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THE FIRST 100 YEARS

OF

SACRAMENTO LODGE No.40

 

 

 

 

JOHN H. GASS

 

 

 

 

                   John H. Gass, an original petitioner of Sacramento Lodge was born in the State of New York in 1822 or 1823. He was the first Worshipful Master of Chattahoochee Lodge No. 61, F. & A. M., at Franklin, Heard County, Georgia when it received its Charter dated Oct. 26, 1847. He remained on the roll of that Lodge until 1852 when he apparently could not be located by that Lodge. John H. Gass was the first Junior Warden of Sacramento Lodge U. D. In 1854 when Sacramento Lodge No. 40 received its Charter he was elected to the office of Senior Warden. He apparently came to Sacramento, California from Franklin, Georgia in 1849 or 1850 as we find him established as an attorney in Sacramento in April, 1850. In that year he entered into partnership with Peter H. Burnett, the first Governor of the State of California and Philip Leget Edwards, an original petitioner of Sacramento Lodge under the firm name of Burnett, Edwards & Gass. In October, 1851, Edwards withdrew from the partnership and the firm continued as Burnett & Gass. In July, 1854, the partnership was dissolved and Gass entered into another partnership under the firm name of Clark & Gass. This partnership apparently terminated in 1861 and Gass practiced law alone. The first Common Schoolhouse in Sacramento was erected upon the corner of Tenth and K Streets on land generously tendered rent free by John H. Gass, and was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies on Jan. 2, 1855. Until 1863 he stood well in his profession and was considered one of Sacramento's outstanding citizens. On March 12, 1863 the entire community was shocked to learn of his arrest in San Francisco on a warrant sworn to by a citizen of Sacramento charging him with forgery. Others then began to suspect him of fraud, among whom was Peter H. Burnett, his former law partner. In default of bail he was interred in the Sacramento County Jail. On April 17, 1863, it was announced in the Sacramento Daily Union that eleven indictments had been found by the Grand Jury against John H. Gass, six for forgery and five for grand larceny. N. Greene Curtis, Past Master of Washington Lodge No. 20, and Past Grand Master of the State of California and Frank Hereford, his attorneys, succeeded in obtaining a change of venue to Placer County, but Gass was held temporarily in the County Jail at Sacramento pending receipt by the Sheriff of an order by the Court of Sessions for his removal. On July 23, 1863, he apparently attempted to break jail but emphatically denied this in a lengthy letter which was published in the Sacramento Daily Union on July 25, 1863. The next day Sunday, July 26, 1863, John H. Gass made his escape from the County Jail and no further record of his existence has been found. His escape was made during the Civil War and it has been suggested that he changed his name and joined the Southern forces. On Wednesday, July 29, 1863, the following item appeared in the columns of the Sacramento Daily Union: "A rumor having been in circulation that J. H. Gass, who recently broke jail, has, during his confinement, been taken from the County Jail to the Lodgeroom of the Masons for the purpose of being present as his trial before the body upon charges preferred against him for un-Masonic conduct, we had obtained correct information concerning the rumor, and find it entirely without foundation. The facts are these: Previous to the discovery of his supposed attempt at escape, in order to enable him to be present at trial, an offer of permission to attend under strict guard was made to him but declined. Subsequently, on the occasion of another trial, he expressed a desire to be present but the Commissioners appointed by the Lodge to take the testimony in the case declined, for fear of the possibility of an escape or attempted rescue. To ask that he might be brought from the jail, and there held a session and examined the witness in the presence of the accused. This is all the fraternity had to do in the matter, and so far from endeavoring to shield him, we are informed that he will, in all probability, receive at their hands the severest sentence known to the Masonic Laws." Sacramento Lodge No. 40 expelled John H. Gass on Aug. 7, 1863.

 

 

 

 

Transcribed by Sally Kaleta.

Proofread by Betty Vickroy.


2007 Sally Kaleta.

 

 

 


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