Transposed from the historical recordings,
but primarily from that set to paper by
Bros. George D Stockman, P.M.
and Max G. Davis. Entries of actions
after 1967 taken from lodge documents and
edited by Bro. James E. Hickman, P.M.
Lodge Historian, 1996-97
As early as 1912, a group of local Masons met in the office of Brother Jay T. Chapin for the purpose of discussing plans for forming a lodge of Masons in Aurora, Colorado. Besides Bro. Chapin, the meeting was attended by Brothers Frank Kurn, Ray Phebus, Charles M. Einfeld, Tom McIntyre, W. H. Bozart, and others. No definite progress was made however, until the US Army Fitzsimmons General Hospital was established in 1918. The General Hospital No. 21, as it was then known, had begun to fill with member of the fraternity from every jurisdiction in the United States and from foreign countries. The Soldiers and Sailors Welfare Committee of the Grand Lodge of Colorado had been appointed, and members of that committee had started regular visitations to the hospital, calling on patients who were members of the fraternity. It was soon found that the duty personnel and many of the patients were anxious to learn the Colorado Masonic work.
Members of the Denver Masonic Officers Association, several of whom were members of the committee, volunteered to conduct a class of instruction for the primary purpose of familiarizing these Brethren from other jurisdictions with the work as laid down in this state. At the first meeting 46 Masons from 38 jurisdictions attended. Out of this soon grew a degree team, and under the guidance of Brother William M. Nelson (Past Grand Master of Colorado), Robert F. Jones and Cecil Stewart of Rob Morris Lodge No. 92, Denver, and Brother George B. Clark, Pueblo Lodge No. 17, the team began to function.
In the years 1920 and 1921, the team but on the work in all degrees in many lodges in the Denver, notably at Rob Morris Lodge. It was there that Brothers John Oelerich and Bascom Cudd were raised. They also participated at Palestine Lodge No. 151 at the raising of Brothers E. C. Weston and Arthur N. Conner.
The team, consisting of duty personnel and patients, was composed of Maj. Roy K. Oglivie, Chaplain John R. Edwards; Capts. James F. Hamner, Radcliff Byers, Fred R. Harrison; Sgts. Robert V. Shannon, John Kelley, and Warner P. Roden, also Edwin C. Chester and William S. Martin.
It was the thought of the members of the team and the Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Welfare Committee that eventually a military lodge of Masons could be formed at Fitzsimmons General Hospital similar to those at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and Camp Knox, Kentucky. It was found, however, that it was impossible to secure or erect a suitable building on the military reservation. It was then that Chaplain Edwards conferred with Brother Jay T. Chapin and other members of the fraternity residing in Aurora, and immediate vicinity, and the idea of forming a lodge was actually consummated.
The present day Masons of Aurora extend our fraternal and eternal thanks to those members and lodges that took part in submitting the petition for dispensation. Lodges represented and their locale is as follows:
Alamosa No. 44, Alamosa, Colorado Arapahoe No. 130, Denver, Colorado
Biltmore No. 446, Biltmore, North Carolina Brighton No. 78, Brighton, Colorado
Euclid No. 64, La Junta, Colorado Harmony No. 61, Denver, Colorado
Hancock No 311, Leavenworth, Kansas Highlands No. 86, Denver, Colorado
Holland No. 1, Houston, Texas Inspiration No. 143, Denver, Colorado
Iron River No. 457, Iron River, Michigan Mackey No. 18, LaMoure, North Carolina
Palacios No. 990, Palacios, Texas Park Hill No. 148, Denver, Colorado
Pentalpha No. 23, Washington, D.C. Rob Morris No. 92, Denver, Colorado
Roseville No. 397, Roseville, Georgia Union No. 7, Denver, Colorado
Van Wert No. 218, Van Wert, Ohio Waco No. 92, Waco, Texas
Weston No. 22, Littleton, Colorado Whidby Isid No. 15, Coupeville, Washington
Dispensation was granted April 7, 1922, and the first regular communication under dispensation was held in the Town Hall of Aurora on the evening of April 11, 1922. Right Worshipful Brother Wm. W. Cooper, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Colorado, was presented and the stations and places were filled as follows:
Worshipful Master: John R. Edwards. Served as WM during 1922.
Senior Warden: Jay T. Chapin. Served as WM in 1923.
Junior Warden: George D. Stockman, Served as WM in 1924
and served as Treasurer from 1933 to 1956.
Treasurer: Max K. Maul. Served the lodge in that capacity until 1932.
Secretary: Harry L. Reiter, Served in that position until 1927.
Senior Deacon: John L. Cleaves.
Junior Deacon: Wade H. Smith. Served as WM in 1925.
Senior Steward: Warner P. Roden
Junior Steward: William Smith. Served as WM in 1926.
Tiler: Frederick A. Combie
The first petitioners to the lodge U.D. were: John M. McMilliam, Clarence A. Hopper, Frederick K. Herpel, George A. Pariseau, Walter R. Arnold, and Adolph G. Fuerstein.
