La Crosse Council Council #839

About Our Council

Meeting Schedule & Location

Council Monthly Meeting Schedule

2nd Monday of the month at 6:30 pm

Meetings Location

St. Joseph the Workman
530 Main St. P.O. Box 991
La Crosse, WI 54601 US


Mailing Address

530 Main St.
PO Box 991
La Crosse, WI 54601 US

In Support Of:

St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral
530 Main St
La Crosse, WI 54601 US
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Blessed Sacrament Parish
130 Losey Blvd S
La Crosse, WI 54601 US
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Holy Trinity Parish
1333 13th St S
La Crosse, WI 54601 US
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Mary Mother of the Church Parish
2006 Weston St
La Crosse, WI 54601 US
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Roncalli Newman Parish
1732 State Street
La Crosse, WI 54601 US
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Who We Are

Founded on February 25th, 1905 Knights of Columbus Council 839 has been serving the Coulee Region for over 100 years with charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism. The Council is comprised of St. Joseph Cathedral Parish, Blessed Sacrament Parish, Holy Trinity Parish, Newman Center Parish, and Mary Mother of the Church Parish. The Council meets on the second Monday of each month with a Rosary start at 6:30 pm and the official meeting beginning at 7:00 pm.

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History 2012-2022

Year of Saint Joseph—Council-Sponsored Consecration to St. Joseph Groups and St. Joseph Prayer Leaflets
  • During our 19-month “year” of Saint Joseph in the Diocese of La Crosse, Council 839 and Facilitator Sir Knight Charlie Peters have sponsored 4 Consecration Groups: June/July 2020, February/March 2021, March/May 2021 (for men) and May/June 2021 (for men & women). Another Consecration to Saint Joseph group will be facilitated by Grand Knight SK Chris Schlegel in the Fall of 2021.

  • In memory of Msgr. Matthew Malnar, the Council and the Cathedral of Saint Joseph the Workman prepared a St. Joseph Prayer Leaflet which contains St. Joseph’s Litany & Memorare and have distributed it widely.

Casa Hogar
  • In 2019, Council 839 "adopted" the Guadalupe Family at Casa Hogar in Peru; this orphanage was the legacy of Father Joe Walijewski, currently being considered for canonization.

  • We are committed to supporting them financially and spiritually.

  • In 2019, the Guadalupe Family, Msgr. Hirsch and Sarah Sceery joined Counil 839 by Zoom so that we could meet the family virtually and see where the children live; we prayed the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary and admired their artistic depictions of each of the 5 mysteries!

Council-Sponsored American Red Cross Blood Drives at Cathedral
  • The Council has sponsored 4 Blood Drives to date in 2021 (January, March, May & August) at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph the Workman with an additional Blood Drive planned for October.

  • Over 140 units of blood have been collected with many 1st time donors participating

  • For lunch, delicious Pickerman’s sandwiches are served which are always a highlight!

LifeSavers 4 Life
  • Council 839 has a longstanding commitment to a Culture of Life and Pro-Life activities. In Fraternal Year 2016-17, the Council achieved a 122% level of support for Knights of Columbus Culture of Life activities in Wisconsin and then in 2018-2019 soared to a level of 173% support of such activities. In the Fall of 2018 under the leadership of Grand Knight Sir Knight Charlie Peters the Council conducted its first (now annual) LifeSavers for Life Campaign by distributing Lifesavers after all of the weekend Masses during 1 Fall weekend at each of the 5 Parishes we serve

  • The response was extremely positive from the beginning and we were able to donate over $900 to Birthright La Crosse

  • In the years 2019-2021, the Council met with even greater success each year and have donated up $1,500 to Birthright La Crosse

WAFER Food Pantry and La Crosse County Jail Ministry
  • In the past, Council 839 has regularly collected food items for WAFER Food Pantry and donated magazines and paperbacks to the La Crosse County Jail Ministry

Salvation Army: Volunteer Service and Bell-Ringing at the Red Kettle
  • Brother Knights such as Sir Knight Erik Johnson can frequently be found volunteering at the Salvation Army for a variety of needs.

  • Council 839 Brother Knights have been faithful Bell Ringers at the Red Kettles and have been known to bring Christmas and Advent cheer in great measure by singing carols and passing out candy canes

Holy Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet + Holy Rosary before Council Meetings
  • Council 839 is comprised of true Prayer Warriors who are committed to leading and praying the Holy Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy after Mass at the Cathedral, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and at other churches

  • We also pray the Rosary before EVERY Council meeting

Bike to Mary Welcome Picnic

  • In response to the invitation of Brother Knight Chris Pundzak, the Founder of the Bike to Mary Pilgrimage, Council 839 has hosted a welcome home picnic for these dedicated pilgrims which has always been well attended on the concluding Saturday or Sunday.

