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An Oregon Boyhood
, Vert hall is described:
"At the southwest corner of Forest Grove's town square there was a two-story building, the second floor being a hall where lodges held their meetings. It was called Vert's Hall, though I never heard of a Mr. Vert. During my first year of school, when I was in second grade, some ambitious individual or organization provided a spell-down of the entire grade school in Vert's Hall. After the plan was announced in the school, I dug into the spelling books, studying far beyond the second grade lessons, until finally my sisters kept insisting I couldn't possibly spell correctly that far. So I quit studying. But when the contest came, I regretted this because I was still standing when all but one eighth grade girl had cone down. I had almost left the floor when several boys misspelled a word and should sit down..." (p. 78)
Here is some student research on the history of the local Masonic order, as well as Vert Hall (1878) and the Holbrook Lodge:
“'Grandpa Ellis, won’t you please tell us about when you came to Forest Grove, a long time ago?' The children, Mary and Souther, were sitting by the fire, roasting nuts, and waiting for Grandpa to tell them the story. 'Well, it was in 1850, when I came ‘round to Oregon by way of Panama. Me and Amory Holbrook was the only young men on that there tourney, and after the social barrier was downed, me and Amory became fast friends. I lived for a time in Oregon City, the seat of the territory at the time. Both Amory and me joined the Masonic Lodge there. It was Multnomah # 1, the first lodge west of the Rocky Mountains. The most important thing about a lodge, in those days, was its charter, and Multnomah’s didn’t reach Oregon City ‘till 1847, since it had to come around the ‘horn’ from back East.'
'How did the charter get to Oregon City?' Young Souther wasn’t much interested, because he had heard the story many times before, but at least, it was better than doing his Latin. Young Souther wasn’t too good at Latin, to the utter disappointment of Souther senior, who wanted him to become a lawyer. Grandpa E. answered, 'That there charter had a real wild journey. It came round the ‘horn’ in the care of two men, Kelloggs. Can’t remember whether they are brothers or father and son, but they were steamship captains from Missouri. They were coming West to pan for gold, but ended up doing just what they used to.'
'Did they run their steamboat on the Willamette, Grandpa, or the Columbia?'
'Neither, they had a steamboat that they milled up from Sucker Lake, or Lake Oswego, as it is called now days, up the Tualatin River and then up Dairy and West Dairy Creeks… Centerville was a real booming town in those days. It supplied a lot of the outlaying farms with farm equipment and food staples. Just 6 miles northeast of Forest Grove. At one time the Centerville Masons asked the Forest Grove lodge to start them a lodge of their own. It was a good thing that they didn’t do it. Centerville is dead now, and soon nothing will remain to mark the spot. But, I seem to be getting ahead of my tale.'
(Children: What happened to Mr Holbrook?)
'...In 1858, Amory became master of the Multnomah lodge, and soon after that the Grand Master of Masons in Oregon. You know, of course, that he was the United States District Attorney for the territory. That was the reason why he came west... (Dr. Marcus Whitman) and his wife was murdered by (Indians) up by Walla Walla. Armory had those murdering (Indians) captured and he prosecuted them for the state. They were executed in the summer of 1851. After that, he continued as district attorney until 1860 sometime, when he became the editor of the
newspaper... he died in 1866.'
(Children: When did you come here?)
'Well, it was in 1861, Holbrook Lodge had been chartered and was meeting twice monthly, on the Saturday proceeding and the Saturday following the full moon... Amory was the Grand Master in Oregon when the Forest Grove lodge asked for its charter on December 27, 1860...Its gone now, but there used to be a mall two-story building where the Forest Grove National Bank is now...(leaders?) there was Sam Hughes, Will Bowlby, Almoran Hill, C. Jackson, John Kirtz, Joseph Sharff, Milton Dilley, and...Joseph MicMillen. We had quite a time in those days, not like today. Then the women folk stay-out of Masonic affairs and girls and boys went to school instead of to Rainbow Demolay meetings... Faith, Hope, and Charity, these three, but the greatest of these is Charity. We used to help others. We even had a special fund for helping Masons or their families in times of distress. And when the Chicago fire and the Kansas Knights came along, we even sent money back east to help the many needy people. Once one of our member's house burned down and we gave him $100 to help rebuild his house. We also remitted his dues for three years. They were really cheap then, $4 a year and $15 to become a Mason. Holbrook grew rapidly over the years, there was just 12 charter members in 1860, now there are more than 150 members in good standing.'
(Children: When was the current hall built?)
'...Oh, not until 1878. When we outgrew the little building on the corner, we built the Vert Hall, which was practically financed by the Michael Vert estate. Vert Hall...(was) also two-storied. It's on the bank corner also. Once we had it moved a few yards down the block when the bank wanted to build a new building. It only cost us $400 to have it moved. Things were cheap in those days because of the depression. We shared the hall with other organizations also. Some of them were the Grand Army of the Republic, Women's Relief Corps, and Modern Woodmen of America. In those days, labour was nothing and materials rather cheap. Once we had the building reshingled, I saw the old bill the other day. It took 34,000 shingles at $1.55 per thousand and the carpenter put them on for only $30. I've been looking at a lot of the old bills we have lying around at the lodge. In 1892, for example, the lodge bought nine brass spittoons for $5.40...Yep, old Vert Hall will last a long time.'
Old Vert Hall didn’t last a long time. When the new hall was built, in the 20s, Vert Hall was sold and eventually torn down. The new hall was built on land purchased in 1924 from the Congregational Church for the sum of $2,000 dollars.
Joining the Holbrook lodge in its new home were affiliate, Forest Chapter #42, Order of the Eastern Star, and Chapter #37, Royal Arch Masons. The Masonic and Eastern Star Home at Forest Grove was founded through the efforts of one Loyal Graham, a member of Holbrook lodge and a member of the Home Committee of the Grand Lodge. Holbrook Lodge was requested to donate some $2400 to the fund. In actuality, the lodge donated more than $7000."
History of the Masonic & Eastern Star Home -
Holbrook Masonic Lodge:
FGL History Room book called
, Hollbrook Lodge N. 30. A.F. & A.M. Forest Grove Oregon.
(In-Process on 8.28.12, Call number: History Room R 366.109 CEN)
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