Brief History

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To the community minded and rose loving men and women of yesterday and today, who have given of their time, talents and funds to promote and support the principles of the Royal Rosarians which is to make this world a more beautiful place in which to live, this volume is respectfully dedicated.


Sir Knight Dr. Wm. E. Ruggles





The compilation of facts and the recording of events could not be accomplished without the cooperation and assistance of many people and I wish to express my appreciation to the many Rosarians who have made it possible to publish Rosarian History in book form.

The following men deserve a great amount of credit for the help given me during the past three years of work on this history of the Royal Rosarians: Dr. E.A. Pierce, who wrote our ritual and did a lot of work on Rosarian History, W.J. Hofmann who gave me the pictures of early Rosarian activities presented in the following pages, Geo. E. Hall our first and only band leader for 36 years who furnished the original picture of the band and that of Robert Krohn with the first drill team, Frank McCrillis and David H. Smith past executive secretaries furnished very valuable data, Paul Keyser for his un­tiring help in securing pictures and information, Clarence Porter, Hubert A. Goode, Earl Perry, Roy K. Terry, Wilbur K. Hood, Dr. Donald G. Hood, Kenneth C. Poole, Roy Burnett and Worth W. Caldwell all Past Prime Minis­ters who furnished me with information from their private files, to the Port­land Rose Festival Association, to Eugene Gilbert for many pictures and to A.R. Kohanek and his staff at the Nu-Way Printing Co. for their fine coopera­tion in the printing of this history of The Royal Rosarians of Portland, Ore.




In the compilation of the History of the Royal Rosarian organization, the writer has endeavored to keep in line with the adaptation of the romantic reign of Henry VII, King of England at the termination of the 30 Years Wars of the Roses, the ushering in of the glories of the Tudor reign, the abolishment of tyranny and oppression, and the establishment of free thought and equality before the law, as set forth in the ceremonial of Knighthood of the Order. To this end, the new organization sought to emulate those virtues of love of li­berty and country so valiantly portrayed in the annals of the history of Britain and our own land; to love and cultivate the rose, to cherish its traditions, to seek to promote harmony and goodwill among our people and so to try to make the world a better place in which to live.

The titles of the officers of the organization are copied from the list of the Court of Henry VII of England.

In adopting the uniform it was decided to choose a modest, simple suit devoid of military adornment, pure white throughout, with a rose embroidered on the left sleeve, and all other decorations or colors, the wearing of flowers or badges is not allowed.

The flag of our Country and the beautiful Rosarian banner always accom­pany the organization upon all occasions.






(This includes the preceding events which led up to the formation of this romantic and worthwhile civic movement.)


The history of the pioneers who came in the covered wagons of the emigrant trains to Oregon in the middle of the last century reveals that they brought with them the Mission rose as among their choicest possessions. And ever throughout that historic journey of danger, hardship, privation, the merciless heat, dust and drought, crossing the arid plains, the women of the caravans carefully divided their scant rations of water allotted to them from the cask with the cherished rose struggling for life in a tiny bit of soil suspended from the bed of the wagon.

Thus with the devotion and care of these gentle women, they were able to transplant the tiny plants to the fertile soil of Oregon.

From the early days of the pioneers, it had been noticed that the old Mission rose and other varieties of roses grew in wonderful beauty and profusion in this climate so gifted by nature, with its equable adjustment of temperature, sunshine and rain, that the beautiful tints of the rainbow were reflected in the gorgeous coloring of the roses.

These facts soon began to be recognized among the people and a friendly rivalry sprung up among the neighborhood groups which later culminated in an exhibition.

The Portland Rose Society held its first exhibit of roses in June 1889, President Frederick D. Holman presiding. To it goes the credit for the birth of the Rose Festival idea.

On June 10, 1904, the Rose Society held its first floral parade. The flower-decked vehicles, bicycles, carryalls were fine; the horses pranced and paced, with roses woven in their bridles. There were twenty automobiles in the line of march, carbon arc lights flickered on 3rd Street, and the busi­ness part of the city was near the famous Skidmore fountain. The parade was witnessed by large crowds of enthusiastic people.

On October 14, 1905, Mayor Harry Lane made a proposal to have a festival. The proposal was for a rose festival to be held at some time between June 15th and August 15th of each year, and was made on the last day of the Lewis and Clark Exposition.

The earnings of the exposition were $130,000.00 and were to be returned to the subscribers in the form of a dividend.

"It is nothing more than a wild dream," said Mayor Lane as he sug­gested that the money be used to buy a park surrounding the Forestry building and that all manner of roses be grown and displayed there."It would be," said the mayor about the proposed festival, "the greatest permanent adver­tisement for this city that was ever attempted and would make Portland's fame as a Rose City world-wide." He added, "Let the civic improvement spirit take hold of the people; let them plant roses which will grow here in summer with little care; let them park the streets and plant hedges of fir trees. "

Mayor Lane's prophecy has come true, as was proven in Copenhagen when a resident there, in answer to a question of whether it was Portland, Maine or Portland, Oregon that was meant, replied, "We mean the Portland with the roses." In that distant city in Denmark, thousands of miles away, plain folks, as shown by the question, knew of the "Portland with the Roses."

