Lander Lodge #8
Chartered: October 13, 1864
Lander Lodge #8, F. & A.M.
105 Main St
Austin, NV 89701
Stated Meeting: Third Saturday 11:00am
(Dark December & January)
Worshipful Master: V. Fred Manz, P.M.
Secretary: George W. Agnor, P.M.
Torrence’s History of
Lander Lodge #8 & Austin #10
Cradled in the heart of the mountains, the secret of its silver hoard guarded throughout untold ages, the district now embraced in the confines of Lander and Eureka Counties, remained virgin territory long after the rumble of the prairie schooner disturbed the primeval quiet of the western plains, and the ceaseless trek of gold mad men and women, moved toward the land of the setting sun, in search of fortune.
Romantic and glamorous is the pageant that crossed the pages of history during the mad rush of the early sixties to the silver bearing hills and mountains, and the rich gold fields of Nevada. Tales of undreamed wealth had stirred the pulses and fired the imagination of the adventurous in the states East of the Mississippi; the gold rush of ’49 had opened up new trails leading westward from the “Father of Waters” and, out over the rolling prairies, and winding over rugged mountains, and through tortuous canyons, came the hurrying throngs in search of fortune.
Eager to reach the gold fields of California, impatient to pan her limpid streams reported rich in alluvial sands, the gold mad throngs passed by other treasure troves, compared to which the golden flow from California’s streams proved negligible, for Comstock, Aurora, Austin, Eureka, Treasure Hill, and in later years Tonopah and Goldfield yielded the secret of their unbelievable wealth, and their rich ores, not only enriched the coffers of their promoters, but helped to stabilize the credit of our war torn nation.
As might be supposed, many Masons were flung into this maelstrom of humanity, and with the settling of the tide found themselves in the midst of the excitement of some newly discovered mining camp. It was so in the newly established camp of Austin, where were found the high and the low, the rich and the poor, the cultured and the ignorant, the chaste and the uncouth.
Local conditions in all of Nevada’s mining camps during those years were largely the same, where at first the rougher element held sway. So mixed was the flow of humanity from the East that all grades and conditions of mankind were spewed upon the ground, and lawlessness, licentiousness, murder and arson were the order of the day. Into such an environment Masonry in the Austin district was born, for it was found soon after the camp was developed, that Masons from every section of the States had foregathered here, who with the passage of time, knew one another after the fashion of the craft.
If you have followed the history of our early mining camps in Nevada, you have observed that in almost every instance Masonry followed quickly in the wake of such newly settled districts, and almost invariably its progress in these camps was practically the same. First a Masonic Association; then formation under dispensation; then the chartered lodge; its infantile struggles; ultimate financial establishment; numerical progress; the acquiral of its own lodge building: then disaster, usually in the shape of fire; then recovery, and finally partial or total dissolution, due to exhaustion of mineral supply in the districts in which these lodges were established. Not in every instance has this been the case, but in the main, the process of establishment and progress has been as stated. Lander Lodge No. 8 was an exception to this rule.
However, tho Masonry declined as the ore values and supply diminished in a given section, and that section became depopulated, we may conclude that but for its moral and ministering inAuence exerted upon those communities during the period of their existence, the vice and wickedness introduced by the rough element, would have brought early disaster and an ultimate reign of terror to those localities. In fact these conditions actually existed in some: of the camps of Nevada, and we are told that it was nor an uncommon thing for every officer of the lodge to enter the anteroom of his lodge hall, armed, although we may readily assume that no offensive or defensive weapon found its way into the lodge room. The prevalence of crime also, was likewise, eventually the signal for concerted action on the part of those who stood for right, and those mad exciting days, frequently witnessed the action of vigilante committees, formed to suppress and weed out those who evaded or violated the law. We of the present day cannot perhaps look upon such community gestures with any degree of toleration, but we have only to remember that these demonstrations were enacted, not for personal or revengeful motives, but rather to preserve the law, and save the community from what would be termed rank Communism today.
In the report of its Grand Jury of one of Nevada’s mining counties, there appeared in the fall of 1864, the following: “In February 1864, a vigilance committee, composed of more than 600 of our best, most influential and law abiding citizens, rounded up and drove all the rough violent characters out of town. They then proceeded to the County jail, took thence four guilty murderers and hanged them on a wooden gallows previously erected for that purpose. There was no violcnce nor undue excitement, and after the hanging, the crowd dispersed quietly to their homes and places of business. It is noted with a great deal of satisfaction, that the moral effect of that righteous uprising has been of a far reaching effect.”
While it is not recorded that members of the Masonic craft joined in this movement, nevertheless it is known that they were present and were instrumental in ridding that community of its undesirables.
