"Mt. Moriah Lodge No.2 Oration" Gavin K. K. Wardrope, W. Grand Orator
Most Worshipful Grand Master, Most Worshipful Past Grand Masters, Right Worshipful Brothers, Worshipful Brothers and Brethren all, Good Evening.
I remember when I was a young boy travelling in Perthshire, Scotland and seeing a massive white turreted castle and my father casually informed me 'that is where your cousins live'. The castle is Blair Castle and is the ancestral home of the Duke of Atholl. I never thought much about what he said but every time we seemed to go somewhere it was always the same 'that is where your cousins live.'
Eventually I said to him that if they were his cousins were they not my cousins also. This made him think and he said 'I suppose so.'
The point of this is that I am the last male of my line and there are only 3 of us left, my father, my uncle and myself and as I never found out the names of these cousins whose houses that we passed they are lost to my family's history for time immemorial and as my father's memories also fades I will never know their names, stories and connection to me.
Take this Lodge's history, absolutely enthralling and entertaining recorded by Brethren, who clearly had a passion and love of their Lodge, with the exception of 2 periods, 1866 - 1873 and 1887 - 1895, despite inquiries being made throughout the city the Minute Books have never been found.
In the short space of time that I have I cannot do justice to the position Mt. Moriah holds in the annals of Utah and Western United States Masonry, but I thank the Worshipful Master for asking me to talk about it and giving me the tools to do this piece.
We have to thank a General Merchant, Br. JM Ellis who while conversing with a gentleman, who turned out to be the Grand Secretary of Nevada, who assisted in advising the steps to be taken in organizing a Lodge here in Salt Lake.
Thanks to Br. Ellis' endeavors a dispensation was granted by the Grand Master of Nevada on February 4, 1866 and the first meeting was held the following day when and I quote, 'the Members, numbering between 50 and 60 gentiles marched in full Masonic regalia from the Lodge Room through the principal streets on their way to Independence Hall.'
Mt Moriah holds the proud position of being the oldest working lodge here in Utah, Wasatch not having their Charter issued until October 1866 and if you wish to know the history of why, well let me just say that you should ask a Member of each Lodge for their opinion, not mine.
The Lodge has gone from a Membership of 33 in 1869 to 100 in 1873 to the 500+ in the 1920s to 467 in 1965 to the current roll of approximately 98 Members. It is interesting to note that the Lodge considered limiting Membership to approximately 500 Members in 1920. Time and times took care of that problem.
The early Brethren certainly took their Masonry seriously. This is evidenced by bringing in paid lecturers to instruct the Brethren, a paid Organist and paid coaches for the Candidates. In the 1870s the Candidate paid the rental for the Hall for their Initiation and if there was more than one the $5 fee was apportioned accordingly.
From 1914 Robes were used in the Master Mason Degree.
The Lodge must have been held in extremely high regard evidenced by the Degrees being presented by various groups such as the chairs being filled by Members of the Salt Lake Police Dept., the Kiwanis, Salt Lake Hardware Co. and Tracy-Collins Bank. A very special night must have been April 20, 1903 when there was 5 Past Grand Masters filling the chairs.
The Lodge has a proud history of Masonic Charity, not only here in Utah but around the world through the Masonic Board of Relief. It is well recorded through the Minutes of all these acts, including donations to 2 of our Lodges who suffered devastating fires within weeks of one another, namely, Damascus #10 and Uinta #7.
There are too many acts of Charity to mention here except for the act of one Brother Charles William Rose who in August 1939 died and left his whole estate to be used for Charity which resulted in the setting up of the Mt Moriah Charity Fund. At the first meeting of the Lodge after his death it was decided to place a rose on the Secretary's desk at all meetings of the Lodge to the memory of Brother Rose and I am pleased to see that some 74 years after his passing that tradition continues to this day.
Mt Moriah purchased burial plots in Mt. Olivet cemetery, not exclusively for Members, until 1914 when it is recorded that only Mt Moriah Members be buried in their plots. As with everything else the Lodge has taken on, there was no holding back in taking care of the last journey of a Brother from the humblest Member to probably the most well-known and respected Mt Moriah Mason, Brother Christopher Diehl.
Of course there was no holding back when it came for time for a good old party, the Lodge excelled here as well. The First Masonic Ball in 1866 held just 2 weeks after their first meeting was held in honor of George Washington. It is well recorded all the picnics, golf tournaments and the ladies nights that were held to further the fellowship that the Lodge was so well known for.
Imagine going on a visitation to Canyon Lodge #13 when a special train consisting of an electric engine and two cars were placed at the disposal of the Lodge and 79 visiting brethren made the journey up to Bingham Canyon.
Of course the most well-known and recognized Member of the Lodge is Brother Christopher Diehl who in addition to his 40 years of service to Grand Lodge served the Lodge almost continually from 1869 to his death in 1912 and the Lodge conducted his Funeral Service.
Perhaps one thing that the Lodge has accomplished in its long distinguished history is the setting up of the Masonic Public Library, whose main driving force was Brother Christopher Diehl. The foundation to this library was laid in 1873. At first the intention was that it be a purely Masonic Library but at the insistence of Christopher Diehl Grand Lodge consented to convert it into a free Public Library and Reading Room which was opened on September 1, 1877 with1786 books of a general nature on its shelves. Due to overwhelming success the Library had to move into new quarters and became the Pioneer Library Association originally having 8000 books. In 1898 at the Grand Lodge Communication all its books and belongings were transferred to the City of Salt Lake.
What a legacy and yet I am sure if you asked the General Public I am sure that there are none aware of this Grand Lodge's and in particular this Lodge's connection with the Public Library system.
As I stated right at the very beginning there is no way that I could give justice to the position of this Lodge in Masonry in Utah and every Member here should be proud of its rich history and traditions in its 147 years and I look forward to being here at its 150th Celebration which I sure will have its own history written about in the future.
To finish with you may ask yourself 'what was the point of this?'
The point is Brethren if we do not show diligence to record the history of today like our forebears did the history will be lost forever.
Finally, that Castle in Scotland that I mentioned at the beginning. I did get to meet my cousins there, only I didn't get to go in the front door, I had to go to the tradesman's entrance as they were only part of the Duke's household.
Most Worshipful Grand Master once again I wish to thank you for allowing me to say these few words and enjoy the rest of your Visitation.
Fraternally, Gavin KK Wardrope PM Grand Orator April 8, 2013