History of Olympia Lodge No. 1, F. & A. M.
Olympia, Washington 1852–1935.
George E. Blankenship, Compiler
It is deemed advisable in compiling a history of Olympia Lodge No. 1
to avoid much of the routine business and Masonic work, which would be
uninteresting to the reader and of little historical value. This work
has attempted to emphasize the high lights of local Masonic history
and connect up as far as may be possible the lives of our pioneer
Masons with the history of the Territory and State of Washington; for
almost without exception, those figures prominent in official life and
those to whom so much credit is due for the development of our great
commonwealth were members of the Fraternity. Their lives are a
memory; their deeds are emblazoned on the journals of Olympia Lodge.
OLYMPIA LODGE U.D., OREGON JURISDICTION
OLYMPIA LODGE No. 5, A.F. & A.M., OREGON JURISDICTION
OLYMPIA LODGE No. 1, F. & A.M., WASHINGTON JURISDICTION
Olympia Lodge No. 1 (formerly No. 5 under the Oregon jurisdiction) F.
& A.M., is the oldest organization, secular or otherwise, in the
Territory now comprising the State of Washington. While the whites
were contending with the Indians for supremacy, No. 5 was an active
organization. While its members were clearing the land on which to
make homes on the wooded shores of Puget Sound, where future cities
were to arise, No. 5 was a virile body.
Before entering into a history of Olympia Lodge No. 1, it will not be
amiss to give a brief account of the inception of Masonry in the
Looking backward over the history of that county lying between the
California border on the south to the British line on the north and
from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, we find that when the
American emigrants began to predominate, that inborn desire for law
and order gave rise to a provisional government – – a government
without a flag. Six years later, in 1849, this was succeeded by a
territorial government under the authority of the United States, and
with the new order sprang up in the breasts of the sturdy empire
builders, who had blazed the trail westward, a yearning for those
institutions that stood for a higher and more advanced civilization
and for religious influence. This resulted in the organization of the
Grand Lodge of Oregon Free and Accepted Masons, in 1851, the mother of
Olympia Lodge No. 5 under the Oregon, now No. 1 under the Washington
The first Masonic Lodge west of the Rocky Mountains was chartered by
the Grand Lodge of Missouri, October 10, 1846, which charter was to
Multnomah Lodge No. 84 on the charter register of Missouri and was
located at Oregon City. The original jurisdiction of this Lodge was
all the territory in the United States west of the Rocky Mountains.
The charter came across the plains in a covered wagon. It was
entrusted to two men, who, on the way, were taken with the gold fever
and diverted their course toward California, and entrusted the charter
to a third party who continued on to Oregon, reaching there in 1848.
Four Lodges chartered by the Grand Lodge of Oregon: Olympia No. 1,
Steilacoom No. 2, Grand Mound No. 3, and Washington (Vancouver) No. 4,
met at Olympia December 6th, 1858, and organized the Grand Lodge of
The Grand Lodge of Oregon granted a dispensation on November 25, 1852,
to sundry brethren at Olympia, Puget Sound, to open a lodge under the
name of Olympia, returnable at the communication of the Grand Lodge
following that date, which return was promptly made by the Worshipful
Master, T.F. McElroy.
The first minute book covering the period from December 11, 1852, to
May 13, 1854, ever kept by a Lodge of Masons in this jurisdiction,
must always be a memento of great interest to the Fraternity. It is a
small volume of 88 leaves, 7_ X 4_, of white paper of good quality,
lined by blue lines, substantially bound in leather, much of which is
in the handwriting of T.F. McElroy, the first Worshipful Master. It
is in a good state of preservation, considering its age of over eighty
years. The minutes show that the practice of a separate ballot in
each degree prevailed during the period covered by this book, and
discloses one instance in which the advancement of an entered
apprentice – – a brother who was later a prominent member of the Grand
Lodge – – was delayed by a single blackball for many years.
The following extract is taken from this minute book:
“Olympia, Oregon Territory, Saturday evening, December 11, A.D. 1852,
T.F. McElroy, J.W. Wiley, M.F. Simmons, N. Delin and Smith Hays of the
petitioners with F.A. Clark, Master Mason, member of Willamette Lodge
No. 2, and C.H. Hale, member of King David’s Lodge No. 62, under the
jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Maine, (Ira Ward and A.K. Skidmore
of the petitioners being absent) having duly assembled this evening at
the town of Olympia, proceeded to organize a lodge of Ancient Free and
Accepted Masons under the authority of a dispensation granted to the
above petitioners by the Most Worshipful Berryman Jennings, Grand
Master of the Grand Lodge of the Territory of Oregon. The Lodge was
opened in due and ancient form in the first, second and third degrees.
Bro. T.F. McElroy, Worshipful Master; J.W. Wiley, senior warden; M.T.
Simmons, junior warden. Thereupon the Worshipful Master appointed N.
Delin, Treasurer; Ira Ward, senior deacon; Smith Hays, Tyler. Bro.
F.A. Clark, junior deacon pro tem; Brother C.H. Hale, Secretary pro
tem. A committee was appointed to draft by-laws and the Lodge fixed
the first and third Saturdays of each month as regular meeting nights.
No further business appearing the Lodge was closed in the first,
second and third degrees in due and ancient form.
C.H. HALE , Secretary pro tem”
At the second communication a petition for initiation into the
mysteries of Free Masonry was received from B.F. Yantis. He was
initiated Feb. 5, 1853, passed March 5th, and raised April 2nd, the
first on whom this honor was bestowed in the territory north of the
Columbia River. Col. B.F. Shaw’s initiation followed the same
The charter was granted June 13, 1852, to Olympia Lodge No. 5, and
bears date of June 5th, 1853. The minutes show the first meeting
under the charter was held July 2, 1853. The minute book shows
subsequent meetings U.D., but this is due probably to clerical error.
The first meetings were held in a two-story building on what was
Second Street, on the south side, midway between Main and Washington,
in the same block in which the first legislature met. On April 15 a
committee was appointed to report on the practicability of a building
for Masonic purposes, and having resolved to build, at a meeting on
May 8th, a committee was appointed to procure a suitable stone or
block for a corner stone to be laid on St. John’s Day, June 24th, and
an invitation was ordered issued to the Grand Lodge of Oregon and the
Fraternity generally to attend the ceremonies, and to start the
building a warrant was ordered drawn for $300.00. The structure was
erected on the site of the present Masonic Temple on lots donated by
Edmund Sylvester, the founder of the town, and was razed in 1911.
Leading contributions to the building were:
T.F. McElroy $100.00
M.T. Simmons 600.00
E. Sylvester 300.00
C. Etheridge (the builder) 100.00
Permit me here to attempt a pen picture of the old Masonic Hall and
its environments. The little village was located on a narrow
peninsula, for the east arm of Budd’s Inlet then extended to Union
Street. The town lay below what is now Fourth Avenue and from there
on to the water. The new Masonic Hall stood in solemn grandeur on the
border of a virgin forest, and along in front ran a trail, not worthy
of the name of road, knee-deep in mud in the winter time. On either
side lay dreary wastes of charred stumps and fallen timber, relieved
here and there by a one-story frame house. The members of Olympia
Lodge were diligent in attending meetings, for they had little in the
way of diversion. On a dark winter night these faithful brothers
might be seen by the light of the lanterns they carried, carefully
picking their way over logs and stumps to the Lodge room, over the
same ground the pampered brothers of today travel to this temple in
automobiles and who feel themselves deeply aggrieved if they do not
find parking place at the front door. The minutes of an early
meeting note that an appropriation was made to build a garage (in
their simplicity they called it a shed), where visiting brothers from
the country could park their teams, but the minutes in primitive style
state that the shed was merely a place to tie their horses.
Two sessions of the Legislature were held in the old hall, before the
first Capitol building was erected on the hill. Men who later were
destined to occupy prominent places in the future state received the
rudiments of their education here. The door responded to the call of
the statesman and the student.
It is the aim in a very brief review of the lives of the pioneer
members of No. 1 to connect them with the early history of the
territory. They founded a fraternity, but they did more, as empire
builders, doing their part in gaining the west for the Union, adding a
domain to the United States so vast that Atlas must square his
shoulders to bear the burden of another world.
To the first Grand Master of Washington, Thornton F. McElroy, must be
conceded the honor of being the father of Masonry in Washington. Mr.
McElroy started the first newspaper in this section, called the
Columbian, the principal purpose of which was to advocate the division
of Oregon and the formation of a new Territory. The grand old man of
Masonry, Thomas Milburne Reed, was a member of the Constitutional
Convention and first State Auditor. His career as Grand Secretary of
this jurisdiction was distinguished by faithfulness to duty and length
Six members of No. 1 have served as Grand Master: Thornton F. McElroy,
the first; James Biles, second and tenth; Selucius Garfield, third;
Thomas M. Reed, fifth, sixth, and ninth; Elwood Evans, eighth; James
R. Hayden, the seventeenth.
James Biles led a party in covered wagons over the Cascades, and here
gave an example of his indomitable courage and perseverance. The
party reached a point where they were stopped by a sheer drop of
hundreds of feet. The stock was starving, provisions were meagre.
