FLORIDA SCOTTISH RITE HISTORY
The Supreme Council, 33° Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction,United States of America, was established at Charleston, South Carolina in 1801. This Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction has Scottish Rite Jurisdiction over China and Japan, the territories and island possessions of the United States and all states of the United States except those which are north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River. The headquarters of our Southern Jurisdiction is in the House of the Temple in Washington, D.C.
When the United States purchased the two Territories of Florida, in the year 1821, from Spain, it gave the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction, automatic jurisdiction over these new territories. These two territories were consolidated into the Territory of Florida in 1822 and became the 27th State of the Union in 1845.
From the research of this writer, there is little doubt that our Brother Edward Rutledge Ives was instrumental in bringing Scottish Rite Masonry to Florida. Edward Rutledge Ives was born in Charleston, South Carolina July 31, 1818, the second child of Jeremiah and Martha Mackey Ives. Edward’s Mother was Martha Lockhart Mackey, the fifth child of Dr. John Mackey and Abigail Mills Mackey. Albert Gallatin Mackey, the noted Masonic Scholar, was the eighth child of those same parents and was the uncle of our Brother E.R. Ives.
Albert G. Mackey reported to the Supreme Council that Brother Ives had received his Masonic Degrees, in Florida, almost as soon as he was of age and that “IN the year 1852 he received at my hands the degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Rite as far as Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret.” Brother Ives either visited Charleston to receive these degrees or perhaps Brother Mackey came to Alligator for that purpose. Brother Mackey was known to be a regular visitor to Florida. Brother Ives at once gave study to the Rite and its promotion and progress in Florida.
Brother Ives is credited with the establishment of the first bodies in the Orient of Florida and our Supreme Council History, 1801-1861, records a Lodge of Perfection, a Council of Princes of Jerusalem and a Chapter of Rose Croix as being organized in Alligator, Florida in compliance with petitions dated April 22 and 27, 1853 over the name of Brother Ives and others. The name of Alligator was changed to Lake City, January 15, 1859.
The Supreme Council Transactions of 1860 relate that Most Worshipful Bother Thomas Brown was elected to the 33° and Active Membership, however, because of age and infirmity he declined the honor of Active Membership. Most Worshipful Brother Thomas Hayward was also elected 33° and also an Active Member of the Supreme Council. When the Supreme Council met in Washington, D.C., April 16, 1866, Brother Albert Pike recommended that the election of Brother Thomas Hayward, as an Active Member of the council, be rescinded as M.W. Brother Hayward had not attended for installation. As of this time there was no Active Member in Florida and the Lodge, Council and Chapter at Lake City had gone defunct as a result of the War Between the States.
In 1859, Brother Ives was elected to receive the 33° and to be made an Active Member, but for unknown reasons he did not attend a session of the Supreme Council until May of 1868. The Supreme Council History, 1861-1891, shows that Brother Ives was made a Sovereign Grand Inspector General and an Active Member together with Brothers from Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska, in 1868. Thus Florida had its first Sovereign Grand Inspector General.
Brother Ives was recognized as organizing St. Johns Lodge of Perfection, a Council of Princes of Jerusalem and a Chapter of Rose Croix, in Jacksonville, soon after the end of the War Between the States. Illustrious Brother Edward Rutledge Ives passed away at Lake City, Florida on January 15, 1870 and is buried in the Oaklawn Cemetery of Lake City, Florida. His grave is marked with a small stone monument, 12 inches wide and 36 inches in height. It has the emblem of the Double Headed Eagle at the top and the Square and Compasses beneath the lettering. The Supreme Council records show that St. Johns Lodge of Perfection No. 1 was constituted on May 21, 1871 and would meet in Jacksonville. The records of Past Grand Mater, Enos Wasgate, Grand Master of Florida in 1876 and 1877, show that he was Venerable Master of St. Johns Lodge of Perfection No. 1 for two years and that his Lodge was still in sound condition in March 1885, but that I later became defunct.
