Winnemucca Lodge #19
Chartered: November 18, 1874
Winnemucca Lodge #19, F. & A.M.
540 Baud St
Winnemucca, NV 89445
515 Baud St, STE E
Winnemucca, NV 89445
Stated Meeting: First Wednesdays 7:30pm
(Dark July & August)
Worshipful Master: Jesse Gilkison
Secretary: Stephen Tibbals
Torrence’s History of Winnemucca Lodge #19
With the invasion of the territory now known as the State of Utah came the first glimpse by the pioneers who crossed the plains, of a country which was to become the arena of pronounced political, religious, industrial and social strife; a territory which would embrace an inland domain spreading west from the present borders of the State of Colorado, to the Sierra Mountains, and running south from what is now Oregon, to a point in line with Los Angeles; a territory rich in resources, scenically and romantically beautiful in many spots, but withal, a desert.
A country wild and unconquered, fit to try the courage and test the fitness and determination of those heroic men and women who would match skill and cunning against the aridity of the desert, the stubbornness of the soil, the destruction of blistering winds and congealing cold, eventually to bring order out of chaos, and develop beauty where had existed ugliness, and cause barren wastes to teem with waving grain, ripening fruit and gorgeous flowers.
With the arrival of the pioneers at the shores of Great Salt Lake, the caravan divided, small groups treking over unmarked miles of this vast wilderness, and with the discovery of limpid mountain streams and what promised to become arable acres through intensive cultivation, returned to their first camping grounds, reloaded their worldly belongings and, with their families, again ventured into those anexplored wilds to lay the foundation for future communities.
This colonization movement eventually brought into being our beloved Nevada; for, through systematic effort, the pioneers extended their explorations far to the south and west, and sent their emissaries to new adventures toward the land of the setting sun, to open up new troves of wealth and force the treasure chests of nature, with which this territory was so richly endowed. A superabundance of rare minerals; remnants of long forgotten tribes; and the remains of earliest antiquity were uncovered by pick and shovel as these hardy pioneers proceeded with their explorations, and a vast though arid country was explored far to the ever extending west; new districts were born, whose development have written into the history of our country pages of unbelievable hardships and adventures, though likewise studded with periods of romance and glamour; a country traversed by winding trails through mountain fastnesses and across pitiless desert sands, emerging along the banks of rushing crystal creeks, or wending its way over frequent stretches of sage and buffalo grass, blazing a trail known to posterity, as “The Overland Trail,” destined to become a thoroughfare, which in succeeding years should witness the passage of mighty caravans pushing westward to the alluvial sands of California, or later, stampeding to the gold and silver bearing ledges of the Comstock, only diverging to explore the rich ore deposits of Austin and Eureka, and then on again to the “land of the Golden West.”
Along this trail, too, were destined to be established outstanding settlements which would become the sanctuary of dauntless men and women, gathered to wage grim warfare with relentless, semi-arid acres, but determined to brave the perils, hardships and privations incident to the development of a primitive country, and build an enduring empire through the practice of courage, bravery, and unceasing toil and energy.
Such a settlement was made at a point in what is now Humboldt county, on the banks of the Humboldt river, at what was formerly known as the “Great Bend.” It was established in the year 1850 as a trading post on the Overland Trail, and was known as “French Ford.”
The name “Winnemucca” was given it by C. B. O. Bannon, nephew of the secretary of the Interior, under President Lincoln, who is said to have had in mind the perpetuation of the name the Pahute tribe of Indians gave to their chiefs: Winnemucca, in their language meaning literally, “place by the river,” where the chief of the tribe always resided.
With the arrival of the settlers, soon the choicest tracts for agricultural purposes were located, and there began the conquering of what for centuries had been desert wastes. Sandy stretches gave way to well ordered farms, and through the agency of a crude, but efficient system of irrigation, by the following summer the fields were yielding their harvest of much needed produce.
