Washoe Lodge #35

Reno, NV

Chartered: June 11, 1926

Washoe Lodge #35, F. & A.M.
601 W Peckham Ln
Reno, NV 89504

(775) 827-2233

Stated Meeting: First Wednesday 7:30pm​​
Fellowship & Dinner: 6:30pm
(Dark July & August)

2018 Worshipful Master: Alex Wilson
Secretary: William R. Hesser, P.M.

Torrence’s History of Washoe Lodge #35

The history of Freemasonry begins in Nevada in 1862, when Carson Lodge No. 154 was organized under California registry. In July of the same year, Washoe Lodge No. 157 came into existence under the same jurisdiction.

When the Grand Lodge of Nevada was organized January 15, 1865, Carson Lodge No. 154 became Carson Lodge No. One, and Washoe Lodge No. 157 became Washoe Lodge No. Two, under Nevada registry. Both of these lodges were active and foremost in making Freemasonry what it has been in the past, and what it is today; the first lodge is still functioning strongly, but Washoe Lodge ceased to be, in 1889, with the surrender of its charter.

Both lodges, also, were located in the center almost, of a great mineral area, and profited through the commercial and industrial enterprises resultant from the discovery of vast silver and gold deposits. But the rockers, long-toms, sluices and workings have long since decayed, or have been destroyed, especially in the district where Washoe Lodge No. 2 at one time flourished, and the brethren who worked them have long ago crossed over to the other golden shore. The fences which enclosed the spot where these brethren sleep, have rotted away, and the mounds beneath, in which was dropped the sprig of acacia, have in many instances been obliterated, while the headstones which once marked their last resting place, lie prostrate on the ground, worn away by the elements, and the ruthless hand of Time.

But the lodge and the brethren who composed it, are not overlooked, nor will they be forgotten, for the good they accomplished for Masonry has continued to serve as an example of uprightness and fraternal integrity for later lodges, and for younger brethren to remember, and has borne abundant fruit in the years that have passed since Washoe lodge became extinct.

However, pleasant memories are aroused as the history of that old pioneer lodge is reviewed, and the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Nevada, the proud Mother of Masonry, are perused, and the activities of the brethren of Washoe Lodge Number Two are noted – activities which command our admiration, and the full measure of our love and respect.

Just as that old lodge furnished many of the prominent representatives to the Grand Lodge, and by long and faithful service shed a halo of glory and light, reaching from the wind swept slopes of the mountains, down into the valley across verdant meads, and up craggy canyons on to the spot which symbolized “The Temple on Mount Moriah,” the headquarters of our Craft in Virginia City, so also, when Reno became the home of the Grand Lodge in Nevada, and in later years another band of enthusiastic brethren united to spread Masonic light, diffuse the principles and virtues of the Order, and follow in the footsteps of old Washoe Lodge No. Two, and Masonic impulses prompted them to found a new lodge in that city, the fraternal urge of the brethren in choosing a name for the new unit was perhaps governed by the old Mosaic injunction, “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations, ask thy fathers, and they will show thee, thy elders and they will teach thee,” and generously and fraternally gave to the new lodge the name “Washoe” in memory of the long and faithful service of the brethren of the second lodge to be founded in Nevada Jurisdiction.


For years the territory embraced in the confines of what is now Nevada, remained virgin territory, unknown to none but the native Indian, who shunned its desert wastes, and pitched his wigwam by the banks of winding, restless streams over in what we know as the western portion of the state.

Occasionally, he wandered far afield, after the fashion of wandering tribes, but only to satisfy his curiosity to know what lay beyond, or to familiarize himself with the lay of the land, or to explore new fields which promised returns in forage, or trophies of the hunt. In these secluded haunts he was discovered when the white man first entered the boundaries of that unknown wilderness. There is some controversy as to when the territory first felt the pressure of a white man’s foot; some claim it was in 1775, when a monk of the Order of Franciscans crossed the borders from California, and wandered inland. His stay, however, is said to have been of short duration, and he soon returned to the cloisters of his Mission.

