MASONRY IN NORTH DAKOTA
LODGES CHARTERED FROM 1896—1900
It is interesting to note that the town of Cooperstown was named for the Cooper Brothers, who came to the area in 1880 from Colorado and established the Cooper ranch, a huge wheat raising farm, around which most of the business of the community revolved for several years. Brother Rollin C. Cooper was a charter member of the lodge.
Among the early settlers were several Masons: Brother William D. Marsh, manager of the Cargill Elevator; Brother John E. Johnson, conductor on the railroad; Brother David Bartlett, lawyer and politician; and sixteen others, who signed a petition for a dispensation to organize Northern Light Lodge U.'. D.'., and on May 25, 1895, received a certificate of proficiency and recommendation to form a lodge from Occidental Lodge No. 27 at Hope, their sponsor, and they were on their way. The dispensation was granted by Grand Master William H. Best of the Grand Lodge of North Dakota June 25, 1895, and the first meeting of the new lodge was held July 5, 1895, with the following principal officers; W.'. M.'. William D. Marsh; S.'. W.'. John E. Johnson; J.'. W.'. David Bartlett; Treasurer Ben A. Upton; and Secretary Jackson N. Brown.
The charter was granted June 10, 1896, to Northern Light Lodge No. 45 of Cooperstown, with nineteen charter members, and the lodge was constituted August 6, 1896, by W.'. Brother Theodore F. Bronck, Junior Grand Deacon, representing M.'. W.'. Brother William T. Perkins, Grand Master. It is interesting to note that eight of the charter members came from Occidental Lodge No. 27 at Hope, their sponsor, and that the same lodge presented them with a full set of officers' jewels, which were gratefully received and worn over fifty years.
The lodge met for several years over a drug store, in rooms also occupied by the I.O.O.F. lodge. In 1905 a new store building was erected by Jimeson and Olson and the lodge raised $1,965.00 for the erecting and furnishing of lodge rooms on the second floor; $1,000.00 of the amount was designated as advance rental, at $30.00 per month. By 1916 an advance in rental resulted in the forming of a temple association, the purchase of lots and the building of the present beautiful temple, at a cost of $50,000.00. It was dedicated July 6, 1917, by Grand Master William J. Reynolds, debt free, and is still their splendid lodge home.
Northern Light Lodge grew rapidly, especially after completion of the new building and in 1927 reached its highest membership of 201. Then came the financial setback of the depression years, which reduced the membership to 120. In 1960, it was up to 132, though in 1950 it had reached 170. The potential is there and only requires prosperous conditions to produce new members.
The lodge has always been public spirited and in World War I the temple was headquarters for the Griggs County Red Cross and many hundreds of items were made, assembled, packed and shipped from its rooms. For many years the lodge sponsored a lyceum course, at a cost of from $800.00 to $1,500.00 annually, which brought much fine talent to the city. County spelling contests were sponsored in the public schools and the Grand Lodge essay contests were supported with entrants in local, regional and state competition. Many funeral services were also held within its walls for departed members.
Singled out for special mention are such men as W.'. Brother William D. Marsh, John E. Johnson and David Bartlett, its founders, the first two of whom were Worshipful Masters; Brother John Syverson, one of the persistent planners for the new temple; W.'. Brothers Theodore G. Thompson, W.'. M.'. in 1907 and 1909, Theodore S. Syverson, W.'. M.'. in 1916 and 1917, Halvor P. Hammer and Frederick C. Potter, members of the building committee; W.'. Brothers Leon A. Sayer, W.'. M.'. in 1936; Norman A. Hoel, W.'. M.'. in 1948 and for many years District Deputy Grand Master of District No. 19; I. Willis Nilson, W.'. M.'. in 1955-56, and District Deputy Grand Master, from 1957-1960; and Brother Clarence P. Dahl; S.'. W.'. in 1961, who for many years was lieutenant governor of North Dakota. Two remarkable members were Brothers Samuel B. Langford, tyler from 1896 to 1913, and Glenn W. Dyson, tyler from 1913 to 1956. Both were charter members and Brother Dyson died in 1959 at the age of 96.
Said W.'. Brother G. Basil Edmondson, author of the lodge's splendid history: "Every member raised in Northern Light Lodge is proud to acknowledge her as his Mother Lodge, because she has always instilled in the minds and hearts of her members the true principles of Masonry."
Eighty years ago Minnewaukan (Spirit Water) was a pretty little town on the western tip of Devils Lake. Plenty of native trees grew along the lake with a broad expanse of water between the town and Graham's Island, off to the east, and plenty of fish, geese, ducks and deer, with miles and miles of prairie all around. What more could a man desire? Today, the lake is gone; Graham's Island is a peninsula; there are no fish; but it's still a good place to live, and here Evergreen Lodge U.'. D.'. came into existence in 1896. Sixteen "good men and true" signed a petition for a dispensation to organize Evergreen Lodge U.'. D.'. at Minnewaukan, which was recommended by Minnewaukan Lodge No. 21 at Devils Lake, as sponsor, March 5, 1896.
The dispensation was signed March 9, 1896, by M.'. W.'. William H. Best, Grand Master, naming the following principal officers: W.'. M.'. Oliver D. Comstock; S.'. W.'. Henry U. Thomas; and J.'. W.'. Abraham Lent. Later Jacob L. Richmond was elected Treasurer and James Michels, Secretary.
The charter was granted to Evergreen Lodge No. 46 of Minnewaukan by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota June 10, 1896, with sixteen charter members, and was signed by M.'. W.'. William T. Perkins, Grand Master.
The first meeting after dispensation was held March 11, 1896, in Plummer's hall, and the lodge continued to meet there for some time, as it was nicely furnished and cared for. The owner was William Plummer, a charter member. It is not known when the lodge purchased a substantial building, in the west part of town, but it has been their lodge home for at least forty years and serves them well.
The usual number of dedicated Masons have been leaders in lodge and community affairs throughout the years and we mention only a few. W.'. Brother Oliver D. Comstock was W.'. M.'. from 1896-1898; Alva A. Hall in 1899, 1902 and 1903; Abraham Lent in 1900, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1915 and 1919; Bertrand W. Plummer in 1913, 1920 and 1922. Brother Plummer died in 1961, sixty-three years a Master Mason. George Dickinson, Jr., was W.'. M.'. in 1923 and 1938 and served for many years on the Grand Lodge Committee on Annual Returns of Chartered Lodges; and Leonard L. Butterwick was W.'. M.'. in 1928, and served as secretary from 1931-1956; Brother James Michels had served as secretary from 1896-1930; two secretaries in sixty years! What a record!
The history of Willow Lodge No. 47 was a discouraging one. Starting out with the fairest prospects a lodge could have, in a new country, with enthusiasm and zeal; they gradually saw their natural resources dwindle, until in the "heart breaking thirties" drought and depression took everything they had. Willow City has never recovered. The lodge held on until December 31, 1941, when it closed its doors, never to open again. We went through those same years in a small North Dakota town and we know whereof we speak.
Twelve charter members sent their petitions to organize a lodge at Willow City, to Grand Master William T. Perkins, on the recommendation of Tuscan Lodge No. 44 of Bottineau, as sponsor. The dispensation was signed by him June 23, 1896, naming the following principal officers: W.'. M.'. Thomas E. Fox; S.'. W.'. William S. Morden; and J.'. W.'. Albert Marshall. Brothers Donald A. Crites and Cyrus E. Lawrence were later named as Treasurer and Secretary, respectively.
