Torrence’s History of Wadsworth Lodge #25

As an outcome of the American victory in the Mexican war, the latter country ceded to the United States a tract of country extending from the Rocky mountains to the Pacific ocean, and from the present boundaries of Idaho and Oregon to the old Mexico line.

Within this area was the unexplored limits of our present Nevada, with her undiscovered bonanza mines rich in their wealth of silver and gold, copper and other minerals.

With the discovery of gold on the south fork of American river in California, the tide of emigration swept over the portion that was known as the Great American Desert, and after passing over to the forty mile desert in the western part of Utah, the trail divided, one branch passing through Carson Valley, the other following the Truckee river from what is today Wadsworth, passing through Stone and Gates’ crossing, and extending its crooked way through the canyon to where Reno now is located.

At the foot of this canyon lay the fertile Truckee Meadows, and four miles away, the spot which later was known as “Jameson’s Station,” afterwards taking the name of “Glendale” and finally included in the city of Sparks.

During the gold rush to California in 1849, many emigrant trains passed over the Truckee river route, headed for the alluvial deposits of the “Golden State.

At that time no settlers were found along the overland trail, and it was not until the year 1852 that Truckee Meadows was settled, and then only one individual braved the lonesomeness of the vast adjacent territory, and virtually pitched his tent beside the limpid waters of the Truckee river, where he later established a trading post, which was maintained for several years. The spot was some distance north of what afterwards became Glendale.

Historical data indicate that George F. Stone and Chas. C. Gates arrived in the district as early as 1853, settling at Stone and Gates Crossing, but their trading post was not established until about 1857; from that time on for the next ten years, that settlement was the most prosperous one in that region.

In the meanwhile one or two stores, a meat market, a wayside inn, a saloon and several dwellings were erected and a small schoolhouse was built.

With the establishment of a postoffice by the U. S. government, the name of the place was changed to Glendale, which continued to prosper until about 1869 when Reno was founded and the settlement gradually declined, and finally passed into oblivion.

The story of Truckee Meadows and environment is famous for the early pioneers who between 1857 and 1870 settled in that section and who, in the development of that portion of Nevada, made history. Among those of prominence, appears the name of Orrin Chas. Ross, whose paternal ancestor was Thomas Ross, a native of Scotland, who emigrated to America some time prior to 1775 and located in Virginia, afterwards moving to Massachusetts.

Orin Ross was a son of Silas Ross who was born about 1814, and who lived in Vermont until 1850, when he moved to Illinois. Orin Ross was born in Massachusetts October 5, 1838. In 1859 he ventured west, settling in California, making his home in Marysville, Forest City and Downieville. In 1863 the wanderlust again seized him and he started for Iowa. On the way east, he suffered an accident near Glendale, and was forced to stop to recuperate. His stay in that locality lengthened into weeks, and the weeks into months. Years passed and in the meantime he became identified with the Virginia City Market. In 1868 he became a member of Reno Lodge No. 13, F. & A. M., and in later years served Washoe county as commissioner.

In 1870 he purchased the “Ross ranch,” later acquiring the Red Rock cattle range owned by John F. Stone. He was the father of six children, the youngest of whom, Silas Earl Ross, became prominent as an instructor in the Nevada State University, and later entered the funeral service business as the senior member of the firm of Ross and Burke.

The name of Silas E. Ross looms prominent in Masonic circles. He has attained the highest honor in Nevada that the Grand Lodge can bestow, having served as Grand Master in 1924, and later receiving the honorary 33rd degree and being named Deputy of the Supreme Council Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Free Masonry. He is a vital and dominant force and factor in Nevada Masonry.

With the coming of the pioneers into Truckee Valley, a new era dawned for that section, and as the rails of the transcontinental railroad were extended from the Pacific coast eastward, Reno sprang into prominence as a commercial center; new settlements developed along the line of the railroad, one of which was later named Wadsworth, founded in the year 1858. In his history entitled “Epic of the Overland,” Robert Lardin Fulton says, “A Roadhouse at Truckee river crossing afterwards became Wadsworth.”