Fifty years later, a band of trappers came from the north, explored the windings of the Humboldt and Walker rivers, and passed over beyond the California border. From 1834 to 1844 John C. Fremont wandered up and down the territory, Kit Carson was also a visitor to those wilds, and Peter Ogden felt the lure of the sagebrush plains, and spent some months in exploring the western side of the territory.

With the departure of the John C. Fremont expedition, for almost a decade there was no travel along the dim trails, but with the discovery of gold in California, came the mad rush of frenzied men and women, seeking fortune along the streams of the “Golden State.” As a result of this stampede, two distinct transcontinental trails were developed, one, winding its way from Council Bluffs, through Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah, and across Nevada, known as the Overland Trail, another taking a southern course, crossing the southwestern section of Utah and entering Nevada across what was called the 40-mile desert, thence Southwest, through the present Las Vegas district, and across Death Valley into San Bernardino.

This western advance of the pioneer witnessed the establishment of many new settlements along the way, as the “covered wagon” pushed westward, leaving in its wake the sturdy pioneers, some of whom paused in their advance into the ever extending west, to coax stubborn, arid soil to blossom and bloom, and to stake out towns and villages, and give to the country of their adoption future sons and daughters, who would eventually shape the destinies of an outstanding and progressive people.

Among this heterogeneous mass of humanity, moved by the promise of fortune, lured by the call of adventure, and inspired by the example of the pioneers who aided in the development of other virgin districts of America, were Masons, who in the order of events, cast their lot with their comrades who had halted at some promising outpost along the way, and laid the foundation of new communities; and there were many such settlements promoted by the pioneers in their westward trek, in the early days of the west. In time, others paused at these wayside villages, some to remain to become factors in the life and activities of the community of their choice, others to move onward to new adventures in the ever extending west.

It was by such as dared the hardships, privations, and dangers of an unexplored, unknown country, that our great west was settled. It was through the enterprise and determination of such men and women, some of them unlettered and uncouth, it is true, but all of whom were of fine character and principles, that our west became an entity, and in time a potent factor in the activities of the nation.

With the passage of time, the creak of the covered wagon, the hoof beat of stalwart horses, the roll of the ox-cart, and the tread of the solitary traveler, the Overland Trail widened its outlines, and intensified its markings. Along its course, the new settlements matured to thriving towns, arable land was developed into profitable farms and homesteads; Horace Greeley advised young men to “go west” and the flower of eastern young manhood had taken his advice, and sought fortune in the alluring and romantic country, “beyond the Rocky Mountains.”

It was from such as these that Washoe county, Nevada, had been populated, and Reno was established, to become not only the county seat of Washoe county, but almost the capital of the state as well. In the early days of its founding, it was not hard to prophesy that it would become a dominant factor in the social, economic, educational, and political fabric of the state, and would attract to its borders, men and women of character, to occupy positions of prominence; gain the confidence of their colleagues and associates, and built wisely and well for the future.

The prophecy was abundantly fulfilled, and in time the little inland city became a sanctuary for a splendid class of citizens. Among this outstanding people, Masonry found a place, and through the observance of its landmarks, and the practice of its commendable virtues, became a power in moulding the morale of the little city, and in time promoting and organizing a Masonic unit which became a bulwark of strength among the constituent lodges of Nevada. The growth of this lodge kept pace with the stride of the city; in time it outgrew its tiny quarters, and still its membership continued to expand in numbers, for the incoming tide of emigration brought with it Masons from other sections of the country, many of whom sought a home with the brethren of the local lodge, whose membership roster was overcrowded. But until a Temple worthy of Masonry, and constructed to fittingly house the brethren of this lodge could be constructed, the sojourning brethren must hide their time, until the visions of the lodge found realization and fulfillment in a structure worthy and symbolic of our “mystic tie.” It was no selfish motive which precluded admittance of the brethren, merely a question of comfortably housing them, a question which became a subject of frequent discussion, and profound thought and attention.

And so, for years, the number of sojourning Masons in Reno continued to arouse the attention of the brethren of the first established lodge in the city, who realized that all visiting brothers should be provided with a home where they might “meet upon the level, and part upon the square” and perform their labors, spread Masonic light, and contribute to the support of Masonry, according to our ancient landmarks.

