Saturday, September 22, 2012

History of York Rite Masonry in Idaho - Part I: Royal Arch Masonry

In early July the Grand Commander of Idaho asked me to create an article discussing the history of York Rite Masonry in Idaho.  Here is the first part discussing the history of Royal Arch Masonry.

To discuss anything with Masonry in Idaho one must discuss the founding of this territory and State. Idaho primarily had been passed by whether it was by the Lewis & Clark expedition or by the gold rushers going to Pacific Coast. It wasn't helped that the Oregon Trail was closed off after the Ward Massacre in the Boise Valley in 1854.

Masonry in Idaho can be traced back to the gold rushes that brought men to the territory in 1860. Until March 3rd, 1863, when the Idaho Territory was created, part of what is now Idaho, belonged to Washington Territory. So, it is not unusual to find the history of Idaho Masonry to be found in the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Washington. The first remnants of Masonry were seen in the northern portions of the State until gold was discovered in the Boise Basin. As it was in the north, among the gold rushers were Masons and soon Idaho City (formerly Bannock City) became an epicenter of Masonry in the Idaho Territory.

Lodges were created in Idaho City, Boise (then referred to as Boise City), Placerville, Silver City, and Pioneerville. These Lodges came together on December 16th, 1867, and formed the Grand Lodge of Idaho.

Royal Arch Masonry

The first Chapter of Royal Arch Masons in the Idaho Territory was given dispensation by the Grand Chapter of Oregon on June 18, 1867. This chapter was constituted on August 21, 1867, in Idaho City. Companion Cartee, a Past High Priest from Oregon, advised the Grand Chapter of Oregon that they technically no legal right to issue dispensations to Idaho and so the Grand High Priest turned to the General Grand Chapter for direction. On September 18, 1868, a charter was granted to Idaho Chapter No.1 of Idaho City. This chapter was in existence for 41-years prior to the formation of the Grand Chapter of Idaho and therefore held its allegiance solely to the General Grand Chapter. For this period, it is sad to say, there is no existing record documenting their activities.

What is known of this first Chapter is that a few of the members became Grand Master of the Grand Lodge and the first Grand High Priest, James A Pinney, when the Grand Chapter formed in 1908. As with the ebb of flows of the gold rush, the population of Idaho City waned and so in 1915 the Chapter ended its run, and by order of the Grand Chapter of Idaho, they consolidated with Boise Chapter No.3.

With some of the movements of the gold rushers, so came a second Chapter in the form of Cyrus Chapter No.2.  It was given dispensation on March 8, 1870, and chartered on September 19, 1871. This chapter held its place in Silver City for some time until the population dropped to just a handful of residents, but now currently meets in Nampa.

The third chapter, my home Chapter, was formed in Boise. It took over 2-years for the General Grand Chapter to issue a dispensation for the petition which occurred on March 30, 1870,  This chapter was chartered on September 12, 1871, and designated as Boise City Chapter No.3, but is now known as Boise Chapter No.3. This Chapter existed for 38-years prior to the formation of a Grand Chapter.

The fourth chapter was formed in Lewiston.  Though I didn't list it with the original Lodges of Idaho, Lewiston was truly where the first Masonic Lodge was created, but it was short-lived, having surrendered its charter 2-years after being chartered. There exists no record of dispensation, but it is known to be chartered on August 27, 1880,

On May 22, 1884, the fifth chapter was given a dispensation in Hailey, ID by the General Grand Chapter.  A charter was granted on October 1, 1886, and was designated as Alturas Chapter No.5, and constituted on April 9, 1887. This chapter had poor membership growth and struggled for years until they surrendered their charter on August 23, 1894.  There exists little record of this chapter as documents were destroyed in a fire that happened in July of 1889.

Pocatello Chapter No.6 was given dispensation on May 28, 1889, and chartered on November, 22, of the same year. Until the time of the formation of the Grand Chapter little is known of this Chapter's activities.

The seventh chapter was formed in Moscow, dispensation being given on July 3, 1890, and chartered on January 25, 1891.

The eighth chapter was organized in Payette, ID.  The General Grand Chapter issued a dispensation on November 12, 1892, and chartered on August 24, 1894.

Wallace Chapter No.9 was given dispensation on May 9, 1901, and chartered on October 8, 1903.

The tenth chapter was founded in Idaho Falls and received dispensation on June 30, 1903.  It was chartered on October 8, 1903.

The eleventh chapter was formed in Weiser, ID.  It was given dispensation on February 18, 1905, and chartered on June 22, 1906.

The talk of the formation of a Grand Chapter of Idaho came from a discussion at the Annual Grand Conclave of the Grand Commandery of Idaho in 1907.  On June 16, 1908, a number of representatives of various chapters assembled in a convention in Pocatello, ID. With the approval of the General Grand Chapter, the Companions assembled made the necessary arrangements to constitute the Royal Arch Chapters of the State of Idaho into a Grand Chapter, and provide a constitution for its government. This convention was presided over by Thomas Barnes, of the Silver City chapter.  Elections were held and the following officers were installed:
James A Pinney, Grand High Priest
Frank D Winn, Deputy Grand High Priest
Andrew B Anderson, Grand King
Jotham A Lippincott, Grand Scribe
Jay R Mason, Grand Treasurer
Albert A Jessup, Grand Secretary
James E WIlliamson, Grand Chaplain
Thomas Barnes, Grand Captain of the Host
T.G.  Woodward, Grand Principal Sojourner
John H Hiler, Grand Royal Arch Captain
George Doehne, Jr, Grand Master of the 3rd Veil
Francis Jenkins, Grand Master of the 2nd Veil
John M Elder, Grand Master of the 1st Veil
Robert Crisswell, Grand Sentinel
Hiram T French assigned Grand Marshal, proclaimed the officers installed and that the Grand Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, of the State of Idaho, was regularly formed and constituted. Additional Chapters were chartered and with the flow of populations, they have grown or shrunk to a point that now some of the first chapters are no more.

I will continue with Part II soon enough that will cover Cryptic and Chivalric Masonry in Idaho.  To be continued...


1. Brown, J. W. (n.d.). Freemasonry in the State of Idaho. Retrieved from Masonic History of the Northwest:

2. Denslow, R. V., & Turnbull, E. R. (1956). History of Royal Arch Masonry. Virginia.

3. Freemasonry in Idaho. (n.d.). Retrieved from Eagle Rock Lodge No.19, AF&AM of Idaho:

4. Idaho. (n.d.). Retrieved from Encyclopedia of Freemasonry:

No comments:

Post a Comment