History Of Tonti Council
he formation of Tonti Council was planned and drafted during the Spring of 1911 by a group of men from St. Edwards and St. Viators Parishes. On the 7th of May 1911, its charter was received from the Supreme Office. Mr. Thomas Holton was given the token of esteem by naming him Tonti’s first Grand Knight. Reverend Thomas McCormack of St. Viators recommended the Council be named after Henri de Tonti. Having no objections, it was approved and endorsed by the Membership.
Henri de Tonti, a Sicilian was born in the year 1650 near the town of Gaeta, Italy. In 1668, he joined the French Army, later served in the French Navy. During the Third Anglo-Dutch War he fought the Spaniards at the battle of the Messina Revolt losing his right hand in a grenade explosion and from that time on, he wore a prosthetic hook covered by a glove. Thus, he was named the “Iron Hand.” He was also an explorer, fur trader, builder and Ambassador to the Indian Tribes and Territorial Governor. His explorations and writing were beneficial to the settling of the Midwest from Illinois down to Mexico.
The Council expanded with their many activities with the aid and cooperation of Parish and neighborhood groups. During World War I, a Military Committee was formed and proved to be enterprising by keeping in touch with its members who were serving in the Armed Forces by way of letters and gifts, etc. The same held true during World War II. Currently, we do not have any members serving. However, the Council still administers to our wounded vets with donations to Hines Hospital and other facilities. A few of our members give of their time by rendering their services at the USO at O’Hare Airport.
The Fourth Degree Group, known as “Fortonti” was established on the 25th of November, 1922. William Lambrecht, Jr. was named and presided as its first President. Fourth Degree members have a choice of joining any Assembly. Majority of Tonti’s members are affiliated with either LaSalle or Christopher Columbus Assemblies. March, 1968 made claim to another faction of Tonti’s history during the term of then Grand Knight, Joseph Nalepa.
A Women’s Auxiliary, calling themselves “Ladies of Tonti” was formed and with no dissent voted Irene Ciesla, it’s First President. In many ways, they proved to be a valuable asset to the Council in all its ensuing endeavors.
Parishes which Tonti and the Fourth Degree provide services to are St. Edwards, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Constance, Our Lady of Victory, St. Genevieve, St. Ladislaus and St. Wenceslaus. Tonti will furnish Honor Guard, financial and physical assistance when requested.
What was conceived as an idea became a reality in June, 1976, when men from Tonti and neighboring councils under the leadership of PGK Joseph Nalepa laid the foundation initiating the formation of the Holy Spirit Degree Team. Tonti was designated as their “Home Base.’ The Staff is still very viable and active. To date, over 23,000 candidates received the honors of the Second and Third Degrees.
In 1996, Anthony Mangiaracina presented to the Council a program entitled “Art in the Park” which would raise funds benefiting the pro-life movement. This program proved to be a huge success. Added to this, he presented a resolution to the State Council which was approved at the Convention making March 25 (Feast of the Annunciation) a day to cherish the memory of the unborn. This resolution was also adopted by the Supreme Council and the date is recognized through the Order. Our Council observes this date with celebration of a Mass followed by a procession.
Tonti always has been known for their participation in various charitable programs, namely: C.Y.O., Newman Apostolate, Intellectual Disability, Seminarian Assistance and General Assistance Funds.