FIRST KANSAS MASONIC LODGE - ORGANIZERS OF THE FIRST LODGE - OTHER MASONIC BODIES - THE SCOTTISH RITE MASONS - BUILDING THE TEMPLE - THE ODD FELLOWS - KNIGHTS OF PYTHIAS - THE A. O. U. W. LODGES - GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC - THE ELKS LODGE - THE EAGLES - OTHER SECRET SOCIETIES.
Fifty-seven years ago Wyandotte Lodge No. 3, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, was instituted in the Indian village of Wyandotte now Kansas City, Kansas, under a dispensation from the grand lodge, of Missouri. It was the first Masonic lodge organized in the territory of Kansas, although Leavenworth and Smithton lodges, instituted a few days afterward, were designated as Lodge No. 1 and No. 2.
The first communication of a Masonic lodge in what is now Kansas was held in the home of Matthew R. Walker, a brother of William R. Walker, the territorial governor of Kansas, in the old village of Wyandotte. The lodge room was Mr. Walker's house, which occupied the site of the George Fowler mansion in Fowler Park, which has been recently converted into the Kansas City Baptist Theological seminary.
In July, 1854, a dispensation was issued from the grand lodge of Missouri to J. M. Chevington, worshipful master; Matthew R. Walker, senior warden, and Cyrus Garrett, junior warden, to meet and work under the dispensation. The meeting in Matthew Walker's house was on August 11, 1854, and the officers were installed by Mr. Piper, deputy grand master of Missouri.
It is related that at the first meeting there were not enough Masons present to fill the chairs, and Mrs. Matthew R. Walker officiated as tyler.
The lodge has, however, continued its labors uninterruptedly from its inception to the present time and is now not only the oldest, but one of the strongest and most influential Masonic bodies in Kansas,. Its membership rolls show a total of nearly seven hundred Master Masons since organization.
The three men to whom the dispensation was granted for the organization of Wyandotte lodge were among the early pioneers. John Milton Chevington was a Methodist missionary, sent from Ohio to work among the Indians, and his services to Masonry are matters of record in the jurisdiction of Ohio, Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado. Leaving Wyandotte in 1856, he was a presiding elder of the church at Omaha, afterward going to Nebraska City and later to Colorado, where he was first presiding elder, and then in command of the Colorado troops at Fort Weld. He was not only the first worshipful master of Wyandotte Lodge No. 3, but was a charter member, in 1857, of Lodge No. 3 at Omaha, and later, in 1861, was the first grand master of the grand lodge of Colorado. He died at Denver in 1904.
Matthew R. Walker was a member of the Big Turtle clan of the Wyandots. His Indian name was Rah-hahn-tah-seh, meaning "the twisting of the forest." He was a leading citizen and business man of Wyandotte and served as probate judge when Leavenworth county included all of Wyandotte county. He died in October, 1860.
Among the oldest living members of Wyandotte Lodge No. 3 are Thomas J. Barker (1857), and Vincent J. Lane (1861).
Mendias Chapter No. 1 was the first chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star in Kansas. It was organized in July, 1856, and was named for Mrs. Lydia R. Walker whose Indian name was Mendias. it exists today as one of the most powerful influences in Kansas.
Wyandotte Chapter No. 6, Royal Arch Masons, was organized in 1866, and Wyandotte Council No. 6, of Royal and Select Masons, was organized in 1877. Ivanhoe Commandery Knights Templar, was organized in 1882. Other Masonic bodies are:
Armourdale Lodge No. 271, A. F. and A. M.
New Lodge No. 272, A. F. and A. M.
The Masonic Board of Relief.
Martha Conclave No. 1, True Kindred of Masons.
A notable event in Masonic history was the organization at Kansas City, Kansas, of the Scottish Rite bodies of the Valley of Kansas City, and the building of a great temple which is the home of the organization covering a large part of Kansas. These bodies consist of four chapters, as follows:
Lafayette Lodge of Perfection, No. 10, fourth to the fourteenth degree, organized October 31, 1898, with twenty members. Today it has nine hundred members.
Victory Chapter Rose Croix, No. 7, fifteenth to eighteenth degree, organized May 10, 1899, with eighteen members. Today it has almost eight hundred members.
John H. Brown Council, Knights of Kadosh, No. 7, organized May 10, 1899, with thirty members. Today it has seven hundred and fifty members.
Caswell Consistory, No. 5, organized February 26, 1900, with fifty members. It now has over seven hundred members.
SCOTTISH RITE TEMPLE, KANSAS CITY.
