of prosperity and turmoil in Tombstone. Miners, prospectors, ranchers, miners and business people from all walks of life were drawn to this western boomtown just grasping for the chance to become wealthy. The streets were a chaos of people, horses, carriages, wagons and supplies all heading into and out of the town.
Miners were hauling loads of rich ore up from the shafts that zigzagged underneath the bustling streets above. Ranchers and cattlemen were spreading their herds out over the high desert and business people were establishing a foundation that supported everyone’s efforts, and made them good money.
In February, Cochise County was established with Tombstone as its county seat. In March, outlaws attempted to rob opproximately $26,000 in silver bullion on a stagecoach en route to Benson, setting the stage for the gunfight at the OK Corral on October 26.
Ms. Nancy Lewis Sosa, Tombstone Historical Researcher, informed the Lodge that there is strong evidence to believe the hold-up may have been a ruse to commit an assassination in an attempt to murder the newly elected Sheriff of Pima County.
Sheriff-elect Bob Paul was acting at the time as the shotgun messenger on the ill-fated stagecoach. The recent election was hotly contested and allegations abounded about fraud.
For example, San Simon district had ten eligible voters but recorded 103 ballets cast for Charles A. Shibell and one lone vote for Bob Paul. Shibell was supported by a loosely organized federation of outlaw cowboys, mostly Southerners, who also strongly opposed the Earps. That election changed alliances and increased tensions between the cowboys and the Earps, which led up to the notorious Gunfight at the OK Corral.
At the same time a group of prominent citizens, all Freemasons, was gathering to lay the foundation for a fraternal organization that would outlast all the hustle and bustle swirling about them.
On Monday evening, March 14, 1881, twenty-seven Master Masons, including ten from different states and two from Scotland, met at the Pima County Bank in Tombstone at the corner of 4th and Allen Streets in a First Preliminary Meeting, to find a way to establish a Masonic Lodge.
It was going to be no easy task. One of many hurdles was to obtain a dispensation from the Grand Lodge of California. Wells Spicer was elected chairman to manage and oversee the effort while Thomas R. Sorin was appointed as secretary.
Wells W. Spicer (1831-1885) was an eccentric, but likable fellow. He worked as a journalist, prospector and a politician, but his career as a lawyer and a judge was what brought him fame in two consequential events; his part in the defense his part in the defense involved in the Mountain Meadows Massacre in the Utah Territory (1857) and, later on as the judge in the hearing of the Earps and Doc Holiday: for their part in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1881).
After lengthy discussions among the Freemasons regarding the hurdles surrounding the establishment of a new lodge, they finally settled on pursuing a request for dispensation from the Grand Lodge of California.
It was sent to the Grand Master of California bearing the names of those fifteen Master Masons, and in addition, twelve other Masons who desired to assist in establishing a new lodge in Tombstone, Territory of Arizona.
The petitioners requested King Solomon as the name for the lodge. However, the Grand Lodge of California already had a King Solomon Lodge on their rolls; thus, the dispensation was issued in the name of Solomon Lodge, Under Dispensation (UD). The petition was granted and the dispensation took effect on June 4, 1881.
The Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Samuel C. Denson appointed Brother Wells Spicer as the Master of the lodge, Brother Benjamin Titus, the Senior Warden and Brother Thomas R. Sorin, the Junior Warden.
As the dispensation was issued by the Grand Master during recess of the Grand Lodge, it was only valid until the next meeting of the Grand Lodge in October 1881. At that time the charter was denied and the dispensation returned with all necessary documentation in order required to obtain a charter. However, the dispensation was extended until October 1, 1882.
Apparently the Lodge was not solvent at that time, at least, to the liking of the Grand Lodge of California. The group approached Arizona a Lodge No. 257 — now Arizona No. 2 in Phoenix — and was recommended by the Master of that Lodge as being proficient in the various arts and sciences necessary to permit them to open and govern a well-regulated lodge.