Measures were finally taken, having in mind the founding of another Masonic unit in the city, and all sojourning brethren were contacted and informed of the proposed organization. The response was almost unanimous, and a membership list was speedily filled, and a request was framed and sent to Reno Lodge No. 13, asking permission to found a lodge in their territory. This request was returned to the petitioners, but only for a temporary season; however, the months sped by and no further action was taken either by the sojourning brethren, or Reno lodge, in deference to the proposed new unit of Masonry. Some of the sojourning brothers eventually found a home with No. 13, and became valuable members of that lodge; some crossed the border into California, and affiliated with some lodge in that state, but by far a greater number remained in Reno, without a Masonic home, retaining their membership in the lodge where they were raised, but continuing loyal and constant to the Order, visiting occasionally the local lodge, or calling on the brethren in adjoining sections of the jurisdiction. Among the brethren in Reno who stressed the need of another lodge in the city were W. M. David, Past Grand Master of Nevada, and recognized as an authority on the standard work of the Nevada lodges; Fred Black, john Grant, Doctor Da Costa, and Horace J. Brown, all prominent Masons and who, on another occasion endorsed a movement to organize a second lodge in the city. These brethren met in the Sciots club room in Reno, on April 27, 1926, and took preliminary steps to organize a new lodge, under dispensation. A request was also directed to Reno Lodge No. 13, stating their intentions, and asking authority to set up a new lodge in territory controlled by that lodge.

The petition of the brethren was speedily granted by the Grand Lodge, and on April 28, 1926, authority was given the petitioners to found a second lodge of Masons in Reno U. D. Officers were named, and the lodge was set to work without delay. It is of interest to know that Washoe Lodge was organized without enrolling its membership from Reno Lodge No. 13. A total of 59 sojourning Masons, hailing from scattered jurisdictions over the country, were enrolled upon the original membership list; this unusual situation attendant upon the assembling of so large an enrollment for the purpose of establishing a lodge under dispensation, without affecting the numerical strength of an old lodge like Reno No. 13, is a tribute to the strength of Masonry in the city, as well as an index to the standing both fraternally and socially of those responsible for the founding of Washoe Lodge U. D. and evinces the fraternal urge of the sojourning brethren to affiliate with, and contribute to the support of, and participation in the destiny of a new, undeveloped unit of Masonry, in a city which already supported a lodge of several hundred members.

The Charter Roll contained the names of the following brethren: John W. Grant, W. M. David, E. H. Walker, W. McMahon, Fred D. Black, Roy J. Johnstone, L. P. Berriman, E. B. Dawson, Clyde D. Souter, Augustus F. Aymar, H. Chas. Rawlings, Albert R. DeCosta, Thomas Wilbur Bath, C. F. Watkins, Myrt Darwin Robison, Horace James Brown, W. P. Lundell, Jas. L. Kirkley, Jacob W. Wainwright, George A. Carr, B. O. Sellman, Chas. B. Mills, W. F. Helmick, Wm. Edmund White, Roy Oliver Churchill, Harry Dunseath, True Vencill, E. Otis Vaughn, Walter H. Duncan, Robert Stewart, Wm. E. Kornmeyer, George M. Anderson, F. W. Lockman, Frank A. Fuller, Chas. R. Hicks, Robert Thomas, r. W. Black, Geo. F. Harris, C. A. Carlson, Jr., Fred B. Traner, Floyd O. Packard, Clarence M. Brodner, A. A. Turner, Jonas W. Laufman, John C. Durham, Fred A. Sawyer, Carroll F. Morrill, Benj. L. Walker, Jr., Francis Clark Murgotten, Paul T. Crosby, Elmer R. Smith, Thos. E. Buckman, Ian Mensinger, Jesse E. Smith, Warren Mecey, Wendell M. Porter, Arthur G. Larson, Thomas Mayne, N. R. Smith.

Of the fifty-nine signers of the petition, but twenty-one hailed from Nevada. Five each came from Carson No. 1, and Escurial No. 7. Three came from Wadsworth No. 25, and two each from Elko No. 15 and Tonopah No. 28. Amity No. 4, St. Johns No. 18, Hope No. 22, and Ely No. 29 each furnished one member.

