A Brief History of Cherokee Lodge #10
Tahlequah, Oklahoma
"Oldest Masonic Lodge in Oklahoma, Chartered 1848"

(Excerpted from a work by George W. Moser and from the Cherokee Advocate, July 23, 1879)

Normally, Masonic Lodges are numbered in the order of their creation. This is the case in Oklahoma too. Some question how we can be the oldest lodge and be #10. There is a logical reason. On October 3, 1837, the Grand Lodge of Tennessee chartered Washington Lodge #82 at Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Grand Lodge of Louisiana chartered Morning Star No. 42 at Arkansas Post and Western Star Lodge #43 at Little Rock on January 6, 1838. The Grand Master of Alabama issued dispensation to organize Mount Horeb Lodge #3 at Washington, Arkansas. These four bodies met in convention at Little Rock on November 21, 1838 and formed the Grand Lodge of Arkansas. After the formation of that Grand Lodge, Masonry in Arkansas began to spread over the state and farther west into the Indian Territory among the Cherokees and other tribes.

The proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas F. & A. M. show that the Committee on Charters and Dispensations granted a charter to “Cherokee Lodge” at Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation on November 8, 1848. The new lodge was designated as Cherokee Lodge #21. Its first officers were:

Walter S. Adair, Worshipful Master
N. B. Dannenburg, Senior Warden
Joseph Coody, Junior Warden
David Carter, Treasurer
William P. Ross, Secretary
Thomas Emerson, Senior Deacon
W. L. Holt, Junior Deacon
John L. McCoy, Tiler

These officers were duly installed in July 1849, in the Cherokee Supreme Court Building. This building was constructed in 1844 and was the first public building in what is now Oklahoma. The installation was presided over by Brother R. P. Pulliam, representing the Grand Lodge of Arkansas. Records show that Cherokee Lodge #21 had a membership of fourteen in 1849 and had grown to thirty-one by the following year.

After the Lodge had been at work two years they were visited by Grand Master William H. Sutton of Little Rock, Arkansas who spent several days giving wholesome instruction, as well as exemplyfying the work. His visit was of great advantage to the Lodge, and he expressed himself as being delighted with the general appearance and character of the membership. In fact, he went so far as to assure the Lodge that "Cherokee 21 was the Star Lodge of the Jurisdiction."

As the lodge was now firmly established, a permanent meeting place was needed. Most of the lodge membership was Cherokee, including several ones of influence. Chief John Ross was a member of another lodge. William P. Ross, the lodge’s first secretary was also editor of the Cherokee Advocate newspaper and would later serve as Chief. The Cherokee National Council met in session at Tahlequah in 1852. Two lots were given jointly to the Masons and the Sons of Temperance on condition that a building be erected within two years.

A two-story building was constructed the following year with the Sons of Temperance meeting on the first floor and the Masons on the second. School, church, and other community events were also held in the new structure. By 1853, lodge membership had increased to forty-two. That same year, the Grand Lodge of Arkansas granted a charter to Flint Lodge #74 in nearby Stilwell. It was not until November 9, 1855, seven years after Tahlequah was granted a charter, that Muscogee Lodge #93 (now known as Eufaula Lodge #1) was established in the Creek Nation.

Events of the Civil War led to Eufaula securing the number one designation and Tahlequah dropping to number ten. During the first year of the war, the Grand Lodge of Arkansas lost nearly all of its records. At its November communication, held in Little Rock, only 51 of 168 chartered lodges were represented. None from Indian Territory were in attendance. During 1863-1865, the average number of lodges attending Grand Lodge was a mere twenty-three, again none from Indian Territory. In 1865, the Grand Lodge ordered the Grand Secretary to attempt to rebuild the records as much as possible from copies that might be found in the constituent lodges.

None of the Indian Territory lodges had made a report since 1861. The Grand Secretary found, in error, that the lodges, paraphernalia, records, and charters of the Indian Territory lodges had been destroyed in the Civil War. The 1865 communication of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas issued an order that all lodges in default forward their returns to the Grand Secretary by January 1, 1867, or show cause for failure, and that chartered be withdrawn from all lodges that continued in default.

Sometime in 1867, Bro. H. D. Reece, Past Master of Cherokee Lodge #21, wrote that the charter and jewels of the lodge had been saved, and since there were only five members, requested more time to round up more members and pay up back dues. His request was refused. A request for reinstatement was made again on November 21, 1870, but denied by the Grand Master because the lodge had been declared dead and its number reassigned to Jasper, Arkansas. Cherokee Lodge #21 returned its charter and requested dispensation for a new lodge, but the request was denied because of no certificate showing the officers named had exemplified the work and lectures. The decision was most unjust as the officers named were officers of the old lodge. An appeal was made to the committee on charters and dispensations, but no action was taken.