Again, from comments made by prominent men of that period, it would seem that Nevada had become a dumping ground for the vicious element from every section of America.
However, a comparison of this class with those who flocked to California during the rush following the discovery of gold in that state in ’49, we would conclude that Nevada harbored no worse, nor a more numerous gathering of undesirables than did our sister state of California, during the mad excitement of its gold rush, for this element, as has been noted, infested every new camp, great or small, and Austin was no exception to the rule. Drinking, gambling and vice ran rampant, and the deadly aim of the gunman brought down his victim far too often for good men to tolerate.
To combat these evils, as well as to afford an avenue through which they might practice and cement that fellowship so valued by the craft, those Masons who had gathered in and around Austin, determined to form a Masonic Association, and apply for a dispensation to organize a lodge.
Nevada was not yet admitted to the Union, and Austin was under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of California.
The issue of the Reese River Reveille of Austin, August 6th, 1863, contained the following notice:–
“We learn that the ancient and noble order of Free and Accepted Masons, residents hereabouts are taking steps to institute a lodge and erect a suitable building for its use”–
however, no definite action was taken in the matter of organizing a lodge until March 3rd, 1864, when a meeting of Austin Masons was called at Lander County Court House to petition the Grand Lodge of California for permission to establish a lodge Under Dispensation, “to work for the good of the craft.” Tentative officers were selected, consisting of I. L. Titus, W.M., A. D. Rock, S. W., and G. W. Ferrill, J. W.
The names of 23 members appear upon the petition as recorded in the old records of Lander Lodge No. 172, under California jurisdiction, all of whom presented their demits upon that occasion.
The issue of March 5th, 1864, Reese River Reveille, contains the first notice of Austin Association F. & A. M., holding its meetings at the Court House the Monday evening on or preceding the full of the moon, and two weeks thereafter. By the latter part of March, 1864 action had been taken upon the application of the Lander brethren to operate a lodge under dispensation, and on June 3rd a meeting was called at the I. O. O. F. Hall for the purpose of organizing. The brethren chosen on March 3rd to officer the Association were continued, a membership fee of $100.00 for admission, and $2.00 per month for membership dues was voted, and the Trustees were instructed to negotiate for a suitable lodge room. These instructions were carried out, and at the next meeting of Lander Lodge U. D. No. 172, the Trustees reported that plans had been made to occupy a building owned by a Mr. Raderick, he having agreed to erect an additional story to he used exclusively as lodge rooms, the rental to be placed at $150.00 per month.
The lease was taken by the I. O. O. F. Association of Austin, which agreed to share equally in the payment of the monthly rental. During the month of June, the I. O. O. F. Association became chartered as a regular lodge, and on Sept. 2nd, the Trustees of Lander Lodge No. 172 were empowered to conclude a lease with the Odd Fellows for the rent of the hall for one year.
On Oct. 14th, 1864, Lander Lodge was chartered as a duly constituted lodge of the California domain, and at its following meeting elected W. W. Wixom, W. M., A. G. Love, S. W., and J. J. Work, J. W.
It is interesting to note that the first W. M. of the newly chartered lodge, was the father of Emma Wixom, who became famous as an operatic singer of international note, and whose stage name was “Emma Nevada”.
The following weeks were busy weeks for the newly chartered lodge, more than a score of new petitions having crossed the Secretary’s desk before the first of the year. In the meantime, requests among the Nevada lodges were being made for the establishment of a Grand Lodge in our state, and correspondence was passing back and forth between the eight lodges in Nevada, seeking unanimous consent to the proposal. On Dec. 27nd, 1864, a resolution framed to petition for a Grand Lodge in Nevada “Whose charter shall be their credentials”, was signed by W. W. Wixom, W. M., and T. A. Waterman, Treas., of Lander No. 172, and presented to the lodge for adoption. The resolution was lost by a vote of 5 to 8.
On Jan. 6th, 1865, at a stated meeting in response to a communication received from Rro. Jos. DeBell, Chairman of the joint committee on the establishment of a Grand Lodge for Nevada, it was moved to reconsider the vote had on the resolutions of Dec. 22nd, 1864, and it was further moved to vote to favor the establishment of a Grand Lodge in the state. Both of these motions were passed, the vote being 7 for, and five against, and Bro. E. L. Davis was appointed to act as representative of Lander Lodge to the convention of lodges to be held in Virginia City, Jan. 16th, 1865.
It is said that there was considerable dissatisfaction among the members of Lander Lodge, occasioned by the rescinding of the vote on the Grand Lodge situation, as of Dec. 22, 1864, since some of the brethren who were present upon that date, did not attend the meeting Jan. 6th, 1865, while others who were not in attendance on Dec. 22nd, attended on Jan. 6th. Accusations of collusion were made, and for a short time there was a tense feeling among the brethren. However, later developments, and the necessity of initiating, passing and raising the various candidates who had been accepted for membership, served to quiet any differences which might have been temporarily engendered, and Masonic harmony prevailed.
