Douglas Lodge #12
Chartered: September 16, 1868
Douglas Lodge #12, F. & A.M.
2286 Main Street
Genoa, NV 89411
P.O. Box 262
Genoa, NV 89411-0262
Stated Meeting: Second Wednesday 7:00pm
(Meets year round)
2018 Worshipful Master: Michael E. Chapton, P.M.
Secretary: Kent E. Mayer, P.M.
Torrence’s History of Douglas Lodge #12
“The Mormon Station,” (at present, Genoa) was founded in 1849 by Salt Lake Mormons. From records in the Historical Society, the fact is obtained that in the spring of 1851, John Reece, with a party of sixteen persons, among whom was Stephen A. Kinsey, who later became prominent in the affairs of western Nevada, left Salt Lake City, with a caravan of ten wagons for the purpose of establishing a settlement somewhere “east of the Sierra mountains.” The party halted at Ragtown, on the Carson river, in May, and Kinsey left the party and started on horseback to “spy out the land”; he visited the head of the valley, and returned along the base of the mountains, until he arrived at the site where Mormon Station had stood, but those who had settled there in the summer of 1849 had left, leaving to the torch of unfriendly Indians the destruction of all evidence that white men had ever lived there. On the 4th day of July Stephen Kinsey and his band of Mormons took possession of the ground known as Mormon Station; they formed a sizeable settlement, and established a number of fine farms in the neighborhood.
Three years later Orson Hyde, president of the Apostles of the Mormon church in Salt Lake City, led a party of seventy Mormon families to the old Mormon Station site, which was resurveyed and rechristened Genoa. Hyde was appointed probate judge of the newly formed Carson county, of which Genoa was the principal settlement. It is said that Hyde had been made a Mason in one of the Masonic lodges in Nauvoo, Illinois, before it came under the ban of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, and was declared clandestine, and the charter revoked.
When silver was discovered in Douglas county, about 200 people had settled in Genoa and the immediate vicinity, had established a grist and saw mill, two stores, and a small lodging house. As the town increased in population, and expanded in area, new homes were built, and other commercial enterprises were established; by the year 1880, there were over fifty dwelling houses, large and small in the place, five hotels, two meat markets, sufficient stores to supply the demands of the town and district, a drug store, bakery shop, a commodious school house, a Masonic and Odd Fellows hall, and a fine two story Court House; it was also headquarters for the Nevada California Telegraph Company.
It was in Genoa, that the first newspaper printed in Nevada had its birth, “The Territorial Enterprise,” the first issue being published December 5, 1858, printed and edited by Alfred Janes and W. L. Jernegan. On November 5, 1859, it was purchased by Jonathan Williams and J. B. Woodland, who took it to Carson City. Later it was purchased by Jos. T. Goodman, an outstanding journalist of the west, and Dennis E. McCarthy, and the sheet was moved to Virginia City, where such celebrities as Mark Twain, Dan DeQuille, Bret Harte, Rollen M. Daggett, Alf Doten, Arthur McEwan, and Charlie Goodman began their literary career as writers for this publication, which in time became the mouthpiece of the mines on the Comstock. The Enterprise lasted until 1916, when it was merged with the Virginia Chronicle. A brass plaque to mark its birthplace, was placed on a monument of rubble stone, built in Genoa, in 1939.
The history of Douglas lodge begins in 1868, when twelve brethren in Genoa, moved by Masonic impulse, and in search of fraternal contact, and intent upon the establishment of a home wherein they might spread Masonic light, and diffuse the principles of the order, petitioned the Grand Lodge of Nevada for permission to organize a lodge under dispensation. On the 22nd of February, 1868, their petition was granted, and a dispensation was issued under authority of J. C. Currie, Grand Master, and naming Robert W. Rollen worshipful master; Silas E. Tuttle, senior warden, and Hiram Doyle, junior warden. Under this document, the lodge worked and was duly instituted, and its officers were installed; work was continued under this arrangement, until the seventeenth of September of the same year when, in conformity with the action of the Committee on Charters at the fourth annual communication of the Grand Lodge held in Masonic Hall in Virginia City, it was recommended that a charter be issued the brethren at Genoa, and their lodge be numbered twelve on the registry of Nevada lodges.
