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this reprinted material: HISTORY OF UNION LODGE, NO. 108, F. & A.M.,
CODDING, James, A History of Union Lodge No. 108, Free and Accepted Masons, Towanda, Pa. Held under a warrant from The Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging. by James H. Codding, Past Master.Towanda, Pa., 1899, Reporter-Journal Printing Co., Towanda, Pa., Reprint publication on Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice, 2004, http://www.rootsweb.com/~srgp/jmtindex.htm
APPROVAL BY THE GRAND MASTER.
George E. Wagner,
Acting R. W. Grand Master.
Office of the R. W. Grand Master
of F. and A. Masons of Pennsylvania
Masonic Temple, Philadelphia, Nov. 7, 1899
Mr. James H. Codding,
Dear Sir and Brother: I have before me the MSS. Of you History of Union Lodge No. 108, F. and A.M., held at Towanda, Bradford County.
I have read every word of it with the utmost interest and attention, and I congratulate you upon the result of your labor, as the work is full of evidence of care, skill and ability. I also congratulate your Lodge in having such a competent and conscientious historian.
Under the Ahiman Rezon, p. 52, Art. XVII, Sec. 25, the consent of the Grand Master is required for the publication of any work relative to Freemasonry, or the proceedings of any Lodge.
If it is the desire of yourself or your Lodge that your history be printed, I cheerfully consent thereto, feeling assured that it will prove of interest to the Craft.
George E. Wagner,
Acting Grand Master.
"Being persuaded that a just appreciation of the principles on which
the Masonic Fraternity is founded, must be promotive of virtue and public
prosperity, I shall always be happy to advance the interest of the Society,
and be considered by them a deserving brother."
HISTORY OF UNION LODGE
"Within this dear mansion, may wayward contention
Or withering envy ne’er enter;
May secrecy round be the mystical bound
And brotherly love be the center".
Masonic Temple, --Philadelphia, 1873.
IN OLD PENNSYLVANIA
In 1730 Free Masonry existed in Pennsylvania. Whence it came, and how it came are, so far, somewhat unsettled. In the Pennsylvania Gazette of that year, printed at Philadelphia, under date of December 8th, appears the oft quoted paragraph:
"As there are several Lodges of Freemasons erected in this Province," etc.
A distinguished Freemason and author, (Hon Josiah H. Drummond of Maine) thinks that the printer was in error in using the plural number, or that he referred to several meetings of one Lodge. The words used forbid the latter presumption, and there is no evidence that the statement is incorrect. However this may be, it has probably never been doubted that Pennsylvania Freemasonry came from England, or that its importance here was due to the London revival, June 24, 1717, for the Grand Lodge then formed grew rapidly in dignity and authority.
Of one Lodge we have some reliable facts. Its Account Book, brought to light in 1884, by our late accomplished Brother MacCalla, gives us the name of "St. John’s Lodge", and its location in "Philadelphia City". Its entries begin June 24, 1731, and refer to prior existence; they end June 24, 1738. In the membership of this Lodge are found the names of the most eminent men of the Province, at that time, and prominent among them was a young man, afterwards to become thrice immortal as patriot, statesman and philosopher – Benjamin Franklin.
On the fifth day of June, 1730, under the hand and seal of the Duke of Norfolk, Grand Master, Daniel Coxe of New Jersey was constituted and appointed Provincial Grand Master for the "Provinces of New York, New Jersey and Pennsilvania". The original record of this Deputation exists in England, and the fact was noted in the 1738 edition of Andersons’s Constitutions. The powers granted were:
"For the space of two years from the feast of St. John the Baptist now next ensuing, after which time it is our Will and Pleasure, and we do hereby ordain that the Brethren who do not reside, or who may hereafter reside, in all or any of the said Provinces shall and they are hereby empowered every other year, on the Feast of St. John the Baptist to elect a Provincial Grand Master, who shall have the power of nominating and appointing his Deputy Grand Master and Grand Wardens".
In addition the constitution of lodges was authorized, and direction given to comply with existing or future Regulations and to report the number of Lodges constituted, "with the names of the several members".
While we have no documentary evidence of the exercise of any of his powers by Daniel Coxe, it is but natural to connect St. John’s Lodge of Philadelphia with his Deputation. And June 24, 1732, exactly upon the expiration of the "space of two years", we find the brethren assembled as a Grand Lodge in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania Gazette, June 26, 1732) and electing "Worshipful W. Allen, Esq., (Pennsylvania Gazette, June 26, 1732) "Grand Master of this Province". It was precisely what they were authorized to do at that time.
Such conclusions have been resisted by the brethren of Massachusetts, in order to allow room for their claim to a "first warranted" Lodge, the one constituted in Boston by Henry Price, August 31, 1733, by virtue of a deputation granted by Lord Viscount Montague in April preceding. The Price Deputation is not recorded in England, nor is it mentioned by any contemporary writer, but the copy (of a copy furnished by Price himself) has been accepted as authentic. (The Price Deputation was for New England "and Dominions and Territories thereunto belonging". It did not contain the peculiar provisions we have quoted from Coxe’s Deputation, though otherwise very similar in phrase and words).
It has been asserted that Franklin (being then Grand Master in Pennsylvania) in 1734 asked and received from Price the first regular authority for a Pennsylvania Lodge. But this is no sufficient evidence of this. On the contrary, the letters from Franklin to Price negative that idea. He had read (he says) that Price’s "power was extended over all America". (There is neither record nor copy of such extension of power). If so, he proposed to recognize it, and wished for Price correlative recognition; but with diplomatic caution he asked for a copy of both Price’s deputations. There is no record of any reply.
And those letters are subsequent to the alleged grant of authority from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania.
In weighing this question upon the evidence – or rather, the lack of it – two considerations are worthy of remembrance. First, the high character of the members of St. John’s Lodge in Philadelphia. They were not men who would attempt usurpation of Masonic standing or power, nor were they liable to mistake. They were too intelligent not to know what irregularity meant in Masonry and elsewhere. They had for themselves to contend against clandestine work.
