THE FIRST 100 YEARS
SACRAMENTO LODGE No.40
HISTORY SACRAMENTO LODGE No. 40
Sacramento Lodge No. 40 F. & A. M. celebrates its one-hundredth birthday tonight, September 25, 1953. Those of us in the Lodge take time now to move back through the pages of the past, to the earliest beginnings of our brotherhood. But before we can examine the events of that warm summer's day on July 26, 1853, when the Lodge received its first dispensation, we must set a backdrop or foundation for the forming of Sacramento Lodge No. 40. To do that, let's start with the discovery of gold in California.
History tells us that James Wilson Marshall startled a nation with his findings in the sands of the south fork of American River in January, 1848. Marshall's actions catapulted a flow of immigration to the golden state. Thousands of families arrived in California carrying for nothing more than to feed their are insatiable hunger for the rich bonanza---gold. Sacramento, starting point for the northern mines, with the destination of the goldseekers, Census figures, tell the story. In the brief two-year span from April 1, 1849, the population of approximately 150 inhabitants, boomed to teeming11,000 in search of fortune.
The desire for fraternal association enroute to be gold fields resulted in the issuance of many dispensations and charters for traveling lodges. The Eastern Grand Lodges made this possible in order that the Masonic order would flourish--keeping the work active in the journey and later on at the permanent establishments.
According to available historical records the first known meeting of the fraternity in Sacramento was held on a September evening in 1849 when, as a result of notices being posted in conspicuous places, approximately 100 Masons met in the second story of McNulty's unfurnished building, on the north side of K. Street between 5th and 6th streets. It was during this initial meeting that an attempt was made to organize a Masonic Relief Association but shortly afterward it was learned that Caleb Fenner had in his possession a charter from the Grand Lodge of Connecticut, authorizing the formation of Connecticut Lodge No. 75 in California. The plan for organizing a relief association was temporarily abandoned and preparations were made for forming a Lodge.
The third story, or attic, of a building known as the "Red House" was selected as a proper meeting place. It was rented by the fraternity and appropriately furnished. The building itself was in this state of erection on the southwest corner of 5th and J. Streets, site of the present-day Travelers Hotel. Passersby in those days noted the street address: 126 J. Street.
On January 8, 1850, Sacramento Masons assembled for the purpose of opening and organizing a Masonic Lodge and Connecticut Lodge No. 75 came into being. The charter issued by the Grand Lodge of Connecticut, and dated January 31, 1849 named Caleb Fenner as the first Worshipful Master, but at its first election, after the organization of the lodge, John A. Tutt was chosen Worshipful Master as Caleb Fenner though present, apparently did not wish that honor.
Two months later, in March, 1850, there was an unsuccessful attempt to form a Grand Lodge of the state of California. But supporters of this idea did not give up. A notice dated April 5, and published in the April 6, 1850 issue of the Placer Times, and in other publications of the same day served as a forerunner of a Masonic Assembly held on April 17, 1850 in the attic of the afore-mentioned "Red House." Representatives of California Lodge No. 13, San Francisco, Connecticut Lodge No. 75, Sacramento, Western Star No. 98, Benton City, New Jersey Lodge, U. D., Sacramento and Benicia Lodge, U. D., Benicia, assembled for the purpose of considering the propriety of establishing a Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in California.
The temporary organization was called to order by Charles Gilman, representing California Lodge No. 13 of San Francisco. Further Gilman had been Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire in 1830 and of the Grand Lodge of Maryland for seven years (1842-1848). On motion, he appointed a committee on credentials. This committee, after due deliberation, recognized California Lodge No. 13 (now California Lodge No. 1), Western Star Lodge No. 98 (now Western Star Lodge No. 2), and Connecticut Lodge No. 75 (now Tehama Lodge No. 3) has been legally constituted in chartered Lodges of Free and Accepted Masons. Representatives of these Lodges were then duly authorized and qualified to organize and constitute a Grand Lodge of the State of California.
During the sessions of April 18, 1850, Past Grand Marshal Charles GILMAN also presided and the organization of the Grand Lodge was completed and the following officers elected:
Jonathan D. STEVENSON, Grand Master; John A. TUTT, Deputy Grand Master; Caleb FENNER, Senior Grand Warden; Saschel WOODS, Junior Grand Warden; and John H. GIHON, Grand Secretary.
