Montgomery Lodge History

Montgomery Lodge history dates back to it’s formation on January 21, 1904. A special thank you must be given to a specific Past Master, Worshipful Brother Shawn Carrick for collecting the information contained on this page. Without WB Carrick’s hard work, we would not have the opportunity to share such a rich and informed page to our visitors.

Secret Content Throughout This Site

Secret Content Link

As you begin navigating through this site, you will see icons, such as the one to the left, signifying a link to secret content, with no other form of navigation, other than the link provided. One of the links is to a downloadable version of Morals & Dogma, written by Albert Pike. All link navigation is opened in a separate window, to ensure an easy return to our main site. Be sure to click the links and enjoy the content within our website, as we appreciate your visit to Montgomery Lodge #258. There are 13 total icons, needed to complete the Masonic mastermind test.

Historical Facts about 1903

Theodore Roosevelt holds office as the 26th president of the United States. U.S. population: 80,600,000
Average life span: 47 years
U.S. homes with a telephone: 8 percent
Unemployment: 3.9 percent
Federal budget: $520 million
Average annual salary, postal worker: $924
Average annual salary, schoolteacher: $358
A night in a hotel: $2
One pound coffee: 13 cents
Loaf of bread: 5 cents
Stamps: 2 cents each
Crayola crayons created. A box of eight costs a nickel.
Orville and Wilbur Wright begin the era of powered flight at Kill Devil Hills, near Kitty Hawk, N.C., and later that same year apply for a patent on their invention of one of the first successful airplanes after much hard work.
Dr. Ernst Pfenning of Chicago, Illinois becomes the first owner of a Ford Model A.
Baseball: The Boston Americans play the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first game of the modern World Series.

Montgomery Lodge: The Beginning

Montgomery Lodge Actual Photo For Request for Dispensation

Montgomery Lodge Actual Photo Requesting Dispensation

 

On April 17, 1903 the first officially documented gathering of brethren who were considering the formation of a new lodge occurred at the office of Dr. Arthur William Whitney. During this meeting Brother S.A. Farnsworth was elected as the committee chairman to create a petition, asking for dispensation from Most Worshipful Brother Grand Master Henry R Adams of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota AF&AM. Grand Master Adams was said to be favorable to this matter, if they had the names of twenty or more Master Masons in good standing and a petition was filed with the Grand Secretary Thomas Montgomery. Research from the archives revealed the actual petition for dispensation and also included the receipts for dues from the required members. Some of the men that were listed on these documents included: Name and Lodge they came from:

Arthur William Whitney – Braden Lodge #168

H. H. Blinn – Kenyon Lodge #201

John E. Holt – Ancient Landmark Lodge #5

James B. Pearson – Ancient Landmark Lodge #5

Abel Anderson – St. Paul Lodge #3

S A Farnsworth – St. Paul Lodge #3

S Abramson – Braden Lodge #168

Wm Lewis – Menominee Lodge #164 (Wisconsin)

Victor N Pattullo – Braden Lodge #168

Charles W. Hill – Braden Lodge #168

C. W. Carlson – Mendian Lodge #94 (South Dakota)

C. W. Payne – Cumberland Lodge #223 (Wisconsin)

John G Thaung – Braden Lodge #168

J.J. O’Niel – Shell Lake Lodge #221 (Wisconsin)

J.W. Neidecker – Elroy Lodge #202

W.W. Sleight – Star Lodge #62

Reese R. Roberts – Ancient Landmark Lodge #5

G. A. Lindeke – Ancient Landmark Lodge #5

Joseph Pline – St. Paul Lodge #3

A. M. Bergstrom – Ancient Landmark Lodge #5

WB Thomas Montgomery - First Master of Montgomery Lodge

WB Thomas Montgomery – First Master of Montgomery Lodge

Original Location

 

A location was secured at the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall on the corner of Payne Avenue and Wells Street in St. Paul for the brethren to meet. The petition to form this new lodge was delivered by Brothers Charles W. Hill, A.W. Whitney and H.H. Blinn to the Grand Secretary. This petition indicated that the closest lodge would be two and a half miles and the local population was given to be 2500.

The first elected officers to serve under dispensation were Charles W. Hill as the Worshipful Master, Alfred W. Whitney as the Senior Warden and James B. Pearson as the Junior Warden. The appointed brethren included S.A. Farnsworth as the Treasurer, H.H. Blinn as the Secretary, C.W. Carlson as the Senior Deacon, John E Holt as the Junior Deacon, and William Lewis as the Tyler.

Grand Master Most Worshipful Brother Henry R. Adams granted a dispensation on June 4th, 1903 for the formation of Montgomery Lodge U.D. The name of the lodge was selected by the brethren with the desire of honoring Right Worshipful Brother Thomas Montgomery, who was the current Grand Lodge Secretary.

