Riverside, CA 643

District No. 1160

Lodge 643 History 1901 - 1920

History informs us that at the beginning of the century, a large herd of elk descended upon the sprawling community of Riverside, which then had a population of some 8.000 people.  The inhabitants were not alarmed, for these elk were the two-legged species, members of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.  Seventy-one local signers of a petition to establish a Lodge of Elks in Riverside marched up to the Santa Fe depot to welcome their visitors.  Two hundred seventy-five Elks poured out of the special trains.  They came from Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Redlands, San Diego and elsewhere.  Redlands Lodge No. 583 sent its band which led the parade of more than three hundred, westerly on Eighth to Main Street, then south to ninth and Main Streets to the Odd Fellows Temple.  It was here that Riverside Lodge No. 643 B.P.O.E, was instituted on February 4, 1901. 

At the conclusion, the Elks betook themselves to the National Guard Armory, where an elaborate banquet was served by Al Levy of Los Angeles.  The hall was gaily decorated, and at one end were the four letters B. P. O. E. formed by colored electric lights.  Quoting from the record: " . . . the 350 Elks sat down to as pleasant a banquet as has ever been served in Riverside."  Further quoting: "At a late hour the banqueters adjourned, the visitors going home on their special trains, and the young members going home to dream of the mysteries of Elkdom lately propounded to them."

The original officers of the Lodge were: Exalted Ruler: H. T. Hayes Esteemed Leading Knight: B. F. Coons Esteemed Loyal Knight: Frank D. Lewis Esteemed Lecturing Knight: W. W. Phelps Secretary: S. D. Pelton Treasurer: G. E. Bittinger Esquire: A. A. Wood Chaplain: Harry B. Chase Inner Guard: G. H. Brown Tiler: A. E Carroll Organist: C. B. Wingate Trustees: W. R Dowler, F. T. Morrison, M. J. Twogood.

Brother L. V. Hays served the Lodge as Exalted Ruler for four consecutive terms, 1901-1904.

Brother L. V. Brown next served during 1904-1905.  During his year our Lodge was host to Grand Exalted Ruler Joseph T. Fanning and Past Grand Exalted Ruler Meade D. Detwiler.  The event was attended by delegations from all Lodges in our District.

Brother A. N. Wheelock served as the third Exalted Ruler, 1905-1906. It was during his term that purchase was made of all assets of the Rubidoux Club for $2,000.

Brother C. P. Hancock followed as Exalted Ruler, 1906-1907.  During his term the Lodge continued to grow and prosper, and firmly planted itself into our community.

Brother A. A. Wood, our first Esquire, served as the fifth Exalted Ruler, 1907-1908, during which, efforts were made to purchase a clubhouse site.  These plans did not ultimately materialize however. 

To the time of Brother Myron M. Milices term as Exalted Ruler, 1908-1909, all Lodge meetings were held in the I.O.O.F. hall.  During Brother Milices administration, arrangements were made with the Rubidoux Building Company for the former Rubidoux Club rooms.  Thereafter, all business and social meetings were held in the new clubrooms. 

Past Exalted Ruler, Brother A. L. Woodill, guided the destiny of the Lodge during 1909-1910.  A large delegation attended the Grand Lodge Convention in Los Angeles that year.  Brother Woodill made a lasting impression on the eastern delegates by providing oranges, which were distributed during the parade.  Large classes of candidates were initiated, resulting in a year-end total of 320 members.  This same year our Lodge received its first National appointment, being that of P.E.R. Wheelock as District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler.  Brother Wheelock became so perfect in his ritualistic work that many demands were made upon him throughout Southern California to install the newly elected officers of sister Lodges. 

Brother F. H. Spiech served as the eight Exalted Ruler, 1910-1911.  Two lots on the northwest corner of Market Street at Whittier Place were purchased as the site for a future clubhouse.  Today this property is occupied by the Sterling Savings and Loan Association. 

During Brother Frank D. Lewis' year as Exalted Ruler, 1911-1912, arrangements was made to hold the Memorial Service for our departed Brothers in the Music Room of the world famous Mission Inn.  After witnessing our first service, Mr. Miller promised that during his lifetime, our Lodge would be granted the use of the Cloister Music Room gratis for these services.  They continued to be so held the first Sunday in each December.  After Mr. Miller's demise, we were extended this same courtesy by his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. And Mrs. Dewitt V. Hutchings, both of whom were active in the management of the Inn for many years. 

Brother Frank Wolcott served as the tenth Exalted Ruler, 1912-1913, during which the Lodge continued to make a steady gain in membership.

Brother P. T. Evans, father of Ex-Mayor W. C. Evans, although elected Exalted Ruler, 1913-1914, only served one-half year when he found it necessary to resign. 

Brother Fred W. Thomas subsequently completed Brother Evans' term.

P.E.R. Milice installed his brother-in-law, Frank A. Gardner, as the twelfth Exalted Ruler, 1914-1915. Brother Gardner was very active in the Lodge's affairs and was one of our "wheel horses" during his span of membership.

Brother J. H. Burtner was installed as the thirteenth Exalted Ruler, 1915-1916, by Past District Deputy G. E. R. Wheelock, this being his ninth such installation.  It was this year that the Eleventh and Main Street clubhouse was purchased.  Action was taken to borrow $30,000 to cover the purchase price and for furniture, fixtures, enlarging and remodeling.  A well attended, dedication ceremony was held on July 9, 1915.

Brother Otto A. Lowentrout followed as the fourteenth Exalted Ruler, 1916-1917.  Due to World War I, the Lodge year of 1917-1918 was a trying one, but under the leadership of Exalted Ruler George A. Sarau, a perfect score was recorded.  Because of their ritualistic perfection, many Southern California Lodges, including Los Angeles 99, to initiate their candidates called upon this year's corps of officers.  Charity, the Cornerstone of our Order, was practiced to the highest degree.  It included letter writing and packages to the boys in the service, lodging and sustenance to families in our area, Christmas baskets with food and clothing to deserving families, and over forty tons of coal provided for needy families. 

The effects of the war continued to plague Brother J. C. Cooper, our sixteenth Exalted Ruler, 1918-1919.  The holding of group meetings was prohibited by ordinance during a large portion of the year due to an unprecedented severe Spanish influenza epidemic.  But, like his predecessor, Brother Cooper recorded a perfect score.

Brother R. P. Schultz served as Exalted Ruler during 1919-1920.  Undoubtedly one of the finest appointments ever made from within our Lodge was when our good Brother Eugene F. Kindred was made Chairman of the Sick and Visitation Committee. He held this important assignment until his untimely death in 1947.

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