On April 1, 1871, Brother John S. Driggs, 32°, of Jacksonville was appointed the Deputy of the Supreme council in Florida. Grand Commander Albert Pike reported in his Allocution of May 6, 1871, that Brother Driggs of Florida had not functioned as such and recommended that his appointment be revoked. It was revoked by vote of the Supreme Council. Brother Pike also reported that of the (108) 33° Members in the Southern Jurisdiction, there were none in Florida.
The Grand Commanders Allocution of 1874 referenced that Secretary General, Albert G. Mackey and Treasurer General, Weber, had both visited Florida in an effort to promote Scottish Rite, but without any success. The Grand Commander issued the decision that Florida would be annexed to Georgia and he assigned the Sovereign Grand Inspector General of Georgia the responsibility of promoting the Rite in Florida.
The Transactions of 1876 reflect that Brother DeWitt Clinton Dawkins was nominated for the K.C.C.H. on May 27, 1876 and then nominated for 33° and Active Membership two days later, on May 29, 1876. Official records show that Brother Dawkins received his 33° and was crowned an Active Member of the Supreme Council at eight p.m. on August 24, 1877.
In 1878, an official bulletin of the Supreme Council reported that a charter dated December 7, 1878, was issued to Dawkins Lodge of Perfection No. 2 at Key West, Florida. Transactions for subsequent years are very brief concerning the bodies in Jacksonville and Key West. As last as July 1, 1886, returns show St. Johns Lodge of Perfection No. 1, in Jacksonville, with twenty members, but nothing from Key West. This last report lists Past Grand Master, William Allen McLean, as Venerable Master of the Lodge in Jacksonville.
The Transactions of 1890 give the names of William Allen McLean and William A. Evans of Jacksonville and Olin Seymour Wright of Plant City, as nominees for the Knight Commander Court of Honour. These same Transactions refer to Brother Robert Jasper Perry, of Key West, as being nominated for the 33° Honorary. At this meeting of the Supreme Council, St. Johns Lodge of Perfection No. 1 was granted remission of dues, as that Lodge had exhausted its funds for relief of the yellow fever victims in Jacksonville.
On October 17, 1892, it was reported to the Supreme Council that Illustrious Brother DeWitt Clinton Dawkins, Sovereign Grand Inspector General of Florida, had passed away on October 5h of that same year and that his remains had been returned to Mother Earth, with full Masonic Honors, in the Old City Cemetery at Jacksonville. At the same meeting, on October 20, 1892, Brother William Allen McLean, of Jacksonville, was coroneted 33º Honorary. At this, nor at any future meetings, is any reference made of the bodies of Jacksonville and Key West. In that same year, the records of the Supreme Council show that Illustrious Brother William Allen McLean was admitted as an Active Member of the Council and became the third Florida Member to have received this distinct honor.
The oldest surviving Scottish Rite Body, presently in the Orient of Florida, is the Ocala Lodge of Perfection which was charted October 19, 1892 as Ponce de Leon Lodge of Perfection No. 3. The numbers one and two had been previously assigned to St. Johns No. 1 at Jacksonville and Dawkins No. 2 at Key West. The name of Ponce de Leon Lodge was changed to Ocala Lodge in 1955 to comply with Supreme Council Statutes.
On November 29, 1892, eleven Brothers from the Jacksonville area organized Lorraine Lodge of Perfection No. 4. On December 2, 1892, the Lodge voted to change its name from Lorraine to Orient Lodge of Perfection No. 4. This was to comply with Supreme Council Statutes which prohibits naming a Scottish Rite Body after a living person. Orient Lodge of Perfection No. 4 was charted October 20, 1893 and continues to thrive as the Jacksonville Lodge of Perfection.
By 1897 there were still only the two Lodges, Ponce de Leon No. 3 at Ocala and Orient No. 4 at Jacksonville, in the Orient of Florida. The Supreme Council Transactions of that year reflect that Brothers William Stratton Ware of Jacksonville, Lippmann Ottensoser of Ocala and Olin Seymour Wright of Plant City were coroneted 33° Honorary.