 

On the same day as receiving the dispensation, the brethren immediately set to work on their labors that same evening at 9pm. The lodge was opened in form on the third degree of Masonry with the officer line and the following members present:
S. Ahomse
C.W. Payne
V. N. Pattullo
G. A. Lindeke
and visiting brethren G. Hunter and J.E. Steinson
The first motion of the lodge was to set the location and time of the meetings. It was approved for the meetings to continue to occur at the Odd Fellows Hall and that the communications would be held on the first and third Saturday at 9 pm. Throughout the history of the lodge the date and time of the meetings has change to better accommodate the brethren and allow the lodge to grow and meet the needs of the members. Currently in 2009, the stated communications occur on the first and third Thursdays at 7 pm.
Montgomery Lodge Dispensation

 

Some would believe that with a new lodge having just been formed, not much would happen other than the setting of meeting dates. This was not the case as Montgomery Lodge began a tradition of Taking Good Men and Making Them Better by receiving three petitions for the Mysteries of Masonry on the night of the first meeting. The petitions were brought before the lodge from Mr. Robb A. Earl, Mr. Andrew Berg, and Mr. Andrew G. Johnson; each petition included the required fee for a petition of $20.00. An additional $10.00 for each of the three degrees would also be required of the candidates as they progressed in Masonry. Historical information reveals that the average wage received by workers in 1903 was approximately twenty-two cents per hour. Based on this average a candidate could expect to spend approximately five to six weeks of wages in the desire to become a member of the world’s oldest and greatest fraternity.

It was only after assigning the candidates’ petitions to an investigation committee that the lodge addressed the needs of obtaining permanent Masonic paraphernalia for the lodge, and the assigning of members to a finance committee. The final order of business was the receiving of a sword for the use of the Tyler from visiting Brother G. Hanter. With no further business the lodge was closed at 10:30pm. On June 18th, 1903 Mr. Andrew G. Johnson and Mr. Andrew Berg became the first men to petition and be initiated into the Masonic Fraternity by Montgomery Lodge.

During the first year under dispensation Montgomery Lodge received ten petitions and completed fourteen degrees. In order to meet this need, an additional eight “Special” communications were held for the degree work to be completed.

Oral history that has been captured indicates that during the third degree for Chester Hubert the lodge room requiring a blanket to be stretched across a corner of the room to form an anti-room to prepare him in proper attire to be raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason.

Most Worshipful Brother Henry Rice Adams

Most Worshipful Brother Henry Rice Adams

 

After a period of over seven months, a Charter was granted on January 21st, 1904 by the Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Henry Rice Adams of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Minnesota. 

On Monday, February 22, 1904, Montgomery Lodge was constituted in form when the Grand Lodge of Minnesota convened in ample form on 8:00 o’clock at the Odd Fellows Hall at the corner of Payne and Wells. In attendance from the Grand Lodge were: Right Worshipful Brother Thomas Montgomery as proxy for the

Grand Master, Henry Tusler – Grand Senior Warden, Owen Marus – (proxy) Grand Junior Warden, and Thomas B Montgomery – Proxy for Grand Secretary.

 

During this ceremony many addresses were given by Charles W. Hill, Henry R. Adams – Past Grand Master, and Thomas Montgomery – Grand Secretary. A letter from the Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother William Albert McGonagle was read expressing his regrets for not being able to be present. A portrait of Thomas Montgomery was presented to Montgomery Lodge from Bro. Henry Tusler.

 

The following officers for Montgomery Lodge were installed by Grand Senior Warden Henry Tusler for the ensuing year of 1904: 

Charles W. Hill as the Worshipful Master

Alfred M. Bergstrom as the Senior Warden

James B. Pearson as the Junior Warden

Andrew G. Johnson as the Treasurer

Henry H. Blinn as the Secretary

William W. Sleight as the Senior Deacon

Andrew Berg as the Junior Deacon

Victor N. Pattullo as the Senior Steward

John E. Holt as the Junior Steward

William Lewis as the Tyler

 

The Montgomery Bulletin from August of 1941 had a short article about the beginnings of Montgomery Lodge.

According to the bulletin the charter members of the Lodge were: S. Abrahamson, Abel Anderson, Andrew Berg, Alfred M. Bergstrom, Henry H. Blinn, John Bloomquist, Frank R. Bunnell, Albert Carlson, Robert O. Earl, S. A. Farnsworth, Norman W. Foster, Charles W. Hill, John E. Holt, Frank A. Holcomb, Andrew G. Johnson, William Lewis, John O. Linden, Alexander Lindahl, Fay L. Murray, Theodore Nelson, Carl W. Payne, Victor N. Pattullo, Joseph Pline, James B. Pearson, Otto Pearson, William W. Sleight, Henry J Stocking, Arthur W. Whitney and Oluf G. Wold.

The program for the chartering of the lodge was: 

 

Music – Masonic Quartette: William Jeffrey, First Tenor; William Rhys- Herbert, Second Tenor; Owen Jones, First Bass; Evan Jones, Second Bass, Constituting of the LodgeInstallation of OfficersMusic – Masonic Quartette

Address of Welcome – C.W.Hill,
The Grand Lodge – Henry R. Adams P.G.M.
Music – Masonic Quartette
The subordinate lodge – R.W. Thomas Montgomery George WashingtonThe Mason – Owen Morris Music – Masonic Quartette
Reception

 

During the course of Montgomery’s history, the desire of the members to have their own Masonic hall in which to meet was increasing. On Oct 21, 1904, based on a vote of the members present, the lodge agreed to continue to have their communications at the Odd Fellows hall but that they would look to expand an additional section onto the current hall. This expansion of the Odd Fellows Building would become the first Montgomery Masonic hall. By January 4th, 1905 the new addition had been completed and Montgomery Lodge held the first meeting at that location with the dedication ceremony occurring on February 5th, 1905.