Secondly, there was not for years following 1730, any punctilious regard for the form or substance of Lodge warrants. Lodges then existed, and some of them still survive, which met and worked, without even a tradition of specific authority or formal constitution. They are "time immemorial" Lodges. And fro a long time, the signature of the Grand Master, upon a petition for a lodge, or a written, or perhaps verbal, authorization to constitute, were, each or any of them, all the evidence of title which any Lodge possessed. The phrase, "Warrant of Constitution", still remains in our ritual, a memorial of the early custom.
Year after year, the brethren in Philadelphia elected their Grand Master. As that official and his Grand Wardens were the same men who contemporaneously occupied corresponding stations in St. John’s Lodge, a surmise might arise of the practical identity of the two bodies. But other evidence being absent, it is conjecture only.
In 1734 Franklin reprinted "The Constitutions, of the Freemasons" as compiled by Dr. Anderson, and published by authority of the Grand Lodge of England in 1723. This fact is significant of the probably growth of the Fraternity in Lodges not yet traced (A scholarly and convincing contribution to this subject was presented in Grand Lodge by Brother Julius F. Sachse, and printed in Proceedings of 1898, G. L. Penna.) for St. John’s had then but thirty-seven members. This reprint is very rare, and almost beyond price to the Masonic book-lover.
Our "first Lodge" may have suffered a decline, for in 1749 Franklin, as Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvania, opened a Grand Lodge under authority given by Thomas Oxnard, Esq., Provincial Grand Master of all North America, and a warrant was granted for a Lodge in Philadelphia. In the following year Wm. Allen, Esq., presented his commission as Provincial Grand Master, from England, and was recognized, Franklin becoming his Deputy.
In 1754 the first Masonic Hall in America was erected in Philadelphia, and in the following year St. John the Baptist’s Day was celebrated by a procession of one hundred and thirty brethren, from three city Lodges, and a sermon in Christ Church.
From and after 1751 a new and important Masonic power arose, "The Grand Lodge of England according to the Old Institutions". This body, from its own claims, was known as the "Ancients", also as the "Atholl Grand Lodge", because two of the ducal line of Atholl presided as Grand Masters. In 1758 it granted a Warrant (No. 69 in England, No. 2 in Pennsylvania) to brethren in Philadelphia, and thus founded a policy and jurisprudence, destined to survive to our own time. From allegations made by the Ancients came the term "Ancient York Masons", which has not yet passed into entire disuse. The older Grand Lodge, thenceforth known as "Moderns", experienced stormy contentions with the new power, but the brethren in Philadelphia appear to have been little troubled by the difficulties in England, and maintained for the time, each their own allegiance, without much fruition or bitterness.
The subsequent decline, extinction or absorption, in Pennsylvania of the Moderns, and the survival of the Ancients, may be traced to social and political conditions, and not to Masonic contention. Gradually the forms, usages and laws of the Ancients prevailed in the Province, and even the term "Constitutions" was dropped, to be replaced by "Ahiman Rezon", a name probably invented by Lawrence Dermott, who a Grand Secretary and Deputy Grand Master, was the vigorous and active executive of the Ancients.
In 1761 the Ancients by warrant (No. 89 in England, No. 1 in Pennsylvania) authorized as a Grand Lodge the "Provincial Grand Lodge" at Philadelphia, and from it is derived our Masonic succession and sovereignty. The early records of this Grand Lodge perished or were lost during the Revolution, but the minutes for July 20, 1779, still exist. At that time twenty lodges were of its obedience. The accomplished and distinguished Brother William Smith, D.D., "Provost of the College and Academy of Philadelphia", Grand Secretary 1779-1783, prepared by request the "Ahiman Rezon, abridged and digested as a Help to all that are, or would be Free and Accepted Masons. Published by order of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania".
This book was published in 1783, and was the "first textbook authorized by a Grand Lodge in this country".
On September 25, 1786, an important matter was decided in the following words:
"Resolved, That this Grand Lodge is, and ought to be, a Grand Lodge, Independent of Great Britain or any other authority whatever, and that they are not under any ties to any other Grand Lodge except those of Brotherly Love and Affection, which they will always be happy to cultivate and preserve with all Lodges throughout the Globe.
"Unanimously Done in open Grand Lodge in Ample Form assembled".
"This Lodge acting by Virtue of a Warrant from the Grand Lodge of England was closed for ever".
On the following day was formed the "Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and Masonic Jurisdiction thereunto belonging", a sovereign, independent power, the only source of Masonic authority in our broad commonwealth. Esto perpetua.
Before hastily leaving this subject it is of deepest interest to recall the true Masonic spirit in which this action was received by the Mother Grand Lodge. In a communication to the new body, presented in 1792, among other sentiments of equally lofty character are found the following:
"Having perused your Book of Constitutions, we reflect with pleasure that the Grand Lodge of England has given birth to a Grand Lodge in the Western World, whose strict adherence to the Ancient and immutable Landmarks of our Order reflect Honour on its original Founders.
"It having, however, pleased the Almighty Architect of the Universe to erect the Province Pennsylvania into a sovereign State, we coincide with you in opinion, that it became expedient to remove those doubts, which either had or might be entertained by the uninformed upon that point by declaring in the most explicit manner the independence of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, the full and ample Authority of which, limited only by the unchangeable Landmarks of the System, as it cannot be increased, or neither can it ever be diminished by Political Changes or Revolutions". (Reprint of Minutes, Grand Lodge of Pa., Vol. 1, page 191. Every zealous brother should procure these volumes as issued by the Library Committee. The cost is nominal, one dollar per volume.)
The new Supremacy was acknowledged without any obstruction whatsoever and the era of a great prosperity began.
It is interesting to study, by observation of facts, how closely Free Masonry has followed the axe of the pioneer in the development of our Republic. Wherever a few families have chanced together in braving the perils of the wilderness; wherever an army post has offered its protection to the extension of traffic, mining or agriculture, there speedily has been heard the Master’s gavel and the language of the Craft. And it is demonstrable that more than social union was involved in this circumstance. For the brethren far removed from courts and the machinery of political organization, found in the communion and discipline of the Lodge-room an upholding of good order and support of good morals, which nothing else in that early time supplied. Without undertaking to enact or to construe law Masonry silently enforced it and became a recognized force till civil power came with the increasing population. Considerations like these, though quite outside its usual purpose, have given peculiar weight to the Fraternity from the earliest period of our national history.
