Our Strength is History
Freemasonry came to Nebraska Territory with the first hearty pioneers who settled here in the 1850s. On April 3, 1855, the first meeting of Bellevue Lodge was held at Peter Sarpy’s trading post at Bellevue, NE. The Lodge was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Illinois as Nebraska Lodge #184 on October 3, 1855.
On May 10, 1855, the Grand Lodge of Missouri gave a dispensation for Masons to form a Lodge in Nebraska City. The Lodge was chartered Giddings Lodge #156 on May 28, 1856.
On January 9, 1857, the Grand Lodge of Iowa issued a dispensation for brethren to meet in Omaha City. On June 3, 1857 the Grand Lodge issued a charter for Capitol Lodge #101
In September, 1857, the three Lodges met in Omaha and constituted the Grand Lodge of Nebraska. Robert C. Jordan of Capital Lodge #101 was elected the first Grand Master. The three Lodges were then renamed Nebraska Lodge #1, Western Star Lodge #2, and Capital Lodge #3. From these beginnings, Masonry quickly spread across the state. Lincoln Lodge #19 was chartered in 1868 and Lancaster Lodge #54 chartered in 1874.
The degrees of the Scottish Rite first came to Nebraska in 1867 when Lt. Grand Commander Azariah T.C. Pierson conferred the Scottish Rite degrees on seven Masons, including Robert Jordan. In 1870, Frederick Webber of the Supreme Council returned to Omaha to confer the degrees on five more men.
The Lincoln Lodge of Perfection was chartered on April 23, 1889 by Joseph McGrath, Grand Inspector General of New Jersey, with fifty members. On April 19, 1916, Lincoln's "Delta Lodge of Perfection No. 4" voted to build a new Scottish Rite Temple. A budget of $80,000 was set, then increased to $100,000 when Sesostris Shrine joined the project. Lincoln architects Berlinghof and Davis were hired, along with Olson Construction Company, and by May, 1916 the work was underway.
The cornerstone was laid August 8, 1916 by M.W. Andrew Viele, Grand Master of Masons in Nebraska. Grand Orator Henry H. Wilson said, "Within this Cathedral which shall rest on this cornerstone, young men of generations yet unborn shall be taught to turn from the foibles of youth to the serious purposes of manhood. In this temple. . . they will sacrifice - not lambs and bullocks - but they will here learn the royal secret of life, that he is the most successful who best serves his generation and mankind. They will here learn that the only ambition worthy of a true man or Mason is is to leave the world somewhat better for his having lived in it."
Six months later, the Scottish Rite Temple was dedicated on George Washington's birthday, February 22, 1917, "with only a few electrical fixtures and a few pieces of furniture. . . missing."
The Scottish Rite has served thousands of members over the past century, with Brethren representing every station in life - teachers and lawyers, painters and administrators, electricians and salesmen. As the Valley looks forward to the second century in our historic home, we believe the future continues to be bright for our fraternity and for our members, and we encourage Brethren to get active and prospective members to explore the website and learn what Scottish Rite Freemasonry is all about.
First joined the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in 1840. He also joined a Masonic Lodge, becoming extremely active in the affairs of the organization, being elected Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite's Southern Jurisdiction in 1859.
He remained Sovereign Grand Commander for the remainder of his life (a total of thirty-two years), devoting a large amount of his time to developing the rituals of the order. Notably, he published a book called Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in 1871, of which there were several subsequent editions.