 

Over the next two years Montgomery continued to grow with new members. Degree work would be a common occurrence in order to accommodate all the candidates that were petitioning Montgomery Lodge. With Montgomery’s continued growth, on January 1st, 1908 the lodge began to see official discussions of looking to build a Masonic hall that would be owned solely by Montgomery Lodge. This topic was initially held over for the next meeting on January 15th, at which time the Worshipful Master appointed A.M. Bergstrom, A.W. Carlson, Past Masters Reagan Andrew, G. John and N.I. Nelson to research and make a recommendation to the lodge may be required for such an undertaking.

These brothers returned to lodge one month later to receive further approval from the lodge to begin to look into securing funding and locations for a lodge. The committee continued to work on this task until August 4, 1909 at which time the committee was discharged as a decision to continue with leasing the current hall at the Odd Fellows hall was made. Even with this decision, it is apparent that the desire to have their own Masonic hall continued in the hearts of many of the members of the lodge.

During the course of reviewing the minutes, one item of particular interest and shows one of the change from the early 1900’s to the lodge today. That item is of cigars being purchased for the brethren with the funds of the lodge. Every few months a bill was submitted for approval and payment with the annotation next to it “(cigars)”.

In lodges today, It is likely that not many lodges have this type of expense included in the budget or being paid for by the Lodge.

On April 27th, 1909 the first cornerstone dedication ceremony that Montgomery Lodge participated in. It is unknown what building was dedicated, but Montgomery members made it a point to be present at the cornerstone laying and dedication of buildings, both of a Masonic nature as well as educational and civic buildings, through its long history. Bro John Greiff was the Marshall leading the members to the location for this important occasion.

 

The raising of Brothers to the sublime degree of a Master Mason included a meal with the event. In the early 1900’s these degrees would starting at 9 pm and lasting well after midnight, and with the lodge receiving visitors from other lodges in support of the new brother.
During the course of late summer or early fall of 1910 two new items were approved; an organ which was to be placed into the lodge room by January 1st of 1911 and a stereoptical projector.
Stereoptical Projector for Montgomery Lodge

Stereoptical Projector for Montgomery Lodge

Montgomery Lodge Organ circa 1911

Montgomery Lodge Organ circa 1911

 

Until that time in Montgomery’s history the lectures for the different degrees relied on a trestle board to assist in the delivery of the educational lectures to the brethren. However, on October 19th, 1910 the installation of the stereoptical projector was completed and the first lecture preceded using glass plates with images painted on them. This new format was a major move forward using advanced technology for the times in providing education to the Brethren. The glass plates would be used for many years with only a break of a few years, when the Masonic Code prohibited their use. This decision would later be reversed and Montgomery would continue to use the glass plates to provide the needed and sought after Masonic education that accompanies each of the degrees.

 

During the later part of 1913 a movement was again underway to secure funding for the building of a new Masonic hall. By October 1st, 1913 $4000.00 in pledges had been received but it appears that the movement did not succeed in obtaining a new building. During the March 4th, 1914 meeting, a motion was approved to pay off the loans that had been used to purchase two lots in St. Paul, one of which would become Montgomery’s location for a new hall. It was believed that this would make it easier for the building committee to secure pledges and raise funds for a new hall.

Throughout 1914 it appears that the biggest concern on the minds of many was for a new Masonic hall to be built. The building committee had determined that they could initially build a new hall for $7000.00 but on the 19th of August this amount had not been secured in pledges. By the 16th of September it was determined that they still could not secure all the funding to build a Masonic hall and the building committee was again discharged from their duties with the thanks of the Worshipful Master.

With Montgomery’s dramatic growth the need for a new place to meet was needed. Some stated and special meetings would have as many as one hundred and fifty to over two hundred and fifty brothers coming together. At the December 2nd, 1914 annual meeting, Montgomery Lodge had moved from the third floor of 863, 865 and 867 Payne Avenue to 876 Payne Avenue. This move would not stop the desire of some of the members to continue searching for a way to build a truly Masonic hall. Another building committee was formed on December 9th, 1917 to “formulate plans and solicit funds for the building of a hall.” This committee would continue forward for almost one and half years until the plans for the building were accepted by the lodge in 1919.

During the years 1915 to 1917 many new candidates would be investigated, voted on, and almost all became Master Masons in due course. The two historical items found during this time, one was a motion on September 15th, 1915 to include the history of Montgomery Lodge within the bylaws of the lodge. The second historical item of interest would be the formation of a new lodge in St. Paul.

The formation of Montgomery lodge occurred to fill the Masonic needs and desires of men. It is not surprising to learn that during the year 1915 discussions were occurring to form another new lodge. This new lodge to be formed would later be known as Macalester Lodge #290. This desire would culminate in a vote by members of the Lodge on February 16th, 1916 to give Montgomery’s approval of the formation of a new lodge.

The Grand Lodge achieves reveal that a number of lodges had discussed this event and had also given their individual support of the new lodge. Of significant interest is in who was a driving force in both Montgomery Lodge and again in Mcalester Lodge.

