Freemasons.The first meeting of a Masonic lodge in Kansas was in the hall of the Sons of Temperance at Wyandotte (now Kansas City), Aug. 11, 1854. This was a meeting of Grove Lodge, which was organized under a dispensation from the Missouri grand lodge, dated Aug. 4, 1854. In that dispensation John M. Chivington was named as worshipful master; Matthew R. Walker, senior warden; and Cyrus Ganett, junior warden. In the petition asking for the dispensation, the residence of Matthew R. Walker was named as the meeting place, but it was later decided to hold the meetings in the Sons of Temperance hall. The name of the lodge appears in the records of the Missouri grand lodge as "Kansas Lodge," though the name Grove was given in the dispensation. The name was subsequently changed to Wyandotte.
On Oct. 6, 1854, the Missouri grand lodge issued a dispensation to Smithfield (afterward Smithton) Lodge, with John W. Smith, worshipful master; S. Reinheart, senior warden; and D. D. Vanderslice, junior warden. The first meeting of this lodge was held on Nov. 30, 1854, on a high hill overlooking the Missouri river, not far from the residence of John W. Smith. A burr oak stump was used for an altar, and the tyler, who guarded against the approach of outsiders, was mounted on a horse. The lodge continued to meet on this hill until after it received its charter in June, 1855, when a meeting place was found "in a warehouse at the residence of Brother John H. Whitehead, secretary of the lodge, about 10 miles from Smithton." On Nov. 8, 1856, the lodge was removed to the Nemaha Indian agency, near the present village of Sparks, Doniphan county, where meetings were held until June 5, 1857, when a hall was secured at Iowa Point. On Jan. 20, 1872, the lodge was removed to Highland, where it still remains.
The third lodge organized in the territory was at Leavenworth, the dispensation from the Missouri grand lodge being dated Dec. 30, 1854, with Richard R. Rees, worshipful master; Archibald Payne, senior warden; and Auley Macauley, junior warden.
On May 30, 1855, the Missouri grand lodge adopted the report of the committee on lodges under dispensation, which recommended that charters be issued to the three Kansas lodges. In compliance with this action of the grand lodge, Smithton Lodge was chartered as No. 140, Leavenworth, No. 150, and Kansas (afterward Wyandotte), No. 153. Had the charter numbers corresponded to the dates of the dispensations, Kansas Lodge would have been No. 140, Smithton, No. 150, and Leavenworth, No. 153.
A dispensation was granted to Lawrence Lodge on Sept. 24, 1855, with James Christian as worshipful master; James S. Cowan, senior warden; and Columbus Hornsby, junior warden. Kickapoo Lodge received a dispensation dated Nov. 5, 1855, in which John H. Sahler was designated as worshipful master; P. M. Hodges, senior warden; and Charles H. Grover, junior warden. Both these lodges received charters from the Missouri grand lodge on May 26, 1856.
In the meantime, however, the Kansas Masons had decided to cast off their allegiance to the grand lodge of Missouri and organize a grand jurisdiction of their own. On Sept. 15, 1855, the following resolution was adopted by Leavenworth Lodge: "Resolved, that the several chartered lodges in this territory be requested to send in delegates to Leavenworth on the second Monday in November next, for the purpose of organizing a grand lodge in the territory, and that the secretary forward to each lodge a copy of this resolution."
Leavenworth and Smithton Lodges were the only ones represented at the meeting in November, and an adjournment was taken to Dec. 27, following. At the adjourned meeting Leavenworth and Smithton were again the only lodges represented, but those present adopted a resolution to organize a grand lodge, "and that a copy of the proceedings of this convention he forwarded to Wyandotte Lodge, No. 153, with a request that they coöperate with us and approve the proceedings of this convention; and that so soon as Wyandotte Lodge shall inform the grand master-elect of their approval and coöperation in the proceedings of this convention, then the grand master-elect shall be installed as grand master and immediately issue his proclamation declaring this grand lodge fully organized."