The founders of settlements in the central and northern parts of the new State of Pennsylvania naturally selected locations near, or convenient to the great natural highway, the Susquehanna River. And Masonic lodges of the early day are found extending upon the same lines.
First Return to Grand Lodge
From Lodge No. 108
(One Half Size).
The new Grand Lodge took under its jurisdiction with others:
No. 21. At Lower Paxton, now Harrisburg, warrant dated Oct. 4th, 1779. Still existing.
No. 22. Sunbury – Warranted same day. Still existing.
And after its independence Grand Lodge issued warrants along the course of the Susquehanna, as follows:
No. 61. Wilkes-Barre – Feb. 13, 1794. Still at work.
No. 65. Great Bend of the Susquehanna River, Luzerne Co. – April 11th, 1795. Surrendered Oct. 16, 1809.
No. 70. Rural Amity, Tioga Point, Luzerne county – July 6, 1796. Still at work.
No. 100. Rising Sun, Bloomsburg, Northumberland County – March 5, 1804. Vacated 1826.
No. 106. Williamsport, Lycoming County – March 3, 1806. Still at work.
No. 108. Union Lodge – Alternately at Wysox and Orwell, in the County of Luzerne, March 2, 1807.
IN OLD LUZERNE
What now composes the magnificent County of Bradford has been in the political evolution of the State, successively embraced in the counties of Bucks, Northampton, Northumberland and Luzerne. (The northwest part of the county was for a few years a part of Lycoming). The last named was formed Sept. 25, 1786, the same day in which our Grand Lodge declared its independence. At that period comparatively little had been done to break the silence of the primeval wilderness. Some few settlements indeed antedated the Revolution, but they had been broken and scattered by Indian and Tory perils of the war. During that struggle one solitary occurrence of Masonic import is revealed in our borders. When General Sullivan with his forces came up the Susquehanna from Wyoming a halt was made at Tioga Point, where a union was effected with General Clinton’s troops. While there, on August 18, 1779, "a discourse was delivered in the Masonic form" on the death of two officers, both Freemasons, who had been killed by the savages. (An account of this is given in the excellent History of Lodge No. 70, by Bro. Joseph M. Ely, P.M.). General Sullivan, himself a member of the Craft, was the first Grand Master of New Hampshire. And the next incident connected with the Fraternity in our County of which record remains to us, was the constitution of Lodge No. 70, almost upon the very spot where that funeral sermon was delivered a little less than nineteen years before.
While the Warrants for the first Lodges in our Valley issued, of course, from Philadelphia, the brethren who were to congregate under them, hailed for the most part from the New England States. Some differences of opinion naturally arose from this fact, but they were neither serious nor lasting.
From about 1790 the population grew with apparent rapidity for that embarrassed time. For the settlers came, not to scatter wealth, but to acquire a livelihood and competence. They neither brought nor found luxury; they strove to acquire homes and shelter. Vexatious litigation over land titles threatened to destroy the growth of settlements and turn away the tide of immigration, but still the pioneers struggled bravely against obstacles of nature and legislation. Their patient endurance in labor and suffering are to their descendants like tales from wonderland, but their perseverance triumphed in laying broad and secure foundations for those who were to follow them.
At first two townships of Luzerne embraced very nearly all of our present County. They were named Tioga and Wyalusing. In 1795, Tioga was divided and the southern part thereby taken was called Wysox. Two years later, what remained of Tioga was again divided, the northern part receiving the name of Athens, the lower part the name of Ulster.
"And thus the name Tioga, which for centuries had been given to the confluence of the two rivers, was lost to our County. There were now four townships in the County: Athens, Ulster, Wysox and Wyalusing, each of the first three about six miles from north to south and about seventy-five miles from east to west". (Craft’s History of Bradford County).
From their length it will be seen that these townships covered the present County of Susquehanna as well as Bradford. (Bradford County was created Feb. 21, 1810, under the name of Ontario, and changed to its present name on March 24, 1812). In 1801, Athens, Ulster and Wysox suffered mutilation by the erection of three new townships: Rush, chiefly in the present county of Susquehanna; Mt. Zion, afterward named Orwell, and Burlington. In December, 1806, Wysox covered substantially the present township of that name and almost if not all, Standing Stone, a part of Sheshequin and the most of Towanda and North Towanda, as they now appear upon the map. Orwell embraced generally the present townships of Windham, Warren, Orwell, the eastern half of Rome and the northern half of Pike. Form these details may be understood the territory proposed for the new Lodge. It is hardly practicable to give the population of these townships at that time. It was not large and the center of activity was along the course of the Wysox creek. The combined area was about two hundred and two square miles. Facilities for communication were few. Within the limits of the present County there were but three postoffices – Athens, Wysox and Wyalusing.
The records of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania for Grand Quarterly Communication held Monday, March 2, A. D. 1807, contained the following:
"A Petition from divers Brethren was read, praying for a Warrant for holding a Lodge alternately in the Township of Wysox and the Township of Orwell, in the County of Luzerne in Pennsylvania, to be called Union Lodge, and that Bro. Oratio Grant might be named Master; Bro. Amos Mix, Senior Warden, and Bro. Ebenezer Tuttle, Junior Warden of the same, which Petition being recommended by Lodge No. 70, held at Tioga Point, Luzerne County, and which recommendation being agreeably to the Regulations of the Grand Lodge, It was, On Motion made and Seconded, Resolved, That the prayer of the Petitioners be granted, and that Bro. Grand Secretary make out a Warrant accordingly and that the said Lodge be Numbered 108".
The petition referred to is dated Dec. 9, 1806, and is still in the archives of Grand Lodge. A copy is given in Appendix A. With it was the cordial recommendation of Lodge No. 70, and eight of the petitioners had been members of that Lodge. But these were not the only contributions. In the scarcity of money at that time, the petitioners evidently found difficulty in meeting and cost of the warrant. The following is found in the minutes of No. 70:
Dec. 23, 1806. "Application being made to this Lodge by sundry brethren residing at Wysox & Orwell for the assistance of this Lodge in procuring them a warrant for opening a new Lodge to be held at Wysox & Orwell.