 

This driving force is the brethren who requested dispensation for both lodges to be granted dispensation. A list of the Montgomery brethren who helped to form the lodge included:

 

Rufus W. Sharpe
E. F. Hamilton
C. H. Froberg
H.F. Bloomquist
Chas. J. Johnson

 

A.M. Bergstrom
P.A. Larson
William O. Bergstrom
Aaron A. Hertz
O.M. Jergenson

 

Many Masons and non Masons may not realize the importance of the lodge for its members when compared with the lodges of today. In the early part of the 1900’s social security and disability insurance with the government did not exist. You relied on family, friends and fraternities to take care of you and your family in times of financial and health challenges.

This became very apparent for Montgomery Lodge on the 16th of October 1918. Bro. Shoop had fallen ill, required to be hospitalized and have a doctor oversee his care. A committee was appointed and reported that they had placed Bro. Shoop in a hospital in the care of Dr. S.B. Lundin and that the charge would be thirty dollars per week. This expense was approved by the lodge for as long as Bro. Shoop was in the care of Dr. Lundin. When the lodge stepped forward, this helped Bro. Shoops family since they might not have been able to care for him on their own. This form charity was and continues to be a truly Masonic function that every member takes seriously.

This was not a single occurrence but rather the start of a long standing tradition based on the obligations that men make when they become members of the Masonic fraternity. In the mid 1920’s the act of charity and caring for a brother, his mother, sister or children was solidified by the lodge with the formation of a standing committee on relief. This committee would raise tremendous amounts of money over its course of existence and take care of many of Montgomery’s brethren and their families.

Throughout the winter months of 1918 and into 1919, Montgomery continued to have numerous degrees in order to accommodate the number of candidates that were continuing to petition to join. It was not until the late spring of 1919 that the idea of building a Masonic hall seems to have gained the momentum needed to become reality. 

 

On May 17th, 1919 plans for a Masonic hall at 1100 Payne Avenue became a reality when the brethren accepted the plans and appointed WB Nels I. Nelson as the superintendent of this project. He was to be compensated at a rate of eight percent above the cost of the building. Worshipful Brothers James Lehne and Frank R. Bunnell together with Brothers H.H. Blinn and S.G. Nordberg were appointed to the building committee which was to continue to secure the funding from the members and make recommendations to the lodge of any changes needed in the plans of the building.

On September 27th, 1919 approximately one hundred and twenty five individuals attended a special communication and walked three blocks north of the lodge to the site of the new Masonic hall in order to lay the cornerstone. The cornerstone was laid by the Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother George Marshall Stowe. Records indicate that a copper box was deposited inside of the corner stone as a time capsule to be opened at some time in the future. 

Montgomery Lodge circa 1956

Montgomery Lodge circa 1956

 

The copper box was said to have contained a Holy Bible, Square and Compass, a copy of the Montgomery Bylaws, a list of present officers, a list of the charter members and past officers, a history of the lodge, a copy of the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota 1919, a copy of the daily paper, a copy of the Masonic Observer, various pieces of money, a lodge notice for October, a blank petition for degrees and the notice of the laying of the cornerstone. In 2004 this box was opened at the 100 year celebration of the formation of Montgomery Lodge and the contents were found to have been destroyed by moisture.

 

Montgomery Lodge was also very fortunate to have five past Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota in attendance at the laying of our cornerstone;

Most Worshipful Brother Henry M Tusler

Most Worshipful Brother A. T. Stebbins

Most Worshipful Brother A.D. Countryman

Most Worshipful Brother Owen Morris

Most Worshipful Brother Henry R. Donny

 

Of special note is that Most Worshipful Brother Henry R. Donny was also the oldest living Past Grand Master on this special date. The Montgomery officer line for the cornerstone laying was:

Peter Axness – Worshipful Master

Edward Engson – Senior Warden

Carl L. Larsen – Junior Warden

WB Nels I. Nelson – Treasurer

Gust. A. Holm – Secretary

Arthur Blom – Senior Deacon

Henry Orth (as) – Junior Deacon

Carl B. Lorentson – Senior Steward

A.G. Carlson – Junior Steward

Chas J. Engberg – Tyler

 

By March 3rd, 1920 the construction of the Masonic hall was nearing completion and required dispensation from the Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother George Marshall Stowe to move to the new Masonic hall. A committee was formed consisting of Worshipful Brother Frank R. Bunnell and Brothers Carl L. Larsen and Swan Olson to secure this approval in time for the March 17th Stated Meeting.

Approval to begin the monthly Montgomery Bulletin newsletter was also requested from the Grand Master. When March 17th finally arrived the Grand Master had approved both the move to the new Hall and the monthly Montgomery newsletter. This approval allowed the Brethren to enjoy a great first meeting in their new permanent home.

 

Some issues and concerns from the construction of the new hall continued to remain for some time. Bonds that had been sold were repaid, with most being repaid earlier than had been thought possible. As with all major projects, some strife was visible within the lodge. The most visible strife was due to the changes that needed to be made to the plans of the new hall without the full consent of the lodge and possibly without the approval of the building committee.

