Red Fork Masonic Lodge has grown, in influence, usefulness and material wealth, maturing from 18 original petitioners to a Masonic body of more than 500 in less than 40 years.
A 1959 history, written by Worshipful Master G.W. Bowles, and members E.W. Morton and W.B. Weitz, talks about the new lodge hall.
This story “encompasses a period of approximately 38 years, from the time when a small handful of forward-looking Masons gathered in a rented hall in Red Fork, Okla. for the purpose of organizing a lodge, down to this present moment; this moment when we brethren of Red Ford Lodge No. 505 enjoy our beautiful new lodge building, erected in excellent style and accommodated with its well-chosen and attractive furnishings.”
They first met in the second story of the RedForkCity Hall Nov. 17, 1921. “Brother Finis R. Pope was elected chairman of the meeting and Brother Edward Schlicht was elected secretary,” the minutes said.
They elected officers with Pope as Worshipful Master. Others were Luther Garfield Denny, Arthur Middlekauff Rishel, James Newton Clark, Bernard J. Handlon, Walter S. Fasholtz, Clarence D. Steininger and Otto Young Smith.
Trustees were Guy Sheffield, Charles B. Taylor and Marl W. Wallace.
They met the second and fourth Fridays and set dues of $6 a year and initiation fee of $50.
They sought a “Warrant of Dispensation from the Grand Lodge empowering them to assemble as a legal lodge.”
Nov. 10, 1921, the Tulsa Lodge No. 71 recommended the new Red Fork Lodge. The site and officers were certified by Grand Lecturer F.V. Hurlbutt on Jan. 8, 1922. The Letter of Dispensation came Jan. 10, 1922.
April 24, 1922 the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma “constituted the lodge in due form.” The new lodge continued to meet on the second floor of City Hall, sharing expenses with I.O.O.F. and Eastern Star.
Among actions that year was a motion to build a board walk on the north side of the building and to meet regarding “to building a jail under the lodge. Sept. 22, 1922, a committee was formed to look into building a lodge hall of their own.
In May 1925 meeting nights were changed to the second and fourth Mondays.
The writers said the lodge was honored to be asked to lay the cornerstone in the high school building in April, 1925. A boundary quandary was resolved in 1927, the district deputy established W. 23rd Street in West Tulsa as the line between Tulsa and Red Fork lodges.
In 1926, the lodge acquired a lot in the Clinton Addition. The cornerstone was dated June 10, 1927. Some $1,500 was spent, with $9,000 borrowed. The lodge was on the second floor. The first floor was rented to a business, but in later years was a recreation hall.
From 1930, membership applications began to drop and brothers were unable to pay their dues. The lodge finances were pinched. After 1932, dues were reduced to $6. The loan became delinquent in 1932, as did many others. It was placed in the hands of an attorney.
In 1934, the initiation fee became $40, plus $15 Masonic Home contribution. The office of trustee was abolished.
In 1936, the loan was refinanced. At last in 1937, with Eastern Star aid, the floor of the lodge was carpeted.
Dec. 31, 1938 members who were three or more years in arrears were suspended. Charles R. Harris died Feb. 17, 1939 and the custom of paying a tribute and dedicating a page in the minute book was started. In Feb. 1940, Walter Carpenter was elected vice-president of District 12 and W.H. Ware became District Deputy Grand Master.
The first floor was remodeled and painted as a recreation hall. When World War II came, the Red Fork Lodge helped with bond campaigns and gave the Red Fork Red Cross Chapter use of the lodge recreation room for sewing.
Len Yarborough and J.W. Boles were the first of several to leave for military training. The lodge voted to paid the dues of brothers in uniform and put them on a lodge honor roll. The lodge minutes mention food rationing affecting lodge social gatherings.
Red Fork Assembly Rainbow Girls was set up. The adjoining lot was bought and became a parking lot. A theater built west of the lodge paid $500 to use the adjoining wall. The loan was paid off and Dec. 23, 1946 the cancelled note was announced. March 26, 1947 the mortgage note was burned.
The lodge bought a new fan and in 1955, an evaporator cooler was installed. In February, 1948. Treasurer Elmer Godown reported a surplus of $1,114.12 that members decided to invest.
Several members died. Dues were paid for those fighting in the Korean War, and made Past Masters life members.
In both 1953 and 1954, members looked at sites and building costs. The Lodge kept buying government bonds. In October, 1955, Worshipful Master Edgar W. Morton spoke on the condition of the old hall and formed a committee to look into the finances of building a new one.
In January, 1957, they bought 1.5 acres at 920 W. 51st Street. Finis W. Smith, Paul H. Stark, Edgar W. Morton, D.C. Sigmon and T.A. Dooley and later Fred Lannon were the building committee. The first meeting in the new temple was March 10, 1958. They helped a new Brookside lodge get started. A DeMolay chapter was adopted in 1959.
The Lodge won many District 12 honors – most lodge officers, Past Masters and members present at the monthly District meetings.
“For the moment then, we cease from our historical accounting, with pride in our past with with confidence in our future, peace and harmony prevailing,” the committee concluded.