CANAL ZONE LODGE
Location: Ancon, Canal Zone
Chartered By: Everett C. Benton
Charter Date: 12/10/1913 1913-253
Precedence Date: 12/10/1913
- John Belcher Fields, 1913, 1914
- Gerald DeLeo Bliss, 1915
- Wooster Bell Stewart, 1916
- Lewis Edgar Williams, 1917
- Bruce Gordon Sanders, 1918
- William John Vickery, 1919
- William A. Stevenson, 1920
- William Warren Belcher, 1921
- Charles Alvenzy McGlade, 1922
- John Alexander McLeod, 1923
- Floyd Herbert Baldwin, 1924
- Christian Lauritz Neilsen, 1925
- Percy Elwood Murray, 1926
- Louis Charles Warner, 1927
- Jack Adrian Muller, 1928
- Henry Newcomb Engelke, 1929
- William W. Mendez Monsanto, 1930
- Roy George Boggs, 1931
- Carl Philip Wanke, 1932
- James Everett Heady, 1933
- Leroy Bernard Magnuson, 1934
- James Herbert Spalding, 1935
- Earl Rodney Baltozer, 1936
- George Frederick Herman, 1937
- Gilbert Miller Stevenson, 1938
- Charles P. Campbell, 1939
- Paul Edward Kline, 1940
- Herbert Henry Tabert, 1941
- James Horace Jones, 1942
- Thomas Guy Coleman, 1943
- Edward Clear Bigelow, 1944
- Gerald DeLeo Bliss, Jr., 1946
- Cornelius B. Heitman, 1947
- Russell Tallman Wise, 1948
- Arthur Nicholas Asad, 1949
- Alton J Hayward, 1950
- Roy Theodore High, 1951
- Edgar F. Daggett, 1952
- Howard W. Osborn, 1953
- Roger M. Howe, 1954
- Bruce G. Sanders, Jr., 1955
- Slaughter H. Sharpensteen, 1956
- Howard G. Gee, 1957
- James F. Stuart, 1958
- John W. R. Muller, 1959
- Orlando L. Flye, Jr., 1960
- Jack G. Lenneville, 1961
- Elmer Kanz, 1962
- John A. Everson, 1963
- Donald F. McAtee, 1964
- Roscoe Cleveland, 1965
- Alcus A. Dean, 1966
- William D. McGown, 1967
- Grady G. Gailey, 1968, 1973
- William E. Burns, 1969
- Elizer D. Lugo, 1970
- Theodor Hans, 1971
- Charles R. Lavallee, 1972
- Fernando Martinez, 1974
- Albert F. Hanson, 1975
- Guy U. Hall, 1976
- Howell W. Atwell, 1977
REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
- Petition for Dispensation: 1912 not in Proceedings
- Petition for Charter: 1913
- Consolidation Petition (with Isthmian Lodge): 1977; charter amended 1978
- 1962 (50th Anniversary)
VISITS BY GRAND MASTER
Canal Zone visit, January 1939
From the collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts
- 1913 (Benton; Special Communication)
- 1914 (Acting Grand Master Herbert E. Fletcher; Constitution of lodge and installation; Special Communication)
- 1917 (Acting Grand Master M. Johnson)
- 1921 (Prince)
- 1922 (Prince; Cornerstone laying)
- 1925 (Ferrell)
- 1928 (Simpson; Cornerstone laying)
- 1934 (Chipman)
- 1937 (Allen; Hall dedication; Special Communication)
- 1939 (Perry; Special Communication; see picture above)
- 1949 (Keith)
- 1952 (Roy; Cornerstone laying; Special Communication)
- 1956 (W. Johnson)
- 1958 (A. Jenkins; Special Communication)
- 1962 (Eaton; 50th Anniversary; Special Communication)
- 1965 (Osgood; Special Communication)
- 1967 (Booth; Special Communication)
- 1971 (Jaynes; Special Communication)
- 1973 (Vose; Special Communication)
- 1976 (Maxwell; Special Communication)
- 1962 (50th Anniversary History, 1962-27; see below)
50TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, JANUARY 1962
by Wor. Bruce G. Sanders, Jr.
The year 1962 is an important one in the history of Canal Zone Lodge, for it is the year of the fiftieth anniversary of the Lodge's formation under dispensation. As we enter a new year, as we enter this important year in the history of Canal Zone Lodge, we may well ask ourselves the question: Whence came Canal Zone Lodge? What were the events leading up to its formation?