At the great bend of the river, a small but well planned townsite had been laid out, and here and there small, but substantial houses were beginning to appear. By the end of its third year of existence, the population of Winncmucca had been increased by other arrivals, who, sensing the possibilities of the surrounding territory, unhitched their horses, unyoked their oxen, and remained to give impetus to the growing settlement. Here, for years, travelers towards the great unknown west continued to halt, many of them to stay indefinitely. As a consequence, the little settlement threw off its swaddling clothes, and took on some of the airs and habiliments of a real frontier town. A few small but adequate business houses wcie built along the town’s main street; a tiny school house was erected, and from the wooden belfry of a small church a tiny bell called the people of the settlement to worship.
And so the years sped by, bringing to the settlers peace and harmony, success and prosperity, while the little valley was fast becoming a veritable Arcadia. Through the kindly ministrations of the white men, the Pahute Indians buried the hatchet, and were now the friends and allies of their pale faced brethren.
A new era had dawned upon this one time land which God forgot, and “onward, and forward” was the slogan impelling the settlers toward the goal of a laudable ambition, a hope to make their little town and its outlying districts, a mecca toward which would gravitate a worthwhile representative people, to bring stability into their midst.
It was among such as these that Masonry found its way into the district. Just when it arrived, no one of the present day is able to say, nor are there any living now who were even children then, who can throw any light upon the situation. Rut Masonry was at hand, and those who had found sanctuary in the order in other sections of the country did not long remain insensible to the presence of one another.
While the actual establishment of a Masonic lodge in Winnemucca was almost a quarter of a century in becoming a reality after the settlement was effected in 1850, yet it is Masonic tradition that those who were members of the craft were not long in effecting an organization, which was not officially recognized, but which partook more of the nature of infrequent gatherings at the cabin or secluded home of some member. While the forms and ceremonies of a regular lodge were by no means attempted, yet there was a fraternal spirit present and Masonic discussion and some of the landmarks of the craft were observed.
Most of these brethren were verging upon middle age when they left their native heath, and the passing years had borne heavily upon them. To them, however, must be given the credit for keeping alive the fraternal spirit of Masonry in the formative years of the district, while Winnemucca was taking place and rank as one of the most outstanding settlements along the Overland Trail. To these brethren, most of whom had passed to the Great Beyond by the time the district was ready to support a Masonic lodge, must also be given the credit for taking the first steps which eventually led to the organization of the craft in Winnemucca.
Almost without exception, the early history of any so called secret society becomes engulfed in the mists of uncertainty as Time marches on.
There are various reasons for this; first, the prime movers in the movement either drop from the ranks or, having lived their lives, pass to that bourne from whence no traveler has ever returned; second, facts become confused with fiction, and fiction in turn is contaminated by myth as time passes on, so it is difficult, and in some cases absolutely impossible to establish beyond the peradventure of doubt, the origin of many units of our fraternity, or trace their development prior to a period beyond the ken of the present generation. This is not difficult to understand when we know that such organizations were often made by enthusiasts who were so often more interested in perfecting the organization than they were in preserving a complete and detailed record of its development and proceedings.
This is one of the barriers which confronts the searcher for data, a barrier which yields to no painstaking effort; a barrier which breeds discouragement, and may be said to be insurmountable.
Again, as has so often happened in the early settlements of Nevada, fire has wiped out whole sections of towns and in its greed, destroyed whatever records that may have been prepared, entailing a loss not only of a material nature, but what is perhaps more lamentable, depriving future posterity of the precious privilege of glimpsing the romance and glamour of what may have been, preeminently, one of the most interesting and exciting situations in pioneer days.
In compiling the history of Winnemucca lodge, we are confronted with situations similar to those just mentioned, and so, there is but a skeleton of the original founding incidents to be had, from which, like the biologist, in reconstructing some prehistoric form of animal life from a fossil bone, the completed Masonic structure must be built.