California led the other jurisdictions with fifteen members; Illinois the next largest with four. Two hailed from Idaho, Kansas, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin, and one each from Colorado, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Utah, so just one third of the forty-eight states of the Union were represented.

Only one came from a foreign jurisdiction – that of Saskatchewan.

At the following communication of the Grand Lodge in Reno June 10th, 1926, the report of the Committee on Charters regarding the application of Washoe lodge Under Dispensation, recommended “that inasmuch as those brethren had been moved by sentiment to attach the name of one of the first lodges in this jurisdiction to the new lodge, that this Grand Lodge should be equally generous, and give to the new lodge the number borne by our old Washoe Lodge, to-wit, No. 2.

This recommendation was disregarded, and the new lodge was granted a charter, and numbered 35 on Nevada registry.

Throughout the next twelve months, Washoe lodge was exceptionally busy, with the result that on Founders night, celebrated on the night of April 27, 1927, at the conclusion of their first year of existence, more than 100 members were enrolled upon the roster of the lodge, and the Trestle Board was crowded with work.

To fittingly observe the first anniversary of.the lodge, the worshipful master named Brother M. D. Robinson, senior deacon, to prepare a program for the entertainment of the lodge, and a unique program was arranged, which contemplated the presentation of the third degree of Masonry, in amplified dramatic form. The magnitude of this presentation may be realized, when it is known that forty-four brethren were required to properly exemplify it.

It may be said in explanation, that this work originated in the eastern part of the country, and was brought to Reno by Brother Mert D. Robinson, who had witnessed its rendition while vacationing in the eastern states.

The work portrayed is essentially the same as that employed by all Masonic lodges in exemplifying the third degree of Masonry, only it is amplified by dramatic action in the sections where the original work can be emphasized, or dramatized, but in no way changing the meaning, wording, or intent of the Masonic ritual. At its annual meeting in April, 1927, this exemplification was accordingly presented, to the edification and gratification of between two and three hundred Masons. It was a unique presentation, and so well was it performed, that generous applause, with expressions of appreciation of the talent displayed by those who participated in its portrayal, betokened the warmth of its reception at the conclusion of the drama.

This degree had been exemplified before the Grand Lodge by Washoe lodge, and by special dispensation, has been presented before a Masonic audience in California. But, that this presentation may not become commonplace, it is only exemplified upon special occasions, and at rare intervals.

In an annual report of the secretary of Washoe Lodge, these words are found: “Ever onward, striving to climb a little higher each year, the spirit which has always stood squarely behind Washoe Lodge moves progressively along the years since we were organized.”

To the brethren who have watched the advance of this Masonic unit, the significance of this statement is manifestly apparent, for in reflecting upon the progress Washoe Lodge has made, there is sensed the fine spirit which “unites the brethren into one solid mass or society of friends and brothers, among whom no contention can exist, save that noble contention, or rather emulation, of who best can work, and best agree.

In keeping with this spirit of unity, no lodge in Nevada has had a more active career than Washoe Lodge No. 35, nor is there a greater spirit of harmony among any other Masonic unit in the west; its Trestle Board has been filled with work, even during those years of depression when weeks and months of lack and inactivity threatened to undermine the fraternal, social and economic structure of the country.

As an example of the spirit of loyalty and devotion to their lodge, reference is made to the annual homecoming night when those who pay tribute to the founders and the founding of the lodge meet to observe the anniversary of the establishing of this unit of Masonry. Upon that occasion, the lodge room is always crowded with visitors and members, and those brethren who are not permitted to be present, invariably send a fitting message to be read when the roll is called, and responses are in order.

Another factor which holds the attendance of the brethren, is the feature of entertainment arranged for each month, notice of which is sent in advance to every member of the lodge, advising whether the evening is to be devoted to social contact, or whether the meeting is to be devoted exclusively to the conferring of degrees, or to the disposal of other matters of interest to the lodge. It is safe to say, and the records of the lodge indicate that the brethren of Washoe Lodge No. 35 attend their weekly meetings perhaps more consistently than most Masonic lodges in the Nevada jurisdiction.

But, with all its diversified activities, there yet remains to the brethren the urge to visit with the brethren of other lodges, and assist in spreading Masonic light, even satisfying these inclinations by exchanging visitations with the brethren across the border of California, for, upon different occasions, dispensation has been obtained to present their work to the lodges of the “Golden State.”