With the organization of the Grand Lodge of Nevada, Jan. 17th, 1865, there were eight lodges in the state operating under charters from the Grand Lodge of California.
The records of the Grand Lodge reflect the names of delegates from six Nevada lodges which met in Virginia City, Jan. 15th, 1865, to discuss the advisibility of organizing a Grand Lodge in Nevada. Esmeralda Lodge No. 170, and Lander No. 172, sent no delegates, altho Lander Lodge was officially considered when the Grand Lodge finally functioned on Jan. 17th, 1865, and Marcus D. Larrow, a former member of Carson Lodge was named as Grand Orator.
On Jan. 18, 1865, the lodges present surrendered their charters of the Grand Lodge of California, and received their charters from the newly organized Grand Lodge of Nevada.
The minutes of that first Grand Lodge session show that both the Grand Master and Grand Secretary were directed to communicate with Lander lodge regarding the surrender of its California charter, but the records are silent as to the outcome of this movement.
Just why Lander Lodge was not represented at the Virginia City session, although Bro. Davis of that lodge was chosen to attend, has been a much discussed question. There is no mention in the records now in existence to throw any light upon the subject, and there are no living Masons who were members of Lander Lodge at that time, to give us the answer. Several reasons have been propounded, all of which sound plausible:– the distance to be traveled, the treacherous roads, the possibility of becoming snow bound, all might have contributed to their non-attendance.
There is another angle to the question which commands consideration, and which was discussed by one of our older brothers of Eureka, which I mention as only a remote cause. Among the motley heterogeneous populace of Austin at that time, were many residents from South of the Mason-Dixon line, who, for reasons best known to themselves, kept silent as to their southern sympathies. It was not, however, an unusual situation to be found in the lodges of that day, i. e. division of opinion and sympathies on the slavery question, and knowing the Northern sentiment which prevailed in our Nevada lodges, it has been said that possible preponderance of southern sentiment among the members of Lander lodge mitigated against the sending of its delegate to Virginia City, for we must remember that the original motion to recommend the establishment of a Grand Lodge in Nevada, was voted down in that lodge by the members attending the session of Dec. 22, 1864.
Whether this story possesses any real foundation or not, it is impossible to determine now, for the records of Lander lodge stress noreputed clash between Northern and Southern sympathisers, although it is a known fact that in other sections of Nevada, notably at Virginia City, there were times when open hostilities developed among members of the craft as supporters of Abraham Lincoln and Jeff Davis respectively, and this animosity is said to have crept into some of the constituent lodges and developed into a disturbing factor in the Grand Lodges of both Nevada and California, especially the latter.
However, whether or not there was method or reason for the failure of Lander’s representative to report at Virginia City, in due time that Lodge surrendered its California charter, and the new charter under Nevada domain was received and accepted by the Austin brethren.
This charter was issued Jan. 17th, 1865, and signed by Jos. DeBell, M. W. G. M., and Chas. K. Fish, Grand Secty., of Nevada. It is interesting to note that the original charter was destroyed by fire, and a duplicate, now in possession of Lander lodge was issued in the year 1894.
Masonic activities in Austin continued to make massive strides, and by April 1865, another lodge gave promise of functioning in the same place. Scarcely two months after Lander No. 8 was chartered under the Nevada constitution, a body of 23 Masons headed by Bros. W. R. Wren and W. L. Thomas, petitioned Lander Lodge No. 8 for permission to organize in their territory. Their request was granted and on April 12, 1865, a dispensation from the Grand Lodge, signed by Bro. Jos. DeBell, Gr. Master was issued the new lodge, its number on the Nevada roll being 10. At its first meeting Bro. W. R. Wren was chosen W. M., W. L. Thomas, S. W., and M. A. Sawtelle, J. W. While its personnel was composed of active, wide awake brethren, whose interest in Masonry could not be discounted, yet this lodge never gained the standing in the community that Lander No. 8 enjoyed, and after several years of varying successes and discouragements, with the withdrawal of and the loss of membership by removal from the district, the lodge ceased to function and surrendered its charter in the year 1871.
However, the progress of Masonry in the Austin district was onward, in spite of the surrender of its charter by Austin Lodge No. 10.
