Rotary Club of St. Paul 10 1910
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Rotary Club of St. Paul 10 1910
Rotary International District 5960
John W. Turcotte, in his book, "Rotary Club of Saint Paul, Club #10, 1910-1995," speculated on the origination of Rotary in his city. "On November 12, 1908, a club (#2) was organized in San Francisco; in 1909, Oakland, Seattle, Los Angeles, 1New York, and Boston founded clubs. Club #8 was organized in Tacoma on February 3, 1910. 2Apparently the Chicago organizers came east from Washington State, starting the Minneapolis club (#9) on February 18 and the St. Paul club (#10) on the following day."

Edward Randall, Club #10's first president, wrote, from Boston twenty years later, "I first heard of a Rotary Club project through a Minneapolis friend who told me that a club was in the process of formation there. He stated that a group of Chicago men, headed by president Paul Harris, would be up at a later date to help launch it. He suggested that a club in Saint Paul should be started at once so that the Chicago visitors could start us off properly after their session in Minneapolis."

In early 1910, a group of Chicago Rotarians, led by Association of Rotary Clubs president Paul P. Harris, drove northwest to Minneapolis, hoping to start a Rotary club. There had been some great success on the West Coast and the Chicago Rotarians had not yet had a "hands on" experience at starting a club. So this was an adventure. The trip was fraught with possibilities, as they had heard that some businessmen "next door" in St. Paul had been told about this meeting and they wanted in too. It was a successful trip. As noted, Minneapolis was inaugurated on February 18, 1910, and St. Paul, one day later.

Seventeen attendees of that February 19th meeting signed a copy of the minutes, endorsing the chartering of the new club. They were C. A. Bazile, Louis M. Benepe, B. C. Golling, Clarence C. Gray, George C. Knispel, Fred G. Leslie, Frederick C. Listoe, John H. Mitchell, W. H. Oppenheimer, A. C. Raymer, F. H. Romer, Walter G. Seeger, H. W. Shadle, Charles E. Villaume, T. R. Willwerscheid, William Yungbauer and Randall. The Rotary International archives have 21 charter members listed, but only 17 signed the minutes.

At the second meeting, on March 2, both a constitution and bylaws had been drafted, read and approved. Officers were nominated and unanimously selected, including Randall as president, Raymer as vice president, Oppenheimer for secretary, Seeger as treasurer, Villaume as sergeant-at-arms, with Benepe, Knispel and Yungbauer as directors. By April 1, 1910, the membership ranks had swelled to 35.


St. Paul, along with sister club Minneapolis, was one of 14 clubs to attend the first meeting of Rotary Clubs, which was held August 15-17, 1910, in Chicago where 60 Rotarians met and formed the "National Association of Rotary Clubs" on the 18th, with Harris, of Chicago, as the first president. All of the first 16 clubs received their charters at that meeting. George Knispel, head of the St. Paul delegation, presented a silver cup to the Chicago club, ROTARY/One, in appreciation for the assistance in organizing.

The new Rotary year began November 1, 1910, and Fred Leslie became the first full-term president of the Rotary Club of St. Paul, and by January 1, 1911, membership had soared to 110. The next month, a combined delegation of 50 Rotarians from both St. Paul and Minneapolis headed north to Duluth to organize a club there. It was admitted to the Association on July 17, 1911.

Doug Rudman

1 According to writer James Walsh, in "The First Rotarian", Paul Harris had sent Chicago Rotarian Fred Tweed to New York in 1907 in an attempt to organize the second club there.

2 Tacoma was organized by Seattle #4, the other West Coast clubs 2-5 were the work of San Franciscan Homer Wood and friends.

See the delegates to the first convention of Rotary in 1910, in Chicago when the National Association of Rotary Clubs was formed. St. Paul was a forming club and was there, However cannot be identified in the photo.

See our delegation at Rotary's 2nd convention in Portland, Oregon, USA in 1911. A rare, early Rotary Global History photo.


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