The big bend in the river was a familiar place to all overland emigrants passing over the overland trail to California, for it was there that plenty of good water could be had when they came out of the desert and where they crossed the stream at what was later known as the “Lower Crossing,” at which point the town of Wadsworth now stands and where later the shops of the Southern Pacific railroad were erected.

By the year 1895, a sufficient number of Masons from other jurisdictions had settled in Wadsworth to warrant the establishment of a Masonic lodge, and complying with Masonic usage they held a meeting for the purpose of launching plans to effect an organization.

In response to their petition asking permission to establish a lodge under dispensation on December 2, 1895, Most Worshipful Enoch Strother authorized the issuance of a dispensation to the following brethren, viz: T. L. Bellam, named as the first worshipful master of the lodge; Edwin Howler, Martin Kline, W. S. Bailey, W. B. Van Horn, W. E. Cobb, Wm. Dunlope, F. C. Hampton, J. W. Walker and L. Hottenhouse.

At the following annual communication of the Grand Lodge, a charter was issued to Wadsworth Lodge No. 25, dated June 9, 1896, and the lodge began its active career.

The first meeting place of the brethren was in a building known as “Fraternal Hall,” located on Main street. The quarters were small but comfortable and had been furnished with substantial, sightly station seats. Emblematic pedestals were in their proper locations and a neat altar before which the brethren might approach the East occupied the center of the hall.

In these quarters the lodge continued to expand for many months, until a schoolhouse was acquired by the brethren for a meeting place.

To this hall the lodge moved their belongings and continued to spread Masonic light, and there for several years they held forth, to become a commanding unit among the constituent lodges of the state, augmented by the influx of Masons from other jurisdictions, and the addition of new members from the ranks of the local populace. By 1903 a substantial membership had been set up. In the meantime, fire damaged the hall, and some of the furnishings and regalia were destroyed.

In the Grand Lodge Journal of Proceedings for the year 1902 appears the following, viz: “On motion of M. Worshipful M. I. McCormack, the Grand Lodge Secretary was authorized to loan Wadsworth Lodge No. 25 any lodge furniture and regalia he may have in his possession, said lodge having lost its furniture and regalia by fire.” However, the lodge continued to carry on, and within a few months had fully recuperated its loss.

During the year 1902 changes were made by the railroad and it was decided that newer and larger shops were necessary for the expanding business of that company than could be developed in Wadsworth. To this end a tract of land known as “The Martin Ranch,” located four miles east of Reno in what is now the city of Sparks, was purchased as a new site for the contemplated improvements, and the work of dismantling the shops at Wadsworth and moving them to the new location was begun. Many of the homes of the employees were also removed to the new site, the railroad company in every instance bearing the expense of removal, and in addition issuing property deeds for the ground in the new location.

By the latter part of 1904 the exodus was complete, and from a town of several hundred people, Wadsworth had shrunk to a village of less than one hundred souls.

Wadsworth lodge, however, continued to function for several months longer, but with the flower of its membership moved to the new town of Sparks and with barely a quorum remaining to hold lodge meetings, it was realized that it could not continue as an active Masonic unit, and as the brethren in Sparks were anxious to organize a lodge and continue their Masonic work, it was decided to ask permission to transfer the remaining membership and remove the belongings of the lodge to the new terminal town.

Permission to effect the transfer was asked for and obtained from Most Worshipful George Gillson, Grand Master, on December 19, 1904.

In his report to the Grand Lodge recorded in the 1906 journal of proceedings, Most Worshipful Grand Master C,has. A. Beemer makes the following statement, viz: “June 14th made endorsement on the charter of Wadsworth Lodge No. 25, changing the place of meeting from Wadsworth to Sparks, Nevada, as provided in general regulations No. 44.”

Meanwhile, the brethren in Sparks had negotiated for a building in which their charter might be housed and the lodge expand. This building stood at the corner of 4th and D Streets, and after having been reconditioned, the furniture, regalia and records were brought over from Wadsworth, and the lodge resumed its interrupted career with the promise of a bright future.

