Highlights in the History of Mosaic Lodge No. 125
On March 25, 1858 thirteen Masons from Dubuque met to form a new Masonic lodge within the community. Under the laws of the Grand Lodge of Iowa, this new lodge was initially classified as a lodge under dispensation. On June 2, 1858 the Grand Lodge issued a formal charter to Mosaic Lodge, and on June 10th the Lodge was formally constituted and its officers installed. William H. Gaines was elected and served as its first Worshipful Master. The first meetings of Mosaic Lodge were held in a building which was located on the southeast corner of Fourth and Main Streets in Dubuque. The by-laws of the Lodge specified that the stated communications of the Lodge would be held on the second Tuesday of every month, and this day has continued to remain the same up to the present time. Initially, Lodge dues were set at fifty cents per month while initiation fees totaled thirty dollars.
With the commencement of the American Civil War in 1861, several members of the Lodge answered the call to duty and joined the ranks of the Union Army. One member, Francis J. Herron, eventually rose to the rank of major general and was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas. The Lodge also had a German nobleman as a member during this period.
Baron Karl Schaefer von Bernstein had come to the United States because he had become disenchanted with the aristocratic nature of his native land and was impressed with the spirit of equality and the democratic society he saw in the United States. He also joined the ranks of the Union army but unfortunately was killed during one of the battles of the war. Since the Civil War, various members of the Lodge have continued to serve their country during all of the major wars and conflicts in which the United States was involved.
Since its formation, the membership of Mosaic Lodge has been composed of adult men of all ages and from a wide variety of professional, educational, religious, and cultural backgrounds. Over the years its membership numbers have fluctuated due to various factors. Certain traditions and practices have also changed over the years. In its early days, stated communications of the Lodge were opened on the first degree, then on the second, and finally on the third. Eventually this practice was changed so that the Lodge would be opened on the degree in which the business of the day was to be conducted. A tradition of passing out cigars at the close of every meeting was discontinued in the 1930’s.
The location for meetings of Mosaic Lodge has changed four times since its chartering. In 1870 the Lodge moved the site of its meetings to a building located on the northwest corner of Fifth and Locust Streets. Twenty-five years later the Lodge again moved its meetings to a building located on the northeast corner of Tenth and Main Streets where the Masonic square and compass can still be seen at the top of the former Interstate Power building. In 1905 the Lodge moved its meetings to the site of the former First Presbyterian Church located on the southwest corner of Eleventh and Locust Streets which is now the location of the new addition to the Carnegie-Stout Public Library. For many years the various Masonic bodies in Dubuque had desired to jointly construct a new building. This eventually led to the construction of the present Masonic Temple located on the southwest corner of Twelfth and Locust Streets. Mosaic Lodge has continuously held its meetings at this site since the Temple’s dedication in March of 1932.
Several members of Mosaic Lodge have been prominent in national and local governmental affairs. William B. Allison, a charter member of the Lodge, served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1863 to 1871 and then as a member of the U.S. Senate from 1873 to 1908. Another member, David B. Henderson, served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1883 to 1903 and was Speaker of the House from 1899 to 1903. Allison-Henderson Park in Dubuque was named in recognition of their service to the nation. Charles A. Kintzinger was elected to the Dubuque City Council and was chosen by its members to be the city’s mayor in 1955 and 1957.
Over the years several members of Mosaic Lodge have served as officers of the Grand Lodge of Iowa including three who were elected to the office of Grand Master of Masons in Iowa – the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a brother within this Grand Jurisdiction. Joseph Chapman was Grand Master in 1873-74, R. Harry Muellich in 1977-78, and Edwin D. Blinks in 1992-93. In addition, D. Keith Robertson was Grand Treasurer in 1995-96 while Melvin A. Reynolds and Brian P. Carroll were Senior Grand Stewards in 1984-85 and 2013-2014 respectively.
During the early 1970’s, Anthony G. Walker, a member of Mosaic Lodge No. 5028 in Dudley, England, was reading a Masonic account of the American Civil War which mentioned that a General Herron from Mosaic Lodge in Dubuque was wounded at the battle of Pea Ridge. Since there apparently are only a few Masonic lodges in the world with the name Mosaic, it was his desire to initiate a contact with the lodge in Dubuque. His correspondence was referred to the secretary of Mosaic Lodge No. 125, R. Harry Muellich which resulted in the interchange of numerous letters over the next few years. When Brother Muellich became Grand Master of Masons in Iowa in 1977, he organized a Masonic trip to England including a visit to Mosaic Lodge in Dudley. As a result, the two Mosaic Lodges established close fraternal ties over the years with several members of both lodges traveling on a number of occasions to visit the other lodge and their fraternal brothers. Both Brothers R. Harry Muellich and Edwin D. Blinks were made honorary members of Mosaic Lodge No. 5028. On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Mosaic Lodge No. 125 in 2008, the brethren from Mosaic Lodge No. 5028 sent the beautiful etched goblet pictured on the homepage. Unfortunately, because of declining membership and other factors, Mosaic Lodge No. 5028 was forced to surrender its charter in October, 2013. At its last meeting the Lodge voted to send its collection of miniature mosaics to Mosaic Lodge No. 125. A picture of this collection appears under the photos link on this website.
Mosaic Lodge learned in 2003 the final details of being a beneficiary of the will of the late Brother Warren A. Schenck. The will left $655,000 to the Lodge, and it further stipulated that these funds could only be used for religious, charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes. The Lodge decided to create an endowment fund from which only investment income could be used to award grants to qualified non-profit organizations and scholarships to graduating seniors from Dubuque Senior and Hempstead Senior High Schools in Dubuque. A local financial institution was selected to manage and invest the funds received from the Schenck estate. Since the inception of the grant and scholarship programs in 2004 and 2005 respectively, the Lodge has as of December 31, 2014 awarded 134 grants to non-profit organizations totaling $162,386 and a total of $63,000 in scholarships to 41 graduates. The Lodge is deeply indebted to Brother Schenck for making these grant and scholarship programs possible.