Thus, twenty-seven Masons were listed as members of Solomon Lodge in the dispensation. Original minutes here
The first aprons and other Masonic regalia required to open the lodge were ordered from the Regalia and Lodge Supply Company of Columbus, Ohio. To this day, the Lodge retains the original funirture and Masonic art. The Worshipful Master, his officers and many of the brothers wear 1880's attire to show respect for the founding brothers.
However, the company sent a letter dated June 10, 1881, stating that the deadline could not be met due to inclement weather and poor road conditions, but promised the order would be shipped as soon as possible.
In preparing the floor, a discovery was made of the original carpeting and a number of old newspapers dating to the 1880's.
On March 23, 1882, delegates from Free and Accepted Masonic Lodges in the Territory of Arizona met, in convention, to consider the propriety of establishing a Grand Lodge of Arizona. The meeting was held in Tucson with the Master and Wardens of Solomon Lodge UD admitted to participate.
Each Lodge represented petitioned the new Grand Lodge for a charter, all of which were granted; Solomon UD was chartered as King Solomon Lodge #5 by Grand Master Ansel M. Bragg on March 25, 1882.
The Lodge name was changed from Solomon to King Solomon because Masonic tradition states that a lodge may not be named after a living man, and since one of the petitioner’s name was Solomon, King was then added to the Lodge’s name. In 2001, the Grand Lodge of Arizona permitted lodges that were formed in the territorial period to use “TL” on their aprons and “Territorial Lodge” on their stationery.
The original 1882 charter, though, was soon misplaced resulting in the issuing of another charter in 1889. The replacement charter made reference to the 1882 Charter and many copies were made that, still today, show-up at swap-meets, yard/garage sales and flea markets. The 1889 charter was signed by Grand Master Morris Goldwater, uncle of the late Senator Barry Goldwater.
The charter was found in a tube which remained unopened until 1997. Joseph Jr., gave the charter to the Grand Lodge of Arizona. At the 116th Grand Communication in Holbrook in 1998, Grand Master Bill Jeffers presented the 1882 charter to WB Michael T. Bishop, Worshipful Master of King Solomon Lodge #5 where it is now displayed in the Lodge Room.It remains unknown as to how the original charter came to be missing.
Most Worshipful Brother Ivey was a very active Mason and served the Lodge as Treasurer for many years. It could well be that he found the missing Charter while cleaning out the Lodge files while serving as treasurer.
At the time, the Lodge consisted of sixty members. The first stated meeting of King Solomon Lodge No. 5 under the Grand Lodge of Arizona was held on Sunday, June 18, 1882, with thirty-five Master Masons in attendance.
The reason for meeting on a Sunday was so that after a grueling week of labor at ranches, stores, mines and hotels the members could enjoy an eveing of entertainment and refreshment with their ladies on the lower floor of Schieffelin Hall.
The original lease with Ed Schieffelin states that the Freemasons leased the second floor along with a store on the Southwest ground floor “for purposes as may be deemed appropriate”.
The Freemasons met on the third Saturday of each month to conduct its Stated Meetings (administrative business) and continued that practice until 1941, when they changed their Stated Meetings to the first Monday of the month.
But, there were also a large number of rejections. Each applicant was investigated by the members looking for only those men with the highest moral standards and character, which is true today.
They must be respected and prominent in the community and be expected to be stellar representatives of Freemasonry. However, there were probably still animosities from the Civil War among people coming to the area for work and a new start in life.
There were also strong religious beliefs against alcohol consumption and gambling which may have played a part in Virgil Earp’s petition for membership in the lodge. He was the brother of Wyatt Earp.
His petition was duly received and referred to the required committee, which responded favorably. However, upon presentation to the entire membership of the Lodge, his petition was not favorably endorsed.
His application shows that he was employed as Chief of Police, and resided in Tombstone. He was 37 years old at the time. His petition was signed by, Brothers N. Solomon and W. Spicer. WB Wells Spicer had an office
above the infamous Crystal Palace Saloon, right next to Marshall Earp.