The charter was granted June 8, 1897, by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota to Willow Lodge No. 47 at Willow City, and was signed by M.'. W.'. Robert M. Carothers, Grand Master.
The first meeting of the new lodge, following receipt of the dispensation, was held July 2, 1896, in the school house, where they met for some time, paying a rental of $60.00 per year. The records are meager with regard to the further activities of the lodge. R.'. W.'. Brother Thomas K Fox was W.'. M.'. in 1897 and 1898 and Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge in 1901; Frank Sims was W.'. M.'. from 1901-1904 and in 1907 and 1908; Thomas I. Bowerman, in 1909, 1910 and 1914; Harold R. Olson, in 1925, 1935 and 1936; and the last W.'. M.'. was Howard J. Parkinson, who served in 1939 and 1940.
A truly remarkable personage in North Dakota Masonry originated in Willow Lodge No. 47, when M.'. W.'. Frank C. Falkenstein was raised November 5, 1896. He demitted June 15, 1899, after he moved to Bottineau where he was W.'. M.'. from 1912-1914. He became Grand Master in 1926, and served as Grand Lecturer from 1929-1940.
By 1941, Willow Lodge was delinquent several years in per capita dues and could go no further. M.'. W.'. John Moses, Grand Master, took up their charter December 31, 1941, and thus another "noble experiment" became history. However, they gave us M.'. W.'. Frank C. Falkenstein.
No lodge in North Dakota has been more zealous for the good of Masonry, especially in our smaller towns, than Milton Lodge No. 48, and with a membership of 63 in 1961, it is still performing a fine service for its community and constituency.
It was in the early fall of 1896 that sixteen Master Masons signed a petition for dispensation to organize a lodge at Milton, which was recommended by Lebanon Lodge No. 34 at Langdon, its sponsor, on September 10, 1896.
The dispensation was signed October 21, 1896, by M.'. W.'. William T. Perkins, Grand Master, naming the following principal officers: W.'. M.'. Albert W. Coates; S.'. W.'. William W. Kingsbury; and J.'. W.'. John McBride. The first Secretary of the lodge was Brother Joseph Paulson.
The charter was granted to Milton Lodge No. 48 at Milton by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota June 8, 1897, with sixteen charter members, and was signed June 9, 1897 by M.'. W.'. Robert M. Carothers, Grand Master.
The lodge met for the first two years in a small room down town, but thereafter it shared a large and commodious building owned by the I.O.O.F., they occupying the first floor and Milton Lodge the second. In 1948 the lodge purchased the building and completely renovated it, leaving the lodge rooms on the second floor and fitting the first floor for dining room, kitchen, etc. It was our privilege as Grand Master, to dedicate the building to Masonry, November 8, 1949.
Among the distinguished men to come from Milton Lodge have been: W.'. M.'. Albert W. Coates, in 1897 and 1898; Samuel O. Tollefson from 1907-1910; James W. Pratten in 1911, 1912 and 1921; Ibsen E. Ottem in 1927 and 1928; Harold E. Sunderland from 1929-1933; Marvin G. Green in 1938, 1939 and 1944; Harold W. Sunderland in 1949 and District Deputy Grand Master for District No. 3 from 1952-1959; and Glen O. Goodman, W.'. M.'. in 1949 and 1950 and District Deputy Grand Master since 1961.
In closing, special mention must be made of one of Milton's most prominent citizens, W.'. Brother Marvin G. Green, born in Milton, April 7, 1896; raised in Milton Lodge September 24, 1917; three times its Worshipful Master; hardware merchant for 42 years; identified with lodge,, church, school and town affairs during all that time. His life has been: an open book and all who know him honor his fine character and revere his name.
Nestled in the lower Sheyenne River Valley, north of Lisbon, there is no prettier spot in North Dakota than the city of Enderlin, and one envies its shady parks, tree lined streets and the truly comfortable look of its homes and places of recreation. Liberty Lodge No. 49 at Enderlin has a beautiful lodge home and from all appearances its existence is as peaceable as its surroundings.
Fourteen Master Masons signed their petition for a dispensation to organize the lodge and on October 19, 1897, their sponsor. Mizpah Lodge No. 39 at Sheldon, signed a certificate of recommendation for them and. they were on their way.
The dispensation for instituting Liberty Lodge U.'. D.'. was signed October 28, 1897, by M.'. W.'. Robert M. Carothers, Grand Master, and the following principal officers were designated: W.'. M.'. Daniel C. Mc-Colm; S.'. W.'. Olaf J. Sherping; and J.'. W.'. Walter J. Loomis. Brother Victor C. Colby was the first Secretary and Brother Perry L. Hodge was the first Treasurer.
The charter was granted to Liberty Lodge No. 49 at Enderlin by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota on June 21, 1898, and was signed by M.'. W.'. George H. Keyes, Grand Master, on June 22, 1898. Fourteen charter members were named.
Several splendid men have come from Liberty Lodge but only a few can be listed here. Outstanding Worshipful Masters were: W.'. Brothers Daniel C. McColm, 1898 and 1899; James C. Harper, 1902-1906; William J. Huber 1913; William W. Shaw 1914-1916, for whom a testimonial dinner was given November 10, 1926; Curtis J. Shaw, his son, 1955-56, who was the District Deputy Grand Master of District No. 13, in 1963; and Neil O. Bjornstad, 1957-58, who was District Deputy Grand Lecturer, from 1958-1963.
By common agreement W.'. Brother William J. Huber is the patriarch of Liberty Lodge No. 49. For many years an employee of the "Soo" Railway, he became totally blind in his later years and retired from everything but Masonry, and in 1940, was Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter R.'. A.'. M.'.. For several years he was a Custodian of the Work for this Grand Lodge. He will always be remembered as an impeccable ritualist, a perfect Mason and a man in whom there was no guile.
It is a long jump from the Sheyenne River valley at Enderlin, to the Pembina River valley at Walhalla, but the two towns look much the same, with one distinction. The first is in prairie country and the second is in the Pembina Mountains of northeastern North Dakota. Both are blessed with native trees and both are beautiful. The name, Walhalla, is an Americanization of the Norse "Valhalla"—home of the Gods—and such it must have seemed to the early Norsemen, who came there to live toward the end of the nineteenth century.
It was January 13. 1898, when nineteen Master Masons signed a petition to organize Walhalla Lodge U.'. D.'., and appeared before Tongue River Lodge No. 22 at Cavalier, their sponsor, for a recommendation to proceed. The dispensation to institute the lodge was signed by M.'. W.'. Robert M. Carothers, Grand Master, January 21, 1898, with the following principal officers: W.'. M.'. John D. Gordon, S.'. W.'. Alonzo McDonald; and J.'. W.'. William D. McMurray. Brother George McConnachie was Treasurer and Brother Duncan E. Ferguson was Secretary. (All Scots, not Norse, we'd say.)
The charter was granted June 21, 1898, by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota to Walhalla Lodge No. 50 at Walhalla, and was signed June 22, 1898, by M.'. W.'. George H. Keyes, Grand Master, naming nineteen charter members. The lodge was constituted August 13, 1898, by R.'. W.'. Edwin H. James, Senior Grand Warden, representing the Grand Master. Their present beautiful temple was dedicated June 7, 1928, by M.'. W.'. Walter H. Murfin, Grand Master, with addresses by Grand Secretary Walter L. Stockwell and Grand Lecturer William J. Hutcheson.