For some time Wadsworth Lodge held forth in this location, the enthusiasm of the brethren never lagging, building strongly and well, and developing a lodge which grew to splendid proportions, to become a dominant factor in Masonic circles. The lodge then moved to Robinson Hall, which they occupied from about 1906 to 1921.

So, eventually, Wadsworth lodge outgrew its old quarters, and the need of a larger, more commodious and modem meeting place was manifestly apparent. So urgent did this need become that for months the possibility of promoting a new temple in Sparks was discussed and planned, resulting in the final organization of “The Sparks Masonic Building Association, incorporated under the laws of the State of Nevada, and authorized to sell stock in the association at $25.00 per share, to be devoted to the purpose of building a Masonic Temple in the city of Sparks.” The sum of $50,000.00 was to be expended for erecting the structure. It is interesting to note that eventually, Wadsworth lodge acquired and is at present the owner of $38,875.00 in stock in the association.

So rapidly did this stock move that by the spring of 1921, ground was broken for the venture, and the foundation was being laid. The Grand Lodge was to convene in Reno the following June, and Most Worshipful Harry H. Atkinson, Grand Master, was requested to assemble the Grand Lodge at the site of the new building and lay the cornerstone of the new temple, during the Grand Lodge session.

This invitation was most graciously accepted by the Grand Master, and plans were made by the brethren in Wadsworth to receive and entertain the Grand Body when it was convened to perform the ceremony. And so, at a special communication of the Grand Lodge held at Sparks June 9, 1921, at two o’clock P. M. Grand Master Atkinson opened the Grand Lodge in ample form, in the hall of Wadsworth Lodge No. 25. Grand Marshal Walter Macpherson formed the procession, and the Craftsmen, escorted by DeWitt Clinton Commandery Knights Templar, of Reno, marched to the site of the new edifice, where the corner stone was laid in place, agreeably to usages of Ancient Craft Masonry, and with due and becoming solemnity.

Many interesting and historical mementoes were deposited in a metal casket which was sealed in the stone before it was set in place. After the public Grand honors, the Grand Master delivered to the architect, Worshipful Brother Fred M. Schadler, the implements of architecture, expressing the wish that the building might be carried to a successful completion. Grand Orator Edward A. Ducker was then introduced, and delivered a most interesting and inspiring address. The benediction was pronounced by the Grand Chaplain, the procession was again formed and the brethren returned to Masonic headquarters in Sparks, and the Grand Lodge was called from labor to refreshment until 7:30 P. M. in the Masonic Temple in Reno.

An elaborate luncheon was then served by the ladies of the 0. E. S. The laying of the corner stone was witnessed by a large gathering of Masons not only from Reno and Sparks, but by delegations from every constituent lodge in the state, and by delegations from Reno, Carson City, and the adjoining district.

In the Grand Lodge Session that evening the dedication ceremony was fittingly referred to by Brother Nealy H. Chapin, who spoke in part as follows: “This afternoon we laid with appropriate ceremonies, the corner stone of a new Temple in the city of Sparks.

“It was an auspicious occasion, for throughout the ages it has been the ambition of Masons to aid in the erection of magnificent buildings for the glory of God and the good of man. And, as this corner stone which we laid this afternoon fulfills its purpose as an important and abiding part of that temporal building, so shall your work and the work of the lodges in this jurisdiction, remain as an important part of that spiritual building, the Temple of Masonic work and achievement in our own beloved state of Nevada.”

The material progress of the Temple at Sparks was remarkable and, as at the building of Solomon’s Temple at Jerusalem, weather conditions were conducive to uninterrupted work, and peace and harmony prevailed among the workmen. By December, 1921, the edifice was completed, and was ready for occupancy, and on December 30th was dedicated according to Masonic custom and ceremony, by Grand Master Louis G. Campbell.

