Oklahoma Lodge No. 4

An Address on the Occasion of its 100th Anniversary Ceremonies

Atoka, Oklahoma – November 18, 1968

by Dale R. Hougas

Worshipful Master, Brethren and friends of Masonry. It is certainly a pleasure to be here with you on such an auspicious occasion. We have a fine crowd and the members of Oklahoma Lodge No. 4 have good reason to be proud of the entertainment and program provided for the visiting brethren and friends. They also have good reason to be proud they are members of Oklahoma Lodge No. 4 – for it is my opinion that no lodge in the territory which now comprises the State of Oklahoma has done more and produced more great names in the establishment and grown of Freemasonry than this lodge which assembles to observe its 100th year of continual existence tonight.

It was once said, and often repeated, “Today is a child of yesterday and no one can understand the significance of the epochal events that are shaking the world unless he sees them from the vantage point of history.” Most assuredly this very meeting that we enjoy tonight can be attributed to a specific course of events in Masonic history, for without the efforts, dedication, devotion and sacrifices of our Masonic forefathers we certainly would not have a Masonic Fraternity to enjoy today. We might call this our Masonic Heritage and we enjoy it as a result of our Masonic history and lineage.

I could not possibly cover all the history of this lodge in the short period of time allotted me, so I hope you will forgive me if I should leave something out that you have your own knowledge and believe to be important in this effort to relate the high points of the history of Oklahoma Lodge No. 4, A.F. & A.M. of the State of Oklahoma.

The lineage of this lodge, as with all Free and Accepted Masonry begins with the formation of the mother Grand Lodge of the World in London, England in 1717. Their lot was not easy and due to circumstances I will not enter into here it was not long before this Grand Lodge was split into two factions. The old established Grand Lodge being given the title of “Moderns” and the splinter faction, in an effort to game some title of antiquity call themselves “Ancients.” This is the primary reason we find today that some Grand Jurisdictions title themselves A.F. & A.M. while others use a simple F. & A.M. The original lodges which were charters in the United States held allegiance to one or the other faction.

One lineage in the United States begins with the establishment of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina in Wilmington in 1754 by lodges under allegiance to the “Moderns.”

The Grand Lodge of Tennessee was formed in convention on November 21, 1807 by lodges chartered out of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina.

The Grand Lodge of Louisiana was formed in a convention of three lodges one each from South Carolina, Pennsylvania and a lodge chartered out of what was call the Mother Lodge of Marseilles, France on July 12, 1812.

The Grand Lodge of Alabama was formed June 14, 1821 by nine lodges in convention which were all chartered out of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee.

The Grand Lodge of Arkansas was formed in convention on October 5, 1838 by three lodges; one each chartered from Tennessee, Alabama and Louisiana.

On Monday, October 5, 1874 in convention at Caddo, Indian Territory, three lodges all chartered out of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas formed the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory which is the forerunner of the Grand Lodge of the State of Oklahoma.

However, this was not the beginning of Masonry in the territory which is now the State of Oklahoma and I believe some explanation of circumstances are in order. In those days leading up to the introduction of Masonry in Indian Territory and for many years thereafter life was rugged. Transportation and communication were difficult. Records, when kept, were sparse and incomplete. Even these records were often lost or destroyed by fire, storms and by wars both Indian and white. As a consequence there is no complete record of all the information we need. Information had to be pieced together. Fact as often as not were only assumptions by self styled experts and as a consequence inaccuracies were common – even official records became contradictory. We have some cases of this even in our Grand Lodge proceedings. Therefore, the record I present here has been gleened [sic] from many authoritative publications and books, and compared with other publications by reasonably reliable sources in an effort to be as accurate as possible.

The proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas mentions that a Spanish Lodge of Freemasons was operating in the territory which we now call Oklahoma prior to the turn of the 1800’s. However it has never been determined from where this lodge was chartered or from where they received their authority and further, no trace of their work, save possibly some of the Indian cults that were popular prior to the arrival of the white man, so this lodge is not recognized.

The first lodge of Free and Accepted Masons organized in what is now the State of Oklahoma was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas at Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation on November 9, 1848. It was given the name and number of Cherokee Lodge No. 21. W. S. Adair was the Worshipful Master; N. B. Dannengerg, Senior Warden; Joseph Coody, Junior Warden; and William P. Ross, Secretary. You will note that all officers of this lodge were Indians. Although people in Tahlequah claim this to the be oldest lodge in Oklahoma, it is known that this lodge went out of existence during the Civil War and was reinstated after hostilities and therefore cannot claim continual existence from its original charter.

The next lodge to be chartered in Oklahoma was also from Arkansas being formed at Fort Gibson from military personnel. This lodge was chartered November 5, 1850 and was given the name and number of Fort Gibson Lodge No. 35. This lodge went defunct during the Civil War and was never reactivated. The original Worshipful Master was William Chapman; the Senior Warden was M. Rudler; the Junior Warden was C. DeLano, and P. Lugenbul was Secretary.

On November 4, 1852 the Grand Lodge of Arkansas chartered another lodge in Indian Territory just out of Ft. Towson at Doaksville. The name and number assigned to this lodge was Doaksville Lodge No. 52. The town of Doaksville is long gone and so are the records of this lodge, however, it is known that some of the original members were Sam Garvin, Chief; Basil LeFlore; Former Chief; Robert Jones, Merchant and Rev. Cyrus Kingsbury, Missionary. This lodge also went defunct with the transfer of personnel during the Civil War, and although other lodges were formed later, they were new and distinct as the charters will indicate.