The party could not turn back, they must go forward. There was not
sufficient rope in the train to reach the foot of the precipice.
Biles gave the orders to kill a steer, but the rawhide so procured was
insufficient. Kill another, was the order. The wagons were taken
apart and, by means of the rawhide strips so procured, the wagons were
lowered piece by piece. The party, men, women, and children, then
detoured afoot. The wagons were reassembled and the party proceeded.
Of such stuff was the pioneer made. The traveler of today feels
aggrieved if compelled to travel on else but a paved highway. Mr.
Biles settled at Tumwater and started the first tannery on Puget
Elwood Evans was Secretary of the Territory from 1862 to 1867, a
lawyer of ability and author of the most comprehensive history written
of the Northwest.
Selucius Garfield, who served one term as Grand Master, was Surveyor
General of the Territory from 1866 to 1869. He served as delegate to
Congress from 1869 to 1872. He was a lawyer and a most eloquent
orator, whose services were always in demand by the National
Committees in presidential years. He never returned to the Territory
after the expiration of his last term. He was succeeded in Congress
by Judge Obadiah B. McFadden, another Mason of revered memory, and a
member of the first Grand Lodge, representing the Vancouver lodge. He
was Associate Justice of the Territorial Supreme Court from 1853 to
Noting the Masons who made history in the early days, no one stands
out more conspicuously than Michael T. Simmons, first Junior Warden of
No. 5. He led a party that started across the plains in the spring of
1845. Their destination was the Willamette Valley. The Oregon
territory was then No Man’s land with doubtful claims by England and
the United States settled, finally, by the preponderance of American
emigrants. The pioneers had formed a provisional government, and made
a law that no negro should be allowed to settle in Oregon territory.
In Simmon’s party was a free mulatto, George Bush. On learning of
the discriminating law, Simmons, with commendable loyalty to his
party, and Bush, said, “We will go on.” They proceeded to tide water
and reached Tumwater in the fall of 1845, and called their little
settlement New Market, a name soon changed to the present one.
Simmons’ life here was active politically and Masonically.
The first Mason made by No. 5, B.F. Yantis, served in the first
legislative Council and subsequent legislatures. The second, Col.
B.F. Shaw, served as colonel of volunteers in the Indian war in the
Territory and distinguished himself in the service.
Edmund Sylvester was made a Mason in No. 5 in 1853. He came to this
section with a partner named Smith. The latter was an epileptic and
in a fit fell from a canoe and drowned. Thus Mr. Sylvester fell heir
to the joint claims. The partnership had laid out a town site and
named it Smither, [Smithter] later Olympia. The surviving partner
donated twelve acres to the Territory for Capitol purposes, one block
to the town for a park and two lots to Olympia Lodge of Masons, the
real estate upon which this building stands. Mr. Sylvester’s original
residence still stands across the street to the north from this
temple. His place of business was on old Fourth and Main, where he
played checkers and incidentally sold his wares. Such a devotee was
he to his favorite game that should his opponent suggest that there
was a customer in the front room he would reply, “Keep very quiet and
perhaps he will go out.”
Courtland Etheridge, known among his friends as Chips, was made a
Mason in No. 5 in 1853. He was the designer and builder of the old
Edward S. Solomon was governor of the territory from 1870 to 1872, and
was Master of No. 1 one term during his residence here. He was a
Polish Jew. Upon retiring from office, he moved to San Francisco,
there practicing law.
Major James Tilton, whose wife presented the lodge with a lock of
General George Washington’s hair, a gift well authenticated, was the
first Surveyor General of the territory, from 1853 to 1860.
At a meeting on June 21, 1854, a resolution was passed recommending to
the Grand Master that he grant a petition for a dispensation to
establish a lodge at Steilacoom. Steilacoom was a port on Puget Sound
which, at that time, was better known than Tacoma or Seattle.
There is little to distinguish the meetings from 1852 to 1854 beyond
petitions and ballots, which were distinguished by great
discrimination in choice of members. By scanning the minutes the
discerning reader may notice an ever-increasing list of visitors from
other jurisdictions, as the population increased. Among these names
was that of General Geo. B. McClellan, who figured largely in the
rebellion later, but who came to the territory with Governor Stevens’
engineers, and Jay Butler Anderson, the first territorial marshal, who
went east to take up arms with the Gray and lost his life for a lost
A particularly noticeable feature of the proceedings of early meetings
is the discipline maintained. These pioneer Masons were ritualists as
far as their limited facilities permitted, but what was more
commendable they were sticklers for what the ritual stood for, and
frowned with puritanic severity upon hypocrisy.
Those members who stepped beyond the bounds of propriety and violated
Masonic teachings were haled before the bar and disciplined. A
notable instance was that of James McAllister, a member of No. 5, who,
while hunting cattle, killed two steers belonging to members of
Steilacoom Lodge. Mr. McAllister, on discovering his mistake, went to
the owners and offered to make a settlement, but the owners of the
cattle were exorbitant in their demands, whereupon the two Lodges took
the matter in hand and forced a settlement. No lawyers were feed nor
courts called upon, but the settlement was effectual. Cases of
intemperance were dealt with patience and firmness, and one member who
was known to frequent gambling places was hailed for judgment.
His case was set for six months in advance, a probationary period in
which to test the sincerity of his promise of reform. Two brothers
who engaged in wordy conflict on the street were reprimanded, and a
member leaving town without paying his creditors was expelled.
In later years we have erected magnificent temples in the name of
Masonry, but they will mock high Heaven if they do not demonstrate the
teachings of the Fraternity as exemplified by our predecessors. The
incidents cited above were taken at random from the minutes to show
how our antecedents lived their Masonry and set an example that Masons
of today may well profit by.
Masonry then meant more than commercial or political advantage and an
emblem. The pioneer had a tear for pity and a hand open as the day
for meeting charity, but he was an austere mentor.
May 7, 1859, the Lodge took steps toward building a sidewalk to
connect with the town, which, when completed, was a boon for the
juvenile population of the village who utilized it as a coasting
course, furnishing a good steep grade from the hall to the old
blockhouse, which stood where is now the marker for the end of the
There was much privation endured in those days, in everyday life, but
there was some recompense. There is a notable contrast in comparison
with the hold-up methods of today. No. 1 paid a bill for $33.78 for
its Lodge room furniture; $1.12 per yard for its carpet, and it was a
good carpet for it endured for years; 6 chairs for $9.00. These
chairs were durable, for they are today in the hands of members of No.
1, who purchased them when the old hall was dismantled. It costs a
great deal to live in these effete days of the automobile and
enervating luxury, but it costs more to die. Now when one proposes to
draw the draperies of his couch about him and lie down to pleasant
dreams, he must leave an estate of at least $1,000.00 for funeral
expenses or the obsequies will not be attended by the elect, while in
1850 to 1860 one could light out for that bourne from whence no
traveler returns for about $36.00, as the record shows, and make a
pretty good appearance at that. The necessary offices were performed
by surviving brothers without price, and the deceased was taken out
south of town in a dead-ex wagon rather than a gasoline hearse, but no
one of the deceased was ever heard to complain about his conveyance.
One of the first funerals at which Olympia Lodge presided was one
somewhat historic in the annals of the territory. The services were
held over the remains of A. Benton Moses, of Steilacoom Lodge, and
Joseph Miles. Moses and Miles had been shot from ambush by the
Indians near Connell prairie, while in company with a small body of
volunteers who were going to join the main body.
These Indians were instigated in the murder by Chief Leschi, who was
tried for the crime and eventually hung. Leschi was a fit subject for
the hangman’s noose then. Today, thanks to Ezra Meeker, he is a hero
and a martyr.
There was a tragedy in the funeral. The bodies were placed in one of
the two wagons in the little settlement. In the other rode the bride
of six months of Mr. Moses. The day was dark and dreary and the road
almost impassible. To do honor to the men who had given up their
lives to protect others, the citizens demanded a military funeral,
and, as such, music was indispensable. The band consisted of a fife
and drum. As the procession wended its way to the graveyard on the
road leading to what is now Little Rock, near Belmore, over and over
again the band played the strains of the “Girl I Left Behind Me.”
This may have a ludicrous aspect now, but it was agony for a girl who
was following a young husband to his last resting place. The people
were simply doing the best they could to honor these Masons with the
limited means at their command.
