History- Lodge 138 - Over 100 years in Williamsport!
Over one hundred years ago, a group of Italian-American citizens joined together to form a fraternal organization called Loggia Ufficiale Bersaglieri.
This group from the old country served as an outlet to get together and advise each other about their new country, America, and to educate their children, speaking in their native language as well as English. Either through direct bloodlines or by marriage, its members would be of Italian heritage. Formed in 1903, this original organization was immortalized on a brass plaque.
National Order Formed in “1905”
In 1905 Order Sons of Italy in America was formed in the Little Italy neighborhood of New York City. Similar to Loggia Ufficiale Bersaglieri , their aim was to create a support system for all Italian immigrants that would assist them in becoming citizens, providing health and death benefits, education, and more.
In 1913, the Order Sons of Italy in America came to Pennsylvania and the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, Order Sons of Italy was formed. In 1913 the Ufficiale Bersaglieri joined the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and officially became Lodge #138, thus becoming the 3rd oldest lodge in the state.
The lodge, which is located in Williamsport, Pa., has been in existence 102 continuous years, 92 years of which has been officially known as Lodge 138 Order Sons of Italy in America. Years ago Lodge 138 had its own lodge club located at 144 East fourth Street, Williamsport, Pa. In the 1940’s through about the 1960’s Lodge 138 boasted in excess of 600 members.
Familiar Williamsport Families Among Founders
Among the founding members are some familiar last names among Williamsport business circles. Charter members included such names as Americo and Camillo Vannucci, Vincenzo Cupola, Ignazio Gaglione, Thomas Casale, and Michael Chianelli. Other familiar names on early rosters included DiSalvo, Nardi, Cillo, and Longo, to name a few.
The order, which is a fraternal organization, is both a state and national fraternal organization. The National Organization located in Washington D. C. is known as the Supreme Lodge, Order sons of Italy in America. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania is located in Philadelphia, Pa.
In the past, members prided themselves in dressing up, getting together, and enjoying the fellowship with those of Italian heritage. Though Williamsport’s society is much
more homogenized today, that pride in Italian heritage continues.
But while there may no longer be a distinctly Italian section of the city, our Italian American population and influence is greater than ever.
Today, members celebrate their heritage by learning about their parents and grandparents, and about important issues to good family life. The mission is to promote a positive image of Americans of Italian Heritage within the framework of American society through investment in cultural and charitable endeavors.
Since our resurgence, we have grown in size and stature to over 110 members. Our Lodge is known for our delicious spaghetti dinners and meatball subs sold at many special events in our city. This enables us to make friends and contribute to charities that benefit our citizens and people in need throughout the country – such as Disaster and Hurricane Relief Funds, as well as the Charter we support through the Grand Lodge.
This past year has been a very active year for us because of our reputation for great food. We were invited and participated in the following community events: movies in the park, the WASD Diversity Day at Brandon Park, the Little League Baseball Parade, and the historic anniversary celebration of the Park Home. Other annual events for our organization include two spaghetti dinners, our family picnic, and a pig roast, to name a few.
We hope those of Italian ancestry will join us in the promotion of our proud Italian heritage by joining the membership of the Williamsport's Original Ufficiale Bersaglieri #138 located here in Williamsport, Pa. since 1903!
As the third oldest Order Sons of Italy Lodge in the state of Pennsylvania, it is so important that we strive to grow in membership and continue the historic legacy of our lodge!
The Ufficiale Bersaglieri, Lodge 138, of Williamsport, Pa. meets at the Church of Ascension Parish Center, 2100 Linn St. on the 2nd Monday of the Month at 7:00 pm!