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Edward Farris Storey: First Master of Texas Lodge No.46

Edward Farris Storey (1828-1860) Our First Master
Article from the Visalia Masons Lodge

Edward Farris Storey was born in Jackson County, Georgia, July 1, 1828. In 1844 with his parents he moved to Texas. In 1846 he became a member of the Texas Rangers, and he and his father served in the Mexican War. In 1849 he married and in 1850 his wife died, leaving him an infant daughter, Julia. In 1852, with his little daughter in the saddle with him, he started to California with a party he had organized to make the trip. They traveled by saddle horse and pack train through Old Mexico to Mazatlan on the Pacific Coast where they took a boat and, after a stormy voyage in which many passengers perished, he landed with his party at Monterey, California, and at once began the business of stock raising at San Juan, then in Monterey County, but now in Benito County.

He had joined the Masons in Texas, and a number of the men who accompanied him to California also were Masons. In the then pioneer and unsettled condition of the country, he realized the benefit that a Masonic Lodge would be to the community and took steps to obtain a Dispensation from the Grand Master to organize the Lodge at San Juan under the name “Texas Lodge,” and in 1854 that Lodge was chartered under the number 46. The Grand Lodge of California was then only four years old. He was elected as the first Master. By 1857 he had had many favorable reports about Tulare County, then known as the Four Creeks country, and he came to Visalia, bringing with him his little daughter Julia. The same unsettled conditions in Visalia that he had seen at San Juan indicated to him the same necessity for a Masonic Lodge at Visalia, which he proceeded to help organize as outlined previously in this booklet.

In 1860 after the expiration of his term as master, Brother Storey felt the urge that drew so many men to Nevada, when the Comstock Lode was discovered. He went to Virginia City, leaving his little daughter Julia with the wife of the Methodist Minister at Visalia. He had been in Nevada only a few months when an Indian War broke out. Brother Storey was elected Captain of the “Virginia Rifles,” and when leading his men against the Indians, was fatally wounded from ambush on June 2, 1860, and died that same evening, at the age of thirty-two years. He was buried in the Virginia City Cemetery with military honors. Storey County, in which Virginia City is situated, was named in honor of Brother Storey, and in 1930 Escurial Lodge, in conjunction with Virginia City officials, and the county commissioners of Storey County, erected a monument over Brother Storey’s grave which was dedicated by the Grand Lodge of Nevada November 8, 1930.

Photo Left: Monument erected to the memory of Capt. Edward Farris Storey at Virginia City, Nevada. November 8, 1930. The movement for the erection of this monument was sponsored by Escurial Lodge No 7, F. & A. M., of  Virginia City and the Commissioners of Storey County. It was dedicated by the Grand Lodge of Nevada.

At the time of the death of Brother Storey, telegraph lines had just been completed to Visalia, and one of the first messages it received was a message to the Lodge, at one dollar a word, announcing the death of Brother Storey.

The Lodge immediately met and in addition to the usual resolution of respect, passed a resolution authorizing the Master to see that Brother Storey’s orphaned daughter was provided for, and authorizing him to apply to the Court for appointment as her guardian. J. N. Thomas, the second Master of the Lodge, immediately filed a petition for the appointment of himself as guardian, which petition was granted by the Court on the same day it was filed. She then became a ward of the Lodge until her marriage to J. W. Williams, a member of the Lodge and for many years City Marshall of Visalia. About one year after Brother Thomas became the guardian of Julia, a demand was made upon him to surrender the custody of the minor to an alleged uncle, but the Lodge instructed Brother Thomas forthwith to reject the demand and directed the Charity Committee to institute legal proceedings to protect the orphan child.

The committee feels that the tribute paid to Brother Storey by the Deputy Grand Master of Nevada at the dedication of the monument to his memory in 1930, so forcibly describes his character that it is here printed in full.

“Most Worshipful Grand Master, as the pioneers moved westward across this great country of ours, Masons and Masonry moved with them. Those men put into practice the excellent tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, and by their precepts helped to bring stability and beauty out of near chaos. Their work was well done and they too built better than they knew.

Captain Storey was a Mason, a Man—and as Mason, and believing, as we know he did, that it is far better to give than to receive, he placed his life upon the Altar of Sacrifice that we might have a smooth path to tread after him. This monument I dedicate to him and to the Craft, for the Mason that he was.”

Copy Of Article Describing Edward Farris Storey’s Funeral As Reported in San Francisco Bulletin 
Dated June I2, And Reprinted in Visalia Weekly Delta, June 30, 1860.


(From the S. F. Bulletin)
Virginia City, U. T., June 12, '60.THE BURIAL OF CAPTAIN STOREYEditor Bulletin: --As mentioned in my last, Sunday, June 10th was celebrated the funeral of the late Capt. Storey. About 2 o'clock in the afternoon of that day, the different military companies, the Masons and the citizens assembled near Wells, Fargo & Co's express office. A pair of fine mules drawing a wagon, conveyed the remains of the gallant man who fought and died. No bell tolled the knell of a departed soul, no priest habited in white vestments headed the procession; but slowly and silently the band, half military, half civil, marched toward the grave. This was dug in the usual place for interment, near the road to the Flowery District. As the spectator from this point watched the solemn procession approach, he must have been indeed dull, if his sensibilities were not aroused by such a striking scene. Toward the south, the sun was gilding the distant hills and shedding its benign rays over the mountains on the west, clad in bright green, except where the hand of man had scattered the earth in search for hidden treasure. Here is the tunnel with its cavernous mouth; there, the shaft and windless told the tale of hardy labor. The "city" itself, with its white canvass roofs, reflected the rays of the sun, and seemed to rejoice in the beauty of this summer day. But toward the north and east, the dark cloud, heavy with rain, overspread the sky; and as the drops fell, seemed to join in the general sorrow, and mingle its tears with those assembled round that stony grave. Down from the heights above the procession moved. First went the military companies, then the Masons clad in white aprons then the hearse and Capt. Strong's Company, and lastly the citizens. How strange the scene! Here, in this new country, from every nation and every clime were gathered the different classes of men. Thousands of miles over land and ocean, many, ay, the most, looked back on their homes—some through months, some through years and some through many years into the past, bright with boyhood’s memories, wondering at the future. But, above all, that hand in their white aprons, representing as they did a class throughout the world, bound as they are by ties more indissoluble than that of brothers, was the strangest point in the strange picture. Here were ties even among strangers, ties strengthened by deep mysteries, ties hightened by history and antiquity. Around the grave the Masons gathered and as the ceremony began, as the hands were clasped above their heads, the clouds broke asunder and the bright light of the golden sun dispelled the darkness below. Again there came around the grave another hand of brethren-—his companions in arms. Men rough in appearance, but bearing in their breasts resolute though sorrowful hearts, as the performed the last sad offices for their former Chieftain. DULCE ET DECORUM EST PRO PATRIA MORI.

For those interested in learning more about the foundation of Masonry in California:

Here is a video from the Grand Lodge of California.