But the old order gives way for the new. Olympia Lodge is now a
flourishing organization of over four hundred members, holding the
proud title of No. 1 in a great jurisdiction. Harmony Lodge No. 18
was organized in 1871 and is a prosperous body of about one hundred
sixty-five members. The necessities of these Lodges and the higher
bodies demanded a better and a more commodious home and the old gave
way for the building now occupied. Much credit is due to a committee
composed of Frank Blakeslee, Chas. E. Claypool, and Robert Doragh, to
whom was delegated the authority for financing and supervising the
building. The corner stone for this temple was laid in 1911.
In such reverence was the old building held that many were loathe to
have it destroyed. In the hope of preserving it, the Grand Lodge of
Washington was offered a deed to the hall and the ground upon which it
stood for use as a headquarters for the Grand Lodge archives and
office of the Grand Secretary. But Tacoma influence was too strong,
and brought about a removal of the office of Grand Secretary to the
City of Destiny, after having been maintained here since the
organization of the Grand Lodge. Much of this time Thomas Milburne
Reed was Grand Secretary, a man who lived his Masonry and died a
sincere and consistent Christian. His memory is cherished by all who
were fortunate in having his acquaintance and friendship.
In such deep veneration was the old hall held that there were those in
the membership of No. 1 that fought to the bitter end to save the old
edifice. At last, the sentimental members offered to consent to the
desecration on condition that a small lodge room would be included in
the new building which would be a replica of the old Lodge room with
its arch ceiling and starry embellishments. And the historic old
building was razed, and an old door, the main entrance, was thrown
into an abandoned barn and forgotten. The old order became a memory,
with nothing to connect with the beginning of things except an old
minute book and charter.
By merest accident, the old door was found and rejuvenated, and upon
its surface on each panel is emblazoned the high lights of northwest
Masonic history. The old door was home again and hung in the old
Lodge room, and its return was celebrated by a special session of No.
1, when it was installed. The old hand rail was found that had guided
the Masons of old up the stairs. It was made of a hard, not a native,
wood, brought from an eastern state. When the old building was razed,
a thorough search failed to reveal the old corner stone laid in 1854.
The door has been assigned a position in the smaller Lodge room, which
in most respects is the one which it guarded, near the senior warden’s
station in the west. It was the only place in the temple where wall
space sufficient for its size could be found. There it will remain
and as the years go by, additional history will be written upon its
panels and stiles and thus through the generations will preserve,
unimpaired, the history of the first Lodge in the state.
The original place of meeting of Olympia No. 5, was on Second Street,
between Main Street (now Capitol Way) and Washington Street, in a two-
story wooden building with an outside stairway.
This was also the building in which was organized the Grand Lodge of
Washington. The site is now marked by a plaque on which is inscribed:
“Original Meeting Place Olympia Lodge NO. 1, F. & A.M.
DEC. 11, 1852 Laid by the M.W.
Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of Washington Dec. 10, A.L. 5927
Robert A. Wilson Grand Master”
This location is a memorable one in the history of the state. In this
block was held the first session of the territorial legislature in
1854. This site is also marked by a plaque installed by the Pioneer
Society of the State. Here also stood an old hotel in which was held
the official reception of Governor Isaac I. Stevens on his arrival in
Olympia. The governor was accompanied by a party of engineers sent
out by the government to locate a feasible route for a
transcontinental railroad. They established their office in the block
opposite. In fact, all of the little village of Olympia, made the
capitol, by proclamation of Governor Stevens, of a vast domain
extending from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean and from the
Columbia River to the British line, was located well down toward the
waterfront, but the Masons built their first Lodge hall six blocks
above, well surrounded by timber.
Members in good standing enrolled during 1853 and 1854 were: T.F.
McElroy, J.W. Wiley, M.T. Simmons, N. Delin, Ira Ward, C.H. Hale,
Smith Hays, F.A. Clark, I.B. Powers, B.F. Yantis, B.F. Shaw, J.R.
Johnson, John M. Hayden, Edmund Sylvester, Courtland Etheridge, Levi
M. Ford, T.W. Glasgow.
These were indeed the pioneer Masons of No. 1 that participated in the
laying of the corner stone of the old building June 24, 1854. At 11
o’clock on that day a procession was formed and proceeded to the site
of the new Lodge building, at which time and place the corner stone
was laid with appropriate ceremonies, after which the procession moved
to Brother Cock’s hall at the Pacific house, as stated by the minutes,
and listened to an eloquent address by J.P. Anderson on Masonry.
Evidently the pioneer had the same weakness as the more modern Mason,
for the minutes further state that the brethren partook of a sumptuous
entertainment prepared by Brother Cock for the occasion. The Pacific
house, referred to, stood on the now vacant lot opposite the city
hall. Brother Cock was later suspended for insubordination and
finally expelled by order of the Grand Lodge.
At a meeting on August 4, a proposition to reduce the fees for the
three degrees to $30.00 was discussed and rejected, the fees remaining
The approaching Indian war had commenced, making inroads on the
members of the Masonic Fraternity. As already stated, A. Benton Moses
had been accorded a Masonic funeral by No. 5, and at the meeting held
November 3, 1855, resolutions were passed deploring the death of A.J.
Bolon. He was an Indian agent and was proceeding toward The Dalles
accompanied by three Indians. One of the Indians on the trail dropped
behind Bolon and shot him in the back. With the help of his
companions, the murderer then cut Bolon’s throat, killed his horse,
built a fire and burned the bodies of horse and man. This murderer
was duly punished. His name was Kwalchen. One day he rode into
Colonel Wright’s camp. The Colonel made this report of the affair, “He
rode into my camp at 9 o’clock this morning and at 9:15 he was hung.”
At the meeting held November 11, 1855, resolutions of regret were
adopted on the death of Brother James McAllister, killed by the
Indians in White River Valley. His body was found two days after the
killing of Moses, before mentioned, shockingly mutilated.
It may be stated in passing that the pioneer Masons spared neither
space nor effort in expressing their sympathy. The resolutions
commemorating the death of McAllister covered two pages of the minute
book, closely written, closing with the following: “Resolved that a
blank page be left in the record book of the Lodge and the name of our
deceased brother be inscribed in the center thereof, with marginal
black lines.” The secretary left two blank pages in the record book,
but to this day they remain blank.
On December 8, 1855, a communication was read from Steilacoom Lodge
announcing the death of Lieutenant Slaughter. He was killed by the
Indians near White River. He had been a visitor to Olympia No. 5,
though a member in Steilacoom, and Olympia was asked to participate in
the funeral ceremonies. Lieutenant Slaughter was a West Point
graduate and assigned to the 4th Infantry, to which Lieutenant Grant
(later General Grant) was assigned. He was ordered to the West and
was seasick every day of his trip here. On his arrival here he was
ordered to return East, on account of a mistake in his assignment.
Again he suffered from seasickness and, when Grant found him in Panama
in 1852, still sick, he told his superior that he wished he had
joined the Navy, for then he probably would not have to go to sea so
Closely interwoven with the early history of Washington is that of
Masonry, for the outstanding characters that were bearing the burdens
of pioneer life and carrying on contests with the Indians were Masons.
At a meeting on February 7, 1857, a resolution was passed urging the
granting of a petition for the establishment of a Lodge of Masons at
Grand Mound. The petitioners were: Charles Byles, James Byles, I.
Axtell, W.B.D. Newman, C.E. Baker, B.C. Armstrong, Aaron Webster, B.F.
Yantis, and R.S. Doyle. The petition was granted, and the Lodge
survived for a few years.
The meeting of September 19, 1857, was notable for several
distinguishing features. Among the visitors notes was Fayette
McMullen of Catlett Lodge No 35, Virginia. This gentleman was the
second governor of the territory. Selucius Garfield and W.W. Miller
were balloted on and elected. Garfield was later to represent the
territory in congress, and W.W. Miller was Adjutant General during the
troublous Indian war times.
Thomas M. Reed, of Acacia Lodge No. 92, appeared as a visitor on
January 16, 1858. This brother was destined to be a very prominent
figure in future Masonic history. He affiliated here on June 5, 1858.
The first move toward selection of a Masonic cemetery was made on
March 6, 1858, when a committee reported progress on the matter. The
Lodge later accepted the donation of a tract of land made by Smith
Hays, stipulating that the land was a donation on consideration of the
Lodge’s clearing and cultivating the three acres given. On September
4, 1858, a contract was approved for clearing the cemetery ground.
At the same meeting was held the trial of a brother for making an
assault on a brother Mason with intent to do bodily harm; he was found
guilty and promptly expelled.
At this particular period in the history of No. 5, it is quite
apparent that sinister motives actuated certain members in their
ballots on petitioners. There was good material rejected without
apparent cause – – men of good reputation who had borne their parts in
the struggle against the Indians and were in every way good citizens,
whose exclusion from the Fraternity reflected little credit on the
guilty ones. As an evidence, Elwood Evans was rejected twice before
admission, but was finally received and became Grand Master.