Brother GILMAN, after refusing the distinct honor of becoming First Grand Marshal of California, then installed the Grand Master, who in turn installed his own Deputy Grand Master and Grand Secretary. FENNER and WOODS were not present at these installations and therefore were not installed at that time. Keep in mind the fact that the Grand Lodge of California was formed and in existence before California itself became a state.
Petitions for Dispensations and Charters were received by the Grand Lodge and subordinate Lodges were created. Each Lodge, upon receiving its charter, was given a number in order of the date of its issuance. Among those who sought dispensations from the Grand Lodge were twenty-two petitioners of Sacramento Lodge who submitted their petition on or about July 18, 1853, with an accompanying recommendation from Tehama Lodge No. 3. According to the proceedings of the Grand Lodge at its fifth annual communication held in May, 1854, Deputy Grand Master T. A. THOMAS issued a dispensation to Sacramento Lodge on July 20, 1853. Official Records of the Lodge, however, indicate that its dispensation was received on July 26, 1853. With the dispensation came the following statement signed by T. A. THOMAS, Deputy Grand Master: "The within dispensation is the only one in force, the former one having been misplaced or lost, consequently void and if used by any person, clandestine." There we find the story behind the conflict of the two dates. The original dispensation had apparently been misplaced or lost and the second dispensation then was issued and took effect. This, in a matter of six days. We can appreciate the anxiety of the brotherhood over the misplaced dispensation. And so we come to the first meeting of Sacramento Lodge, UD.
This was held at 8 o'clock Tuesday evening, July 26, 1853, at the Masonic Hall on the second floor of the Stanford Building, 56-58 K Street. Present at the meeting were the following: James L. ENGLISH, Worshipful Master; John A. TUTT, Senior Warden; John H. GASS, Junior Warden; W. W. STOVALL, Secretary, Pro Tem; Daniel St. C. STEEVENS, Senior Deacon pro tem; O. D. CHAFFEE (of Tehama Lodge No. 3) Tiler pro tem; and Brothers Jefferson WILCOXSON, Herman GREENEBAUM, James ANTHONY, Andrew F. RODGERS, A. B. ASHER, and "sundry visiting brethren."
The Lodge was duly opened and the dispensation was read.
"To all whom it may concern - GREETING.
WHEREAS, a petition signed by the requisite number of "Master Masons", citizens and residents of the town of Sacramento, California, praying that a Dispensation may be granted them to open and hold a Lodge of Master Masons in that place, has been presented to me for consideration.
AND WHEREAS, it appears that the said petitioners have obtained the recommendation of Tehama Lodge No. 3 constituted under our jurisdiction and being the most convenient to the place where the new Lodge is proposed to be located, and there appearing to me no good reason why the prayer of the petitioners should not be granted.
THEREFORE I, T. A. THOMAS, DGM, of the GRAND LODGE of FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS of the STATE OF CALIFORNIA, agreeably to the Constitution of ANCIENT YORK MASONS, and by virtue of the power of me vested, do hereby grant this Dispensation to Brothers A. F. RODGERS, J. WILCOXSON, B. T. CROUCH, Jr., P. L. EDWARDS, R. B. ELLIS, Jos. F. MONTGOMERY, A. ASHER, Jno. Q. BROWN, Isaac DAVIS, James H. BULLARD, Jno. H. GASS, John HEARD, Jno. A. TUTT, James ENGLISH, W. W. STOVALL, Jacob KOHLMAN, Daniel St. C. STEEVENS, Jno. F. MORSE, O. C. WHEELER, James ANTHONY, Wm. P. HENRY, and H. GREENEBAUM, petitioners aforesaid, authorizing and empowering them to open and hold a Lodge of FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS at the town aforesaid by the name and style of SACRAMENTO LODGE, and therein to affiliate Masons and confer the degrees of ENTERED APPRENTICE, FELLOWCRAFT, and MASTER MASON upon such person or persons possessing the necessary qualifications as they may think proper.
And I do hereby appoint as the first WORSHIPFUL MASTER of said LODGE Bro. JAMES L. ENGLISH, Bro. JOHN A. TUTT, as the first SEN. WARDEN; and Bro. JOHN H. GASS as the first JUN. WARDEN; with power of continuance to the said officers and members until the next regular communication of the Grand Lodge and no longer. PROVIDED that the officers and members of said new Lodge pay due respect to the constitution of the said Grand Lodge, and to all the Laws, Resolutions, and Edicts thereof and in no way remove the ANCIENT LANDMARKS OF OUR ORDER. Otherwise this DISPENSATION and all things herein contained, to be void and of no effect.