In 1874, there were six lodges: Oklahoma Lodge #217 at Boggy Depot in the Choctaw Nation, chartered November 18; Doaksville Lodge #279 in the Choctaw Nation, chartered November 7, 1871; Alpha Lodge #122, at Fort Gibson in the Cherokee Nation; Caddo Lodge #311, in the Choctaw Nation; Flint Lodge #74, having been reinstated and moved to Wilsonville, Arkansas was removed to Flint Court House in the Cherokee Nation; and, Muskogee Lodge 393 in the Creek Nation at Eufaula. Alpha Lodge was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Kansas, the remainder by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas. Three of these lodges: Caddo #311; Doaksville #279; and, Eufaula #90, called a meeting at Caddo and established the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory on October 6, 1874. Cherokee Lodge was not invited. It may be observed that Eufaula was given the number one designation before the Grand Lodge of Arkansas re-chartered it on October 15, 1874.

Nothing more was heard from Cherokee Lodge until Bro. H. D. Reece made application to, and was granted dispensation on April 24, 1877, by Most Worshipful J. S. Murrow, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory, for a Lodge at Tahlequah to be called “Cherokee Lodge.” The Committee on Charters and Dispensations reported the work of Cherokee Lodge to be good and recommended that a charter be granted. The charter, dated September 5, 1877 was then issued, and lodge became Cherokee Lodge #10 - and is the oldest Lodge in Oklahoma.

June 24, 1878, being St. John’s Day, the newly elected officer, members, and visiting brothers (36) formed procession at 11:00 a.m. and marched in regular order to the capital Square where a public installation of officers was held. The first officers of the reconstituted lodge were:

H. D. Reece, Worshipful Master
John R. Vann, Senior Warden
John L. Adair, Junior Warden
Johnson Thompson, Treasurer
W. F. Rasmus, Secretary
John W. Stapler, Senior Deacon
James Lotta, Junior Deacon
James W. McSpadden, Senior Steward
David Wheeler, Junior Steward
Samuel Sixkiller, Tiler

Other Charter Members were: P. T. Johnson, Jackson R. Gourd, Thomas T. Trainer, William Eubanks, W. P. McCoy, James Shelton, E. P. Harris, W. T. Adair, Leonidas Dobson, J. B. Mays, Joseph F. Thompson, George Keys, Levi Keys, John A. Foreman, John Cookson, T.K.B. McSpadden, and I. D. Leoser.

The lodge grew and was soon feeling the need for a new building. A building committee was appointed and by 1889 a contract was let to erect a new temple at the corner of Muskogee and Choctaw streets. It was to be jointly owned by Cherokee Lodge #10 and Royal Arch Chapter #5. The old building sold for $500 and $300 was needed to buy the new site. To finance construction, twenty-two members signed notes bearing 10% interest to cover the $4,123.50 cost. An opera area occupied the first level. Its twenty foot ceiling provided an excellent venue for traveling theatrical companies. It even saw use as a Federal and State Court House. This was accomplished by a lodge with only 50 - 60 members. Even with rental income, the expense of the new lodge proved to be quite a burden on the membership for many years.

Our current temple was dedicated April 7, 1955. That piece of land purchased in 1899 for $300 was sold for $10,250. Bro. Sam Willis owned an adjacent tract of land on generously donated it to the lodge. The cost of the new building was $24,323.35. Eight years later, a dining hall was added at a cost of $8,200 and became essentially the lodge as we know it today.
Our sister organization, Tahlequah Chapter #148 of the Order of the Eastern Star will celebrate its 100th Anniversary on August 6,2005.

In 1998 the Lodge celebrated 150 years of Masonry in Oklahoma. Grand Master Gary Odom and the Grand Lodge Officers came to Tahlequah to commerate the event and to rededicate the Lodge's cornerstone. Today the Lodge has approximately 360 members and is well-known in the commmunity for its charitable giving.