Charitable Outreach Through the La Crosse Community Foundation
  • Council 839 maintains a charitable outreach account that has donated tens of thousands of dollars to worthy causes over the years. We have supported our Parishes, WAFER Food Pantry, Catholic Charities, Casa Hogar, FOCUS, Hosea Initiative, Aquinas Catholic Schools, Providence Academy, La Crosse Emergency Response Fund, and many other important faith-based and community activities

​Partnership with Men of the Cross

  • The Men of the Cross Annual Conference organizing committee has turned to Council 839 and the Knights of Columbus each year for manpower and financial resources to support their annual Men's Conferences and we have ALWAYS been there for them!

Prayer for Fallen Away Catholics
  • For more than a decade, Council 839 under the initiation and guidance of Past Grand Knight Sir Knight Dr. Richard “Ciech” Ciechanowski has prayed and promoted a prayer for “fallen away Catholics”

  • TENS OF THOUSANDS of this prayer card have been distributed around the country and around the world!

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History 1992-2002

Members Supporting State Council
  • 1992-1999: Norbert Korger and John Leisgang served on 4th Degree Team.

  • 1994: Francis Mara chaired the State Golfing Tournament.

  • 1996-2000: Norbert Korger served a District 25 District Deputy.

  • 2000-2004: Wayne Auer served as District 25 District Deputy.

  • 2003: Richard Gilles and Henry Becker co-chaired the State Bowling Tournament.

Administrative History

​Council 839 has annually over the 10 year period presented and elected a complete slate of officers. Annually, also, a program planning meeting has been held in June or July to set up an agenda for the year and appoint chairmen to handle the programs. The Bishop had assigned a priest to serve as chaplain each year. A First Degree team was activated 4 times a year. Councils of the district were invited to send over their candidates if they so desired. Meetings were held monthly on the 2nd Monday with an officers meeting usually preceding it. The Ladies of Columbus (Auxiliary) met 5 or 5 times per year on the evening of the Council meetings. The Building Association (which is open to all members) elected representatives who met regularly to handle the finical affairs needed to keep the clubhouse open and in good repair.

Program History

Over this 10 year period Council 839 ran and supported the 10th to 12th grade Respect Life Contest with $25.00 savings bonds for winners; held Memorial Mass in November for the deceased of the previous year; sponsored each year (until 2001) a Knowledge and Free Throw contest for 10-14 year old boys and girls; celebrated Founders Day annually with membership awards and Family of the Year and Knight of the Year recognitions; promoted and ran council fundraisers each year (like a chicken Q and turkey shoot); supported once each year a Nun's Bingo at St. Rose Convent and one at Villa St. Joseph Retirement Home for the nuns; gather each 5th Sunday for Communion at one of the various churches in the La Crosse area and for breakfast afterward at the clubhouse annually run a Tootsie Roll Drive and divide the monies among four community agencies who are directly serving the mentally handicapped. A Clergy Appreciation Night has been held each year to show our support and love for our priests and bishops. Annually, $500.00 donations have been given to 3 seminarians by the Council and to 3 by the Assembly in accord with Supreme's RSVP program. Christmas Poster Contests are sponsored for grades 1-4 in the six (now five) Catholic Elementary Schools of La Crosse.

A Memorial to the Unborn was erected at the Catholic Cemetery in 1997, spearheaded by Br. Francis Mara. In 1997 Al Roellich was given recognition for 30 years heading a group of Knights who pushed Catholics in wheelchairs to Mass on Sunday at St. Francis Nursing Home, which continued until the Nursing Home closed in 2001. Since 1998, a Roses for Life Program recognized, in participating parishes, parents who have had their children baptized during the previous year.

The Council also worked closely with the Bishop Schwebach Assembly, which draws its membership from the greater La Crosse area; maintains its own meeting schedules and events; organizes an Honor Guard which participates in the Bishop's Christmas and Easter Masses, in all the funerals of 4th degree members, and in some wakes (when the family requests it). Further, the Assembly's Color Corps participates in a number of events with veterans groups such as the Flag Day Ceremonies and Veterans Day festivities.

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke

Archbishop Burke was born in Richland Center on June 30, 1948. He became a Knight in 1977 while serving as an associate rector of St. Joseph Cathedral and teacher of religion at Aquinas High School. Canon Law studies led hi to Rome for four years in 1980. He returned to the diocesan Curia and served in several capacities there until 1989. On June 23, 1989 he was appointed Defender of the Bond of the Supreme Tribunal of the Roman Curia in the Vatican and served there until installed as the eighth Bishop of La Crosse on February 22, 1995. His continuous support and fraternity during this period was evident by his many blessings and participation in activities as often as he could. He was elevated to Archbishop of St. Louis on January 26, 2004. His letter of January 24, 2005 stated "I will be united with you in my thoughts and prayers as you thank God for the gift of one hundred years of Council 839." Thank you now Cardinal Burke!

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History 1982-1992

La Crosse Council 839 had a busy and generous 10 years during the 80's. Steeped in a long tradition of service to the needs of others, of fraternity, and unity, its history takes on an array of good works, generous donations, and kindly concern for the needs of others within the order and in the community.

Church Activities
  • Regular 5th Sunday Corporate Communion at one of the local churches or chapels followed by breakfast at K.C. Hall.