One examining the old records in the ’50s is impressed with he
beautiful handwriting and neatness apparent in keeping the minutes.
There were no typewriters then, and penmanship was an art.
Some time previous to 1860, J.W. Wiley, who was a charter member of
No. 5, was indefinitely suspended for unmasonic conduct. On his
death, at a meeting held March 30, 1860, the question of the propriety
of permitting his remains to be interred in the Masonic cemetery was
taken up and generally discussed. Finally permission was granted for
At the meeting, December 2, 1860, a committee was appointed to
ascertain the cost of neat and uniform regalia for use of the members
and additional supply for use of the visitors, but no action was
taken, though the Tyler was authorized to keep a register and require
all members and visitors to register.
In 1861 William Lyle was junior warden. At a meeting of the Grand
Lodge held in September of that year, Mr. Lyle was expelled for
unmasonic conduct and Olympia Lodge was so officially informed.
It behooved Masons to conduct themselves circumspectly in those days
for the proceedings as recorded are replete with charges and trials,
and little consideration was accorded the guilty. One member was
severely disciplined for stating that a special meeting had been held
by No. 1 with a view to taking action to influence the decision of a
court in a case then being tried.
In June of 1864, a special communication was held to act upon the
application of a parent for permission to bury his deceased child in
the Masonic cemetery, which permission could not be granted without
consent of the Lodge. The result was that the southeast corner of the
cemetery was set aside for sepulture of strangers under certain
restrictions. The cemetery committee was authorized to sell lots
20×20 feet at $20.00 per lot and to sell smaller lots at such price as
they saw fit.
June 18, 1866, the Lodge passed resolutions of respect to the memory
of Smith Hayes, whose death occurred in Kansas. Brother Hayes was
Tyler at the meeting for the organization of No. 5.
At a regular meeting on March 18, 1867, resolutions protesting the
action of Grand Mound Lodge No. 3, meeting at Tumwater, in conferring
the Entered Apprentice degree upon N.S. Porter. Inasmuch as N.S.
Porter had been already rejected by Olympia Lodge, they declared the
action of Grand Mound Lodge as irregular and clandestine, and
earnestly protested the advancement of Porter.
At a special communication held November 15, 1867, the Lodge passed
resolutions of respect to the memory of M.J. Simmons, who died at this
time in Lewis County. The Lodge also ordered paid bills as follows on
account of Brother Simmons: For covering and trimming coffin, $13.12;
for teams to cemetery, $12.50. One could afford to die then.
At the regular communication held August 3, 1868, Olympia Lodge
rescinded the resolutions formerly passed censuring Grand Mound Lodge
for conferring the Entered Apprentice degree upon N.S. Porter, and
expressed a wish for amicable relations. A communication was received
from Grand Mound Lodge asking Olympia Lodge to confer the Fellow Craft
degree upon Brother Porter. This request was not complied with.
Grand Mound Lodge surrendered its charter September 19, 1868. As will
be remembered, Olympia Lodge had by resolution declared the initiation
of N.S. Porter by Grand Mound Lodge at Tumwater as irregular and
clandestine, and such action was an infringement of the jurisdiction
of Olympia Lodge. September 20, 1879, Olympia Lodge gave permission
to Harmony Lodge to confer the Fellow Craft and Master Mason degrees
upon Brother Porter, inasmuch as Porter, by surrender of charter by
Grand Mound Lodge, had fallen under the jurisdiction of No. 1.
At the meeting of August 3, 1868, above referred to, a verbal request
was made for a new lodge in the town of Olympia, which lodge would have
joint jurisdiction with Olympia Lodge No. 1. The names of the brethren
making such request were: J.L. Myers, F.M. Sargeant [Sargent], C.H.
Hale, L.G. Abbott, E.L. Smith, N. Crosby, and J.H. Munson. The Lodge
refused to recommend such action. At a later meeting this same
request was renewed. Much discussion ensued and the request was
refused by a decisive vote.
On February 28, 1870, resolutions of condolence were passed on the
death of Marshall F. Moore. Brother Moore had served a term as
Governor of Washington Territory. A Masonic funeral was largely
On February 4, 1871, the Lodge settled the vexed question of granting
permission for a dispensation for a new Lodge in Olympia by a vote of
20 favoring and 18 against. Leave was granted for the new Lodge to
meet in Olympia Lodge room at a rental of $15.00 per month. Necessary
repairs to the building and rearranging same was ordered at a cost of
$893.70, the lower floor being used at the time for church purposes on
At a special communication held on October 7, 1872, resolutions of
respect to the memory of Brother I.B. Thomas of Winfield Lodge No 581,
New York, were adopted. Brother Thomas’ death occurred in Olympia, in
which connection occurs an interesting episode in local history. The
Northern Pacific Railroad was working westward, and great interest was
manifested regarding the location of the Puget Sound terminus.
Olympia had been promised it on credited authority. The following
statement may serve to throw some light on the inside history of the
location of the terminus of the first transcontinental line to reach
“Included in the directorate of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company
were men who composed the Lake Superior and Puget Sound Land Company.
They were sufficiently strong in the railroad company to dictate its
policy. The railroad company was not interested in town sites; the
land company – – so they had sent a man west to secure title to lands
at the prospective terminus. That man was Ira Bradley Thomas, before
mentioned. After having secured title to large tracts on Budd’s
Inlet, he died. Thus, considering the time that would be consumed in
probating the estate of Mr. Thomas, with the law’s delays, this land
was withdrawn from the market indefinitely. Time was all in all. The
result that in order to realize their financial expectations, the Lake
Superior & Puget Sound Land Company secured lands a few miles from Old
Tacoma, and went into the Northern Pacific directorate and located the
terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad.”
This story was current at that time, and I give it for what it is
In 1872 Olympia was visited by the severest earthquake shock
experienced here. It occurred on a meeting night, and the Lodge was
conferring the third degree upon Ben Turner. Ben was typical of the
early day logger. He was very profane, and anyone hearing Ben swear
realized that while he, himself, might know the words, he failed
miserably on the tune, for Ben swore by note. When the shock came,
Ben was on his knees at the altar, and it might be stated
parenthetically, that is was the only time that Ben was ever known to
be on his knees. The shock was so severe that many in the hall
thought discretion was the better part of valor and sought refuge
outside. But, like Casabianca, Ben knelt, whence all but him had
fled. The excitement over, the members returned, and on conclusion of
the ceremonies asked the candidate if he was alarmed and why he did
not fly. Mr. Turner, surprised, said he noticed a trembly sensation,
but he came looking for Hell and was prepared for it. But for all his
profanity, Ben was an honest man and did no discredit to the
On November 1, 1873, the Lodge sold three acres of its cemetery tract
for Jewish cemetery purposes, for the sum of $50.00, and also leased
the ground floor of the hall to the Grand Lodge for an office for the
A spirit of harmony now seemed to prevail for Olympia Lodge appointed
a committee to act jointly with a committee from Harmony Lodge to
raise necessary funds for a banquet and ball, each agreeing to stand
half of any possible deficiency. The event was to be held in the old
It was not until 1874 that the Lodge decided on improving the lot on
which the hall stood. On December 9, they appropriated $200 for such
improvement and built a privy, and for this purpose authorized the
engagement of a specialist.
On June 5, the secretary called attention of the Lodge to the proposed
reunion of the Grand Lodges of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, as well
as subordinate Lodges in the several jurisdictions, to be held on the
16th day of August in Olympia. The Lodge appropriated $100 for
entertainment, and the event proved a memorable one.
On June 25, 1875, the death of Judge O.B. McFadden was announced.
Brother McFadden had been a prominent figure in the history of the
On January 25, 1876, the Lodge attended the funeral of W.W. Miller, who
had also been a prominent figure in local history.
Improvement of the Lodge property was undertaken to the extent of
building a picket fence along the front and grading the lot, for which
$25 was paid, and permission was given for divine service on the
A petition for a new Lodge at Chehalis and asking for recommendation
from No. 1 was made February 16, 1878, which was granted.
At this time maple trees were planted about the hall lot, which
survived until the march of improvement called for their destruction.
By way of comparison, it is well to consider the cost of dying. At
this time, the Lodge paid a bill of $51.00, which included a steamer
to and from Tacoma for conveyance of visiting brothers.
On February 8, 1879, occurred the death of Judge B.F. Yantis, the
first Mason made by Olympia Lodge No. 1, U.D., Oregon jurisdiction.
Brother Yantis, as a delegate from Grand Mound Lodge, participated in
the convention to form the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Washington,
becoming its first Senior Grand Deacon.
The minutes of meetings in all these years recorded are replete with
bills paid for charity.