In the Grand Lodge of Nevada, the zeal and enthusiasm of Washoe lodge has long been recognized. Two Grand Masters have been members of Washoe lodge, and a third will soon emerge from its ranks, a record which, after all, is commendable, and worthy the attention and applause of the brethren, considering the few years the lodge has been in existence.


“For there is a man whose labor is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity,” are the words of that wise man, King Solomon, and this proverb may be applied, most appropriately to our honored and respected brother, AUGUSTUS F. AYMAR, who first saw the light of day January 1, 1875, in Lakeland, Minnesota. He was educated in the public schools of St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1894 entered the service of the Western Union Telegraph Co. in that city, and later worked at the key in several cities in the middle west. During the gold rush to the Klondyke, in 1898, he joined the throng, and went to Bonanza Creek, and Gold Hill, from which place he returned to San Francisco in 1903.
In 1904 he was assigned to agency work on the Carson and Colorado railroad, at Luning, Nevada, from which point he was transferred to the division office of the Southern Pacific railroad at Sparks, Nev.

He was married to Adele Louise Barkley at Auburn, California, in 1913. In 1920 he was made local agent at Reno, Nevada, for the Southern Pacific railroad.

In 1917 he was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason, in Eureka Lodge No. 16 at Auburn, Calif. In 1926 he aided in the formation of Washoe Lodge in Reno, and was its first senior warden; he became worshipful master in 1929.

He was appointed Grand Pursuivant of the Grand Lodge of Nevada in 1927, and advanced by regular steps through the chairs of that Body, to become Grand Master in 1935. He passed to his reward November 7, 1940.

For many years, the name of Wm. M. David was a synonym for Masonic zeal, integrity, and fortitude.

Early in his career, he became a Master Mason, and was identified with Carson Lodge No. 1, of Carson City, Nevada. His manifest enthusiasm for the welfare of the Order, his capability and ability to carry on, attracted the attention of the brethren of his lodge, and in time, he received the highest honors of his lodge, and was pointed out as one destined to advance to great heights in the Order.

His advent into the Grand Lodge was the occasion for further advancement, and he was soon found deeply engrossed in the affairs of that Body. He served efficiently on some of the important committees of the Grand Lodge, and incidentally began to progress through the various chairs of the Grand Lodge, which terminated in 1913 by his election as Grand Master of Nevada Masons.

His term as Grand Master being ended, he devoted his Masonic activity to the study of the Standard ritualistic work of Nevada, in an endeavor to perfect it, and effect necessary revisions in its diction, and construction; later, he was appointed Master of Instruction for the Grand Lodge.

In 1926 he demitted from Carson Lodge No. One, to assist in the organization of Washoe Lodge No. 35, of which he served as secretary for several terms.

In opening the chambers of memory to the events of several years ago, the pulse beats a little faster, and the heart throbs with a quicker motion as the floodgates of the past open, and time takes us back to the occasion when we first met, and knew, Brother C. A. (“Dutch”) Carlson jr., who, in the vigor of young manhood, and with the zeal and enthusiasm of a Mason, was then so vastly interested and concerned with the activities of the Reno branch of DeMolay.

Since his advent into Masonry, Brother Carlson has been one of the brightest ornaments as well as one of the most efficient and capable Craftsmen his lodge has produced; modest, affable and urbane, yet possessed of a natural and easy dignity befitting the character of one destined to advance to coveted Masonic heights.

He always wears a genial smile, and greets his brethren with a strong and fraternal grasp of the hand and a cheery word, and so has won his way into the hearts of his brethren. He is a living example of that old saying, “Life is worth living, when lived worthily.”

As a member of Washoe Lodge, he has served efficiently in whatever duty he has been assigned; at present, he is secretary of the lodge, and is “always on the job.”

Brother Carlson’s name appears for the first time as an appointee on the staff of the Grand Lodge, in 1932, when he held the chair of W. Grand Sword Bearer. In 1935 he became Junior Grand Deacon, and advanced, by regular steps, to become Worshipful Senior Grand Warden, at the 1938 communication of the Grand Lodge held in Winnemucca.