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The first Masonic Lodge in Nebraska was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Illinois in 1855, only a year after Nebraska was organized as a territory and twelve years before it was admitted as a state. The territory then extended from the State’s present southern boundary to British America and from the Missouri River to the summit of the Rockies. All was a wilderness. The Lodge met at Bellevue, surrounded by Indian tepees. Thus, early in the history of Nebraska Territory Masonry is found, just as early in the history of the world it was born.
From the beginning the growth of the Order was steady, but in 1918, with thousands leaving their homes and loved ones to participate or to train for participation in the World War, the Lodges in Omaha Were swamped with applications for admission. The thought of danger and death seemed instinctively to draw hundreds to affiliate with an Institution founded upon principles that cannot die.
With the work of the Lodges thus greatly increased, a number of the members, upon the suggestion of W.'.Bro. Raymond V. Cole, met at the Omaha Chamber of Commerce at noon July 25, 1918, to consider the advisability of forming a new Lodge to assist the older Lodges in their work. The brethren present were: Raymond V. Cole, David Cole, Hugh T. Cutler, Fred B. Dale, Anson L. Havens, George W. Pratt, Millard M. Robertson and Louis F. Schonlau. It was unanimously decided to form and support a new Lodge and accordingly a petition to the Grand Lodge of Nebraska was prepared and the new organization was perfected with W.'.Bro. Raymond V. Cole as Master; Arthur C. Pancoast, Senior Warden; Anson L. Havens, Junior Warden; Paul A. Havens, Secretary, and Hugh T. Cutler, Treasurer.
The new Lodge was created under a dispensation issued by M.'.W.'.Ambrose C. Epperson on November 12, 1918. It was instituted as a Lodge under dispensation on November 13, 1918, by M.'.W.'.Ambrose C. Epperson, assisted by M.'.W.'.James R. Cain, Past Grand Master; was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Nebraska on June 4, 1919, and was regularly constituted as Mizpah Lodge No. 302, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, on June 25, 1919, by M.'.W.'.John J. Tooley, assisted by R.’.W.'.Joseph B. Fradenburg.
The name “Mizpah” was suggested by Paul A. Havens, one of the younger members and secretary under dispensation and was unanimously adopted. It was thought appropriate because its use in the Old Testament indicates that it means a place of commanding prospect, and because of the beauty of the Mizpah benediction, found in Gen. 31:49. After the charter was granted and before the first regular communication, the Master obtained a special dispensation from M.'.W.'.John J . Tooley for the use of the benediction in closing the Lodge, and no Lodge meeting has since been closed without the brethren present first repeating in unison the words constituting the Mizpah benediction.
There were twenty charter members and eight members raised while the Lodge was under dispensation. During the years of its existence its membership increased to 1026.
In 1921 the Grand Lodge of Nebraska began issuing certificates of proficiency to all Lodges in the State whose officers as a whole were substantially observing, obeying and enforcing all the provisions of Chapter II, Sec. 8 of the Law of Freemasonry in Nebraska, and to all Nebraska brethren who after strict trial and due examination prove their efficiency in all of the standard and authorized work and accompanying lectures of this Grand Jurisdiction. Mizpah has the distinction of being the first Lodge in Omaha to receive this certificate and to a member of Mizpah there was issued the first individual certificate in Omaha.