These changes apparently needed to be made in short order to maintain the project’s forward movement but would cause arguments between brothers. Due to these disagreements, the Master was informed of the difficulties the building committee was having with obtaining all the bills and accounting from WB Nelson. On June 17th with no resolution to this problem to be seen, the Master requested that all keys in WB Nelson’s possession be returned to the lodge, and he was then discharged as the superintendent.

Many may think that this was a removal, but a discharge has been indicated as what occurs when a committee or an individual has completed the task assigned to them.

 

Some may say that the discharge was due to the task assigned being completed while others would take the stance that he was removed from the position.

At the next stated communication the secretary was instructed to send a letter to WB Nelson asking him to respond to three questions:

1. Why did you refuse to submit to an accounting as asked for by the trustees

2. Why did you assume a hostile attitude towards the trustees

3. Why did you divert from the original plans of the building, adopted without the sanction of the lodge.

Because of the 3rd question asked by the Master, one might tend to think that the Master was attempting to keep the peace and harmony of the lodge. After the July 1st, 1920 meeting there is no reference to this contained in the minutes but WB Nelson appears to have taken some time away from the lodge. This allowed individuals a chance to reflect on what had occurred and allow Brotherly love to prevail.

 

With Montgomery now having their own lodge building, many positive changes occurred. There was an increase in the usage of the lodge by different Masonic groups who paid rental fees that would be used to support the hall and the expenses that are normally associated with the upkeep of the building. However these fees also helped with the repayment of the bonds. Even with these additional incomes from renting at the hall, Montgomery decided to increase the yearly dues to $12 with $6 of each member’s dues being placed in a separate account to aid in the repayment of the bonds. This appears to have allowed the repayment to continue and was accepted as necessary by the brethren.

The next milestone to occur for Montgomery Lodge was the request for dispensation, to allow ten Fellow Craft brothers to be raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason on June 23rd, 1921. Until this time two to five individuals would be raised at one time. This dispensation was granted by the Grand Master.

Throughout the remainder of the 1920’s and 1930’s Montgomery Lodge was actively involved in many different activities outside the lodge in addition to the numerous degrees being performed inside the lodge. Some of the activities referenced in the minutes of the lodge reveal that members participated in a horse team, Dramatic Club, bowling, bridge tournaments, softball and kitten ball, singing quartet and involvement in the local Grotto. The Montgomery kitten ball team won both the 1933 and 1935 championships with one season being undefeated.

 

One of the most important groups formed by Montgomery Lodge which continued into the 1980’s, was the Montgomery Quartet. The Quartet would provide the music and singing for the third degree as well as entertainment at different events and special dinners. Their most notable selection that constantly earned them praise was the selection “Rock of Ages”; as indicated by the numerous notations in the minutes. Some of the brethren who were involved in 1931 included WB Peter Axness, Bro. Evald Anderson, Bro. Joe Nylin and Bro. L.J. Anderson.

An area that is not covered in depth in the minutes is when members violate their obligations or have conduct which appears to be unmasonic. This has and will forever be a rather quiet section of the history. However, one event in this area appears to stand out as it shows the need of the lodge and Grand lodge to act in the best interests of the fraternity but also shows a side of compassion and forgiveness when an apology is given.

During the year of 1930 Montgomery Lodge needed to replace the position of secretary. Due to the irregularities of the appointing and election process, Worshipful Brother Elsen T. Dudero had his Masters jewel arrested by the Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother William Kendrick Gill on July 17, 1930

When this occurred, it appears that to help keep the harmony of the lodge and the fraternity, he was not expelled. Records indicate that on November 20, 1930 he provided an apology for his actions that had caused the Masonic violation to occur. After his apology, he was reinstated for the remainder of the year as Master of Montgomery Lodge.

There have not been many records indicating friction within Montgomery Lodge. There were times but they appear infrequently and if there were others they appear to have been handled appropriately outside of the lodge by the whispering of good counsel from one member to another.

That being said the minutes also indicate that some tension appears to have been overflowing into the lodge as Worshipful Brother Peter Axness provided a short talk on the night of November 19th, 1931, reminding the brethren of the tenets of our institution and ending his talk with the statement:

the trowel

 

With Montgomery’s growth and involvement with many activities the dedication of a single person as an athletic chairman was needed to help represent Montgomery members with the Masonic Athletic Association. Montgomery brethren were consistently participating in league tournaments and Montgomery lodge was represented at annual banquets. In 1939 Montgomery Lodge won the trophy for most brothers attending the annual banquet of the Masonic Athletic Association.

Some of the different events that would be held by Montgomery Lodge would include a Past Masters night, which on Nov 24, 1928 included two hundred and fifty brothers and included a guest speaker and entertainment. Other celebrations included George Washington’s birthday, Masonic dances, picnics, cookouts and other family events.

 

For those brethren who could not make it to the events, as they resided at the Minnesota Masonic Home, at least once a year, for numerous years, the lodge would send a group of brothers and their families to the Masonic home to visit. They would provide entertainment for the brethren and their families who would be visiting on that day at the home. This was part of the brotherly love and friendship that Masons hold so dear.

It is seen throughout the minutes of the lodge, the practice of charity to a brother. Over the years many requests for Demits have been received from brothers for a variety of personal reasons. When Brethren have requested a Demit due to a temporary financial hardship, the lodge has taken it upon themselves to remit the dues back to the brother or cover the dues for the year to assist the brother and his family. This continues to occur to this day due to the ideology and practicing of brother love and affection.

