Dawson, Colfax County, New Mexico, Fraternal Orders

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It is difficult to visit Dawson, a once large thriving city, now only marked by empty fields and a few hundred grave markers, without wondering about the people who lived, laughed, and enjoyed life in this place. The now gone Opera House was one of the places these people enjoyed. You will also find a list of the Fraternal Orders that held events in the Opera  House in 1923, as described in the weekly issues of the Dawson News in 1923. Since the town was destroyed as well as its records, information is rare and difficult to attain.

There are other fraternal Orders that were known to meet at the Opera House, but were not mentioned in the 1923 issues of the Dawson News. These are: the Odd Fellows, and Woodmen.

To visit the Dawson, Colfax County, New Mexico, main page, click here.

To visit the Dawson, Colfax County, New Mexico, Opera House page, click here


The American Legion was founded in 1919. The American Legion credits a group of twenty officers who served in the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in France in World War I with planning the Legion. About 1,000 officers and enlisted men attended the first organization meeting in Paris, France, in March 1919. The meeting, known as the Paris Caucus, adopted a temporary constitution and the name "The American Legion. Congress granted the American Legion a national charter in September 1919. The first national convention of the American Legion was held from November 10–12, 1919, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at which time the attendees adopted a permanent constitution and elected officers to head the organization. The original purpose of the Legion was to "preserve the memories and incidents of our association in the great war". It appears from the Dawson Newspaper articles in 1923 that the American Legion in Dawson was formed in 1923.

For more information about the American Legion, click here. For the American Legion today, click here.

The following information about the Legion appeared in issues of the Dawson News for 1923 .

  • Thursday, 25 October 1923 - There are more than 50 Ex-Service men in Dawson. They have received letters from the State Organization in Santa Fe urging them to establish a Post in Dawson. Contact J.C. Jernigan.
  • Saturday, 10 November1923 - The Dance given by the Raton American Legion post, was largely attended by Dawson young people.
  • Saturday, 24 November1923 - Organizational meeting with 25 Dawson ex-service men, at the Opera House. They submitted more than the required signatures to receive a charter. The name they have decided upon is to be The Brady-Aragon Post. In Honor of Dr. Brady who died fro the effects of gas he received in France, and E. Aragon, a local Spanish American boy killed in the battle field in France. C.T. Jernigan was elected temporary Commander, and Matt Scanlon, Adjutant. Dr. Hoffman, Commander of the Raton Post was present to assist with the preliminary work. Refreshments were served, and a social hour was enjoyed.
  • Monday, 26 November1923 - Meeting , was also a farewell to Dr. Hoffman, who is leaving for California, Attended by: Messrs. Jernigan, Hermann, Whalen, Barnett, McGoey, Finley, Martines, Hines, Aragon, and Cameron.
  • Tuesday, 18 December 1923 - First official meeting held at the Central School. Officers Elected: Post Commander, Charles T. Jernigan; Vice Commander, Charles O’Connor; Adjutant, Lewis Brown; Finance Officer, Herbert Herman; Chaplain, Amanda Metzger; Athletic Officer, Vincent Martinez, Sgt. At Arms, Simon Barnett; Entertainment Committee: J.J. McGoey, Vincent Martinez, Elmer Heisel. Chow Committee: Charles Jernigan, Luigi Cincoranello, Howard Freeman.
  • Friday, 28 December 1923 - American Legion issues textbook to all chapters on patriotic education and naturalization among aliens as part of their plans for community service.

ELKS CLUB - The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks No. 865

The Elks is an American fraternal order first established as a private club founded in 1868 in New York City by members of performing theatrical groups to elude New York’s public tavern laws. It was then called “The Jolly Corks”. It is now one of the leading fraternal orders in the U.S., claiming nearly one million members. Membership was open to African Americans in 1970‘s, and to women in the late 1990‘s. Members are required to be citizens and believe in God. For more information, click here. For the Elks Order, today, click here.

The following is Elks Club information  appeared in issues of the Dawson News for 1923.