In May of 1907, a citizens meeting was called to meet at the old Commercial Club, and was addressed by Frederick Holman, president of the Portland Rose Society, suggesting the formation of a Rose Carnival. Three days later a larger group voted to hold a two-day rose show and fiesta. E.W. Rowe of the Elk's Club was elected President, E.B. McFarland was elected Secretary, and George Hutchin, float builder, was elected Festival Manager.

The dates of the first carnival were Thursday and Friday, June 20th and 21st of 1907. During the Festival there was no monarch at all. The rose alone was ruler. The festival deemed almost informal - just "everybody's festival." Bill Strandborg's committee had raised $8,000 for it. Orderly management prevailed.

At the suggestion of Tom Richardson it was decided that the grade school children should march as the fiesta's opening event. School children, and incidentally, Robert Krohn, beloved drillmaster, entered the rose festival scene the first year. Two thousand children from twenty-three grade schools marched in the parade. To Portland's astonishment they even executed neat and difficult squad movements.

The Rose Festival had won its way into Oregon hearts. On June 27, 1907, articles of incorporation of the Rose Festival were filed at Salem. The incorporators were H.L. Pittock, E.W. Rowe, E.F. Cameron, George L. Hutchin, J.S. McCord, E.B. McFarland, W. Wynne Johnson, C.N. Black, Chester A. Whitemore, and E.M. Brannick. The capital stock was set at only $10,000.

1908 was a memorable year in the annals of Portland. On the first day of June, at "the tick of noon" Rex Oregonus, supreme monarch of the Kingdom of the Rose, coming from the sea as mysteriously as did the fabled King Arthur, left the flotilla and stepped upon the Stark Street wharf. It was the threshold of the domain he was destined to govern for five golden years.

Portland's great fire bell clanged and hundreds of whistles added to the din. In velvet doublet, richly robed and gowned, his bearded majesty was an awesome figure.

The line of march contained 200 decorated cars and a great many horse drawn vehicles.

Miss Carrie Lee Chamberlain, daughter of Governor Chamberlain, was Queen Flora of the 1908 Festival. She occupied an artistic rose bower float in the floral parade, drawn by four white horses. She was attended by four maids of honor, Miss Jean Scott, Miss Freda Kirkland, Miss Nellie Fanzer and Miss Mildred Morgan.

The "Spirit of the Golden West" night pageant, first of the world renowned illuminated pageants, had 20 floats, historical in character, splendidly conceived and constructed, which drew a record crowd estimated at 90,000.

School children paraded on Grand Avenue in large numbers under the supervision of Drill Master Robert Krohn.

E.W. Rowe was the festival president, and George L. Hutchin its general manager and float builder. General Owen Sommers was Rex Oregonus.

1909-In June, at high Noon, Rex Oregonus again coming up the majestic Willamette River from the greatest sea of them all, stepped ashore at the Stark Street wharf, masked and mantled in mystery, this time without a Queen. Great crowds of happy and enthusiastic people greeted his arrival. An epochal crowd, estimated by the press at 150,000, saw the stately floats glide by, among them the Queen of the Nile, the Palace of Perfume, King of the Artics, Fountain of Youth, Queen of the Flowers, and Father Time. The festival's floats achieved national fame for beauty and cleverness of design.





In 1911, the Golden Potlatch committee of Seattle, while attending the Portland Rose Festival with their decorated float, invited the Portland Commercial Club, which later merged with the Chamber of Commerce, to be represented at the Seattle Potlatch celebration in June of that year.

The Commercial Club appointed a committee of which William J. Hofmann was chairman. The committee was able to create enough interest so that a special train made the trip to attend the ceremony of the Potlatch celebration. By reason of being chairman of the committee, Hofmann was dubbed "Duke of Portland" and as such was royally entertained by the King of the Potlatch. The enthusiastic visitors promised to return in 1912, and bring "Rex Oregonus" and some active members with them. Realizing that other cities had their marching bodies and uniformed entertainment organizations, and believing that Portland should respond to the challenge and play her part in extending hospitality to her neighboring cities, the matter was discussed on the train returning home by W.J. Hofmann, C.C. Craig, Fred Larsen and others.

It was decided to form an organization which would represent Portland, especially during the Rose Festival week. A few days later Hofmann, Craig, and Larsen presented the matter to Julius Meier, who invited them to lunch to continue the discussion. It was decided that an organization consisting of one hundred business and professional men should be formed and that the membership be selected from the roster of the several clubs. At a later date the committee of four selected the names of the men to be invited. It was decided to ask George Hutchin, Manager of the Portland Rose Festival Association, to issue a command to attend a meeting for the purpose of forming an organization for the object above stated. The request was granted and the following proclamation was issued.


Following this command, seventy of the summoned guests assembled at the appointed time and the objects of the command were discussed with much enthusiasm and a unanimous approval. The organization was tentatively consummated, and at a later meeting officers were elected.