In 1932 there is reference in the minutes to vote on an application submitted by a Montgomery Lodge member to move to the Minnesota Masonic Home. At that time, the Masonic Home applications required the lodge to agree to take care of the brothers needs in the home, such as clothing and toiletries. It also required that if the brother was expelled from the home or passed away, that the lodge would cover the costs of the brother leaving or to take the brothers’ body to the final place of rest.

When a brother did make his final journey from this world to the world to come, he could count on the brethren being there for him and for his family. This is evident by the number of Masonic funeral or burial services that were completed each year.

It was the custom to send a note or a copy of the minutes that contained the recently departed brother’s name and the final remarks from the lodge to the widow or another family member.

 

One such entry in the minutes that had been sent to a widow was:

We saw not the lift of the curtain
Nor heard the invisible door
As he passed where life’s problem uncertain

Will follow him no more
We lingered and wept on the threshold
The threshold each mortal must cross
When we laid a new wreath down upon it
To mark a new sorrow and loss. 

 

Being educated is a principal all Mason’s strive to achieve. In 1934, the Grand Lodge of Minnesota began what would later be referred to as the Masonic Conundrum which is published every other month to help with Masonic education in the Minnesota Mason.

The Grand Lodge began sending out a question or two each month, and the Master of the lodge would assign or delegate a brother or two who would then have one or two meetings to return the answer to the lodge. The answers provided tended to indicate a desire to obtain light and then provide that same light to the brethren of the lodge. Though the answers provided by the brethren in this quest for light are not specifically recorded in our minutes or the Montgomery Bulletin, it does appear that each brother, regardless of being assigned to this task or not, was captivated and enjoyed the knowledge that was received.

One question that was asked was, “When was Masonry first introduced in America?” Answer: June 5, 1730, the Duke of Norfolk Grand Master of Free And accepted Masons of England appointed Daniel Coxe of New Jersey, provincial Grand Master of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania with powers to constitute lodges as he saw fit. These questions marked the beginning for Montgomery in the area of lodge education and in making Montgomery’s members better men.

By the summer of June 1940 talk of updating Montgomery’s Hall had reached an apex and a decision was reached for redecorating and improvements to the temple at a cost of $1985.00 with the work being completed by the Sept 19, 1940 meeting.

These improvements allowed for greater appreciation of the lodge hall and also allowed increased usage of the lodge by other Masonic and non-Masonic groups.

 

Some of the other groups that were using Montgomery Lodge in the 1940’s were:

  •   E.P. Church Men’s Club
  •   Oriental Chapter #187, OES
  •   Jewel Chapter #76, RAM
  •   Job’s Daughters Bethel #16
  •   Maple Leaf Camp, RNA
  •   DeMolay
  •   Norden Lodge
  •   Visiting lodges from outside the area and outside the state were invited toconduct Masonic functions; normally Masonic Memorial services. 
Annual Athletic Banquet 1951

 

In Montgomery’s effort to fulfill our promises to our brethren, during the early part of the 1940’s a service committee was formed to help keep the lodge apprised of members serving in the Armed Forces overseas. This allowed numerous brethren to have their dues paid or waived by the lodge so as not to cause economic hardship to the family as they were serving their country.

This continued through the 1960’s and 1970’s, but references to this type of assistance became less written about in the minutes. The main reason for this was utilizing the Almoners fund that was created to address these types of needs and requests.

 

The athletic activities of Montgomery continued to grow during the 1940’s, and in the spring/summer of 1947, Montgomery had their first golf tournament. This was not the only area that Montgomery excelled at; in 1951 Montgomery Lodge went in force to the annual Athletic Association banquet and brought home 4 trophies in different sports.

It was throughout these years, Montgomery took a very active interest in the physical needs of members by having different sports activities from bowling to dart ball to softball. The only sport that never really became a part of Montgomery Lodge was soccer, which was specifically named in the minutes that a soccer league was discussed, but did not appear to have much support and it did not succeed.

The later part of the 1940s also saw a new push for something all Master Masons have the right of, that of traveling into foreign counties. This may sound as though members were constantly traveling around the world.

What is meant by foreign countries in this context refers to the different Grand Lodge jurisdictions such as the Grand Lodge of England or the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin. Montgomery became very active in the area of pilgrimages to other jurisdictions through 1969, both in the U.S. and also in Canada. Montgomery Lodge began to establish pilgrimages with a number of lodges and hosting the brethren when those same lodges made pilgrimages to our lodge.