Aside from W.'. Brother John D. Gordon, who served as W.'. M.'. from 1898-1900, we find several members of the Best family, from George E. Best in 1904, to Dixon G. Best in 1959-60, serving as masters of the lodge. Among them, W.'. Brother Arthur G. Best, W.'. M.'. in 1948, served the Grand Lodge as District Deputy Grand Lecturer from 1954-1960. W.'. Brother (Dr.) Malcolm L. Huffman was W.'.M.'. in 1934 and 1936 and for many years has been a most valuable member of the Grand Lodge Committee on Lookout Point—and that includes the indispensable services of Mrs. Huffman, an accomplished pianist.
Perhaps the most enduring and outstanding contribution to Masonry in North Dakota, by Walhalla Lodge No. 50, has been its continuing support and assistance in making the annual picnic in Riverside Park at Walhalla and the outdoor Masonic meeting on Lookout Point year after year the great Masonic event it has become.
It was in 1933 when drought and depression held North Dakota in its tightest grip, that W.'. Brother Harold P. Thomson of Cavalier, together with the members of Temple Lodge No. 30 of St. Thomas planned a picnic and program in Riverside Park and in the park auditorium on a Sunday afternoon and evening in July. An outdoor program, with the. ladies, was held in the afternoon, a picnic dinner at 5:00 o'clock and-a tiled meeting for the Masons in the auditorium at 6:30.
Later several acres on the highest point of land near Walhalla, called' Lookout Point, was purchased in the name of the Grand Lodge. The top of the Point has been levelled off, and here the evening tiled meetings are held annually. A huge "square and compasses" adorn the south side of the hill, facing the highway, and is seen for miles as one approaches from the south. The gigantic emblem, with compasses 32 feet long and the square 20 feet on each side, was erected in 1951 by the brothers of Walhalla lodge.
Since the passing in 1950 of R.'. W.'. Harold P. Thomson, who was then Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge, M.'. W.'. Gordon L. Paxman, Past Grand Master who lives at Hamilton, has been chairman of the Lookout Point Committee, and with the co-operation of Walhalla Lodge, the adjoining lodges, in Manitoba and North Dakota, the afternoon and evening programs have continued. The Grand Officers of both, jurisdictions assist in the programs and as many as 1200 Masons and their families have attended.
On July 8, 1962 the twenty-sixth annual picnic was held—they were suspended during World War II—and so this delightful gathering goes on and on, bringing a closer union between us and the families of our friends. To Walhalla Lodge No. 50 goes most of the credit, along with the capable committee and its chairman. Without them North Dakota Masonry would be deprived of one of its most valuable and enjoyable outings.
The first history of Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 51 at Williston was written by W.'. Brother Willard B. Overson, W.'. M.'. in 1904, for the 50th anniversary in 1949 and is a remarkable document. In order to give an idea of the vastness of the Williston territory in 1899 he states: "The charter members were widely scattered over a territory extending west and east, from twenty miles west of Williston to fifty miles east, and on the south and north, seventy-five miles south to Dickinson and north to the Canadian line, a distance of about seventy miles. This was an area larger than the state of Massachusetts." He then states that most of their travel was on horseback. In referring to the constituting of the lodge in the Methodist Church at Williston, November 2, 1899, W.'. Brother Overson, who was present, states in his history: "It was a public ceremony and many of the people in attendance thought that someone ought to call W.'. M.'. James W. Truax' attention to the fact that he was wearing a hat during all of the ceremonies."
From the Overson history we learn that three men undertook the task of contacting the Masons in the Williston area and organizing the lodge, Brothers (Judge) James W. Truax, Seneca Brownell and Gustav B. Metzger. The latter, postmaster at Williston for many years, took care of all the correspondence incidental to the securing of demits, establishing the good standing of the charter members, etc. Their efforts were rewarded on February 6, 1899, when M.'. W.'. George H. Keyes, Grand Master, signed the dispensation for Mt. Moriah Lodge U.'. D.'. at Williston under the recommendation of Star-in-the-West Lodge No. 33 of Minot, its sponsor, dated January 26, 1899. The following were designated as principal officers: W.'. M.'. James W. Truax; S.'. W.'. Seneca Brownell, and J.'. W.'. Carl A. Wittmeier. Brother William D. Parshall was the first Treasurer and Brother Gustav B. Metzger the first Secretary.
The charter was granted June 21, 1899, by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota to Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 51, of Williston, with sixteen charter members, and was signed by M.'. W.'. John A. Percival, Grand Master. The lodge was constituted at Williston, November 2, 1899.
For many years the lodge met in the I.O.O.F. hall in Williston, in a room about 60 by 25 feet, which with two churches in the city, were the largest buildings in Williams, McKenzie, Divide and Mountrail counties. At the time of its twenty-fifth anniversary in 1924, the lodge had bought the Harare property in downtown Williston and had erected a large and suitable building. The first floor was rented for commercial purposes, with dining and kitchen facilities for the lodge in the rear, and the entire second and third floors providing lodge rooms and accommodations for the Order of the Eastern Star and York Rite Bodies. The cornerstone was laid October 18, 1925, by W.'. Brother Charles D. Milloy, Grand Pursuivant of the Grand Lodge,' and the building was dedicated May 17, 1926, by R.'. W.'. Brother Frank C. Falkenstein, Deputy Grand Master. It has been kept in splendid repair and still serves all branches of Masonry in Williston to the best advantage.
Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 51 has furnished so many fine men on the local and Grand Lodge levels throughout the years that one hardly knows where to begin or end the story of their achievements. Following are a few: W.'. Brother James W. Truax was the first W.'. M.'. and served from 1899-1900; W.'. Brother Seneca Brownell was W.'. M.'. from 1901-1903, and again in 1905; W.'. Brother Willard B. Overson was W.'. M.'. in 1904; W.'. Brother Gustav B. Metzger was W.'. M.'. in 1910 and was the first secretary of the lodge; M.'. W.'. Brother Charles D. Milloy was W.'. M.'. in 1913 and became Grand Master in 1931; W.'. Brother Samuel E. VanDerhoef was W.'. M.'. in 1929, became one of the most beloved members of the lodge and his perfect impersonation of the character of Jubalum in the third degree, even at the age of 80, will never be forgotten. W.'. Brother Alfred P. Brownson was W.'. M.'. in 1936 and was appointed in the Grand Lodge official line later on, but he had to drop out when his business took him out of North Dakota. W.'. Brother William R. Schulze was W.'. M.'. in 1940 and has been active since then, on the Grand Lodge Library Committee and presently on the Committee on Finance of the Grand Lodge. W.'. Brother Bernard J. Westdal was W.'. M.'. in 1942 and served for several years as District Deputy Grand Master. W.'. Brother Lester F. Johnson was W.'. M.'. in 1946 and 1949 and was District Deputy Grand Master for several years. He was the originator of Mt. Moriah Lodge's annual outdoor meeting, which has continued to the present time, and annually attracts many brethren from the neighboring Canadian lodges, as well as from our own Grand Lodge officials. M.'. W.'. Brother Edwin A. Haakenson was W.'. M.'. in 1948, and in 1962-63 was Grand Master of Masons in North Dakota. W.', Brother Clifford E. Roth was W.'. M.'. in 1956-57, and District Deputy Grand Master in 1960; W.'. Brother Andrew R. McBride was W.'. M.'. in 1958-60 and District Deputy Grand Lecturer from 1959 to the present time in 1963.
