Vol. XXXVII No. 5 — May 1959

Freemasonry in Alaska and Hawaii

Conrad Hahn

The admission of two new states to the Union in 1959 focuses attention on the areas, populations, and resources of Alaska and Hawaii. In land area the former becomes the largest state, containing approximately 586,400 square miles; but in population it is the smallest, with only 206,000 inhabitants, as estimated in 1956. Hawaii becomes one of the smallest states, with an area of 6,407 square miles; only Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island are smaller; but its population is almost triple that of Alaska, for there are 569,500 inhabitants, as estimated in 1958. Hawaii, therefore, is larger in population than Alaska, Nevada, Wyoming, Vermont, or Delaware; it is practically equal to New Hampshire in this respect.

Alaska is really a territorial giant. In addition to the large land mass at the northwestern end of the North American continent, this new state has two long arms, one extending in a southeasterly direction, the fiord-riddled coastal strip along Canada’s northwestern border, and the other extending in a southwesterly direction, the long chain of the Aleutian Islands, which point to the Kamchatka Peninsula of Siberia and to Japan beyond.

From Ketchikan in southeast Alaska to Attu Island at the western end of the Aleutians is an air journey of roughly 2,500 miles! From the same city to Anchorage, the principal city in the southern part of central Alaska, there is a distance of approximately 750 air miles; while a similar journey northward to Fairbanks requires a flight of almost a thousand miles. The district deputy for the First Masonic District in Alaska has only two lodges in his jurisdiction, the ones at Nome and at Fairbanks, but they are approximately 500 miles apart in a direct air line — much farther by practically impassable land routes!

Furs, especially seal-skins, first attracted the white man to Alaska; but today the economy of our largest state is based on a variety of productive enterprises. Fisheries constitute the most important business in Alaska today. The pack of canned salmon in 1939 alone was over five million cases. Another interest that has attracted much capital to Alaska is mining; the “gold rush” days are still popular subjects for Hollywood movies. During the 1930s an intensive farming area was established in the Matanuska Valley, where vegetables and poultry are being raised in unprecedented quantities. This valley has proved to be particularly adapted for breeding dairy cattle, while the interior plateaus of Alaska are well suited for the breeding of large reindeer herds. Furs still constitute one of Alaska’s most valuable natural resources; the United States Government since 1910 has licensed and controlled the seal-skin catch in the Pribilof Islands.

After our government purchased Alaska for $7,200,000 from Russia in 1867, it did not take long for Masonry to establish a foothold in our northernmost territory. Alaska Lodge No. 14, under dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Washington, was authorized to begin its labors at Sitka on April 14, 1868. Its charter was granted on September 17,1869; all Masonic lodges in Alaska have been chartered by the Grand Lodge ofWashington.

Unfortunately, Grand Master Haller felt compelled to revoke the charter of this pioneer lodge in Alaska on October 18, 1872, because “the affairs of Alaska lodge were in a hopeless condition.” In 1879 another attempt was made to establish a lodge at Sitka. It was known as Jamestown Lodge No. 33, chartered in 1880; but it led a fitful existence for seven years, until its charter was annulled on June 8,1887. Jamestown lodge seems to have had no fixed habitation; it tried to move to Juneau but permission was refused by the grand master; it had permission to move to Harrisburg, but never did. It met irregularly and performed practically no labors; its “returns” were conspicuous by their absence. Its demise was inevitable.

It was fourteen years later, with the beginning of the Twentieth Century, that Freemasonry was finally established permanently in Alaska. On June 6, 1901, the Grand Lodge of Washington granted a charter to White Pass Lodge No. 113, located at Skagway. It is a small but thriving lodge today. Seven more lodges were chartered in the first decade of this century, since that time Freemasonry in Alaska has enjoyed a slow but steady growth.

Anvil Lodge No. 140 at Nome is the westernmost lodge on the American continents; Tanana Lodge No. 162 at Fairbanks is the most northern. It may well be the most northern Masonic lodge in the world, unless there are Norwegian or Finnish lodges above the Arctic Circle.

Paul W. Harvey in his centennial history of the Grand Lodge of Washington, Not Made With Hands, observes that

Masonry is sturdy and progressive in Alaska. Now that the northern Territory will shortly put on the proud mantle of statehood, one wonders how long it will be until a Grand Lodge of Alaska is formed. That is inevitable, of course. Alaska with its vast resources, its pioneer spirit and its faith in the future, is as certain to develop into a great state as the sun is to shine.”

