Corinthian, No. 42 of Kokomo not only can boast of being the highest Lodge in the United States, elevation 10,618 feet, but also of having had a Master with one of the longest services on record.
Benjamin F. Rich refused to let the Lodge die though the area was depopulated and the membership dropped to as low as twelve. W. Bro. Rich enlisted the cooperation of the Grand Lodge so that an annual meeting could be held to maintain the charter. When he was presented with a 5O-year pin and Colorado Certificate in 1942, Grand Secretary Patton noted that W. Bro. Rich had been Master for 24 of the 50 years.
Charles L. Young, Grand Lecturer, was impressed with the surroundings and effort. In 1936 he said: “The hall was lighted by old oil lamps, the Temple was built of logs, the furniture was several generations old, and without any stretch of the imagination, we were taken back to the early days in this jurisdiction.
“We speak off-hand of the antiquity of our Craft but to have these facts brought home, it is necessary to attend a meeting of this type. Statistics are dry reading, historical dates are easily forgotten, but a contact with the past through personal touch stays long in the memory. We sincerely hope that the little Lodge at Kokomo, headed by its beloved Master, W. Bro. Ben F. Rich, may continue to keep the torch lighted on the highest hill that we in the lowest valleys may take heart.”
Again in 1955 he commented: “This Lodge has only one resident member. It owns its own Masonic Temple which has been reconstructed inside by their own manual labor. The officers have to drive many miles in order to get together and learn their work. They know and perform their work exceedingly well. When I made an official visit to this Lodge there were 24 members of the Lodge present who had driven from as far as Salida on the west to Olney Springs on the east and they had 22 visitors who likewise had driven many, many miles. This year they raised five of their own candidates.”
SUNDAY COMMUNICATIONS FORBIDDEN
At the third Annual Communication, Sunday Lodge meetings were forbidden except for funerals.
NO NOMINATIONS FOR OFFICE
In 1867 the Grand Lodge declared it to be in variance with the spirit of Masonry to make nominations for office in either Grand or Constituent Lodge and the practice was prohibited.
WEARING JEWELS AT GRAND LODGE
Masters and Wardens representing constituent Lodges were instructed to wear their jewels of office in all future attendance at Grand Lodge at the 1868 session.
The system of Grand Representatives was adopted at the Ninth Annual Communication in 1869. We now exchange Representatives with one hundred nineteen Grand Jurisdictions.
GRAND OFFICERS’ JEWELS
At the ninth annual communication in 1869 a committee was appointed to procure a set of jewels for the Grand Lodge to cost not more than $300.
PERMANENT MEETING PLACE
Denver was selected as the permanent meeting place of the Grand Lodge at the Eleventh Annual Communication.
PROFICIENCY ON THIRD DEGREE
Webster D. Anthony, then R.W.D.G.M., at the Grand Session of 1872, offered the following, which was adopted: “Resolved, That it is earnestly recommended by this Grand Lodge that all Masters of Lodges in this jurisdiction, require every Master Mason raised in his Lodge, to stand an examination in open Lodge within three months from the date of his taking the degree; said examination to be upon the proficiency of said member.”
GRAND COMMUNICATION OUTSIDE COLORADO
On January 22nd, 1873 M. W. Bro. Webster D. Anthony, at the invitation of Cheyenne Lodge No. 16 of Cheyenne (then a member of the Grand Jurisdiction of Colorado) convened the Colorado Grand Lodge in the Wyoming capital city and dedicated its new Masonic hall.
The Centennial of the United States saw Union Lodge No. 7 and Central Lodge No. 6 appearing in open lodge in public procession on July 4th, 1876 in the cities of Denver and Central, under special dispensations from M. W. Bro. Oren H. Henry. While adverse to public appearance, he issued his dispensation on account of the peculiar dignity of the Centennial celebration and did not wish his act to be construed into a precedent for ordinary occasions. Eight years Jater, M. W. Bro. James H. Peabody forbade two lodges to appear in public procession on the occasion of General Grant’s funeral.
GERMAN LANGUAGE LODGE
In 1881, Grand Master Greenleaf issued a dispensation to Schiller Lodge U. D. to work in the German language, the ritual to be a literal translation as far as possible.