On November 9, 1853 the Grand Lodge of Arkansas chartered another lodge at Flint Court House which is near the present site of Stilwell, Oklahoma. This was named Flint Lodge No. 74. W. S. Adair (the same man what was the charter Worshipful Master of the first lodge at Tahlequah) was the first Worshipful Master. Most of the members of this lodge were transfers from the Cherokee Lodge. The charter of this lodge was revoked during the Civil War and although some historians say that the lodge continued to operate not knowing their charter had been revoked, if they did, they operated illegally and therefore cannot claim to be continuous from their original charter.

The Grand Lodge of Arkansas chartered another lodge at Creek Agency, Arkansas on November 9, 1855. This address most certainly was in error because Creek Agency at that time was about three and a half miles north of the present site of Muskogee. This lodge was named Muscogee Lodge No. 93. Although this lodge was initially successful, like so many more the Civil War took its toll and it went defunct. Following the Civil War the lodge was moved to what is now Muskogee and was still unsuccessful. With the move of the Creek Agency to Eufaula the lodge was moved there. Inasmuch as it went defunct and made no reports to the Grand Lodge during the war its charter had been revoked in 1867. It was rechartered according to Father Murrow in 1870 or 1871, the new number being 90, three numbers below their original charter. They too cannot claim continuous operation from their original charter although they already celebrated their 100th birthday some years ago. This lodge gave up its claim to the name Muscogee Lodge in the Consolidation Agreement in 1908 and is now known as Eufaula Lodge No. 1.

On July 22, 1868 dispensation was granted Joseph S. Murrow and several brethren to form a lodge at Bogey Depot, Indian Territory and on November 11, 1868 the Grand Lodge of Arkansas issued a charter to the brethren to operate that lodge. It was given the name of Oklahoma Lodge No. 217. It is of interest to note that one Granville McPherson was elected to membership in Oklahoma Lodge No. 247 June 8, 1872 coming from Arkansas. He was later to be the prime mover of organizing a new lodge at Caddo and further in organizing the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory. Of course Joseph Murrow was the first Master of Oklahoma Lodge, a position he held for the first three years of its existence.

On November 23, 1870, the Grand Lodge of Arkansas chartered another lodge known as Chapel Hill Lodge at Weelock but this lodge was moved to Sevier County, Arkansas in June of that year and the Grand Master’s action was approved on November 8, 1871. This was not approved until authority had been granted and another lodge had been chartered in Doaksville. This was known as Doaksville Lodge No. 279 and although it prospered for some time is now defunct. (This was one of the three original lodges of Grand Lodge of Indian Territory.)

Up until this time the Grand Lodge of Arkansas had chartered all lodges which began in what is now the State of Oklahoma.

On October 16, 1872 the Grand Lodge of Kansas chartered a lodge to be known as Alpha Lodge No. 20 at Ft. Gibson. This lodge is still in existence and is presently known as Alpha Lodge No. 12. It was involved in a great deal of controversy when the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory was formed by refusing to join the new Grand Lodge.

On October 14, 1873 the Grand Lodge of Arkansas issued a charter to Granville McPherson and other brethren to operate a lodge at Caddo, Indian Territory. This was known as Caddo Lodge No. 311.

Now this brings us back to the organization of the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory where I left off some time ago.

There were supposedly six lodges in operation in Indian Territory. Granville McPherson sent letters to all inviting them to come to Caddo and participate in the convention to organize a Grand Lodge of Indian Territory.

Alpha Lodge at Fort Gibson ignored the letter. Flint Lodge at Stilwell declined to attend. Oklahoma Lodge at Bogey Depot declined to participate because they felt that they were not ready for a Grand Lodge. Father Murrow was opposed to establishing a Grand Lodge at this time. This action took place in June of 1874. In December another letter from the new Grand Master was laid aside for further consideration. In February of 1872 the letter was tabled until after the next meeting of the Arkansas Grand Lodge. In April it was laid aside for lack of attendance at lodge meeting. On May 7, 1875 Father Murrow sponsored a resolution to surrender their Arkansas charter to the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory and have the lodge added to the rolls. The resolution was approved and on June 11, 1875 the Oklahoma Lodge No. 4 of the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory opened for business for the first time.

On April 7, 1876 a resolution was approved to move the lodge to the town of Atoka. The Grand Lodge approved the move on April 22nd and the first meeting was conducted in Atoka on May 12, 1876. In 1877 the lodge hall burned with most of its records.

On November 10, 1892 the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma Territory was formed by ten lodges from the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory in convention at Oklahoma City. Indian Territory bought the first set of Grand Jewels for the new Grand Lodge.

On February 10, 1909 in convention the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the State of Oklahoma was formed from the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory and the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma. Thus, the Oklahoma Lodge No. 4 of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Oklahoma. It is my humble opinion that this lodge is the oldest lodge in the State of Oklahoma in continuous operation

Just as today is a child of yesterday, tomorrow is a child of today. I sincerely hope that this lodge continues to prosper and that when we celebrate our 200th anniversary we can look back and be as proud of what we have accomplished as we do our forefathers today.

Editor’s Note:  This article first appeared on pp. 105-110 of Volume I of the Oklahoma Lodge of Research.