William E. Yeager, P.G.M., writing in The Pennsylvania Freemason, remarks that because of the friendly and very happy relationship that exists between the brethren in Alaska and those of the state of Washington, it is doubtful that a grand lodge will be erected in Alaska in the near future. This feeling of good will toward one another is largely due to the support, economic and otherwise, which the Grand Lodge of Washington has given these brethren. In the years 1950, 1951, and 1952 the grand masters of the Grand Lodge of Washington visited every lodge in Alaska. . . . Freemasonry in Alaska has a well-laid foundation upon which there may be erected in the future “a Masonic edifice,” whatever its particular form may be.

There are at present fifteen lodges in Alaska, with a total membership of 2,985 (as of December 31, 1957). 132 of these members were raised in that year. The following list, arranged by districts, gives the names and numbers of the fifteen lodges in Alaska, their location, and the date on which each was chartered, followed by the number of Master Masons in each lodge on December 31, 1957.

District 1: North-Central Alaska

Anvil 140 Nome June 14, 1905 161
Tanana 162 Fairbanks June 17, 1908 512

District 2: North-Central Alaska

Valdez 168 Valdez June 17, 1908 73
Mt. McKinley 183 Cordova June 14, 1911 106
Seward 219 Seward June 14, 1917 168
Anchorage 221 Anchorage June 17, 1925 527
Matanuska 293 Palmer June 20, 1951 63
Mt. Susitna 294 Anchorage June 17, 1952 157
Kodiak 295 Kodiak June 17, 1952 134

District 3: South-East Alaska

White Pass 113 Skagway June 12, 1901 91
Gastineau 124 Douglas June 10, 1903 117
Mt. Juneau 147 Juneau June 14, 1905 352
Ketchikan 159 Ketchikan June 12, 1907 310
Petersburg 262 Petersburg June 11, 1924 144
Mt. Verstovia 291 Sitka June 21, 1950 70

Two of these lodges, it is interesting to note, have memberships in excess of 500, while four of them have memberships of fewer than 100. The oldest lodges are to be found at Skagway and Douglas in the southeast portion of Alaska, as well as at far away Nome, “next door” to Siberia.

Most Masonic lodges in Alaska own their own buildings, some of which are quite spacious and modern. Visitors to these Alaskan lodges during the last few years have commented favorably on the high quality of work that is being done by our brethren to the north. The friendly welcome and brotherly feelings exhibited there are among the warmest in the world.

Alaska has five chapters of Royal Arch Masons, working under the jurisdiction of the Grand Chapter, R.A.M. of Alaska, whose headquarters is at Fairbanks. In addition there are two subordinate chapters under the jurisdiction of the General Grand Chapter. They are Tongass Chapter No. 5 at Ketchikan, and Taku Chapter No. 6 at Juneau. The Grand Chapter of Alaska counted 609 members in its five chapters on July 1,1957.

There are four Commanderies of Knights Templar in Alaska. Alaska Commandery No. 1, at Fairbanks, received its dispensation on July 17, 1911. Its charter is dated August 14, 1913. Anchorage Commandery No. 2, at Anchorage, was authorized on July 1,1920. Its charter is dated April 27, 1922. The two newest Commanderies were chartered in 1952. They are No. 3 at Juneau and No. 4 at Ketchikan. In 1955 there were 148 Sir Knights at Fairbanks, and 411 at Anchorage. The others had 57 and 59 members respectively. All Commanderies in Alaska are subordinate to the General Grand Encampment, K.T., of the United States.

Alaska has four Scottish Rite Valleys, all owing their allegiance to the Supreme Council, A.A.S.R., Southern Jurisdiction. They are located at Juneau, Ketchikan, Anchorage, and Fairbanks. Each Valley has a lodge of Perfection, the oldest being at Juneau, chartered in 1911. There is only one Chapter of Rose Croix, one Council of Kadosh, and one Consistory — all of them being located at Juneau. On December 31, 1956, total membership in the four lodges of Perfection was 1,667. Membership in the Alaska Consistory at Juneau was 1,488. Howard D. Stabler of Juneau is the deputy (1956).

The orders that admit female relatives of Masons are also active. The Order of the Eastern Star has fifteen chapters in Alaska, all subordinate to the General Grand Chapter of the U.S. Chapters generally exist in the same places in which Masonry is at labor. The oldest Chapter, at Nome, was chartered in 1905. On January 1, 1955, there were 2,891 members in Alaska. The Amaranth has Courts at both Fairbanks and Anchorage. The Order of DeMolay is also making progress, and there are nine Shrine clubs in this brand-new state.