 

The lodges and years of the pilgrimages were:

  •   McKinley Lodge #307, Milwaukee, WI – 1947, 1957, 1959, 1962
  •   Wyandotte Lodge #3, Kansas City, MO – 1949, 1961
  •   Norwood Lodge #119, St. Boniface, Manitoba, Canada – 1950, 1954, 1958,1963, 1969
  •   Doric Lodge #319, Moline, IL – 1951
  •   Hiram Lodge #50, Madison, WI – 1952
  •   Shiloh Lodge #1, Fargo, ND – 1953
  •   Advance Lodge #1039, Chicago, IL – 1955, 1960 

 

Each of these pilgrimages was open to the brothers of Montgomery Lodge. Average group sizes of 40 brothers, with some pilgrimages of up to 70 brothers, would participate in traveling to the foreign lodge. At times, Montgomery Lodge would also have the honor of showing their degree work to other lodges. These trips would receive publication over a period of a number of months, both at meetings and events but also in the Montgomery bulletin to ensure that as many brothers as possible would attend.
Montgomery Bulletin circa 1951

Montgomery Bulletin circa 1951

 

On a number of special communications Montgomery was host to a few lodges and were granted a glimpse into the degree work that other jurisdictions complete for their candidates.

Chicago's Advance Lodge #1039 visits Montgomery Lodge

Chicago’s Advance Lodge #1039 visits Montgomery Lodge

 

One of the first lodges that made a pilgrimage to Montgomery occurred on September 24th, 1949 when Wyandotte Lodge #3 from Kansas City, MO traveled to St. Paul. With an attendance of over 800 Masons the communication needed to be moved to the Masonic Temple at 6th and Smith Avenue in St. Paul.

The night was enjoyed by all who attended. The Ghora Klan Grotto provided some of the entertainment by presenting the play, “The Rose upon the Alter“. The Ghora Klan Grotto and the play “The Rose upon the Altar” would make numerous appearances at Montgomery Lodge meetings and dinners throughout the following 20 years.

Another visitation of interest occurred on Oct 13, 1951 (Saturday) when Norwood lodge traveled to Montgomery Lodge and “exemplified their (degree) work” … “to the pleasure of 300 brethren.”

This is one of only a few notations about visiting brethren, and one of the best I have found.

From the minutes it can be positively seen that this type of pilgrimage and sharing of the different jurisdictions’ work was something that the members of the lodges enjoyed.

The sponsoring of the Masonic Youth groups was not as visible in the lodge minutes even though they may have been active but may not have been seen as note-worthy. It was not until July of 1948 when Montgomery Lodge came together with Hazel Park Lodge and East Gate lodge to support a DeMolay chapter in the Montgomery Lodge building.

In order to assist this new chapter financially, Montgomery Lodge gave the lodge room to the DeMolay chapter on two Mondays a month free of charge for the first year. The name of the chapter was the Eastside Chapter, as all three lodges were considered to be from the East side of St. Paul that had come together to sponsor the youth organization.

DeMolay would flourish for the better part of 40 years until the group would started to reduce in numbers and the finding of active Masons to assist this group would become difficult. Around May 18th, 1989 this DeMolay chapter would disband mostly due to the lack of interest by young men.

 

The next important mark for Montgomery Lodge occurred on February 19th, 1954. A special communication was held for the purpose of receiving the Grand Lodge of Minnesota officers including the Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Herman T. Olson and Past Grand Masters, Most Worshipful Brother Einar Johnson and Most Worshipful Brother Edward Simons.

1954 Grand Lodge Officers with Montgomery Lodge Officers

 

This meeting was to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the charting of Montgomery Lodge. It was noted that there were approximately four hundred and fifty brothers in attendance with almost every master or secretary (or both) from other lodges in the area represented.

During this evenings’ presentation Grand Master Olson presented a 50 year pin to Brother Ollie Wilson. Brother Ollie Wilson was Montgomery Lodges first 50 year member and many would follow in this accomplishment.

 

Following the meeting Brother Lawrence Ball acted as the toastmaster for the evening dinner and the festivities, which included:

 Brother Gerhard Bundlie as a guest speaker

 The Little Shrine Band of Osman Temple,

 Color Guard of the Commandry who presented the Colors for the evening, and

 The Scottish Rite Choir which rendered several selections.

 

The next afternoon was set aside for a “Kiddies’ Party” with 300 children in attendance along with their parents and grandparents. The party included entertainment from the St. Paul Clown Club and 17 children who competed in a talent show. Prizes were won by Jean Livingston and 3 other children.

Montgomery Lodge 50th Anniversary

 

Throughout this entire period of the 1940s to 1960’s the receiving of good men into our fraternity and making the better was constantly occurring. There were numerous special communications to provide ritual work for men as they passed through the three degrees. At times, 10 brothers were being initiated, passed or raised. During one meeting for the raising of brothers to the sublime degree of a Master Mason, one brother had to wait until the next communication as there were a total of eleven brothers to be raised, but only a maximum of ten could complete the degree pursuant to the Minnesota Masonic Code.

During the October 3rd, 1959 meeting Brother Bjarne Herlund was the 1000th active member to be raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason. The degree was completed with the Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Clyde E. Hegmen leading the degree team.

With all the work occurring in Montgomery Lodge, the addition of many appendant bodies of Masonry using the lodge, the updating of the décor of the building was a constant discussion, and a building committee was charged with bringing these requests to the members for a decision.

A move to rehabilitate the outside of the building began 1952 with some pledges being secured. But, similar to the decision process to originally build the Masonic hall, it was not until the spring of 1965 that change would truly occur. This would require a major change to the kitchen and it was not until the spring of 1966 that construction began. The construction was completed in October of 1966.

