George James Roskruge (April 10, 1845[a] – July 27, 1928) was the Surveyor General of Arizona Territory from 1896 to 1897. Born in England, he emigrated to the United States in his mid-20s and became a naturalized citizen in 1876. He spent most of his life in Tucson, Arizona where he held many prominent positions and is considered a city pioneer. He was an expert rifleman and is called the “Father of Masonry” in Arizona.
Roskruge was born on April 10, 1845, near Helston, Cornwall, England, where he began working at age 15 as a messenger for a law office. Beginning April 12, 1860; he served for 10 years in the Duke of Cornwall’s rifle volunteers, where he became known as a “remarkably accurate rifle shot” and for two years was the champion rifle shot of his company.
He emigrated to the United States in 1870; arriving in New York and then traveling for five days with only cheese, crackers, and bread to eat, to Denver, Colorado, where he lived and worked for two years. In May 1872, he left for the Arizona Territory in a party of 17. The journey included shortages of food and water, and encounters with hostile Apache Indians. After camping at Volunteer Springs (near present-day Bellemont, Arizona), he walked three and one-half days alone from there to Prescott in June 1872, as his companions were too sick and weak to continue. He soon found work as a cook and packer for Omar H. Case, Deputy Surveyor General, and began assisting in surveying work as a chainman. In 1873; he was appointed assistant county recorder for Yavapai County.
Roskruge has an extensive association with Masonry, having been called the “Father of Masonry” in Arizona. He was made a Master Mason in 1870; in his birthplace of Helston, Cornwall, England. He claimed that when he arrived in Prescott in 1872; he went to the Masonic lodge there and identified himself with the secret Masonic sign. His Masonic brothers rescued his stranded traveling companions and helped him find work in Prescott. After relocating to Tucson, Roskruge was instrumental in founding lodges there and eventually became Grand Secretary of the Royal Arch Masons of Arizona.
The Roskruge Hotel, at Broadway and Scott Avenue, opened in 1924. It was owned by Freemasons and was named to honor Roskruge, the “Father of Masonry” in Arizona. At the time, it was one of the “most modern small hotels in Arizona” with each room having hot and cold running water and a shower.
The library at the Masonic Temple in downtown Phoenix is named the George Roskruge & S. Barry Casey Masonic Memorial Library & Museum.
He died July 27, 1928; in his Tucson home after suffering from an illness for several months. His funeral was held per his wishes at the Masonic temple, with services conducted by the Grand Masonic lodge of Arizona with a guard of the Knights Templar. Flags at the University of Arizona, public schools and other public buildings were flown at half-mast after his death. He was buried at the Masonic Cemetery in Tucson, and an endowment fund was created to pay for a perpetual memorial wreath to be placed each year on May 9, the anniversary of the day Roskruge received his thirty-second degree.