Motion and Seconded – Voted that this Lodge will recommend said applicants to the Grand Lodge for that purpose and that brothers. C. Paine, E. Satterlee & Joseph Kingsbury be a Committee to examine the state of the funds and report to the Lodge whether it be convenient to loan money to said applicants agreeably to their request". (The following from the minutes of No. 108, relate to the same matter; Aug. 13, 1807. "Resolved, That what money there is in the Coffers of the Lodge be appropriated to the use of paying the debt at Tioga Lodge." "The treasurer paid --- twelve dollars to the Secretary to pay over to the Lodge at Tioga." Feb. 11, 1808. "The Treasurer paid the Treasurer of Lodge No. 70 $15.00".)
To crown the whole, kind brethren from No. 70 came to constitute the Lodge. A dispensation (A copy of the dispensation will be found in Appendix B.) had been issued to Brother Joseph Kingsbury, W. M. of No. 70, for that purpose, and April 3, 1807, accompanied by Thomas Overton, "a Past Master" and Samuel Satterlee "a Past Master and Secretary of Lodge No. 70", (So described in our minutes. Neither Overton nor Satterlee was, at that time, a Past Master, "by service", in No. 70.) he constituted the Lodge and delivered its Warrant. (See copy of Warrant, Appendix C.)
The minutes of Grand Lodge, July 6, 1807, contains the following:
"The Report of Bro. Joseph Kingsbery of his having constituted Lodge No. 108 at Wysox, on the 3d April last, was read." (See Appendix D.)
Unexpected difficulties have been met in tracing the brethren who signed the petition for the Lodge. The very fact that so little is known justifies placing it on record here. The petition bears eighteen names, probably a greater proportion of the residents in 1806 than that of the aggregate membership of the nine Lodges in the County to the whole population at this time. According to reasonable conjecture the first four names were obtained at or near the Towanda of the present day. The next four were from the region of Towanda Creek; the next five were probably from Orwell and the last five from Wysox.
Five bore the same family name – Grant. All attempts to trace their Masonic records have proven futile. The anti-masonic troubles obliterated all traces in Vermont where they would naturally be looked for. (The Grand Secretary of Vermont writes: "You know the anti-masonic craze struck Vermont worse than any other State in the Union. Three quarters of the Lodges gave up their existence, and many of them had their records either lost or destroyed. Two-thirds of the early membership is in doubt".)
Four of the signers, David Scott, Ebenezer B. Gregory, James Swartwout and Amos V. Mathews, never became members, but brief accounts, so far as possible, are given of all.
1. James Grant (It is particularly disappointing that so little can be found of four of the five members of the Grant family, who were "charter members" of this Lodge. So complete has been the work of the effacing hand of time, that their living descendants can give no information. They all came from Vermont, probably, but in what degree related to each other, is not established, nor their relative ages known, except in one instance.) The Bradford Gazette in 1813 announces that "James Grant respectfully informs the public that he has again commenced the practice of physic and surgery at Towanda".
His name is not on the Towanda assessment list, but is found in the Orwell list of that year, as a physician.
So far, no other record of him has been disclosed.
2. David Scott, an older brother of George (see 16) and came with him to Wysox. He first taught a school on the west side of the river, read law, and in the summer of 1807 removed to Wilkes-Barre and was admitted to the Bar early in 1809. In the same year he was appointed Prothonotary and Clerk of the Courts. In 1816 he was elected to Congress, but never sat as Representative, having accepted a commission as President Judge of the 12th District. This causing removal to Harrisburg, he soon thought the change unfavorable to his health and contemplated resigning. A vacancy in the 11th District enabled him to continue on the Bench, and also to return to Wilkes-Barre. He was President Judge until 1838. He was called upon to perform many other official duties, and filled every station with credit. His Masonic career began in Lodge No. 70, Aug. 26, 1806, from which he resigned Nov. 26th following. His affiliation with No. 61 was in 1814, and in Dec. 1816 he was elected its Master, but was unable to serve. In May, 1822, he was appointed a District Deputy Grand Master, his being the second appointment to that office in Pennsylvania. Bro. Scott died Dec. 29, 1839.
Our Lodge Room, 1899 – Looking East.
3. William B. Whitney. Careful search gives but little knowledge of this Brother. Col. B. E. Whitney writes June 9, 1899, as follows: "I can give you no positive information about Wm. B. Whitney. Think he may have been a brother of my grandfather, who came to this section in the early part of this century from Stockbridge, Mass. – one of five brothers settling in Binghamton and Steuben Co., N. Y., and the Wyoming Valley, Pa."
One Wm. Whitney was initiated May 31, 1796 in Lodge No. 65, held at "Great Bend of the Susquehanna River". Possibly the same man.
Bro. Whitney remained a member of No. 108 but a short time. A ledger entry under his name, says: "Withdrew himself without the vote of the Lodge".
4. Ebenezer B. Gregory was one of the original proprietors of the lands where Towanda Borough is now built. He had many troubles over title, became involved and died very poor. He came about 1795, and lived in a double log house, near the river, a little southeast of where the Episcopal Church is now standing. A tavern license was granted him in 1802, and later he is returned as a merchant. His name also appears as Deputy Post Master. He was possessed of more than the usual education and culture of his time, and is spoken of as "very much a gentleman". Mrs. Gregory kept a boarding school for young ladies and girls. She was quite competent but the surroundings were primitive. Studying was done on the second floor, and a ladder was used to reach it. Of Bro. Gregory’s life before he came to Towanda, there is no record. He affiliated in Lodge No. 70, Sept. 12, 1798, and "was dismissed and exonerated from all demands" Aug. 2, 1808. He removed to Owego, where he died about 1817.
5. Abner C. Rockwell was initiated Aug. 26, 1806, in Lodge No. 70, and resigned March 17, 1807. He was born at East Windsor, Connecticut, May 4, 1783, and came to Monroe about the year 1800. He was the first Sheriff of Bradford County, a fact recalled in the song – "When old Monroe was young, and Rockwell kept the jail".