Chartered as No. 41, Schiller was asked in 1914 to confer the Master Mason degree for Grand Lodge and did so in “an earnest and dignified manner.” World War I brought an end to the use of the foreign language.
GRAND MASTER EXPENSES
In 1888, after Grand Master George K. Kimball, Union Lodge No. 7, told the Grand Lodge “Until some arrangements are made whereby a Grand Master’s expenses are paid, none but those possessed of ample means can satisfactorily fill the Grand East”, the Brethren voted to allow actual traveling expenses.
GRAND MASTER’S JEWEL
An appropriate jewel for the Grand Master “to cost not less than $100” was authorized by Grand Lodge action in 1891. It was to “be of gold and properly engraved.”
GRAND LODGE APRONS
Jewels for Past Grand Masters were adopted by the Grand Lodge in 1893, with the emblems within the wreath taken from those in use by the Mother Grand Lodge, the Grand Lodge, F. and A. M. of England. When Past Grand Master Aprons were approved in 1926, bearing in mind that the key-note of Colorado regalia is simplicity, the Custodians of the Work recommended Past Grand Masters’ Aprons “in keeping with those now worn by the Grand Officers, that is of plain, white lambskin, without binding, and that the jewel embroidered upon the flap be that described by the Grand Lodge of England for Past Grand Masters, that is the compasses extended to 45 degrees with the segment of a circle at the points, and that the emblem be surrounded by the wreath now used on the jewels of the Grand Lodge officers of this jurisdiction.”
Life Membership in Colorado Lodges was prohibited by a by-law adopted by the Grand Lodge in 1894.
Uniformity in the way the Masonic Apron should be worn in this jurisdiction was achieved after a report of Grand Lecturer Cromwell Tucker in 1894. The apron should be worn over and tied around the coat.
In 1895, Grand Master William L. Bush recommended that Lodges be prohibited from contracting an indebtedness above a certain amount per capita. The current limitation is $10 per member.
In 1899, Lodges which had voted funds to sponsor hose races on Fourth of July, were informed that sports or a celebration have nothing in common with the objects of Masonry and that all Lodge funds are sacred for Masonic purposes.
Whether or not to grant special dispensations for public installation of officers plagued the grand officers just before the turn of the century. Grand Master James H. Peabody refused eight requests in 1884, but M. W. Bro. Bridwell allowed six open installations in 1889. M. W. Bro. Foster granted another six dispensations the following year “and excuses his conduct on the ground that it had been customary with his predecessors.” M. W. Bro. Wright followed along with six dispensations in 1892 and M. W. Bro. Sanford with three in 1893. When Grand Master Burnanel in 1899 allowed Rob Morris No. 92 to install publicly, Deputy Grand Master Joseph W. Milsom wanted to be relieved of responsibility prior to becoming Grand Master and brought the matter to the floor of the Grand Lodge for action. The jurisprudence committee reported that public installations were “not desirable and not beneficial to the order” and Grand Masters were “requested” not to issue the prerequisite dispensations. None have been issued since.
CLASS SIZE LIMITED
That no lodge shall confer degrees upon more than five candidates in anyone day was a decision of the Grand Lodge in 1902. (Previously as high as twelve candidates had been members of a class.)
GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
In 1877 and 1878 it was ordered by the M. W. Grand Master that “these proceedings be read in each Lodge immediately after receipt of same”. As the twentieth century dawned there was great opposition to the rule that Grand Lodge Proceedings should be read in full at each constituent Lodge. To bring the matter to a head, one Lodge invited the Grand Officers to attend a regular communication. When reading of the proceedings was announced, all the local members, except the officers, evidently in accordance with a preconceived plan having the Master’s approval, obtained his consent to their leaving the room.
This resulted in Grand Master Benjamin L. James, a member of Union Lodge No.7, recommending in 1905 that as but a few of the Lodges were complying (or reporting compliance) with the regulation, the rule be changed to provide every officer should read the Constitution and By-Laws within two months after election.
Cataloging all members and their Masonic history was started in 1914. Now the files in the Grand Lodge office morgue consist of about 130,000 cards in two groups, present and former members.