It is of interest to note that the Temple is of substantial brick construction, the ground door containing three business rooms, one of which has been occupied by the United States government for the past thirteen years as the Sparks City postoffice.

The second floor is devoted to the use of Wadsworth Lodge No. 25, for lodge purposes, with offices and anterooms in connection. On the third floor is a commodious banquet room.

Year by year Wadsworth Lodge has continued to carry on in its splendid home, zealously performing its Masonic labors, and contributing to the progress of Nevada Masonry.

It has given to the Order some of the outstanding Masons of the state, contributing to the Grand Lodge many distinguished members who have obtained rank and prestige in the affairs of that Grand Body.

In addition to its many other activities, Wadsworth Lodge No. 25 has entertained the Grand Lodge of Nevada upon one occasion, that of the 1933-34 session, when at High Twelve June 14, 1934, Most Worshipful Grand Master Harold R. Amens opened the Seventieth Annual Communication in the Hall of Wadsworth Lodge No. 25.

In addition also to other important questions considered at this session, the matter of Plural and Dual membership was thoroughly discussed, but was laid over for final action until the next annual communication of the Grand Lodge, in 1935.

Upon the recommendation of six Past Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge, Brothers Paul Nathan and Roscoe L. Clark from the Grand Lodge of California, were unanimously elected Honorary Grand Secretary and Honorary Past Junior Grand Warden respectively, of the Grand Lodge of Nevada.

It was at this session, too, that Past Grand Master and Grand Treasurer Walter J. Harris requested the Grand Body not to consider his candidacy for the office of Grand Treasurer, at the election of Grand officers to serve for the ensuing year, giving as his reason for declining further election to this office, that he was resigning his several treasurerships in the various Masonic bodies and was contemplating a vacation and relaxation from business. While it was with reluctance that the Grand Lodge considered the request of the veteran treasurer and Mason, it was remembered that the distinguished brother had served the Grand Lodge as Grand Treasurer for twenty-five consecutive terms, and was entitled to a vacation.

Personnel The membership roster of Wadsworth Lodge reflects the name of Chas. A. Beemer, beloved and revered in his lodge, and attaining prestige and honor in the Grand Lodge of Nevada which he served as Grand Master in 1906.

His Masonic record was an enviable one, marked by ability and strong, unfaltering devotion to Masonry. His labors as Grand Master wrought for a broad, more comprehensive development of the tenets of Masonry, and much of the Craft’s in8uence in Nevada today, particularly the progress and standing of Wadsworth Lodge No. 25 are resultant from the devotion of this loyal and distinguished Grand Master, and his whole hearted efforts to build wisely and well for Masonry.

He retired from his exalted office as Grand Master with the plaudits and well wishes of the Craft, and until the date of his death was an active and zealous worker in Nevada Masonry.

The name of Waiter S. Macpherson looms prominent in the affairs and history, not only of Wadsworth Lodge No. 25, but also as an active figure in the Grand Lodge of Nevada.

Early in its history he became identified with Wadsworth Lodge, and at once became a dominant personage in its progress, contributing not only of his time and means to its support and upbuilding, but likewise giving of his ability and untiring effort in promoting its welfare.

His zeal for Masonry won honor for him in the Grand Lodge of Nevada soon after his advent into that Grand Body in which he advanced to become Junior Grand Warden, and which at the present time (1944 – ed.) he is serving most efficiently as Grand Treasurer.

Outstanding as a member of Wadsworth Lodge, and prominent in the affairs of the Grand Lodge of Nevada is William R. Adams, who in 1931, wore the Purple of the Order upon his shoulders as Grand Master of Nevada Masons, and who so successfully served as Grand Master of Instruction for seven successive terms.

To him was accorded the honor of superintending the revision of the “Nevada Work” and placing it upon a basis whereby all lodges in the state would work in uniformity.

Through his efforts and direction the present mode of ritualistic procedure has been remodeled and revised; Deputy Masters of instruction have been appointed to supervise and instruct the brethren in their districts; schools of instruction have been held at every Grand Lodge Communication, and through his efforts, ably assisted by a committee of competent Past Grand Masters, the work has been brought to a wonderful perfection.