Brother McMillan, the first petitioner and the first candidate to be raised in the lodge, served as Worshipful Master in 1927, and later served the lodge as Secretary for 20 years. As a token esteem the lodge elected him Secretary Emeritus.
Our charter was granted by the Grand Lodge of Colorado on September 20, 1922, and the lodge was constituted October 10, 1922, by the Most Worshipful Grand Master Edward P. Hufferd, with nearly all of the grand officers of the GL in attendance. Past Grand Master Marshal H. Van Fleet who as Most Worshipful G.M. had signed our dispensation, acted as Deputy Grand Master on this occasion.
Aurora Lodge was particularly fortunate in its formative period in being the recipient of much valuable advice and material gifts from other lodges and their members. Our Worshipful Master voiced at his inaugural address expressed he appreciation and gratitude of the entire lodge for all of this assistance.
In 1930 Brother "Bill, the Builder," William S. Martin, Sr., was elected Master and immediately inaugurated a program to rebuild the old lodge room in the City Hall. With the aid of workers from the Odd Fellows, Rebecca’s, Eastern Star and our own faithful workers, the lodge room was entirely overhauled. The ladies then gave a benefit party in a vacant store building on Colfax Ave. and raised enough money to pay all the expenses of the remodeling job.
On April 14, 1942, a special program was given in the lodge to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Granting of Dispensation. At this meeting many of the original signers of the petition were present. Also in attendance were Past Grand Master Wm. M. Nelson and Brother Geo. Clark, both who had been of great assistance to the lodge in its formative period.
On April 18, 1947, a similar meeting was held, this time on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the dispensation. Again, there were great many of the original signers of the petition, and particularly all of the living Past Masters. We were further honored by the presence of Most Worshipful Brother Grover C. Olinger, accompanied by a distinguished list of Grand Lodge Officers.
On March 26, 1947, a committee was formed to investigate possible building sites in Aurora for a Masonic Temple. This committee was composed of the following brothers: W. Bros. Jay T. Chapin. Chairman; H. Raymond Kloppel, A.G. Eritzland, Fred J. Miller, and Homer G. Preston.
Early in 1950, a suitable site was purchased, located between Elmira and Florence Streets facing 16th Avenue, and on May 23, 1950, a committee consisting of W. Bros. Kloppel, Martin Sr., and Stockman were appointed to prepare by-laws and corporation papers for the "Aurora Lodge Association." This was done and was accepted by the membership of the Lodge and approved by the Most Worshipful Grand Master Edwin J. Whittelshofer. On June 13, 1950, W.M. W. S. Martin Jr. appointed the following committee as a Board of Governors until an annual meeting of the Association could be held - W. Bros. Wm. F. Smith, Landale Shotwell, Sam Nailer, Wm. Hawkins, Chas. L. Harrision, Chas. E. Spice, and Geo. H. Lord.
In February 1950, Brother Clarence Rutz started the Annual George Washington's Birthday dinners. This has developed into a big annual affair and is always enjoyed by the Lodge and friends, especially by our women folks. Bro. Clarence and his male crew always prepared and served a most excellent dinner. This dinner has continued for over 45 years, and now is a support function of the Aurora Lodge Association..
At the first regular election of officers of the Aurora Lodge Association, held November 28, 1950, the following brothers were elected to the Building Committee – W. Bros. Wm. S. Martin Sr., C. L. Harrision, Geo. Moorhead, Geo. Lord, Chas. E, Spice, Sam Nadler, and Wm. H. Hawkins. With the exception of Chas. E. Spice, who resigned due to an overseas transfer, and the election of Geo. D. Stockman, in his stead, this committee was re-elected and served in a most outstanding way through-out the planning, financing, construction, and initial operating stages of the new temple.
Ground was broken by impressive ceremonies on Sunday, April 20, 1952, at 2:00 p.m., with WM Leland R. Hefflin as Master of Ceremonies and Most Worshipful Grand Master Olin P. Lee, turning the first shovel of dirt. Other notables present were PGM Francis J. Knauas, Chairman of the GL Juris-prudence, Glenn R. Van Fleet, Grand Marshal, and Clifford J. Gobble, Junior Grand Deacon.