Freemasons take care of one another in life and in death; the Lodge Archives contains several copies of telegrams originating in Tombstone sent by the Lodge to a brother’s family reporting an untimely death of a loved one. None of them giving specifics how the brother met his fate.
Also, interred are several sojourning (traveling) Masons in Tombstone, in which the cost of the funeral was paid by the Lodge. There are telegraphic reports of a brother passing in another location and the Lodge in that town asking what action they should take regarding the status of the deceased brother , e.g., was in good standing and what amount should be paid for a funeral. One such response by the Lodge was very brief and to the point "Bury him."
Andrew Jackson Ritter, a member of the lodge, was on duty as an undertaker in the afternoon on Wednesday, October 26, 1881 on Allen Street in Tombstone when suddenly business picked up for him. He was a joint owner in the City Undertakers on Allen Street.
At two-thirty in the afternoon, gunfire emanated from the direction of the OK Corral and reverberated through the streets and alleys of the town. It was not long before another Freemason, Dr. Nelson S. Giberson, brought to Ritter the bodies of Tom and Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton; killed in the infamous shootout with the Earps and Doc Holiday.
However, Andrew Ritter had more talent and skills to offer his community than that of taking care of the recently departed. He was renowned for his skill in overseeing the construction of large-scale building projects. His two crowning achievements were the construction of the Cochise County Courthouse and the Tombstone City Hall. Both buildings are standing today.
Frank Walker, fellow Mason and friend of Brother Ritter, arrived in Tombstone to take the position of Assistant Superintendent of the
Sycamore Spring Water Company. He was a member of Santa Barbara Lodge No. 156 in Santa Barbara, California. He affiliated with our Lodge on June 4, 1881.
Frank Walker, fellow Mason and friend of Brother Ritter, arrived in Tombstone to take the position of Assistant Superintendent of the Sycamore Spring Water Company. He was a member of Santa Barbara Lodge No. 156 in Santa Barbara, California. He affiliated with our Lodge on June 4, 1881.
He was an accomplished architect who designed the Tombstone Courthouse and Tombstone City Hall. He also designed a number of commercial buildings in Maricopa County including their Courthouse. Added to his list of accomplishments is the invention and patent of a water meter.
The Lodge members weren’t the only ones who were prominent in the town; many of the wives were also accomplished professionals in their own right.
One example was WB Thomas R. Sorin’s wife Sarah Herring Sorin. Brother Sorin was a great Freemason and a prominent mining engineer who was sought after for his expert advice by mining concerns throughout the West.
But it was Sara Herring Sorin who rose to higher prominence in the legal field. She was a gifted lawyer who appeared before courts over various mining litigations and concerns.
She was also the first woman attorney in Arizona and the first woman to try a case in front of the US Supreme Court unassisted by a male attorney.
Brother Scott White was another important and influential westerner who was a member of King Solomon Lodge #5. He had quite a few distinguished titles that would be placed in front of his name.
Twice he served as the Sheriff of Cochise County, 1893-1894 and 1897-1900. He was the driving factor, along with Colonel William C. Greene, behind the development of copper mining in Sonora, Mexico and southern Arizona.
Before he was finished he was destined to become Superintendent of the Arizona Prison and later as Secretary of State of Arizona. He was raised in our Lodge on August 7, 1897.
On January 20, 1883, Tombstone announced plans to lay out a new cemetery — not Boot Hill cemetery (1879-1884)— and was designating sections for various societies. It was to be named Tombstone Cemetery.
Brother A.J. Ritter deserves the credit for working with the city to include a Masonic section in the new cemetery.
On April 19, 1884, for one hundred fifty dollars the Lodge received a plot of ground specifically allotted for a Masonic Section in the Tombstone Cemetery.
Societies, such as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Daughters of Rebekah, the Grand Army of the Republic, the Foresters of America, the Knights of Pythias and the Ancient Order of United Workmen (AOUW) to name a few have come and gone. You may see their markers at the graves in the Tombstone Cemetery.
In March 2011, after a year working with the City and locating the Masonic section, Br. Frank Belluardo, Jr., worked an agreement that allows the Freemasons to assume maintenance care in the Masonic Section of the Tombstone Cemetery.