  • Thursday, 12 July 1923 - A large delegation of Dawson Elks travel to Raton to attend a special communication of the Elks Lodge.
  • Thursday, 12 July 1923 - The following Elks motored to Raton for an Elks Meeting: Messrs. Diver, Utley, McGoey, Burgessor, O’Brien, Butler, Walsh, Mullen, Manlon, Stevens, Lee, Robertson, Holman and Secrest. Nine new members were initiated.
  • Friday, 12 October 1923 - Dawson Elks meeting at the Dawson Club in the Gymnasium.
  • Thursday, 25 October 1923 - Annual roll call meeting was attended by a large delegation. The following were in attendance: E.A. Burgesser, W.T. Butler, O.W. DeLong, T.C. Hill, William Lee, J.B. Morrow, JM O’Brien, Matt Scanlon, Ed Thorpe, C.A. Manion, W.F. Walsh, George R Ryan, H.D. Fisher, T.E. Johnson, William Schrodt, H.H. Thompson.
  • Monday, 10 December 1923 - Meeting at the Dawson Club. Gymnasium, plans were made for a social function on the 22nd. For members only. The committee in charge: T.C. Hill, J.J. McGoey, W.E. Butler, W. Thompson, and W.C. Holman.
  • Saturday, 22 December 1923 - Elks Ball for Members Only at the Gymnasium. A delightful lunch was served at 11 pm. Music by the Raton Elks Orchestra. 225 guests, 70 from Raton.


The Knights of Pythias is a fraternal organization and secret society founded in Washington D.C. on 19 February 1864. It was the first fraternal organization to receive a charter under an act of the United States Congress. It was founded by Justus H. Rathbone, who had been inspired by a play by the Irish poet John Banim about the Legend of Damon and Pythias. This legend illustrates the ideals of loyalty, honor and friendship that are central to the order. A member must be 18 years old, not a professional gambler, not involved in alcohol or narcotics, not a Communist or Fascist and Uphold the US Government. George Worth Prichard organized the first 6 Lodges in New Mexico in 1881. New Mexico Territorial Governor Lew Wallace, author of Ben Hur, was an active Knight. In 1923, it was the largest fraternal order in the State of New Mexico.

For more information on the order, click here. For information on the Knights of Pythias today, click here. For photos, artifacts, and history, click here. History in New Mexico, click here.

The following is Knights of Pythias information that appeared in issues of the Dawson News for 1923 . 

Weekly add reads: Dawson City Lodge Number 30. 1st Frank Bessolo, C.C. and Harvey Springer K.R.S. 2nd Ira Bradford C.C. (Chancellor Commander) and Charles Sneddon, K.R.S. Meetings every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. for the Weekly Meetings. Visitors Always Welcome.