Interest in the advanced degrees of Masonry developed, resulting in the institution of Austin Chapter No. 3, Royal Arch Masons, this branch of the order enjoying a handsome numerical growth, and flourishing during the halcyon days of the camp. The oldest residents of Austin today, who were but youngsters in those days of the long ago, can recall the youthful thrill felt during spectacular social and fraternal events fostered by both the Austin Chapter and Eureka Commandery Knights Templar, upon the occasions that body visited Austin, when the roll of drums, the flare of trumpets, and the martial music of the band, timed the steps of the visiting Knights, who moved with stately tread down the main street of that thriving mining camp. Both the Chapter and the Commandery continued to thrive in that section for several years, but, with the decline of activities due to the demonetization of silver in 1873, there was a noticeable falling off of members in both these branches of Masonry both in Austin and Eureka, and within the course of a few years their membership had dwindled to almost nothing, particularly was this the case with the Commandery. Eventually both bodies ceased to exist in that section of Nevada.
For years Lander Lodge has continued along the even tenor of its way. During the years of plenty in the camp, enjoying an almost abnormal growth, in the years of lack which have followed the decline of mining activities, it has continued to carry on, always maintaining a standard of quality in membership demanded by the brethren instrumental in organizing the first Masonic lodge in that district.
Fortunately, no dire disaster has visited the lodge, although in August 18, 1874 a severe cloud burst damaged its building to the extent of many hundred dollars, but destroyed no records, in 1881 a fire swept away several blocks on the north side of Main Street, on which the lodge room is located, and destroyed some of the physical property in the lodge room. (However, almost miraculously the building was saved, the flames jumping the main part of the brick building, and igniting frame structures beyond.) In the main, the lodge has prospered, and dispensed much charity among the deserving.
Established long ago upon sound financial lines, it has continued the policies of its founders, and is today one of the outstanding Masonic Lodges in the state.
Its present quarters were acquired in 1867, in conjunction with the I. 0. O. F. forming what was known as “The Masonic and Oddfellows Hall Association”. The building, two stories in height, is a mute attestant to the splendor of a bygone day, for it embraced all the convcniences, and even luxuries of architectural accomplishment of that period, with its inside folding window blinds, its high ceilings, its well made ornamental altars, pillars, and other lodge furniture, and its highly colored emblematic charts, dating back to Civil War days, it attests to the spirit of fraternal progressiveness and pride which actuated the brethren of Lander Lodge No. 8, who made possible the establishment of the craft in the Austin district.
An inspection of its old records, in most regular and beautiful chirography, are full of quaint, stilted expressions in vogue at that period, beautifully worded and of perfect grammatical construction. Its financial records reflect the same care in their preparation, and evidence the integrity, honesty and carefulness of those to whom have been intrusted the funds of the organization.
It would be impossible for any but a passing reference to be made to the long line of loyal and sincere Masons who have enrolled upon the roster of Lander Lodge since its inception. Social, civic, and state records contain the names of men and Masons who belonged to that Lodge, and we can only refer to them as a whole, although we realize that they merit an individual tribute, and that mere words cannot measure nor describe their contribution in service to society, or to the fraternity which they honored and loved. Honored in their community, loved by their fellowmen, and lauded by the fraternity whose insignia they wore, their memory has lived long in their community. “Their works do follow them.”
The passing years have noted no marked or unusual incidents of Masonic interest as having occurred. Year by year this lodge has performed its Masonic work and duty; and, although disappointments and discouragements have been encountered, yet with pluck and determination, its membership has carried on. At times the fortunes of this mountain lodge has been at low ebb, but with unfaltering purpose they have forged ahead, surmounted their difficulties, and kept faith one with the other.
Today, there is a bow of splendid promise upon the heaven of their hopes, for with brightened prospects for a better industrial future, and a probable return to those halcyon days when silver was King, Austin district bids fair to stage a most magnificent and spectacular comeback. With this prophesied industrial progress, Masonry in Austin will likewise keep pace, for the indominable will and perseverance of the brethren will serve as an inspiration to their fellows, while the beauty of the order will find lodgement in the heart of the profane, urging him of his own free will and accord” to seek sanctuary with the brethren.
Prominent among the members of Lander Lodge as well as influential in the social, civic and political affairs of Austin in the early years of its existence, was Judge J. H. Ralston, charter member of Austin Masonic Association, who demitted from Sacramento Lodge F. & A. M. Lost on the desert south of Smoky Valley in May, 1864, his body was found two weeks later by a company of searchers sent out from Lander Lodge. The body was taken to Austin and buried with Masonic honors, this being the first Masonic funeral held in the district.
Among the signers of the petition for a Masonic Association in Austin, appears the name of Marcus D. Larrow. Bro. Larrow was a man of rare accomplishments, and is said to have been learned in his profession. His name is prominent among the legal profession of his day. Formerly a member of Carson Lodge No. 1, with the organizing of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Nevada, his ability was recognized by that body, and he became its first Grand Orator.
