 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS MAY 26 - JUNE 1 2000
113 LAS VEGAS, NEVADA JUNE 22 - 28 2001
114 MOOSEHAVEN & ORLANDO, FLORIDA JUNE 27 - JULY 3 2002
115 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS MAY 23 - MAY 29 2003
116 CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA JUNE 25 - 30 2004
117 LAS VEGAS, NEVADA JUNE 17 - 22 2005
118 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS MAY 25 – JUNE 1 2006
119 MOOSEHAVEN & ORLANDO, FLORIDA JUNE 26 – JULY 3 2007
120 LAS VEGAS, NEVADA JUNE 19-25, 2008
121 MOOSEHEART & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS May 22-27, 2009

Robert Zaininger
Curator, Museum of Moose History
Moose International

   
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