Shortly after it was chartered and constituted, one of its first acts was to form a joint stock company among its members, which had for its object the erecting of a Masonic temple. This effort, however, was not productive of results, and after an outlay of considerable labor, infinite and careful planning and deliberation, as well as the investing of funds, the undertaking collapsed. Intermittently thereafter additional attempts were made to devise plans for the erection of a building, but in each instance prevailing conditions in the lodge and community prevented the accomplishment of their intentions.
For a year or two following these ventures, Douglas Lodge showed no great increase in membership, but in 1870 it is said to have suddenly taken on new life, and made a substantial gain; its finances had enjoyed a steady growth since the joint stock company organized in 1868 to promote a temple, had met with failure. The brethren therefore established what we today would designate a “budget,” part of which was set aside for building purposes. By the end of 1873, this fund is said to have grown to proportions sufficiently large to warrant starting a new building. Eventually, this resolve terminated in the erection of a structure devoted to Masonic uses, when the project had been financed by action of the brethren. The building was constructed of brick, the second story of which was devoted exclusively for the use of Douglas lodge, and contained in addition to a sightly lodge room, other apartments which might be used by the lodge in the performance of their work. The lower story was set aside for business rental, to assist in paying for construction of the building, and furnishing the lodge room. The structure is said to have cost $8000.00 and the brethren to have expended an additional large sum in furnishings and necessary equipment. Upon completion of the building, plans were made to open it with appropriate ceremonies, and brethren from adjoining districts were invited to be present to assist in the event. Carson Lodge No. One was invited to lay the cornerstone, but referred the invitation to the Grand Lodge, requesting that they perform the ceremony.
Grand Lodge was therefore convened in Genoa, and proceeded to the site of the proposed building, and after prayer by the Grand Chaplain, the Grand Master, in the presence of the members of the local lodge, and a large delegation of visiting brethren from Virginia City, Carson City, Washoe City and elsewhere, proceeded to set the stone in place, agreeable to the customs and usages of Masonry.
The history of Douglas Lodge No. 12 covers a colorful page in Masonic annals of the state. Among its present and past membership are found those who not only filled an important niche in the social, industrial and political history of the state, but who likewise attained honor and prestige in their lodge, among whom and named as its first worshipful master, was Robert W. Bollen, whose zeal for Masonry and whose knowledge of its landmarks, as well as his activities in the Grand Lodge of Nevada, won for him promotion in the Grand Body, of which he was chosen Grand Master in 1874, and again in 1875. It was during his term of office in 1875; that the devastating fire in Virginia City leveled the Masonic Hall, destroying the records of the Grand Lodge, and resulted in the calling of a meeting to be held on the summit of Mount Davidson.
The story of,Douglas Lodge would also be incomplete, without reference to the activities of that much beloved and revered Mason, Daniel Webster Virgin. Born in the state of New Hampshire in 1835, in early life he left his native state, and settled in Sacramento, Calif., from where he moved to Genoa in 1863. In 1867 he was admitted to the Bar of Nevada, and engaged in the practice of his chosen profession at once. Later, he served Douglas county for two terms as district attorney, and was afterwards elected judge of the district court. He practiced law in Carson City and Genoa for years retiring about 1916.
When in the prime of manhood, he joined Douglas Lodge No. 12, and served as secretary for more than a quarter of a century, and was so serving at the time of his death, August 12, 1928. Brother Virgin had been a member of the order for seventy-two years. In the Grand Lodge of the state he attained honor and distinction for his zeal and integrity, and for his unusual knowledge of Masonic jurisprudence. In 1896, he was elected Deputy Grand Master of Nevada.
