Pioneer Links: A Narrative Of The Establishment Of The Independent Order Of Odd
Fellows On The Pacific Coast And A History Of Odd Fellowship In Washington To
1880, A Souvenir Of Thirty-Two Years In The Grand Lodge Of Washington Ioof.
[Excerpts regarding Olympia Lodge No. 1, the Oldest Corporation in Washington
still in existence.]
By H. E. Holmes, P. G. M.
Seattle: Press of the Washington Odd Fellow Times Bldg, 1913
[Transcribed in 2003 by Roger Easton]
March, 1846—Past Grand Gilbert Watson sails from Newberryport with charter for
Oregon City Lodge No. 1
Dec. 18, 1846—Excelsior Lodge No. 1, Honolulu, first Lodge on the Pacific,
Sept. 9, 1849—California Lodge No. 1 instituted.
Jan. 28, 1851—Sacramento Lodge No. 2 instituted.
July 5, 1851—San Francisco Lodge No. 3 instituted.
Jan. 7, 1852—Eureka Lodge No. 4 instituted
Jan. 7, 1852—Petition signed for a Lodge at Salem, Ore.
Dec. 6, 1852—Cemeketa Lodge No. 1, of Salem, Ore., instituted.
April 8, 1853—Samaritan Lodge No. 2, Portland, Instituted.
Dec. 31, 1853—Oregon City Lodge No. 3, Oregon City, instituted.
Mar. 2, 1853—Washington Territory created.
Feb. 25, 1853—First meeting of Legislature at Olympia.
July 26, 1854—Albany Lodge No. 4, Albany Ore. instituted.
July 13, 1855—Olympia Lodge No. 1 Instituted
Dec. 1862—Olympia Lodge No. 1 surrenders charter.
Feb. 2, 1863—Enterprise Lodge No. 1 instituted.
Apr. 17, 1866—Vancouver Lodge No. 3 instituted.
1867—Olympia Lodge No. 1 recall charter.
Aug. 23, Olive Branch Lodge No. 4 instituted.
Sept. 12, 1871—Touchet Lodge No. 5 instituted
Oct. 22, 1872—Western Lodge No. 6 instituted.
Apr. 14, 1875—Alpha Encampment No. 1, Olympia instituted.
June 12, 1876—Seattle Lodge No. 7 instituted.
Feb. 10, 18 77—Newcastle Lodge No. 8 instituted.
Feb. 26, 1877—Mt. Baker Lodge No. 9 instituted.
Mar. 8, 1877—Patit Lodge No. 10 instituted.
Aug. 24, 1877—Unity Encampment No. 2 , Seattle, instituted.
Feb. 9, 1878—Rainier Lodge No. 11 instituted.
Apr. 23, 1878—Snohomish Lodge No. 12 instituted
June 17, 1878—Friendship Lodge No. 13 instituted.
Nov. 26, 1878—Grand Lodge of Washington instituted.
Olympia Lodge No. 1
Olympia Lodge No. 1 was instituted July 13, 1855, by Past Grand C. C. Hewitt on
a commission to him by Grand Sire De Saussure and Grand Secretary James L.
Ridgely, with the following charter members:
Victor Munroe Samuel Davenport
Daniel Kiser R. J. Smith
J. L. Head Cyril Ward
At the same time George Blankenship and D. C. Beaty were admitted as Ancient Odd
Fellows. These brothers have all passed away except Past Grand D. C. Beaty, who
is still a resident of Olympia though having severed his connection with the
Lodge. Olympia, at that time, was a small village with the deep and uncut woods
behind it and flanking it and the Puget Sound in front of it at high tide and
long mud flats at low and half tides. The Territory of Washington had been
created two years previous by Congress and the year previous the first
Territorial Legislature had convened, thus making it the civil, as well as the
commercial capital of the Territory. No information is at hand concerning the
later history of the Charter members. Past Grand C. C. Hewitt who instituted
Olympia Lodge afterward was a charter member of Western Lodge No. 6 and
represented that Lodge in the institution of the Grand Lodge of Washington, at
which time he was nominated for Grand Master, Past Grand Swan of No. 1 being
The first officers were as follows:
Victor Munroe, N. G.
