A Brief History of Gloversville Knights of Columbus
Since 1897 Gloversville has been witness to the splendid achievements of Knights of Columbus Council #265. It has persistently fought here and elsewhere to maintain the time honored traditions of American life. It has striven to lift man to a high and exalted plane of real and unaffected citizenship. Today, more than 1.8 million sons of this order exhibit a patriotism that is inspiring. One can therefore well understand the high distinction and just pride that belongs to the City of Gloversville and Gloversville Council 265 of the Knights of Columbus. The City of Gloversville itself was young 115 years ago, having just received its Charter and the dignity of a city seven years prior to the institution of Gloversville Council 265.
For history’s sake, we may mention that it was during the mayoralty of Curtiss S. Cummings, the fourth mayor of the city. Those were the hardy days of our fathers, men with vision who pronounced the prospect of a greater Gloversville, men who visioned Gloversville where economically, industrially, socially, and religiously good people could flourish and ever be proud to claim it as their home. The Gloversville Council has a history paralleling that of the Supreme Council for it too had a fore running organization to draw from and to be nurtured by. In 1892, the Hon. Michael J. Foley, for some time was devoting all available time to the growth of the Young Men’s Catholic Union (Y.M.C.U.) of which he was the founder, visited the young city and was wholeheartedly welcomed and given the necessary support to effectuate a branch of the Y.M.C.U. in Gloversville. Enough interested young Catholic men were present on the occasion of Mr. Foley’s visit to immediately organize a club unit, formed on February 28, 1892.
The Y.M.C.U. was a successful venture, both locally and throughout the State, but the principles and ritualistic attraction, coupled with the insurance features of the fast growing and greater organization of the Knights of Columbus held a greater attraction. At a call issued by John J. Malone, the President of the Young Men’s Catholic Union, and Henry McKeough, secretary, a meeting was held in their rooms one Sunday afternoon in August 1897, at which time speakers from the newly formed K of C Council #209 at Amsterdam, NY were present. The presentation by the visiting Knights of Columbus must have been impressive and intriguing to the members of the Y.M.C.U. because immediately after the preliminary talks, a temporary organization was founded by the election of John Bigley as chairman and John Seravani as secretary.
It required only several meetings before preparations were made to institute a new council to be known as the Gloversville Council No. 265. It is interesting to note that among those originally advancing the idea of founding of the Council here was the Hon. Michael J. Foley, afterward the illustrious and honored Mayor of Cohoes, NY, and the original organizer of the Y.M.C.U., also Matthew Dwyer, the corporatio council of Amsterdam, and, of more local fame, John N. Shanahan and Thomas F. Kane, the pioneer founders of our present silk industry, who back in 1893 undaunted by the times, started the first silk weaving plant in the old Daniel B. Judson shop in Kingsborough. Another worthy of mention present was John J. Barnes, likeable and aggressive, who afterward became the director of the Fonda, Johnstown, and Gloversville Railroad, and John J. Malone who in the years to come served the local Council as Grand Knight for six terms. The installation of the new council was held on November 21, 1897, in the Knights of Pythias Hall, South Main Street, the location now known as the Patrick Building. The first regular meeting of the newly formed Council was held in the Old Music Hall in the Kasson Building. Nostalgic memories are attached to the “Old Kasson”, one of the city’s outstanding buildings and truly a historic spot.
In its day it had been the entertainment center of Old Gloversville, having first housed the Kasson Opera House, in the days of legitimate theater, and then, under the management of J.B. Morris and his wife it became the famous old Family Theater where vaudeville reigned supreme before the inroads of the movies supplanted this phase of the American theater. Nevertheless, the location still centering about the world of entertainment is owned by the Schine Enterprises. Back now to the Old Music Hall and the first meeting of the newly formed Council, we find the following officers elected:
Grand Knight – John Bigley
Deputy Grand Knight – John H. McQuade
Warden – William L. Walsh
Chancellor – James H. Ward
Financial Secretary – Frank E. Lynch
Treasurer – M.J. Kavanaugh
Recording Secretary – John J. Malone
Judge Advocate – P.W. Smith
Chaplain – Rev. E.D. Wendel
In the Spring of 1899, consolidation was perfected with the Y.M.C.U whereby the K. of C. took over the lease of the rooms in the Littauer Building on South Main Street, the negotiations including also the furnishings and the fixtures, and we may add the remaining few members who had not up to this time already associated themselves with their brothers in the Knights of Columbus. After many years in the Littauer Building, the Council moved to East Fulton Street where they were located in the building now housing the Leader-Herald, and from there moving to the Fremmer Block on North Main Street. When Brother Knight Michael J. Kavanaugh purchased a building on South Main Street, the Council moved to his building where they were located until the decease of Brother Kavanaugh when they returned to the Fremmer Block.
In 1966, Gloversville Council 265 purchased their own building at 99 North Main Street where they are presently located. In 1947 our Council celbrated its Golden Anniversary with a Dinner-Dance at the Kingsborough Hotel on South Main Street. For our Diamond Jubilee, a Dinner was held at the Holiday Inn, Johnstown.
In 1982 the Knights of Columbus organization celebrated its 100th Anniversary, and Council 265 honored this event with a Dinner-Dance at the former Bishop Burke High School on March 20th, 1982. During the 1980s under the leadership of Brothers Jerry Barone and Lou Petrelia the interior of our Hall was renovated with paneling on the walls and a rug on the floor plus a dancing area.
In 1996, our 70 year old Boiler was replaced and air conditioning was added. Since our foundation, membership of the Gloversville Council has worked amid varying vicissitudes to enunciate and put into practice the sterling principles upon which the illustrious Order has been built.
Now after these 115 years of magnificent effort, Gloversville Council 265 continues to uphold, preserve, and promulgate our founding principles of Charity, Unity, Fraternity, and Patriotism. We recall our brilliant past while looking forward with confident hope to a still more glorious future.