Kiowa Lodge No. 116,


Ancient Free & Accepted Masons




William F. Robinson, III, Past Master,


Lodge Historian


It has been said that a talk should be like a pretty girl's skirt. Long enough to cover the subject, yet short enough to be interesting. And what is history, if it is not the voices of those departed and still with us speaking out of the pages of yesteryear? The only known account of Kiowa Lodge, prior to this overview, consists of one page in Centennial Celebration of 1861-1961 of the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Colorado. That certainly is short. But hardly covers the subject of telling us what the charter members of Kiowa Lodge envisioned its mission to be and how the brotherhood worked it out over time. Fortunately, this historian has access to the minutes of every meeting, except that of the chartering night, bound in 10 volumes spanning the years from 1902 to June 2, 2003. But for now, space constraints in what is essentially a picture documentary of our Past Masters, allow only for setting geographical and historic stage and "fleshing out" the founding father.upon it. Taken together, this constitutes the past. May it be prologue to a better understanding of yesteryear's practices yet to be documented. And, when coupled with an appreciation of the community in which it arose, let Kiowa Lodge continue into the new century, in the spirit of the motto on her banner, still "Delivering Masonic Light to the High Plains."

In the beginning

Two days were required to travel from Kiowa to Denver by horseback or wagon. Today metro area members zoom the some 20 miles south on Interstate 25 from our sponsoring lodge, Weston No. 22, in the capitol's suburb of Littleton, to Castle Rock, the seat of Douglas county, and thence east 7 miles on Highway 86 through Franktown and another 16 through Elizabeth and yet another 7 miles to the Kiowa Masonic Temple on Pawnee Street, and return, in two hours.

Before the arrival of ranchers and farmers in the early 1860's, Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians roamed the area with only summertime incursions from the south by the more fierce Kiowa's who gave the creek to the west of town its name. Joseph C. Martell is past president of the Elbert County Historical Society (whose museum is housed in the old high school erected in 1921 and well worth a visit). He notes that when Kiowa was platted in 1902-3, its main street was designated "Cow street." Only later, about 1910 when Indian names were given all the streets, did it become "Commanche." In 1869 Wells Fargo's Pony Express Station on the Smokey Hill Road was to be found on the northeast corner of Pawnee and Commanche, with its horse corral to the east and south of the Kiowa Temple. On the same north side of Commanche, in the next block east, is to be found on the front lawn of the old 1912-erected Elbert County Courthouse, a monument "In memory of Pioneers massacred by Indians. 1864 A.D. Nathan W. and Ellen Hungate and children Laura V. and Florence V. 1868 A.D. Dietemann, Henrietta and son John."

Linda Wommack in her Roadside Guide to Colorado's Pioneer Cemeteries, From the Grave, after noting that Henrietta's husband, John W. Sr. (who later was one of the donors of land north of Commanche street that formed the town of Kiowa) homesteaded in 1862, near the future site of the town of Elbert, gives the gruesome details:

"In 1868, John's wife, Henrietta, and their five-year-old son Johnny, were found murdered at their ranch in Elbert County. Their bodies were riddled with Indian arrows, and their scalps removed. Seeing a band of Indians taking horses out of the corral, Henrietta, her sister, and hired hands took as many possessions as they could carry and with her son and daughter, the group began to walk to the stage line, some two miles away. The Indians rode toward the group, and they scattered. Henrietta, heavy with child and pulling her young son, did not get away. Henrietta and young Johnny were shot full of arrows and scalped."

Of even more significance at the height of the Indian wars around Denver in 1864 were the members of the Nathan Ward Hungate family found murdered by Indians at their ranch north of today's Elizabeth. Their mutilated bodies, Wommack tells us, "were brought to Denver for public show, being placed in a local business window. The bodies were reported as horribly mutilated and scalped by the Rocky Mountain News."

