Montezuma Lodge #30
Chartered: May 15, 1862
Montezuma Lodge #30, F. & A.M.
113 E Washington St
Carson City, NV 89701
P.O. Box 655
Goldfield, NV 89013-0655
Stated Meeting: First Saturday 10:00am
Breakfast around 9:00am
(Meets year round)
Worshipful Master: Richard L. Gardner, P.M.
Secretary: James J. Werman, P.M.
Torrence’s History of Montezuma Lodge #30
Masonry has always required of its votaries strict adherence to those fundamental principles which make for the highest development of character, and in the trial which attended the conquering of the west, men of sterling worth came out of the melting pot to guide the destinies, and frame the policies of a country in the making.
It was by such men as these, brave, courageous and resourceful, that Masonry was established in Nevada; it was from the ranks of such that the urge to promulgate the principles of brotherhood was born, and found fruitage in every mining camp of importance in the state, and may we say, that but for the refining and leveling influence of Masonry, in the communities in which it found lodgement, existence at times would have been threatened by outlawry; a condition which must have eventually resulted in chaos. However, Masonry gives to kindred fraternal organizations which developed in those centers, full credit for the part they likewise played in the moral uplift of those early mining camps, and in the development of the spirit of brotherhood which impelled them to deeds of kindness, forebearance and charity.
We of today have, in a measure at least, distorted the picture of the real men and women of that era.
We are inclined to picture them as crude, illiterate, and unrefined. True, there were many such among them, but the records show that the rank and file of our pioneer men and women were citizens of peculiar merit, and of rare mental, moral, and may it be said, physical qualifications, else they could not have waged and won in the battle of unequal forces which confronted them in those days of danger, hardships and privations.
But conquer they did, and established here an empire which has given to the world men and women of outstanding attainments in every walk and station of life, and created industries which have aroused the admiration of the world.
It was such men as these and their descendants that developed Masonry in Goldfield, and from whom it derived an impulse to scatter the seeds of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.
The appearance of Masonry in Goldfield dates from the development of the fabulous gold deposits discovered in the rocky ledges of Columbia mountains, and later uncovered in the heart of the Mohawk mine, and surrounding claims. The romantic and glamorous story of the development of this district is probably one of the most unique and exciting in the history of the metal industry of America, attracting the attention of some of the most astute financiers of the period in which the mines flourished, and drawing to the district a mass of humanity numbering at its peak some twenty thousand people during the period of its development, lasting from the date of discovery in December, 1902, and continuing to October, 1919, when operations were suspended, or practically discontinued, owing to the exhaustion of profitable ore.
The discovery of the metal deposits around Goldfield involves a lax period in the development of the Tonopah mines, lying between 25 and 30 miles to the north, and brings into the story two adventurous characters, Billy Marsh and Harry C. Stimler, who arrived in Tonopah early in 1902, at a time when there was promise of a real mining center being developed in the district. Money was scarce, for capital had not as yet been induced to invest in the new territory, as it did later; and while some of the more adventurous were confident of the ultimate development of the territory, excitement was only simmering, awaiting the kindling of the dame, later to dare into red heat with the opening of rich veins in the Tonopah Extension and the Mizpah claims.
So Marsh and Stimler took a day off, and journeyed south in search of a spot which, according to the report of an Indian, Tom Fisherman, who exhibited a piece of so called picture rock, which he said he had found on a ledge, “twenty, thirty miles south” they hoped to be able to uncover something worth while. They had obtained a grub stake from Jim Butler, who discovered the Mizpah mine and opened the district, and Tom Kendall, who later opened the Tonopah Club, afterwards becoming famous by reason of its rich appointments, its metropolitan service, and the lavish prodigality of spending which characterized its all night parties, and the feverish spirit of gambling developed among its patrons.
Marsh and Stimler reached Rabbit Springs after two days trip, and made for the ledges of Columbia Mountain, where they located The Sand Storm and a number of other claims. With a sack full of rock, they returned to Tonopah, where it was found the ore assayed $12.60 to the ton, and it was all gold. Now $12.60 ore was nothing to get excited over, but Stimler liked the looks of the country, and the ore promised something better, and as long as Butler and Kendall were willing to furnish a limited amount of funds for further development work, they returned to their locations and started to develop the property. To the district they gave the name of “Grandpa.”