In 1903 the Government of the United States entered into a treaty with the Government of the newly-formed Republic of Panama, which resulted in the creation of the Canal Zone and eventually, in 1915, to the opening of the Panama Canal to international maritime commerce. The United States Government established the Isthmian Canal Commission and charged that organization with the sanitation of the Canal Zone and the excavation and construction of the Panama Canal. During the years 1904-1914, towns were established along the line of the Canal to house the Commission's employees and their families. The principal towns were Cristobal, on the Atlantic side of the Isthmus of Panama, adjacent to the Panamanian City of Colon, and Ancon, on the Pacific and next door to Panama, the Capital City of the Republic of Panama. As spoilage from the Canal excavation was dumped in the area of what is now Balboa, that Town came into being. Las Cascadas was situated about 15 miles from Panama City and about 33 miles from Colon.
Not since the days of the California Gold Rush had there been such a peaceful invasion of the Isthmus of Panama, nor had there ever been as many Masons in this area as was brought about by the construction of the Panama Canal. As of February 29, 1908, there were 5,083 gold employees working for the Isthmian Canal Commission and 1,091 for the Panama Railroad. There were 1,275 women and 1,067 children, making in all a total of 8,516. Of these, 7,866 were white United States citizens.
The Canal Zone of those days was one vast construction project. There were no sidewalks in the early towns. There were no amusements. There was nothing to do after working hours and it was considered unhealthy to be out after dark because of the malarial and yellow fever mosquitoes; consequently the employees were ripe for almost anything that would come along to relieve the monotony of their existence.
As early as 1906 a group of Masons submitted a petition to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for the formation of a Masonic Lodge at Ancon, Canal Zone. The dispensation was granted, but for some reason no Lodge was formed. And so "The Improved Order of the Red Men" organized at Culebra in January 1906 became the pioneer fraternal order in the Canal Zone. Tribes were to be found in several towns. Then came the "Knights of Pythias," the "Odd Fellows," "Independent Order of Kangaroos," "Knights of Columbus," "Woodmen of the World," "Eagles," "Gugu Bahay," "Haymakers," "Elks," and the "Army and Navy Union."
There were, however, many Masons among those early employees, and their thoughts naturally gravitated to Masonry. The Atlantic-side Brethren could visit Sojourners, No. 874, holding forth in the City of Colon, Panama, under charter from the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Scotland since 1898. Train schedules from the Pacific-side were not conducive for Masons residing there to regularly attend meetings in Colon. The Pacific-side Brethren found it necessary to spend the night on the Atlantic-side and could not get back home until the afternoon of the next day. In the absence of Lodges in the Canal Zone, Masonic Clubs were formed in several towns along the line of the Canal. The first came into being in Culebra in 1907 and was followed by others in Paraiso, Empire, Ancon, Gorgona, Las Cascada and Gatun. Each of these clubs appointed a delegate to a Masonic Advisory Board, and in January 1910, that Board published a booklet which gave the number of sojourning Masons in the Canal Zone as 1,064, representing every State in the Union and 40 foreign jurisdictions as well. The Masonic Clubs sponsored picnics, dances, outings and other social activities. They provided occasions for Masons to meet and discuss things Masonic, but they fell short of being Masonic Lodges.
A Chapter of Royal Arch Masons was organized at Las Cascadas in 1910, followed by a Council of Royal & Select Masters in 1911, and a Commandery of Knights Templar in 1912.
In 1911 a group of Master Masons petitioned the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for a dispensation to form a Masonic Lodge at Las Cascadas. At about the same time a group in Cristobal presented a similar prayer for the formation of a Lodge at that place. No action was taken on the Las Cascadas petition, and it was finally decided that Sojourners, No. 874, in Colon, which by that time had a large American membership, would surrender its charter to the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and the Brethren who desired would petition for a dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and at the completion of the dispensation period, might receive a charter from that Grand Lodge under the same conditions as those governing issuance of charters to Lodges within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The transportation difficulties continued to impose a hardship on Pacific-side Masons, and so on September 11, 1912, Brother Gerald DeLeo Bliss, Postmaster at Culebra, Canal Zone, addressed a letter to the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, on behalf of 43 petitioners from 29 Masonic jurisdictions, praying for a dispensation to form a new Lodge at Ancon to be called Canal Zone Lodge. Brother Bliss very ably set forth local conditions necessitating the new Lodge and suggested that concurrent jurisdiction over the Canal Zone be shared with Sojourners Lodge.