Several informal meetings of resident and sojourning members of the Craft in Winnemucca were called for the purpose of making tentative plans to effect an organization, during the years 1871 and 1872, but these efforts were ineffectual. The question of obtaining a suitable meeting place and raising sufficient funds to furnish and equip their hall and remit the necessary charter fee, was a stumbling block. Finally, however, through the concerted efforts of brothers P. W. Johnson, A. I. Shepard, and Thomas Shone, the plan was successfully financed, and application was made to the Grand Lodge of Nevada for a dispensation to open a lodge of Master Masons, the petition containing the names of the following brethren: Pleasant W. Johnson, James Ritchie, Andrew J. Shepard, James E. Sabine, Moses Seigel, Thomas Shone, William H. Welsh, and Alexander Wise, the petition being forwarded to the Grand Secretary during the early part of June, 1874. On the seventeenth day of June, 1874, M. W. Horatio S. Mason, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Nevada, issued a dispensation for a lodge of Master Masons to be holden at Winnemucca, Nevada. At the next succeeding annual communication of the Grand Lodge, November 18, 1874, a charter was granted to the lodge, and it was numbered 19, Nevada registry. The names of sixteen Master Masons appear on the first return of the lodge.
The finding of suitable quarters in which to dispense Masonic light being accomplished, on the 25th day of june, 1874, the brethren of Winnemucca Lodge assembled, and with due ceremony instituted the new unit of Masonry, under dispensation according to Masonic form and procedure. Owing to the lapse of time, the passing of those who were living at that date, and the destruction of lodge records by a subsequent fire, it has been impossible to determine beyond cavil, the exact location of the first meeting place of Winnemucca Lodge No. 19. Traditions of the lodge however have it, that it was held in a building located near the present site of the Hotel Humboldt, but reliable authority for this contention cannot be established. However, Masonry continued to expand in the frontier town and eventually, a new location was found where the present Masonic temple is located, at the corner of Bridge and East Fourth Street.
In the meantime, satisfactory evidence of the qualifications of the official family of No. 19, having been established, and copies of their records having been presented to the Grand Lodge for inspection and approval, at the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of 1874 the following recommendation was offered:
To the M: W: Grand Lodge of Nevada:
Your committee on Charters would respectfully report that they have examined the proceedings of Winnemucca Lodge, U. D. and find their work to have been in accordance with the Constitution of this Grand Lodge; also that their minutes have been well and neatly kept, and in our opinion that lodge is deserving of a charter at this Grand Communication.
We therefore offer the following resolution: RESOLVED, That a warrant of constitution be issued to the above named lodge, to be called Winnemucca Lodge No. 19, at Winnemucca, Nevada, and the following named brethren he named as the first officers, in accordance with the petition of said lodge, viz: Bro. P. W. Johnson, W. M.; Bro. A. J. Shepard, S. W.; Bro. Thos. Shone, J. W.
We also offer the following provision for their annual election as they will not be constituted in time to hold their annual election for officers as required by the Constitution: RESOLVED, That Winnemucca Lodge, No. 19, is hereby authorized and empowered to hold their annual election of officers on the first Saturday in December, A. L. 5874.
All of which is respectfully submitted. Wm. L. French, Samuel Owen, C. F. Brant, Committee. Dated: November 18, 1674.
The account of the constituting of Winnemucca Lodge No. 19 is clouded in obscurity, since the record as compiled by the Grand Lodge was destroyed in the disastrous fire at Virginia City in 1875, along with the minutes for the special Grand Communication of October 12th of that year and, since the records of Winnemucca lodge also went up in smoke in the year 1890, all trace of the constituting of No. 19 have been lost. It is presumed, however, that Grand Master Robert W. Bollen either performed the ceremony, or directed one of his Grand Lodge officers to do so, since he served the Grand Lodge as M. W. Grand Master in the years 1874 and 1875. But this is mere conjecture, as no one living today can recall the event. But the ceremony was duly performed, and sometime between November 18, 1874, the date the charter was issued, and December 5th of the same year, the time named in the recommendations of the Charters Committee of the Grand Lodge, for holding their annual election of officers.