Given under my hand and the seal of the Grand Lodge, and countersigned by the Grand Secretary at Sacramento City, this twenty-sixth day of July in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty-three, and of Masonry 5853.
L. STOVELL T. A. THOMAS
Grand Secretary . Deputy Grand Master
Given under my hand and the seal of the Grand Lodge, and countersigned by the Grand Secretary at Sacramento City, this twenty-sixth day of July in the year of our Lord, One thousand eight hundred and fifty-three, and of Masonry 5853.
L. STOWELL T. A. THOMAS
Grand Secretary Dep. Grand Mason
The Worshipful Master then appointed Brother John Quincy Brown secretary of the Lodge, Brother Jefferson Wilcoxson, treasurer, Brother Daniel St. Clair Steevens, Senior Deacon, and Brother O. D. Chaffee, Tiler pro tem. The Senior Warden appointed Brother Andrew Fuller Rodgers, Junior Deacon. Committees were formed to draft by-laws and determine a permanent meeting place.
Still another committee was formed to confer with similar committees in other lodges upon the erection of a Masonic Hall in Sacramento.
It is interesting to note that when Sacramento Lodge was first organized,
regular meetings were held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at which
both the business of Lodge was conducted and degree conferred.
Beginning Feb. 3, 1854, the regular meetings were held on the first and
third Fridays of each month until June 2, 1854, when the By-laws of the Lodge were
amended to conform to the requirement of the Grand Lodge that regular communi-
cations (or stated meetings) be held only once a month. Thereafter stated meetings
were held on the first Friday of each month, (time not designated) until August 6, 1920
when the By-laws were amended and approved by the Grand Master on August 23,
1920, to specify that the stated meetings should be held on the first Friday of each
month at 8:00 PM.
On April 26, 1930, the By-laws were again amended to read as follows:
"The stated meetings of this Lodge shall be holden on the first Friday in
each month at 8:00 PM., except that in any month when the regular meeting date
shall fall on a legal holiday, the stated meeting shall be holden on the next succeeding Friday at the hour of 8:00 o'clock PM."
This amendment was approved by the Grand Master April 26, 1930, ex-
cepting Jan. 1 and July 4 legal holidays for stated meetings.
At the second meeting of Sacramento Lodge U.D. held on Tuesday evening, September 6, 1853, petitions for the degrees were received from Dr. R. A. Pearis and Alexander Mayer, who were to become the first men to be raised by our Lodge. It was at the fourth meeting of the Lodge on October, 11, 1853, that Dr. Pearis was elected to receive the first degree of Masonry. That same evening he was initiated. At the sixth meeting, held on Tuesday evening, November 8, 1853 Alexander Mayer was elected to receive the first degree of Masonry and he was duly initiated that evening. Brothers Pearis and Mayer were elected to receive the Degree of Fellowcraft on December 27, 1853, and were passed on that same date. At the ninth meeting William G. Borneman who subsequently was Secretary of our Lodge from March 3, 1854, to September 8, 1855, was elected to membership in the Lodge by affiliation. He was the first Mason to affiliate with Sacramento Lodge U.D. Brothers Pearis and Mayer were elected to receive the 3rd degree on March 3, 1854, and a week later were raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason at the 13th meeting of our Lodge and they were thus the first men to be raised.
At the regular meeting of April 21, 1854, the officers who were to represent Sacramento UD at the annual communication of the Grand Lodge were instructed to apply at its session for a charter. The charter was issued by the Grand Lodge on May 6, 1854. Two weeks later on May 19 of that year the following officers were elected: James L. ENGLISH, Worshipful Master; John H. GASS, Senior Warden; Jacob KOHLMAN, Junior Warden; Thomas Gardiner, treasurer; and W. G. BORNEMAN, secretary. At a special meeting held May 26, Joseph MONTGOMERY was appointed Senior Deacon and John Quincy BROWN, was appointed Junior Deacon. Past Deputy Grand Master Townsend A. THOMAS performed the installations - first in the history of the Lodge.
© 2007 Sally Kaleta.