DEGREE DRESS RESTRICTED
An edict in 1917 by M. W. Bro. Guy V. Sternberg, Mesa Lodge No. 55, advised it was not proper to confer degrees by Brethren wearing costume or dress peculiar to any society or vocation.
RECEPTION OF MASONIC DIGNITARIES
Legislation in 1929 provided that all presiding officers of the Grand Jurisdiction recognized as Masonic, shall be received with the same ceremony and honors accorded visiting Grand Masters.
CENTRAL CITY PAINTNGS
That the colorings of the paintings on the walls of Central Lodge No. 6 at Central City might not be lost in case of fire or other destruction, the Grand Lodge in 1930 appropriated $200 for coloring of the photographs taken of these symbols of Masonry. These reproductions are now preserved in the Grand Lodge museum.
GRAND LODGE MEETING PLACE
In 1938, the Grand Lodge began meeting in Colorado Consistory, having out grown quarters in the Temple at Sixteenth and Welton.
HOLDS SUMMER MEETINGS
Estes Park Lodge No. 183, constituted in 1959, is located adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park which attracts millions of visitors every year. The Lodge holds regular communications throughout the summer so Brethren from other states and countries may see Colorado Masonry in action. Its vacation is observed in the winter.
The largest funeral in the first forty years of Colorado Masonry was for Uncle Tom Linton, Grand Tiler of the four Grand Bodies of the State and most of the Denver Lodges from 1873 to 1900. Brethren came from all over the state. Over 1000 were in attendance. In 1921 over 1500 paid their respects at the last rites for Charles H. Jacobson. He had been Secretary of the Grand Lodge and the Grand Chapter and Recorder of the Grand Commandery from 1904 until 1921; Recorder of the Grand Council from 1906 until 1921; Secretary of the Colorado Consistory No.1 bodies for 17 years; and was Intendant General of the Red Cross of Constantine for Colorado.
DIED IN OFFICE
Two Grand Masters entered the Celestial Lodge above while presiding over the Colorado Grand Lodge. They were Horace H. Mitchell in 1930 and John R. Swinton in 1948.
NOTE WORTHY DISPENSATIONS
Grand Master Harry L. Baum of Emulation No. 154 issued three unusual dispensations for the annual visit to the cradle of Colorado Masonry in Gilpin County. Under the dispensation Blackhawk No. 11, Nevadaville No. 4 and Central No. 6 met in joint communication in the hall of each lodge. They conferred a portion of the first degree in each hall, stopping between work for a brief stop at the monument on the site of the first Masonic temple in the state.
DELAY IN COMMUNICATIONS
Pioneer Masons had difficulty obtaining proceedings of other jurisdictions caused, Grand Secretary Whittemore surmised in 1866, by “our correspondents not being aware of the law requiring letter postage on all printed matter, west of Kansas.” The mail was held at St. Joseph, Mo., and St.Louis, Mo., until proper postage was received.
In 1868, Grand Secretary Parmalee rejoiced: “The Act of Congress repealing the obnoxious law went into effect October 1, inst., and herafter we may reasonably expect to receive the proceedings of our Sister Grand Lodges as well as many of the proceedings of former years now wanting to complete our files.”
When the cornerstone of Flagler High School was laid in 1915, Kit Carson Lodge No. 127 had a membership of 52, one-third of whom lived in other parts of the country. Yet there were 76 Masons present, some coming 75 miles and more.
Because attendance at many functions exceeded the supply of aprons and difficulty often arose to clothe the brethren in suitable Masonic fashion, the Grand Lodge in 1949 made arrangements to provide paper aprons for use on extraordinary occasions. The cost of these was approximately the cost of one laundering of cloth aprons.
INSTALLED ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE TIMES AS TILER!
Luther Van Buskirk has one of the finest service records of the first century of Colorado Masonry. As guardian of the door for five lodges, he has been installed as tiler a total of 151 times. He was Grand Tiler in 1955 under M. W. Bro. Charles A. Mantz. Brother “Van”, one of the state’s foremost students of symbolism and history, is also noted for his comprehensive Masonic stamp collection.
“YOUR MASONIC HERITAGE” DISTRIBUTED
An educational project during the 1930’s was the furnishing of Clark’s “Your Masonic Heritage” to all newly-raised brethren that they might easily absorb more of the character of the Masonic institution.