  • Saturday, 06 January 1923 - Knights, Pythian Sisters and their families, 200 guests, had a joint installation of officers, followed by a banquet. They adjourned into the Opera House Hall for an evening of dancing.
  • Thursday, 25 January 1923 - Thank you for floral offering from Ray Ramelot who was ill.
  • Wednesday , 14 February 1923 - Banquet and social hour at the Lodge Room.
  • Thursday , 15 February 1923 - Miner’s Thankful appreciation for attention during hospital confinement after mine explosion, Ernest L. Ingledue.
  • Saturday , 24 February 1923 - Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado Lodges hold District Convention in Trinidad. Meeting followed the Banquet and Musical program. Next convention in Aguilar, Colorado.
  • Saturday , 24 February 1923 - Messrs. Moore, Shelton, and Chiapetti attended the Knights of Pythias District Convention in Trinidad.
  • Sunday for a week , 24 - 31 May 1923 - Lloyd T. King, from Denver, transacts Lodge business.
  • Wednesday, 12 September 1923 - Messrs. Russell, Moore, Holtry, Chiappetti, Bradford and Shelton motored to Raton to attend Knights of Pythias Lodge meeting.
  • Tuesday, 18 September 1923 - Delegates of the Dawson Lodge left for Deming, New Mexico, to attend the annual grand lodge meeting. Local delegates were Messrs: Mullen, Kinney, Bradford and Shelton.
  • Saturday, 29 September 1923 - District Convention held in Aguilar, Colorado. Many local members motored over the Pass to attend. This includes lodges from Dawson, Walsenburg, Aguilar, Starkville, Trinidad (2 lodges), Raton, Clayton, Springer and Las Vegas.
  • Wednesday, 15 November 1923 - class of 18 candidates were initiated into the mysteries of the rank of Knight. The membership now has 214. It is the largest lodge in the State of New Mexico.
  • Saturday, 17 November 1923 - Banquet celebrating this class of initiates. Members from nearby cities came to celebrate.
  • Wednesday, 28 November1923 - Members and their families enjoyed a splendid banquet in the Lodge Room, there were over 200 guests. Followed by several hours of dancing.
  • Wednesday, 05 December 1923 - At the regular meeting, the following officers were elected for the ensuing year: John Shelton, Chancellor Commander; Elmer Sherfick, Vice Chancellor; Lee Bradford, Prelate; W. A. Henderson, Master at Arms; Harvey Springer, Keeper of R&S; F. Chiaooetti, Master of Finance; Charles O’Conner, Master of Exchequer; George L. Bradford, Master of Work; John Buttram, Inner Guard; R.J. Batcha, Outer Guard.

PYTHIAN SISTERS- Mountain View Temple No. 14

The Pythian Sisters is the female counterpart to the Knights of Pythias. A woman had to be the wife, sister, half-sister, sister-in-law, daughter, mother, stepmother, or mother-in-law, or grandmother of a Pythian Knight in good standing. It is an independent auxiliary that was organized in Warsaw, Indiana on October 22, 1888, by Joseph A. Hill. The work of the Pythian Sisters is not confined to the ritualistic work for the local Temple. It brings together women of diverse backgrounds and provides opportunities for them to help themselves and others grow through the Order’s principles of Purity, Love, Equality, and Fidelity. Membership requirements are: age 16 or older, English speaking and a belief in a Supreme Being.

For more information on the order, click here. For information on the Pythian Sisters, today, click here. The following is Pythian sister information that appeared in issues of the Dawson News for 1923.

  • Saturday, 06 January 1923 - Knights, Pythian Sisters and their families, 200 guests, had a joint installation of officers, followed by a banquet. They adjourned into the Opera House Hall for an evening of dancing.
  • Friday, 09 March 1923 - Regular meeting. Initiated 4 new members: Geneva Henderson, Kate Right and Messrs. James Scribner and Chittick.
  • Friday , 25 May 1923 - Social evening with refreshments. Held an initiation. Evelyn English and Mrs. Charles Byers were initiated into the Order.
  • Friday , 20 July 1923 - Regular meeting. Speeches given by Brothers: Shelton, Bradford, Raymond and Gallus, and Sisters: Sherfick and Snyder. Refreshments were served after a social evening. New officers were installed: Bernice Holtry, Past Chief; Mary Jane English, Most Excellent Chief; Alice Lujan, Excellent Senior; Goldie Whiteley, Excellent Junior; Virginia Miller, Manager; Bertie Bradford, Mistress of R&C; Mary McGarvey, Mistress of Finance; Clara Dupont, Protector; Lucille Simpson, Guard of Outer Temple.
  • Saturday , 01 September 1923 - Hosting a Dance at the Opera House. Refreshment were served.
  • Tuesday, 18 September 1923 - Delegates of the Dawson Lodge left for Deming, New Mexico, to attend the annual grand lodge meeting. Local delegates were Mesdames: Bradford, McGarvey, Frazer, and Sherfick.
  • Saturday, 29 September 1923 - Mrs. Sherfick returned.
  • Friday, 26 October 1923 - A social evening with entertainment, after the regular meeting. Refreshments consisted of chili, coffee and doughnuts.
  • Friday, 09 November 1923 - Pythian Sisters host an old time Country Fair. In the Opera House Hall. Good music and dancing. Admission $0.10 The Booths also were very successful financially.
  • Friday, 07 December 1923 - Regular Meeting. 5 new members were installed: Mesdames. Strannigan, Gracey, Mason and Camora, and Mr. Bruce Davis. Election of officers: Mary Jane English, Past Chief; Alice Lujan, Most Excellent Chief; Goldie Whiteley, ex-senior; Virginia Miller, ex-junior; Lucille Simpson, Manager; Birtie Bradford, Mistress of R and S; Mary McGarvey, Mistress of Finance; Nora Raymond, Protector; Eva Henderson, Outer Guard. Lunch was served after the meeting.