While an active and influential member of No. 108, he held no elective office and resigned in 1819 for the probable purpose of joining the new lodge at Towanda.
His death occurred July 29, 1836, and he is buried at Cole’s Cemetery.
6. James Swartwout, lived at or near Poughkeepsie, N. Y., and probably was never a citizen of Pennsylvania. He traveled extensively for the early time, his business being the sale of rights to manufacture a plow of his own invention. That he and his family came here, was doubtless owing to his sister’s residence, she being the wife of Henry Salisbury of Monroe.
Bro. Swartwout left his wife and children in order to make collections, intending it to be his final trip and to wind up outstanding matters; but after one letter was never again heard from. It was believed he met a violent death.
7. Eliphalet Mason. Born in Ashford, Conn., June 13, 1780, and died at Monroeton March 11, 1853. He came to Bradford in 1802, a teacher, poet, musician, and as a trade, possessing knowledge of the cooper’s art. Engaged in many enterprises, his career exhibits great industry and wonderful perseverance. His first settlement for any time, was in Monroe, but in 1816 he came to Towanda, being the twelfth family within the present borough limits. He built a house at corner of Main and State Streets, afterwards sold to George Scott. Later he built another, using small stone, at southwest corner of Main and Poplar streets, which was known as the "Stone Heap" and "Stone Jug". Afterwards he again removed to Monroe. It would require pages to follow him in his industrial, political and scientific work.
He filled the office of County Auditor, 1815-18; County Commissioner, 1817-19; Register and Recorder, 1818-27; and again County Commissioner, 1830-32.
His Masonic career began by initiation in Fredericks Lodge No. 22 at Farmington, Conn., but he received the third degree in No. 70 at Tioga Point, August 26, 1806. He was a signer for the Warrant of No. 108, but was marked as a "visiting brother" at its constitution. This was an error and at the second meeting afterwards he is recognized in full membership. For the year 1811 he was Secretary. His resignation was accepted in 1817, having in view a new Lodge at Towanda. He was the real founder of No. 163 – its first Worshipful Master, and during its early history, its most active member.
8. Amos V. Mathews, came from Northumberland County and settled on Millstone Run, now in Monroe Township. He had a blacksmith shop and tavern, the sign of the latter ornamented with Masonic emblems. In 1816 he removed to West Virginia. We find no record of his lodge connections.
9. Cyprian Grant, a son of Josiah Grant, lived in Orwell for a time and moved into Wysox about 1814. His death occurred in 1815, the result of a kick by a horse.
The record indicates a very regular attendance at Lodge, and that he made himself useful as a member.
There is possible doubt about his first name, for it was generally written "Cyp", and letters of administration, after his death, give only the abbreviated form, if such it was.
10. Orente Grant was assessed in Orwell for 1813, with property valued at $253. There is absolutely no other record of him now known, except that he resigned from the Lodge March 23, 1815, "and considered an honorary member".
11. Oratio Grant, assessed as a physician and with a small property in Orwell, 1813 to 1819, inclusive. As the Lodge minutes show him present in 1821, other records have been searched but without result. There are no recorded conveyances or Orphan’s Court proceedings in which his name is mentioned.
12. Josiah Grant had been a Captain of the Continental Army in the Revolution, and was a cousin of Ethan Allen, under whom he served. HE came permanently to Orwell in 1798 from the State of Vermont, and lived about 100 rods west of the Presbyterian Church site. He did not long remain in Lodge membership, as his death was the first loss suffered by No. 108, and his funeral the first Masonic one in Orwell. He died April 27, 1808, aged 57 years, and was at his decease Senior Warden of the Lodge.
13. Asahel Johnson was from Burlington, Conn., and was born Feb. 28, 1768. He came to Orwell in 1797 and owned a large tract of land, living on what is now the Albert Conklin place. His Masonic career began in Lodge No. 70, January 8, 1799. His resignation was accepted February 21, 1804. Though present at the constitution of No. 108 he was erroneously recorded as a visitor, but his active membership was recognized immediately afterward. Elected Senior Warden for 1812, he became Master in June by the death of Bro. Fowler, the Lodge also promoting to that station by an election held July 23. He died Nov. 25, 1857, and is buried in Orwell Hill Cemetery.
14. Amos Mix, of Scotch descent (from Thomas Meekes, who came to New England in 1643), and born at Middleton, Conn., June 10, 1754. He married Amelia Pennoyer, Sept. 2, 1779, and settled successively at Pawlet, Vt., Crown Point, N.Y., Tarrytown, N.Y., and then came to Wysox – Probably prior to 1800. Here he acquired property – farm and store – and remained for some years. Subsequent to 1810 he removed to Virginia, and returned to Wysox in 1824. But his last days were spent in Towanda, where he came in 1825, and lived with his daughter, Mrs. Isaac Myer. He died Oct. 16, 1847, in his ninety-fourth year. Of his Masonic record there is no knowledge. He was recognized as a Master Mason and was the first Senior Warden of the Lodge.
15. Ebenezer Tuttle was one of several bearing that family name who settled in Wysox at quite an early time. He acquired considerable property, and among other items was proprietor of a ferry. From whence he came has not been ascertained, and his death was probably soon after 1824.
He was made a Mason in Lodge No. 70, May 29, 1806, and resigning March 17, 1807, he became first Junior Warden of this Lodge.
16. George Scott came from Berkshire Co., Mass., where her was born Nov. 9, 1783. With his brother David he arrived in Wysox probably in 1805. George found it to his interest to settle there, taught school, became Justice of the Peace. He bought land, erected a house and was married to Lydia, daughter of Henry Strope. Ten children were born to them, one of whom is now (1899) the oldest member of No. 108.
George Scott was one of the really eminent men in the early history of Bradford County. Appointed Associate Judge in 1812, he held that office till 1818. He was Clerk of the County Commissioners 1815-19; Prothonotary 1818-1830; Clerk of the Orphans’ Court for the same time and County Treasurer in 1823.