The apparent secrecy regarding their movements, their reticence to discuss their activities, and the taciturnity of both Butler and Kendall aroused the curiosity of two other prospectors, Alva D. Meyers, a product of Cripple Creek days, and Bob Hart, also a prospector, who had tramped the western hills in search of fortune, and having obtained a grub stake from a group of local mining men in Tonopah, these two left town on May 20th, 1903 and headed south for Rabbit Springs, where, after a day or two, they located ten claims, including the Combination, destined to become one of the best producers in what was later to become the Goldfield district, and named for the combined group of men who had grub staked them. Their claims were located between two and three miles from those of Marsh and Stimler.
Soon, C. D. (Charley) Taylor appeared upon the scene, and camped in a rocky gulch somewhere below Marsh and Stimlers claims, and started prospecting. In the meantime, Butler and Kendall had withdrawn their support from financing all the development work on the claims originally located by Marsh and Stimler; among the claims released, was the Jumbo which Taylor relocated.
In its 1909 official report, The Department of the Interior is authority for the statement that Taylor was eventually to net One Million Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars from this claim; however, that was later, when “Grandpa” had been renamed Goldfield by .A. L. Meyers, and was to achieve a world wide fame for the fabulous richness of its mines.
Gradually the district grew with the influx of the adventurous, and the uncovering of yellow metal which grew more valuable as the shafts increased in depth. By the fall of 1903 “Goldfield was on its way” and soon came John McKane representing Chas. M. Schwab, who was looking over the district with a view to investing some of the Schwab fortune made in steel.
The Combination deal was effected, and later, Con Cook and Tom Ramsey grubstaked by Harry Ramsey, located the Alhambra which was afterwards renamed the Mohawk, fated to become the most famous mine in the district, if not in the state, and said to have netted its owners, from a single carload of high grade ore, of forty-eight tons, nearly $575,000.00, and to have produced around five million dollars in a total of one hundred six days. It was from this mine also, that the most gigantic steal of high grade ore ever perpetrated in the history of western mines was carried on, high graders carrying away an estimated amount of ore, valued at Three Thousand dollars, daily.
GOLDFIELD WAS ROOMING!! The world was taking notice, and W. A. Clark, John W. Brock, Bernard Baruch and August Heinze, had laid their capital at the feet of the Golden Goddess, while Tasker Oddie, George Wingfield, Zeb Kendall, Key Pittman, Al Meyers, J. P. Loftus and others were in line for fame and fortune. From an original cluster of five men, Goldfield was now a town of between five and six thousand people, and was taking on both metropolitan and cosmopolitan airs; money was plentiful, resulting in an orgy of free spending and a consequent resorting to an era of prodigality and high life. High class saloons and gambling houses were opened, palatial and sumptuous in their appointments, a far cry from the seam cracked shacks with their rough board bar, which housed the first saloons in the town.
In 1905 the railroad from Tonopah reached Goldfield, the occasion being celebrated by a three days jubilee. A spike of solid gold taken from the Goldfield mines, and driven by General Sup’t Alonzo Tripp, marked the completion of the road. With the coming of the railroad, commenced a period of mill construction, for electric power generated at Bishop Creek and water piped sixteen miles from Alkali Springs, permitted the mines to treat their own ore at a vast saving. The Combination started the movement, and completed its mill in 1905, and within a few months there were six mills in operation, the smoke from these industries blackening the far horizon, a signal which was to call to this desert El Dorado, still more thousands seeking wealth, excitement and adventure, of which there was plenty and to spare.
Among this mighty throng, urged by the spirit of adventure, and lured by the call of fortune, had gathered many Masons, most of whom were too busy wooing the fickle goddess of Gold, to give much thought to their fraternal ties. They came from scattered sections of the country where most had eked out a scant living in the practice of cherished professions, or trades. With their arrival in this gold camp, they were soon engulfed in the hectic life of the district; lodge ties and duties were forgotten as they knelt at the shrine of Mammon and offered their incense before the Goddess of Gold. But traditions and practices are not easily overcome nor forgotten and occasionally, the longing that they might once more approach the East and find surcease from the mad excitement of this desert camp in the association of their brethren, and in the peace and harmony of the lodge room, grew upon them.
With desire was developed impulse, and with impulse came action. Little by little new acquaintances were made, some of whom shaped their lives by aid of the square, plumb, and level; a word dropped here, another there, revealing that these acquaintances had sought and found Masonic light.