MASONS - A.F.&A.M. Vermejo Lodge No.36

The first Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons was established in England in 1717, the organization carried on in colonial America.

For a history of Freemasonry, click here. New Mexico Genealogist, March, 2005, click here.
The following is Masonic information that appeared in issues of the Dawson News for 1923 . 

 Weekly add reads: Ancient Free and Accepted Scottish Rite Free Masons Vermejo Lodge Number 36. J.H. Vickers, W.M. (Worshipful Master) and J.T. Patterson, Secretary. On 1-11-23 Secretary changed to J.F. McClary. Meetings 2nd and 4th Tursdays at 8 p.m.. Lodge Hall in Opera House Building. For History of this Lodge click here. http://pvmcmasons.org/main_lodges.html

  • Wednesday, 03 January 1923 - Public Installation of Officers in the Lodge Room at the Opera House: John Vickers, Worshipful Master; John Patterson, Secretary; D.G. Secrest, Treasurer; James Saul, Senior Warden; J. Whitfield, Junior Warden; C.T. Jernigan, Senior Deacon; G.R. Finley, Junior Deacon; A. Keddie, Senior Steward; T. Brennan, Junior Steward; Lawrence Vickers, Chaplain; O.A. Gartrell, Marshall; G.L. Bradford, Tyler. Rev. Russell, in behalf of the Lodge presented retiring Worshipful Master, Lawrence Vickers, a beautiful Past Master’s Jewel. Refreshments were served.
  • Thursday , 15 February 1923 - Miner’s Thankful appreciation for attention during hospital confinement after mine explosion, Ernest L. Ingledue.
  • Thursday , 01 March 1923 - 1924 State Masonic and Eastern Star Convention will be held in Raton.
  • Monday, 05 March 1923 - Ed Marcus, DG Secrest, ET Engle, motor to Masonic meeting in Raton.
  • Thursday, 29 March 1923 - Scottish Rite Club Banquet in the Lodge Room at the Opera House. Officers elected: John Vickers, President; Frank Moorehead, Vice President; WF Murray, Secretary.
  • Saturday, 05 May 1923 - Special Communication after conferring Master’s degree, there will be a smoker and meal.
  • Tuesday, 26 June 1923 - The following Royal Arch Masons went to a lodge meeting I n Raton: John Paterson, J.A. Gafford, W.G. Moore, L. Vickers, W.R. Smith, D.G. Secrest, L.Q. Gartrell, G.L. Bradford, and F.F. Moorehead.
  • Saturday, 15 October 1923 - Victor L Menter, Masonic Educational Commission from Albuwuerwue, lecture of interest to all member and the members of De Molay. Followed by music program and refreshments.
  • George A Reese, of Trinidad, Co. went to Washington DC to receive his election to 33rd Degree Inspector General Honorary by the Supreme Council, the highest degree that can be obtained.
  • Thursday, 08 November 1923 - Conferred 3rd degree to members of Vermejo Lodge 36. Dr. J.Q. Welch was toastmaster and introduced some interesting guests from Gaste City Lodge No. 11 of Raton: Dr. O.J. Whitcomb, L.E. Whited, Jack Ellis, W.Haddow, L.S. Brown, W.L. Trimble, Jay T. Conway, Q.B. Hart, L.S. Wilson, and E.D. White. Followed by a smoker and social hour.
  • Thursday, 22 November 1923 - Mr. and Mrs. John Vickers were honored guests at banquet given in the lodge room by Masonic and Eastern Star Lodges. The Vickers are moving to Longview, Wash.
  • Saturday, 08 December 1923 - By special dispensation, a convocation of Raton Chapter 6 Royal Arch Masons, was held in the Dawson Masonic Hall for conferring Mark and Past Master Degree. Light refreshments were served. 35 members from the Raton lodge attended.
  • Thursday, 27 December 1923 - Vermejo Lodge No. 36, elected officers: James E. Saul, WM; J.A. Gafford, SW; George R. Finley, JW; Charles A Young, Secretary; D.G. Secrest, Treasurer; W.G. Moore, SD; J.W. Emerson, JD; Andrew Keddie, SS; Fred H. Covert, JS; George L. Bradford, Tiler.