Among the signers of the petition for the Austin Masonic Association, also appears the name of O. L. C. Fairchild, whom older residents of Austin today declare to be a near relative of our own Tracy.
Prominent among the first petitioners for membership, after Lander received authority to work under dispensation, appears the name of Herman Sadler, a family name which attained honor and distinction in the annals of Nevada history.
But the name which brought lasting fame and glory to Austin’s Masonic lodges is the name of Ruel Colt Gridley, known best to history for his connection with, and interest in the United States Sanitary Commission during the Civil War. “For the sick and wounded there was no Red Cross, no great Army Medical Corps. But the Sanitary Commission was carrying on nobly. Demands on its slender resources had been enormous, had time and again exhausted them.
Sufficient money had been brought in to buy supplies. These had been assembled at depots, and the Commission found itself without funds to move them up to the places where they would soon be badlv needed.
This was the national setting. The local setting was furnished by a municipal election in the little town of Austin.
The election was hotly contested. In the heat of the battle, a wager was made between Doctor Herrick and Ruel Gridley. if the Dermocrats won, Dr. Herrick was to carry a rack of flour on his back across the town to the settlement of Clifton,a mile and a half down the canyon; if they lost Gridley was to become the beast of burden. The Democrats were defeated, and in due time Gridley appeared with the flour, decorated in red, white and blue ribbons, and a few small flags. Beside him marched Dr. Herrick carrying Gridley’s hat, coat, gloves and cane, anti followed by thirty-six men on horseback, a band playing “Old John Brown” and then came almost the entire population of Austin. Gridley delivered the flour to the Doctor, and adjournment was made to the nearest saloon where the drinks were set up by the defeated side. An argument arose as to the disposition of the flour. Herrick proposed that it be made into griddle cakes and swore that no Democrat should have one. Gridley insisted that it be put up at auction the purchaser to put up the amount in gold and retain possession until the sack was again offered at auction and sold and so on until everyone had a chance to possess it. All proceeds to go to the Sanitary Commission.
Gridley was the first purchaser. This brought a round of cheers, and the bidding started in earnest. From the sale, the sum of five thousand dollars was sent by Gridley to the Commission.
Gold Hill in Storey county heard of the auction, and asked that the residents of that town be permitted to conduct an auction. So to Gold Hill went Gridley and his flour. The auction was repeated, miner bidding against merchant, banker against doctor. $5,225.00 was raised, and the supremacy of Gold Hill over Austin publicly admitted.
Then the parade filed through Devil’s Gate to Silver City, but a rain storm interfered with the sale, so on they went to Dayton, the county seat. Rivalry between the towns of the Comstock boosted Gridley’s sales enormously. At Virginia City, Mr. Bonner of the Gould and Curry mine started the ball rolling with his bid of $3,500.00. The sales mounted until that section of Storey County raised $22,000.00
From there Gridley, with his now famous sack of flour, went to Sacramento, San Francisco, and then to New York and the East. In all, Gridley turned over to the Commission, over $265,000.00, a sum which made possible the fine work of the Commission the last year of the war.
Gridley, his work completed, returned to the West, broken in health and financially ruined. He had exhausted his means transporting his flour over the country. In 1866 he landed in Stockton without a dollar.
He died in Paradise City, Stanislaus county, Nov. 21, 1870 and was buried in Stockton on Admission Day. A monument to his memory was dedicated in Rural Cemetery by Rawlins Post, Grand Army of the Republic.
Ruel Colt Gridley was born in Hannibal, Missouri, Jan. 3, 1819. He was a charter member of St. John’s Lodge No. 37 at Yreka and belonged to Diamond Lodge No. 29, at Diamond Springs, to Lander No. 172, Austin (under California registry) to Lander No. 8 and Austin No. 10 of the jurisdiction of Nevada, and to Morning Star No. 68, at Stockton, Calif., at the time of his death. He was a charter member of Stockton Commandery, Knights Templar.
(This account of Gridley’s sack of four, by Dr. Roscoe L. Clark of Sacramento. Calif. is given in part, from an article published in “The Sciot Rooster” in June 1933, and included in the history of Lander Lodge with the permission of Brother Clark.)
Personnel–Lander Lodge No. 8
Names taken from the Register of Lander Lodge No. 172 and Lander Lodge No. 8 that have held State, County, or Government position, and/or that were prominent citizens of the community.
No. 5 – On By-Laws as state above–(Dr.) W. W. Wixom, first W. M. of Lander Lodge No. 8. Prominent physician and the father of Emma Nevada, the great singer.
No. 10 – O. L. C. Fairchild, father or grandfather of our Brother Tracv. editor and owner of the Reese River Reveille, newspaper at Austin and other papers in the state.