The records do not show that the grand master then elected was ever installed, but in Feb., 1856, the Wyandotte Lodge signified its approval and coöperation, and on March 17 another meeting was held at Leavenworth, at which all three of the chartered lodges were represented, when the organization of the grand lodge was completed. The charters received from the Missouri grand lodge were deposited with the grand secretary and new charters were issued, Smithton Lodge becoming No. 1, Leavenworth, No. 2, and Wyandotte, No. 3. On July 14, 1856, Kickapoo Lodge was chartered as No. 4, Washington Lodge at Atchison, the first organized by the Kansas grand lodge, as No. 5, and Lawrence Lodge as No. 6. Since that time the growth of Masonry in Kansas has kept pace with her growth in other directions, the reports of the grand lodge in Feb., 1911, showing 390 chartered lodges and 4 working under dispensation, with a total membership of 35,496 on Dec. 31, 1910.
Following is a list of the grand masters since the organization of the grand lodge: Richard R. Rees, 1856-59; George H. Fairfield, 1860; Jacob Saqui, 1861-65; Moses S. Adams, 1866-67; John H. Brown, 1868-70; John M. Price, 1871-72; Owen A. Bassett, 1873-74; Isaac B. Sharp, 1875; Jacob D. Rush, 1876; John Guthrie, 1877; Edwin D. Hillyer, 1878; Joseph D. McCleverty, 1879-80; William Cowgill, 1881-82; George S. Green, 1883; J. J. Buck, 1884; M. M. Miller, 1885; Silas F. Sheldon, 1886; Henry C. Cook, 1887; Watson M. Lamb, 1888; George C. Kenyon, 1889; J. C. Postlethwaite, 1890; Andrew M. Callahan, 1891; David B. Fuller, 1892; William D. Thompson, 1893; George W. Clark, 1894; James H. McCall, 1895; Chiles C. Coleman, 1896; William M. Shaver, 1897; Maurice L. Stone, 1898; Henry C. Loomis, 1899; Charles J. Webb, 1900; Perry M. Hoisington, 1901; Thomas F. Dewey, 1902; Bestor G. Brown, 1903; Thomas G. Fitch, 1904; Samuel R. Peters, 1905; Thomas L. Bond, 1906; E. W. Wellington, 1907; Henry F. Mason, 1908; Fred Washbon, 1909; M. K. Brundage, 1910; Alexander A. Sharp, 1911.
C. T. Harrison was the first grand secretary, holding the office but one year. Charles Mundee then served until 1860; E. T. Carr from 1861 to 1870; John H. Brown from 1871 to 1893, and since then the office has been held by Albert K. Wilson.
The first Royal Arch chapter was organized at Atchison and named Washington Chapter, No. 1. Chapters were soon afterward instituted at Leavenworth and Fort Scott. On Jan. 27, 1866, representatives of the three Royal Arch bodies met at Leavenworth and organized the grand chapter, with Richard R. Rees as the first grand high priest. In 1911 there were 90 chapters in the state.
The grand council was organized at Leavenworth on Dec. 12, 1867, by delegates from the councils at Leavenworth, Lawrence and Atchison. Richard R. Rees was elected the first most puissant grand master. Thirteen councils were reported in 1911.
By 1868 there had been organized in the state four Knights Templars commanderies. They were Leavenworth, No. 1; Washington, No. 2, at Atchison; Hugh de Payen, No. 3, at Fort Scott; and DeMolay, No. 4, at Lawrence. On Oct. 21, 1868, delegates from these four commanderies met at Lawrence and organized the grand commandery. In 1911 there were 54 commanderies in the state.
Kansas has six Scottish Rite consistoriesat Kansas City, Topeka, Lawrence, Salina, Fort Scott and Wichitaand four temples of the Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, located at Salina, Leavenworth, Pittsburg and Wichita. There are also a number of chapters of the Order of the Eastern Star, a degree to which the wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of Master Masons in good standing are admitted. The Eastern Star originated in New York in 1868, and in 1910 there were over 500,000 members in the United States, of which Kansas had a fair proportion.Pages 687-689 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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