St. Louis Missouri Lodge #1

History

By: Robert J Wheeler

The history of St Louis Missouri Lodge 1 started before any states existed west of the Mississippi River. The Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis & Clark Expedition in 1804 opened up this new territory to hunters, miners, and settlers from the United States east of the Mississippi, and many these early adventurers were Masons.

The first Masonic Lodge in the St Louis area was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in 1807 as Louisiana Lodge 109 in the settlement of St Genevieve. In 1808 Pennsylvania also chartered St Louis Lodge 111, but both of these Lodges became inactive and had been deactivated by 1816 when Tennessee chartered Missouri Lodge 12 in St Louis. Meriwether Lewis was the first Master of St Louis Lodge 111, and before his demise in 1809 he inducted William Clark. Many members of St Louis Lodge 111, including William Clark were instrumental in forming Missouri Lodge 12 and were its first members. Over the next five years four other lodges were chartered, however in 1820 when Missouri became a state only Missouri 12, Joachim 25, and St Charles 28 remained. Members of Missouri 12 led in the organization of the Grand Lodge of Missouri in 1821, and their Lodge was re-designated Missouri 1. Joachim and St Charles Lodges were re-designated 2 and 3 respectively, but were later deactivated leaving Missouri 1 the oldest continuing Lodge.

The title of “oldest continuing” Lodge has been questioned because in 1833 the Lodge had been inactive due to a cholera epidemic and an anti-masonry movement, and the members voted to turn in to the Grand Lodge their charter and jewels. The jewels were held by the Grand Lodge, but the charter was not properly surrendered or accepted. In 1836 eight members of Missouri 1 petitioned the Grand Lodge and received a charter for St Louis Lodge 20 which was given the jewels that had been turned in by Missouri 1. In 1842 Missouri 1 resumed meetings and asked that their jewels be returned. They were returned in 1860, but Missouri 1 acquired new jewels and returned the original ones to St Louis 20 where they remained until 1991. They are now on display in a frame mounted on the wall to the right of the lodge room entrance. This fascinating story was tracked down and recorded by WB Al Sievers who was Master of St Louis 20 in 1966.

Missouri 1 was a leader in Masonic activities and from 1845 to 1923 sponsored the chartering of 23 other lodges, including Beacon 3 in 1848, Meridian 2 in 1869, and Itaska 420 in 1871. Itaska 420 showed its appreciation in 1916 by presenting to Missouri 1 a gold trowel commemorating the 100th anniversary of Missouri 1. The trowel is in the Lodge safe box, but a picture is in the Lodge trophy case at Rose Hill. The presentation speech as shown on Page 27 of the minutes of the Lodge meeting on October 5th, 1916, states “… and so my brothers, may this token ever spread the cement of brotherly love and affection between the lodges from generation to generation.” Itaska Lodge merged with Meridian Lodge in 1968.

In 1975 Missouri 1 merged with Commonwealth Lodge 654 that had been chartered in 1921, and became Missouri Commonwealth Lodge 1 meeting at the Webster Groves Temple.

In 1991 while WB Bob Campbell was Master, Missouri Commonwealth 1 merged with St Louis 20 at Rose Hill Temple, and became St Louis Missouri 1 as it is today – the number one lodge in the Grand Lodge of Missouri located in St Louis, the largest city in this jurisdiction.

References

Transactions of the Missouri Lodge of Research (1944). V2.

Sievers, A.B. (1991). The Jewels of Missouri Lodge #1 and St Louis Lodge #20.