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The history of Occident 48
By Norm Grier
The lodge’s history stretches back to the conclusion of the nineteenth century.
The story began with a tragedy.
On Nov. 3, 1891, the British sailing ship Strathblane wrecked on the beach 10 miles north of Ilwaco.
This would spark the formation of Occident Lodge 99, among Masons living on the Long Beach Peninsula, June 12, 1895.
Capt. John Cuthell drowned during the wreck, but First Mate James D. Murray was saved by holding onto the tail of a huge horse which was trained to swim in rough seas.
Cuthell and Murray were members of Mother Kilwinning Lodge, located on the estuary of the Clyde River in Scotland.
Although no lodge existed in Ilwaco, Murray asked local Masons to perform a Masonic funeral services for his captain and proper services for six of the crew who drowned. All were buried in the Ilwaco Cemetery.
Judge C.C. Dalton, who rode the horse that rescued Murray, invited him to stay with him in Ilwaco.
When Murray sailed home to Scotland, he related details of the shipwreck and the kindness of the Masons and citizens of the area.
Capt. Cuthell’s widow asked for a stone to be placed on her husband’s grave.
As a gift to thank the Ilwaco-area Masons, Kilwinning Lodge created a gavel from timber from a wrecked ship that had formed part of the Spanish Armada in 1588.
Murray returned to Ilwaco and married C.C Dalton’s sister, Frances. C.C. Dalton would become the fourth master of Occident 99.
Occident 99 secretary H.F. Corey took the Kilwinning gavel to the 1897 session of the Grand Lodge of Washington and Grand Master Yancey C. Blalock governed using the gavel throughout the session.
In 1930, the lodge moved to its present home at 205 E. Spruce Street, in Ilwaco. Grand Master William Bates was present for the dedication service. The Kilwinning gavel is on display in the front lobby.
When Murray returned to Ilwaco, he arranged for a stone marker to be placed on Capt. Cuthell’s grave. The six seamen’s graves were marked by wooden crosses.
Their identities had been lost until the Ilwaco Cemetery built a memorial to them. Ron Hylton of Pentilla’s Chapel by the Sea in Long Beach was instrumental in investigating, contacting agencies in Scotland and England, to discover the names of the six drowned seamen.
A stone honoring the six men was placed and paid for by Pentilla’s Chapel. It was dedicated Nov. 3, 1966, by Vicar Blaine Hammond of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church of Seaview. Members of Occident Lodge 99 attended the dedication.
Feb. 27, 2016, Occident 99 became Occident 48 following the merger with Gavel 48 of Raymond. A reconstitution ceremony was performed by Grand Master Donald G. Munks and his Grand Lodge team.
About the writer: Norm Grier has long shown a special interest in the history of Masonry on the Long Beach Peninsula. He joined the lodge in the 1950s and was its master in 1960. He took over as chaplain some 40 years ago, a position which had been held by his father, William Grier, for many years.
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Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Washington
I am sure, if you were ever around WB Norm Grier, you would have heard at least one if his many stories filled with historical facts about the local area. One Norm loved to tell was how we received the “Gavel” which is on display in the lobby of the Lodge. Here is the rest of the story
Prelude: Mother Lodge Kilwinning is an ancient and honorable Lodge that was founded around 1107 AD and is reputed to be the oldest Lodge not only in Scotland, but the world. It has been called The Mother Lodge of Scotland attributing its origins to the 12th Century, and is often called Mother Kilwinning.
Mother Kilwinning was placed at the head of the roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland and now has the famous and distinctive Number '0'. (Mother Kilwinning No. 0).
Ilwaco Washington’s Occident Lodge No. 48’s (previously No. 99) history stretches back to the conclusion of the nineteenth century. Our story begins with a tragedy.
November 3, 1891 a three-masted British sailing vessel, the Strathblane, struck the beach 10 miles north of Ilwaco Washington. While hundreds watched, rescuers tried to help as the ship broke up in the heavy surf. Seven member of the ship company died in that tragedy.
The ship’s Captain John Cuthell drowned in the wreck but Frist Mate James D. Murray was saved by holding onto the tail of a huge horse, which was trained to swim in rough seas. The horse was ridden by Judge C.C. Dalton, a local resident who would become the fourth Master of Occident Lodge No. 99.
Cuthell and Murray were members of Mother Kilwinning Lodge No. 0. Although no lodge existed in Ilwaco, Murray asked local Masons to perform a Masonic funeral service for his Captain and proper services for the six-other crew who drown. Masonic funeral services were held for Captain Cuthell and the six-other crew were accorded proper funeral services. As a gift to thank the Ilwaco-area Mason for performing the services, Kilwinning Lodge created a gavel from timber from a wrecked ship that had formed part of the Spanish Armada in 1588. James D. Murray, presented the gavel in 1895.
Judge C.C. Dalton, who rode the horse that rescued Murray, invited Murray to stay with him in Ilwaco. After a short stay, while recuperating, Murray sailed home to Scotland, where he related details of the shipwreck and the kindness of the Masons and citizens of the area.
Capt Cuthell’s widow asked for a stone to be placed on her husband’s grave. When Murray returned to Ilwaco, he arranged for a stone marker to be placed on Capt. Cuthell’s grave. Wooden crosses marked the six seamen’s graves.
This would spark the formation of Occident Lodge 99 on June 12, 1895, among Masons living on the Ilwaco and Long Beach Peninsula. Occident 99 secretary H.F. Corey took the Kilwinning gavel to the 1897 session of the Grand Lodge of Washington and Grand Master Yancey C. Blalock governed using the gavel throughout the session. The gavel returned to Ilwaco where it was incased in a wood and glass case and is displayed in the lobby of the Occident Lodge.
Murray returned to Ilwaco and married C.C Dalton’s sister, Frances and it is assumed that they lived, and died, in the neighboring town of Chinook Washington a few miles from Ilwaco.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017, some 122 years later the story continued. WB Gordon W.P. Smith, a member of Emblem Lodge 6727, Blackpool UK, joined us for Occident 99’s weekly luncheon. He was joined with his nephew, who the following evening was raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason at Longview 263. After lunch, WB Smith was given a tour of our Lodge and of course we could not pass up the gavel and its history. Brother Smith was reading the short story posted next to the gavel about the Strathblane and the demise of it’s Master, when a look of astonishment came across his face. WB Smith and his Fellow Craft nephew had some time to kill before lunch, so they stopped in the north Oregon town of Astoria, just across the Columbia River from Ilwaco Washington. WB Smith informed us that he had been perusing the Second-Hand shops and came across a Masonic Apron, belonging to James D. Murray from Kilwinning Lodge No. 0.
Through fate, luck or Devine intervention, James D Murray’s original Masonic apron is now secure in the hands of Occident Lodge No. 48. A part of the history of Occident Lodge has returned home. The apron was found with other items in an estate sale, which the proprietor of the store had bulk purchased. It is assumed that the estate was, at one time, part of James and Frances Murray’s belongings.
The apron is inscribed under the bib with:
James D. Murray
Mother Kilwinning No 0
Efforts are being make to contact the Kilwinning Lodge via the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington to share with them the joy of this discovery.
I hope to someday travel to Kilwinning Scotland, the notable home of Freemasonry in Scotland, and take with me the apron and gavel, and once again connect with WB Smith and our Kilwinning Brothers.
Norm would have liked this twist to the story.