In a preceding chapter we have told the interesting story of Yellow-stone Lodge No. 88 at Fort Buford, which had its own lodge hall and served the garrison at Fort Buford from 1871-1874, it being the first lodge hall erected and used in the present State of North Dakota.
Toward the close of the chapter is told the remarkable account of the discovery of the site of this old hall, long since destroyed, and of the tremendous task undertaken by the members and friends of Mt. Moriah Lodge, under the leadership of M.'. W.'. Brother Haakenson, in securing title to the property, placing a huge granite boulder in its center—engraved with a brief identification of the lodge—the setting of smaller stones at the four corners, and all enclosed within a steel cable fence, set in cement embedded steel posts. A large part of the labor and most of the materials were donated so that the total cost was less than $500.00.
This beautiful marker was dedicated on Sunday afternoon, May 15, 1960, by M.'. W.'. Brother Ben G. Gustafson, Grand Master, assisted by many of his Grand Officers and with representatives from Minnesota, Saskatchewan and Montana, together with 200 Masons and their families, attending.
Such accomplishments for Masonry are routine for Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 51 and we recount them with pride in their unquenchable zeal and gratitude for the many priceless contributions they have made toward the perpetuation of Masonry in North Dakota.
No prettier spot can be found along the Red River of the North, between Wahpeton and Pembina. than the small community of Drayton, situated on the high banks of the river, in the midst of lofty trees, with the endless prairie stretching out to the south, \vest and north. Here came a band of immigrants in the late 1870's, to make this lovely place their home. It is no wonder that they prospered and that a Masonic lodge came into existence in its own good time.
It was in the summer of 1898 that fifteen Master Masons met and decided to form a lodge. One of their number, Brother James P. Buchanan, was to pass away April 6, 1899. and the first Masonic funeral in Drayton was held for him April 9, 1899.
Temple Lodge No. 30 at St. Thomas sponsored the new lodge and its certificate of recommendation was signed February 4, 1899. The dispensation to institute Fidelity Lodge U.'. D.'. at Drayton was signed by M.'. W.'. George H. Keyes, Grand Master, February 9, 1899, naming the following principal officers: W.'. II.'. Dr. John E. Countryman; S.'. W.'. Thomas W. Kibbee; and J.'. W.'. Thomas W. Wilson. Brothers David Graham and John D. Wallace were later elected Treasurer and Secretary, respectively.
The charter was granted to Fidelity Lodge No. 52 at Drayton June 21. 1899, by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota and was signed by M.'. W.'. John A. Percival, Grand Master. There were fourteen charter members.
Fidelity lodge has had difficult experiences with its meeting places over the years. The first two lodge halls were destroyed by fire, in December 1902 and December 1905. All its property and records were destroyed except the charter, which miraculously escaped. Since then the lodge long occupied quarters on the second floor of the Smith building and now meets over the Drayton State Bank, where it is comfortably located.
Among the distinguished men who served Masonry and their community well was Dr. John. E. Countryman, one of the organizers of the lodge and its first W.'. M.'. in 1899 and 1900. Dr. Countryman was the village physician for many years and was beloved by all who knew him. He retired late in life and moved to Oregon where he spent the remainder of his days. We remember so well his return to Drayton, June 28, 1949, for the golden jubilee of Fidelity Lodge No. 52. We had been elected Grand Master one week previously and it was our first official visit. For Dr. Countryman, it was a royal homecoming and the program centered around him. He was presented a past master's apron and when it was time to close the lodge he was asked to "take the East" and to preside, just as he had fifty years before as its first Worshipful Master. There were no dry eyes that night and it was a difficult though joyous moment when he said, "so may we ever meet, act and part, my brethren." His memory will remain forever green.
Then there was W.'. Brother John C. Stewart, charter member, W.'. M.'. from 1912-1919, historian of the lodge from whose records most of the available history has come and the backbone of the lodge, through difficult times. What a contribution to Masonry he has made.
Finally came the Halcrows: John was born in Scotland in 1892 and became a member of the lodge in 1919; Robert M. was born in 1884 and became a member in 1944; John G., born in 1910; Harold G., born in 1911; Robert R., born in 1911 and W.'. M.'. in 1952 and 1953; Donald M., born in 1913 and W.'. M.'. in 1948; Gordon D., born in 1916 and W.'. M.'. in 1956-57; and Charles W., born in 1916 and W.'. M.'. in 1955-56; eight in all, six of them descendents of the original John and Robert M. What a tower of strength Masonry and their community has found in them!
Sometimes Masonry thrives best where least expected and such has been the case in the comparatively small community of Lidgerwood, where for many years the population has been predominately of Bohemian descent, which tends toward the Catholic faith. However, many of the Lidgerwood residents have maintained a firm Protestantism over the years and a Protestant Bohemian fraternity has existed there for a long time.
In these surroundings Masonry had its birth in 1899 and has continued with increasing strength until the present day. There were thirteen petitioners for a lodge early in the year and a certificate of proficiency was signed February 1, 1899, by Golden Fleece Lodge No. 31 at Forman, its sponsor, for Harmony Lodge at Lidgerwood.
The dispensation was signed February 18, 1899, by M.'. W.'. George H. Keyes, Grand Master, designating the following principal officers: W.'. M.'. Joseph A. Morrow, S.'. W.'. John A. Black; and J.'. W.'. Charles W. Kemper. Brothers Charles J. Hollier and John B. Wagner were elected Treasurer and Secretary, respectively, at the first regular meeting of the lodge held March 18, 1899.
A charter was granted to Harmony Lodge No. 53 at Lidgerwood by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota June 21, 1899, and was signed by M.'. W.'. John A. Percival, Grand Master, naming thirteen charter members.
The lodge first met on the second floor of the Lyric Theatre, then owned by Secretary John B. Wagner. A new hall was purchased and occupied in 1929, but it burned in 1941. The present location over the city library was dedicated April 24, 1942. In 1960 the lodge purchased an old, stone church from the Episcopalians which will make them a beautiful lodge home. A special stone Mason was brought from Germany to erect this building. The building underwent complete renovating and remodeling, and is being used by the Lidgerwood public school under a short-term lease, after which it will make an unusually commodious home for Harmony Lodge. No finer example could be found than this evidence of the progressive spirit and community service of the lodge.
Several names have been outstanding in the history of the lodge and we mention only a few of them here. W.'. Brother Joseph A. Morrow was the first W.'. M.'. and served in 1899, 1900 and 1901. Then came a great name, which has continued through the years from the beginning to the present—that of Movius. William R. Movius was a charter member and was W.'. M.'. in 1903 and 1904; John H. and Emil A. Movius were both charter members and John was W.'. M.'. in 1906. Then came his son, Gilbert H. Movius, who was W.'. M.'. in 1935 and 1937, and in 1962 was Junior Grand Deacon of this Grand Lodge. W.'. Brother John B. Wagner was secretary from 1899-1902, and W.'. M.'. in 1909. A remarkable character was W.'. Brother William I. Irvine, who served as W.'. M.'. from 1913-1919. was a proficient ritualist and was appointed Grand Lecturer as well as District Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge.
And finally, M.'. W.'. Edward J. Franta, Grand Master in 1952-53, was raised in Harmony Lodge No. 53, May 25, 1928, and demitted December 13, 1928, to become a member of Lebanon Lodge No. 34 of Langdon. (He had previously moved to Langdon and received the Master Mason degree in Lebanon Lodge by courtesy.) Many Masonic honors have come to M.'. W.'. Brother Franta since then, and he is presently Deputy of the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, for North Dakota.
