Fernley Lodge #34
Chartered: June 8, 1921
Fernley Lodge #34, F. & A.M.
40 East St
Fernley, NV 89408
P.O. Box 297
Fernley, NV 89408-0297
Stated Meeting: Second Thursday 7:30pm
(Dark July & August)
Worshipful Master: Matthew P. Reidy, P.M.
Secretary: Leon Aberasturi, P.M.
Torrence’s History of Fernley Lodge #34
There is a period in the development of Nevada, which has been repeatedly referred to as “The Covered Wagon Days,” since it involves the trek of the pioneers across unbeaten trails, as they opened the way into virgin territory, covered with sagebrush and mesquite along the way, emerging into a country bristling with rocks and boulders, and infested with dangers which threatened to overwhelm them as they invaded new, unknown territory in their search for fortune, adventure and new habitation.
It was by such that history was made in the Sagebrush State; it was by such that our great west was settled and an inland empire set up, which, during the process of its conquering, became the wonder of the age, a mecca towards which the flower of American manhood and woman gravitated, to eventually uncover and develop vast mineral zones, which brought to the districts in which they were discovered, undreamed of wealth, and the establishment of financial, commercial and industrial enterprises which placed Nevada in a prominent and commanding place among the Pacific states, which that era had brought into being.
Following that period of the invasion of the west, an era that witnessed the promotion of vast projects which had for their object the betterment of the country and the happiness and comfort of a united people was ushered in, an era of industrial and commercial expansion resulting from the establishment of the pony express, the cross country telegraph, and the laying of the rails of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads from Council Bluffs to the western coast of America, as an outcome of which, new settlements sprang up along the way to become the nuclei of prosperous sections, and to attract to their boundaries a class of settlers destined to control die industrial and commercial policies of the country in which they had foregathered.
It has been conceded that the greatest factor in the development of our mighty west, was the railroad, since there followed in its wake, the prospector, the miner, the agriculturist, and hundreds of others bent upon creating and building up business enterprises of the sections in which they located. So, Reno and Sparks were developed, so likewise, the towns immediately west of them along the railroad, of which Fernley is one, located three miles distant from Wadsworth.
Fernley was a direct result of the laying of the rails of the Central Pacific railroad, and was made a way station of that road about 1863. The town of Wadsworth was already a youngster of some four or five years existence, and had become a valuable supply point along the advancing rails, and promised to be an important shipping station in the stock and agricultural development of the country. Fernley, being situated so nearby, shared in this prosperity and it was not long after a settlement was made there that the possibilities of the surrounding country became apparent, and the most promising land was taken up by those interested in stock and agricultural development.
The growth of Fernley was gradual, never destined by reason of its proximity to Sparks and Reno to take on the importance and habiliments of a sizable city, yet it expanded, as rural settlements will expand, and in time became a factor in the upbuilding of the agricultural district it commanded; new residents entered its boundaries to become permanent citizens, sought and found employment, or launched enterprises of their own, which added solidity to the town and surrounding country.
With this influx of a new population, hailing not only from outlying sections of Nevada, but coming from other parts of the nation, Masonry was introduced into Fernley; at first there were not more than a handful, but they at once sought one another, and thereafter cultivated and exemplified that fraternal contact which from time immemorial has drawn the Craft together by its invisible bonds.
With the passing of the years, this advance guard was augmented by the arrival of others, until it was found that enough had arrived in the district to form a Masonic quorum, or to organize a Masonic association, or even to establish a lodge, if the proper authority was obtained from the Grand Lodge of Nevada. Acting under this urge, Brothers W. H. Austin, W. W. Cogswell, J. W. Middleton, Rudolph Miller and W. C. Watson called a meeting for the purpose of promoting plans to effect an organization; and agreed to contact ten other sojourning members, to obtain their support to the undertaking. The response of these brethren was unanimous, with the result that another meeting was arranged, at which it appears fifteen brethren were present, and at which gathering a petition addressed to the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Nevada F. & A. M. was framed and signed by all present, asking permission to establish a Masonic lodge in Fernley, under dispensation.
Unfortunately, no record of this meeting was made, but advice from the secretary of the lodge, several years later, states it was either late 1920, or early in 1921. Agreeably to this petition, on March 29, 1921, the prayer of the brethren was granted, and permission was given to organize, U. D. and appointing the evening of March 31, for the occasion of instituting the lodge.
