History is the truthful recording of events – anything beyond that is not history.
Weber Lodge #6 has been given the credit for being the oldest Masonic body in Ogden. Now research, properly applied, can very often upset old notions and ideas. Here are the facts taken from no less an authority than “The New Age,” the official publication of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. “It was in the summer of 1779, during the height the American Revolutionary War that Mad Anthony Wayne, in a wild midnight assault, took Stony Point, and drove out the defending British Regiment. Included in the plunder was the charter and regalia of a regular British Masonic Lodge. These relics were returned with Masonic promptitude to the British Masons by General Parsons of the American Army.”
The date was August 1779, and the name of the lodge was Unity Lodge 18, and no other Utah Lodge can beat that for history. The fact stands for itself.
Commencing at the beginning, and taking the testimony of those who were acquainted with Unity’s beginning, Unity Lodge is the enduring monument to Brother John S. Lewis P.M., whom we have all heard spoken of many times. At that time, Weber Lodge was the only Masonic Lodge in Ogden. It was getting to be of sizable proportions, and there seemed to be ample room for still another lodge. It is freely admitted that the idea was not at all popular with many of Weber Lodge’s members; Brother Lewis was compelled to put forth quite an effort to bring to his aid enough masons to force the consent of Weber Lodge. Then, as now, before a new lodge can be formed, the consent of those lodges already in existence locally must be first obtained. About a dozen of Weber’s members took out their demits, and these, with a number of non-affiliated masons, formed the beginning of Unity.
The proper place to obtain the truthful recording of events in any organization such as this one is, of course, the minute books. Searching from the time of institution down to the commencement of 1918, one will find meager information. In no way do those minutes compare with the refreshing and illuminating records compiled by Brothers Don K. Hastings, William Silverthorn, J. C. Jones, Edwin C. Bader, Raymond C. Roderick, and our present Secretary, Most Worshipful David W. Barron PGM. In complimenting these brothers, it is to be regretted that none of them were in charge of Unity Lodge’s records in the earlier days.
The lodge had its first organizing meeting on February 5th, 1911, and it is interesting to note the day was a Sunday, which fully explains the reason for our perpetual peace and harmony. When it came to selecting a name for the new lodge, the opinions seemed to be quite divided, and the names of Fidelity, Corinthian, Ogden, and Unity were among the many names suggested. The name Ogden Lodge was actually selected by a large majority of those present. The name Unity had only two supporters, and the record is silent as to whom they were. It is self-evident that these two were gentlemen of influence and high pressure, because the original selection was over ruled at some later meeting, and thus the name Unity survived.
A notation in the published Grand Lodge Proceedings of Utah in 1912 reads, “March 17th, 1911, I received a petition signed by fifty-two Master Masons, requesting a dispensation for a new Lodge in Ogden, to be known as Unity Lodge, U.D. The petition was accompanied by the recommendation of Weber Lodge No. 6. Believing the same conditions to exist in Ogden as in Salt Lake, I granted the request and ordered the issuance of a dispensation. At the institution of Acacia Lodge, which occurred February 25th, every Grand Lodge Officer and over two hundred Brethren were present, and I know all joined in wishing the new Lodge “Godspeed” in its future work. On April 24th, I instituted Unity Lodge at Ogden. On this occasion I was accompanied by most of the Grand Lodge Officers and about fifty Brethren from Salt Lake City. The new Lodge starts out under the brightest auspices, and will, I believe, do much for Masonry in Ogden.”
Unity Lodge, U.D. was instituted on April 24, 1911, and there were thirty members and one hundred sixteen visitors present. The dispensation was duly delivered by Grand Master Pfoutz, and received by Archie Van McIntosh, a past master of Weber Lodge #6, who did much towards helping Unity Lodge find itself during its infancy.
The first regular meeting of the lodge was held on May 3, 1911, with Archie McIntosh in the East. During that meeting 27 petitions for the degrees were received. Those were good times indeed, and those 27 petitions; a record in Ogden Masonry which is likely to stand for many years to come. Those petitions, at $50 per head, represented $1,350 in good hard money at that time.
The first petition presented was that of Burton F. Dinsmore, but the first man to receive his first degree was Franklin Cook Osgood, who later became master of the lodge, and who was the first master of George Washington Lodge under dispensation.
The minutes contain references to many gifts received by Unity Lodge during the first year of its existence. Brother Archie McIntosh presented a cushion, perhaps for the comfort and ease of those members who are inclined to take forty winks during the ceremonies. Jimmy Fowlie presented the heavy brass cylinder which encloses our charter. Those who have felt its ponderous weight can readily understand the charter of Unity Lodge 18 was not intended to be taken lightly.
The original gavels used in Unity Lodge were presented by Brother Robert Connor, and were made from timber growing on George Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon and are, therefore, relics having quite a sentimental and patriotic value. The old gavels, used in Unity for so long, were replaced by gavels presented by Brother Gery.
The columns always found at the stations of the Senior and Junior Wardens were the handiwork of Brother Noggle, and by him were given to the lodge.
Brother J. S. Lewis gave the beautiful presentation apron which each year is brought from its glass case, and with appropriate ceremony, given unto the care and protection of the new master.
