Fraternal History of Imperial County, California
From: The History of Imperial County, California
Edited by: F. C. Farr
Published by: Elms and Franks
Berkeley, CA 1918


THERE is no more rational or potential expression or indication of the permanency and enduring growth in the commercial, industrial and social sides of a community than is to be found in the establishment of Masonic organizations and their subsequent expansion. One of the unanswerable arguments in favor of the high order of social advancement in the Imperial Valley is to be found in the strength and character of its Masonic bodies. And incontrovertible is the fact that no community elsewhere can boast of a cleaner, higher or prouder type of citizenship than is now to be found within the ranks of Freemasonry in the Imperial Valley.

As in the past, the experience of the Masons of the Valley has differed little, if in any degree, from that of other communities in respect of the trials and tribulations of primary organization. Here, as elsewhere, "ups and downs" have been enough to make the stoutest heart quail before repeated failures and disappointments. But, true to the spirit of Masonry, its past history and traditions through the centuries since its birth, it has fought its way slowly and steadily and surely to the front and over the top, until today its votaries are legion and component parts of the brain and brawn, the bone and sinew of the land and the salt of the earth.

Masonry in the Imperial Valley numbers the leading citizens, business men, professional men, and men in every walk of life whose characters are above reproach and who are numbered among those who "builded better than they knew." And it is not saying too much to make the assertion that Masonry has taken a marvelous hold upon the hearts of its people in the Imperial Valley, and is growing splendidly in a highly intelligent and systematic fashion. This applies to the symbolic lodges and the Eastern Star primarily and fundamentally, where Masonry plants its standard and sets its foundation stones in adamant as solid and immovable as the eternal Rock of Ages. The membership of the five symbolic lodges and the five Eastern Star chapters of the Valley is one to be proud of in any community on earth.

There is no better evidence of the presence of high social standards than the existence of these bodies, and no surer evidence of advancing prosperity than their rapid growth. And this applies with equal force and effect to every part of California, where Masonry is growing by leaps and bounds and numbering among its disciples the best that society has to give. And this is good, viewed in the light of the quiet, unobtrusive, unostentatious but none the less God given work of charity accomplished by Freemasonry among the nations of the earth since time began, and especially since the birth of the present awful world war, the most terrible holocaust of carnage the world has ever seen, where the human family is receiving its fearsome baptism of blood - and to what end?

Masonry is filling its allotted niche in this world of exclamation and interrogation points for the dispensation of charity to stricken hearts and suffering humanity, the alleviation of distress among men and women, Mason or profane, and the coming of a world peace, "when war shall be known no more," and "when the reign of our blessed Emanuel, the Prince of Peace, the great Captain of our salvation shall become universal and eternal."

No one who knows will begrudge to Masonry the exalted position it has attained among the nations of the earth as the greatest charitable organization the world has ever known.


In Imperial Valley, the vast inland empire with its untold millions of commercial wealth, where cotton is king and the mighty Colorado River is diverted into irrigation ditches, Pythianism wended its way soon after the pioneer had demonstrated the vast richness of its soil. In Pythianism this large expanse of country is officially known as the 34th Convention District of the Domain of California.

Pythianism invaded Imperial County in 1906, thus making it possible for the foundation of the "lowest down lodges on earth." Imperial Lodge No. 36 was instituted in the city of Imperial on September 39th of that year. There were 20 charter members and the largest number ever reached was 33 members. After a brief struggle it surrendered its charter to the Grand Lodge in June of 1910, though it had not reported to that body since December of 1907.

In the spring of 1911 another attempt was made to plant the banner of Pythianism, but this time in the city of Brawley. Through the untiring efforts of E. A. Morris, a member of Fort Bragg Lodge No. 24, a lodge was finally instituted in Brawley on June 15, 1911, with 23 charter members. Brawley Lodge No. 292 today is one of the most active lodges in the Valley, though not the largest, having only a membership of about 100.

