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A Blast from the Past into the Future

By William M. Ferrell

What I found most interesting was that John C. Fremont, a Master Mason, was the military Governor in California just before it was granted statehood. As an abolitionist, he put pressure on Congress to admit California as a “free” state. When our elected officials were debating how to admit California to the union, he proclaimed military law and said that California was an independent republic. Washington quickly admitted California to the union as a “free” state.

The History of Fremont Lodge No. 497 runs back to September 8, 1920 when fifteen brethren

held the first of a series of four preliminary meetings in the home of Henry Howard Caldwell.

At this meeting, the brethren voted to give their proposed Lodge the name “Fremont.” Then they elected James Spencer Sullivan as their first Master, Chester Culwell Morris as Senior Warden, and Henry Howard Caldwell as Junior Warden.

At the second, third, and fourth meetings, held respectively in the homes of Hiram Eugene Miller, Chester Culwell Morris, and Roy Gustav Lucks, they handled all other organizational matters. On December 1, 1920, Grand Master Rodden issued their dispensation. That same evening, Inspector Granville Warren of the 32nd Masonic District instituted their Lodge in the Fruitvale Masonic Temple.

Fremont Lodge received its charter on October 13, 1921, and was jointly constituted in the San Francisco Masonic Temple with Lebanon, Roosevelt, Sunnyvale, and Cupertino Lodges by Grand Master Burke the following day.

During its organizational period, the founders of Fremont Lodge subscribed $5.00/person to a fund intended to “pay for any entertainment expense that might arise.” This taught them the valuable lesson of forethought in all financial matters - and to ‘pay as you go.”

Consequently, their lodge has always been in excellent financial condition. Save two minor setbacks in 1933 and 1936, Fremont Lodge’s annual returns to grand Lodge haven’t ever shown a net loss. They have otherwise climbed steadily from 50 members in 1921 to 462 members by the beginning of 1949. Fremont Lodge’s first regular meeting place was the Fruitvale Masonic Temple at 34th avenue and East 14th Street. After several moves, they merged with Tri-square No. 551 on October 1, 1986.

Our Lodge Library has a copy of “50 Years of Fremont Lodge No. 497, F. & A. M,” which shows Past Masters from 1921 to 1970. It is currently held in our secretary’s archives.

Reminder: If you have any additional information about Fremont Lodge, please email me at

Editor’s Note: Do you want to see pictures of our Past Masters. We have an archive of all of the photos we have scanned at:

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