J. L. Head, V. G.
D. C. Beaty, Secretary
Cyril Ward, Treasurer
Samuel Davenport, Conductor
R. J. Smith, Warden
Daniel Kiser, O. S.
The first meeting place of Olympia Lodge was the upper floor of the old
storehouse of Wm. Rutledge. There has been some difficulty to locate this
building, but it was probably on what is now Second Street, near corner of Main
Street. Shortly after the organization of a room was rented in the “Barnes’
Building”, which is remembered as a two story wooden structure owned by George
Barnes on the east side of Main Street near 1st Street, between Third and
Fourth, which is still standing.
The first member initiated in Olympia Lodge was Dr. G. R. Willard, on July 27,
1855—which would be the second weekly meeting after the institution.
The year following the institution of Olympia Lodge, local conditions in the
Sound town and settlements caused by the different attractions that were drawing
away the population that was always transient and restless at the best, were
discouraging. In 1855 there was an Indian war which involved the whole
Territory. Then gold was discovered on Fraser river, causing the historic
stampede of 1858. Afterward came the Salmon River gold rush in 1861, which with
the Oro Fino stampede put the whole Pacific Coast in a state of excitement and
of movement toward the fabled lands of wealth. About that time the farm and
grazing lands in Eastern Washington were thrown open to settlement after having
been closed by the Government following the Indian war.
The wonder is that Olympia was not depopulated. The exodus continued until 1861,
when it bacame a matter of serious discussion among the few remeaining members,
whether it would be possible to continue the Lodge. The remaining members lived
at a distance from the Lodge and attendance could only be made by long trips by
wagon or horseback over roads almost impassable at times, or tramp over lonely
trails, or long trips by boat. It finally became impossible to secure a quorum
and Past Grand Percival was appently the only member left to represent the
In September, 1861, the Grand Lodge of the United States directed that:
“The Subordinate Lodges in Washington Territory be attached to and made
Subordinate to the Grand Lodge of Oregon”
As there was only one charter in Washington at that time, and that charter was
reduced to the care and custody of one member, the resolution of the Grand Lodge
of the united States surrendering Washington Territory to the Grand Lodge of
Oregon, though the only thing to do “owing to the remote isolated location” is
food for reflection in memory of the fact that the Sovereign Grand Lodge with
all its world-wide representation, has since held one of its Annual Sessions in
the State of Washington and one in the State of Oregon, and at Portland in 1892
and at Seattle in 1909 it was welcomed and entertained by thousands of
Northwestern Odd Fellows. So Olympia Lodge came under the Jurisdiction of
Oregon Grand Lodge in January, 1862, and Grand Master Hovey entered into a
correspondence with Past Grand Percival as to conditions in Olympia and in reply
to the Grand Master’s inquiries, Past Grand Percival wrote under date of August
22nd, 1862, that “he hoped to report a quorum soon and asking patience with them
under their trying circumstances.” In reply to Grand Master Hovey’s further
inquiries, P. G. Percival wrote under date December 9, 1862, “disparingly of the
Lodge.” On receipt of this information, the Grand Master directed his Deputy
“to take entire control of the hall, funds and property until such time as he
could convene a quorum and make a detailed report.” This action was reported to
the Grand Lodge of Oregon at the Session in May, 1863, which body directed the
Grand master to take possession of the effects of the Lodge. Thus the matter
was referred to the incoming Grand Master of 1863, J. H. Douthit, who continued
the correspondence in an effort to revive the Lodge. This failing hopelessly,
Past Grand Percival was directed to sell all effects that would not bear
shipping and send all other property to the Grand Secretary. The Grand
Secretary’s reports having received the “Regalia and books of the Lodge and
$31.75 in cash.”
It is impossible from the records to fix the exact date of the surrender of the
Charter, but it was undoubtedly in June or July of 1863.
