The contents of the Ottawa County cornerstone and time capsule have been removed from the existing courthouse and moved to a secure location, according to county officials.

Commission chairman Russell Earls made the announcement at Monday's meeting of the county commission.

County officials are currently making plans for a cornerstone ceremony. At that time, officials will join with local and statewide Masons in sealing a new time capsule into a 2008 cornerstone to be placed on the northeast corner of the new courthouse structure.

The contents of the 1954 courthouse cornerstone time capsule - which included items placed in a preceding capsule set in 1916 - are now stored in the First National Bank vault until they can be placed in a secure display case within the new courthouse structure.

Miami Masons Gary Johnson and Norman Ruth attended a Jan. 8 meeting of the county commission to provide the details of previous ceremonies at the courthouse where two cornerstones are currently set into northeast walls. He indicated that the previous cornerstones contained small vaults housing documents, newspapers and miscellaneous items from their respective time periods.

Johnson confirmed that the contents of the 1916 cornerstone were removed in the mid 1950s when the building was renovated and expanded.

The items were transferred to a subsequent cornerstone where they joined an assortment of similar items.

Commissioners have expressed their desire to see all three of the cornerstones gathered together and placed side-by-side for placement as deemed appropriate by Oklahoma's Grand Masonic Lodge.

Upon formal request by county officials, a new stone and inscription will be provided by the Grand Lodge of the Oklahoma Masons, according to Johnson.

The Grand Lodge, which is located in Guthrie, must conduct the ceremony, according to rules of the Masonic Order.

“It is quite an honor to see those kind of ceremonies, Ruth said.

Johnson said the cornerstone ceremony is rich in Freemason tradition and includes a parade of members who march together in a celebratory event that is one of the few public displays of a Masonic ritual event.

The new courthouse is set to open in late March or early April.