In conformity with this understanding, the Grand Lodge of Nevada was convened in Masonic headquarters in Fernley, at eight thirty o’clock on the date named, when Harry Atkinson, Most Worshipful Grand Master, called the meeting to order, and opened the Grand Lodge in ample form. Assisting the Grand Master were: W. M. David, as R. W. Sen. C. Warden; A. L. Haight, as R. W. Junior G. Warden; E. D. Vanderleith, Very Worshipful Grand Secretary; Sidney Foster, as W. Sen. G. Deacon; Thos. H. Lever, as W. Jun. G. Deacon; Edw. W. Dunbar, and Wm. R. Adams, as Grand Stewards; A. S. Olds, as W. Grand Tyler.
On calling the roll of the constituent lodges, the following were found present: Carson Lodge No. One, Reno Lodge No. Thirteen, Winnemucca Lodge No. Nineteen, Hope Lodge No. Twenty-two, Wadsworth Lodge No. Twenty-five, Churchill Lodge No. Twenty-six, Humboldt Lodge No. Twenty-seven, Tonopah Lodge No. Twenty-eight, Ely Lodge No. Twenty-nine, and Montezuma Lodge No. Thirty.
The dispensation was ceremoniously delivered to the new master of Fernley Lodge, Brother W. W. Cogswell, by M. W. Harry H. Atkinson, and the lodge set to work. An address was delivered by the Grand Master, and short responses were made by the Grand Secretary, E. D. Vanderleith, and Past Masters David and Haight, and Past Senior Grand Warden Foster.
The new lodge was then opened and organized, and commenced its career with the reception of two petitions. About ninety Masons were present from other parts of the jurisdiction to wish the fifteen enthusiastic brethren of the new lodge success and prosperity, and assist in the impressive ceremonies. There were twenty present from Reno, a like number from Sparks and Fallen, a fine delegation from Yerington, and other sections of the state.
A saxophone sextette of the band of Kerak Temple A. O. N. M. S. of Reno, furnished music for the occasion.
This meeting was held in Fernley I. O. O. F. hall which had been leased by the Masonic brethren as a permanent meeting place for the new lodge U. D.
The baby lodge of the state started on its fraternal course with a most favorable and gratifying outlook, and succeeding months found its Trestle Board covered with working designs.
At the annual communication held in June, 1921, it was recommended by the Committee on Charters that a charter be granted the lodge at Fernley U. D., that it be assigned the number 34 on the registry of Nevada lodges F. & A. M., and that W. W. Cogswell be continued as worshipful master; J. W. Middleton as Senior Warden, and Geo. Rechel as Junior Warden.
It was also recommended that Fernley lodge be granted representation at the 1921 session. A charter was accordingly issued to the following brethren: W. H. Austin, W. W. Cogswell, W. H. Elleser, W. A. Hardy, J. L. Lisle, O. W. LeMay, M. J. Mallory, J. W. Middleton, Rudolph Miller, W. J. Neely, J. D. Oliver, W. A. Pray, W. G. Rawles, Geo. Rechel, W. C. Watson.
Plans were made to receive the coveted document and to entertain the Grand Lodge messenger who delivered it, advice having been received that Most Worshipful L. G. Campbell would perform the ceremonies, and install the lodge.
Accordingly, on the evening of June 20, 1921, the Grand Master, accompanied by a delegation of Past Grand officers, and members of his official staff from Reno, and visiting delegations from other lodges in the state, gathered in the Masonic hall in Fernley, where the Grand Lodge was convened, the charter was delivered and the newly chartered lodge was constituted agreeably to the customs and practices of our ancient Craft, and the lodge was started upon its course.
During the passing years Fernley Lodge continued to perform its work and diffuse Masonic light. Its growth has been healthy and consistent, and in keeping with the growth and progress of the community in which it exists; at no time has it shown an abnormal increase in its membership, but year by year it has added to its numbers, overcoming what it may have lost through suspensions, deaths or demits. it is considered a progressive unit of Masonry among the constituent lodges of Nevada, and has always taken a keen and active interest in the affairs of the Grand Lodge, some of its membership in particular manifesting and displaying unusual interest in the development and business affairs of the Grand Body, one of whom, Brother W. C. Watson, was enrolled upon the staff of the Grand Master as Grand Bible Bearer in 1935, and has advanced step by step during succeeding years. In 1937 he was appointed Grand Orator, and discharged the duties of that office in a splendid and satisfactory manner, receiving the approbation and applause of his associates and the brethren for his untiring efforts, and his zeal and enthusiasm for Masonry. At the Grand Communication held in Winnemucca in 1938, he became Grand Marshal, and further progress in the ranks will undoubtedly lead him to distinguished heights in the order. He was elected G. M. in 1941.
