Torrence’s History of Carson Valley Lodge #33

Nevada history informs us that during the interval between 1834-1843 several white trappers passed through that section of what is now Douglas county, where Gardnerville is now located. In 1843 General John C. Fremont is said to have visited that section of Nevada, and again in the year 1845.

The valley owes its development and prominence as an agricultural district to the efforts of the pioneers who, in 1849-1850 established the first settlement in the state at Genoa, (first known as Mormon Station) and at once proceeded to lay out and farm the surrounding country. Gradually, they extended their holdings until their operations, and eventually those of their descendants spread into the district where Gardnerville now is located.

The town of Gardnerville was founded in 188O by Lawrence Gillman, a Douglas county pioneer of the early fifties, and was named by him for John Gardner, who has sometimes erroneously been called its founder.

For the first five years after the settlement was made, there was no apparent development in its area, but about 1885 it began to grow; coincidentally, with the growth of the farming industry in the valley, there has been a development of facilities for mercantile pursuits in the town, and today there is a full complement of hotels, general merchandise, fruit and confectionery stores, garages, saloons, a fine school, and churches, Co add to the comfort of the residents.

Gardnerville is most beautifully located, and is a garden spot of charming loveliness, a gem set in the midst of an emerald valley flanked by mountains grand and beautiful. It is not strange that the district is aflame with glamour, and is tinged with romance, nor is it strange that this beautiful garden spot became a mecca to which was attracted a class of representative men and women who have contributed to its growth and development and have been instrumental in bringing to its boundaries other capable and worthy citizens, and produced an environment at once unique and outstanding among the settlements in that section of Nevada.

With the assembling of this population, there was introduced into the community influences and practices which have been of lasting and far reaching effect, for social, political, fraternal and religious organizations have been built up, all of which have added to the moral as well as the mental uplift of the community. Among these different societies and organizations which have been developed, Masonry has found a prominent place.

For years subsequent to the founding of Gardnerville, there is said to have been enough Masons in the surrounding county and town to organize a lodge of Masons, but local influences were antagonistic to the development of any fraternal society being established in the town. That the operation of these influences could, and should not mitigate against the founding of a Masonic unit in the town was conceded, but believing that “A house divided against itself must fall” it was not the wish of the brethren to engage the citizens in local strife or controversies, for it was decided that eventually, bigotry and ignorance must sooner or later retreat before the cohorts of Truth, and that in time the scales would fall from the eyes of those who were opposed to fraternal alliances, such as Masonry advances, and that they would see the light.

And so, for a number of years the sojourning brethren made no attempt to promote a Masonic lodge in the town of their adoption, at the same time observing the old landmarks of the Craft, practicing the virtues of the Order, and visiting the brethren in adjoining settlements, and sometimes gathering to talk over their hopes and aims. There came a day when opposing factors ceased to defame the brethren, and it was deemed advisable for Masonry to act; to this end, in the early weeks of 19i4 a meeting was called for the purpose of outlining plans for the organization of a lodge, a petition was framed and addressed to Theo. J. Steinmetz, Grand Master, asking that authority be given to establish a lodge in C;ardnerville, under dispensation-x-x-x-x– . This petition bore the names of the following brethren: Thomas G. Farrer, Maurice Mack, Earl Christensen, Arendt Jensen, H. H. Springmeyer, Edward Springmeyer, Leonard Springmeyer, Henry R. Mack, A. W. H. Heiberg, F. C. Springmeyer, E. H. Hawkins and Raymond Curtis Walker.

On March 14, 1914, the authority to organize the lodge was granted, and a dispensation was issued the Masonic brethren at Gardnerville. Preparations were at once made to receive the document, and entertain the Grand Lodge officers who were to deliver it; word was shortly received that the dispensation would be conveyed by Grand Master Theo. J. Steinmetz, who would institute the lodge and install the officers.

On the date arranged, the ceremony took place, the following officers assisting Theo. I. Steinmetz, M. W. G. M.: Wm. M. David, as D. G. M.; Alfred W. Holmes as G. S. W.; Henry W. Miles as G. J. W.; E. D. Vanderleith, G. Secretary; E. H. Wallse, as G. Treas.; M. Kyle as G. Chaplain; F. W. Norcross as G. Orator; Wm. McMillan, as G. Marshal; R. Lewers, G. S. D.; C. H. German, G. J. D.; H. G. Marsh as G. Standard Bearer; W. K. Frendenbeiger, as G. Sword Bearer; S. C. Foster and H. J. Gosse as G. Stewards; Geo. Robinson as G. Pursuivant; L. F. Adamson as G. Bible Bearer, and A. Jacobs as G. Tyler.

After the ceremony, the following officers were installed into their respective offices: Thomas G. Farrer, worshipful master; Maurice Mack, senior warden; Earl Christensen, junior warden; A. Jensen, treasurer; Henry R. Mack, secretary; F. C. Springmeyer, senior deacon; R. C. Walker, junior deacon; Leonard Springmeyer and A. W. H. Helberg, stewards; W. D. Fredericks, tyler.

This meeting was held in I. O. O. F. hall, which was afterwards occupied by Carson Valley Lodge as a meeting place.