The first officers of the Scottish Rite bodies were: Venerable master, William Warren Rose, thirty-second degree; senior warden, William Clark, thirty-second degree; orator, Charles Blood, eighteenth degree; secretary, Earnest Joseph Lutz, thirty-second degree; M. of C., Robert J. McFarland, eighteenth degree; expert, Edward E. Thomas, thirty-second degree; junior warden, Albert Fryatt, eighteenth degree; almoner, Bert Dill, fourteenth degree; treasurer, Henry Fred Wulf, thirty-second degree; Captain of Host, James McCully, fourteenth degree; assistant expert, Andrew Moffitt, eighteenth degree; and tiler, Francis Camillus Weaver, eighteenth degree.
After receiving the Master's which is the third degree, one can proceed to take the Scottish Rite degrees.
The Scottish Rite Masonic body was organized in 1900, and a building site with an old church was purchased from the African Methodist church at the corner of Seventh street and Ann avenue. It was purchased for $15,000 and the building was remodeled, by spending $75,000 in addition to purchase price. It was occupied as a Masonic Temple until October 19, 1906, when the building was destroyed by fire. The present structure was erected in its place by the following committee: Ernest J. Lutz, president; James P. Wiles, vice president; Robert B. Wolf, secretary and treasurer; Albert J. Holzmark, William J. Wright, Jr., T. C. Russell, W. L. Wood, Jerry Grindrod and Henry F. Wulf.
This same committee raised $75,000 and the committee had on hand at that time $25,000 in cash. Fifteen thousand dollars was spent, in addition, for fitting up the stage with paraphernalia and electrical scenery, which latter amount has been paid over. The total indebtedness is now $75,000. Mr. W. W. Rose was the architect. The temple has a large banquet hall, in which 450 people can easily be accommodated; a Blue Lodge room for the different Masonic bodies, and an auditorium with seating capacity for 1,500 people. The stage is sixty-two feet deep and fifty feet wide - one of the largest stages in the state of Kansas. Altogether, the building is the best equipped Scottish Rite Temple in the state.
The first lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was Summunduwot Lodge No. 3, instituted in October, 1859, with these six charter members: Silas Armstrong, Sr., J. A. Fligor, I. H. Miller, I. N. White, Joseph Rosenwald and J. W. Garrett. The lodge met for several years in the old Constitution Hall, but in 1876 finished a new hall on the site of the present Odd Fellows building, at the northeast corner of Sixth street and Minnesota avenue. This pioneer body has been the main lodge of that order for more than fifty years and today it has a large membership.
Wyandotte Encampment No. 9 was instituted in 1869, with Joseph C. Welsh, Dr. Fred Speck, H. W. Cook, Joseph Dalton, W. B. Bowman, Solomon Balmer and O. K. Serviss as charter members. It is still in existence and holds regular meetings twice each month, on the first and third Thursdays.
Teutonia Lodge No. 68 was instituted in January, 1871, by Joseph C. Welsh, the district deputy.
Other Odd Fellows lodges in Kansas City, Kansas, are Kaw Valley No. 315, Pride of the West No. 484, Quindaro No. 559 and Chelsea No. 564.
The Patriarchs Militant are represented by Wyandotte Canton No. 1.
The Rebekah degree has three lodges - Wyandotte No. 6, Rainbow No. 461 and Golden Rule No. 501.
The order of Knights of Pythias has five subordinate lodges in Kansas City, Kansas. The oldest of these is Fellowship Lodge No. 2, which was chartered April 11, 1882. Myrtle No. 1, was chartered February 5, 1880, and was for many years the oldest lodge of the order in Kansas. It was consolidated with Fellowship a few years ago and the latter then took first rank as the oldest lodge.
Germania Lodge No. I was instituted July 9, 1881. Other subordinate lodges of the Knights of Pythias are Fearless No. 97, WideAwake No. 153 and College No. 201. Freia No. 195 was one of the old lodges of the Knights of Pythias in Kansas City, Kansas.
Wyandotte Division No. 10, Uniform Rank Knights of Pythias, is the oldest and now the only division of the Uniform Rank in Kansas City, Kansas.
Calanthe Temple No. 1, Pythian Sisters, has been in existence since early in the eighties. Wide-Awake Temple No. 59 is a strong organization of the sisterhood which has been in existence nearly thirty years.
Fellowship and Wide-Awake lodges, and Calanthe and WideAwake temples, meet in the Pythian hall at No. 624 Minnesota avenue.
Tauromee Lodge No. 30, organized January 15, 1880, is the oldest of the lodges of the Ancient Order of United Workmen in Kansas City, Kansas. Next to it is Franklin No. 187. For several years there were many of these subordinate lodges in that city, but they were gradually consolidated with Tauromee and Franklin under a plan looking to economy of administration.
Harmony No. 18 is the one lodge of the Degree of Honor now in Kansas City, Kansas, although it has only been a few years since there were several lodges of this Women's auxiliary to the A. O. U. W.