The Sovereign Grand Inspector General of Florida, Illustrious Brother William Allen McLean, passed away on August 22, 1989 and was laid to rest with the last honors of the Fraternity, in the Old City Cemetery, at Jacksonville, just a short distance from Illustrious Brother DeWitt Clinton Dawkins.
In 1899, Brother Olin Seymour Wright, of Plant City, was appointed Deputy of the Supreme Council of Florida. This Brother would serve in this capacity, as Deputy of the Supreme Council, for the next eighteen years. Just previous to this appointment, on July 30, 1898, Acme Lodge of Perfection was organized in Plant City. That Lodge was chartered October 16, 1899 as Acme Lodge of Perfection No. 5. McLean Chapter of Rose Croix was organized at Plant city on August 7, 1899 and chartered October 20th of the same year, as McLean Chapter of Rose Croix No. 1.
In 1901, the one hundredth anniversary of the Southern Jurisdiction of Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, charters were issued to the following bodies in the Orient of Florida: Alpha Lodge of Perfection No. 6 at Gainesville, Tau Lodge of Perfection NO. at Tampa, Bruce Council of Kadosh No. 1 at Plant city, McLean Council of Kadosh No. 2 at Jacksonville, Tampa Consistory No. 2 at Jacksonville. The annual returns of 1901 reflect that the Orient of Florida had (5) Chartered Lodges with a total of (105) members, (2) Chartered Chapters with (56) members, (2) Chartered Councils with (50) members and (2) Chartered Consistories with (42) members.
Supreme Council records show that Brother Clarence Sherman Hammatt, of Jacksonville, was decorated as a Knight Commander Court of Honour in 1903 and two years later, October 19, 1905, at eight p.m., was coroneted a 33° Honorary.
Charters were issued in 1905 to Omar Lodge of Perfection No. 8 at Pensacola and Khairom Lodge of Perfection No. 9 at Bartow. The Supreme Council Transactions for this year show that a commission dated April 28, 1904, was issued to Brother William Stratton Ware, of Jacksonville, as the Deputy of the Supreme Council for the Northern Section of Florida and Brother Olin S. Wright, of Plant City, continued those responsibilities for the Southern Section.
During the coming years, Scottish Rite Freemasonry in Florida grew and prospered. In 1908, Palm Lodge of Perfection No. 10 was established at Key West, together with Southern Cross Chapter of Rose Croix No. 3 and Alpha Council of Kadosh No. 3, both in that same year and in that same southernmost part of our State. In 1911, Pensacola became the home of Tarshatha Chapter of Rose Croix No. 4, Escambia Council of Kadosh No. 4 and Pensacola Consistory No. 3. In 1913, the Orient of Florida had three Deputies of the Supreme Council, Olin S. Wright of Plant City, Clarence S. Hammatt of Jacksonville and Bruce S. Weeks of Pensacola. The returns of July 1, 1913, report that the Orient of Florida has (7) Lodges of Perfection with a total of (954 members. Alpha Lodge No. 6 at Gainesville had surrendered its charter. We were also reported to have (4) Chapters of Rose Croix with (755) members, (4) Councils of Kadosh with (734) members and (3) Consistories with (726) members. In the twelve year period, 1901-1913, our Florida bodies had increased significantly and our membership improved by nine hundred percent. As of this same year, our several Consistories had (9) Knights Commander Court of Honour and (9) 33° Honorary.
In 1915, Key West Consistory No. 4 was chartered and two years later, in 1917, Mithra Lodge of Perfection No. 11 was chartered in Miami. At the Supreme Council meeting in 1917, on October 17th, our Illustrious Brother Olin Seymour Wright was accepted as an Active Member of the Council and became the Sovereign Grand Inspector General of Florida. Brother Wright was the fourth Scottish Rite Mason, in the Orient of Florida, to be so honored. Florida had been nineteen years without a S.G.I.G., between the time that Brother McLean passed away and Brother Wright was appointed.