The proceedings of meetings during the period covering 1880 to 1884
are not distinguished by important events, the Lodge devoting itself
to routine business and work, though the membership during this time
was considerably augmented.
On February 8, 1884, Olympia recommended the application for charter
for a lodge at Montesano to be known as Wynooche Lodge, with Brother
D.H. Mullen as Worshipful Master.
During this time, the following appears upon the minute book: “There
were no meetings during the month of June. Reason: no quorum first
Saturday evening, and last Saturday evening, neither the Master or
Wardens were in town. I make this note deeming it necessary so all
brethren may understand. N. Crosby, Secretary.”
The death of Thornton F. McElroy occurred February 4, 1885. His death
was sudden, and Harmony Lodge No. 18 joined with Olympia Lodge in the
Masonic funeral. Brother McElroy served as the first Worshipful
Master of Olympia No. 5, U.D., under the Oregon jurisdiction and
several subsequent terms, also as first Grand Master of the Grand
Lodge of Washington.
Olympia Lodge, on August 1, 1885, approved a petition presented by
Masons of South Bend for a charter for a Lodge to be known as Gavel
The death of Brother Nathaniel Crosby occurred on December 18, 1885,
and he was accorded a Masonic funeral. Brother Crosby had been the
efficient secretary of the Lodge for several terms.
Harmony Lodge No. 18 and Olympia Lodge No. 1 held their first joint
installation on December 28, 1885. The officers were installed by
Past Grand Master T.M. Reed, R.G. O’Brien acting as Marshal.
Edmund Sylvester died in Seattle September 20, 1887. Brother
Sylvester was made a Master Mason by Olympia Lodge U.D., in June 1853.
Edmund Sylvester was closely identified with the history of Olympia
from its beginning. He came to Puget Sound in 1846 and located on
what is now known as Chambers Prairie. Sylvester had a partner named
Smith, who located for his claim the half section where Olympia now
stands. Brother Sylvester ran the first hotel the little village of
Olympia boasted, a two-room building, 16×24, cloth-lined, with bunks
for the accommodation of guests who possessed their own blankets.
Brother Sylvester was not without a sense of humor, for he advertised
in the modest little local paper that he had “imported a celebrated
chef direct from Hongkong.” It was in 1887 that the first and
third Fridays of each month were adopted as dates for stated
James Byles died February 5, 1888. He was the second and tenth Grand
Master of the Grand Lodge of Washington. He was held in high regard
by the brethren and his fellow citizens generally, and was accorded a
Masonic funeral, Harmony No. 18 participating.
At a meeting March 7, 1890, T.M. Reed, R.G. O’Brien, and R. Frost, as a
committee, were appointed to confer with a like committee from Harmony
Lodge regarding the building of a new temple. At a meeting in
September of the same year, the Lodge resolved that Olympia Lodge take
such steps toward the erection of a Masonic temple as may seem best to
the Lodge. Further, that the Lodge will convey to a Masonic temple
building association, for the purpose of erecting a temple on the lots
on the northwest corner of Eighth and Main Streets, in the city of
Olympia, and receive the price therefor in paid-up stock of such
association and as a further consideration that a Lodge room, free
from rent, be granted to Olympia No. 1, but twenty-one years were to
intervene before a new temple was actually erected.
In September, 1891, the Lodge began to consider the advisability of
lighting the hall with electricity, and gave a committee, already
appointed, further time to report. On October 6, 1891, the Lodge paid
a bill for wiring the hall, and the primitive method of lighting was
In 1894, movement was made toward securing the permanent location of
the Grand Lodge at Olympia, but was not successful.
The death of Francis Tarbell occurred on December 20, 1894. Brother
Tarbell had served as territorial treasurer from 1875 to 1880.
The Lodge appointed a committee consisting of Henry Sabin, Arthur
Ellis, S.P. Winan, G. Kaufman, J.C. Rathburn, [Rathbun] L.G. Abbott,
Jno. F. Gowey, Wm. McMicken, R.G. O’Brien, Robert Frost, F.G. Deming,
and A.B. Cowles, to have charge of the entertainment of the Grand
Lodge, which held its 1895 session in Olympia.
In September, 1896, the death of George D. Shannon was announced, and
a Masonic funeral was accorded him in which all Masonic bodies were
invited to participate. Brother Shannon had long been identified with
the affairs of the territory and state, as a trustee of the Western
Washington Hospital for the insane and as a State Land Commissioner.
The period of financial stringency in the ’90s made itself apparent in
the affairs of the Lodge, and many applications were made for leniency
in the matter of dues. All meritorious appeals were met with great
Representatives of Tenino Lodge F. & A.M. at this time appeared before
Olympia Lodge and solicited this Lodge to take stock in the Masonic
Building & Real Estate Association of Tenino, the object of which was
to purchase the hall in which the Tenino Lodge then met. Olympia
responded in a moderate way, to the extent of seven shares.
March 3, 1898, the death of Elwood Evans was reported, which occurred
in Tacoma, to which city he moved from Olympia. Brother Evans had
lived a long and distinguished career in civic as well as Masonic
affairs. He represented the territory at the Centennial Exposition at
Philadelphia. He practiced law in Olympia for a number of years, and
was the eighth Grand Master of the State of Washington.
In May of this same year occurred the death of Benjamin Harned.
Brother Harned held the office of Territorial Treasurer from 1867 to
1870 and was for many years treasurer of the Grand Lodge of
Washington. In such high regard was he held that a number of
appealing addresses were made in Lodge on the announcement of his
death. He held the office of Grand Treasurer at the time of his
Brother A.D. Glover’s death was reported on August 5, 1898, when it
occurred at the Odd Fellows’ Home in Walla Walla. Brother Glover
served one term as Postmaster of Olympia.
On March 3, 1899, a petition for membership by affiliation was
received from Brother E.M. McClintie, with demit from Chehalis Lodge.
Brother McClintie has proved himself a useful acquisition, as he has
served No. 1 as Master for five terms.
The month of March, 1899, was marked by the death of Brother J.C. Horr,
who was accorded a Masonic funeral. Brother Horr served in the State
Senate from Thurston County, and also as Mayor of Olympia.
On May 17, 1899, the Lodge participated in the last sad rites for
Brother Courtland Ethridge, who built the old Masonic Hall – – the
first Masonic Hall erected on the Pacific Coast north of the Columbia
River. He was made a Mason in the early days of the Lodge. Jacob
Waldrip, a few days later, was consigned to a resting place in the
The death of William McMicken occurred in September, 1899. Brother
McMicken served as United States Surveyor General from 1873 to 1886
and as Territorial Treasurer from 1886 to 1888. He held the office of
Grand Treasurer at the time of his death. As a man he was highly
respected as a best type of citizen and a man who had lived his
December 14, 1899, the typewriter is made apparent for the first time
in the journal of the Lodge, and the minutes so recorded were the
proceedings of the Lodge commemorating the centennial of the death of
our illustrious brother, George Washington. Worshipful Master D.E.
Bailey announced the object of the assemblage, rendered more
interesting by the exhibition of a locket containing a lock of hair of
Washington, presented to Olympia Lodge by Mrs. James Tilton – – a lock
taken from the head of the General shortly after the battle of
Brandywine. Reverend A.G. Sawin delivered the invocation, followed by
an address on Washington, his public service and character;
Washington’s Masonic history by N.S. Porter; the Influence of Masonry
on the Founding of the American Republic, by Frank J. Browne, at the
close of which, being about the time that Washington expired, the
Lodge members were called to their feet and a beautiful anthem was
sung by a quartet. The exercises closed by the reading of
Washington’s Farewell Address, by Will D. Jenkins.
During the period covered by the minutes in the ’80s, the Lodge seemed
considerably disturbed over the matter of lighting the hall.
Acetylene lighting was investigated by a committee, return to the old
coal oil lamp was discussed, but the Lodge during this time appears to
have adhered to the electric method first discovered by our
illustrious brother, Benjamin Franklin.
A circular letter was read from Rosalia Lodge No. 84 of this
jurisdiction, urging the establishment of a Masonic home. The
secretary was directed to notify Rosalia Lodge that our delegation to
the Grand Lodge would be instructed to favor the same.
The Lodge donated a block of land in the Masonic cemetery for the
burial of the unclaimed dead of the first Washington regiment in the
Spanish-American War. Governor Rogers, pleased with the generosity of
the Lodge, visited the cemetery and made selection of a suitable
The Lodge was convened on May 20, 1900, for the purpose of attending
the funeral of Brother John F. Gowey. Brother Gowey had been
prominently identified with the development of Olympia and was later
appointed as United States Counsel to Japan, and, while in the
exercise of his duties there, he died, his remains being returned to
his old home for burial.