EASTERN STAR - Gate City Lodge No. 11

The Order of the Eastern Star is a fraternal organization associated with the Free Masons that both men and women can join. It was established in 1850 by Rob Morris, a lawyer and educator from Boston, Massachusetts, who had been an official with the Freemasons. It is based on teachings from the Bible but is open to people of all theistic beliefs. The first chapter was established in 1874 in Washington D.C.

For information, click here. Eastern Star, today, click here.

The following is Eastern Star information that appeared in issues of the Dawson News for 1923 .

  • Thursday, 04 January 1923 - Installation of newly elected officers followed by a short program of music and dance. . 120 persons present. New Officers: Jessie Sneddon, Worthy Matron; Hattie Eastham, Assistant Matron; Frank Moorehead, Worthy Patron; Myra Welch, Secretary; Martha Young, Treasurer; Anna Vickers, Conductress; Elizabeth Keddie, Assistant Conductress; Mrs. D.G. Secrest, Marshall; Mrs. F.F. Moorehead, Chaplain; Mrs. William Moorehead, Organist; Mrs. T. Brennan, Adah; Mrs. O Warfield, Ruth; Winifred Teeple, Esther; Mrs. C.A. Young, Martha; Mrs. Shannon, Electa; Mrs. E. Engledue, Warden; John Patterson, Sentinel. Jesie Sneddon presented Mrs. Secrest a Past Matron’s pin and flowers. Mr. F.F. Moorehead presented a Past Patron’s pin to Mr. J.F. McClary, T.L. Kinney and G.L. Bradford. Music and dance were provided by: Winifred Teeple, Dorothy Diver, and Leola Meikle
  • Wednesday, 31 January 1923 - Mrs. George L. Bradford and Mrs. Meikle entertained the ladies of the Eastern Star
  • Saturday, 17 February 1923 - Dance at the Opera House, Postponed due to Mine explosion on the 8th
  • Saturday, 24 February 1923 - Mrs. George Eastham, Mrs. DG Secrest, and Jessie Sneddon attend Albuquerque Grand Lodge Meeting.
  • Wednesday, 21March 1923 - Mrs. Keddie and Mrs. Frazer entertain the ladies in the Lodge Room.
  • Wednesday, 16 May 1923 - Mesdames Harden and Shannon entertain the ladies in the Lodge Room
  • Wednesday, 23 May 1923 - Mrs. CA Frazer and FC Diver entertained the ladies in Diver’s home.
  • Saturday, 26 May 1923 - Eastern Star gives a Dance at the Opera House for the general public. Refreshments were served to the large crowd.
  • Wednesday, 29 August 1923 - Jessie Sneddon entertained the Eastern Star ladies at an informal tea.
  • Wednesday , 05 September 1923 - Mrs. Charles Young, entertained the Eastern Star ladies at an informal tea in her home
  • Thursday , 06 September 1923 - Mrs. C.A. Young entertained the Eastern Star ladies
  • Wednesday, 26 September 1923 - Grand Matron Irene Potter, of Albuquerque, attends local Eastern Star meeting.
  • Wednesday, 31 October 1923 - Mrs. D.G. Secrest and Mrs. F. Moorehead, entertained the Eastern Star ladies in the Lodge room.
  • Thursday, 22 November 1923 - Mr. and Mrs. John Vickers were honored guests at banquet given in the lodge room by Masonic and Eastern Star Lodges. The Vickers are moving to Longview, Wash.
  • Thursday, 06 December 1923 - Ladies of O.E.S. made arrangements for the picture “The Face in the Fog” to be shown at the Opera House on December 15.
  • Saturday, 15 December 1923 -
  • Wednesday, 21 December 1923 - Election of Officers: Worthy Matron, Hattie Eastham; Worthy Patron, Lawrence Vickers; Asso. Matron, Anna Vickers; Secretary, Lillian Moorehead; Treasurer, Myra Welch; Conductress, Elizabeth Keddy; Asso. Conductress, Jeanie Brennan; Chaplain, Ida Rogers; Marshall, Jessie Sneddon; Organist, Rose Finley; Adah, Sarah Moorehead; Ruth, Ruth Vickers; Esther, Florence Warfield; Martha, Martha Young; Electa, Jessie Sayers; Warder, Winifred Gartrell, Sentinel, Mr. Gartrell.