In the year 1919, the Supreme Council charted Venus Lodge of Perfection No. 12, to meet at Lake Worth. At the same Supreme Council Session, permanent charters were issued for Acacia Chapter of Rose Croix No. 5, Utopia Council of Kadosh No. 5 and Miami Consistory No. 5, all of these bodies to meet in Miami. Three of the Brothers honored at this session were: John Henrik Ek and Ernest Lewis Vordermark, of Jacksonville and Alexander Breheurs Steuart of Tampa. These three distinguished brothers were coroneted 33° Honorary.
Two years later, in 1921, the Grand Commander installed Illustrious Brother Wright into the office of Grand Herald. Permanent charters were issued for the St. Augustine Lodge of Perfection, at St. Augustine, and Akairos Chapter of Rose Croix No. 6 at Lake Worth. Another two years, October 16, 1923, and our Brother Frank Howard Thompson, of Lakeland, was nominated for the 33° Honorary. Three days later, on Friday the 19th at the eight p.m. Session, Brother Thompson was coroneted and then our Illustrious Brother Wright was installed as the First Grand Equerry. Charters were issued for Menthra Council of Kadosh and Lake Worth Consistory, both to be located in Lake Worth.
It is worthwhile to mention that at this point in our Scottish Rite History, the numbers assigned to the various bodies, throughout the Southern Jurisdiction, were removed and the bodies thereafter have been recognized by their name only.
Another decade of Scottish Rite Masonry, in the Orient of Florida, and there is every indication of continued growth and prosperity. The returns of mid 1923 show that our Sunshine State has (9) Lodges with (4401) members, (6) Chapters with (3747), (6) Councils with (3544) members and (6) Consistories with (3523) members. During this decade, our bodies have continued to increase in numbers and our rosters have grown by more than four hundred and fifty percent.
Olin Seymour Wright, 33° and S.G.I.G. of Florida and First Equerry of the Supreme Council, died at his home in Plant city on December 17, 1923. His Masonic Services were conducted by the Grand Master, F. & A.M. of Florida and his remains were laid to rest in the Oaklawn Cemetery of Plant City.
Upon the death of our Sovereign Grand Inspector General and owing to the peculiar shape of this State and the time required for visiting the various bodies, Grand Commander John H. Cowles divided our State into two Jurisdictions with a Deputy in each. He assigned the Valleys of Jacksonville, Pensacola, Saint Augustine and Ocala to a Northern Jurisdiction of Florida with Brother Clarence S. Hammatt, 33° Honorary, of Jacksonville, as the Deputy of the Supreme Council for that Northern Jurisdiction. He assigned the Valleys of Tampa, Plant city, Key West, Miami and Lake Worth to a Southern Jurisdiction, and appointed Brother Alexander Breheurs Steuart, 33° Honorary, of Tampa, as the Deputy of the Supreme Council for that Southern Jurisdiction. Upon this division, there were (4) Lodges, (2) Chapters, (2) Councils and (2) Consistories in the Northern Jurisdiction and (5) Lodges, (4) Chapters, (4) Councils and (4) Consistories in the Southern Jurisdiction.
The Transactions of 1927 show that Acme Lodge of Perfection of Plant City, surrendered its charter as of December 17, 1926. Deputy Alexander B. Steuart, due to ill health, resigned his commission as Deputy on December 9, 1928. On January 15, 1929, the Supreme Council appointed Brother James Donn, of Miami, as Deputy for the Southern Jurisdiction of Florida.
On December 6, 1932, Deputy Clarence S. Hammatt, of the Northern Jurisdiction, submitted to the beckon of our Creator. Just thirteen days later, Brother William Clyde Johnson was appointed Deputy for the Northern Jurisdiction of Florida.
From 1923 to 1937, a period of fourteen years, there seemed to be no need for additional bodies in the Orient of Florida. Then on October 20, 1937, a permanent charter was issued for the St. Augustine Chapter of Rose Croix to be located in St. Augustine. Another fourteen years slipped by before the Tallahassee Lodge of Perfection was chartered. It was chartered October 17, 1951, to hold its meetings in Tallahassee.