  • Pallbearers have responded to numerous funerals of both members and other Catholics when needed.

  • Citation of ill members, their families, and the clergy takes place at each meeting along with prayer.

  • A clergy recognition banquet is sponsored each spring at no cost to the clergy.

  • A Memorial Mass for deceased members is concelebrated by the Chaplain, the Faithful Friar, and, when possible, a bishop or retired bishop along with prayer.

Community Activities
  • A wheelchair push at St. Francis Nursing Home occurs every Sunday for 8:30 Mass. Knights and Ladies are there faithfully.

  • The Tomah VA Wheelchair Push is handled twice each year since 1983 when it was willed to our council by the St. Francis Council.

  • Nuns' Bingo at St. Joseph Villa and at the St. Rose Convent occurs regularly in June and October respectively.

  • A Mason/K.C. dinner has been held annually for many years.

  • A New Years Eve Party is celebrated each year by Knights, their Ladies, and guests.

  • The annual Tootsie Roll Drive collected $2,100 in 1982 and increased to $6,421 in 1991 for a total of $53,892 in the ten year period.

Council Activities
  • At least two fund raisers are planned annually; a Chicken Queue or Corn Feed in early fall and a Turkey Shoot in November.

  • An Insurance Night is planned each year with the Ladies, presented by the district Agent to update the membership on developments in the insurance field.

  • Golf and Bowling teams have traditionally held local intra-council events and have sent teams to the State Tournaments on a fairly regular basis.

  • A Ladies Appreciation Banquet is held annually in February to which the widows are invited.

  • Over the past decade, 105 members were initiated into Council 839, of who there have been 2 deaths, 3 transfers, and 23 withdrawals or suspensions.

  • The Council has a certified 2nd Degree Team. Surrounding councils are invited to participate as interest and need prevail.

  • The Council has experienced the loss of 102 members in death during the past 10 years. Our confident prayer is that they are in the presence of the Lord forever.

Youth Activities
  • A Christmas Party is held in December during which the kids from 1 to 91 participate.

  • The knowledge and Free Throw Contests are held in January each year with winners going on to the District events.

  • Proceeds of the annual Tootsie Roll Drive are divided among local organizations assisting the developmentally disabled. A portion of which traditionally goes to Chileda Institute which works with severely disabled children.

  • The Aquinas High School Relay Team and the Show Choi have annually been assisted with a substantial donation.

  • Each year, a donation is given to the Boy Scouts in support of a seminarian who serves as counselor for their camp.

  • A kids' baseball team had been sponsored for many years by the Council.

Once a Decade Events
  • In 1983 the Council Women's Auxiliary was resurrected and continued to serve the Council and the community.

  • 1983 also saw the merge of St. Francis Council 5458 with Council 839.

  • In 1985 the mural oil painting of Columbus Landing in the New World was cleaned and installed in the K.C. Hall

  • In May 1986 and again in 1989 the Council hosted the State Convention.

  • In November 1989 the Pro Life movie "Eclipse of Reason" was viewed by the Council and Auxiliary.

  • The State Golf Tournament was hosted y Council 839 in August 1991.

  • The Quincentennial of Columbus' landing was celebrated with discussions on the merits of Columbus' heroism, his deeds and misdeeds; an appreciation of our Native Americans' stand on Columbus; a positive reception of Fr. McGarty's presentation of Columbus, The Man; support of the Times Review's special edition on Columbus; building a float for local and Columbus, Wisconsin parades; and a negative response to the letter of the Illinois people fostering change of the name of Knights of Columbus.

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History 1972-1982

In 1972-1973 the council initiated the program for building a new clubhouse. It sponsored the chorus group from UW Eau Claire with the proceedings going to charity.

In 1973-1974 the council approved the purchase of a new adding machine and sponsored the K.C. float from Minneapolis for the Oktoberfest Parade. A Radio Rosary Program was approved for the month of October and extended the program to the end of the year.

On December 8, 1974 the first Mass was held in the new clubhouse. A joint ladies and CCD Appreciation Night was held on April 15th and was well attended.

During 1975-1976 the council voted to co-sponsor the broadcasting of the Bishop's Midnight Mass at the St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral and to assist in the financial need of St. Michael's Home.

During 1976-1977 the council approved a donation to the Wisconsin Citizens Concerned for Life. A Memorial Mass was held for our departed Brothers. Donations were made to the Tomah VA Hospital and to the Sisters at St. Thomas More Church for mentally handicapped children.

In 1977 the council approved donations to the La Crosse Boys Club, the Marynook Retreat House, and to Aquinas High School towards running KC relays.

In 1978-1979 the Annual Corn Feed was very profitable for the organization. The council assisted the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in celebrating their centennial Anniversary. A Memorial Mas for all of our departed brothers was held in the Mausoleum Chapel in the Catholic Cemetery. A donation and banquet were heled commemorating the 40th anniversary of Bishop Fredrick Freking's ordination to the priesthood. Various committees were appointed to assist in the State Convention planned in La Crosse in 1980.