The Worshipful Master of Olympia Lodge, as one of its representatives
to the Grand Lodge, reported that he had pledged his Lodge for $100
toward the building of a Masonic home for the aged and infirm.
On December 21, 1901, the Lodge passed resolutions of respect to the
memory or David E. Bailey, a Past Master of this Lodge.
The same date, the Lodge appointed a committee to attend the funeral
of Governor John R. Rogers, whose interment occurred at Puyallup.
November 7, 1902, Grand Master Arthur issued a circular calling upon
the brethren to attend the meeting at Olympia, commemorating the
fiftieth anniversary of the organization of this Lodge. He said:
“On December 11, 1852, when our brethren assembled at the head of
Puget Sound and organized that Lodge, the territory of Washington was
not yet formed; there was no Masonic Lodge north of the Columbia River
west of the Rocky Mountains; none on the east nearer than Minnesota,
nor on the west nearer than China. These pioneers of Masonry planted
in the unconscious Capitol City of an unborn state, a branch of the
great universal Brotherhood of Masonry.” The record then shows
that Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Washington opened on the third
degree in ample form at 11:00 a.m., December 11, on special
communication for the purpose of celebrating the semi-centennial
anniversary of Olympia Lodge No. 1.
Ira Ward, a pioneer at Tumwater, and one of the petitioners for
charter for a Masonic Lodge under the jurisdiction of Oregon, which
became No. 5, died in February, 1903, at the advanced age of 87 years,
and was accorded Masonic service.
Resolutions deploring the death of Brother Robert Bennett Morrell were
passed at the May meeting in 1903. Brother Morrell was murdered while
in the discharge of his duty as deputy sheriff of Thurston County. He
was killed by a prisoner in his custody.
The minutes of May 15, 1903, state that a communication from the
Masonic Temple Association inviting this Lodge to attend the
ceremonies of the laying of the corner stone of the Masonic Temple on
May 22 by the Grand Master, assisted by Brother Theodore Roosevelt,
President of the United States, but fail to state where the corner
stone was laid.
Louis Bettman, long a member of No. 1, died May 24, 1904. Brother
Bettman was a pioneer merchant of Olympia, and was highly respected as
a man and a Mason. Late in life he was afflicted with locomotor
ataxia, but his infirmity did not diminish his loyalty to the Masonry
to which he was so devotedly attached, and in order that he might
attend meetings a rope was attached to the stairway by which means he
was enabled to reach the lodge room.
The Lodge celebrated the semi-centennial anniversary of the laying of
the corner stone of the Masonic Hall, which occurred June 24, 1854.
Fitting addresses were made, one by a member who was present on the
occasion fifty years ago.
The Olympia Hotel burned on the night of November 6, 1904. This
building was located on the present site of the post office. It was a
very large wooden building and its burning greatly endangered the old
Masonic Hall. Heroic efforts were made to save the old building for
it had an historic record that was dear to Masons and profanes alike.
They were successful in saving the old structure, but it bore the
marks of severe scorching. Thanks for its preservation were extended
to J.K.L. Mitchell, Milton Gates, G.S. Prince, Robert Frost, Alex
Wright, Alex Lang, Charles Burr, and W.M. Nunn. The loss to the
insurers was reported at $40.00 A heavy rain assisted the fire
October 7, 1905, at low twelve, our esteemed brother, Thomas Milburne
Reed, Grand Secretary, passed away. On the 10th, his remains were
laid away in the family plot in the Masonic cemetery under the
auspices of the Grand Lodge of Washington. About three hundred Masons
attended the ceremonies, to pay respect to his memory.
A photograph of T.F. McElroy, presented to the Lodge by his son, was
ordered enlarged and given a place in the hall.
Memorial services for Brother T.M. Reed were held December 22, 1905.
The following addresses were made: “Thomas M. Reed, the Citizen,” J.H.
Schivley; “Our Elder Brother,” R.J. Prickman; “Thomas M. Reed, as a
Christian,” Reverend R.M. Hayes.
Olympia Lodge donated the sum of $200 from the cemetery fund for
relief of Masonic sufferers in the San Francisco fire and earthquake.
On December 21, 1906, Olympia Lodge tendered as a donation to the
Grand Lodge, five acres of land of the tract owned by the Lodge
immediately south of Olympia, for the purpose of maintaining a Masonic
house thereon, the land to revert when it ceased to be used for that
purpose. The minutes fail to specify the use to which the house was
to be dedicated, though probably this donation was proffered with a
view to the location of a Masonic Home, referred to later on.
The death of Past Grand Master W.H. Upton was reported January 4,
1907, which occurred at Walla Walla. Brother Upton was a Masonic
scholar and a historian of national reputation.
The annual report to the Grand Lodge for 1907 showed a membership of
123 Master Masons.
Brother Robert Bruce Bryan died March 10, 1908. Olympia Lodge
officiated at the last sad rites, though Brother Bryan was a member of
Wynooche Lodge No. 43. Brother Bryan was twice Superintendent of
Public Instruction for the State of Washington. His remains were
accompanied to Montesano for interment.
During the years of 1908 and 1909 occurred the deaths of Judge O.V.
Linn and William Billings. The former Brother was Superior Court
Judge of Thurston County; the latter was a pioneer of Thurston County
and had the unprecedented record of 25 years over consecutive service
At a suggestion by Brother Blakeslee, Brother E.L. Wolf was appointed
to prepare a history of Olympia Lodge No. 1. If this duty were ever
performed, the present compiler would have been delighted to have had
access to it.
Olympia Lodge No. 1, desirous of securing the permanent location of
the headquarters of the Grand Lodge at Olympia, offered a deed for a
site on which to build a Grand Lodge home, on condition that the
property would revert in case of removal by the Grand Lodge. The
proposition was not accepted, and the permanent location was made at
September 3, 1909, was commenced the agitation for a new Masonic
building in Olympia, and a committee composed of Brothers Blakeslee,
Prickman, and Doragh was appointed to make recommendations thereon,
and, at a meeting on September 17, the committee reported that the
Scottish Rite bodies contemplated the purchase of such portions of
lots 1 and 2, block 18, Sylvester Plat, as may be necessary for their
purpose. The committee recommended that conveyance be authorized to
the Scottish Rite bodies of a tract not more than 90 feet nor less
than 70 feet, for the ground, not including the building, at the rate
of $41 per front foot on Main Street, Olympia Lodge to accept bond
secured by a mortgage on the property so conveyed together with the
building to be erected thereon. This proposition was accepted by both
parties to the contract.
Mrs. Thomas M. Reed presented to Olympia Lodge the Masonic library of
her late husband, which was gratefully received.
At the meeting on May 20, 1910, the Lodge voted to sell to the
Scottish Rite bodies the remaining 30 feet, together with the building
and its contents, with the exception of such relics as Olympia No. 1
might wish to retain, at the same rate of $41 per front foot under the
same terms as set forth on September 17. Further, that after the new
building was ready for occupancy, the old hall should be torn down and
disposed of by cremation.
The Lodge ordered the purchase of one thousand dollars or more of the
new Masonic temple bonds at 4 per cent.
The cemetery committee was authorized to expend the sum of $2100 for
the purpose of erecting a suitable cottage for the cemetery
superintendent and a waiting room for the public.
On December 27, 1911, Olympia Lodge No. 1, F. & A.M., held its first
meeting in the new temple. The old hall of revered memory had been
abandoned and razed. Many of the old members experienced a sense of
regret that they must accustom themselves to a new environment, but
this feeling was in a way relieved by the inclusion in the new temple
of a lodge room that still looked familiar with its starry ceiling and
the old familiar furniture.
The old wooden armchairs had been sold to members as keepsakes. These
old pieces bore the marks of the pioneer’s jackknives, with which they
had carved, in their idle moments, the square and compass or other
Masonic emblems. The seed planted in 1852 had taken on a sturdy
growth. ‘Tis sad but nevertheless true that things revered by time
must give way to decay and the spirit of progress.
At a meeting on December 4, 1914, the following brethren, old and
faithful members, were placed on the honorary list: Nathan S. Morehead,
M.D. Cleveland, Jacob Bolander, J.A. McKenzie, Milton Giles, J.B.
Elliott, H.R. Hill, George Prince, P.M. Cole, and C.D. Springer.
The dues were reduced from $4.00 to $3.00, later rescinded.
Olympia No. 1 gave Masonic burial for Peter McKenzie, whose death
occurred December 17 and for Alexander F. McKenzie, whose death
occurred January 9, 1915. Both had been long and respected members of
On April 16, 1915, an appropriation of $100 was made, to be forwarded
to the Grand Secretary to be used for the relief of distressed brother
Masons and their families in the war zone.