No. 8 – E. S. Davis. Records show he was County Recorder for many years, and held other County Offices.
No. 15 – H. Mayenbaum, very prominent attorney in Lander County and Nevada, afterwards was prominent in California.
In the Meeting of March 3rd, 1864, C. L. C. Fairchild and J. D. Fairchild appear, both of Pilot Hill Lodge No. 166, California.
Again referring to signatures to By-Laws, etc., as Members of Lander Lodge No. 172 and now Lander Lodge No. 8.
No. 28 – Thos. W. Triplett, City Councilman or Alderman of Austin, and afterwards held other prominent County positions.
(Great grandfather of Thomas L. Acree, No. 332 and Dale F. Acree, No. 336.)
No. 48 – M. Dyer, prominent merchant, rancher, and held several County positions, died when County Recorder. His son was Deputy County Treasurer of Washoe County.
No. 59 – George Henry William Crockett, Wells Fargo Expressman at that time. County Treasurer of Lander County for many years.
No. 6O – Thos. T. Read, prominent mining engineer and surveyor at that time.
No. 67 – Evan Jones, see Masonic History pertaining to him.
No. 107 – J. T. Barrett, owner of big stage business from Virginia City to Austin and other mining camps adjacent.
No. 127 – John R. Bradley, owner of large land and cattle holdings, grandson of Governor Lewis R. Bradley, John R. Bradley was afterwards a member of Elko Lodge F. & A. M. and was always a prominent citizen.
No. 138 – Leonard Wines, afterwards went to Elko County, prominent family there.
No. 148 – George Watt, prominent rancher and stock man; State Senator from Lander County, and held other County Offices.
No. 149 – J. H. Taber, Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff of Lander County in 1864 to 1868. Uncle of Judge Taber of Nevada. After he left Austin was prominent in Efko County and held many prominent offices.
No. 150 – Joseph C. Harper, Captain; Joseph C. Harper known as Capt. Harper, was a captain of the Confederate Army, came to Nevada after the war, was elected Sheriff about 1878, and died in office, was only 38 years of age when he died, buried in the Masonic Graveyard at Austin. (Became member of Lander Lodge about 1869 or 1870.)
No. 164 – D. C. McKenney (his name also appears among the Masons in the first meeting held in Austin in 1864) became a member of Lander Lodge in September, 1871; held offices of both County Clerk and Recorder, was District Judge of this District when it comprised Lander, Eureka, Nye and Churchill Counties. He was one of the first Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of F. & A. M. of Nevada. 1879 and 1880.
No. 184 – March 15, 1872; Joe Frank Triplett, Deputy Sheriff and also later Sheriff of Lander County. Was later Sheriff of Elko County and was very prominent citizen of Elko County.
Father of Phil Triplett of Wells, Nevada. (Died in Elko County.)
No. 212 – May 4, 1877; Joseph A. Miller, County Clerk of Lander County for many years. Senator from Lander County, and for several days was Governor of Nevada (acting) being speaker of the assembly during the absence of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor from the state. Owner of Bank of Austin, and of mines, ranches and livestock. Died several years ago (1944 – ed.) and is buried in California.
No. 221 – June 14, 1878; Charles Sadler, brother of Reinhold Sadler.
No. 246 – April 1, 1887; William Dudley Jones, District Attorney of Lander County for many years. District Judge of the Third Judicial District, comprising Eureka, Nye and Lander Counties for several years. Attorney General of Nevada, elected in 1898 and served for two terms. Assemblyman from Washoe County. Practiced law in Reno, after leaving Lander County. Buried in Reno, Nevada, in 1931. Always remained a member of Lander Lodge No. 8. Held offices in the Grand Lodge of F. & A. M. of Nevada. Past Grand Chancellor of K. of P. and Grand Representative for many years.
(WebMason note – actually, Br. Jones served as Attorney General of Nevada, having been elected in 1898, and resigned before the end of his term.)
No. 255 – September 8, 1893; William Easton, Sheriff of Lander County for many years, also Assessor for several terms. Senator from Lander County. Prominent in State and County affairs.
No. 260 – August 6, 1895; Walter C. Gayhart, school teacher, first man to assay the ore found by Jim Butler at Tonopah. Surveyed and laid out the town of Tonopah.
No. 271 – February 2, 1900; Warren W. Williams; owner of large cattle and sheep ranch. State Senator from Churchill County for many years. One of the builders of the town of Fallon.
No. 275 – May 22, 1902; W. Brougher; owner of mining property in Nye County, held offices in Nye and Ormsby County.
No. 278 – March 15, 1903; Antonio Joseph Maestretti; District Attorney of Lander County for many years, lawyer in Lander County and now (1944 – ed.) practicing in Washoe County.