Failing health and the demands of his business prompted Brother Adams to decline reelection at the Annual Communication held in Winnemucca in 1938; he remains, however, a consistent worker in the Masonic field, loved and respected by every member of the Craft in the jurisdiction. His death occurred February 24, 1940.

One of the active members of Wadsworth Lodge No. 25 was Reverend T. M. Bellam, the first worshipful master of the lodge when it was organized in the town of Wadsworth.

His Masonic activities marked him as an outstanding member of the Order, and among his brethren he won respect and confidence, and was accorded every honor his lodge could bestow.

His entry into the Grand Lodge of Nevada was the occasion for a display of endeavor which he manifested in his home lodge, and in 18% he was appointed Grand Chaplain, which office he held continuously until 1920, with the exception of the year 1907.

When Humboldt Lodge No. 27 was organized in Lovelock in 1901, and Churchill Lodge came into existence a little later, Brother Bellam was delegated by Grand Master Morgan to institute both lodges, and install their officers.

He died July 26, 1928.

For years Elwood H. Beemer has been a well known member of Nevada Masonry. Immediately upon receiving his degrees in Wadsworth Lodge, he manifested an interest in the affairs of his lodge, and was given an appointive office. By consistent effort and faithful attendance, he was eventually elevated to the office of Worshipful Master of the lodge, and from there it was but a step through the portals of the Grand Lodge, within whose cloisters he was soon accorded a place and, eventually, a station.

As he advanced through the various degrees of Masonry in other Masonic bodies, his ability and zealousness was recognized, and he was elevated to the highest offices those bodies can bestow. In June, 1938, he was advanced to the office of Most Worshipful Grand Master of Nevada Masons; his record in that distinguished office is a matter of approbation, not only by the Grand Lodge of Nevada, but by the brethren of the constituent lodges of the state, by whom he is fraternally beloved and respected.

Nevada Masonry is better for having had the leadership of this eminent brother.

One of the most important and far reaching activities ever attempted by Wadsworth Lodge No. 25 was the sponsoring and eventual establishment of a chapter of DeMolay, for the young boys of Sparks.

The movement was started in the early months of 1923, through the activity and enthusiasm of Brother Fred W. Steiner, who had long been interested in character development of boys. Through his instrumentality, ably assisted by other far sighted members of his lodge, the attempt came to successful termination, and on June 13, 1923, a charter was issued by the Supreme Council DeMolay, authorizing eight outstanding boys to organize a chapter in the city of Sparks; in this charter Brother Fred W. Steiner was named chairman of the Advisory Council of the new chapter. It is to the credit of Brother Steiner, that through his interest, ability and understanding of the boys entrusted to his supervision, and their love and esteem for him, he has continued through the years in the high and responsible office to which he was named in the charter.

Sparks chapter DeMolay stands as a notable example of the splendid objective of the youth movement, and the aims and purposes of the parent chapter. It has recruited its membership from the flower of young boyhood of Sparks, who have enthusiastically responded to the lure of its social, fraternal and religious fundamentals.

It has given to Masonry those who have passed the age limit in the ranks of the Order, and have been impelled by the teachings of DeMolay to seek sanctuary and contact with Masonic brethren, practice the doctrine of fraternity, and recognize the brotherhood of man, and the fellowship of God in the observance of those truly Masonic tenets, Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.

Here we pause; not because the record of Wadsworth lodge is written, for who can tell of the years to come? Though we may prophesy, still, we can only forecast; yet, as we attempt to outline what lies before it, we may justly say, that as the enthusiasm of the brethren has established a record for devotion, tireless energy and magnificent accomplishment in all its past activities, so will it continue in the years to come, a dominant unit among the constituent lodges of Nevada, a factor to aid in the upbuilding of the community in which it operates, a sanctuary to which the profane will gravitate, inspired by their concept of its merits, and lured by the example of the brethren in their practice of those Masonic virtues, Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.