On Monday, July 5, 1915, a special communication was held to pay the
last sad tribute of respect to the memory of Alfred S. Ruth, who died
in California June 30, 1915. Brother Ruth had been a Past Master of
Olympia Lodge. He represented Thurston County in the state senate and
made an honorable record. His rugged honesty gained him universal
Brother C.J. Lord presented to the Lodge an exposé of Masonry by
William Morgan, printed during the year 1825. This came into
possession of Brother Lord’s father about 1861 and was preserved by
him, and later by his wife until the time of her recent death.
At the time, a telegram was received from the Masonic Board of Relief
of San Diego, California, which stated that the widow of Edmund
Sylvester, who became a Mason in No. 5, U.D., Oregon Jurisdiction, and
who donated the property in Olympia upon which the Masonic Temple
stands, was resident there and destitute. The Lodge authorized a
remittance for her relief. Later a communication was received stating
that the daughter of Edmund Sylvester was in the county hospital,
stating that she could be cared for at the rate of $1.00 per day. A
remittance was forwarded and further information asked.
An ivory gavel was presented to the Lodge by Reverend R.M. Hayes, with
the request that it be used and not kept as a memento. The Worshipful
Master accepted the gift and returned thanks to Brother Hayes for it.
December 1, 1916, attention of the Lodge was called to the fact that
it had been customary for the Lodge to supply baskets of provisions
for the needy at Christmas time, and, to continue such practice, a
committee was appointed.
February 16, 1917, Olympia Lodge passed resolutions of respect for the
memory of Milo A. Root, whose death occurred January 19, 1917. Judge
Root was at one time a judge of the Supreme Court of Washington, from
which position he resigned.
A special communication was called for the purpose of paying the last
tribute of respect to the memory of Bennett M. Howell, who died in
Tacoma on August 14, 1917, at the age of 92 years. Brother Howell had
been a member of Olympia Lodge in good standing since 1864, a period
of 53 years.
The Lodge named a representative of this Lodge to serve on a committee
to look after the interests of “our brothers who are serving, or may
hereafter serve,” in the army or navy of the United States during the
Robert Frost, an old and respected member of Olympia Lodge No. 1, died
December 16, 1917, and was accorded a Masonic funeral.
The Lodge ordered that no further patronage be given Conrad Klam, a
local florist, on account of disloyalty and lack of patriotism.
The minutes give accounts of liberal purchases of Liberty bonds during
the war period from time to time, in amounts varying from $500 to
Thomas Prather, a pioneer, who arrived in Oregon Territory in 1852 and
who took part as a volunteer in the Indian wars in the Territory and
who later served Thurston County in civil positions, died May 18,
1918, and was accorded Masonic rites.
September 20, 1918, the Lodge provided for bestowing life membership
on any member who should, in one payment at the time of taking the
third degree, turn into the treasury the sum of $80, or $4.00 as dues
each year for a period of twenty years.
Brother George R. Bigelow, at this time in France, sent to Olympia
Lodge a French Masonic flag he had secured in St. Nazare, France, and
the same was ordered cased properly for preservation.
At the request of Mt. Moriah Lodge, Olympia Lodge on November 13,
1919, accorded funeral rites for Brother Lewis D. Shelton. Brother
Shelton was a charter member of Mt. Moriah Lodge and remained an
active member to the time of his death. He was a member of an old
pioneer family, and the town of Shelton was named for one member of
Brother Matt C. Eugley, a member of this Lodge for many years, died
March 16, 1920, and was accorded a Masonic funeral. Henry R. Hill,
former secretary of this Lodge, followed on the 12th of May.
April 30, 1920, Olympia Lodge laid the corner stone for building A of
the state capitol group.
In January, 1922, Brother Theodore Parker assumed the office of
secretary, a position he has held to the present time. It is merely
an act of justice that he here be given credit for the remarkable
accuracy and neatness with which he has kept the records of the Lodge.
On March 3, 1922, the Lodge approved a loan to the Knights Templar of
$1250 on condition that the loan be secured by a promissory note
signed by all members of the committee representing the Commandery, as
April 8, the Master requested the officers of No. 1 to vacate their
stations, and invited Worshipful Master George A. Cooley of Royal A.
Gove Lodge to the chair, who appointed members of that Lodge to fill
the officers’ chairs, whereupon Alfred A. Camant, a Fellow Craft Mason
of Royal A. Gove Lodge was raised to the degree of a Master Mason.
The Lodge, in April of 1922, voted to donate the sum of $300 to the
In June, the Lodge performed the last sad rites for Brother R.F.
Sturdevant, and old and highly respected member of the Fraternity.
Robert Doragh, whose death occurred August 27, 1922, was accorded
Masonic burial. Brother Doragh had been secretary of this Lodge and
was one of the building committee when the Masonic temple was erected.
The Lodge passed a resolution October 20, 1922, advocating free and
compulsory education; taxation for support of schools in which
children shall be instructed in the English language only, thus
guaranteeing the perpetuation of our institutions and the support of
About this time several resolutions were introduced with a view to
regulating expenditure of Lodge funds, but like all efforts to
regulate the weather, nothing seems to have been done about it at this
time. The minutes indicate that Olympia Lodge has been liberal in its
support of the local Y.M.C.A., also the Children’s Home.
On August 4, 1923, it was ordered that the jewels of this Lodge be
draped in mourning for the period of ninety days for the death of
Warren G. Harding, late President of the United States. R. Franklin
Hart delivered an address to the Lodge, paying a touching tribute to
December 21, 1923, the Finance Committee, commenting on application
for help from several charitable institutions in the state, reported
that there had been collected to the general fund during 1923 the sum
of $2519.50, the total disbursements for the same period had been
$3099.33, creating a deficit of disbursements over receipts of
$579.83. This overdraft was met by drawing on the Lodge’s investment
fund for $1400. The report showed the Lodge had expended $859.43 for
relief besides $175 in donations to other organizations. The
committee advised that the Lodge abandon the role of Santa Claus for
the present, and the report was adopted.
January 4, 1924, the Lodge adopted an amendment to the by-laws as
follows: No donations of funds from the treasury of this Lodge shall
be made to any institution whatsoever except it be to an institution
under the sole management of a regularly constituted Masonic body.
Vote stood 30 to 1 for adoption.
On April 24, 1924, a special communication was called to pay the last
tribute of respect to Nathaniel J. Redpath. Brother Redpath was
Master of No. 1 in 1902-1903, a universally beloved brother.
On November 21, 1924, the Worshipful Master stated that this Lodge had
the honor of being one of two Masonic Lodges of the State of
Washington to be selected by the Equity Washington Masonic Bible
Association of Chicago, to be sent the Equity Washington Masonic
Traveling Bible, which is being sent to two Lodges in each state of
the Union, upon which each Lodge is requested to obligate a third
degree candidate. The Worshipful Master stated that this Lodge would
obligate a third degree candidate on December 5, 1934, and brethren of
Tenino, Camp Lewis, Shelton, Yelm, and Harmony Lodges were invited to
be present. This ceremony took place on December 5, when Clinto M.
Williams was raised to the degree of a Master Mason.
The Lodge placed an assessment of $1.00 per year upon each member,
same to be placed in a special relief fund for Masons and their
families. This was for 1925 only.
Olympia Lodge was subjected to a slight touch of $52.00 of Lodge
funds, which theft occurred on April 28.
Upon motion, the Lodge authorized Brother McClintic to transport the
old records to his residence, there to be sorted and arranged by him
and returned to the Lodge. Later on it is evident that some
unauthorized person has again disarranged them
The financial condition of the Lodge on May 7, 1926, was stated as
General Fund $9,477.00
Perpetual Care Fund 32,858.00
Lease Trust Fund 1,000.00
The Lodge authorized the purchase of $5,000 worth of 5% serial gold
W.M. Dunham of Oakville Lodge, on May 7, 1926, addressed the Lodge on
the subject of erecting a monument to the memory of the extinct Grand
Mound Lodge No. 3, and requested the Lodge to appoint a committee to
act with a similar committee from Oakville and Tenino Lodges to
formulate a plan for such purpose, and George T. McCoy and Earle
McCroskey were so appointed.
The tedium of searching the Lodge records is relieved by reading of
the troubles of Mr. and Mrs. Columbus Beary, whose appeals for help
appear from time to time in two volumes of records, and from every
section of the United States.
On December 11, 1927, Olympia Lodge No. 1 celebrated the 75th
Anniversary of its organization, on which occasion the following Grand
Lodge officers were present: Grand Master Robert A. Wilson, Deputy
Grand Master John E. Fowler, Junior Grand Warden Roy S. Hayward, Grand
Secretary H.W. Tyler, Grand Lecturer Charles D. Atkins, Grand Historian
Charles M. Sherman, Past Grand Master T.W. Holman, Past Grand Master
George Lawler. At the evening meeting Grand Master Wilson delivered
an address, followed by Brother Roland H. Hartley. Brother Wm. C.
