Formation of the Oregon Grand Lodge

The granting of a charter to Lafayette Lodge, by the Grand Lodge
of California
in May, 1851, set the stage for creation of the Oregon
Grand Lodge. There were now three chartered lodges in Oregon Territory, a sufficient number by Masonic custom to form a Grand lodge in a state or territory where none existed. Oregon Masons desired such a governing body, instead of working under the two widely separated Grand Lodges of Missouri and California. Oregon Masonry had contributed to the establishment of the provisional and territorial governments in Oregon; hence it was a natural and obvious desire, quite in keeping with pioneer spirit, to establish an Oregon Grand Lodge. Initial steps to attain this ambition were not long delayed. Two prominent Master Masons called a meeting for August 16, 1851, to consider the desirability of forming a Grand lodge in Oregon Territory.

Prime movers in this important call were Benjamin Stark and
Berryman Jennings. Stark was one of the founders of Willamette
Lodge No. 11
, and Jennings had served as Master of Jennings Lodge
No. 4 in California, and returned to Oregon in the spring of 1851. The
time that he acquired membership in Multnomah Lodge No. 84 is
uncertain. Paquet and Knoll. Past Masters of Multnomah Lodge, cite
him as one of the original officers. Another source claims he has proof of Jennings affiliation with Multnomah Lodge in 1850. It may be that Jennings maintained his membership in Multnomah Lodge during the time that he was a member of New Jersey Lodge, U.D., which was first chartered as Berryman Lodge No. 4, but three weeks later was chartered as Jennings Lodge No. 4.

This called meeting was attended by eleven Master Masons. Jennings was elected President and Stark was elected Secretary. The group
adopted the following:

“Resolved, First: That this Convention of F. & A . Masons
deem it proper and expedient to organize a Worshipful Grand
Lodge for the Territory of Oregon.

Second: That the Secretary of this Convention be authorized
to address to the W.M., W., and Brethren of the several
Lodges in this Territory, a communication suggesting the propriety of organizing a Worshipful Grand Lodge for the Territory of Oregon; and that if deemed by them wise and expedient, the second Saturday in September next at 9 o’clock, A.M., be selected as the day, and Oregon City be selected as the place, for the assembly of delegates duly authorized to to organize a Worshipful Grand Lodge”.
On September 13, 1851, duly authorized delegates from Multnomah
Lodge No. 84, Willamette Lodge No. 11 and Lafayette Lodge No. 15,
assembled in the Masonic hall at Oregon City, and organized at 4
P.M., by selection of John Elliot as chairman, and William S. Caldwell as secretary. Both these brethren were members of Willamette
Lodge. A committee on credentials, consisting of the three Worshipful Masters, reported that all lodges were fully represented, and that those in attendance were: John C. Ainsworth, R. R. Thompson and Forbes Barclay, Multnomah Lodge No. 84; John Elliot, Lewis May and Benjamin Stark, Willamette Lodge No. 11; and William J . Berry. H. D. Garrett, and G. B. Goudy, Lafayette Lodge No. 15.

The foregoing members of the Convention adopted a resolution
which provided that all Master Masons present and in good standing
were eligible to participate in the deliberations. The Convention adjourned until 7 P.M., when it again resumed. Its first act was to make Berryman Jennings and Robert Thompson members of the Convention, after which action it designated John Elliott as chairman of a committee on the Constitution, and he in turn appointed Berryman Jennings, Benjamin Stark, William J. Berry and John C. Ainsworth as committee members. This committee was allowed two days to draw up the Constitution, and in the meantime the Convention adjourned until 7:30 A.M., on September 15.
The Convention resumed on September 15. The report of committee on the Constitution was received, and adopted in toto. This original
Constitution was concise, particularly in comparison with that in use
now, and contained some points of interest. Article II, officers of the
Grand Lodge, provided for a Grand sword bearer and Grand standard bearer, but no Grand Pusuivant. Article V, section 1 provided “Past Masters, not otherwise entitled to a vote, shall be entitled, collectively, to one vote”. Article IV, standing committees, consisted of credentials, grievance (whose members had to be Past Masters), finance and accounts, and foreign correspondence. It is important to note that there was no provision for a jurisprudence committee. Article VII, gave the Grand Master and Deputy Grand Master equal rights in the matter of issuance of dispensations to form new lodges. It also required both of these officers to make written reports to the Grand Lodge, on their acts and doings.
Article IX, revenue, established the following sources of Grand
Lodge income: engrossing the charter of a new lodge $10; for each
affiliating member $1; diploma granted to a member of a lodge $2. It
also provided : “For all and every copy of any portion of the proceedings of the Grand Lodge, or of any document in his possession, proper to be published, which the Grand Secretary shall be required to make, he shall demand and receive, for the use of the Grand Lodge, fifty cents for every hundred words”. Article X, section 5, provided that “No Lodge shall confer the three degrees of Masonry, for less than fifty dollars; and the fee for each degree as may be regulated by the Lodge, shall be paid invariably in advance”. Persons rejected for initiation or brethren petitioning for membership, could not re-petition until one year had passed.

A Constitution had been adopted, and election of Grand Lodge officers was then in order. To accomplish this, a lodge of Master Masons was opened by John Elliot, Worshipful Master; R. R. Thompson, Senior Warden; H. D. Garrett, Junior Warden; Forbes Barclay, Treasurer; William S. Caldwell, Secretary; Amory Holbrook, Senior Deacon; Benjamin Stark, Junior Deacon; G. B. Goudy, Steward; and H. S. Buck, Tyler. Balloting for Grand Lodge officers then proceeded, details of which are not available, and resulted as follows:
Berryman Jennings, Grand Master; John Elliot, Deputy Grand
Master; William J. Berry, Senior Grand Warden; John C. Ainsworth,
Junior Grand Warden; Robert Thompson, Grand Treasurer; and Benjamin Stark, Grand Secretary.

John Elliot installed Berryman Jennings as Grand Master, and the
Grand Master installed the other Grand Lodge officers, and closed the lodge of Master Masons in due and ancient form.

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