In the one hundred and fiftieth year of the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction, Florida was returned to one jurisdiction and Brother William Clyde Johnson of Jacksonville was appointed as the Deputy of the Supreme Council. The records of the Supreme Council elaborate on the fact that Brother Johnson, at this time, was second in seniority of all the current Deputies. He was originally appointed on December 19, 1932 and is serving as such for his nineteenth year.
On October 29, 1952, after the death of Brother William Clyde Johnson, our Past Grand Master, Frank Howard Thompson, of Lakeland, was appointed Deputy of the Supreme Council in Florida. During this same period, permanent charters were issued to the Orlando Lodge of Perfection, Panama City Lodge of Perfection and the Ocala Chapter of Rose Croix.
In the early nineteen-fifties, to comply with Supreme Council Statutes, all of the bodies in the Orient of Florida changed their names to the name of the city or town where they held their meetings. For example: Tau Lodge of Tampa was changed to the Tampa Lodge of Perfection, McLean Council of Jacksonville was changed to the Jacksonville Council of Kadosh, Acacia Chapter of Miami was changed to Miami Chapter of Rose Croix and Florida Consistory at Jacksonville to the Jacksonville Consistory.
From the mid-fifties through the end of that decade, Florida Scottish Rite Freemasonry grew by leaps and bounds. On October 20, 1955, permanent charters were issued to the Ocala Council of Kadosh, Ocala Consistory, Orlando Chapter of Rose Croix, Orlando Council of Kadosh, Orlando Consistory, Panama City Chapter of Rose Croix and the Tallahassee Chapter of Rose Croix.
In 1955, Brother Frank Howard Thompson was crowned Sovereign Grand Inspector General of Florida. Brother William Mercer Hollis of Lakeland, received the 33° Honorary on Friday, October 21, 1955.
At the 1957 Supreme Council Session, in Washington, D.C., Brother Frank Howard Thompson was installed as the Grand Herald. On October 22, 1957, a permanent charter was given to the Tallahassee Council of Kadosh.
In 1959 we began opening the last Florida area to Scottish Rite Freemasonry that the structure of our Orient presently embraces. On October 21, 1959, a permanent charter was given to the Fort Myers Lodge of Perfection. On that same date, charters were also issued for the Panama City Council of Kadosh, the Panama City Consistory and the Tallahassee Consistory. Illustrious Brother Frank H. Thompson was installed as the Grand Standard Bearer of the Supreme Council.
Fort Myers Chapter of Rose Croix was charter October 24, 1963 and the Scottish Rite returns of 1965 show that the membership in the Orient of Florida is exceeded only by the Orients of California, Oklahoma and Texas. In 1966, Brother Frank H. Thompson was appointed and installed Second Equerry of our Supreme Council.
On April 29, 1967, Illustrious Brother Frank Howard Thompson entered that land from which no traveler returns. Our Illustrious Brother Thompson was laid to rest, with Masonic Honors, in the Lakeland Memorial Gardens Cemetery, of Lakeland, Florida.
Six days later, on May 5, 1967, Most Worshipful Brother William Mercer Hollis, 33° Honorary, and Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge, F & A.M., of Florida, by only eight days, was appointed as the Deputy of the Supreme Council in Florida.
At the Supreme Council Session that same year, in Executive Session at two p.m., Tuesday, October 3rd, Brother William Mercer Hollis was elected to Active Membership. On October 6, 1967, Brother Hollis was crowned as a Sovereign Grand Inspector General and Active Member of the Council. At this 1967 Session, the Fort Myers Council of Kadosh and Fort Myers Consistory were both issued charters dated October 5, 1967. These are the last Scottish Rite Bodies to have been organized in the Orient of Florida.