In the early days Churchs Ferry was the "end of navigation" on Devils Lake, toward the west, and Jerusalem held the same distinction toward the east, with Devils Lake city the in between stopping place. The steamer "Minnie H.," Captain Heerman, master, plied between these ports, a distance of thirty miles, and if the water hadn't disappeared it might be running yet. But it, was doomed to die on the shore of Chautauqua Bay and the only memory left is the town of Churchs Ferry, named for the man who ran the west end ferry.
The idea of forming a lodge at Churchs Ferry came to a head December 13, 1898, when Brother George C. Chambers, postmaster, called a meeting at the post office, which resulted in a petition for dispensation to institute Welcome Lodge U.'. D.'., signed by fifteen brethren and certified February 22, 1899, by Evergreen Lodge No. 46 at Minnewaukan, its sponsor. The dispensation was signed by M.'. W.'. George H. Keyes, Grand Master, March 6, 1899, naming the following principal officers: W.'. M.'. George H. Glass; S.'. W.'. Adolph Wellen; and J.'. W.'. Joseph G. Nichol. The first Treasurer was August H. Noltimier and the first Secretary was Clifford L. Vaughn.
The first regular meeting was held on March 9, 1899, and the petition of Charles E. Copeland to receive the degrees by initiation was read. He later became the first new member of the lodge.
The charter was granted to Welcome Lodge No. 54 at Churchs Ferry June 21, 1899, by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota and was signed by M.'. W.'. John A. Percival, Grand Master. His home was at Devils Lake and he came to Churchs Ferry August 3, 1899, to constitute the lodge and install its officers, a distance of nineteen miles, probably the shortest trip during his year of office.
While Welcome Lodge has always remained small, with an average of fifty members due to the proximity of surrounding lodges, several distinguished Masons have come from its roster and we mention a few: W.'. Brother George H. Glass was W.'. M.'. from 1899-1901 and again in 1902; and W.'. Brother George C. Chambers was W.'. M.'. from 1904-1907.
Then came the "all time patriarch," W.'. Brother James McCormick, born in Ireland in 1847 and a veteran of the Civil War. He became a Mason in Illinois in the early days and affiliated with Minnewaukan Lodge No. 21 at Devils Lake, April 18, 1895. He demitted March 2, 1899, to become a charter member of Welcome Lodge No. 54, and served as W.'. M.'. from 1908-1911. He re-affiliated with Minnewaukan Lodge No. 21 January 4, 1917, where he was a member until his death December 2. 1935, at the age of 88. W.'. Brother McCormick was one of the finest ritualists known and had memorized every word of the three degrees of Masonry, including the lectures. He was the father of M.". W.'. James C. McCormick, W.'. M.'. in 1937 and 1941 and Grand Master in 1956-57.
Other familiar names were: Mathias Engelhorn, VW. M.'. in 1915 and 1916; Hans A. Moe, W.'. M.'. in 1917 and 1918; Wilfred A. Hausmann, W.'. M.'. in 1919 and 1920; Thomas E. Engelhorn, W.'. M.'. in 1921 and 1922; Charles E. Harding, W.'. M.'. in 1923 and 1924; George F. Line-burg, W.'. M.'. in 1925 and 1926; Chester O. Moe, W.'. M.'. in 1934, 1935 and 1946-1948; Luverne H. Hausmann, W.'. M.'. in 1936, 1938 and 1949; and James B. Dressen, W.'. M.'. in 1951 and 1952.
Not long ago the lodge purchased a church building, which they have taken down and rebuilt into a commodious lodge hall, succeeding the second floor rooms they had used for so many years. Just another example of the energy and ingenuity of a small but progressive lodge. The new lodge hall was completed in the summer of 1962 and was dedicated by Grand Master Edwin A. Haakenson and Grand Secretary Clifford E.. Miller, October 8, 1962.
The history of Dacotah Lodge No. 55 at Mayville began in 1899 and ended rather abruptly in 1939 when it absorbed Goose River Lodge No. 19 of Portland, adopted the latter lodge's name and number and ceased to exist. We have combined the story of both lodges under Goose River Lodge No. 19 of Portland, so will give only a brief recital here for the record.
Seventeen Master Masons signed the original petition for a lodge at Mayville, which was accompanied by a recommendation from Goose River Lodge No. 19 at Portland, its sponsor, signed May 4, 1899. The dispensation to institute Dacotah Lodge U.'. D.'. at Mayville was signed May 8, 1899, by M.'. W.'. George H. Keyes, Grand Master, and designated the following principal officers: W.'. M.'. Joseph M. Stewart; S.'. W.'. Charles L. Grandin; and J.'. W.'. Robert L. Kenny. The first Treasurer •was George Mclntyre and the first Secretary was Samuel Torgerson.
The charter was granted June 21, 1899, by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota to Dacotah Lodge No. 55 at Mayville and was signed by M.'. W.'. John A. Percival. Grand Master. There were seventeen charter members.
The lodge grew to a membership of 53 in 1939 and Goose River Lodge No. 19, only two miles to the west, had about half as many. Hence it was voted to consolidate the two lodges at Mayville, adopting the name of the Portland Lodge. Goose River Lodge No. 19, for the benefit of both. This was accomplished on November 14, 1939.
Since that time the lodge has grown and prospered, with a total membership of 118 in 1960.
It is interesting to note that the first lodge chartered at the turn of the 20th century—1900—was located near the central part of North Dakota, at Carrington, and designated Aurora Lodge No. 56. At the same time six other lodges were chartered; three of them in the same general locality, at Leal, New Rockford and Harvey, which indicated an increased interest in Masonry at the very heart of our great state.
There were twenty-five petitioners for a dispensation to institute the Carrington lodge. Among them was Brother Thomas N. Putnam, whose family for 60 years has "carried on" in Aurora Lodge. The petition was recommended by Jamestown Lodge No. 6, its sponsor, on December 20, 1899, and the dispensation was signed by M.'. W.'. John A. Per-cival, Grand Master, January 3, 1900, designating the following principal officers: W.'. M.'. Emery T. Guptil; S.'. W.'. Robert A. Bill; and J.'. W.'. Thomas N. Putnam. At the first stated communication of the lodge, held January 9, 1900, Brother John Buchanan was elected Treasurer and Brother Charles H. Davidson was elected Secretary.
A charter was granted June 20, 1900, to Aurora Lodge No. 56 at Carrington by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota and was signed by M.'. W.'. Edwin H. James, Grand Master, naming twenty-five charter members. The lodge was constituted, July 16, 1900, by M.'. W.'. George L. McGregor of Jamestown, Past Grand Master.
The first meeting place of Aurora Lodge was in the Buchanan Hall, where the Buchanan Hotel now stands. In January 1911, the lodge moved to new quarters over the Galehouse drug store, which it occupied continuously until it moved into its new temple in January 1950. The cornerstone was laid, September 26, 1949, by M.'. W.'. Harold S. Pond, Grand Master. It was a cold and windy afternoon; the fire hall was located diagonally across the street and the ceremony was about to begin, when the fire alarm sounded. Carrington, having a voluntary crew of firemen, a halt was made while some of the brethren left for fire duty. Replacements were made and the cornerstone was laid according to ancient regulations.