If there are any records that indicate that the Charter was surrendered earlier
than this date they are obviously incorrect and cannot be confirmed by the
records in the office of the Grand Secretary of Oregon.
While Olympia Lodge had few regular meetings during the year of 1862, the last
record in the minutes being March 8, 1862, yet meetings could have been held any
time to June, 1863, that a quorum could have been secured. Therefore the
dormant period was four years instead of five years as generally reported.
On April 13, 1867, a meeting of former members of Olympia Lodge was held in the
Masonic Temple for the purpose of reorganizing the Lodge and recalling the
Charter. The meeting effected a temporary organization by electing the
C. C. Hewitt, N. G. I. N. Hawk, Treasurer
G. C. Blankenship, V. G. S. W. Percival, Secretary
These members with others present whose names are not given by signed a petition
at that time and sent it forward to the Grand Officers of the Grand Lodge of
Oregon for a restoration of the Charter. The Grand Master of Oregon promptly
granted the petition and sent them the necessary documents and authority to
resume their fraternal functions and appointed Past Grand Percival as D. D. G.
M. to look after the Lodge. Matters must have moved rapidly, for at the meeting
of the Grand Lodge in May of that year, about a month after the signing of the
petition for recall of the Charter, Olympia Lodge was represented in the Oregon
Grand Lodge Session of May, 1867, by Past Grand C. C. Hewitt, and as the first
initiation after resuscitation took place May 3, 1867, the first meeting of the
Lodge after return of their Charter must have been between April 13 when
reorganization was effected, and the date of the foregoing initiation. The
candidate at that time was Gustav Rosenthal, who is still living in Olympia,
though he has severed his coonnection with the Lodge.
Time surely flies when one tries to crowd a decade into a few inches of history.
From the resuscitation of the Lodge to the institution of the Grand Lodge of
Washington eleven years later in 1878, we may assume it was the usual and
uneventful Lodge routine.
The chrisis of 1873-4 came when hopes had been raised by the prospective coming
of a transcontinental railroad and the “things that come to those who wait” did
not include the Northern Pacific Railroad in the list of things coming to the
city of Olympia–not then. Undaunted the people of Olympia proceeded to help
themselves in the construction of railroad connections and the city maintained
its supremacy in the Territory as the political, social and commercial capital
for many years. Odd Fellowship was popular , for in 1872 another Lodge was
instituted, Western No. 6, and Olympia was as well the center of fraternal
matters in the Territory of Washington until long after the organization of our
Grand Lodge. In membership the old Lodge did not get very far away from the
’55’ mark—the reported membership December 31, 1870, being 50—and December
31, 1878, 54 members.
The Representatives from the Lodge to the Grand Lodge of Oregon from the
rususcitation in 1867 to the organization of the Grand Lodge of Washington were
1868 — S. W. Percival
1869-70 — Not represented
1871 — S. W. Percival
1872 — C.. C. Hewitt
1873 — Frank Henry
1874 — B. Bettman
1875 — J. M. Swan and Nathan S. Porter
Grand Lodge Degree was conferred at that Session on these two brothers, who
later rendered distinguished service in Washington. Brother Swan being the
first Grand Master and Brother Porter being the first Grand Patriarch. Let it
be noted that H. G. Struve was the Grand Master of Oregon that year and
conferred the Grand Lodge Degree on Brothers Swan and Porter. What a splendid
combination of ability—Struve, Swan and Porter. It can never be told how much
Odd Fellowship in Washington owes that trio.