Illustrious Brother Hollis was appointed, February 27, 1969, to the committee on Nomination sand the Committee on Publications. He was appointed, that same year, as the Council Representative to the Philippines. On April 20, 1972, our Sovereign Grand Inspector was appointed to the Letters Temporary and Permanent Charters Committee, Publications Committee and the Committee on Benevolence and Fraternal Assistance. In that same year, on August 28th, our Illustrious Brother was appointed as Grand Herald of the Supreme Council. The following year, Brother Hollis was appointed the Second Grand Equerry.
A very instinct honor was handed down by the Supreme Council on October 16, 1975. At a Special Executive Session of the Supreme Council, a motion was made and carried to bestow the Grand Cross Court of Honour on Brother Gerald R. Ford, 33° Honorary and Brother John Lewis Hall, 33° Honorary, of Florida. The Supreme Council has subsequently bestowed this honor on Brother William Stafford of the Valley of Tallahassee and on Brother Dave R, Thomas of the Valley of Miami.
Our Illustrious Sovereign Grand Inspector of Florida was appointed Grand Chamberlain on November 18, 1977 and then on May 1, 1981 he was appointed as Grand Chaplain of the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction.
Illustrious Brother Hollis was the sixth member of our Florida Bodies to serve as our Sovereign Grand Inspector General. Brother Hollis served more than (22) years as such and served longer than any of his predecessors in this Orient. Our five previous Sovereign Grand Inspector Generals served approximately, (2) years, (15) years, (6) year, and (12) years respectively. Illustrious Brother Hollis was one of the senior members of the Supreme Council and was serving as the Grand Minister of State when he retired to Emeriti Status in 1989. Our Illustrious and Most Worshipful Brother passed away on March 19, 1990 and was laid to rest in the Oak Hill Burial Park of Lakeland, Florida.
Most Worshipful Robert Louis Goldsmith, who served as Grand Master of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida, in 1983, became the seventh Sovereign Grand Inspector General of the Orient of Florida. Brother Goldsmith had received the 33° Honorary, on December 19, 1983, and was appointed Deputy of the Supreme Council on May 3, 1988. He was crowned an Active Member of the Supreme Council and Sovereign Grand Inspector General in Florida, in October, 1989. Brother Goldsmith presently served as Grand Prior of the Supreme Council. Illustrious Brother Goldsmith passed to his eternal reward on January 22nd, 2010.
Most Worshipful Dale I. Goehrig, who served as Grand Master of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida in 2009, was appointed Deputy of the Supreme Council effective March 1, 2010. Brother Goehrig received the 33° Honorary in 1993 in the Valley of Miami. He was elected and installed as the Sovereign Grand Inspector General in the Orient of Florida for the Supreme Council of Scottish Rite Masonry, Southern Jurisdiction on Sunday, August 21st, 2011 in Washington, DC.
The Florida framework of Scottish Rite Freemasonry is made up of Brethren who have responded, without limitations, to the Scottish Rite Program for Childhood Language Disorders.
The Scottish Rite Foundation of Florida, Inc. was established in 1975 and the first Aphasia Clinic was opened in Tampa, with proper facilities furnished by the Brethren of that Valley. Since that first Clinic opened, the Florida Brethren have established additional Clinics in Jacksonville, Tampa, Fort Myers, Lakeland, New Port Richey, Orlando, Palm Beach, Panama City, Pensacola, St. Petersburg and Sarasota. Of the (138) Clinics, Centers and Programs in the Southern Jurisdiction, only California has more Clinics than Florida.
During the short period of time, since the inauguration of this program, the Childhood Language Disorder Clinics of Florida have treated thousands of children, with a high percentage of these being either cured or greatly improved.
We stand behind the words of our deceased Brother, Arthur R. Lund, who spoke of our intentions here in Florida, “To see that no child in the Orient of Florida, who is afflicted with an Aphasic Condition, shall go without help needed to arrive at a full, fruitful life.”
In a recent survey of the Southern Jurisdiction of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, there were (219) Lodges, (202) Councils and (196) Consistories. Of these numbers, Florida has (11) Lodges, (11) Chapters, (11) Councils and (11) Consistories.