Saint Paul Lodge Number Three was founded in 1849, the same year Minnesota became a territory. The Minnesota Pioneer, the first newspaper in the territory, published a notice on April 28, 1849, asking members of the Masonic Fraternity to gather on May 31. No records exist of that meeting or another one held on June 4 but these meetings were the forerunner of Masonry in Minnesota.
Charles Kilgore Smith was appointed Territorial Secretary by President James K. Polk and arrived in Saint Paul in early July of 1849. He was known as a very able Mason and brought new life to the attempts to form a lodge. A third meeting was held on Monday, July 16, at which time it was decided to form a Masonic lodge. A petition was forwarded to the Grand Lodge of Ohio because Charles K. Smith had come from Ohio. The petition was prepared the next day and thirteen men signed it, namely:
Charles Kilgore Smith, Territorial Secretary
Aaron Goodrich, Chief Justice
James M. Goodhue, Editor of the Minnesota Pioneer
J. Hughes, Editor of the Minnesota Chronicle
Daniel Franklin Brawley, businessman
Lot Moffit, hotel and innkeeper
W.C. Wright, probably a printer
Justus C. Ramsey, brother of the first Governor of Minnesota
John Condon, government employee
Albert Titlow, carpenter
John Holland, painter
Levi Sloan, grocery store owner
Julius Aitkenside, printer
The petition was granted at Lancaster, Ohio, on August 8, 1849, and received by the petitioners in due course and by its authority the lodge held its first meeting on Saturday evening, September 8, 1849, in the Central House, which then stood on what was known as Bench Street, later Second Street, now a part of Kellogg Boulevard, near the corner of Minnesota Street.
Charles Kilgore Smith was designated the first Master of the Lodge. He was also the first Secretary of the Territory, founder and first Secretary of the Minnesota Historical Society and later a Regent of the State University.
The lodge met again on September 17 and the petition of Oliver H. Kelley was received. Oliver Kelley was the second person initiated in Saint Paul Lodge, after Charles P. Scott. Oliver Kelley later went on to found the Patrons of Husbandry, better known as the Grange, and his home near Elk River is now part of the Minnesota Historical Society.
The lodge continued working under its dispensation more than three and a half years. The lodge was duly constituted as Saint Paul Lodge No. 223 of Ohio on February 7, 1853, after finally receiving a charter from the Grand Lodge of Ohio. In the meantime, two other lodges had formed: Cataract Lodge at St. Anthony Falls and St. John’s Lodge at Stillwater. A resolution was adopted at the lodge meeting of February 7 inviting the two other lodges to meet on Wednesday evening, February 25, to form a Grand Lodge. That meeting was held as scheduled and the Grand Lodge of Minnesota was established. It was determined that the lodges would be numbered in accordance with the order in which they received their charters and not by their dispensation dates. Consequently, the lodge in Stillwater became St. John’s Lodge No. 1 as it was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin on June 9, 1852, and the lodge at St. Anthony Falls became Cataract Lodge No. 2 as it was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Illinois on October 21, 1852.