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Hamilton v. White

Supreme Court of Arizona

June 20, 1933

NOLA HAMILTON, CLAY CREDILLE, TENNIE CREDILLE, BETTIE SCOTT, JENNIE LUCAS, BERTHA PERKINS, Trustees of Palm Chapter No. 3, Order of Eastern Star, a Secret Society, Appellants,
v.
NOBLE E. WHITE, M. A. WHITE, THOMAS YOUNG, LIZZIE WILLIAMS, FREDA FILER, MARY E. SCOTT, CLEMENZA SNOW, Appellees

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of the County of Maricopa. J. C. Niles, Judge. Judgment affirmed.

Mr. V. L. Hash, Mr. Herman Lewkowitz, Mr. Albert D. Leyhe and Mr. W. S. Norviel, for Appellants.

Mr. Robert L. Fortune, Mr. Hess Seaman and Mr. William G. Christy, for Appellees.

OPINION

[42 Ariz. 171] McALISTER, J.

Nola Hamilton and five other persons filed this action against Noble E. White and six others, all residents of Maricopa county, Arizona, praying that they be declared to be the trustees and officers of palm Chapter No. 3, Order of Eastern Star, Grand Chapter of Arizona, and as such entitled to the possession of the charter and other paraphernalia of that organization. The court denied this relief but held the defendants to be the trustees and officers of the chapter and, therefore, the proper custodians of the charter and other lodge paraphernalia, and from this order the plaintiffs have appealed.

The complaint alleges in substance that the plaintiffs organized Palm Chapter No. 3, as a secret society, on January 1, 1929, and were on that day duly elected the officers and trustees of the order for a period of one year from that date; that at all times since they have been such trustees and officers, and as such entitled to the possession of the charter issued by the Grand Chapter of Arizona to said Palm Chapter No. 3, which has a value of approximately $2,000; that they had possession of it until the twelfth day of September, 1929, when it was taken from them without their consent by the defendants, who have since withheld it from them though they seized, removed [42 Ariz. 172] and are holding it pursuant to no statute or by-law of Palm Chapter No. 3; that the defendants are pretending to act as Palm Chapter No. 3, and unless restrained will continue to hold meetings in its name and incur debts which plaintiffs will be obligated to pay.

The relief sought is a decree directing the return of the charter or, in lieu thereof, the payment of the sum of $2,000, and enjoining the defendants from holding any further meetings or using the name of Palm Chapter No. 3, Order of Eastern Star, Grand Chapter of Arizona.

The defendants demurred to the complaint on several grounds and by way of answer denied, among other things, that plaintiffs are or have been since September 12, 1929, trustees and officers of said Palm Chapter No. 3, Order of Eastern Star, or that they as

Page 1090

such are entitled to possession of the charter and other lodge paraphernalia. They deny also that the charter has been unlawfully detained by them or that they are merely pretending to act as such organization, but allege affirmatively that they, together with other individuals, organized Palm Chapter No. 3, Order of Eastern Star of Arizona, and have since been and now are members of the lodge and its duly elected officers and by virtue thereof entitled to and rightfully in possession of the charter and all lodge paraphernalia. They allege further that on September 12, 1929, plaintiffs withdrew from Palm Chapter No. 3, Order of Eastern Star, Arizona jurisdiction, for the purpose of joining the Texas division of that organization and actually made application therefor and when they did this, defendants aver in their cross-complaint, they took with them wrongfully the paraphernalia and equipment belonging to the defendants as trustees of the lodge and used for the work thereof together with the sum of $208.15 on deposit [42 Ariz. 173] in the Phoenix National Bank to the credit of said Palm Lodge No. 3.

By way of answer to the cross-complaint the plaintiffs deny that they withdrew from Palm Chapter No. 3 and took with them the charter and other lodge equipment, but allege that they organized said lodge by virtue of authority delegated to them by the Grand Lodge of Texas and that they hold the property belonging thereto as the trustees and officers thereof.

The record discloses that the plaintiffs took possession of the charter on June 11, 1920, under a claim and delivery bond and that it has since remained in their custody.

At the close of the trial, which lasted three days, the court made findings of fact and drew therefrom certain conclusions of law and, basing its action thereon, rendered judgment in favor of defendants. The substance of the findings, which are full and complete, is, so far as necessary for a proper disposition of the appeal, as follows:

(a) On the twelfth day of September, 1929, Palm Chapter No. 3 was a duly organized and existing chapter of the Sovereign Grand Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star for the State of Arizona, and on that day its officers, Noble E. White, worthy matron; Clay Credille, worthy patron; Tennie J. Credille, secretary; Bettie Scott, treasurer, and three other members, Teddy Lucas, Nola Hamilton and Clemenza Snow, without notice of the business to be conducted, met in a general meeting at the usual place in Phoenix and passed a resolution proposing the withdrawal of Palm Chapter No. 3 from the Sovereign grand Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star for the State of Arizona and the affiliation of said chapter with the Sovereign Grand Chapter of the State of Texas. Two of these members, Noble E. White and Clemenza Snow, voted against this resolution and did not tender [42 Ariz. 174] their resignations and have since remained members ...


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