Bill Drafter for Legislature for three sessions. Held offices in Grand Lodge of F. & A. M. Past Grand Chancellor of Knights of Pythias.
No. 282 – August 8, 1903; Fredrick W. Steiner, prominent citizen of Sparks, now a member of the lodge in Sparks, very active in Masonic and civic affairs in his home town.
No. 289 – 0ctober 17, 1907; Chas. A. Cantwell, Past Master of Lander Lodge No. 8, demittted to Elko, now (1944 – ed) belongs to one of the lodges at Reno. Prominent in local affairs while in Austin. Deputy District Attorney of Elko County for several years. Deputy U. S. Attorney for Nevada for several years. Practicing law in Washoe County and in the State. Office in Reno, Nevada.
No. 303 – June 30, 1913; Fredrick William Whitburn, County Clerk of Lander County for two terms. Enlisted in Army during World War (One – ed.). Killed in action in October, 1918. Was a member of K. of P. at Austin, besides being a Mason. The only Gold Star member of Lodges at Austin.
No. 306 – December 13, 1913; Riley Patten, Spanish American War Veteran, also World War Veteran. Deputy Sheriff in Utah for many years and Forest Reserve Officer in Nevada for many years. Now (1944 – ed.) at Long Beach, California.
No. 317 – November 28, 1924; Howard Edger Browne, District Attorney of Lander County for many years. Past Noble Grand of Odd Fellows’ Lodge. Also Past Grand Master of Nevada jurisdiction of I. O. O. F. Senior Warden of Grand Encampment of Nevada. Officer of Grand Lodge of F. & A. M.
Bert Acree, outstanding member of Lander Lodge No. 8. Prominent in local and county affairs. Has been Auditor and Recorder of Lander County for several terms past. He comes from a long line of Masonic forbears. Contributed valuable aid in assembling data for this article. Past Master of Lander Lodge.
DATA IN REFERENCE TO MASONIC
AND I. O. O. F. BUILDING, ETC.
LANDER LODGE NO. 8
FROM OLD FILES OF REESE RIVER REVEILLE
Reveille of November 4, 1867. (Monday)
Ceremonies of Laying the Corner-stone of the Masonic and Odd Fellows’ Hall.
At one o’clock P. M., on Saturday (Nov. 2, 1867) the Masons and Odd Fellows of Austin performed the interesting and imposing ceremonies of laying the corner-stone of their new hall. The weather, which was agreeable in the morning, changed toward noon and was cold and disagreeable for the remainder of the day. The occasion called forth a large concourse of people, both men and women. The Board of Trustees of the Association opened the ceremonies by deposition in the cavity of the stone the following articles: 1. A historical statement of the building enterprise; 2. Austin Directory of 1866, containing a history of the discovery of silver ore in Reese River; 3. Reese River Reveille of July 3rd, 1866, containing an account of the laying of the corner-stone of the M. E. Church building in Austin; 4. Historical statement of the establishment of the Reese River Reveille in May, 1863, embracing a homographical chart of the proprietors, editors, bookkeeper, compositors, appprentices, and carriers at this date; 5. Copy of the Reveille of Nov. 1, 1867, giving the shipment of bullion for the preceding month of October – memorable as the largest from the region; 6. Virginia Trespass of October 29, 1867; 7. Humboldt Register of October 26, 1867; 8. Eastern Slope of October 19, 1867: 9. Gold Hill News of October 28, 1867; 10. Carson Appeal of October 29, 1867; 11. Silver Bend Reporter of March 30, 1867 – the first copy of the paper – and of October 26, 1867. The following papers contributed by citizens, were deposited in the cavity: Daily Sacramento Union, Oct. 30. 1867; Daily Territorial Enterprise, Oct 31; San Francisco Evening Bulletin, Oct. 25; Alta Californian, Oct. 28; San Francisco Examiner. Oct. 28; San Francisco Christian Advocate, Oct. 24; San Francisco Pacific, Oct. 17; also, the printed list of registered voters in Austin in 1866, and two printed tickets containing the names of candidates for state and county offices in 1866, one headed “Regular Union Ticket”, and the other “Regular Democratic Ticket”.
The following articles of currency, contributed by the First National Bank, also were deposited; fractional treasury notes of the denomination of 50, 25, 10 and five cents; $1 U. S. treasury note and a $4 continental note, contributed by A. E. Shannon, the continental note is dated Nov. 2, 1776, just 91 years ago.