According to the lodge minutes of August 17th, 1966, Worshipful Brother Thomas Yould he had recently passed away at the remarkable age of 108. It was believed that he was the oldest Mason in the world (unconfirmed.) WB Thomas was a member of Shekinah Lodge #171. WB Thomas Yould was made a Mason on May 7, 1879 in Burns Lodge No. 10, Nova Scotia, Halifax at the age of 22.

He served as Master of Shekinah Lodge #171 for the year 1898. He remained a member of Shekinah Lodge #171 until his death in March of 1966 and was at the time officially recognized as the world’s oldest living Mason as well as the oldest living Past Master.

The 1970’s started to see a decrease in activity by the members of Montgomery Lodge. It is not evident what the cause of this was but it appears to coincide with a decrease in the number of members in the fraternity both locally and nationally. It has been argued by some that a generational gap and a social change or social rebellion of men in their 20’s to be different then their fathers and grandfathers. During the 1970’s Montgomery Lodge still had an influx of candidates and members and one of the activities that was enjoyed the most appears to be bowling.

As reported in the minutes from the 1940’s up through the 1990’s, bowling and cribbage were steadfast activities that the brethren enjoyed. At times, there were two different bowling teams competing each year in addition to the cribbage and dart teams. In 1974, jackets with different patches for the different activities were brought forward for the brethren to decide if they wanted to purchase them.

During the 1970’s and 80’s, fund raisers continued to support different projects from fixing the Masonic hall to providing scholarships to youth. Fund raisers would include Pancake breakfasts, Spaghetti dinners and Chicken Kiev dinners. These fund raisers would each bring in the additional funds required for the members to continue to exemplify the lodges desire to help its members and the local community.

It was in 1975 that a proposal was brought forward to eliminate the memory work for new candidates and brothers on the different degrees. After a lengthy discussion, it was decided that members would continue to be required to memorize the work. It was this decision that even today, sets us apart from other lodges. This is not to say that we are better Masons or better men, just that we are upholding a decision that was made at the start and continued through today to provide each candidate with the best experience possible so as to impact their life in a positive manner and leave a lasting impression.

Even when the Grand Lodge simplified the degree memorization work, Montgomery brethren continued to show their abilities by memorizing the longer proficiency text. This memorization was seen as incorrect by the Grand Lodge and Montgomery Lodge was reprimanded for this. Since that time, Montgomery Lodge has required the new brethren to meet the standards set by the Grand Lodge. As brethren are raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason, Montgomery has a tradition of setting the new members to work. They did this by having the newest raised Master Masons provide some of the lectures to the degrees for the new candidates.

Past Grand Master of Minnesota Most Worshipful Brother Donald W. Sether from Montgomery Lodge

In 1976 Montgomery brethren had something to be extremely proud of. Montgomery Brother, Donald W, Sether, had been appointed into the Grand Line in the position of Grand Pursuivent by Past Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Otis H. Godfrey. Over the next 10 years, Most Worshipful Brother Sether served in different appointed and elected positions until he was elected Grand Master of Minnesota Masons. A statement that MWB Sether made about being the Grand Master was that being the Grand Master is not the ultimate, rather the whole trip to being Grand Master is.

 

During the 1990’s began a time of concern regarding maintenance of the Masonic hall. Many of the communications had as a topic, the needs of upkeep on the building and paying bills for the hall. On July 7th, 1994 there was the first officially recorded discussion in lodge to sell the building for the good of the lodge. This proposal appears to have caused many discussions over the year. As with the building of the hall, the selling of the hall did not move quickly. This topic was again found to be brought forward in April of 1997 when the discussion for the sale appears to have gained more speed forward. But, as quickly as the discussion came up, the discussion was dismissed.

 

On October of 1999, Montgomery Lodge voted on the question of selling the lodge which was approved. The lodge was sold one month later with much of the Montgomery furniture being either left to the new owners of the property or provided to other lodges that were in need of specific items. This sale also appears to be a point of change for the brethren of Montgomery Lodge.

Throughout Montgomery’s history there are a few areas that the lodge is known for. One of these areas is the helping of brothers and with Masonic Projects, when you need help…call a Montgomery brother. This belief continues to live on today as well as in the historical minutes of the lodge. The second area is in degree work. Montgomery Lodge has always been known for providing exemplary degree work. These two areas are of such high importance that even today, members of the lodge strive to be their best and help others, by whispering good counsel and with their work on the different degrees.

Over the last few years Montgomery Lodge has experienced a rebirth of activity with many functions being brought back for the members and their families to enjoy. Some of the activities that have been brought back include Movie night, Cribbage tournaments, and a chili cook-off, for which Montgomery was given a Grand Master award for the best chili in a Minnesota Lodge. Montgomery brethren also entered the Pancake throw down cook-off and were told that the judge, a professional chef, enjoyed the flavor of our pancakes but based on points another lodge received the Grand Master award for best pancakes.

One of the larger events that Montgomery Lodge and the lodges of the St. Paul Masonic Center have made into an annual tradition is a table lodge that is given in honor of the Grand Master for his year of service to the craft. This event occurs the Friday before the Grand Communication and is well attended. Money raised from this event has benefited Partners for Life, the National Archery in the Schools Program, The St. Paul Masonic Center to update and bring beauty into the building, and to support youth groups of Demolay, Jobs Daughters, and Boy Scouts.