Masonry is making its mark in Alaska!

Hawaii is better-known to many Americans because of its attractiveness as a tourist resort, and because of the importance of the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, the bombardment of which on December 7, 1941, plunged us into World War II. Hawaii consists primarily of the former Sandwich Islands, an archipelago of some twenty isles or islets, eight of which are inhabited. The distance between the outermost islands is roughly 400 miles. Palmyra and Midway Islands also belong to the territory of Hawaii, but they are not in the main group.

The inhabited islands are Hawaii (the largest and easternmost), Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe. Honolulu, the capital, is located on Oahu, about 2,100 miles from San Francisco. Most of the Masonic lodges in Hawaii are to be found on Oahu, the most heavily populated island; but there are also lodges on Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii. On June 30, 1958, there were nine lodges at labor in the Hawaiian Islands with a total membership of 3,099. All were chartered by the Grand Lodge of California and belong to that jurisdiction.

Hawaii has a predominantly agrarian economy, marked by large scale agricultural enterprises. Approximately three and a half million acres are under cultivation; sugarcane is the leading crop, with pineapples next in importance. Other important agricultural products are coffee, bananas, fresh flowers, rice, hides, cotton, and nuts. Fishing is important for domestic consumption. Canning, sugar refining, and related industries are the principal manufacturing enterprises in the islands. The tourist business is highly lucrative and important to the economy of Hawaii.

The oldest Masonic lodge in Hawaii is Hawaiian No. 21 in the Registry of the Grand Lodge of California. Chartered in 1852, it has performed Masonic labors in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for more than a hundred years. It is one of the larger lodges, having 448 members. Two others are larger, with memberships of 730 and 598. In 1873, a second lodge was chartered at Wailuku, Maui; known as Maui No. 223. It worked only briefly, surrendering its charter on October 31,1877.

The following list gives the names of the lodges in Hawaii, their locations, the year in which each was chartered, and its membership as of June 30, 1958.

Hawaiian 21 Honolulu, Oahu 1852 448
Honolulu 409 Honolulu, Oahu 1910 410
Kauai 589 Lihue, Kauai 1924 119
Kilauea 330 Hilo, Hawaii 1897 208
Maui 472 Kahului, Maui 1918 215
Le Progres de l’Oceanie 371 Honolulu, Oahu 1843[1] 730
Pearl Harbor 598 Honolulu, Oahu 1924 598
Schofield 443 Wahiawa, Oahu 1914 308
Waikiki 774 Honolulu, Oahu 1957 54

Statehood for Hawaii now prompts the question: “When will Hawaii organize its own grand lodge?” American Masons, having adopted the principle of “exclusive jurisdiction,” are always eager to promote the idea of independent grand lodges in each sovereign state of the Union.

The number of lodges in Hawaii and its comparatively small Masonic population suggest that the lodges of Hawaii are better off in their present relationship to the Grand Lodge of California than “to go it alone.” Economically and fraternally they enjoy all the advantages of a large and well managed jurisdiction, whose considerable resources make possible an extensive program of Masonic services in education, financial assistance, charity, and relief. Representatives from Hawaii to the grand lodge are reimbursed for transportation and per diem expenses, so that attendance at the annual communications in California works no hardship on individuals or the local lodges.

Nevertheless, the question of a Grand Lodge of Hawaii has been raised from time to time at the annual communications in California; there are a few members in the islands who feel that the Hawaiian lodges could support an independent grand lodge. Since 1954, however, the issue has not been raised officially.

Royal Arch Masonry came to Hawaii more than a century ago. Honolulu Chapter No. 1 at Honolulu, given dispensation on June 10, 1857, will celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of its charter on September 14 of this year. Although work was suspended in 1861, it was given dispensation to resume labors in 1870. This Chapter is subordinate to the General Grand Chapter it had 349 Companions on December 31,1956. There is also a subordinate Council of Royal and Select Masters of the U.S.A, at Honolulu.

A few years later a Commandery of Knights Templar was established in Hawaii when the Grand Encampment of 1871 agreed with the grand master that it was proper for the Grand Encampment to extend its jurisdiction beyond the borders of the United States. The grand master had issued a dispensation to the interested fraters in Honolulu on December 10, 1870. A charter was granted on September 21, 1871; since that time Honolulu Commandery No. 1 has been the exclusive Templar body in Hawaii. In 1955 it counted 311 Sir Knights in its membership.

