History of Hastings Lodge # 50
A Brief History Of Hastings Lodge No. 50
Contributor: Erv Siemoneit - Lodge Historian
On January 3, 1874, the Grand Master of Masons in Nebraska, granted a dispensation to a group of Master Masons that migrated to Hastingsfrom Michiganand Illinois. One week later, this group of men met officially as a “Lodge of Master Masons Under Dispensation.” Minutes of the first meeting indicate that the by-laws of Plattsmouth Lodge No. 6 were adopted, that regular meetings shall be “held on the first Saturday evening on or before, and the second Saturday after each full moon.”
Also adopted during that first meeting were degree fees, dues of $5.00 per year payable $2.50 semi-annually in advance. A steel engraving of Past Grand Master D.H. Wheeler was, by resolution, “placed behind the Worshipful Masters chair in the east.”
Petitions began coming in and by the next meeting, five residents of Hastingshad applied for membership in the newly formed Lodge. On February 14, 1874, Fredrick J. Benedict received his first degree of Masonry. (Six years later, he became Master of the Lodge.) On May 27, 1874, William S. Moote was the first Brother to be raised to the Sublime degree of a Master Mason. He was also the only Brother raised during the time the Lodge was under dispensation. In May of 1880, he was recommended by members of Lodge 50, to become a charter member of a new Lodge being formed at Ayr, Nebraska.
During the time Brother Moote was to receive his Masters degree and the Lodge having only a dispensation, the Grand Custodian came to Hastingsto attend that specific degree and examined the Lodge for their proficiency. During his visit, he sat as Junior Warden pro-tem.
Rooms on the second floor of the EastWardSchoolserved as their meeting place until late in October of 1874 when they were held in a building owned by Brother Russell Chandler.
During the Grand Lodge session of 1874, the Grand Master Most Worshipful Brother Frank Welch signed the Charter and designated Lodge No. 50 for the Hastings Masons.
September 23, 1874, was the first meeting of the Lodge after receiving the official Charter issued at that Grand Lodge session. Deputy Grand Master Grabb was present and installed the Officers elect and the Lodge was “declared by him, constituted in form as HastingsLodge No. 50 A.F. & A.M., under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska A.F. & A.M. and the Officers elected and installed, took their respective stations.”
As stated earlier, the first meeting adopted Lodge dues of $5.00 per year however, when the first by-laws prepared by an appointed committee were adopted in March of 1874, it was approved that the dues be $2.50 per year of which one half due in advance, semi-annually. By January of 1876, the Lodge was getting into financial difficulties and the dues were increased to $4.00 per year.
Also in January, the Lodge moved to another location for their meetings. By March of 1878, a committee was appointed to “investigate the possibility of building a new hall”. In order to raise money for the purpose of a new hall, Lodge 50 together with JuniataLodge No. 42 and the Odd Fellows held basket sociables, picnics and dances. The portion of the money received for Lodge 50, was set aside specifically for the hall. By October of 1879, meetings were held jointly with the Odd Fellows and each shared equal rent. A resolution supporting a “MasonicBuildingAssociation” together with MountNeboCommandry No. 11 Knights Templar and Hastings Chapter No. 21 Royal Arch Masons, was passed on December 16, 1882. At that time all the money set aside by Lodge 50, was committed for purchasing shares in the Association and on September 16, 1886, the cornerstone of the first MasonicTemplewas set. Past Grand Master and Ex-Governor R.E. Furnas dedicated the new Templeon January 3, 1888.
Early in 1901, the building was wired for electricity and four years later, the first telephone was installed in the Temple “for the use of the members” at no cost, courtesy of the telephone company.
Only fourteen years after the first MasonicTemplewas built, a resolution was introduced to construct a building which “would be used solely for Masonic purposes and be located outside the business district” which later in 1930, became the present site of the MasonicTemple. Between the period of the new building and looking for another site, the Lodge decided to remodel their building on Second Streetat a cost of $65,000. The original building cost in 1886 was only $26,000. This remodeling was completed in August of 1913.
The years between 1913 and 1924, World War I took many members of the Lodge. Honor Rolls were purchased and kept up to date by those members who were not “called to the colors.”
Forty two years later, almost to the date, since the cornerstone of the first Templewas set, the present cornerstone was set on September 14, 1928.
Almost two years to build, the present Templewas officially occupied on April 15, 1930, when throughout the day, 1,186 Brethren attended the ceremonies as Ralph H. Stewart was raised to the Sublime degree of a Master Mason. There were 117 Lodges in Nebraskaand 52 out state Lodges represented. Some of the degree work was conducted by members of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska.
HastingsLodge No. 50 is proud to have been a part of the ground-work of the other bodies of Masonry derived through Blue-Lodge affiliation. We are also proud of our many members who, over the years, have devoted their time and efforts for the benefit of Masonry.
As a member of HastingsLodge No. 50, I too am proud……proud to be a Mason.
Erv Siemoneit, Past Master 1965 & 2000