Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nebraska Masonic History

On 3 October 1855 the Grand Lodge of Illinois chartered Nebraska Lodge No. 184 at Bellevue. The first Masonic meeting occurred on 3 April 1855 on the second story of the Old Trading Post at Bellevue, Nebraska Territory. This was owned by Peter Sarpy. Members of the Omaha tribe lived in an adjoining room. Peter Sarpy was the first candidate to be initiated in 1856. Acting upon his petition, members of the lodge were forced to use an empty gallon pickle jar and small gravel stones.

The following year the Giddings Lodge No. 156 at Nebraska City was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Missouri. In 1857 Capitol Lodge No. 101 in Omaha was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Iowa. The same year the three lodges in the Territory of Nebraska organized a Grand Lodge. members from Nebraska City walked to Omaha for the event.

By 1861 the membership growth was slow, partly because of the poor economy. Many of the old members had left for the gold fields. More of a depletion of members occurred as some left to fight in the Civil War. The Masonic Lodges eventually realized growth and renewal by the admission of Nebraska Territory as a state and with the influx of new settlers after the war.

An excellent book that gives chronological information on Masonic events in the state is A Sesquicentennial History of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska 1857-2007 by Russell G. Reno, published in 2007 by Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Co., Inc. of Richmond, Virginia.

The Masonic Grand Lodge of Nebraska's web site contains lodge information, along with location and links if they have a web page. If you have ancestors who belonged to a Masonic lodge in Nebraska, you may be able to gain more information by contacting either the Grand Lodge or a lodge to which he belonged. In your request, be sure to supply information on your relationships to the subject, along with a brief explanation as to why you are seeking the information.

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