During 1980-1981 a Marian Hour of Prayer was held on January 31st at the Cathedral. In 1980 the State Convention was hosted by our council and much effort and energy was exerted by the members. The council approved the purchase of a wheelchair for the handicapped at Bethany-St. Joseph's Home, and for the purchase of vestments from St. Rose Convent for St. Joseph's. A $1,000 contribution to the Diocesan Vocations Director was made for religious vocations. An appreciation night for all Sisters of our surrounding community and a Clergy Night were held with great success.

In 1981-1982, the Centennial Year of the founding of the Knights of Columbus, Council 839 fulfilled the required program suggested by the Supreme Council. On November 9th a Memorial Mass was held in the council chamber with Bishops Freking and John Paul concelebrating. They were assisted by many of the local clergy. A large gathering of Brother Knights and their families were in attendance. The Mass was followed by a buffet dinner. On November 29th a fifth Sunday Communion was held at Blessed Sacrament Parish followed by breakfast in the parish school.

On January 22nd, the anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision to legalize abortion, a Mass was held at the Chapel in St. Joseph Nursing Home, celebrated by Council Chaplain Fr. Gregory Keegan for the Right to Life Program. On January 31, 1982 a fifth Sunday Communion was held at St. Pius X Parish.

On March 25th the Knights of Columbus Centennial Proclamation Week was held with notices appearing in the local and diocesan newspapers. On April 23-24 the Drive to Aid the Mentally Retarded was held. On May 30th fifth Sunday Communion was held at St. James Parish. On June 9th, a Marian Hour of Prayer was held in the Chapel of St. Joseph Home, conducted by Fr. Keegan. At the council meeting on June 14th a tape recording of The Founding of the Knights of Columbus was presented.

The council also conducted its annual Appreciation Dinner for teaching nuns of the various orders and for the clergy in gratitude for their support of the Knights.

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History 1962-1972

Among community events, Council 839 participated in the Wheel Chair Project held at the Veterans Administration Hospital at Tomah, WI. Tomah Council hosted under the leadership of District Deputy Anthony Felber. The council was also conducting a Wheel Chair Project at St. Francis Hospital under the chairmanship of Albert Roellich with the assistance of St. Francis Council 5458 of La Crosse.

Council 839 has been promoting the Annual Bishops Cup Relays in conjunction with various councils in the State and Tri-State area and has also been sponsoring a representative to the Badger Boy State Convention. Further, the council presented a well-rounded program of dances, children's Christmas parties, family picnics, recognition nights, and euchre parties. It sponsored the Joseph Becker Circle of the Columbian Squires and a K of C bowling league.

Every fourth Monday, the ladies joined with the Knights to enjoy a pot luck dinner with cards and community singing or fun nights with bingo auctions. Since its inception in 1969, La Crosse had been a 100% Council in the Penny-A-Knight-A-Day program. In 1962-1963 the Council acquired three billboards to promote keeping Christ in Christmas and extended the use of the Club House to the Red Cross bloodmobile for their program.

Gordon Bissen served the council as Grand Knight from January 1964 to July 1964, being advanced to fill the unexpired term of Charles Beranek. During his term, an appropriation of $1,800 to furnish the necessary requirements for the sacristy in the Roncalle Newman Center Chapel was completed.

In 1965, His Excellency Bishop Frederick Freking was installed as Bishop of the Diocese o f La Crosse. The council assisted in many activities for his installation and also held a reception dinner on the occasion.


In 1965-1966 a recognition banquet was held to honor the outstanding work done by the Joseph Becker Circle of Columbian Squires. The council was honored by a visit from State Deputy Lawrence Gherty to present the awards.

In 1967-1968 the purchase and distribution of tickets for a circus was accomplished for the Boys Club of La Crosse and the Home for Needy Children. The council was again host for the running of the 5th Annual Bishop's Relays.

In 1968-1970 the installation of the state officers at the Holy Cross Seminary was held. In 1970, La Crosse was the host council for the Wisconsin Knights of Columbus State Convention.


Also in 1970 a recognition dinner was held paying tribute to the La Crosse Police Department and in 1971 a recognition dinner was held paying tribute to the La Crosse Firefighters. A combined Masonic and Knights of Columbus dinner was held and a smoker was sponsored for the male patients at the Hillview Home. All were very successful.

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History 1952-1962

Council 839 observed its 50th anniversary on April 25th, 1954,with a Golden Jubilee Banquet held at St. Joseph's Cathedral Hall. Supreme Advocate Harold J. Lamboley, a native of Wisconsin was the principal speaker for the historic occasion.

During the past decade the council had continued to put into action the quality program which is previously attributed to it in the golden jubilee year. Its sponsors Catholic advertising on billboards (during the holiday seasons) on radio and in local newspapers.. A council retreat was held each year at Holy Cross Seminary. Four times yearly the council held its Corporate Communion Observances in cooperation with the Squire Circle.

A Monthly bulletin, "The Gavel." has long been a regular feature of council activity, and the Frist, Second, and Third Degree teams also have bene part of the council's long experience with Columbianism.

