Civil war ravaged the country. Crime in San Francisco rose. Vigilantes emerged. Many Californian’s traveled east to join the Union Army. Brother turned against brother. Chaos prevailed, but not among thirteen Masonic Brethren who, just a few months prior to October, met on the corner of Sixteenth and Valencia Streets. They decided to form a new lodge located in the Mission District. Where the kinship of many lodges was made of men of the same craft, nationality or religion, this new lodge intended to be different. The kinship of this new lodge was to be men of family and the neighborhood.

The dispensation fee in 1863 was $12, the equivalent of $226 in 2015. The dispensation was granted on September 7th, and the first meeting was held on September 16th. That evening of the 16th, the first applicant submitted his petition to receive the degrees.

The First Degree cost $30 ($566 in 2015), the Second Degree cost $20 ($377 in 2015), and the Third Degree also cost $20. On the following stated meeting that Tuesday, October 13th, a cabinet maker by the name of Benjamin F. Odgen became the first applicant voted to receive the degrees of Masonry. Brother Benjamin was initiated the next day on October 14, and thus became the first Entered Apprentice in the newly formed lodge.

One year later on October 13th, 1864, the Grand Lodge of California granted San Francisco’s first “neighborhood lodge” its charter.

The Lodge remains here today, 152 years later.

You know that Lodge as Mission Lodge No. 169.

Steve Buck
Assistant Secretary

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