In the Autumn of 1819 he removed to Towanda, first living at the northwest corner of Main and State Streets, but afterwards occupying till his death a house where now stands the residence of Mrs. Dr. Pratt. He owned and published the Bradford Settler, 1821 to 1823, and his printing office stood at southeast corner of Main and State Streets. His handwriting was unusually neat and handsome, and he was in every way a man of good judgment and unquestioned integrity. He died at Towanda, March 2, 1834.
He was made a Mason in Lodge No. 70, August 26, 1806. Resigning to form No 108, he was its first Secretary, and for several years its master.
17. Wm. B. Foster. Unlike his associates, there is no clue whatever to the history of this brother. It may be taken as certain that he was not one of the family which has borne an honorable part in the history of Towanda and North Towanda. No existing record, of which we have knowledge, makes any mention of him. He was a member but a short time, as he resigned February 11, 1808.
18. William Myer. Jacob Myer came to Wysox in 1800. William, one of his sons, located where Myersburg now is, in 1802, and erected a grist mill and saw mill. A few years later came the tavern building, which contained our first Lodge room. The improvements promoted by him were substantial and of great value in developing the community. His work accorded with the character of the man, and in his day few, if any citizens of this county were better or more favorably known. Of substantial build, pleasing appearance and agreeable manners, he was esteemed and respected by all.
He was one of the first Commissioners of Bradford County, elected Oct. 1812, and again in 1819, and served as Representative in the State Legislature, 1822-23. Liberal, friendly and just, he wielded a strong influence in his community.
His Masonic career began in Lodge No. 70, Nov. 25, 1806, and from his initiation until his death he manifested steady attachment to the Fraternity.
He died May 15, 1842, aged sixty-two years and three months.
In considering these records, the reader cannot be unmindful of the strong qualities, personal and educational, presented by many of these men, for that early time. Taken altogether they were not deficient in anything necessary for success, and it is evident that they possessed characters which would have made them conspicuous in any field of life. It is to such men and their associates, that our County owes intellectual development and the advanced position it occupies as a part of the State. From such blood has sprung lines of educated, industrious men – clergymen, barristers, physicians, teachers, mechanics and farmers – diligent and thrifty in peace, intelligent in public affairs, brave soldiers in war, whose lives have done honor to "old Bradford".
And "our Founders" in organizing this Lodge were not arranging for the recreation of a few years, but building for their descendants. Experience had taught them the possibilities of Freemasonry, and its natural accord with conditions in the new Republic, and they placed the Fraternity in its true position – subordinate to Church and State, and loyal to both.
Some of those men sleep in unmarked, forgotten graves, but the names of all should be held in loving memory and fraternal veneration.
A FIRST EFFORT.
It would be very interesting to know just how Col. Kingsbery constituted the new Lodge. Every presumption is favorable to the idea that all things were done with great decorum and regularity. Bro. Kingsbery was then in the eighth year of his service as Worshipful Master of Lodge No. 70, and no doubt tried to be familiar with Grand Lodge regulations. But a letter from him, dated about that time, mentions the Ahiman Rezon as "a book which our Lodge does not possess, nor any of the members thereof".
Even what is conveyed by Dr. Smith’s Ahiman Rezon, or by any other older suggestions, leave much to be desired in knowledge of the ways of the "olden time". The minutes make no mention of the act of Constitution. Indeed it was supposed by many in later times that the Lodge simply received its Warrant, as if by mail, and proceeded informally with its labors. But there can be no doubt that every ceremonial, as understood at the time, was punctiliously observed.
There is nothing in the first minutes, however, concerning these matters, and a casual examiner might easily suppose that previous meetings had been held. It was not until the following August that the Secretary was ordered to procure a book to "record the proceedings in", and perhaps some memoranda, which would have been interesting, were never recorded. As the constitution took place on Friday it is evident that founders had no superstition concerning that day.
The first meeting of the new Lodge is recorded as follows:
"At a regular communication of Lodge No. 108, at the house of brother Amos Mix at Wysox, April 2d A. D. 1807, A. L. 5807.
Brethren present were
Oratio Grant, W. M.
Amos Mix, S.W.
Ebenezer Tuttle, J.W.
Josiah Grant, Treas’er
George Scott, Sect’ry
William Myer, Stew’rd
Cyp Grant, S.D.
Wm. B. Whitney, J.D.
Wm. B. Foster, Tiler.
Joseph Kingsbery W. M. of Lodge No. 70, Thomas Overton a Past Master
Samuel Satterlee a Past Master and Sect’ry of Lodge No. 70, James Grant,
Ashel Johnson, Eliphalet Mason, Abner C. Rockwell, James Swartwout, Solomon
Everts, Wauton Rice Visiting Brothers ------- An Entered Apprentice Lodge
opened in due form. On motion made and seconded Resolved that this Lodge
shall meet at their regular communications on Thursday on or after the
full moon in each Lunar Month. On motion made and seconded Resolved that
this Lodge shall meet for their next regular communication at the house
of brother Amos Mix at Wysox at three O’clock past meridian. There being
no further business Closed in harmony".
Old Lodge Room, Now Banquet Hall
This record is not signed, but is in the old-fashioned, beautiful hand-writing of the Secretary. It is compactly followed on the same page by the minutes of the next meeting, April 23d. At that time two candidates were proposed, one of whom was to become the first initiate in the Lodge.
"Brother Ebenezer Tuttle proposed Alpheus Choate as a Candidate for masonry and paid two dollars a deposit his age about thirty occupation Yeomanry and place of residence Wysox".
He was entered May 21, 1807. No committee is mentioned on his petition and the record simply says:
"Resolved that Alpheus Choate be balloted for he was accordingly balloted for and accepted. Alpheus Choate brought forward and Initiated into the first principles of masonry and invested accordingly and paid eight dollars."
But the first case was not a precedent, for usually thereafter Committees were appointed "to inquire into the characters". At the second meeting the Secretary was directed to "write to brother Keithline at Wilkes-Barre requesting him to make the jewels of this Lodge". Their cost, wherever obtained, afterwards appears as $9.25, and later appears the purchase of "a ferret to string the jewels". At the same meeting a "fellow Crafts Lodge opened" for the purpose of passing to that degree Bro. Zachariah Grant (who had been initiated in No.70), he being the first brother to receive the Second and Third degrees in the new Lodge. The first Masters’ Lodge was opened July 16th. On June 25th Brothers Joseph Kingsbery, Sam’l Satterlee and Thomas Overton were admitted Honorary members by resolution, and the first By Laws were adopted on the same date, and in the same way. The stated time of meeting was changed to "Thursday on or before the full moon in each Lunar month".