Scottish Rite Masonry arrived in the islands when the Honolulu lodge of Perfection was chartered in the capital on October 20, 1874. There are four Scottish Rite Valleys in Hawaii: at Honolulu, at Hilo (Hawaii), at Kahului (Maui), and at Lihue (Kauai), which is the youngest Valley, having been chartered in 1945. All four Valleys have Chapters of Rose Croix; all except Lihue have Councils of Kadosh; and all except Lihue also have Consistories. All owe allegiance to the Supreme Council, A. & A.S.R., Southern Jurisdiction. Membership in the Consistories totalled 2,156 on December 31, 1956. To this total may be added the 819 members of Guam Consistory on the Island of Guam, which belongs to this Orient in the Pacific Ocean.

There are ten Chapters of the Order of the Eastern Star in Hawaii, all subordinate to the General Grand Chapter of the U.S. In 1955 there were 2,072 members. The oldest Chapter, chartered in 1899, is at Hilo (Hawaii). The Shrine is represented by a very active Temple (Aloha) at Honolulu, with 2,557 Nobles. The Order of DeMolay also has a Chapter at Honolulu; it is highly regarded for its progressive accomplishments.

Freemasonry in our newest states is numerically small; but in both territories it already has a long history of service and achievement. The pioneer Masons in both new states built well for the future.

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In 1975, Addenda updated information in this Bulletin.


The 1970 Census showed Alaska’s population as 302,713.

Alaska now has 17 lodges with the addition of Glacier No. 303 at Anchorage and Kenai No. 307 at Soldotna, both chartered in 1961. Total membership in Alaska (1974) was 3,149.

There are four Royal Arch Chapters in Alaska, at Anchorage, Fairbanks, Ketchikan, and Kodiak, all under the Grand Chapter of Alaska. Total membership in 1973 was 586. The Chapter at Juneau demised in 1962.

Commanderies of Knights Templar, subordinate to the Grand Encampment, are working at Anchorage and Fairbanks. Total membership (1974) was 414. Commandery No. 3 at Juneau ceased to function in 1962. Ketchikan No. 4’s charter was suspended in 1974.

There are still four Valleys of the Scottish Rite in Alaska, but the number of bodies has increased. There are four Chapters of Rose Croix, at Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Ketchikan, three Councils of Kadosh (none at Ketchikan) and three Consistories, at Juneau, Fairbanks, and Anchorage. Total membership in the four lodges of Perfection was 2,400 in 1975. Robert J. Rogers of Anchorage is the deputy for Alaska.

In 1974 Al Aska Shrine Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S., was established at Anchorage with 592 members.

Fifteen Chapters of the Order of the Eastern Star are working in Alaska. Total 1974 membership was 3,375.


The 1970 census showed Hawaii's population as 769,913.

In 1960 the Grand Lodge of California chartered a tenth lodge in Hawaii, Koolau No. 801 at Kaneohe, Oahu. Total membership in Hawaii’s ten lodges was 3,179 in 1974.

From 1970 to 1973 some Hawaiian lodges discussed with the Grand Lodge of California their desire to form a Grand Lodge of Hawaii. In 1971 six lodges adopted resolutions providing for elected commissioners empowered to form a Grand Lodge of Hawaii. The Grand Lodge of California negated the action by requiring each member of every Hawaiian lodge to cast a ballot for or against the formation of a grand lodge. Such ballots were sent out in 1972 and 1973. While a majority of the ballots returned were in favor, they represented only a minority of all members. A Grand Lodge of Hawaii? Not yet.

There are four subordinate Royal Arch Chapters in Hawaii. In addition to Honolulu Chapter No. 1, there are Kalakaua No. 2 at Kailua, Oahu; Kamehameha No. 3 at Hilo, Hawaii; and Duke Kahanamoku No. 4 at Wahiawa, Oahu. Their combined membership (1974) was 695.

The one Commandery of Knights Templar is in Honolulu. Its 1975 membership was 646.

There are now only three Scottish Rite Valleys in Hawaii. The lodge of Perfection and the Rose Croix Chapter at Lihue surrendered their charters in December 1974. Membership in the three lodges of Perfection in 1975 was 2,182; in the Consistories, 2,134. Earl W. Fase is the deputy.

Nine Chapters of the Order of the Eastern Star are working in the Islands, with a total membership of 1,957 in 1974.

Masonic youth organizations are represented in Hawaii by seven Chapters of DeMolay, four Bethels of Job’s Daughters, and six Assemblies of Rainbow for Girls.

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  1. Ihe lodge website says formed 1841, constituted 1843.

The Masonic Service Association of North America