The Lodge cleans and maintains the section on or about Earth Day, which falls annually on April 22.
One Masonic organization that is associated with King Solomon #5 and is going strong is the Order of the Eastern Star (OES). The OES is open to both women and men. It was established in 1850 by Rob Morris, lawyer, educator and noted Freemason.
Venus Chapter #12 was chartered in Tombstone on November 19, 1903 and has shared our lodge quarters to this date. The Chapter is a very important part of our fraternity and has made contributions to our Lodge and Masonry in our area.
The shifting populations of Cochise County have resulted in the consolidation of a number of OES Chapters. Border Chapter #15 (Chartered in Douglas in 1908) consolidated with Pearl in 1996. Pearl Chapter #6 (Chartered in Bisbee in 1899) merged with Venus #12, creating Pearl of Venus #6. Silver Star Chapter 53 (Chartered in Benson in 1961) consolidated with Pearl of Venus #6 in 2009.
Past Grand Matrons from the Chapter include Alice W. Lutley (1916), Joan Lopshire (1985), Merle Cowan (1994), and Mary Jackson (2013).
Pearl of Venus #6 goes “dark” after the first meeting in June and resumes for the second meeting in September thus avoiding the summer heat. The Chapter has voted on a trial basis to hold the first meeting of each month in Tombstone and the second meeting in Benson. This is a daytime Chapter with meetings starting at 1:00 PM. Visitors in good standing are always welcome.
The Chapter practices Masonic Charity by supporting many community outreach programs. Donations of blankets, quilts and stuffed “critters” are provided to first responders for children in crisis all over Cochise County. They also support working dogs (military, police, and other area service dogs) and make regular donations to the local animal shelters, especially the No-Kill Tombstone Shelter, as well as local food banks.
They support local youth programs and education with scholarships and assistance, and participate in many community events and parades, including sponsoring members who participate in the American Cancer Society walks.
In the late 1880’s hard times had come to Tombstone. Mining operations were in decline due to flooding, fire loss of an expensive pumping system and the drop in silver prices. Miners were leaving Tombstone for more productive mining operations elsewhere and with them the businesses that supported the mining operations withered.
Time and fortunes in the territory have not changed many things in the Lodge and Freemasonry in the community. Membership declined in the early 1900’s but then rebounded after WWI and WWII.
Today, the lodge is steadily on the rise. Freemasons from the city and surrounding areas, as well as other Freemasons from around the world travel to this historic town and lodge to get a sense of what it was like to be a Freemason in the West in that enchanting time. The brothers today dress in 1880’s formal attire, including frock coats, vests and puff ties.
The Lodge continues to be a part of our community through outreach efforts such as the local Food Bank and Tombstone Small Animal Shelter.
If you would like to know more about Freemasonry contact us through our website, https://ks5tl.website/ or visit us on Facebook.
GRAND MASTERS OF THE ARIZONA GRAND LODGE
WHO WERE MEMBERS OF
KING SOLOMON TERRITORIAL LODGE #5
George W. Cheyney
Artimus L. Grow
Edwin A. Hughes
Joseph A. Ivey
Verne D. Hegge
Michael T. Bishop
Mountain Meadows Massacre Trial Team
Thomas Sorin (1884)
Senior Deacon Officer Jewel
Original Lodge Carpet Piece
King Solomon #5 Lodge Interior
PM, 32°, KCCH
King Solomon Charter
William Martin Myers
King Solomon #5 Lodge
Andrew Jackson Ritter
Array of the McLaury’s & Clanton
Gunfight at the OK Corral
Cochise County Courthouse
Tombstone City Hall
Sarah Herring Sorin & Thomas Sorin
Scott White (1897)
Tombstone Cemetery (May 1887)
Masonic Section, Tombstone Cemetery
Frank Belluardo, MM (2011)
Order of the Eastern Star Logo
Dedication Cermony of newly
painted lodge name on outside of
Schieffelin Hall (April 1, 2001)