Chronicle of Acacia Lodge #17 Free & Accepted Masons
A meeting at Room 520 of the Felt Building, Salt Lake City, Utah, was held by seventeen brethren on January 17t, 1911, for the purpose of completing arrangements for petitioning the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Utah for a dispensation for a new Lodge in Salt Lake City, Utah. J. G. Bywater acted as Worshipful Master, and Arthur Griffin was Acting Secretary.
On February 11, 1911, a petition signed by forty Brethren, twenty-one of whom were members of existing Utah Lodges, was forwarded to the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, and a dispensation was granted February 16, 1911, byt he Grand Master, G. B. Pfoutz.
On February 25, 1911, Acacia Lodge was formally instituted. The Grand Master and every officer of the Grand Lodge, as well as over two hundred Masons, were present. Acacia Lodge was the first new Masonic Lodge instituted in Salt Lake City for over forty years.
There is no record as to why the name “Acacia” was chosen, except that Christopher H. Diehl, who was the Grand Secretary, suggested the name, and it was approved by a standing vote.
During the year Acacia Lodge worked under dispensation, 101 degrees were conferred, thirty-three of which were Master Mason, Fifty-six petitions were received, of which fifteen were rejected.
A Petition for Charter was filed under date of December 2, 1911. The Charter was granted January 16, 1912, and on February 10, 1912, Acacia Lodge was constituted under Charter. By the end of 1913, membership had passed the one hundred mark. In 1919, the two hundred mark was reached. The largest membership of 518 was attained in 1954.
The first man raised in Acacia Lodge was S. A. Langton, who was No. 37.
It is interesting to note that seven members who signed the petition for a Lodge became Masters; and four who were raised under dispensation became Masters. The following Masters were particularly honored by being elected as Grand Masters:
- L. Cattron – 1920
- B. R. Howell – 1925
- Charles F. Barrett – 1930
- Dee D. Stockham – 1935
- Harold R. Waldo, Sr. – 1938
- Lincoln G. Kelly – 1946
In addition, one of the original members, Brother L. A. McGee, who had demitted to Carbon Lodge #16, became a Grand Master; as did Brother H. Hunt, who had demitted to help form Kaibab Lodge #25. Acacia Lodge was fortunate in having had only two Tylers in 56 years. Charles Shields served from its inception until his death June 11, 1942; and Henry J. Epperson from that time on until December 14, 1967, when he became Tyler Emeritus.
Among our present membership are two Spanish American War Veterans, Brothers Tom Fox and George W. Perry.
Significant in Acacia’s history is the first special meeting held in the “new” (present) Temple on December 8, 1927. Worshipful Master George F. Roberts raised his three brothers at that meeting.
In a similar vein, the special meeting of March 11, 1937 recorded one of the two men raised had the distinction of being the only member having a father and a grandfather on the Lodge rolls. The newly raised member was William Robert Culbertson. His father was H. W. Culbertson, the Chaplain, and L. D. Gray was the grandfather.
Regrettably, many interesting incidents cannot be recorded in this brief history, but a few are listed chronologically, with dates as shown by the records.
June 3, 1911 – Regular Meeting – It was noted that among documents provided by the Grand Secretary was a list of clandestine lodges in the United States. If such lists are still being published, these have not come to our attention in recent times.
May 5, 1917 – Regular Meeting – A motion was made and carried that Acacia Lodge remit the dues of all members who enlisted in the army.
June 2, 1917 – Regular Meeting – We observe that on this date Acacia’s Secretary, F. A. McCarty, was also the Grand Secretary. A motion was made and carried to withdraw funds from savings and purchase Liberty Bonds. Without attempting to record dates, it should be noted that additional purchases were made during World War I; and that shortly after the entrance of the United States into World War II, purchases of Government Bonds were regularly recorded in the minutes of Acacia Lodge.
March 23, 1918 – Special Meeting – These were the last handwritten minutes in our minute books.
February 5, 1921 – Regular Meeting – A resolution was made and passed authorizing the Worshipful Master or his representative to attend a meeting for the purpose of investigating the feasibility of erecting a new Masonic Temple.
July 27, 1921 – Special Meeting – Acacia Lodge held a Special Meeting, as did the other Salt Lake Lodges, for the purpose of arranging for the financing of their proportions for the proposed “new” (present) Masonic Temple. The courage and foresight of those members of ninety-five years ago cannot be overlooked. An outstanding meeting place for Masons has been provided the past eighty-seven years, and will do so for many years in the future.
May 4, 1959 – Ex-Serviceman’s Night – Well attended, including those from other Salt Lake Lodges. The Secretary noted two members had lost their lives in World War I; John Henry Lee and John Jay Donnohue, both in France. In World War II the Lodge was fortunate. No members were lost.
March 25, 1954 – Fathers’ and Sons’ Night – Master Mason Degrees were conferred on two members, one of whom represented the third generation in a family to receive all three degrees in Acacia Lodge. Newly raised was William Sabin Worthington, Jr. His grandfather, Doctor Union Worthington, received his M.M. On October 11, 1913, and his father, the late William Sabin Worthington, was raised February 25, 1936.
It should be recorded that seldom has a year passed without a Fathers’ and Sons’ night.
Before closing this brief history, some observations seem worthy to record. For example, during the depression years new members came in more slowly, but exceed those in recent years. Delinquent dues were often a matter of concern, and requests for additional time to make payment were also recorded. Suspensions, followed by requests for reinstatement, appeared often.
There seemed to be few referenced made to what we now term “educational features” until the late 1930’s. With the coming of the 1940’s and 1950’s they appear extensively.
While now an annual event, “Fish Night” on the Regular Meeting in September of each year was first recorded in 1939.
The years following World War II saw our greatest increases in membership, and the year 1954 recorded our largest membership of 518 as previously mentioned.