1876 — Same as 1875
1877 — Nathan Pattison, Francis Henry
1878 — A. A. Philips, G. G. Turner
In 1878 the Grand Lodge of Washington was organized and the Lodge was
represented at that time by Past Grand N. S. Porter and who took the obligation
to protect and preserve the Charter on behalf of Olympia Lodge No. 1. Past
Grand John M. Swan was elected Grand Master at that first session and served in
that office through the next regular session. That first session of 1878 and
the one of 1879 were conventions of bright and able men and one can read between
the lines of the Journal that the air was charged with politics and we can guess
that at times it was a tempest of oratory and a practice of parliamentary wisdom
where the majority made the right, regardless of the rule. Olympia No. 1 was
well represented, there being 12 Past Grands from the Lodge of a total of 34
present. They were as follows:
Nathan S. Porter Thos. M. Ford
John M. Swan S. W. Percival
Gustave Rosenthal Samuel Davenport
A. A. Phillips G. G. Turner
Wm. Billings J. H. Lotz
J. Safrud W. J. C. Neat
Of all this list of leading Past Grands of that day there is with us but Past
Grand Patriarch Porter and Past Grand Rosenthal.
On October 22, 1872, a second Lodge of Odd Fellows was organized at Olympia and
chartered as “Western Lodge No. 6” by the Grand Lodge of Oregon with the
following charter members, who were also elected officers of the Lodge at the
time of organization:
C. C. Hewitt, N. G.
J. S. Dobbins, V. G.
Nath. Crosby, Secretary
H. R. Hewitt, Treasurer
J. L. Cook, I. Guardian.
No one seems to be able to answer the question why there was a need for a second
Lodge in Olympia in 1872. A distinguished Past Grand Master of Washington,
referring to the two Lodges in each of the towns of Olympia and Seattle in the
“It is perhaps better that no inquiry be made into the real causes of such
division of energy”.
As the charter members seem to have been members withdrawing from Olympia Lodge,
this fragment of history is introduced here because they all came back “home”
again in 1888 and joined in a wise and fraternal way with Olympia Lodge in the
building of Odd Fellows Temple that stands to the credit of the Order in
Olympia. In 1881 Western Lodge purchased the corner of 5th and Main Street as
neither Lodge was in a condition to construct a Temple alone the wiser counsel
prevailed and the two Lodges consolidated March 15, 1888. On March 18th a
Building Committee was appointed as follows:
A. C. Chambers
B. F. Snyder
Plans were immediately drawn and construction began, and on May 5, 1888, the
corner stone was laid, the oration being delivered by Past Grand Patriarch N. S.
Porter. The Temple was completed that year and on April 26, 1889, was dedicated
to the purposes and uses of Odd Fellowship by Grand Master O. C. White.
This was a gala day for Olympia and was participated in by all surrounding
Lodges. Excursion steamers were run from Seattle and Tacoma, bringing crowds of
Odd Fellows accompanied with bands of music and banners, and it is safe to say
Olympia never saw such a gathering of Odd Fellows and the hospitalities extended
that day will be long rmembered by those whose good fortune it was to be the
In the early days of the Grand Lodge of Washington, all through the early
“eighties,” the Representatives of Olympia Lodge were the controlling
personalities in the Grand Lodge. No one Lodge since has sent so many
Representatives, one after another, whose experiences and abilities qualified
them so completely to be leaders and advisers. Such members as Grand Secretary
Ford, Grand Secretary Brown, Grand Secretary Swan, Past Grand Patriarch Porter
had always to be reckoned with, one or more, in every proposition, legislative
or elective, coming before either Grand body, though it is a pleasure to let it
be recorded that their activities did not embrace Grand Lodge politics. In 1881
all four of these rapid-fire brothers were present in the Grand Lodge and add to
them a high class representation from No. 6–Past Grands E. T.Young, C. K.
Talcott, Otto Ranke, with Past Grand Master Struve’s powerful intellect, and
they will be found a formidable array of high potentials. In 1882 the
representation was much the same, with Past Grand Turner, Robt. Frost, C. C.
Hewitt, Robt. Mack. What show would a modest Representative afraid of the sound
of his own voice have with them?
It can be said without contradiction that they did not always agree with each
other, but such differences were local and personal. There is not a resolution
on the Journals from 1880 tp 1885 that did not pass the scrutiny of those
intellects from Olympia and the Jurisdiction has much to be thankful for in
those able representatives of the earlier years.