Grand Lodge-organized Freemasonry came into being in London, England, in 1717. Much earlier there, the Angles and Saxons had overwhelmed the Britons, only to be themselves overmatched by Normans under William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The culture wars that resulted took centuries to resolve themselves into an English speaking nation. William's counterpart on behalf of the pioneers was the first Grand Master of Masons of Colorado, Methodist-minister-turned-Colonel, the commander of the First Colorado Regiment , John M. Chivington. Fresh from victory over Confederates invading from Texas at the Battle of Glorieta Pass in 1864, later that same year, at dawn on November 29th, at Sand Creek, his 100-day-volunteers at Sand Creek sought to strike a decisive blow against such Indian marauding. On the receiving end was an encampment of Arapahoe and Cheyenne. What ensued has been variously described as a "battle" or a "massacre." The 75th anniversary history of his home lodge, Union No. 7, recounts, "A furor was raised which, together with a side play of military jealousy, caused an investigation to be made. Eventually, Col. Chivington was cleared of all charges but the persecution was bitter while it lasted." And goes on to note: "Four years later, (after the Dietemann massacre) the absurdity of the policy of permitting the Indians to murder and rob during the summer, make peace in the fall, and remain unmolested during the winter, accumulating ammunition for the following summer's warfare, finally dawned upon the authorities and a new plan was adopted." Further, justification for Chivington's invasion came from the fresh scalps of settlers found in the Indian camp.

Another member of Union Lodge No. 7, was Bernard C. Killin (1845-1911). This Civil War veteran joined a wagon train from Omaha that was attacked by Indians and forced to stop in Denver in 1866 where he, too, became a member of Union Lodge No. 7, before homesteading within a mile or two of the new Elbert County

Judicial Center. Wommack tells all about him: he eventually owned over 3,500 acres, served as county sheriff in 1873, as well as justice of the peace, and was a charter member of the state Board of Stock Inspectors. When the issue of equal suffrage for women was put to the Colorado voters, in 1879, it is said that Killin cast the only "yes" vote in Elbert County. He married Olive Grigg in 189l, with two sons born of this marriage, and donated the land south of Comanche street to form the town of Kiowa. With Masonic honors, he was buried in Block 2, Lot 53 of the Fairview Addition in the Elizabeth Cemetery located on the west end of the town.

On Saturday, August 9, 1902, "A.F. & A.M. Masons met pursuant to call in Cort Hawes Hall (on the second floor above what is now the County Seat Saloon at 216 Commanche Street) at 11 o'clock A.M.", reads the minutes, "to arrange preliminaries necessary to permanent organization of a Masonic Lodge at this place. Upon motion Daniel F. Cort was elected chairman and Benjamin F. Morrison Secretary." The initiation fee was fixed at $40, a committee of three, including Killin, was appointed "to arrange for the use of a hall to meet in, and all other preliminaries necessary for the formation of this lodge." All other decisions of that meeting are to be found in the "Petition for Dispensation", to the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Colorado, that those present generated: "They have nominated and do recommend Bro. Bernard C. Killin to be the first W.(orshipful) M.(aster); Bro. Benjamin F. Morrison to be the first S.(enior) W.(arden) and Bro. Harry Conway to be the first J.(unior) W.(arden)."

After much discussion, a meeting of the Masonic Brethren of Kiowa, Colorado, was called on August 9th, 1902 to consider the formation of a Masonic Lodge. Brother Daniel T. Cort was chosen as Chairman of this meeting, and Brother Benjamin F. Morrison as Secretary. It was decided to form a permanent Lodge, and a committee to arrange for a meeting place was appointed. A "Petition for Dispensation was signed by ten Brothers, and was sent, to M. W. Bro. George D. Kennedy, M. W. Grand Master, with the fee of $40.00, on September 16th, 1902. The formation of a new Lodge was recommended by Weston Lodge No. 22 of Littleton.

The "Petition of Dispensation" was accepted, and a dispensation to form a new Lodge was issued by the Grand Master, W.M. Brother Marshall H. Dean, on September 16, 1902 up all necessary investigations having been completed. The first meeting of Kiowa Lodge U.D. was held in the Cort-Hames hall, December 27th 1902. W.Brother Bernard C. Killin as W.M., W. Brother Benjamin T. Morrison as S.W. and W. Brother Lewelyn P. Evans as Secy. The Lodge held regular meetings while under dispensation and had some work on degrees.

A charter was issued by M.W. Bro. Marshall H. Dean, with Bro. William D. Todd as Grand Secy., on September 16th 1903. Fifteen Brothers were listed on this charter. The first stated communication of Kiowa Lodge No 116, A.F. & A.M. was held on December 14th, 1903. The lodge held its meetings in the Cort-Hames Hall until 1911 when it moved to a new Temple which was erected later that year. This new Temple was built by "The Masonic Temple Association," which is organized for that purpose. much of the work on the building was conducted by local brothers.

Since Kiowa Lodge has recommended the formation of two new lodges, Byers No. 152 and Ramah No. 165.