With the constituting of the lodge, and the installation of its new officers, a period of intensive effort commenced to build up the organization, and so well did the lodge perform its work, and so consistently did it fulfill its fraternal obligations, that it soon attracted to itself the attention of the community, with the result that new applications were received, and its trestle board was filled with work.
With the passing of the years, Masonry in Winnemucca continued to expand, the lodge performing its labors in the building located near the corner of what is now Bridge and Fourth Street. However, the lodge did not own this building, it having been built through the efforts of a Masonic Building Association, whch was officered by Alex Wise, president; T. C. Hansen, vice president; I. N. Levy, secretary, associated with J. H. McMillan and George Berk, directors. The cornerstone of this building was officially placed by Most Worshipful C. W. Hinchcliff, who on the seventh day of September, 1889, convened a Grand Lodge in Winncmucca, and in full regalia, and with the impressive ceremony of a dedication and consecration, laid the corner stone in place.
The following is a list of articles sealed within the stone: Envelope containing History of Temple. List of officers of Humboldt county, and the state of Nevada. Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Nevada year 1882. Proceedings of the Grand Lodge F. & A. M. State of Nevada, 1889. By-laws of Winnemucca Lodge No. 19. By-laws of Humboldt Chapter No. 9, Royal Arch Masons, 1884. Article, “The Masons on the Mountains” from Virginia (Nev.) Territorial Enterprise, September 9, 1875 (printed on silk). Copy of the “Silver State” of August 27, and September 7, 1SS9. Card of George R. Walker, 326 A. & A. S. R.F.M.S.J.Grand High Priest. Card of George Berk. Card of S. I. Anderson, J. W. September 7, 1889. Envelope containing article by Harry Marett (druggist). Name plate of Paul Gasmin. A One Dollar bill (1886). One silver dollar (1878), one half dollar (1869), one penny (1846), one penny (1880).
After the impressive ceremonies, the lodge returned to the lodge rooms where an appropriate program was carried out, including an address by the Most Worshipful Grand Master.
The next few years were uneventful in Masonic circles in Winnemucca. The increase in membership was steady, but by no means spectacular.
There was some agitation in reference to promoting a chapter of Capitular Masonry, but the more conservative members of the lodge advised a postponement of the attempt, until Masonic strength might warrant the move.
However, the desire to establish a chapter had been felt and, in spite of the advice of the older members, the younger brethren resolved to apply for a charter, with the result, that by the end of 1882, a charter had been granted, and Capitular Masonry was an established unit in Winnemucca.
And so one by one the years came and went, with no discouragements nor disappointments to mar the harmony of the brethren, nor disturb the long period of advancement of the lodge. But, unknown to them, disaster was ahead, which would try their mettle and test their fraternal endurance.
This disaster came upon them during the summer of 1890, when a fire of unknown origin broke out in the lower story of the building occupied by the brethren for a meeting place, and before it was discovered, had made such headway that it was beyond control. The interior of the building was entirely destroyed, the outer walls alone remaining after the blaze had been subdued. The records, furniture, and paraphernalia of Winnemucca Lodge No. 19, and the belongings of Winnemucca Chapter No. 9 R. A. M. were a total loss. While the loss was a severe blow to the brethren, entailing a financial loss of several hundred dollars, besides the destruction of the records of lodge procedure which could never be replaced, yet the brethren did not despair; heroically they set about to reestablish the finances of their lodge and so well did they succeed, that by the beginning of 1892, they were again firmly established in the town.
The site of their old building having been acquired by George H. Nixon in 1891, and reconstructed to fit the needs of the lodge, new furniture and conveniences were installed by the Blue Lodge and Chapter, with the result that their lodge room was one of the most comfortable and finest in appearance in the state. Eventually the property was purchased by T. D. Brown, father of Most Worshipful Merwyn H. Brown, and for many years has been the home of the various Masonic bodies of Winnemucca, where exclusive Masonic quarters are maintained on the second floor of the building.