On Saturday, August 9, 1952, the cornerstone was laid in impressive ceremonies with the following officers:
Olin Pierce Lee Grand Master
Leland R. Heflin, Dpty. Grand Master
Francis J. Knauas, Sr., Grand Warden
Carleton M. Ray Jr. Grand Warden
John McMillian Grand Treasurer
Harvey W. Bundy Grand Secretary
Eric Smith Grand Chaplain
G.C. Olinger Grand Orator
Jay T. Chapin Grand Lecturer
Clifford Gobble Grand Marshal
Russell Beck Sr. Grand Deacon
Richard Reinders Jr. Grand Deacon
Ralph Rathburn Sr. Grand Steward
D. Odell Rabs Jr. Grand Steward
E. E. Hedblom Grand Tiler
Wm. F. Smith Bearer of the Great Lights
Geo. H. Lord Bearer of the Vessel of Corn
Omer Ballard Bearer of the Vessel of Wine
Geo. D. Stockman Bearer of the Vessel of Oil
Alex. Lacewell Bearer of the Square
Wm. D. Procter Bearer of the Level
C. L. Harrision Bearer of the Plumb
On Friday, January 9, 1953, Dedication Ceremonies were held by the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Colorado for the new Aurora Masonic Temple. The Most Worshipful Grand Master Olin P. Lee filled the officer positions as follows:
Olin P. Lee Grand Master
Chas. Mantz Dpty. Grand Master
Russell Beck Sr. Grand Warden
Richard Reinders Jr. Grand Warden
Geo. Stockman Grand Treasurer
Glen Alkire Grand Secretary
Rev. Eric Smith Grand Chaplain
Delmar Meddars Grand Orator
L.D. Roles Grand Lecturer
Glen B. Van Fleet Grand Marshall
Frank Swain Sr. Grand Deacon
Wm. F. Arvin Jr. Grand Deacon
Clarence A. Rutz Sr. Grand Steward
Ralph Russell Jr. Grand Steward
Wm. Martin, Sr. Bearer of the Great Lights
Arthur L. Moore Bearer of the Vessel of Corn
John McMillian Bearer of the Vessel of Wine
Wm. S. Martin, Jr. Bearer of the Vessel of Oil
Ralph Rathburn Guardian of the Lights
Thuston D. Cox Guardian of the Lights
Leland R. Heflin Guardian of the Lights
It is regrettable that space does not permit a listing of the many gifts of time, materials and valuable pieces of equipment donated to the Aurora Lodge both at it's inception, during it's growth, and particularly in and for its new building. The archives of the Lodge, however, does have record of this information so that future generation may read and be inspired by man's generosity to man.
BEHOLD! Thy Temple is now complete.
A change in style of recording the history of the lodge will be noted. This change is made necessary by the continued illness of our Worshipful Brother Geo. D. Stockman, original member of the Fitzsimmons Degree Team, charter member of Aurora Lodge, Master in 1924, Treasurer from 1923-1956, Treasurer Emeritus, and Historian, all during this same period. No lodge ever had a more capable and faithful "Servant of the Temple."
(***Editors Note: Above it has been stated that is was regrettable that space was not available for listing the many gifts of the past. But, it was with pride and memory, and even for historical purposes, that we have listed the many names of the Brethren involved with the thought, the development, the conception and for providing the physical home of Aurora Lodge. They truly are jewels to be treasured and should never, no never be forgotten!)
On Nov. 4. 1953, the Building Committee, to whom had been given the mandate to finance, and build the Temple, rendered their report, turned the building over to the Association and submitted their resignation. These Brethren had done their work well, and to them we owe a great debt of thanks. How well they had performed their assignment can best be covered by a quotation from the remarks of Most Worshipful Brother Francis Knauas, Past Grand Master, on the occasion of the Corner Stone Laying.
"This Temple is perfectly unconstitutional! In this day of deficit spending, debts, etc., here is a magnificent Temple, paid for when completed. Perfectly unconstitutional".
At this meeting there was adopted the initial articles of incorporation under which the Temple is operated. A regular building committee to manage the affairs of the Temple was created.
On October 22, 1957, the lodge celebrated its 35th anniversary with a visit from the Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Aubrey Spann. Outstanding to us was the presentation of our first 50-year pen to Brother O. B. Gregory. Brother "Obie" was raised September 14, 1907, in Philadelphia Lodge No. 502, Philadelphia, Missouri, and affiliated with Aurora Lodge No. 156 on January 14, 1956.
On September 20, 1960, the Lodge commemorated the 38th anniversary of the granting of its Charter. At this meeting Most Worshipful Brother Glenn R. Van Fleet, as representative of the Grand Master, presented Worshipful Brother Jay T. Chapin, one of the charter members of Aurora Lodge No. 156, with a 50 year emblem.
In April, 1995 the Aurora Masonic Hall, became one of, if not the first Masonic facilities in North America, to house both A. F. & A. M., and F. & A. M. (Prince Hall) lodges. The Daniel "Chappie" James Military Lodge #27, F.&.A.M. PHA, was originally located on Lowry Air Force Base, in nearby Denver, Colorado. It provided many a military member the hand of friendship and the warm welcome of a place to find companions with like relationships. When the Lowry military facility closed, and with the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Colorado and the Grand Lodge of Prince Hall (F&AM) having jointly opened the doors of Masonic friendship and brotherly love, a new home was found for Daniel "Chappie" James #27, within our walls. Under the canopy of heaven which the Grand Architect of the Universe has provided, we are Brothers All!
last revision: 11/1/1998