America is a nation of immigrants but it often has a troubled relationship with them. During the late-19th century, America experienced a massive influx of immigrants. Many of them were from predominantly Catholic countries including Italy, Poland and Ireland. The native born Anglo-Saxon Protestant stock looked upon these new Americans with fear and distrust. They formed explicitly anti-Catholic fraternal organization including the Junior Order of United American Mechanics and the Scottish Rite Masons.
|Elmira Council centennial program, 1997
The Knight’s initial growth was slow but by the early 1900s they had chapters in every state in the Union, plus Canada, Mexico, Panama, Cuba and the Philippines. The Elmira Council #229 of the Knights of Columbus was formed in 1897. The chapter’s founders included a number of prominent Catholic citizens like Daniel Sheehan (mayor) and Edward J. Dunn (financier and philanthropist). The Elmira Council hosted New York State Convention in 1911, 1932, 1944 and 1958. Since their founding, they have been actively involved in charitable giving both locally and nationally. Members were involved in the creation of St. Joseph’s Church, the Arctic League and the Catholic Charities of Chemung County.
|Daniel Sheehan, 1st Grand Knight of Elmira Council
|Postcard issued by The Knights of Columbus during World War I