La Crosse Knights have worked with the Columbian Squire Program for many years. The Circle was quite active and held some fifteen dances annually for local teenagers. The Squires served for Knights of Columbus dinners and other social functions and usually used the money thereby earned for granting aid to the Newman Club of La Crosse State College and the Holy Cross Seminary. Their contributions also have tone to the missions ad to various needy clergy.


Council 839 sponsored a visit of the local blood mobile to the council club house annually.

Edward J. Quillin was Grand Knight of council 839 from 1958 - 1960. During his term as Grand Knight, Brother Quillin worked to improve relations with the clergy and to create an atmosphere conducive to more Columbian activity. He was general chairman for the 1958 State Convention held in La Crosse. He also revitalized the Squire Program, helped form a past Grand Knights club, led the Council in dispersing $2,300 to charitable causes and to erecting a shrine at the St. Joseph's Old Folks Home.

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History 1904-1952

Instituted on February 23, 1904 and officially chartered February 25th, 1905 La Crosse Council 839 Knights of Columbus is the eighteenth oldest Council in the Wisconsin jurisdiction of the Knights of Columbus. Its membership roll numbers as of August 20, 1951, 669 members. It is located in the See city of the Catholic Dioceses of La Crosse.

La Crosse Council 839 has been prominent and outstanding in the state organization. The Council has contributed a State Chaplain, Rt. Rev. Monsignor Peter Pape, 1934-1935 and 1935-1936; a State Deputy, Albert F. Schubert, 1922-1923 and 1923-1924; and a State Advocate, John F. Doherty, 1911 to 1916. Six District Deputies have been members of Council 839 namely John F. Doherty who served as District Deputy from 1906-1910; Albert F. Schubert 1914-1916; Joseph M. La Vaque 1918-1919; William L Rossiter 1922-1928; Paul L. Marcou 1938-1947; and Henry J Marcotte 1951-1964.

Seven of its members have been delegates to Supreme Conventions of the Order. Several of these have represented Wisconsin often and on a few occasions two members of the Council have been delegates to a supreme Convention at the same time.

Attending Supreme Conventions as delegates of the Wisconsin jurisdiction from La Crosse Council have been: John J. Doherty to the 1906 Convention at New Haven, CT: again in 1912; and for the third time to the 1916 convention at Davenport, IA. Albert F. Schubert has been a Wisconsin representative to eight of the Supreme Conventions; to the 1911 convention; the 1914 convention at St. Paul, MN; the 1922 convention at Atlantic City, NJ; the 1923 convention at Montreal, Canada; the 1924 convention at New York, NY; to the 1925 convention at Duluth, MN; to the 1926 convention at Philadelphia, PA, and to the 1927 convention at Portalnd, OR. William L. Rossiter was a delegate to the9123 convention at Montreal, Canada; and to the 1927 convention at Portland, OR. Thomas F. Keegan was a Wisconsin representative to the 1925 convention at Duluth, MN and to the 1936 convention at Toronto. Paul L. Marcou was a representative to the 1941 convention at Atlantic City; Henry J. Marcotte, to the 1945 convention at Montreal, Canada which adjourned to Plattsburg, NY; and Ray Larkin was a delegate to the 1946 convention at Miami Beach, FL.

Several La Crosse Council members have held important State Knights of Columbus Committee assignments and chairmanships. Council 839 has been host to three State Conventions; 1911, 1927, and 1946.

Agitation for a La Crosse Council of the Knights of Columbus was begun about 1902, but the plans were no completed until the fall and winter of 1903 and 1904, according to the records of the Council.

Probably the first person to agitate for the institution of the La Crosse Council was Dr. Gregory J. Egan, who came to La Crosse from Beloit a short time before. At Beloit, Council 605 had been founded two and a half years previously. Dr. Egan had been the medical examiner for that Council. He moved to La Crosse shortly after the institution of the Beloit Council.

About the time Dr. Egan came to La Crosse, several others interested in the Knights moved to the city. They included Eugene P. Host, a member of the Milwaukee Council 524 and William L. Klett, a member of the Winona, MN Council 639. These Knights continued to promote the organization of a Council in La Crosse, and finally a number of La Crosse men took the degrees in the Winona, MN Council. These include: Edward J. Mullally, Thomas McCaffery, Carl B. Noelke, John J. Poehling, and William C. Donovan. The Initiation being held on a Sunday, Father Ambrose Murphy was unable to attend and he joined the first class later at La Crosse.

Following the exemplification at Winona, the men taking the degrees secured within a short time a sufficient number for a Charter Class at La Crosse. In this the organizers were assisted by then Grand Knight Thomas Hill of Winona Council 639. and William D. Dwyer of Superior Council 499.

A meeting was held in the Lienlokken Hall on November 25, 1903 at which William D. Dwyer explained the purposes of the Order. The three degrees were exemplified for the first time in La Crosse on February 23, 1904. The first and second degrees were exeplified by the officers of the Winona Council while State Deputy William D. Dwyer, John C. McCabe, James C. Donnelly, James P. Finan, F.E. Claritz, James M. Crawford, and C.H. Copely all of Superior, conferred the third degree. The initiation was held on the third floor of the Continental Building.

