Platte Valley Lodge 32 History

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Birth Place
Platte Valley Lodge 32
North Platte, NE - Nov. 15, 1869

Nov. 15, 1869 in a room 24x24 feet in size, in the second story of the Charles McDonald store building, a rough frontier structure more useful than elegant.  $60 was spent on furniture for this modest lodge room and at the first meeting five Masons were present as their names have been preserved.  Rev. A. A. Reese, army chaplain and first master of the lodge.

Platte Valley Lodge 32 - 1872

The modest two story frame building, long known as the Masonic hall, that occupied the site of the temple was erected in 1872 at a cost of $2,600.  The amount was raised by the sale of shares at $50 each to local Masons.

Platte Valley Lodge 32 - Feb. 22, 1908

Free Mason erected a temple creditable alike to Masonry and the city at a cost of $30,000.   The Masonic Temple was built towards the close of 1907, and dedicated Feb. 22, 1908. The ground floor is occupied by spacious stores, and the second by a banquet hall, reading and lodge rooms.

Platte Valley Lodge 32 -  June 6, 1987

Nebraska State Seal

The McDonald Ranch, located near Cottonwood Springs, south of the Platte River.  McDonald used part of his home to sale merchandise to those traveling on the Oregon Trail.

William F. Cody - 1875

Cody, "Buffalo Bill" William F. - Indian fighter, Wild West Show - Platte Valley Lodge No. 32, North Platte, NE.

Cody was active in the concordant bodies of Freemasonry, being initiated in Platte Valley Lodge No. 32, North Platte, Nebraska, on March 5, 1870. He received his 2nd and 3rd degrees on April 2, 1870, and January 10, 1871, respectively.  He became a Knight Templar in 1889 and received his 32 degree in Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in 1894.
  • Entered Apprentice: March 5, 1870
  • Fellowcraft: April 2 1870
  • Master Mason: January 10, 1871
At the age of 40 he petitioned Euphrates Chapter No. 15, Royal Arch Masons, of North Platte, Nebraska on September 1, 1887. He was advanced to the Degree of Mark Master, inducted into the oriental chair and received and acknowledged a Most Excellent Master on November 14th, 1888. He was exalted to the Royal Arch Degree on November 15th, 1888
This "Buffalo Bill" walking cane was purchased from a museum in London who had acquired it around the turn of the century (1900) from the man Cody had given the cane to! Buffalo Bill was in England at the time performing his Wild West Show for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee when this cane somehow was broken. He took it into a London shop to have it repaired and instead bought himself a new one, giving the broken one to the man who assisted him. The man wrote a letter that states the following:  "The attached walking cane was given to me by the famous American Showman Mr. William "Buffalo Bill" Cody when he visited the shop James Payne & Sons Ltd. for which I was the Manager in charge in 1892. He purchased a new cane, this one being broken. Mr. Robert N. Ruffin, London, 26th July, 1910." This cane was originally a presentation piece from a New York Masonic Lodge as the Square and Compasses and the initials N.Y. are engraved upon the sterling silver band on the cane. Buffalo Bill made many visits to N.Y. Lodges while his Wild West Show was located there.

At the request of Platte Valley Lodge of North Platte, Golden City Lodge No. 1 conferred Masonic burial rites on June 3, 1917, atop Lookout Mountain, at 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon. Worshipful Master G. W. Parfet, Jr. of Golden City Lodge No. 1 appointed eight Brother pallbearers who were in their full-dress Templar uniforms. At the request of Mrs. Cody, and almost five months after his death, the casket was opened and an estimated 10,000 viewed the deceased pioneer and trail blazer.

 Livingston Masonic Library and Museum

It was estimated that more than 20,000 persons visited the spot and 15,000 were present at the burial ceremony having walked or ridden to the top of Lookout Mountain. It was certainly one of the largest, if not the largest, Masonic burial ever. These words were said by the Masons over the grave: "His spirit ascends to God who gave it. His memory we cherish in our hearts. His body we consign to the earth."