The noble and patriotic order of the Grand Army of the Republic has two posts in Kansas City, Kansas, although the ranks of the veterans of the Civil war, among whom and for whom the order originally was formed, have thinned out until now but a few remain. Burnside Post No. 28, the oldest of these, was organized in 1881. It holds regular meetings in the Odd Fellows hall at Sixth street and Minnesota avenue. George I. Ransom Post No. 303, organized in the Armourdale district about twenty-five years ago, holds its meetings at No. 823 Osage avenue. The Women's Relief Corps, auxiliary to these two posts, and the Councils of the Ladies of the G. A. R., still maintain organization.
In the autumn of 1897 a number of Elks, belonging to No. 26, of Kansas City, Missouri, but residing in Kansas City, Kansas, formed the project of organizing a local lodge. So successful were their efforts, that on April 23, 1898, a dispensation was granted to C. S. McGonigal, H. S. Swingley, S. B. Morse, C. D. Grant and W. L. Wood to organize Wyandotte Lodge, No. 440. On April 30, 1898, the lodge was installed, officers elected, and the new members of the order initiated. The work was done by Topeka Lodge, No. 204. The membership consisted of eighteen, who joined by demit from Kansas City Lodge No. 26, and one hundred and eighteen new brothers, then initiated into the order for the first time. Officers elected were as follows: Exalted ruler, William L. Wood; esteemed leading knight, John E. McFadden; esteemed loyal knight, Henry S. Swingley; esteemed lecturing knight, George A. Rively; secretary, C. S. McGonigal; treasurer, O. J. Peterson, and chairman of board of trustees, Charles D. Grant. Mr. Peterson and Mr. Grant have held their respective offices continuously since the lodge was organized. The lodge now has a handsome building on Minnesota avenue for its exclusive use, erected at a cost of $40,000. Its membership is 600.
A fraternal organization that does much good for its members and their families is the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Wyandotte Aerie, the oldest in the state, was organized in 1901, with a membership of several hundred. The Aerie had spacious lodge and club rooms on the fourth floor of the Wyandotte building, at Fifth street and Minnesota avenue, until, in 1910, it moved to a new building of its own on Ann avenue, facing the Public Library grounds.
Among the many other secret societies which have had to do with the life of Kansas City, Kansas, for many years, may be mentioned the following:
Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division No. 2.
Knights of Columbus, Damian Council No. 826.
Independent Order Foresters, Wyandotte Council No. 600, organized in 1880.
Degree of Pocahontas, Umatilla Council No. 18.
Improved Order Red Men, Cheyenne Tribe No. 19 and Splitlog Tribe No. 85.
Knights of Father Matthew, St. Mary's Council No. 44, and Ladies Auxiliary St. Mary's No. 12, St. Josephs No. 16, and the Junior Auxiliary to St. Mary's.
Royal Arcanum, Zenith Council No. 1,276.
Royal Highlanders, Murray lodge No. 531.
Royal Fraternal Union, Armourdale Council No. 76.
Select Knights and Ladies Supreme Lodge, E. H. Wheeler, recorder, and subordinate lodges, Armourdale No. 69, Railroad No. 123, Riverview No. 130 and Wyandotte No. 71.
Triple Tie Benefit Association, Wyandotte Council No. 3.
Tribe of Ben Hur, Gaspard Council No. 1.
Sons and Daughters of Justice, Dewey Council No. 15.
Woodmen of the World, Wyandotte Camp No. 46 and Armourdale Camp No. 49.
National Union, Fireside Council No. 421 and Gem Council No. 430.
Loyal Mystic Legion of America, Kansas City Council No. 224,
Royal Neighbors of America, Laurel Camp No. 84, Oak Leaf Camp No. 490 and Violet Camp.
Knights and Ladies of Security, Metropolis and Sunrise Councils.
The Modern Woodmen of America has six camps of which Red Bud No. 600 is the oldest. The others are Granite No. 1,412, Prosperity No. 2,976, Riverview No. 4,095, Armourdale No. 5,237 and Quindaro No. 6,831.
Knights of the Maccabees tents are Active No. 7, Argentine No. 61, Kansas City No. 11, Riverview No. 60 and Rosedale No. 96.
The Ladies of the Maccabees have Sunflower Hive No. I and Rose Hive No. 22.
There are ten lodges of the Modern Brotherhood of America, of which J. S. Silvey is manager for Kansas and eastern Oklahoma. The lodges are Cyclone No. 323, Edelweiss No. 1,650, Elba No. 920, Evergreen No. 1,499, Kaw No. 1,212, Silver No. 1,718, Silver City No. 1,414 Velebet No. 1,900, Willis No. 879 and Wyandotte No. 442.
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