That the Masonic brethren of Winnemucca were progressive, is proven by their continued activities; during their months of plenty as well as their months of want; through periods of discouragement as well as during periods of prosperity, their zeal never wavered. The course of their fraternal barque upon the sea of Masonry was marked at times by adverse winds and sullen skies, but with faith in themselves and the order which gave them sanctuary, they pressed onward toward the goal of a lofty ambition which had for its object the building of an institution which would become a loyal and commanding unit among the constituent lodges of the state.
Royal Arch Masonry, Humboldt Chapter No. 9
How well the brethren adhered to their resolve, and how nobly they builded, is evidenced not only in the strength and prestige of the Blue Lodge, but is manifested in their loyalty and devotion to the principles of Masonry by the establishment of other branches of the order in their midst, since in the summer of 1882, Humboldt Chapter No. 9 Royal Arch Masons was organized with a charter list of 23 members, naming George R. Walker, High Priest, Thomas Shone, King, and Chas. Duncan as Scribe. According to the Register, the following is a list of the oldest members : Felix Paulin, W. E. Cobb, A. C. Webb, E. A. Lewis, P. Laveaga, J. H. Shone, Thos. Nelson, J. W. Smith, Joseph Morgan, A. W. Lindsay, W. A. Brown, F. C. Hampton, Geo. Berk, W. G. Case, C. Diehl, C. D. Duncan, F. C. Hanson, E. D. Kelley, J. N. Levy, Thos. Shone.
For several years the future of Capitular Masonry in Winnemucca was regarded as uncertain, since the industrial conctitions in the district were at low ebb, but with a turn of the tide, and the location of mining properties nearby, which eventually uncovered mineral values of sufficient merit to warrant the employment of sizable forces of workmen, many of whom maintained residences in the town, a revival of interest in the Chapter ensued, and as the business of the little city expanded, there was a noticeable increase in the numerical strength of the Chapter; today, it is a dominating factor in the fraternal affairs of Winnemucca.
Winnemucca Commandery No. 4, K. T.
The growth of the Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, stimulated interest in, and a desire for the investure of the York Rite, and plans were made to organize a Commandery. At first the proiect seemed impossible, but with the same perseverance and determination which had actuated the desires and resolves of the brethren to establish the Blue Lodge and Chapter, they harbored no thought of failure or defeat, and went forward with their plans, with the result that Winnemucca Commandery No. 4 was heralded into existence, and became a potential factor in Templar growth in Nevada.
The records show that a special dispensation was issued to this Commandery September 25, A. D. 1914. A. 0. 796.
The Charter was issued by Lee Stewart Smith, Grand Commander, Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America, in the city of Los Angeles, Calif., the 24th day of July, 1916. The Charter members were: Adolphus Leigh Fitzgerald, James Conrad Doughty, Arthur James Hood, Isaac Griswold, Edward Augustus Ducker, Charles Pendleton Hoskins, Carlton Earl Haviland, Andrew Ruckteschler, Felix Paulin, Christian Wolf, Frank Joseph Olivarious, William Ambrose Brown, Fred Ignatius Tyler, Joseph Louis Kubicek, William Sutherland Bonnifield, Louis Graham Campbell, Theobald Mathew Fatten, Arthur Gartield Woodward, John Wallace Smith, Turlin Delos Brown, Charles Henry Fredson, James Frederick Abel, Andrew Jansen Jahn, Leland Stephen Young, Michael Walsh, John Breier, Reuben Battels, Joseph Francis O’Byme.
Acting under this dispensation, the following officers were inducted into office: A. L. Fitzgerald, E. M.; Felix Paulin, S. W.; J. W. Smith, J. W.; Edw. A. Ducker, Prelate; T. D. Brown, Treasurer; J. S. Abel, Recorder; C. E. Haviland, Warder. The records fail to disclose the names of either the Generalissimo or the Captain General.