The temple was dedicated October 24, 1950, as a part of the fiftieth anniversary program of the lodge. M.'. W.'. Harlow L. Walster, Grand Master, was unable to be present so M.'. W.'. Brother Ralph L. Miller was asked to preside. M.'. W.'. Brother Miller had become a member of Aurora Lodge No. 56 January 28, 1908, was its W.'. M.'. in 1913 and 1914, was Grand Master in 1923-24, and never relinquished his membership in the lodge until his death, January 23, 1961. He was elected a life member April 9, 1957.
M.'. W.'. Harold S. Pond, Past Grand Master, was the dinner speaker at the dedication and anniversary program. A remarkably fine history of Aurora Lodge had been written and was delivered by \V.'. Brother Hugh R. Pntnam, son of charter member Thomas N. Putnam, which has been used as the basis of this story. W.'. Brother Hugh B. Putnam became a member December 23, 1919, and was W.'. M.'. in 1927. He has served the lodge faithfully and well as its secretary since 1947, and is still going strong in 1963. He served with distinction on every front in France throughout World War I and was never incapacitated.
Now a few words about some of the other notable characters in Aurora Lodge No. 56. W.'. Brother Emery T. Guptil was the first W.'. M.'. and served in 1900 and 1901; Charles E. Tillson was W.'. M.'. in 1902, 1903 and 1908; Frank A. Cousins in 1904 and 1905; Louis K. Estabrook in 1906 and 1907; Carl B. Craven in 1909 and 1910; and William Wiltschko in 1911 and 1912. It was during the latter brother's first year as Master that his father, Mathias Wiltschko, made and hand-carved the beautiful altar and pedestals, which he presented to the lodge and which are still used by it, in 1963. The marble tops were presented by W.'. M.'. William Wiltschko, S.'. W.'. Ralph Miller and J.'. W.'. August Wiltschko, William's brother. W.'. Brother Olaf L. Rusley was W.'. M.'. in 1919 and 1920; Howard W. Kriewald in 1929 and 1930; John Dick in 1933 and 1934; Harold N. R. Kiveley in 1937; Joseph Sparrow and Eugene Schimke in 1949 and 1950, while the new temple was in process of building; and Raymond C. Caylor in 1953. These are but a few.
Going back to the Putnam family, we find that there have been six of them in all. The original, of course, was the father, Thomas N. Putnam, charter member, who was born in 1855 in Seneca Falls, N. Y., and came to Carrington from Jamestown in the early days. He had three sons who were Masons in Aurora Lodge, Leslie R. Putnam, Hugh R. Putnam and Frank L. Putnam. Now we find two of the third generation who are Masons, Hugh D. Putnam and Robert D. Putnam. This should insure the continuity of the family at least until the 100th anniversary of the lodge in 2000 A. D.
In the Grand Lodge Aurora Lodge No. 56 has always done its part. M.'. W.'. Ralph L. Miller was Deputy Grand Secretary for 32 years, from 1925 to 1957 after being Grand Master in 1923-1924; W.'. Brother Frank A. Cousins was appointed Grand Tyler in 1904 and advanced to Deputy-Grand Master in 1914 after which he left the jurisdiction. Among our efficient District Deputy Grand Masters have been W.'. Brothers Carl B. Craven, George Beier and Hugh R. Putnam. Several of the members have also served as Grand Lodge Committeemen.
Hankinson Lodge has been fortunate in having two good historians, William C. Forman, Jr.. who wrote the history from 1900-1931; and Leon E. Aldrich who carried it on from 1931-1950. Both accounts are accurately and interestingly written and it is from them that the following facts have been gleaned.
As usually happens, the idea of a lodge at Hankinson, crystalized in a series of meetings of interested Masons who late in 1899 presented a petition for the institution of Hankinson Lodge U.'. D.'. to the Grand Master, accompanied by the recommendation of Harmony Lodge No. 53 at Lidgerwood, its sponsor, dated December 27, 1899.
The dispensation was signed January 6, 1900, by M.'. W.'. John A. Percival, Grand Master, and designated the following principal officers: W.'. M.'. William E. Spotten; S.'. W.'. Hans M. Aim; and J.'. W.'. Richard H. Hankinson. The first stated communication of the new lodge was held January 19, 1900, at which Edward Hunger was elected Treasurer and James B. Taylor was elected Secretary.
The charter was granted June 20, 1900, to Hankinson Lodge No. 57 by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota and was signed by M.'. W.'. Edwin H. James, Grand Master. Fifteen charter members were named.
The lodge met in rooms in the opera-house, on the second floor, shared with several other fraternal organizations, until January 1915, when the building was destroyed by fire and all lodge property was lost, including the charter. In a short time quarters were found in nicely decorated rooms over the Gem Theatre and here the lodge lived and prospered until April 3, 1929, when this building was gutted by fire. Hankinson Lodge had purchased the building at a bargain, for $8,000.00, in 1928 and actually collected more than the original price in insurance. In 1930, the present lodge hall was purchased and remodeled with spacious lodge rooms on the second floor and the first floor rented for commercial purposes. The lodge owns the property free of debt and it is self supporting.
So many men of distinction have come from Hankinson Lodge No. 57 that we cannot mention one without overlooking another, but here are a few. Only three men have served for three years as worshipful master and nine for two years; a remarkably small number, in sixty-one years, including periods of depression when available material was entirely lacking in a lodge of sixty resident members. W.'. Brother William E. Spotten was the first W.'. M.'. in 1900-1901; Hans A. Aim followed as W.'. M.'. in 1902, 1903 and 1906; G. Ross Fowler was W.'. M.'. in 1910 and 1911; then came M.'.W.'. Herbert A. Merrifield, who was W.'. M.'. in 1913 and 1914 and served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge in 1928-29. He was followed by William J. Brenner, W.'. M.'. in 1915 and 1916, who served the lodge well. He later moved to Wimbledon where he was secretary for several years and is now living at Lewistown, Montana.
W.'. Brother William C. Forman, Jr., one of our historians, was W.'. M.'. in 1912; and James P. P. Tulloch, a native of Scotland and for several years Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Scotland near the Grand Lodge of North Dakota, was W.'. M.'. in 1925. Louis R. Burfening was W.'. M.'. in 1928 and 1929, and Leon E. Aldrich who served as W.'. M.'. in 1935 and 1936, was elected secretary in 1951 and is still carrying on in 1963. It was he who completed the history of the lodge for the jubilee in 1950.
W.'. Brother Arthur H. Brown served the lodge as W.'. M.'. in 1937 and 1938; Harold G. Halvorson was W.'. M.'. in 1940 and 1941; and Weston G. Merrifield, older brother of Past Grand Master Herbert A. Merrifield, became W.'. M.'. in 1944, at the age of 76. He is a life member of the lodge, a 68 year Mason, and today, at 93 years of age, is one of the "Grand Old Men of Masonry" in North Dakota.
W.'. Brother Erwin E. Crooks was W.'. M.'. in 1946, 1949 and 1950 and for ten years, from 1948 to 1958, he served the Grand Lodge of North Dakota as District Deputy Grand Master.
And finally, the last three-term W.'. M.'. was W.'. Brother Chester W. Seivert, who served in 1955-56, 1956-57 and 1960-61. He was re-elected for 1961-62 and when he completed that term, he set a new record for Hankinson Lodge No. 57.
Among the seven lodges chartered in 1900, one was located in the small town of Gilby, in Grand Forks County, ten miles south of Forest River, thirteen miles southeast of Inkster and within thirty miles of Minto, Larimore and Grand Forks, all of which had lodges at that time. It is remarkable that Khurum Lodge No. 58 at Gilby, has maintained a lodge of about sixty-five members throughout the years. Good men with high ideals and good land with rich soil must be the answer.
