Introduction...Who We Are
...and What We are All About
Danish Brotherhood in America (DBIA) Lodge #167 ... Danish Sisterhood (DSS), Mt. Hood Lodge #81
Sharing their Heritage and their Dream...
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History of the Danish Brotherhood of America
Over one hundred years have passed since a group of Danish pioneers - beginning a new life in a new land - formed a brotherhood to help each other. The story of those years is a story of growth and change, challenges, and striving to meet the needs of people living in a rapidly changing world. Most of all, it is a story of Danish immigrants working together and sharing a committment to preserving their heritage while pursuing their dreams in their new home.
The seeds of the Danish Brotherhood in America (DBIA) were planted in the 1870s when thousands of Danes were leaving their native Denmark to find greater opportunities in the United States of America and Canada. The immigrants came with a love for the traditions and culture of their native land and a hope and a dream for the opportunities they could find in their new home. However, the language was new, as was the culture. They needed the help, support, and companionship of those who shared their common interests.
That was the kind of companionship Mark Hansen was seeking when he formed the "Dansk Vaabenbrode" (Danish Brothers in Arms), an organization for Danish veterans, in Omaha, Nebraska, in the 1880s. Since Hansen was a veteran of the Danish Army and had fought in the Civil War in the United States, his organization emphasized the military service that its members had in common.
The Schleswig-Holstein War of 1864 between Denmark and Prussia (pre-Germany) had swelled the ranks of both Danish veterans and Danish immigrants. So, the Danish Brothers in Arms grew quickly. Other similar groups sprang up around the country.
In 1881, it was proposed that those local groups join together in a national organization. Five of the groups agreed to unite and they planned the first convention of the new group for 1882.
By the time the convention opened the next year, many members clearly saw the much greater potential for the organization. They recognized that there were thousands of Danish men in America who needed the support and social sharing of this group even though they were not veterans.
A majority of members accepted the idea of a broader membership and at that convention "The Danish Brotherhood in America" was born. The DBIA purpose was to reach out to "honorable men, born of Danish parents or who were of Danish extraction." William Wind of Racine, Wisconsin, was elected as the first president of the Brotherhood.
In those early days, the DBIA was set up as a network of "lodges" and offered insurance coverage and other benefits to newly minted Danish-Americans. The DBIA is affiliated with the Woodman of the World/Assured Life Association (Highlands Ranch, Colorado), another fraternal organization, which has helped the Danish Lodges over the years.
In recent years, the Danish lodges have become more fraternal and social in nature. Our Lodge has served the Portland/Vancouver area Danish community since 1903.
In April 2008, DBIA #167 finally had its Bylaws revised and approved. You can read them by clicking here: Bylaws
History of the Danish Sisterhood of America
In December of 1883, Lodge #1 of the Danish Sisterhood was established in Negaunee, Michigan. In Niels Hemingsen's own words this is what he wrote in his diary: "I'm convinced that had it not been for Christine the establishment of the Danish Sisterhood of America would not have taken place at that time. It was me that did it in her name and I was very happy I could do something like this for her, which elevated her to the honor of carrying the title as the founder of The Danish Sisterhood of America."
In the early days the purpose of the Sisterhood was to provide a support system for the members who emigrated from Denmark. There was no government assistance, so the people had to take care of themselves.
Institutions were established for the elderly and those who could not care for themselves. As time went by, the lodges became more social and less care- facility oriented.
Currently, the Sisterhood promotes interest in our Danish heritage, educating the children in Danish history and language, is involved in fund raising, and enjoys the company of its members. Our new web site is creating public interest and hopefully may attract new members. Our Lodge has served the Portland/Vancouver area Danish community since 1904.
(more information to come...)