Referring to the old minutes of the Commandery, we find that the first Conclave was held in Silver State Hall in Winnemucca, on November 14, 1914.
The first election of officers was held after receiving their Charter, October 7, 1916, and the following officers were elected and installed by Right Eminent Sir Elmer E. Stone, Eminent Sir A. L. Fitzgerald acting as Grand Marshal: William Ambrose Brown, E. C.; Andrew Ruckteschler, Gen. Ismo.; William Sutherland, C. General; Fclix Paulin, Senior Warden; John Wallace Smith, Junior Warden; Edw. A. Ducker, Prelate; Turin D. Brown, Treasurer; James S. Abel, Recorder. Appointive officers: Reubin Battels, Standard Bearer; Joseph L. Kubicek, Sword Bearer; Carlton E. Haviland, Warder; Christian Wolf, Sentinel; Frank J. Olivarious, First Guard; Theobald M. Patten, Secorid Guard; Chas. P. Hoskins, Third Guard.
Since its organization, Winnemucca Commandery has enjoyed a substantial growth, and has fulfilled the expectations of those responsible for its organization. It has become a popular and fraternal unit, and when, upon the occasions of its appearance, it appears in full regalia, and in precise and stately movement, it is the recipient of well merited applause and admiration.
Royal and Select Masters
In the history of Nevada, compiled by Sam Davis, there appears the following statement from the pen of the late Robert Lewers, Past Grand Master of Masons of Nevada, the article captioned, “Fraternal Societies” viz: “There have been several Councils of Royal and Select Masters established in Nevada, but no records have been kept, and it is almost impossible to get a definite history of their work.” Nevada Council No. One was organized in Goldfield June 1, 1907. Other councils came into existence, notably at Virginia City, Reno, and Eureka.”
Brother Lewers does not give these units a serial number; if their numbers were recorded they may have passed into oblivion with the decadence and abandonment of these councils, one of which was revived at Reno a few years ago.
Eighteen years after the organization of Council No. One in Goldfield, the brethren in Winnemucca, mindful of the beautiful and instructive lessons and the wonderful ceremonies incorporated in council degrees, petitioned the Grand Council for permission to organize a unit in their city.
This petition was graciously granted, and Brown Council No. 2, R. & S. M., was authorized to frame its charter, the ceremony of Investure being performed with its usual impressiveness, following the receipt of the Charter, according to the minutes of this council, May 15, 1925.
At its first meeting following receipt of the cherished document, the following officers were elected and installed: William A. Brown, T. I. M.; M. E. Morrison, Deputy Master; F. H. Pierce, P. C. W.; Felix Paulin, Treasurer; Duane Rush, Recorder; Andrew Lillie, C. G.; Edwin S. Dyer, D. of C.; Henrg Cooks, Steward; Gee. A. Bain, Sentinel.
Masonry today occupies an enviable position in the fraternal life of Winnemucca. While its numerical growth has not been unusual during the years, it has been steady and substantial, and has left its impress upon the social life and activities of the inland city.
It has furnished to the city and to the state, men of unimpeachable character and reputation, while a fine spirit of loyalty and unity exists among the brethren, among whom “no inharmony or contention prevails, save that noble contention, or rather emulation, of who best can work, and best agree.”
Prominent among the outstanding Masons of Winnemucca lodge, is our present (1944 – ed.) M. W. Grand Master, Merwyn H. Brown.
To recapitulate his progress in Masonry would necessitate recording years of persistent, painstaking effort on his part, spent in the service of the brethren. A tireless worker, a parliamentarian of rare ability, and a natural born leader, his popularity and ability has won for him well merited praise among the craft, in whatever branch of Masonry he has served.
He retires at the close of this session, with the best wishes of the fraternity he has served so faithfully and impartially; and, as he surrenders the gavel of his authority, and the regalia of his office, it is with the knowledge that there is no stain of unworthiness upon them.