History of the Lodge


Bethesda Lodge # 64 History

The town now known as Truth or Consequences, probably as early as 1874, was called Palomas or Las Palomas for the doves that lived in the Cottonwood trees along the Rio Grande River.  Later, the name of Ojo Caliente was applied as the name of the Community and this became Hot Springs, because of the hot sulphur springs that abounded in the area. 

Ralph Edwards, a national known radio man and early Television personality, talked the people of Hot Springs into changing the name of their town to Truth or Consequences after his show of which he was the Master of Ceremonies. In return for holding an Annual Fiesta there, he promised the event would receive national publicity. Added note to this story.  Ralph Edwards did return each year for some 25 years for "Ralph Edwards Day Fiesta in honor of this commitment.  The name of Truth or Consequences for general usage is now referred to as T or C.  However the T or C High School is still know as the Hot Springs High School, home of the fighting Tigers. 

The mining boom which hit other towns in Sierra County missed Hot Springs.  Until the start of Elephant Butte Dam in 1911[i] there were not many people who lived here.  The people of Hot Springs began efforts to get the County seat moved to their town from Hillsboro in 1937, after the mines played out at Hillsboro and other county towns. Hot Springs became the county Seat of Sierra County in 1938[1]

Masonic activities in Hot Springs date back to the Town’s early days.  Many Masons came to the town when it was known as Palomas Springs, seeking a restoration of health from the hot sulphur baths.  Many of these needed help, so a Masonic relief association was formed to assist them.  Records of this Masonic relief work date back to 1914.

A meeting attended by 36 Masons was held on April 27, 1938and at its conclusion the group applied for a dispensation to form a Masonic Lodge in Hot Springs.  The Dispensation was granted December 3, 1938 by Grand Master William M Bickel.  There were 38 names on the application for dispensation; the largest, at that time, ever to apply to the Grand Lodge of New Mexico.  The charter Masons came from a dozen states, and 20 of them were from New Mexico.  They first met in Apodaca Hall, after the Charter was issued the Lodge was set to work by Grand Master Louis C,, Rockett.  The Lodge was constituted and the Hall dedicated on November 14, 1939.  Grand Lecturer George L Machen delivered the address at the close of the Corner Stone Dedication Ceremony. Otto H El Goetz was the first Master.

A disastrous hail storm damagedApodaca Hall in 1947 and caused the Lodge to move its meetings to the Odd Fellows Hall.  The members weren’t satisfied holding there meetings in the Odd Fellows Hall, so funds and materials were solicited of the purpose of building a Msonic Lodge of the own.  Dr. T. B. Williams donated the land and a new Lodge building was built and dedicated on March 12, 1949. 

The Grand Lodge of NM was opened that afternoon with visiting Masons from far and wide present for the cornerstone laying ceremony.  Main Street in front of the building was roped off, and closed for the occasion.  Grand Master Walter F Edwards conducted the ceremony.

A barbecue dinner was served to 380 Masons and guest on this occausion.  The dedication was open to the public with 175 Masons registered from 22 states.  Many Grand Lodge Officers and other Masonic dignitaries were present.  Every member of Bethesda Lodge has a part in the construction.  The building was 90’ by 32’ and cost the brethren approximately $14,000.00, half of which had already been paid at the time of the dedication. 

Bethesda Lodge had a membership of 110 members in 1977 at the Centennial Celebration of the Grand Lodge of Masons in New Mexico. [2]





l[i] The majority of this article is taken from “A history of Masonry in New Mexico 1877 ~ 1977 by LaMoine Langston, PGM

Written by Norman C RibblePosted in: Uncategorised