Platte Valley Lodge 32 Past Masters


Masonic Presidents of the USA
  • George Washington
  • James Monroe
  • Andrew Jackson
  • James Buchanan
  • Andrew Johnson
  • James Garfield
  • William McKinley
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • William Taft
  • Warren Harding
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Harry S Truman
  • Lyndon Johnson
  • Gerald Ford
Masonic Founding Fathers of the USA
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • John Hancock
  • Joseph Warren
  • Paul Revere
  • Henry Knox
  • John Blair William
  • John Sullivan
  • John Paul Jones
  • Mordecai Gist
  • Edmund Randolph
  • John Marshall
Masonic Military & Political Leaders of the USA
  • Gen Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold
  • Gen. Omar Bradley
  • Sir Winston Churchill
  • Adm. William Crowe
  • Gen Geo. Marshall
  • Gen. Douglas Macarthur
  • Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway
  • Audie Murphy
  • Gen. John Pershing
  • Eddie Rickenbacker
Masonic Entrepreneurs
  • John Jacob Astor
  • Walter Chrysler
  • John Eberhard Faber
  • Henry Ford
  • King Gillette
  • Charles Hilton
  • Andrew Mellon
  • J. C. Penny
  • Nathan Rothschild
  • Arthur Godfrey
Famous Freemason Actors & Directors
  • James Monroe
  • Gene Autry
  • Ernest Borgnine
  • Eddie Cantor
  • Cecil B. DeMille
  • Douglas Fairbanks
  • W. C. Fields
  • Glenn Ford
  • Clark Gable
  • Oliver Hardy
  • Harry Houdini
  • Al Jolson
  • Louis Mayer
  • Tom Mix
  • Roy Rogers
  • "Red" Skelton
  • John Wayne
Famous Freemason Authors
  • James Boswell
  • Robert Burns
  • Arthur Conan Doyle
  • William S Gilbert
  • Wolfgang Goethe
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Alexander Pope
  • Aleksander Pushkin
  • Sir Walter Scott
  • Jonathan Swift
  • Anthony Trotlope
  • Oscar Wilde
Famous Freemason Musicians
  • Roy Acuff
  • Irving Berlin
  • Brad Paisley
  • Roy Clark
  • George M. Cohan
  • Little Jimmy Dickens
  • Franz Josef Haydn
  • Ferlin Huskey
  • Franz Liszt
  • Wolfgang Mozart
  • Jan Sibelius
  • John Phillip Sousa
  • Mel Tillis
  • Burl Ives
  • Hank Thompson
  • Paul Whiteman
Freemason Frontiersmen
  • Kit Carson
  • "Buffalo Bill" Cody
  • Davie Crockett
  • Sam Houston
  • William Travis
Famous Freemason Explorers
  • Adm. James Bruce
  • Richard Byrd
  • William Clark
  • Elisha Kane
  • Charles Lindbergh
  • Meriwether Lewis
  • Robert Perry
  • Robert Scott
  • Lowell Thomas
Famous Freemason Astronauts
  • Col. Edwin "Buzz” Aldrin
  • Gordon Cooper
  • John Glenn
  • Virgil "Gus" Grissom
  • James Irwin


Click on Photos to Expand

The Stone Monument at Cottonwood Springs

This monument is located .5 miles from the intersection of Cottonwood Springs Rd and E. Fort McPherson going east and .5 of a mile from a 90 degree turn on E. Fort McPherson Rd. going west. It is on the south side of E. Fort McPherson Rd. and about .1 of a mile from the marker designating the original site of Fort McPherson. It designates the site of the George McDonald Store which is the birth place of William H. McDonald , George’s son and the first white boy born in Lincoln County and also the first home of Platte Valley Lodge No. 32 AF & AM.  The legal description of the property on which it is erected is:  East ½ of the North east Quarter of Section 16, Township 12, Range 28 West according to Mr. Wade Burke who is listed as the lease holder of this tract, this was verified by talking to the Nebraska Educational Land Board in Lincoln Nebraska on Sept. 1, 2009. This places the monument on Nebraska School lease land. The Lincoln office advised me that there is no written record of an easement or note made regarding it on the property which means that there was maybe, at the time of erection, some verbal agreement from the lease holder and Mr. McDonald. The monument is red granite 8 feet high, 10 inches thick and 20 inches wide imbedded in a concrete base which is 44 inches long and 33 inches wide and 20 inches, or better, deep and has 2 inscriptions on the side facing the road. See pictures on this disc. The top inscription reads: “Overland Ranch of Charles McDonald. Established at Cottonwood Springs on Oregon trail, January, 1860. His son, Wm. H. McDonald, was born here June 14, 1861, being the first white child born in this county.” The Bottom Inscription reads: Site of the first home of Platte Valley Lodge No. 32 A F & A M organized November 15, A L 5869  U.D. January 15 AL 5870 Moved to North Platte Sept. 10, AL 5872 This stone dedicated June 14, AL 5931.”  It should be noted that the World Herald article left out a part of the bottom inscription.

There is an article and picture in the June 21 edition of The Omaha World Herald showing the stone and 6 people standing by it, one is William McDonald’s oldest daughter who unveiled it, as according to the article Bro. McDonald was in Europe at the time. Only one man is visibly clothed with a Masonic Apron and that appears to be Bro. Charles Hendy.

Cottonwood Springs / Fort McPherson

Fort McPherson was originally called Cantonment McKean, and was popularly known as Fort Cottonwood. The Fort was an Indian Wars-era U.S. Army installation in Nebraska Territory located near the site of present-day North Platte, Nebraska.
Fort McPherson was located on the banks of the North Platte River, at the mouth of Cottonwood Canyon, a strategic location near the junction of South and North Platte Rivers. Cottonwood Springs, a natural spring in an abandoned bed of the river, was the only spring for many miles along the river and a favored spot used by the plains Indians.
A man by the name of Charles MacDonald had built a cedar ranch at the mouth of Cottonwood Canyon, which canyon came down to the river near Cottonwood Springs. Cottonwood Springs was merely a seep in a gully which had been an old bed of the river, and which had curved up towards Cottonwood Canyon. The water-bed of the river being largely composed of gravel, the water came down in the underflow, and seeped out at a place down in the bank where there had grown a large cottonwood tree. This spring had been dug out, and was the only spring as far as known along the Platte for two hundred miles. It was at the mouth of Cottonwood Canyon that we were to build our military post. The place was a great crossing for the Indians going north and south. The valley here was several miles wide. There was a large island in the river of several thousand acres, upon which grew the finest grass to be found in the country, and there were some scrubby willows and cottonwoods; so that the Indians coming from the north found it a good stopping-place to feed their ponies either in summer or winter, because in the winter the ponies could eat the cottonwood brush. In addition to this, Cottonwood Canyon gave a fine passage to the south. A road went up on the floor of the canyon, between the trees, until it rose onto the tableland twenty miles south. The canyon furnished fuel and protection. It was for the purpose of breaking up this Indian run-way that we were ordered to build a post at the mouth of the canyon