The Wild West Arizona in the early 1800’s was remote and dangerous. Travel in the frontier was not to be taken lightly. It was sparsely populated with little outside contact. The treacherous terrain, lack of water and severe climate were made even more menacing by the presence of hostile Indians. In 1821, under Mexico, the Presidio of Tucson had a population of about 200. The century would see possession of Arizona shift from Spain to Mexico and finely to the United States of America.
Gold, Land and the Civil War Three major events changed the course of history in Arizona and its settlement: the California Gold Rush in 1849 with some 50,000 miners passing through the frontier, with countless numbers of these prospectors being Freemasons; the Gadsden Purchase, named after Bro. James Gadsden. The land purchase added 30 million acres to Arizona. Bro. Gadsden completed the purchase on December 30TH, 1853 for 10 million dollars; and the Civil War, 1861 to 1865, with the South’s strategy to form the Confederate Territory of Arizona and ultimately take California.
The New Territory 1863 was a significant year in Arizona history. Due to Confederate presence, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill into law on February 24TH creating the Arizona Territory out of the western half of the New Mexico Territory and in so doing gave Arizona the better half! Attacks by Apache and Navajo warriors were an ongoing threat to settlers traveling through the southwest:
“…There are records of the deaths of many brethren inhumanly butchered with no friend near to cheer them in the hour of death, or bear a last affectionate remembrance…” (Bro. Morris Goldwater). To provide protection and impose order, Bro. Kit Carson, a frontiersman and army officer who had previously guided for Bro. John C. Freemont’s California expeditions, was sent to the Territory to hold Fort. Defiance.
First Governor To establish Government in the new Territory, President Lincoln appointed Bro. John N. Goodwin as Territorial Governor. Bro. Goodwin and his party arrived in the frontier by wagon train. On December 29TH, 1863 at Navajo Springs, Bro. Goodwin took his oath of office during a snowstorm, becoming the first Governor of the Arizona Territory.
Arizona Territorial Capital By spring of 1864, Bro. Goodwin had surveyed the area and relocated Fort Wipple 20 miles south to begin the new Territorial Capital. The name chosen was in honor of the great historian William H. Prescott. Bro. Goodwin built a log cabin in Prescott which served as both home and Governor’s office. Bro. Goodwin’s cabin is preserved today as the centerpiece of the Sharlot Hall Museum.
The following excerpt was taken from an 1891 speech by Bro. Morris Goldwater (Uncle of Bro. and U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater) in celebration of the 25THanniversary of Aztlan Lodge No. 1. Prescott: “The first recorded meeting of Freemasons took place in 1864 in the cabin of Bro. Goodwin (today known as the “Governor’s Mansion”). At this meeting it was resolved to apply to the Grand Lodge of California for dispensation to open a Lodge in Prescott. The petition was signed by 9 Master Masons. The petition needed the recommendation of the nearest Lodge. Bro. Joseph Lennon rode to Santa Fe, NM to procure the endorsement from what became Montezuma Lodge No. 1 (Bro. Kit Carson’s Mother Lodge). With the petition duly recommended, Bro. Goodwin, Governor of Arizona, was chosen to deliver the petition to the Grand Master of California at San Francisco. On April 23RD, 1865, the Dispensation prayed for was granted.” Freemasonry had officially arrived in the Arizona Territory. In 1866, Bro. John T. Alsap, the first Territorial Treasurer, became the first Worshipful Master of Aztlan Lodge No. 1. Bro. Alsap, a physician, lawyer and probate judge, would become the first Mayor of the tiny settlement of Phoenix in 1881, and Grand Master of all Masons in Arizona in 1882 – 1883.
Four more Lodges would form: Arizona Lodge No. 2 in Phoenix, 1879, and in 1881 three Lodges were chartered: White Mountain Lodge No. 3 in Globe, Tucson Lodge No. 4 in Tucson, and Solomon Lodge No. 5 in Tombstone.
Grand Lodge Formation On March 23RD, 1882, representatives from these four Lodges convened in Tucson for the purpose of considering the establishment of a Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the Territory of Arizona. On March 25TH, 1882 it was resolved “That a lodge of Master Masons be opened for the purpose of organizing and opening, in Masonic form, the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the Territory of Arizona”. Having done so, the Grand Lodge claimed the entire Territory of Arizona as its Jurisdiction, and after installing the grand officers and accomplishing the business for which it was called, “the Master Masons Lodge was closed in Ancient Masonic form, sine die”. Bro. Ansel Mellen Bragg was elected the first Grand Master of Arizona.
A.T. Lodges Masonic Lodges that were chartered prior to Arizona Statehood in 1912 carry the special distinction of “A.T.” in their title, designating them as Arizona Territorial Lodges. All five original Territorial Lodges still meet regularly to this day.
Kingman Lodge No. 22 ~ 1912 In the spring of 1912, a notice was published in the Mohave County Miner requesting “All men who have traveled from the West to the East and Back” to meet in front of the Arizona Central Bank at the corner of Beale Road and 4TH Street. Satisfied that each man was a Master Mason they retired to the office of Bro. William Henry Bucher, M.D. There they agreed to travel monthly by train to attend Lodge in Needles. In 1913, the Brothers petitioned the Grand Lodge of Arizona for a Dispensation that was granted in 1914. On February 10TH, 1915, at the Grand Lodge meeting in Flagstaff, a Charter was awarded to Kingman Lodge No. 22 Free and Accepted Masons of Arizona. Bro. Bucher was elected the first Worshipful Master having previously served as Master under dispensation.
Order of the Eastern Star The following day, February 11TH, 1915, in what was certainly advanced planning, Kingman Chapter No. 17, Order of the Eastern Star (OES) was chartered. Laura Mae Tilton was elected the first Worthy Matron, Clarence Cravens Worthy Patron. In a paper delivered at the 100THanniversary and rededication of Kingman Lodge No. 22, Bro. Bob Weed opined “These were not stupid men. They knew that they would have to have the support of their wives and families if they expected to be successful in their great undertaking”. For the next 28 years, Lodge was held in rented space upstairs in the Odd Fellows Hall (IOOF) at Beale Road and 5TH Street in Kingman.
Masonic Temple ~ 1939
The Kingman Masonic Temple was completed in 1939. The Art Deco building is constructed of poured in place concrete by Freemasons who had labored on the recently completed Boulder Dam.
Furnishings ~ 1941 In 1941, a generous gift of wooden furniture from our Sisters and Brothers of Aztlan Lodge No. 1 and Golden Rule OES No. 1, in Prescott, allowed the Temple to officially open. The historic chairs and furniture grace our beautiful Lodge room to this day.