The first officers of La Crosse Council 839 were:

  • Grand Knight - John F. Doehrty

  • Deputy Grand Knight - Albert H. Schubert

  • Chaplain - Rev. Ambrose Murphy

  • Financial Secretary - P.G. McGinnis

  • Treasurer - M.F. Hayes

  • Lecturer - John C. Burns

John F. Doherty became on of the leading exponents of Columbianism in Wisconsin as well as in Minnesota. He was the first member of the La Crosse Council to be appointed a District Deputy. He organized a third Degree team and it was in great demand for years in western and southwestern Wisconsin and in Minnesota. in addition to his degree work as well as his profession as an attorney. John F. Doherty was pressed into the services of Columbianisn as a Lecturer. He traveled the length and breadth of the state giving lectures on Columbianism and on Catholic subjects. He delivered many talks in the state of Minnesota. He was elected State Advocate in 1911 and served as such until 1916. He was later elected Judge and was obliged to forego much of his activities in the Order, but he never lost interest in the Knights.

Brother Albert H. Schubert, a charter member of La Crosse Council 839, the Council's first Deputy Grand Knight; Grand Knight in 1909 and 1910, and a District Deputy, was elected State Deputy at the Superior State Convention in 1922 and re-elected at the Eau Claire convention in 1923. He has a notable record of services in the Order. For forty years he gave freely of his time and ability to the cause of Columbianism. He was such a successful lecturer in his early years as a Knight that time and again in later years he was pressed into service as a guest speaker.

As a District Deputy, Schubert organized a third degree team which also becamse popular in both Wisconsin and in Minnesota. It is estimated that Albert Schubert and his team exemplified the Major Degree at least fifty times in the two state jurisdictions.

It was during his years as State Deputy, that the important State Council Knights Catholic Interest Committee was created, a committee which has functioned ever since.

William L. Rossiter, also a charter member of La Crosse Council 839 served as a District Deputy and was active in the State Knights of Columbus. He was the Council's first Financial Secretary and held the office continuously from 1904 to 1918. In that year he was chosen Grand Knight of the Council and held that office for two terms. He was also one of Albert H. Schubert's Third Degree team.

The third La Crosse Council Major Degree team was organized more recently by District Deputy Paul L. Marcou. His team also followed in the footsteps of the two previous La Crosse degree teams and has conferred Knighthood upon many candidates both in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It is still active in its work.

It was through the initiative and persistence of Past Grand Knight Thomas F. Keegan that the Wisconsin State Council Knights of Columbus at successive State Conventions gave support to the Big Brother Movement , an organized effort to foster the hope of underprivileged boys.

He was Chairman of the La Crosse Diocesan Executive Committee of the Big Brother Program, which was launched in 1923. This was on the insistence of the late Most Reverend Alexander J. McGavick, then Bishop of La Crosse, and was in cooperation with Father Alphonse Schuh, now Monsignor, together with a group of laymen of the diocese all of whom did an outstanding work for these boys.

Council 839 activities covered an extensive range. One of its finest projects was its "Forget-Me-Not-Club", organized during World War II. Its purpose was to keep in contact by the members of the Council, with the sons, daughters, nephews, and nieces as well as sons-in-law and daughters-in-law of Knights of Columbus Members.

The members were permitted to enroll anyone to be remembered, these names being placed on the Council's honor roll. At first one Holy Mass a month was offered for all members on the roll. This was later increased to two and then to three Holy Masses per month. In addition, Knights of Columbus members of Council 839 attended Holy Hour services, offered Corporate Holy Communions for the safe return of those in service, each was remembered on his birthday with a suitable greeting, and at Christmas time each was sent a greeting card and a carton of cigarettes.

A special letter was prepared at intervals containing news of Council 839 and this was mailed to those away from home. One letter was written by the late Bishop of La Crosse, Most Rev Alexander J McGavick, in which was enclosed a Sacred Heart badge blessed by his Excellency.

Another activity of Council 839's Forget-Me-Not Club was undertaken on Father's Day of 1944 when the members of the Council served as hosts at the USO from early morning until midnight.

The year of 1946 saw the La Crosse Circle of Columbian Squires re-activated. At the time the Boys Movement was begun by the Supreme Council, Council  839 received a charter for a Circle of Squires, but it remained unused for more than ten years. The number 19 was given by the Charter authorizing the Council to set up a group of Junior Knights of Columbus. The charter was resurrected on January 23rd, 1944 under the leadership of Grand Knight Henry Marcotte. A new lease on life was not only given La Crosse's enviable record on the behalf of youth, but a strong, fresh impetus was given to Council 839 as well.

Twenty-three members made the charter honor roll. The Circle has been active not only within the Five Point Program but also in the work of expansion and civic activities. 

When, in the 20's the State Council Knights of Columbus suggested an assessment towards the Marquette University Endowment Fund, Council 839 paid its full assessment of $2,250.00. It also contributed generously to St. Paul's University Chapel, Madison, and to most all other projects undertaken by the Supreme or the State councils.