Ruth Rebekah Lodge No. 17 was instituted September 21, 1888, just in time to
join with the Lodge in the “house warming” of the new Temple that was
constructed that year, and to take part in the dedication on April 26th of the
The Lodge was instituted by authority of Grand Master O. C. White, now a member
of the Lodge by Dispensation directed to Past Grand N. Ostrander. The Lodge
started with thirty-nine charter members, which may be taken as evidence of the
popularity of that important branch of the Order, remember that in the
“eighties’ Lodge membership among even the big ones was not counted by hundreds.
Ruth Lodge No. 17 with its approximate membership of 175 at the present is among
the “big ones” and occupies a large and expanding field in the fraternal world
The first Encampment in Washington was authorized by the Grand Sire M. J. Dunham
and Assistant Grand Secretary Theo. A. Ross, and the Encampment named and hailed
“Alpha Encampment No. 1”, was instituted April 14, 1875, by Past Grand
Representative A. Noltner of Oregon, D. D. Grand Sire, with the following
N. S. Porter Gustav Rosenthal
G. G. Turner John M. Swan
H. G. Struve Robt. Mack
N. Crosby George S. Dorr
The Encampment was organized by electing the following officers:
H. G. Struve, C. P. John M. Swan, J. W.
N. S. Porter, H. P. Nat. Crosby, Scribe
Robert Mack, S. W. G. G. Turner, Treasurer
The Encampment has a membership of nearly 100 at the present time (1913) and
will partake of the same prosperity in the future that is promised for the
Olympia Lodge can be well proud of its membership and of the bright and able
Past Grands who have received their fraternal education in that Lodge.
The following Grand Officers have been drawn from the membership of the Lodge:
One Grand Master, J. M. Swan
Three Grand Secretaries, T. N. Ford, J. M. Swan, T. J. Brown
Two grand Patriarchs, N. S. Porter, J. M. Swan
Two grand Representatives, T. N. Ford, J. M. Swan, and N. Ostrander.
Past Grand Patriarch Porter is easily the Dean of the Lodge. he was initiated
in Olympia Lodge May 25, 1867, and has been continuously a member for forty-six
years. Gustav Rosenthal antedates his initiation by 22 days, having been
initiated May 3, 1867, but the distinguished and faithful service of Past Grand
Patriarch Porter, his continuous good standing all these years and at the
present time, and the fact he has been the Treasurer of the Lodge so long that
no one remembers the time he was not the Treasurer, clearly secures to him the
right to the title of Dean of Olympia Lodge No. 1.
Of these but P. G. Patriarch Porter remains with us and may we have his
companionship for many pleasant years.
DR. G. R. WILLARD
Initiated July 27, 1855
The first member initiated in Olympia Lodge, and thus being the first one to be
initiated in Washington, was Dr. G. R. Willard, who became a member of Olympia
Lodge No. 1 by initiation July 27, 1855, at the third meeting of the Lodge.
Brother Willard was one of the leading citizens of Olympia, a type of the men
who have made the West. He was a cultured and thoroughly educated physician and
with such a foundation for sustaining himself in an eminent position in the
east, we can well imagine that he had a love of adventure to leave what the East
had to offer him and identify himself with the primitive opportunities of the
West. Doubtless all pioneers have felt that irresistible “call” for the freer,
bisgger life promised by the West and the frontier.
Brother Willard was born at Rodney, Jefferson County, N.Y. , and received his
medical education at Berkshire Medical College, taking his degree from
Transylvania University, Kentucky.
The restless spirt of the pioneer took him across the plains with his family in
1852. He arrived in Olympia in 1853, where he practiced medicine for thirteen
years, passing away in 1866. He was a member of the Territorial Legislature in
1856, and in 1860 was named as one of the commissioners in the Act of the
Legislature incorporating the Northern Pacific Railroad Co. He was the father
of Dr. Rufus Willard, a well known physician in Seattle in the “nineties”, and
his granddaughter, Mrs. Annie Willard Hines, is a member of one of the Rebekah
Lodges in Seattle.
It is a high privilege to be able to honor him here and to secure and preserve
his portrait and these memories of the first initiate of our Order in