Loyal Order of the MOOSE

Since the information that appeared in 1923 Dawson News was about the Women of the Moose, and it is an auxiliary of Loyal Order of The Moose, it has to be assumed that there was a local Moose Lodge. Dr. John Henry Wilson, a Louisville, Ky., physician, organized a handful of men into the Loyal Order of Moose in the parlor of his home in the spring of 1888. In 1906, James Davis, a native of Wales who had worked from boyhood as an "iron puddler" in the steel mills of Pennsylvania, had also been a labor organizer, immediately saw potential to build the tiny Moose fraternity into a force to provide protection and security for a largely working-class membership. At the time no "safety net" existed to provide benefits to the wife and children of a breadwinner who died or became disabled. Davis proposed to "pitch" Moose membership as a way to provide such protection at a bargain price; annual dues of $5 to $10. Given a green light and the title of "Supreme Organizer," Moose Lodges were established across the U.S. and southern Canada. It operates Mooseheart City, a 1,000 acre community for children and teens in need; and Moosehaven, a 70-acre retirement community for its members . For information about The Moose history, click here. For the Moose today, click here.

The Women of the Moose was founded in 1913. History, click here. For information today, click here.
The following is Moose information that appeared in issues of the Dawson News for 1923 .

Ladies of the Mooseheart Legion No. 281

  • Tuesday, 03 April 1923 - Birthday Party, Second Anniversary of local Legion.
  • Saturday, 26 May 1923 - Pie and Apron sale at the Opera House. Proceeds will be used to assist for paying the expenses of a delegate to Mooseheart in June.
  • Saturday , 23 June 1923 - Give a dance at the Opera House Hall. Refreshments are served.
  • Thursday, 28 June 1923 - Mrs. John Hardin, Moose Legion representative goes to Mooseheart.
  • Thursday, 28 June 1923 - Jake Whitfield, Dawson’s delegate to Attend the National Convention of the Moose Lodge at Mooseheart.
  • Monday, 16 July 1923 - Business and social meeting. Dictator Hubbard introduced Chairman Frank Shelton. Mrs. Hardin and Mr. Whitfield reported on national convention at Mooseheart and the work of the Children’s Home in Mooseheart with 1165 children. Dawson now has 5 people at Mooseheart: Mrs. Monk and her 2 sons, Laverne and Clarence, and the 2 Valores children. The local Moose lodge is the largest in the State, and Dawson has the only Moose Legion. It is expected that some of the children affected by the recent Explosion in Dawson will be sent to Mooseheart, where it is the wish of the mothers to have them sent and the circumstances surrounding each case seems to warrant action. Lunch and ice cream were served at the close of the meeting.


The Dawson News, all issues for 1923.

The Leading Facts of New Mexican History, by Ralph Emerson Twitchell, Volume 3, page 95.         Google Books.