One of the most memorable days of the older members of La Crosse Council 839 is October 12, 1913. The occasion was a Columbus Day joint initiation by the La Crosse and Winona Councils. The class of candidates numbered nearly seventy, but the Council and Class were honored in tat Most Rt. Rev. James Schwebach, then Bishop of La Crosse, was initiated into the Order in that class. The second degree was exemplified by members of the Waukon, IA Council and the third degree was exemplified by a Chicago degree team. Immediately following the exemplification of the degrees, a banquet was held. Speakers at the banquet were Most Rt. Rev. James Schwebach, Bishop of La Crosse, Most Rt. Rev. Patrick R. Heffron, Bishop of Winona, MN, Rev. James Reordan of St. Paul, MN, and E.G. Dunn, Mason City, IA. Three special trains brought Knights of Columbus to La Crosse from Winona, Arcadia, Caledonia, and Waukon. The Waukon special made all stops between cities to accommodate anyone along the line who wanted to attend the KofC initiation and banquet a  Crosse. Five hindered people attended that banquet, which closed the day's festivities which had begun with a Pontifical High Mass celebrated by the Most Rt. Rev James B. Schwebach.

Mr. David W. Goldstein lectured in La Crosse under the auspices of the Knights of Columbus on February 5, 1910. Mr. Goldstein has been an enthusiastic socialist and was saturated with the historical point of view of religion and life. Living within the inner circle of the Socialistic holy of holies, to which he had turned as a remedy, he discovered that his dreams, based on the theories of Marx and Engel, were mere illusions. He was converted to the Catholic Faith, The Knights of Columbus of La Crosse were indeed fortunate to secure him as a speaker on the lecture platform in their city.

La Crosse Council 839 is justly proud of its home. It had its own home for 38 years in fact it has had two homes during that time. The first home, into which it moved in 1917, was later purchased by the US Government for a post office site. This was on 4th and Vine Streets. After the government acquired the property, the Council, through its holding organization, purchased the handsome building at 111 North Fifth Street, which was extensively remodeled and fitted as a meeting place and club house. It was complete in every detail.

It was a singular commentary that Joseph M. LaVaque, who was the first president of the building association in 1917, was elected head of the organization in 1929 and was one of those responsible for the purchasing of the new club house ad furnishings.

There were eighty-five members in the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus in La Crosse. The Assembly was given a charter on October 12, 1922. The first Faithful Navigator was Dr. W. E. Bannen.

Four Council 839 Knights have served the City of La Crosse as its Mayor, namely John Dengler, Joseph Boschert, Joseph J. Verchota, and Carl Beranek.

During World War I, 115 members of Council 839 served in the armed services. Three of these, Bernard Ferris, Bernard L. Rice, and Charles M. Sullivan, made the Supreme Sacrifice. Emmet A. Hassett was wounded in action and had also been cited in dispatches for heroism beyond the call of duty. Harold G. Williams was promoted form the ranks to a commission. During the First World War, Council 839 acted in the name of the Supreme council in furnishing a KofC Camp at Sparta, WI.

Fifty-one members of Council 839 served in the armed forces during World War II. The La Crosse Council facilities were thrown open for the use of the service men and were used extensively by the boys on leave form Camp McCoy, during the Second World War. It also equipped and maintained a recreation center known as "The Coffee Pot" open twenty-four hours a day. Coffee and doughnuts were served to all servicemen. "WELCOME - EVERYTHING FREE" was the sign above the door.

In July 1951, W. Leo Murphy was honored by the Holy Father when he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great. Brother Murphy was born in La Crosse on June 21st, 1902 and was the President of Gateway Transportation Company.

At the same time, Dr. R.B. Horschak, a Past Grand Knight of Council 839 was made a Knight of Saint Gregory. Brother Horschak is a practicing dentist and was active in the State Council Big Brother movement during the time it was functioning.

Also, in July 1951, The Honorable Lambert Hansen was honored by a Knight of St. Gregory award. He was a Monroe County Judge, a lawyer, and a Catholic leader. He was a World War I Veteran and served a s a Captain in the 32nd Division.

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Council Meeting Sites 1904-Present

Prior to 1917

Prior to 1917, during the first years of the Knights of Columbus, various meeting places were rented. This included the Knights of Pythias Hall, which was then located on the second floor at 504 Main Street, the Travelers Hall, located on the third floor of the Hoeschler Building, and later in a hall located in the Linker Building where the office or Parkins & Dockendorff are now located. About 1914 or 1915 the Council changed its meeting place to the Elk's Hall, until they purchased the property at Fourth and Vine Streets.

Fourth and Vine Streets Site

On March 22, 1917 the Knights of Columbus Building Association was incorporated. Joseph M. LaVagne was its first president. He was one of those responsible for purchasing of the new club house and its furnishings.

