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As It Was: Masonic Records Offer Glimpse of Early Southern Oregon Life

The first Masonic Lodge in Oregon south of Salem was Warren Lodge, established in Jacksonville in 1855.  Its careful member recordkeeping makes it possible to learn some trends about the early European settlers in the Rogue Valley.

For example, of the 25 new Masons inducted into the Warren Lodge the first year, all but eight had left in five years.  Six men transferred to the Phoenix and Kirbyville Lodges when they were established, and the Rev. T.S. Royal moved to Douglas County.  Ten others resigned from the Lodge, three of them still living in the area in 1860.

The numbers indicate that in the late 1850s people were moving about, especially between mining camps.  Also, another conclusion could be that the $60 fee for joining the lodge may have been too expensive for some.  Although politics and religion were not to be discussed, the Civil War might have influenced some members to leave.  These conclusions are conjectures that need more information to confirm.

It remains true that careful Masonic records at least offer a glimpse into Southern Oregon history.


Source:  Halvorsen, Henry H. Masonry Comes to Southern Oregon. Gandee Printing Center, 1978, pp. 65-66.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.