The members proceeded cautiously and with deliberation and reached the close of their first year with gratifying progress. Ten meetings altogether were held, in which the First, Second and Third degrees were conferred upon Alpheus Choate, Edman Russell and Theron Darling; the First and Second upon Rogers Fowler and Russell Fowler; the First upon Lorenzo Hovey, and the Second and Third upon Zachariah Grant. The membership was then twenty-one. At the December meeting Bro. George Scott was elected and installed Worshipful Master. The other officers, down to and including the Tyler, were elected at the same time, and the Second Warden, Junior Warden, Treasurer and Secretary were installed January 7, 1808. So closed the first year, auspiciously, prosperously and without any thing to mar the harmony of the new Lodge.
WHEN AND WHERE
Beyond the requirement that the Lodge should "Assemble for work once in every Lunar month", the first By Laws made no provision for stated meetings. The resolution first made to meet Thursday on or after full moon, was so modified to "on or before", and this mere regulation was the only one upon the subject for thirty-two years. The understood hour was three o’clock in the afternoon until May 13, 1813, when one o’clock, P. M., was adopted. These hours were very suitable when distances to be traveled were considerable and modern conveniences for illumination unknown. As it was, the moonlight was an essential thing for return from Lodge during at least part of the year. Most roads were mere bridle paths and the thick forests were broken only by irregular clearings.
In 1839, upon reorganization, it was "Voted to meet on Wednesday at 3 o’clock on or preceding the full of the moon in each month". From that time, without exception, Wednesday has been the stated meeting day of the Lodge. In 1841 the hour was fixed at 2 o’clock, but in the first printed By Laws now known, published in 1846, the hour is again 3 P.M.
In 1855 was commenced the change toward modern ideas, and the Lodge decided to meet "Wednesday on or before Full Moon at 3 o’clock, P. M., and Second Wednesday thereafter at 61/2 o’clock, P.M.". Thus originated the semi-monthly meetings which continued twenty-nine years.
In the By Laws of 1856 all meetings are appointed for Ebenezer Tuttle in Wysox (Ebenezer Tuttle lived on the north side of the Main Road in Wysox, nearly opposite the "White Church". Such is the recollection of Bor. L. H. Scott.); two at the house of Lemuel Streeter in Orwell, (Lemuel Streeter’s house was probably a tavern in Orwell, but its location is not known) and one, St. John the Baptist’s Day at the house of William Means, Towanda.
In 1812 the first meeting was in Orwell, at the house of L. Streeter, and all the rest, ten, at the house of Ebenezer Tuttle, Wysox.
In 1813 the two first meetings were again at the house of L. Streeter, and all others at "The Lodge Room" in Wysox. The coming of this phase marks a new departure, and practically the adoption of a home.
William Myer, with great liberality, undoubtedly furnished the opportunity. The Lodge records are far from supplying needed information, but some glimpses are given. Dec. 7, 1812, it was
"Motioned and seconded that the lodge be removed to the house of B. Wm. Myer as soon as a room can be conviently prepared".
On Jan. 14th following, a Committee was appointed to purchase a stove and prepare "pedestials". March 11th, Bro. George Scott was directed to receive money to purchase
"five gallons of whiskey, one half barrel cask, one pitcher, two tumblers, four pounds of candles and a candlestick and two decanters".
Such riotous extravagance was expensive, for the stove cost nine dollars, and "fraitage .75"’ the pedestals and a table five dollars and fifty cents, and the other "furniture" four dollars and fifty-nine cents. To these were soon afterwards added a carpet which cost twenty dollars, and a Bible at one dollar twelve and one-half cents. The last item is very properly the only one which survives, and is in suitable use in the Lodge at this day.
The furnishing of this room did not entirely close the question. In 1815 Bro. A. Johnson
"moved that the Lodge take into Consideration the propriety of removing the holding of the Lodge half of the Time in Orwell so that his motion may be discuted at the next Communication".
This motion was treated adroitly and withdrawn. Jan’y 22, 1818, it was moved and carried
"to meet alternately for six months",
and three meetings, those of Feb. 27, M’ch 19 and July 16, were held in Orwell. With these exceptions, and one other – June 20, 1815, at the house of George Scott – the Lodge from March 11, 1813, until the close of 1839, met in stated meetings at the house of William Myer only. The building which contained the Lodge room still exists. Much changed in appearance, no doubt, and its front lengthened by an addition, - the part without blinds, - it is still the edifice in which was set apart the first settled meeting place of No. 108. The building stands on the west side of the main road in Myersburg, and north from the road leading to Pond Hill. In its garret, above the main entrance door, was partitioned off a small room, and there with primitive surroundings, were conducted the labors of Freemasonry. The rent seems absurdly moderate. Seven dollars and forty-eight cents covered the charge from March 11, 1813, to March 11, 1815. The same amount appears for the next two years, and about the same to March, 1819. The annual charge never exceeded three dollars and seventy-five cents per year.
In November, 1839, after a long period of inactivity, the brethren met at their Lodge room. They voted to meet next, ----
"at some convenient place in Towanda, " -- and
"alternately a month at that place and at house of Wm. Myer, Esq., in Wysox".
But this alternation was not carried out. Never thereafter did the members meet as a Lodge outside the boundaries of Towanda Borough, except once. On the 19th day of May, 1842, the brethren convened for the last time at their old home, and then for the purpose of paying Masonic funeral honors to the remains of their generous lessor and faithful brother, William Myer, who had died four days before.
The "convenient place in Towanda" was the old "fire proof" or county building. It was of stone, erected about 1814, and stood northeast of the present Court House, covering in part the ground immediately in the rear of the Franklins’ Engine House. On the lower floor were public offices, and above, at the south end, was the Lodge room. It was about twenty-two by thirty feet in size and comfortably arranged.