A dispensation was granted on November 4, 1912, and Canal Zone Lodge, U.D., was formed November 30, 1912, at Masonic Hall, Ancon, with 27 signers of the prayer for dispensation and 111 Brethren present. Concurrent jurisdiction was authorized and still prevails today within the Canal Zone Masonic District. Brother John Belcher Fields of Gatesville Lodge No. 197, Gatesville, Texas, assumed the station of Worshipful Master with Brothers Gerald DeLeo Bliss of Olive Lodge No. 575, Sherman, New York, and Carl P. Hoffman of Phoenix Lodge No. 115, Dansville, New York, assuming stations of Senior and Junior Wardens, respectively.
At the first stated communication on December 14, 1912, 21 applications were received. During the period of dispensation (December 14, 1912-February 14, 1914), 115 applications were received and 55 applicants elected to receive the degrees.
The first meeting-place was the Ancon Community Hall, a frame building owned by the Isthmian Canal Commission, which had been converted into a lodge building for the use of all fraternal organizations in the immediate vicinity. It was here that Most Worshipful Everett Chamberlin Benton, Grand Master, accompanied by the Deputy Grand Master, R.W. Herbert H. Fletcher, and the Recording Grand Secretary, R.W. Thomas W. Davis, visited the Lodge on January 19, 1913. Here, too, R.W. Herbert H. Fletcher constituted the Lodge on February 21, 1914.
The Community Lodge Hall afforded little or no privacy, no place to store equipment, and afforded no real conveniences of any kind. The Brethren soon wanted their own building, and in March 1913, Canal Zone Lodge appointed a committee to meet with Canal Zone Chapter, No. 1, Royal Arch Masons, Canal Zone Council, No. 1, Royal & Select Masters, and Canal Zone Commandery, No. 1, Knights Templar, to secure a site where the Lodge could build a hall of its own. In May of 1914, a request was made of the Canal Commission for one of three lots, and in September of that year, the Lodge appropriated $2,000 as its share of a joint building fund. Approval was given that month to the first choice of lots. In October 1914, the Canal Record carried the following item: Masons Apply for a Building Site in Ancon.
The following Masonic Lodges have asked for a site in Ancon for the erection of a Masonic Hall: Canal Zone Lodge, A.F.& A.M.; Canal Zone Chapter, No. 1 R.A.M.; Canal Zone Council, No. 1, R.S.M.; Canal Zone Commandery, No. 1. The site requested is the vacant area, known in French times as Ancon section; later, the site of the American Corral in Ancon. It is proposed to build a 2-story frame structure, approximately 40 x 110 feet, with the lower story fitted for an assembly or social hall, library, and office, and the upper story for lodge purposes. The above lodges will bear the expense of the building jointly in case construction is authorized.
In December 1914 the lot was staked out. In March 1915 plans had been drawn, most of the construction material bought and work was proceeding satisfactorily. On the morning of May 27, 1915, the building caught on fire and suffered damages amounting to $750. Despite this temporary setback, in July 1915 the Worshipful Master reported the hall about completed, at a cost of less than $8,000.
The first meeting in the new hall was a meeting of Canal Zone Lodge on September 11, 1915, and was also the occasion of its dedication by Wor. John Belcher Fields as Acting Grand Master, pursuant to appointment by the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Massachusetts for that purpose. Canal Zone Lodge occupied this home for 25 years and five months.
On January 24, 1917, Most Worshipful Melvin Maynard Johnson visited the Lodge in his capacity as Special Deputy Grand Master and presented the Worshipful Master and Wardens with jewels to be worn when visiting other Lodges.
One meeting during the occupancy of this hall attracted so many Brethren it was held under dispensation in the Shrine Mosque, Balboa Heights. It was a special communication on the Master Mason Degree on February 17, 1921, on the occasion of a visit of the United States Battle Fleet to the Isthmus. There were present a Past Grand Master of Kentucky, 15 Masters and Past Masters of almost as many jurisdictions, 132 Masons from the Canal Zone and 260 Masons from 39 U.S. jurisdictions, Panama, Scotland, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and England.