The record of Fernley lodge is marked by the endeavors and activity of other prominent members of that lodge, during the period of its existence, who have made history in Masonic circles, and whose zealousness for the principles of the Order have prompted them to expend time and effort in its behalf. It would be unfair to single out any particular brother, or brethren, who should be lauded for their Masonic zeal and integrity, for each member of this model lodge merits the praise of Nevada Masonry, for his untiring efforts to build up the prestige and standing of his lodge, for consistent and unselfish observance of the virtues and old landmarks of the Order, and for upright, straightforward attitude before his fellows in the community in which he lives.
The lodge continued to carry on from March 31, 1921, until November 7, 1935, holding its meetings in Fernley I. O. O. F. hall, but during the summer of 1935, an opportunity to acquire a building of its own presented itself, and was at once seized. This building was one built by a Mr. Rankin about the year 1920, and had become delinquent on the tax records of the county. At a subsequent sheriff’s tax sale, this property was bid in by the trustees of Fernley Lodge for the sum of $265.75, and later renovated, remodeled and placed in condition for occupancy by the lodge.
Later, May 25, 1940, at 8:15 o’clock P. M., attended by between sixty and seventy members of the Craft, hailing from twelve surrounding lodges, besides the entire membership of Fernley Lodge, Most Worshipful Grand Master C. A. Carlson, assisted by George P. Coleman, deputy Grand Master, and George B. Russell, R. W. Senior Grand Warden, and all elective and appointive Grand Lodge officers chairs filled by the regular officers, or by appointment from members present, the ancient ceremony of dedication of the hall was carried out in full form and made particularly impressive with music furnished by the choir from Washoe Lodge No. 35, of Reno, composed of Brother Lyman Vawter, director; Brothers Randall Ross and Paul Lykins, soloists, and Brothers Carl Hooley, H. G. McCulloch, O. L. Peamst, George Michaels, Andrew Minetto, Thos. Moltzen and Brother Hay.
At the completion of the dedication, the Most Worshipful Grand Master called upon Grand Orator George A. Montrose for the oration, who responded in part, as follows:
This is an edifice that Fernley Lodge No. 34 may well be proud of, and as tonight it has been dedicated as a Temple, they may be doubly proud. It is a wonderful thing to have a home, for a “Home is the resort of love, of joy, of peace and plenty where supporting and supported, cherished friends and dear relations mingle into bliss.” How much more so, when that home by friends and companions has by solemn rite and heartfelt prayer been dedicated unto the glory of the Lord.
The poet has said: “It takes a heap of livin’ in a house to call it home” and in his homely way he has spoken a world of thought.
You of Fernley have made this your house and I rest assured you will do a “heap of livin'” here to make it your loved and revered home. You, my good brothers, may think that time has been long in passing, until you have reached the crowning pleasure of tonight. You have labored long and labored well, but when you think of the swift passing of time you must realize that your labors have been as minutes to the glories that are to come.
When we think of Masonry’s first Temples we must realize that we build slowly and destroy swiftly. Our Ancient Brethren, who built the Temple of Jerusalem, with many myriad blows felled, hewed and squared the cedars, and quarried the stones, and carved the intricate ornaments, which were to be the Temples. Stone after stone, by the combined effort and long toil of Apprentice, Fellow-craft and Master, the walls arose, slowly the roof was framed and fashioned; and many years elapsed before, at length the House stood finished, all fit and ready for the worship of God, gorgeous in the sunny splendors of Palestine. A single motion of the arm of a rude, barbarous Assyrian Spearman, or drunken Roman or Gothic Legionary of Titus, moved by a senseless impulse of the brutal will, hung in a blazing brand; and, with no other human agency, a few short hours sufficed to consume and melt each Temple to a smoking mass of black unsightly ruin.
Never again do we expect to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem. It has become but a symbol to us. We find the whole world is God’s Temple, as is every true and upright heart. To build a Temple most acceptable to God, is to establish all over the world the New Law and Reign of Love, Peace, Charity and Toleration, and that is the effort, work and duty of every true Mason today.
No longer is it needful to repair to Jerusalem for worship, as in the days agone, nor to offer sacrifices and shed blood to propitiate the Piety; man may make the woods and mountains his Temples, and there meet in brotherly communion and the worship of God, with a devout gratitude and with works of charity and beneficence to his fellow men.
Here within these walls, dedicated tonight with corn, oil, and wine, we are within a Temple dedicated to God, justice, Right, equality and all the sublime principles of Masonry, Here may we ever meet upon the level of Masonic teachings and exemplify the love therein taught to us.