Holtville Lodge No. 301 at Holtville was organized through the efforts of J. H. Whistler, a member of Helmet Lodge No. 25, and was instituted April 1, 1912. The lodge is the smallest one in the Valley, only having a membership of 47.

The organization of El Centro Lodge No. 315, located at El Centro, was brought about mainly through the efforts of J. Stanley Brown, who at that time held membership in Redlands Lodge No. 186. J. Stanley Brown is now spoken os as the "Father of 315." On November 26, 1913, this lodge was instituted with a charter membership of 123. The lodge has progressed until today it has nearly 200 members. Officers: Chancellor Commander, J. H. House; vice chancellor, A. L. Lackey; prelate, R. A. Chestnut; master of work, Marvin Moore; keeper of records and seal, R. Kellerstraus; master of finance, B. C. Leech; master of exchequer, Y. N. Adams; inner guard, F. M. Moore; outer guard, L. R. Stillman.

Calexico was the last to institute a lodge, and this was accomplished mainly through the efforts of the other lodges in the Valley. The lodge was instituted on March 13, 1914, with 83 charter members. The lodge has prospered ever since the institution and today has a membership of about 150. The Calexico Lodge bears the distinction of being the only lodge in the State of California located on the Mexican border. Officers: Chancellor commander, D. L. Ault; vice chancellor, E. L. Parker; prelate, W. B. Park, Jr.; master of work, A. E. Liscahk; keeper of records and seal, H. W. Going; master of finance, R. G. Goree; master of exchequer, Max Harris; inner guard, H. J. Edwards; outer guard, James Price.

The honor roll of Pythians of the Valley lodges in the U. S. service contains 31 names, and nearly every branch of the service is represented.


On April 11, 1914, El Oasis Temple No. 173, D. O. K.K., was instituted with a charter membership of 15o. The affairs of the Temple have prospered until today the roster contains nearly 30o names. The ceremonials of the Temple are held annually and are attended by members from all over Southern California, for they are the creators of clean enjoyment for all Pythian Knights.

Royal vizier, Lou Philley; grand emir, Geo. Dixon; sheik, E. J. Clark; secretary, R. Kellerstraus; treasurer, A. C. Nieman; satrap, C. B. Farris; sahib, T. A. Tunstall; mahedi, G. H. Mathews.


The youngest organization in the Imperial Valley Pythian family is El Centro Temple No. 77, Pythian Sisters, which was instituted February 28, 1916, by Past Grand Chief Mary Livingston. The institution was brought about by Mrs. Lulu Thompson, then a member of Moonstone Temple No. Tot. The charter membership was about 4o, and today the membership has increased to over 80. The sisters are very much interested in Red Cross work and have charge of the local Red Cross headquarters two days of each week.

Most excellent chief, Mrs. Zella North; excellent senior, Mrs. Sophia Kellerstraus; excellent junior, Mrs. Marvin Moore; manager, Mrs. Y. N. Adams; mistress of records and correspondence, Mrs. Cathalene Moffat; mistress of finance, Mrs. Frank M. Moore; protector of the temple, Mrs. F. G. Wier; guard of the temple, Mrs. G. W. Hortson.

EL CENTRO LODGE, 1325, B. P. O. E.

El Centro Lodge, 1325, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, was organized in January, 1916, the institution being done by the San Diego lodge. J. Stanley Brown was the first Exalted Ruler. The charter roll consisted of 35 men, all former Elks. Phil D. Swing was elected Exalted Ruler in March of the same year and during the next twelve months the baby lodge reached a membership of 75, more than 100 per cent increase. Vern R. Bishop was the next Exalted Ruler, and the lodge now numbers 120 members. Otis B. Tout will be in the Exalted Ruler's chair for the next year. During its existence the El Centro lodge has participated in many patriotic and charitable events and is rapidly becoming a forceful factor and an aid to the government in the present war. A five year program is being mapped out. Club rooms will be leased and furnished this summer and a home will be built after the war.

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