Among the members of Douglas lodge who gained rank in his lodge was Chas. L. Fulstone, elected worshipful master of his lodge in 1901.
In the Grand Lodge of Nevada, Brother Fulstone was an active and energetic member, whose advice and counsel was ever sought. He served on some of the most important committees of that Body, and was a member of the jurisprudence committee, one of the most important committees in the Grand Lodge, at the time of his death.
In 1908 he became Grand Master ofthe Grand Lodge F. & A. M. at the age of 34. He died November 16, 1935.
Among the Masons of Nevada who in the earlier periods of its development and progress took an active part, were members of the Springmeyer family. The rolls of Douglas lodge reflect the names of H. H. Springmeyer, C. H. Springmeyer, Leonard Springmeyer, and F. C. Springmeyer, who during their lifetime took an important part in its activities, and were devoted members of the Craft. When Carson Valley Lodge No. 33 was organized, these brothers demitted from Douglas lodge to become charter members of the lodge at Gardnerville.
August W. H. Helberg was another active and inHuential member of Douglas Lodge. Of German parentage, he came to America at the age of 14 and located in Nevada, later moving to California. He returned to Nevada in 1892, and located in Gardnerviile, soon joining Douglas lodge, filling the various appointive and elective offices. With the formation of Carson Valley Lodge No. 33, he demitted from Douglas lodge to become a charter member of the lodge at Gardnerville.
Arendt Jensen is an example of what energy and foresight may accomplish in contributing to a successful business career. He came from Denmark to America in 1859 and located in California. In 1897 he moved to Gardnerville when there were but two houses in the place. As the town grew, his holdings increased, and his affairs expanded. Later he became president of the Douglas County Farmers Bank; he joined Douglas Lodge and was a consistent and faithful member. When Carson Valley Lodge No. 33 was organized in Gardnerville, he demitted to become a member of the latter lodge, in 1914.
But the list is long and stands as a monument of fidelity to the enduring, faithful and devoted members of the “Mystic Tie” and not only Douglas Lodge, but our membership throughout the state may be proud to have these brethren as members of our fraternity, for they reflected luster, glory and honor upon the order, and gave to Douglas Lodge from its beginning the reputation of having strong and moving fraternal impulses, and promoting and advancing the principles and landmarks of Masonry.
At the Grand Lodge Communication of 1871, a resolution was adopted asking the Grand Lodge of California to cede iurisdiction over that part of California lying eastward of the main summit of the Sierra Nevada range of mountains, so that the residents therein might apply to Douglas Lodge No. 12, or Esmeralda Lodge No. 6 for the degrees of Freemasonry. In 1873 a vote of thanks was passed to the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of California for its prompt and fraternal response to this memorial.
The subsequent history of Douglas Lodge is essentially that of the district in which it came into existence; and continued to exert its influence upon the community. It has been seen that it came into being in 1868, in that colorful period of western Nevada, when that section of the state was excited over the discovery of gold and silver in the canyons and gulches adjacent to Genoa, and over on the slopes of Mt. Davidson, and brought to the district in the course of their migration to the new metal bearing field, many travelers who paused in their passage to look upon the beautiful setting of the town, and remained to become valued citizens. Of these, some also eventually became members of Douglas Lodge, helped to shape its tlestiny, share in its fraternal advantages, and added prestige to its existence.
While Genoa never became a densely populated town, yet so firmly did it become established as the center of a rich agricultural and mining territory, that it held the first pioneers who settled it, and as their families grew in numbers and importance, and became associated with the activities and enterprises of the locality, they grew to be a vital part of the community, and contributed to its permanency and progress.
It was from the ranks of these, that Masonry was recruited, advanced, and became a factor in the ultimate destiny of Genoa, and Douglas Lodge No. 12 was accounted an important unit of the constituent lodges of Nevada, which reputation it has maintained throughout the years.