Past Masters
2012 Mark Hammons
2011 Brain Tannehill
2010 Bob Copeland
2009 Johnny Terrill
2008 Gary Cacy
2007 Jim Morgan
2006 Delbert Wilson
2005 George Kennicutt
2004 Ron Morgan
2003 Paul Center
2002 Hubbard Stanley
2001 Ken Johnson
2000 Roger Bower
1999 Gary Hix
1998 Tom Mooney
1997 Henry Sadler
1996 George Jenkins
1995 Jon Ash*
1994 Ersel Anthony
1993 Richard Saxon
1992 Keith Barrick
1991 Lynn Rice
1990 Dennis Peterson
1989 Joe Ussrey*
1988 Charles Scott, Jr.*
1987 Coy Swank*
1986 Kenny McIntosh
1985 Don Carroll, MOH*
1984 John Henry King, Jr.
1983 John Henry King, Sr.
1982 Marlin Ray Myers
1981 Tim Baker*
1980 Harold Ray Hart*
1979 Roy Dale Davis
1978 Thurman Arthur Craig*
1977 Lester Burl Johnson*
1975 Tracy Olend Bragg, Jr.*
1974 Veraman Thomas Davis
1973 Ovie Franklin Moore*
1972 Victor Licurgus Robards*
1971 Herbert Victor Monks
1970 Leslie C. Lamer*
1969 Jim L. Wade*
1968 J. W. Buster*
1967 J. A. Heaton*
1966 Tom C. Treat*
1965 B. E. Harris*
1964 R. C. Carter*
1963 Ovon Fisher
1962 John H. Burchette*
1961 Jon F. Fox*
1960 A. G. Showalter*
1959 Leo H. Grace*
1958 Earl Bell*
1957 R. L. Phillips*
1956 Jack J. Ross*
1955 Charles Mulholland*
1954 B. W. Pinkerton*
1953 A. L. Vinyard*
1952 Speedie Chaffin*
1951 J. S. McClure*
1950 J. E. Garner*
1949 Eddie R. Sanders*
1948 D. E. Gosnell*
1947 Jack J. Ross*
1946 V. R. Trent*
1945 Sam F. Willis*
1944 Jesse M. Johnson
1943 Haskell Gates
1942 George W. Moser*
1941 Joe M. Deem*
1940 Steve M. Norris*
1939 George W. Moser*
1938 George W. Moser*
1937 Sam F. Willis*
1936 Leo Wilson*
1935 Dewey Carlile*
1934 Guy Stratton*
1933 Jack J. Ross*
1932 A. G. Rogers*
1931 Jack J. Ross*
1930 William T. Thorne*
1929 Lola B Hunt*
1928 A. E. Robertson*
1927 W. H. Balentine*
1926 Jess Jackson*
1925 Hugh M. Bland*
1924 W. H. Ballentine*
1923 J. T. Cunningham*
1922 H. B. Upton*
1921 J. S. Sanders*
1920 J. W. McSpadden*
1919 J. N. Clark*
1918 J. F. Duckworth*
1917 W. H. Ballentine*
1916 J. T. Cunningham*
1915 Ross Daniel*
1914 Percy Wyly*
1913 Percy Wyly*
1912 Percy Wyly*
1911 J. N. Clark*
1910 R. W. Foster*
1909 J. L. Dement*
1908 J. L. Dement*
1907 J. L. Dement*
1906 J. T. Cunningham*
1905 J. T. Cunningham*
1904 S. F. Hawkins*
1903 E. W. Blake*
1902 J. F. Thompson*
1901 E. W. Blake*
1900 J. F. Thompson*
1899 J. T. Cunningham*
1898 J. F. Thompson*
1897 J. F. Thompson*
1896 J. F. Thompson*
1895 H. C. Barnes*
1894 J. F. Thompson*
1893 J. S. Stapler*
1892 W. G. Blake*
1891 J. S. Stapler*
1890 W. N. Evans*
1889 W. N. Evans
1888 H. C. Barnes*
1887 J. S. Stapler 1886 H. C. Barnes*
1885 W. N. Evans*
1884 H. C. Barnes*
1883 J. L. Adair*
1882 J. S. Stapler*
1881 J. S. Stapler*
1880 H. D. Reece*
1879 J. L. Adair*
1878 J. L. Adair*
1877 H. D. Reece*

The following men served as Worshipful Master of Cherokee Lodge #21 chartered by the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Arkansas on November 8, 1848

1858 C. M. Delano*
1857 H. D. Reece*
1856 C. M. Delano*
1855 C. M. Devan*
1854 Unknown
1853 Unknown
1852 H. D. Reece*
1851 William Potter Ross*
1850 N. B. Dannerburg*
1849 Walter S. Adair*
1848 Walter S. Adair*