And so the number grew, and finally they began to meet occasionally in some secluded place where they could exchange Masonic views, compare Masonic work, and dedicate anew their lives to Masonic teachings and principles. And so the resolve was made to establish a Masonic lodge in Goldfield, where they might practice the fundamentals of the craft, which would contribute to the moral uplift of this community, so badly needed.
To resolve, was to act, and as they measured their Masonic strength, it was found that in numbers there were enough and more for a quorum, and application was made to the Grand Lodge for permission to open a lodge under dispensation. At the 42nd annual communication of the Grand Lodge held in Reno Lodge Hall on June 12-13, 1906, Most Worshipful Chas. H. Beemer, Grand Master, reported that on January 27th, 1906 he had granted the request of 37 brethren from Goldfield to organize a Masonic lodge under dispensation; at the same session, the committee on charters introduced a resolution reading as follows: “Believing that it would conduce to the good of Masonry, we offer the following resolution and move its adoption: Resolved, that a charter be granted Montezuma lodge at Goldfield, Esmeralda Co., Nev. to be called Montezuma Lodge No. 30, and that the following brethren be named in the charter as its first officers: Brother Charles Beesley, Worshipful Master, Brother Wm. P. Wood, Senior Warden, and Brother Milton C. Ash, Junior Warden. Geo. F. Parker, R. Battles, E. H. Beemer, Committee”
The report of the committee war unanimously adopted, and another unit of Masonry was constitutionally enrolled upon the chartered list of Nevada lodges. With the completion of their formative period and the forwarding of their petition to the Grand Lodge asking permission to organize a lodge under dispensation, and in anticipation of the request being granted, plans were made to acquire a building which might be utilized for lodge purposes. To this end, a committee was appointed to select such a meeting place; as the result of their endeavors, a building was acquired that met their needs, the necessary furnishings were secured, and the lodge room was pronounced ready for occupancy. In the meanwhile, word was received that authority to operate a Masonic lodge U. D. had been issued, and arrangements were made to receive the document and its official bearer in appropriate Masonic form.
At the appointed time these ceremonies were held, and Montezuma Lodge No. 30 entered upon an era of Masonic activity which was to continue for many years. That the brethren of the lodge were up and doing was evidenced by the fact that their trestle board was filled with work, and by the report of the secretary to the Grand Lodge the following year, showing a membership of 83 enrolled members. Upon the membership roster appearing in the Grand Lodge proceedings of 1907, is the name of Henry W. Miles, who in later years was to wear the Purple of the Order upon his distinguished shoulders, as Most Worshipful Grand Master, F. & A. M. of Nevada, and whose zeal for Masonry, and whose understanding of its fundamentals has marked him as an outstanding figure among Nevada Masons. At this date (1944 – ed.), although a quarter of a century has passed since Brother Miles officiated as Grand Master, he still retains his early Masonic zeal and ardour, and is a dominant and commanding figure and personage in Nevada Masonry.
With the granting of its charter, Montezuma lodge at once voted to receive in a manner befitting the occasion, the representative of the Grand Lodge who would officially constitute the baby lodge of the state. To this end, the brethren entered into elaborate plans to make the meeting an outstanding occasion. Brethren from the adjoining district of Tonopah were invited to attend, and such officers of the Grand Lodge who might be able to make the long and tiresome journey from Reno and outlying districts were asked to be present.
With the arrival of the date, Masons representing a score of jurisdictions assembled to greet the distinguished bearer of the cherished document, and assist in launching the new unit of Masonry upon Masonic waters.
In his report to the Grand Lodge at its 43rd annual communication held in Masonic hall in the city of Reno, June 11th & 12th, 1907, Most Worshipful Walter J. Harris, Grand Master makes the following statement: “August 10th, 1906, assisted by Right Worshipful Robert Lewers, Deputy Grand Master, I constituted, dedicated, and consecrated Montezuma Lodge of Goldfield.”
While the first quarters occupied by Montezuma Lodge met the requirements of the newly organized lodge, yet they were more of a makeshift nature than they were comfortable and commodious; however, they answered the purpose until increase in membership made them too small for the brethren, and a move was deemed not only advisable, but necessary, and Carpenters Hall was secured for their purposes. Here exclusive quarters were maintained for many months, when another move was made necessary, and a hall in the Montezuma Club was obtained; but again dissatisfaction with their quarters impelled the brethren to desert their last retreat and move into a room above Sullivans Hardware Store, which was comfortably fitted for the convenience of the brethren, and where they remained domiciled for several months.