This Masonry teaches, as a great truth; a great moral landmark, that ought to guide the course of all mankind. It teaches its toiling children that the scene of their daily life is all spiritual, that the very implements of their toil, the fabrics they weave, the merchandise they barter, are designed for spiritual ends; that so believing, their daily lot may to them be a sphere for the noblest improvement.
There is no care or cross of our daily labor, but was especially ordained to nurture in us patience, calmness, resolution, perseverance, gentleness, disinterestedness, magnanimity. Nor is there any tool or implement of toil, but is a part of the great instrumentality.
A lodge is defined to be an “assemblage of Freemasons duly congregated, having the sacred writing, square, and compass, and a charter, or warrant of constitution, authorizing them to work. The room or place in which they meet, representing some part of King Solomon’s Temple, is the Temple of the Lodge, and this is our Temple, supported by the columns of Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, for are they not the perfections of everything and nothing can endure without them.
“Know ye not,” said the Apostle Paul, “that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man desecrate the temple of God, him shall God destroy, for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
This is a question which we as Masons are able to answer, for our teachings have been along the path of right. We are men pledged by all we hold holy to walk in the light and do the right. It is that which Masonry is ordained of God to bestow on its votaries; not sectarianism and religious dogma; not a rudimental morality, that may be found in the writings of Confucius, Zoroaster, Seneca, and the Rabbis, in the Proverbs; not a little and cheap common-school knowledge, but manhood and science and philosophy.
We are gathered here as Masons tonight, to carry on a duty and pleasure of Masonry for its upbuiiding and welfare and we in so doing are proving ourselves to be true Masons.
A true Mason is one who labors strenuously to help his Order effect its great purposes. Not that the Order can effect them by itself; but that it, too, can help. It is also one of God’s instruments. It is a Force and Power; and shame upon it, if it did not exert itself, and if need be, sacrifice its children in the cause of humanity, as Abraham was ready to offer up Isaac on the altar of sacrifice. It will not forget that noble allegory of Virtius leaping, all in armor, into the great yawning gulf that opened to swallow Rome. It will try.
It shall not be its fault if the day never comes when man will no longer have to fear a conquest, an invasion, a usurpation, a rivalry of nations with the armed hand, an interruption of civilization by a tyrant desiring and claiming territory of a weaker nation; a partition of the peoples by a congress, a dismemberment by the downfall of a dynasty, a combat of two religions, meeting head to head, like two goats of darkness on the bridge of the infinite.
When they will no longer have to fear famine, spoliation, prostration from distress, misery from lack of work, and all the brigandages of chance in the forest of events.
When nations will gravitate, about the truth, like stars about the light, each in its own orbit, without clashing or collision; and everywhere freedom, cinctured with stars, crowned with the celestial splendors, and with wisdom and justice on either hand, will reign supreme.
Perhaps I look too far forward from this day and age, and dream of a time when the lamb may lie down with the lion in safety and peace. Yet again I read of what has been accomplished in the past and see no reason why those miracles of the time alone should not be repeated today.
There can be no doubt that if mankind should kneel at the altar of justice, truth and light, the clouds that envelop the true life today would fade into the mists of tomorrow.
Fraud, falsehood, trickery and deceit in national affairs are signs of decadence in the states and precede convulsions or paralysis. To bully the weak and crouch to the strong is the policy of nations governed by small mediocrity. The tricks of the canvass for office are re-enacted in Senates. The executive becomes the dispenser of patronage, chiefly to the most unworthy; and men are bribed with offices instead of money, to the greater ruin of the commonwealth.
The Divine in human nature disappears and interest, greed and selfishness takes its place.
So we need more temples in our land; we need a “heap of livin'” in our house to call it home.
It is our duty to make honor and right the steady beaconlights that shall guide us to that home; to do that which it is right to do, not because it will insure us success, or bring with it a reward, or gain the applause of men, or be “the best policy,” more prudent or more advisable; but because it is right, and therefore ought to be done, to war incessantly against error, intolerance, ignorance, and vice, and yet to pity those who err, to be tolerant even of intolerance, to teach the ignorant and to labor to reclaim the vicious, these are some of the duties of Masons, in livin’ in a house to make it home.
“Let me live in my house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by –
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish – so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat
Or hurl the cynic’s ban?
Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
And be a friend of man.”
Worshipful Master Godwin of Fernley Lodge No. 34 thanked Grand Master Carlson and the Grand Lodge for coming to Fernley and conducting the ceremony of dedication for their new hall.
The business for which the Grand Lodge had been called being concluded the Grand Lodge was closed in Ample Form.