History of Masonry in Muskogee, Oklahoma

The City of Muskogee has reason to be proud of her Masonic history. Muskogee Lodge No. 28 now referred to as the “Old Lodge” was chartered November 7, 1888.

The first officers were:

  • P. J. Byrne, worshipful master
  • James A. Scott, senior warden
  • W. N. Martin, junior warden
  • A. W. Robb, treasurer
  • Frank S. Darby, secretary
  • Frederick B. Severs, senior deacon
  • Clarence W. Turner, junior deacon
  • H. H. Edmondson, tiler.

John W. Markham of Webbers Falls Lodge No. 14 was the first moving spirit for the organization of a new lodge at Muskogee, but it devolved upon James A. Scott, the “Old Wheelhorse of Masonry,” to do the preliminary work necessary to start.

Mr. Scott, after repeated urgings on the part of Mr. Markham, wrote J. S. Murrow, at Atoka, grand secretary of the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory, for a petition for dispensation. This original petition for dispensation was signed by John W. Markham, James A. Scott, Clarence W. Turner, Oliver P. Brewer, H. Edmondson, Andrew W. Robb, Napoleon B. Moore, J. B. Cobb, Robert W. Hill, Frank S. Darby, Orange Fuller, Patrick J. Byrne, Frederick B. Severs, Pleasant Porter, Robert L. Owen and William N. Martin.

After the lodge had had sufficient practice to be efficient it went to Fort Gibson and exemplified the work in Alpha Lodge No. 12, at that place. Florian H. Nash was then grand master of the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory and granted the dispensation for the lodge under the name of Checotah Lodge and at the Grand Lodge meeting held at Fort Gibson in 1888 granted a charter under the name of Muskogee Lodge No. 28. The lodge at Eufaula had taken the name “Muscogee” but cheerfully relinquished that name to Muskogee and took the name of Eufaula No. 1.

Many of the members of Muskogee Lodge at that time, afterward became prominent in the Grand Lodge. Patrick J. Byrne was elected grand master; Leo E. Bennett was grand master, and afterward grand treasurer for many years; James A. Scott was elected grand master at Ardmore August 11, 1897, and it was during his administration that the first thousand dollars was raised for the Masonic Orphans’ Home ; Robert W. Hill was grand orator and deputy grand master.

The charter members of Muskogee Lodge have nearly all completed their journey; have nearly all crossed the “great divide” and gone to that “undiscovered country.”

Robert W. Hill, now living in New York, and James A. Scott, in Muskogee, are still active in Masonic work. Muskogee Lodge has had a steady growth and now numbers over six hundred members.

Muskogee Chapter, Royal Arch Masons

Muskogee Chapter of Royal Arch Masons No. 3 was granted a dispensation in the year 1890 with the following names as its first officers:

  • Robert W. Hill, high priest
  • Napoleon B. Maxey, king
  • Patrick J. Byrne, scribe
  • James A. Scott, secretary

The first meeting of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Indian Territory was held at Muskogee, November 6, 1890, and Muskogee Chapter of Royal Arch Masons was granted a charter at that meeting. Robert W. Hill, Napoleon B. Maxey, Patrick J. Byrne and Robert W. Hamilton were its first elected officers. They all became prominent in the Grand Chapter. Leo E. Bennett was elected grand secretary in 1912 and held that position until his death in 1917. He was succeeded by James A. Scott, who holds the office at this time. Muskogee Chapter is now one of the largest and most influential in the state. Robt. W. Hill, N. B. Maxey, Z. T. Walrond, H. J. Evans and J. A. Scott have each served as grand high priest.

Muskogee Commandery No. 2
Muskogee Commandery was granted a dispensation October 1, 1891, and was chartered August 11, 1892. It was really brought into existence by Robert W. Hill, who was made its first eminent commander and who was also the first grand commander of Indian Territory Grand Commandery. All of the records of Muskogee Commandery and of the Grand Commandery were burned in the big fire of 1899, but old Masons say that Robt. W. Hill was eminent commander Patrick J. Byrpe, generallissimo, and Zachary T. Walrond, captain general. The first conclave of Muskogee Cornmandery was held in October, 1891. The commanderies of Parsons, Kan., Monett and Springfield, Mo., assisted in the work. A class of thirteen received the order of knighthood. On account of his activity in Masonic work generally, James A. Scott was selected to be the first to receive the orders of knighthood in the Indian Territory.

The Grand Commandery of Indian Territory was organized at Muskogee, December 27, 1891, and five of its officers were selected from the Muskogee Commandery, viz., Robert W. Hill, Patrick J. Byrne, Leo E. Bennett, Zachary T. Walrond and James A. Scott. Patrick J. Byrne and Zachary T. Walrond were afterwards elected grand commanders and later H. J. Evans was elected to that high office.

At the time of the consolidation of the Grand Commanderies of Indian Territory and Oklahoma, the number of the Muskogee Commandery was changed from No. 1 to No. 2 because of the fact that Guthrie Commandery had been originally chartered first.

Muskogee Commandery has always exercised a strong influence in the Grand Commandery. James A. Scott was elected grand commander of the new Grand Commandery of Oklahoma in 1915.
At the present time Muskogee Commandery is in a fine condition and has a membership of nearly five hundred.

Muskogee Council No. 2, Royal and Select Masters
The rapid growth of Muskogee and the active interest taken by Muskogee Masons in Masonry was instrumental in the formation of Muskogee Council No. 2, Royal and Select Masters, on the 24th day of August, 1894. The names of Zachary T. Walrond, Leo E. Bennett, Napoleon B. Maxey, H. J. Evans and D. J. Eddie-man appear as the first officers. The council has a large and active membership and is growing rapidly. James A. Scott is at present grand recorder of the Oklahoma Grand Council, also recorder of Muskogee Council.

Bedouin Temple Ancient and Accepted Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine
Bedouin Temple A. & A. 0. N. M. S. was organized July 12, 1911. It is one of the live temples in the Imperial Council of the Shrine and has had a remarkable growth. The membership now numbers over twenty-six hundred. It has a highly drilled patrol, band and drum corps. The Bedouin Temple Building is an exclusive home for Shriners and their friends. It is a unique accomplishment and is indicative of the Muskogee spirit of doing things.

Source: Benedict, John D. Muskogee and northeastern Oklahoma, including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. 3 v. illus., ports., facsims. 28 cm. Chicago, S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.

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