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San Diego Lodge No. 35 History

Lodge 35 History

By Orion M. Zink, Lodge Historian, 1976

All Masons in good standing with their respective Lodges are requested to assemble at the Exchange Hotel, in the City of San Diego, on Friday evening, the 20th inst., to make arrangements for the celebrating of the anniversary of our patron saint, John the Baptist.
San Diego Herald, June 19, 1851

Thus began the history of San Diego Lodge No. 35. The formation of San Diego Lodge is said to have been suggested when, during a picnic, it was discovered that there were a number of Masons among the newcomers into the city. Just who suggested the idea is unknown. However, John Judson Ames, owner-editor of the San Diego Herald, certainly had a part in it as indicated by the notice above that was printed in his newspaper.

Apparently at this meeting, a petition for a dispensation was drawn up and forwarded to Grand Lodge. The petition was granted and signed by the Right Worshipful B.D. Hyam, Deputy Grand Master, on August 1, 1851, and the name "San Diego Lodge" bestowed. A notice of the granting of the dispensation appeared in the Herald on September 4, 1851. In this notice, William C. Ferrell is named Master, John Judson Ames as Senior Warden, and John Cook as Junior Warden. The notice also stated that "they will begin work as soon as the rooms can be fitted up."

On October 9, 1851, the Herald printed this notice: There will be a meeting of San Diego Lodge, F.&A.M., at the house of Col. A. Haraszthy, on Friday evening next 10th inst. At half past six o'clock. A full attendence is urged as business of importance is to be transacted. Per order of Worshipful Master.

Fortunately, for history's sake, these notices were published by the Herald, for if records were kept of the first meeting at the Exchange Hotel and the subsequent one at Haraszthy's house they were evidently lost.

The first meeting where minutes were kept was that held on November 20, 1851. At that meeting, those named as being present were Wm. C. Ferrell, W.M.; John Judson Ames, S.W.; Daniel Barbee, J.W.; R. E. Raymond, Treasurer; A. Haraszthy, Secretary; Wm. H. Moon, Tiler. In addition to these, James W. Robinson, Wm. Heath Davis and John Cook are mentioned as others to whom the dispensation was granted. It is interesting to note that nine brethren are mentioned, all of whom must be regarded as founders of the Lodge. This is in spite of the fact that on two seperate occasions, in the Herald, Ames states that there were only seven present at the first meeting, which suggests that he was reffering to the first meeting, which was held in the Exchange Hotel.

William C. Ferrell, the first Master of the Lodge, was a lawyer and came from South Carolina. He served as San Diego's first District Attorney. John Judson Ames, a Goliath of a man, 6 foot 6 inches tall and weighing 250 pounds, was born in Maine. He was the owner and editor of San Diego's first newspaper called, the Herald. James W. Robinson, the Lodge's first Secretary, who later served as Master, was born in Ohio. He was Lieutenant Governor, and then Governor of the State of Texas. Upon establishing his residence in San Diego, he put up his shingle and practiced law for a while. He held the office of District Attorney from 1852 to 1856. R. E. Raymond was a shipping and commission merchant and served as a member of the City Council in 1852. Where he came from is not known. He left San Diego in 1853 and settled in San Francisco, where he continued in the shipping business. Daniel Barbee was a Major in the U.S. Army, in command of certain units stationed here at that time. William H. Moon was immortalized by Derby in his book Phoenixiana, where he is referred to as the "Squire". Derby describes him as a "jovial middle-aged gentleman from the state of Georgia, who replied to my inquiries as to his state of health, that he was 'fine as silk but not half so well beliked by the ladies'". John Cook was Assemblyman from this District. Agostin Haraszthy, Sheriff of San Diego County, City Marshal, and later Assemblyman, was a native of Hungary. His family had been prominent in Hungarian society for over seven hundred years. Agostin was Colonel in King Ferdinand's bodyguard of nobles, and rated the title of Count. It was in his home at Old Town that the first public school classes were held. After he left San Diego, he and his sons introduced over 400 varieties of grapes in Sonoma County, and they were the first to successfully manufacture champagne in California. Grand Lodge records of 1851 and 1852 have Haraszthy erroneously listed as A. Hartley.


Old Town San Diego, 1860s
29-Little Brick Court House
30 Colorado House
31 Franklin House - site where the lodge was organized
"Railroad Blk"
"James W. Robinson Bldg"
"Louis Rose Bldg."
San Diego Lodge met here 1866-1870
Durham Hall
748-58 Fifth Ave.
Masonic Hall
6th & Market Sts.
Masonic Temple
Fifth Ave & Ash St.
Masonic Temple
Third Ave & Cedar St.
Scottish Rite Temple
1895 Camino Del Rio

Founding Fathers

Agostin Haraszthy William C. Ferrell
John Hudson Ames James W. Robinson
John C. Cremony - First Master Mason Raised in Lodge No. 35

Of course, the list of founding fathers of San Diego Lodge No. 35 would not be complete without the mention of Lt. George H. Derby, who was with the U.S. Army Engineer Corps and in charge of the work of diverting the waters of the San Diego River into Mission Bay, which was at that time known as False Bay. He was a member of Federal Lodge in Washington D.C. and helped organize Sonoma Lodge, U.D., which later became Temple Lodge No. 14, where he was the first Master.

On his first visit to San Diego in March, 1853, San Diego Lodge had not yet obtained its charter. Upon learning of the plight of the Lodge, he offered his assistance in obtaining a charter. He became a member by affiliation on April 23rd, 1853, and at that "emergency" meeting, he was appointed by the Lodge to "act as proxy for the Worshipful Master and Wardens" to represent the Lodge at the next Communication of Grand Lodge. Derby arrived barely in time to attend the meeting of Grand Lodge held on May 7. On that day, the Committee on Dispensations and Charters reported the books and work of San Diego Lodge to be in order, and a charter was authorized.

On May 9, Grand Master Hyam announced the names of the Lodges to which charters were being issued, the numbers running from 23 to 35. San Diego Lodge was the 19th oldest Lodge in the State, and by right of seniority was entitled to preference in the alloting of numbers. However, Derby's delayed arrival precluded possible clearance of the Lodge's papers in sequence, and so San Diego Lodge received the last number, 35, instead of a coveted smaller number. When Grand Lodge officers for that year were named, Derby was appointed Grand Sword Bearer.

These are the founding fathers of San Diego Lodge No. 35. To them we owe our thanks for our Lodge's existence. To them we owe our thanks for all the joys of friendship and brotherhood that we enjoy. To them we owe our thanks for bringing us 150 years of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.