The following coins were deposited; by E. Hudson, one gold dollar and one two cent copper piece; by Mr. Somers, two one cent copper pieces; by the Trustees one silver piece each of the value of 50, 25, 10 and 5 cents. The Reveille office contributed a printed copy of the original mining laws of the Reese River district; also the Boston Evening Traveller of June 25, 1867, containing an account of the dedication of the Masonic Temple in Boston on St. John’s Day. After the articles were deposited in the cavity of the stone the Trustees invited the Grand Master of the I. O. O. F. to proceed with the work of laying the stone on behalf of his Order. The Grand Master, F. V. Drake, officiated, assisted by the following Grand Officers: W. H. Clark, Deputy G. M., D. W. Welty, G. S.; — Taylor, G. Mar.; Rev. J. L. Trefren, G. C. and also the following P. G’s: M. J. Goodfellow, E. X. Willard, J. W. Goetchus, and T. G. Read. The following articles contributed by the order were then deposited in the stone: 1. The proceedings of the First session of the Grand Lodge of the State, with a list of the officers and members of the Order within its jurisdiction; 2. A copy of the New Age, a periodical published in San Francisco and devoted to the interests of the Order; 3. Austin Lodge No. 9 contributed a history of the lodge from its organization to date, with a copy of its by-laws; 4. Alpha Lodge No. 11 contributed a history of the lodge from its organization to date; 5. The Grand Lodge deposited a small copy of the Holy Bible, presented by A. E. Shannon. At the conclusion of the ceremonies of the I. O. O. F., which were deeply impressive, the Grand Master briefly addressed the Board of Trustees and the members of his Order, and then caused proclamation to be made that the work on their part had been duly performed; after which the Grand Chaplain read a solemn and appropriate prayer. The Trustees then invited Grand Master W. W. Wixom to complete the work of laying the stone. At this invitation Grand Master Wixom took charge of the stone, and appointed the following grand officers to assist him: J. F. Hallock, D. G. M.; M. A. Sawtelle, S. G. W.; J. J. Work, J. G. G.; G. H. W. Crockett, G. T.; H. Mayenbaum, G. Sec.; Bro. Taylor, G. Ch.; E. A. Sherman, G. O.; Thomas Wren, G. Mar.; S. G. Stebbins, G. S. R.; E. S. Davis, G. D. B.; — Fitzgerald, S. G. D.; D. R. Immel, J. G. D.; Richard Pearce, G. Stew.; Evan Tones, G. Stew.; J. H. Thompson, Organist; S. G. Stebbins, Tyler. The following articles were then deposited in the corner-stone: 1. The proceedings of the Grand Lodge of F. & A. M. of Nevada, from its organizntion, A. L. 5, 865, to date; 2. History of Lander Lodge No. 8 and Austin Lodge No. 10 F. & A. M.; 3. First jewels of Lander and Austin Lodges; 4. A double eagle coin of the U. S., coined at the Branch Mint in San Francisco in 1867, presented by E. A. Sherman. The square, level and plumb, having been applied to the corner-stone by order of the Grand Master, he proclaimed it to be laid according to the rules of the ancient craft. Corn, oil and wine — the elements of consecration — were then poured upon the stone; the working tools were delivered to the Grand Architect intrusted with the superintedence of the building; and the acting Grand Master, by order of the Grand Master, and in the name of the Grand Lodge, proclaimed the corner-stone laid in due and ample form according to the ancient sages and customs of Free and Accepted Masons.
September 15, 1881 – DESTRUCTIVE FIRE!
Nearly one-fourth of Austin in Ashes.
Loss estimated at about $75,000.00.
About 15 minutes before 12 o’clock a fire started in Crane’s watchmaker’s shop, above and adjoining F. von Nordock’s drugstore, on the east side of Main, a short distance above Virginia street. In less than five minutes from the starting of the fire, four or five frame buildings adjoining were enveloped in flames.
After destroying the frame buildings between the brick in which Wright’s jewelry store, the telegraph office and Hogan’s store were, it continued on up the street, the wind blowing a light breeze in a quartering direction, taking in course Tower & Company’s brick saloon, the Odd Fellows & Masonic Hall, etc., clear up to Parrott & McComb’s blacksmith shop, opposite the Courthouse.
The entire block burned to the ground in less than an hour’s time, with the exception of the Masonic Hall. The opposite side of the street, mostly all frame buildings, were charred and blackened from the heat.
The buildings destroyed: Price & Read’s variety store and post-office; Masonic & Odd Fellows’ brick building, upper floor occupied by the various secret orders, and the lower story by Triplett & Clark as a saloon.
Insurance: The amount of insurance was very light. We understand Robert Hogan had an insurance of $1,200; Odd Fellows’ Hall building and furniture, about $5,000.
The firemen worked bravely, keeping the fire confined to one block. The Masonic Hall roof was burned off entirely, and the second floor badly damaged.