In November 1934, Canal Zone Lodge initiated the construction of its present home, the Ancon Masonic Temple, with the concurrence of the other owning bodies. At that time Abou Saad Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S., was admitted into ownership. Preliminary plans were available in April 1935 and final plans approved a year later. The last meeting of Canal Zone Lodge in Masonic Hall was held on June 5, 1936, and the Lodge then met in the Scottish Rite Temple, Balboa, pursuant to a dispensation issued by the District Grand Master, until January 27, 1937. On August 9, 1936, a special communication of Sojourners, Canal Zone, Army, Darien, Isthmian, Sibert, and Chagres Lodges was called and opened at the Ancon Clubhouse, followed by a procession to the site of the new Ancon Masonic Temple, where the cornerstone was laid by the Right Worshipful District Grand Lodge with the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Panama in attendance. The new Temple was occupied by Canal Zone Lodge on February 5, 1937. In 1949 the lodge-room was air-conditioned, and in 1955 improvements were made to the Temple, and Isthmian Lodge was accepted into part ownership.
Through the years, Canal Zone Lodge has made every effort to confer degrees in as impressive and dignified a manner as possible and to this day continues to insist on a mouth-to-ear instruction of its candidates in the lectures of the three degrees. In 1937 Brother Mercer B. Huff was extended life membership in the Lodge and presented the Joseph Warren Medal by the Grand Lodge for the manner in which he was instructing candidates. Even during the War Years, and particularly in 1945, the year Canal Zone Lodge brought the largest number of applicants to Masonic Light, there was no resorting to production line tactics, but instead, persisted in giving individual attention to each candidate. Every member of Canal Zone Lodge down through the years has added something of himself to the continued well-being and harmony of the Lodge. Each has shared a part of his Brothers in return.
Brother Charles Clinton Cameron, Secretary of Canal Zone Lodge for so many years, designed the cut appearing on the face of the Lodge's Trestleboard. He was the first Worshipful Master of Chagres Lodge in Balboa and later returned to re-assume the duties of Secretary in Canal Zone Lodge. Worshipful William Warham Mendez Monsanto will long be remembered as the "old philosopher", whose words of wisdom many of his younger Brothers looked forward to hearing.
In 1921, Most Worshipful Arthur D. Prince, Grand Master, was elected an Honorary Member of Canal Zone Lodge. On November 3, 1933, Worshipful James Pillsbury Davies, a Past Master of Zetland Lodge in Boston, was appointed Proxy to the Grand Lodge and the next month elected to Honorary Membership. Worshipful Brother Davies, personally known to only a few of the Lodge's membership, has endeared himself to the entire membership because of the interest taken in representing Canal Zone Lodge before the Grand Lodge. His resignation in October 1961, because of illness, was accepted with sincere regret.
Brother Norman Charles Dutt, recently retired from the U.S. Navy, took advantage of his many duty stations and world travels to further the cause of Freemasonry around the world and has endeared himself to all with whom he has come in contact. He visited underground Masonry in Spain, and when visiting Mexico, took cognizance of the fact the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts recognized a Grand Jurisdiction not generally recognized elsewhere while not recognizing one quite universally accepted. He wrote the Grand Master about it. In 1958, the Grand Master in recognition of distinguished Masonic Service, awarded Brother Dutt the Joseph Warren Medal. Brother Dutt continues his Masonic activity today through writing and speaking.
Four of our Past Masters have served the District Grand Lodge as Deputy District Grand Master and were awarded the Joseph Warren Medal, namely: Worshipful Brothers John Belcher Fields, George Peters Fullman, Bruce Gordon Sanders and Howard William Osborn. Worshipful Brother Fullman very ably served the District Grand Lodge as District Grand Master, and along with our late Brothers Fields and Sanders, shares honors as a recipient of the Henry Price Medal. At the time of his death, Worshipful Brother Sanders was in the process of being appointed Representative of the Grand Lodge of Costa Rica to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and was posthumously accorded the title of Right Worshipful.
At the end of the Masonic year 1961, Canal Zone Lodge membership numbered 605, with Brethren living in all of the 50 United States and 8 foreign countries from Australia to Ireland to Lebanon.
The task of the historian is to record the facts of the past, and jt can truthfully be said that the founders of Canal Zone Lodge built on a firm foundation and down through the years the Lodge has continued to benefit from their labors. We are living in a changing world and dare we ask ourselves "what of the future?" We are not brave enough to predict the complexion of the Canal Zone for years to come, but of one thing we can be certain, God willing, as long as the Canal Zone continues as we know it today, there will be a Canal Zone Lodge, a potent influence under the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, divulging Masonic Light to the profane.
- 1918 (Granting of a charter with a corrected list of charter members, 1918-223)
GRAND LODGE OFFICERS
- George P. Fullman, District Grand Master 1958-1959; N
- Guy U. Hall, District Grand Master 1993-1995
- Charles R. Lavallee, District Grand Master 1993-1995
- Howard W. Osborn, District Grand Master 1957, 1963-1965