But wanderlust had obsessed them since first they became a unit of the constituent lodges of the state, and the desire to obtain a sanctuary where they might be more exclusive and secluded was the agent through which the Max Meyer Building was finally acquired. This building was a stone and cement structure, whose thick walls and massive architecture bespoke a retreat safe and secure both from cowans and eavesdroppers, as well as from danger of fire. Into this building the lodge moved its belongings, and settled down to several years intensive expansion, maintaining exclusive quarters which are fondly remembered by the older members, as having been the sanctuary in which they were raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason.
Here too, the activities of the lodge were centered for years, during the halcyon days of the feverish camp from that period following its probation and promotion, until development work had brought to light evidences of vast and unbelieveable wealth, and the camp grew from a collection of ramshackle tents and shanties, to a well laid out little city.
This hall continued not only the harbour of the blue lodge, but was also the asylum for the housing of higher branches of our Masonic fraternity. It was also a place for the holding of not only fraternal meetings, but also for the promotion of many social affairs given by the brethren, to which the worthy and influential citizens of Goldfield were invited. It also witnessed the gathering of the craft to welcome distinguished guests, Masonic dignitaries not only from the Sagebrush State, but those who came from far afield, and represented jurisdictions far removed from the desert adjuncts of Goldfield.
Through dismal days of lack, uncertainty, and adversity, as well as through months and years of plenty, prosperity, and affluence, this hall was always known as Masonic Hall to the citizens of Goldfield, and was the center from which Masonic influence and activities radiated. It maintained its proud place and popularity even after the far famed mines had yielded up their fabulous wealth, and the ore supply was exhausted; and when the doom of Goldfield was foretold through the failure of its ore supply, and the trails leading from its borders were darkened by the passage of the hundreds migrating to more prosperous centers, the old hall stood defiant and expectant; defiant, because those who were left behind, dared not question the Masonic spirit to which it once gave shelter; expectant, because of the possibility of the desert city staging a comeback, and the glory and glamour of bygone days might return, and so, until 1923 the old hall remained a visible object of Masonic sanctuary, still housing the remnant of Masonry which remained in Goldfield.
However, that dread fiend of every mining camp eventually demanded its toll, and in 1923 the old hall was destroyed by the fire which almost leveled what remained of the town.
With the destruction of their meeting place, Masonry in Goldfield languished for the want of a lodge room in which to meet, and plans were again set afoot to find a suitable location in which to continue their Masonic work. This time, however, no suitable building or hall was to be had, and disappointment and discouragement attended the brethren. It must be remembered that the cessation of mining activities in 1919 had been a severe blow to Masonry in Goldfield, in that many of its active members had been engulfed in the exodus which followed the closing of the mines; but the brethren were persistent, and eventually worked out a plan whereby they might acquire a home of their own. It developed that a private residence, a splendid building built of native rock, could be purchased. In this connection, I quote a letter received from Bro. James L. McKenna, past master of Montezuma lodge, viz. Goldfield, Nevada, Jan. 23, 1938. Dear Brother Torrence:
In complying with your request of a long time ago, it is my pleasure to inform you that the temple here was first started by Mr. Claude Smith. However, Mr. Smith met financial reverses before the building was completed and had to turn it over to Mr. Isaac Pepper who completed it. Mr. Pepper was repaid for his part by being allowed to lease the house free of charge.
The Masons purchased the building from Mr. Smith for the sum of $1,000.00. They spent considerable in making the basement into a lodge room of which we are very proud.
Fraternally yours, James L. McKenna.
The building houses a commodious dining room, reception room, rest and lounging room, all of which are located on the main floor; as referred to in Brother McKenna’s letter, the lodge room is unique, in that it occupies what was once the basement of the building, but which, since its thorough remodeling has been made into an underground lodge room with all the comforts and conveniences which skill and money can provide. It is interesting to note that this is the second lodge room in Nevada located below the ground floor; the first, and for many years said to be the only one in the west, being the lodge room of Eureka Lodge No. 16, at Eureka, Nevada, dedicated to Masonic usage in 1867.