The petition to institute Khurum Lodge U.'. D.'., was signed by twelve Master Masons and the recommendation was signed January 2, 1900, by St. Johns Lodge No. 36 at Forest River, as sponsor. The dispensation was soon forthcoming, and on January 9, 1900, it was signed by M.'. W.'. John A. Percival, Grand Master, naming the following principal officers: W.'. M.'. John M. Edes; S.'. W.'. Charles Harshman; and J.'. W.'. William Douglas. Later, Charles H. Burke was elected Treasurer and J. Carl Rasmussen, Secretary.
A charter was granted June 20, 1900, to Khurum Lodge No. 58 at Gilby, by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota and was signed by M.'. W.'. Edwin H. James, Grand Master, naming twelve charter members.
The lodge has never owned a lodge hall and has met in various buildings on the main street in Gilby; for a long time in the old municipal building, then in the basement of the bank, and for the past few years, in the new municipal building, where it has comfortable quarters.
Among its prominent members have been: W.'. Brother John M. Edes, \V.'. M.'. in 1900 and 1901; Charles Harshman, W.'. M.'. in 1902, 1905 and 1907; Robert M. McLean, W.'. M.'. in 1903, 1904, 1911, 1912 and 1914-1917, also 1925-1927; William W. Erb, W.'. M.'. from 1908-1910 and 1922; David H. Haddow, W.'. M.'. in 1913 and 1919; George F. Stewart. W.'. M.'. in 1928 and 1929. Then there were Maurice A. Bye, W.'. M.'. in 1932, 1933 and 1943; Howard O. Bye, W.'. M.'. in 1940 and 1946; and Arel Bye, W.'. M.'. in 1951, all from a remarkable family.
At the fiftieth anniversary of Khurum Lodge No. 58, held November 9, 1950, special honors were paid to W.'. Brother William E. Muir, born in Ontario in 1867, raised in Forest River Lodge No. 28 in 1899, and affiliated with St. Johns Lodge No. 36 in 1912. He died at Gilby in 1953.
It is well that no one knew, back in pioneer days, what ventures would succeed and what would come to naught; otherwise, many would not have been attempted and there might have been no Masonic lodge at Leal from 1900 to 1936. It reached a membership of 60 right after World War I, and who can say the effort was in vain?
The petition for the dispensation to institute Independence Lodge U.'. D.'. at Leal contained the signatures of twelve Master Masons and was accompanied by a certificate of recommendation signed January 9, 1900, by Sanborn Lodge No. 14, its sponsor. The dispensation was signed January 24, 1900, by M.'. W.'. John A. Percival, Grand Master, designating the following principal officers: W.'. M.'. George B. Simpson; S.'. W.'. Frank Lannon; and J.'. W.'. Harry W. Green. At the first stated communication of the lodge held February 1, 1900, George B. Kelly was elected Treasurer and John T. Cook, Secretary. On March 15, 1900, it was voted to accept a rental contract for the second floor of the town hall, for lodge rooms at $50.00 per year, for five years and renewable for another five years. The lodge then leased the premises to the Ancient Order of United Workmen for $40.00 per year. There must have been a Connecticut Yankee in the crowd!
The charter was granted June 20, 1900, to Independence Lodge Xo. 59 at Leal, by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota and was signed by M.'. W.'. Edwin H. James, Grand Master. Twelve charter members were named.
Though the lodge grew and prospered for twenty years, the fact that it only had sixteen worshipful masters during its thirty-six years of existence early indicated there was not sufficient man power in the community to operate and maintain a lodge in proper form. The first W.'. M.'., George B. Simpson, served seven separate years: Hugh L. Myers. four years; Fred B. Smith and Perry A. Pickett, three years each; and then John H. Lamb, Otto G. Lund, Louis Martinson. Morris B. Austin. Harry Peterson, Peter M. Abrahamson and Adolph Grover. two years each; a total of thirty-one years, leaving only five to serve a one-year term each.
Thus it came about that on December 31, 1936, Independence Lodge No. 59 voluntarily surrendered its charter to the Grand Lodge, together with its other properties; the Grand Secretary issued demits to its members for use in affiliating with neighboring lodges and another noble experiment came to an end. It was one of the countless disasters encountered during the depression years of the "thirties" and was clearly unavoidable, as were so many experiences of corresponding kind and nature, throughout the nation during that period of economic stress.
If there is any merit in numbers we would suggest the number "twenty-one" for Century Lodge at New Rockford. At the first stated meeting of the lodge after the dispensation was received, held March 5, 1900, twenty-one petitions for membership by initiation were read. By the end of the year twenty-five new members had been added, thus more than doubling the original membership of nineteen. Then in the year 1921 twenty-one petitioners were "raised", increasing the total membership to one hundred ninety-two, the highest on record.
The original petition for dispensation to institute Century Lodge U.'. D.'. at New Rockford was signed by nineteen Master Masons and was certified February 15, 1900, by Evergreen Lodge No. 46 at Minnewaukan, its sponsor. The dispensation was signed February 20, 1900, by M.'. W.'. John A. Percival, Grand Master, naming the following principal officers: W.'. M.'. William E. Biggs; S.'. W.'. Charles E. Clure; and J.'. W.'. Ernest S. Severtson. At the first meeting of the lodge March 5, 1900, Donald Niven was elected Treasurer and James W. Stoddard, Secretary.
A charter was granted to Century Lodge No. 60 at New Rockford with nineteen charter members June 20, 1900, by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota and was signed by M.'. W.'. Edwin H. James, Grand Master.
The lodge obtained suitable quarters on the second floor in a business block on the main street at a rental of $6.00 per month, which served them for many years. Century Lodge did not own a lodge hall until 1954 when the members purchased a substantial building just off the business center which was dedicated March 22, 1954 with elaborate ceremonies. M.'. W.'. Harold S. Pond. Grand Secretary, gave the dinner address; M.'. W.'. John A. Graham, Grand Master, conducted the dedication ceremony; and W.'. Brother Nels G. Johnson, of the North Dakota Supreme Court, Grand Orator, delivered the dedication address. Several other Grand Officers and Ccmmitteemen were present, together with some two hundred Master Masons.
Among those who have been prominent in the affairs of Century No. 60 have been W.'. Brother William E. Biggs, W.'. M.'. from 1900-1903; John B. Bennett, W.'. M.'. in 1904 and 1905; George M. Pike, W.'. M.'. in 1908 and 1909; Henry W. Wilson, W.'. M.'. in 1910, and Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery K .'.T.'.; Andrew W. Johnson, W.'. M.'. in 1922 and 1923; John Martinson, W.'. M.'. in 1925 and 1926; Anders C. Gunvaldson, W.'. M.'. in 1932 and 1933, later Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery, Knights Templar; Martin Aas, W.'. M.'. in 1934, prominent banker and Potentate of El Zagal Temple of the Shrine; George H. Dunham, W.'. M.'. in 1950 and secretary since 1951; Dorwin Aas, son of Martin Aas, W.'. M.', in 1956-57 and Grand Commander K.'. T.'. in 1962 and 1963; and William R. Kope, W.'. M.'. in 1961-62.