In 1917 the property at Fourth and Vine Streets was purchased by the Association and fitted with spacious club rooms for the members. In 1917 the club made its home in the old Cunningham Property. Late in 1928 the government started condemnation proceedings against the property so that an addition to the pot office could be built.

Hearings were held by Commissioners appointed in U.S. District Court, and the property of the club was finally purchased by the government for about $33,780.00. After the purchase of the structure the Knights of Columbus rented the property for $50.00 per month pending the completion and formal opening of the new club building.

111 North 5th Street Site

The new clubhouse, which was formerly the office of the C.L. Coleman Lumber Company, was purchased by the organization on January 29, 1930 after some negotiations. The purchase price was not made known. The building was erected about 1908 by the Colman Company and was completely redone. The architecture work by Parkinson & Dockendoff, general contracting by Wm. M. Crowley and the interior furnishings by the Wm. Doerflinger Company. The layout of the building follows - 1st Floor - a large men's lounge in the center with a ladies lounge to the right and a men's library to the left. to the rear was a fountain and lunch room. 2nd Floor - had a large council room with 140 seats and a separate card room. The building was sold in 1970 to make way for a new club house on State Highway 16.

Wisconsin Highway 16 Site

In July of 1974 Council 839 moved into their new clubhouse at 9053 Highway 16. The address was later changed to N3020 State Highway 16. Bids were accepted until September of 1968 for the sale of the old clubhouse on Fifth Ave North in downtown La Crosse. This building was sold in July 1970, and until the new clubrooms were opened, a room in Holy Cross Seminary served as a temporary quarters.

Ralph Larson, the Club Manager, said the building cost the club about $135,000 to build "but doesn't count almost 5,000 hours of donated time by the members for interior finishing and wiring", he added. The building is 60' x 100' one story block building. Dominating the new building is a 40' x 60' foot meeting hall on the north side and a 30' x 60' bar room on the south side. The meeting hall can seat about 260 persons. A kitchen is just off the hall. A carpeted bar room features a small dance floor, 15 tables, and a 13 stool bar. Outside there is a parking lot for about 80 cars on a lighted blacktop lot.

The Most Rev. Frederick W. Freking, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of La Crosse, officially dedicated the structure. He was assisted by Rev. Thomas Smith, former Council Chaplain, and Rev. Edmund Bettinger, the Chaplain at the time. Lawrence Gherty, a Hudson lawyer and former State Deputy was the featured speaker. Council 839 hosted the Annual Convention of the WI Knights of Columbus in the years 1911, 1927, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1980, 1986, 1989, 1995, and 2001.

Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman Undercroft Site

Council 839 currently meets in person when possible in the Undercroft of the Cathedral of Saint Joseph the Workman on Main Street in La Crosse. If an in person meeting is not possible, meetings are held over the Zoom video conference platform.

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Charter Members of Council 839

Knights of Columbus Council #839 was instituted on February 23, 1904. It is the eighteenth oldest Council in the Wisconsin Jurisdiction. The Charter Members of the La Crosse Council 839 Knights of Columbus are listed below:

  • Joseph F. Bartl

  • Joseph Boschert

  • J.J. Bowler

  • C.J. Burns

  • John C. Burns

  • T.W. Caffrey

  • W.H. Carey

  • W.E. Collins

  • E.J. Conway

  • S.F. Corken

  • John Dengler

  • S.J. Denigan

  • W.A. Devine

  • John F. Doherty

  • Owen W. Duffy

  • Dr. M.W. Dvorak

  • William Dwyer

  • Dr. G.F. Egan

  • Dr. Edward Evans

  • A.A. Fessler

  • E.D. Felzer

  • George T. Felzer

  • P.A. Flanagan

  • George F. Flynn

  • John Foley

  • W.J. Fries

  • Joseph J. Frisch

  • Albert P. Funk

  • F.A. Gantert

  • E.J. Gautsch

  • L.F. Gautsch

  • J.P. Gohres

  • Paul Hammel

  • John Hayes

  • M.F. Hayes

  • Charles Hoeschler

  • William Hoeschler

  • E.P. Host

  • G.A. Keller

  • E.J. Kelly

  • J.P. Kennedy

  • W.L. Klett

  • A.G. Lanagenbach

  • Joseph M. Lavaque

  • F.A. Layne

  • Joseph J. Leinfelder

  • J.P. Lyons

  • F.A. O'Brien

  • William McCormick

  • John McGuane

  • P.J. McGinnis

  • P.P. McHugh

  • A.J. Miller

  • Anthony Miller

  • Charles T. Murphy

  • D.U. Murphy

  • Casper Newburg

  • F.F. Newell

  • Carl B. Noelke

  • Bernard O'Connel

  • M.B. O'Keefe

  • J.J. Poehling

  • W.L. Rossiter

  • Frank G. Roth

  • Martin Roth

  • S.M. Rowland

  • A.H. Schubert

  • P.J. Scott

  • Charles T. Servis

  • Joseph M. Sieger

  • S.H. Stanoski

  • A.M. Toeller

  • John C. Toeller

  • F.H. Voelz

  • P.J. Ward

  • John B. Webber

  • Charles Weiss

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