In this commodious building, Masonry continues to carry on; true, the finances of the lodge have been reduced to a mere bagatelle compared to what they were when the camp was affluent, and prosperity accompanied the spread of Masonic Light in the old days when new bonanza mines were being discovered. The old days of sumptuous social entertainment in the lodge room have long since ceased, and financial moderation marks the fraternal and social functions of the lodge. Rut the true spirit of Masonry still prevails among those who have remained to share the erratic fortunes of the camp and Montezuma lodge is carrying on.
Shorn of much of its prestige, with but few remaining members left to spread Masonic light, yet these few are faithful and constant, and should a turn of the pick and shovel uncover a new strike, and again the excited throng flock to a rejuvenated camp, around the remnant of the old guard, new Masonic impulses will be developed, and from the ranks of the profane will come the upright and worthy, seeking affiliation with the brethren, and once more Montezuma lodge will resume its place with the numerically strong units of Masonry in Nevada.
The story of Masonry in Goldfield would be incomplete without reference to the organization and perpetuation of other branches of Masonry which followed in the wake of Montezuma lodge, for in this one time affluent camp, whose productive mines gave promise for a time of rivaling the output of the famous Comstock lode, the true spirit of Masonry prevailed, its votaries were wedded to those age old principles which advocated the fellowship of God, and the brotherhood of man, and practiced Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. With the establishment of Blue Lodge Masonry in Goldfield, and the substantial increase in the numerical strength of Montezuma lodge, came the desire of the brethren for further advancement in the Order. To this end, during the year 1907 plans were set afoot to organize a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, and application for a charter was accordingly made to the Grand Chapter R. A. Masons of Nevada, which was favorably considered by that body, and a charter was issued Goldfield Chapter No. 10. The organization was effected on February 16, 1907, with Wm. P. Woods High Priest; Charles Beasley, King, and Henry W. Miles, Scribe, and a total enrollment of 25.
During the activity of the camp, Goldfield Chapter R. A. M. prospered and became a dominant factor in the Grand Chapter of the state, but with the decline of mining activities, it shared the fate of other Masonic bodies and after a few years languished and eventually Capitular Masonry in the district almost perished. At present the few remaining members retain their charter, but their struggle for existence is strenuous, and their future problematical.
A further evidence of Masonic advancement in Goldfield was the occasion of the enrollment of Malta Commandery Knights Templar No. 3 in the district, which was effected in the fall of 1908 with the following officers in command: Adams F. Brown, Eminent Commander; Henry W. Miles, Generalissimo, and Wm. W. Ashley, Captain General.
At the triennial Conclave of Knights Templar in Chicago September 10, 1914 this Commandery was granted a charter and was constituted a regular Commandery by Absolom Spencer, Past Eminent Commander of DeWitt Commandery, acting as special representative of Grand Master Sir William B. Malish.
As the prosperity of the camp continued, Malta Commandery No. 3 continued to progress and advance, the enthusiasm of its members and the proficiency it attained in Commandery tactics and movement made it a popular as well as a spectacular unit upon occasions when it appeared in public.
With the decline of mining industry in the district, and the exodus of many of the Masonic fraternity, Goldfield Commandery was forced to disband. (Note – the Malta Commandery No. 3 charter has been reactivated in Las Vegas, and Malta 3 currently meets in the hall of Vegas Lodge #32. -ed.)
June 1, 1907, witnessed the concluding steps in the organization of Nevada Council No. 1, Royal and Select Masters in Goldfield, with the selection of Adams F. Brown, Master; Charles Beasley, R. I. Master, and Joseph Hamilton, Principal Conductor. The charter granting official recognition to this branch of Masonry was long in arriving, more than five years having passed, it is said, before the cherished document was issued by the Grand Council, which on September 10, 1912, placed its official seal upon the document and Nevada Council No. One became a duly authorized unit of the parent council.
To Adams F. Brown, special deputy of Grand Master Graff M. Acklin was given the honor of constituting the council, which was properly done in the dignified and impressive ceremony of this important branch of Masonry. A large membership was enrolled when its charter was received, which was increased by others before mining activities in Goldfield were suspended in 1919, and this branch of Masonry was sadly depicted by reason of the removal of the flower of its membership to other fields.
At present but few of its once fine membership remain to lament the fate which robbed Goldfield of this splendid organization, and the Order of one of its most progressive and substantial units.