Another character who deserves special mention was Brother Mont E. (Monty) Biggs, who was "raised" in Century Lodge in 1909, and though he never became master of his lodge, he maintained his interest in Masonry until his death in 1951. He was a veteran of World War I and on his return became deeply interested in the York Rite, especially the Commandery. He served Zion Commandery No. 9 at New Rockford as commander, and the Grand Commandery of North Dakota as Grand Commander in 1944-45. Small of stature, yet of princely bearing, always neatly and carefully dressed, when Monty spoke one always stopped to "look and listen" and went away with the convinced opinion, "There goes a Man".
Each lodge has some distinguishing feature in its process of organization which deviates from the regular pattern of the large majority of the others. Devotion Lodge at Harvey was the first of sixty lodges in North Dakota to have been sponsored by a lodge, itself under dispensation, namely, Carrington Lodge U.'. D.'. at Carrington, which later became Aurora Lodge No. 56. The latter lodge received its dispensation, January 3, 1900, and the recommendation for the institution of Devotion Lodge U.'. D.'. at Harvey was dated March 14, 1900. The zeal of both lodges for Masonry is worthy of commendation.
The dispensation to institute Devotion Lodge U.'. D.'. at Harvey was signed March 20, 1900, by M.'. W.'. John A. Percival, Grand Master, and designated the following principal officers: W.'. M.'. John F. McGlenn; S.'. W.'. Clayton Cox; and J.'. W.'. Walter W. Brant. At the first stated communication of the lodge held March 22, 1900, William R. McGlenn was elected Treasurer and August Peterson, Secretary.
The charter was granted to Devotion Lodge No. 61 at Harvey June 20, 1900, and was signed by M.'. W.'. Edwin H. James, Grand Master. Twelve charter members were named.
Another circumstance, peculiar to Devotion Lodge, is that throughout its more than sixty years of existence, it has continuously occupied the same lodge hall. Julius Sgutt, a charter member, operated a general store on the first floor and had built adequate rooms on the second floor which he rented to the lodge at a moderate rental for many years. The building was partially destroyed by fire March 30, 1914, at which time much of the lodge property was lost, including the original charter. A duplicate charter was issued April 3, 1914, the building and lodge rooms were restored, and business continued as usual. Brother Sgutt later sold his business and moved to Fargo where he passed away, April 16, 1953. At that time the lodge was paying $45.00 per month rental. The property passed to his son, Emanuel Sgutt, a member of East Gate Lodge No. 120 in Fargo. He immediately raised the rental to $75.00 per month but the lodge refused to pay it until the roof, ceiling and walls were repaired and the property redecorated. This was done and the raise in rental was accepted. Now the I.O.O.F. sub-leases the rooms from Devotion Lodge at $35.00 per month and everybody is happy.
Many notable men and Masons have passed through the ranks of Devotion Lodge No. 61 at Harvey in the past sixty years and reference is made here to a few of them. W.'. Brother John F. (Frank) McGlenn, together with Clayton Cox, were the "prime movers" in the starting of the lodge back in 1900. Frank McGlenn was W.'. M.'. in 1900, 1903 and 1907, whereas Clayton Cox was W.'. M.'. in 1901 and 1902.
In 1901 two remarkable characters appeared in Devotion Lodge, Thomas C. Montgomery, who was raised May 4, 1901, and Robert C. Montgomery, his brother, who was raised May 24, 1901. Tom was W.'. M.'. in 1939. They farmed near Harvey for many years and February 23, 1961, Thomas C. Montgomery was chosen as the first Wells County farmer to be honored by the Wells County Crop Improvement Association as "Outstanding Senior Farmer." For sixty years he has been active in lodge and civic affairs and today is the most honored and beloved member and citizen of lodge and city. Robert passed away on the Pacific Coast December 10, 1961.
Aloys Wartner, Sr., became a member of the lodge May 29, 1902, and was W.'. M.'. in 1904. He was devoted to his lodge and to the Grand Lodge, serving the latter for many years as a member of the Grand Lodge Trial Commission. A lawyer by profession he served many years as county judge and as justice of the peace. His son, Aloys, Jr., was W.'. M/. in 1955-56.
Another outstanding member was Jay O. Smith, who came to Devotion lodge in 1919, from Willow Lodge No. 47 of Willow City, where he was raised March 21, 1907. He was W.'. M.'. in 1922 and operated a drugstore at Harvey during most of his adult life. Devoted to his lodge and community, "J. O.", as he was known, was a friend to all and a visit with him was a rewarding incident of a trip to Harvey. He passed away October 16, 1962. Fred O. Brewster, W.'. M.'. in 1905, was another "old tinier" who loved his lodge. Maurice H. Aved took great interest in the early days and was W.'. M.'. in 1910-1912 and 1914.
Coming down to more recent years, we find Conrad C. Farstad, W.'. M.'. in 1945, who in 1963, is a member of the Grand Lodge Trial Commission, and was Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons in 1945.
Carl Nyhus who was W.''. M.'. in 1946 has served as secretary of Devotion Lodge, since 1949 and was still serving in 1962. His son, C. Donald Nyhus, was W.'. M.'. in 1959-60.
Loraine C. Loerch, recently mayor of Harvey, was W.'. M.'. in 1954-55 and was District Deputy Grand Master from 1954-60.
It is interesting to note that at the fiftieth anniversary celebration of Devotion Lodge No. 61 held at Harvey November 28, 1951, W.'. Brothers Julius Sgutt, Thomas C. Montgomery, Robert C. Montgomery and Aloys Wartner, Sr., all fifty-year Masons, were present and were honored as such.
The small town of Hunter in northern Cass County is surrounded by some of the richest land in North Dakota, as evidenced by the beautiful, modern farm homes and other buildings that go to make a farm a home. Most of the business places on the main street have had "their faces lifted" and while this is all taken for granted by the citizens, it goes to show that they have something of which they can be justly proud.
It was in such a community in April, 1900, that fourteen Master Masons gathered to form a Masonic lodge. Under the sponsorship of Casselton Lodge No. 3 on April 14, 1900, they received their recommendation and petitioned the Grand Lodge for a dispensation to institute Hunter Lodge U.'. D.'.
The dispensation was signed April 18, 1900, by M.'. W.'. John A. Percival, Grand Master, naming the following principal officers: W.'. M.'. Willis H. Rogers; S.'. W.'. Charles A. Tubbs; and J.'. W.'. George W. Turner. At the first stated communication of the lodge, held May 1, 1900, Brother Robert A. Sayer was elected Treasurer and Brother John Dudman was elected Secretary.
A charter was granted June 20, 1900, by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota to Hunter Lodge No. 62 at Hunter and was signed by M.'. W.'. Edwin H. James, Grand Master. There were fourteen charter members.
No one remembers when Hunter Lodge did not occupy the same lodge hall, off the main street in Hunter. An old church building, remodeled and fitted up with full basement, it adequately houses the Masonic lodge and the Order of the Eastern Star and takes care of all their business and social needs. They are fortunate indeed.
As so often was the case in the earlier days, a few men carried the heavy part of the load. So it was in Hunter lodge and we find the first W.'. M.'. Brother Willis H. Rogers carrying on in 1900, 1901 and 1906; Charles A. Tubbs in 1903 and 1909; Oscar C. Robinson in 1904 and 1908; Thomas C. Hockridge in 1921, 1922 and 1927; and William L. Moen in 1938, 1939, 1940, 1946 and 1947. Then came the greatest leader of them all, Emery N. Johnson, W.'. M.'. in 1934, 1941 and 1942, and secretary since 1956. What a power he has been in Hunter Lodge No. 62.