Bates, chairman of the Board of Custodians, gave an address on the
early history of Masonry on the Columbia River. George E. Blankenship
read a paper on the early history of Washington Masonry. Past Master
Frank L. Satterlee gave an interesting address entitled “Looking
Backward.” At the close of his remarks, the Lodge room was darkened
and the curtains of the stage drawn aside, revealing the replica of
the old building mounted on a green hill surrounded by fir and cedar
trees. The speaker spoke of the Tyler, who was the first to appear
upon the scene with his lighted lantern traveling up the hill toward
the hall and disappearing at the door, upon which the lights in the
little temple shone through the windows into the outer darkness. And
then the old organ was heard in the distance, upon which was being
played the Masonic Dirge, all presenting an impressive tableau most
Past Grand Master Stephen J. Chadwick gave an interesting address
entitled “Grand Masters, Past and Present, Oregon and Washington.”
Brother F.S. Thompson delivered an address on “Mastership Through
Symbols.” The brethren then arose and sang “Auld Lang Syne.” The
proceedings of this meeting were printed in book form.
On June 3, 1928, a special communication was held for the purpose of
paying the last tribute of respect to the memory of Thomas J.
McBratney, who had served as Master in 1889.
The secretary read a communication from the Thurston-Mason County
Realty Board placing a value of $18,000 on the property of the Lodge
adjoining the Carlyon Addition.
Resolutions of respect for the memory of Guy C. Winstanley, who died
January 24, 1929, were passed by the Lodge. Brother Charles A.
Briffett, received Masonic burial rites on March 6, 1929. Brother
Robert Marr, a Past Master, was accorded Masonic rites in March, 1929.
On May 24, 1929, a special communication was held to confer the last
sad rites of deceased Brother Preston M. Troy. Brother Troy was a
Past Master of this Lodge.
On October 14, 1929, the Lodge performed the Masonic burial rites for
John J. Gilbert. Brother Gilbert was a Past Master of No. 1 in 1886.
He passed away at the age of 84.
Past Grand Master Tom W. Holman was made an honorary member of this
Lodge by unanimous vote in December, 1929.
The secretary announced that he had received from Washington. D.C., the
Masonic paraphernalia of Captain J.J. Gilbert, whose last wish was
that these mementoes be sent to his old Lodge.
On April 8, a special communication was held to receive from a
committee, composed of Brother Frank G. Blakeslee and Brother George
E. Blankenship, the old door of the hall, which had been embellished
with local Masonic history and hung in the small Lodge room.
A very profitable discussion on the subject of the blackball was
engaged in by Brothers Millard, Sylvester, and others. On careful
consideration of the journals of this Lodge from time immemorial to
the present, it is evident that this is a subject pregnant for good or
evil. Many a good man and good Masonic material has been laid low by
the blackball, and as many more disqualified have received the
benefits of admission. It is a human trait to be guided by personal
prejudice, but a trait to be avoided in the exercise of this most
important function of a Mason. It is true that blackballing was more
prevalent in the olden times than now, but in contradistinction, the
early Masons were more censorious than in later days.
On February 6, 1931, Past Master Blakeslee presented to the Lodge the
trunk in which the charter of this Lodge was brought from Portland,
Oregon, to Olympia, a gift through the courtesy of Mrs..
M.A. Hillburger of Chehalis and Mrs. Banner of Vader.
Past Master Blakeslee presented the Lodge with the dispensation
granted by the Grand Lodge of Oregon Territory to Olympia Lodge No. 5.
The dispensation was tendered by Mrs. Carrie M. McElroy, daughter-in-
law of Thornton F. McElroy, first Grand Master of Washington.
The model of the old temple, completely furnished with miniature
models of the old Lodge furniture was displayed in the Lodge room on
October 7, 1932. The furniture was made by Brother Frank O. Scott; the
wiring installed by Brother Case of this Lodge, and the painting done
by Brother Messegee of Harmony Lodge. This is indeed a perfect
reproduction of the original, even to the stained glass at the sides
of the main entrance, and a piece of the carpet from the old Lodge
The charter of the Lodge was ordered framed together with two
photographs, one of the old temple and one of the replica of the same.
October 6, 1933, the Lodge passed resolutions of respect to the memory
of Mark E. Reed. Brother Reed was Master of this Lodge in 1892 and
1893. He was a son of Thomas Milburne Reed.
At a later date, Brother Walter F. Meier delivered an instructive
address before the Lodge, tracing the genealogy of Masonry from the
present period to the formation of the first known Lodge in England.
He also spoke of the transition from operative to speculative Masonry.
At the same meeting Brother Meier presented to the Lodge a traveling
trowel for the engraving of names of all Lodges of Washington and
Alaska. Olympia Lodge No. 1 was the first Lodge to receive the
trowel, with the request to forward the same, after engraving it, to
another Lodge, and so to be passed on until the complete circuit had
On Dec. 21, 1934, the annual election was held with the following
result: Worshipful Master, Sy Nash; Senior Warden, Harold G. Brackett;
Junior Warden, Maurice A. Gould; Treasurer, Fred H.
Sylvester; Secretary, Theo. Parker; and who were duly installed on
Dec. 27th, a joint ceremony being conducted as usual with Harmony
Feb. 1, 1935, Past Master Millard announced that he had started the
traveling trowel on its long journey, by delivery of the same to
The journal of the Lodge with the opening the year 1935 gives evidence
of renewed interest as well as showing increase of membership.
On May 17th, W.M. Sy Nash spoke regarding the establishment of a
monument on the site of the temple in which Grand Mound Lodge No. 3
held its meetings and at a later meeting the following resolution was
passed, addressed to the Grand Lodge:
“Whereas, the Grand Lodge of Washington was organized in 1858 by
Olympia No. 5 (now No. 1), Steilacoom Lodge No 8 (now No. 2), Grand
Mound Lodge No. 21 (afterward No. 3), and Washington Lodge No. 22 (now
No. 4), then working under the Grand Lodge of Oregon; and
“Whereas, Grand Mound Lodge No. 3 surrendered its charter in 1867; and
“Whereas, It is of great historical importance to the Craft that a
suitable memorial be placed on the site where Grand Mound Lodge No. 3
once stood to commemorate its labors, its fidelity, and untimely death
and in order that the place may be known should occasion ever require
“Resolved, that such a memorial be erected, at a cost of not to exceed
$150, to be appropriated from the funds of the Grand Lodge and that
the most Worshipful Grand Master be authorized and empowered to take
such steps as in his judgment are necessary to effectuate the purpose
of this resolution.”
The Grand Lodge refused to take action in the matter. Notwithstanding,
Bro. Nash is vigorously pursuing the project, and is sanguine that the
memorial will be placed at an early date. The history of Olympia Lodge
No. 1, F. & A.M., Washington Jurisdiction, has been traced from its
inception, when on December 11, 1852, a small number of Masons, little
more than sufficient to fill the chairs, met and organized under the
Oregon Jurisdiction, down to 1935, a period of 83 years. Organized
nearly a year before the admission of Washington as a Territory, the
history of each has been closely interwoven during the years of their
existence. The pioneer Masons laid the foundation of a great state-
to-be. It behooves the Masons of today to guard with jealous care the
proud heritage bequeathed by the sturdy forbears of Masonry.
The Grand Mound Monument
NOTWITHSTANDING the fact that the Grand Lodge of Washington failed,
at its last session, to make appropriation for a suitable marker to be
placed on the site of the meeting place of Grand Mound Lodge No. 3,
Worshipful Master Sy Nash, of Olympia Lodge, is making a determined
effort to bring the matter to a successful culmination.
The picture on the opposite page shows graphically the plan proposed.
Total height above ground level 9 feet 4 inches.
Height of shaft 6 feet. Shaft 2 feet square at bottom and 1 foot
square at top of batter. Polished bronze tablet 12 inches wide and 24
inches high. Steps 1_ inches each way. Base 9 feet 5½ inches square.
Outer portion of base (1 foot 6 inches wide) extends downward into
ground 2 feet 6 inches for foundation.
Protection fence to be 5-16 inch galvanized chain supported by 8
galvanized 1½ inch pipe posts set in concrete 12 inches out from base.
Shaft to be stone. Under the base of the shaft concrete is to be
boxed out 9 inches deep by 12 inches by 14 inches to hold a sealed
copper box 8 by 10½ by 13 inches for the preservation of papers. The
polished bronze Masonic emblem will be about 6 inches in height.
Great credit is due Maurice A. Gould, Junior Warden of Olympia Lodge,
for his conception of an ideal, and for the draughting of a plan.
The site for the proposed monument is but a short distance from the
Pacific highway, on Grand Mound Prairie, and in close proximity to a
marker placed by the Washington State Pioneers on the site of old Fort