The annual communication of the Grand Lodge was only three months away, and during the interval, it is noted that several petitions for membership were received and disposed of; at the session of the Grand Lodge in June, the work of the baby lodge U. D. was presented and inspected, and being found in full accord with requirements, it was recommended that a charter be issued the lodge and that it be designated Carson Valley Lodge No. 33, and that tile same officers named in the dispensation be continued. The charter was issued under date of June 10, 1914.

With the ceremony of constituting the lodge and consecrating its charter, which was performed in the presence of a large gathering of brethren from Reno, Carson City, Dayton and Genoa, at which Most Worshipful Benj. W. Coleman, newly elected Grand Master of Nevada, officiated, the baby lodge entered upon a period of active work, which continued throughout the year, and for months following. It has been noted that the original membership under the dispensation was twelve. The membership reported at the annual communication of the Grand Lodge in 1915, as noted in the journal of proceedings for that year, was twenty-two.

Succeeding years dealt kindly with Carson Valley Lodge, and their trestle board was usually filled with work. With the growth of the lodge, its financial status also improved, and as the years passed, a substantial reserve accumulated in the treasury. With the raising of new members came also the demand for a meeting place more commodious and pretentious, and plans were evolved to build a hall of their own. These plans called for the erection of a two story brick building, the ground floor to be leased or rented for commercial purposes, the upper floor to be made into a modern lodge room, with necessary anterooms and preparation room. Its cost was to be approximately $25,000.00.

With the completion of the necessary financial arrangements the building was started and construction went forward with all possible speed, and it was ready for occupancy early in April, 1921, and the Grand Lodge was invited to dedicate the structure.

The invitation was accepted, and April 29, 1921, was appointed on which to perform the ceremony. At High Twelve on the date named, Most Worshipful Harry H. Atkinson, assisted by Edward C. Peterson R. W. Senior Grand Warden; Edward A. Ducker, W. Grand Orator, and Grant P. Merrill, W. G. Organist, and other Grand Lodge lodge stations filled by local and visiting brethren, opened the M. W. Grand Lodge in ample form, and with the imposing and impressive ceremonies of the Order, dedicated the building to the purposes of Masonry, and the use of the lodge.

Following these ceremonies, Grand Orator Edw. A. Ducker delivered an inspiring oration, and the Grand Master made an informal talk, Grand Lodge was closed in ample form, and the brethren sat down to a banquet; a reception and dance concluded the festivities of the day. The gathering was of particular significance, as it was the first gathering of any kind held in the spacious lodge room, as well as the first time the building had been opened to the public.

In this building Carson Valley lodge continued to perform its Masonic work, and expand, for more than a decade, spreading Masonic light and wielding a powerful moral and social influence upon the affairs of the community.

With the enfolding of the financial gloom which encompassed the country after the crash of 1929, disaster came upon Carson Valley Lodge. with resultant loss of membership, and the depletion of its treasury. Unable to meet their financial obligations represented by a mortgage of forbidding and formidable proportions, which the owners were threatening to foreclose, a foreboding and gloomy future faced them, but with perseverance and determination, the lodge carried on until 1932 when, yielding to the inevitable, they submitted to foreclosure, and surrendered their building. It is claimed that the foreclosure action was the means of finally resuscitating the lodge and restoring it to its one time normalcy. Gradually its finances improved, and its membership increased. With the consent of the new owners of the building, the lodge was permitted to retain its meeting place in their old quarters, a mutually satisfactory arrangement, and there, Carson Valley lodge continued to spread Masonic light.

An interesting incident in the history of Carson Valley Lodge was the acquirement of a set of officers jewels, formerly the property of Virginia Lodge, which, at the time of its organization were presented to that lodge by Past Grand Master W. H. Howard of California Jurisdiction, and were made from silver taken from the Comstock mines, and are said to have cost five hundred dollars. Aside from being of a historical as well as of monetary value, they were all that was saved from the possessions of Virginia Lodge in the great fire of 1875, which razed the town and destroyed the records and holdings of the Grand Lodge, which at that time maintained its offices in Virginia City.

The personnel of Carson Valley Lodge No. 33 is an interesting one, since it has given to Douglas county men of outstanding worth and integrity. Among its older members are Arendt Jensen, A. W. H. Heiberg, old time business men of the community; Edward, Leonard and H. H. Springmeyer, all prominent in the affairs of the county, and who were at one time members of Douglas lodge No. 12 of Genoa, and who at the time of the organization of Carson Valley Lodge, demitted from Douglas Lodge to become charter members of the lodge at Gardnerville. Leonard Springmeyer at one time served Douglas county as County Commissioner. Besides the members just mentioned who have been prominently identified with the political affairs of Gardnerville, and Douglas county, are: Grover L. Krick, present secretary (1944 – ed.) of Carson Valley lodge, and also district attorney of the county; 0. P. Brown, the incumbent sheriff of Alpine county, Calif., with his office at Markleeville. Maurice Mack was state senator, 1918. M. Jacobson served the county as assemblyman years ago, and M. Hanson was county commissioner in years gone by. These brethren were, in the past, or now are, contributing factors in the expansion of Masonry in their community, and county, and during the period of their lives, were dominant and influential members of their lodge, while their contributions to the progress and prosperity of the Grand Lodge of Nevada received meritorious recognition.

Today, Carson Valley Lodge occupies an enviable position among the constituent lodges of the state, and is an outstanding unit of Masonry in aiding and abetting the cause of the Order.