Gratitude for those willing to share pieces of history

Published 7:00 am Saturday, November 10, 2018

Gratitude: for old things and for those willing to share them.

Several months ago I mentioned that the Hormel Historic Home had been given two ornate swords from Jamie Hormel. One is etched with the name of George A. Hormel and the other with Jay C. Hormel. Upon receiving them, I assumed these were items reflective of each man’s participation with the Masonic Lodge.

To find out more, I contacted Austin’s local lodge and was invited to visit their location and learn more about them. 

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Since living in Austin I have known where the lodge is but had never been up the long narrow stairway. Upon reaching the top, I was amazed not only by the largeness of the space, but also by the history preserved and showcased there.

My husband and I went on a Saturday during a pancake feed benefitting the Austin High School cheerleading squad. After enjoying a delicious meal, we were treated to a personal tour of the facility.

Lodge Secretary Steve Neiswanger led us to the office where he presented me with a valise and various uniform pieces that had belonged to George Hormel.

The Masonic uniform of George A. Hormel.
Photo provided

George’s name is imprinted on the suitcase as well as embroidered in one of the hats in the collection. George joined the local Masonic Lodge on July 25, 1888, less than a year after he had settled in Austin. He was 27, motivated, and eager to be a part of his new community.

In the Lodge Room are elements of ceremony used during meetings as well as banners and pictures showing the groups’ history. A row of chairs along the south wall are labeled with nameplates recognizing members of the past. George has a chair. More artwork and objects are on display throughout the rest of the building that share the local history of this organization as well as their national and international story.

We have in our archives at the HHH a card recognizing George’s 50 years of membership in Austin’s Fidelity Lodge No. 39 as well as his record of attaining the Royal Arch degree within the Masonic System. The valise is labeled with the St. Bernard Commandery insigni, which indicates that George was also a part of another distinguished group.

These old things that we now share with you represent a historic organization that remains important to our community. George Hormel found a place with the Masons that he valued greatly for what it offered him both socially and civically.

History Happy Hour: National Register of Historic Places in Your Neighborhood

5:30 p.m. Social, 6 p.m. Presentation, Monday, Nov.12

Presented by Denis Gardner of the Minnesota Historical Society. Free for members of the Mower County Historical Society, Friends of the Library, and the HHH. $5 for non-members.

Holiday Open House Events

Nov. 15-17

Go to for complete information.