The old Bible which formerly rested upon our altar was given to Unity Lodge by the Royal Arch Masons, the Commandery, and Brother and Past Master F. C. Osgood in memory of his brother who met sudden death at the hands of an assassin in Ogden in 1917. Later a new Bible was provided by some of the members, and the old Bible placed in the archives.
The early by-laws provided that annual dues would be $6 with a penalty of three additional dollars for those whose dues were not paid by March first of the current year. This provision created quite a stormy session one evening, and the offending by-law was amended in great haste.
An item in the minutes, under the heading of bills, showed Unity Lodge authorized the employment of Brother A. R. Ward of Weber Lodge a salary of $6 per month for the coaching of Unity’s candidates. Those were the good old days indeed, because coaching committees of today are made to realize that coaching is no longer a paid profession.
Records are very inadequate in regard to what is probably Unity Lodge’s biggest event, the presentation of the charter. The Most Worshipful Grand Master and his officers were received according to ancient custom. Brother Herb Herrington, the first master under charter, received this important document into his own hands and gave his very carefully prepared delivery.
Throughout the years, Ogden's history is filled with famous movers and shakers who were involved with Unity Lodge 18 in one way or another. Dr. Franklin C. Osgood, a dentist in Ogden and also vice president of the Boyd Lumber /company was also a member in good standing of Unity Lodge 18. He was president of the Farmer's and Merchants Bank at Idaho Falls and also president and manager of the Osgood Land & live Stock Company and Idaho Corporation and a director of Ogden Iron Works.
One of the Worshipful Masters during this time was Fred Morgan Nye of the Fred M. Nye Company, Clothiers. In 1924 he was president of the Ogden Chamber of Commerce and the Weber Club. He was initiated, passed, and raised in Weber Lodge 6. On December 7th, 1911, he dimitted from Weber Lodge to become a charter member of Unity Lodge 18, taking office as Junior Deacon. Two years later, in December, 1913, he was elected Worshipful Master.
William Henry Wattis, a prominent mason and member of Unity Lodge 18, along with his brothers, established the Utah Construction Company. In 1931, the Wattis Brothers spearheaded the formation of six companies to build the Hoover Dam which was the largest construction project ever tackled by the U.S. Government up to the time. Including the Hoover Dam, Utah Construction built 58 dams between 1916 and 1969. Warren L. Wattis, Vice President and Manager Utah National Bank, Secretary of Utah Construction Company, was a member of Unity and the Masonic Club.
William Henry Harris was president of the Ogden Paint, Oil and Glass Co. and President of the Ogden Gasoline and Oil Company. Robert Ernest Boyd came to Ogden in 1906, joined Weber Lodge 6 and became President and General Manager of Boyd Lumber Company.
On April 1, 1931 brother Frank Burgess presented Worshipful Brother Henriques a white stone from his world travels which was mined from the quarries of King Solomon. This particular piece was from a cornerstone mined for the Grand Lodge of England. The stone is still in the archives of Unity Lodge 18 to this day.
Unity's 25th anniversary was marked with each of the members receiving a silver, embossed trowel commemorating that milestone.
Prior to meeting in the current Masonic Temple that was built in 1967, all Masonic bodies met in a hall located above a Chinese restaurant on Washington Boulevard. Like so many in other areas of the state, during this time period, members were required to climb a number of stairs to reach the meeting room. This also obligated them to carry up any refreshments that they intended to serve after the meeting. It is a distinct pleasure for them to be able to go downstairstoday, after each meeting.
The project of going through the lodge minutes over the last 100 years has been a rewarding one. Seeing the connections of names that were at one time unfamiliar, seeing the day by day lives described in detail of our fellow brothers and seeing how each generation kept the landmarks in their own way was revealing.
What was enlightening in this experience was that during the First World War, through The Great Depression, through the Second World War, through the Cold War and all of the cultural changes, the day by day meetings reflected none of these Earth changing events.
While World War I was exploding all over Europe, a widow of one of our lodge members had petitioned to aid in the dredging of a river where her husband had drowned. During the Depression, a brother at St. Benedict's had lost a lot of blood and a call was made during a lodge meeting to have everyone go there and give blood. During World War II, nothing was mentioned about the war until a brochure during one of the anniversaries casually mentioned “Victory in '43.” Some of the treasury reports reflected some investment in War Bonds.
The overall emphasis of the meetings was the initiating, passing, and raising of brethren, the training of these brethren in the old landmarks of brotherly love, relief, and truth. The same precepts and lessons that were taught to them are taught to us today. When J.C. Penny visited the lodges in our area he was treated “on the level.” The brothers came from all walks of life: clothiers and bankers, druggists and ranchers, railroad workers and police officers; all coming together in the spirit of Unity.
This pertains to the history of Unity Lodge to the time when its charter was received. This lodge is now 100 years young, and a lodge of which every member is justly proud of this very name. That name, Unity, is the embodiment of the greatest things in life, without which, nothing is worthwhile. This thought brings us to the only conclusion possible, which is, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, for Brethren to dwell together in Unity.”