Here the Lodge was held with great regularity until probably the Fall of 1844. April 10th of that year a resolution was passed to rent from Bro. C. L. Ward the third story of his brick building at the southwest corner of Main and Pine streets at a rental of thirty dollars per year. In December a Committee reported an outlay of $348.07 for carpenter work, carpet, stove, furniture, &c., in the Hall "now occupied as a Lodge room". The arrangements made were satisfactory, as the Committee was warmly thanked. The entrance to this Hall was from Pine Street, near the rear of the building, and it must have been altogether a very good Lodge room for its time. In that room Union Royal Arch Chapter No. 161, had its birth.
Ira H. Stephens
But other influences were soon at work, and in Sept., 1848, the Master and Wardens were directed "to confer with Bro. Joseph Kingsbery and make a final agreement for a Hall for the use of the Lodge". Bro. Kingsbery’s building still stands on the East side of Main street and the Hall referred to has been for many years Odd Fellow’ Hall. Whether the Lodge actually removed before Col. Kingsbery’s death in January, 1849, is not stated in the minutes, but his death undoubtedly caused a marked difference in the course of events. The rent for the new room began with the date of Bro. Kingsbery’s death, and was so computed from year to year at fifty dollars per annum. After several conferences an equitable arrangement was made with the Odd Fellows’ Lodge, by which furniture and fixtures were to be held in common and expenses shared. One and the same party was to act as Tyler and Guardian. The Odd Fellows assumed to pay thirty dollars annual rental and became chargeable from Sept. 1, 1851. In 1853 the Royal Arch Chapter agreed to pay fifteen dollars toward annual rent, which reduced the burden of the Lodge to a minimum, but after all the brethren were much occupied in looking out for a hall to be owned by themselves alone. (July 14, 1855, The Borough Council authorized the erection of a fire Engine House, with Masonic Lodge room in the third story. It was not built, however.) May 14, 1856, a Committee duly appointed, reported the execution of a contract with Burton Kingsbery for the "whole of the third story of the building now occupied by said Kingsbery as a store and Wm. A. Chamberlin as a jewelry store. Said building is situate on the West side of Main Street". "Beginning at the Southeast corner thereof thence North along said Main street forty-four feet" – thence West forty-eight feet – thence South twenty-four feet – thence East fourteen feet – thence South twenty feet – thence East thirty-four feet to the place of beginning. The grantor further agreed for himself and his assigns, to furnish "a perpetural right of passage to and from the said third story", and also "to keep the roof over said third story always in repair".
The consideration, eight hundred dollars, was duly paid, and a considerable additional sum at once expended for suitable arrangement. In this Hall, the property of the Masonic Fraternity, the Lodge conducted its labors harmoniously for more than thirty-one years. A Commandery of Knights Templar, constituted Dec., 1857, was added to the list of occupants, and with the growth which time brought, gradually came the realization that still more room was needed. The most annoying trouble, however, was the inability to arrange ante rooms as desired by Grand Lodge, for no privileges to meet that want could be purchased or otherwise procured.
Hence, in 1887, the erection of a new building, adjoining the Lodge room and extending to Pine Street, was embraced as the desired opportunity. A lease for twenty-five years was made for the third story of the new edifice, and to the kind co-operation and warm interest of Bro. William A. Chamberlin, one of the owners of the new building, and a member of the Lodge since 1842, the brethren owe gratitude for their success. About two thousand dollars were expended for suitable furniture and furnishings, and the first meeting was joyfully held by the Lodge in the new Lodge room, March 7, 1888, during Mastership of Brother William F. Dittrich.
The Masonic Fraternity in Towanda now enjoy a home, not marked by extravagant outlay nor gilded finish, but second to none in suitable arrangement, in convenience and in comfort. In addition to a neat and well ventilated Lodge room, the ante-rooms are properly placed; committee and officers’ rooms are convenient, and an armory, property room, banqueting hall and kitchen meet the desires of the brethren of every degree. For the latter named purposes the old lodge rooms are unsurpassed. In these apartments the brethren may join in the labors of the Craft and unite in social refreshment, without passing beyond their own tyled rooms. Here may they long be joined in fraternal affection and harmony.
A broad chasm separates the first laborers in this Lodge from those who have followed them since its revival. It is not alone that years of dormancy from 1830 to 1839, but the Great Reaper has spared not one of those who composed its membership in the first epoch of its existence. Some regrets may reasonably be entertained over lost opportunities. Bro. Burr Ridgway lived until 1876, and had a proper course been adopted, much of interest might have been rescued from what is now hopeless oblivion. So, if the questions be now asked, How did our Masonic ancestors work? How were the usual formalities of the Fraternity observed? the answers for the most part can only be based upon the immemorial usages of the Craft.
It would be intensely interesting to the members of these latest years, if they could be permitted to sit in Lodge while its labors were conducted by the Masters of the olden time. With what breathless attention would they consider the words and movements of Judge Scott, Esquire Myers, Colonel Mix and Judge Morgan! But it cannot be, and from the yellow pages of old minute books are to be gathered a few, only a few, suggestions of how the brethren worked at our beginning.
It will be recalled that the founders of this Lodge were, almost wholly, natives of other States than Pennsylvania. Vermont, Connecticut, New York, and perhaps one or two others, furnished the first membership. And such of these brethren as were initiated in No. 70, were there introduced into influences of Masonic work which had their transmission through Lodge No. 95, at Newtown (Elmira), New York. What was the result?
It will also be remembered, that the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania has to this day steadfastly resisted the impulses to which all other Grand Lodges have from time to time yielded, and thus has alone preserved the Masonic forms and ceremonies which were delivered to her before her independence. The result of this fact has in modern days given to some unthinking brethren the opportunity for display of unjust criticism and unwise comparison. But when all is said, it is a proud claim, that we stand, and alone upon the ancient ways, and according to the "old institutions". The differences of the separation from our neighbors have not grown in Pennsylvania; so far as is possible to human memory and in human transmission, we present the traditional unchangeableness of Freemasonry.
At the close of the last century these so-called differences could have been but little known. The rival Grand lodges of England were never really far apart, in the degrees of the Ancient Craft. The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and her daughters of Connecticut and Vermont, had descended from the "Moderns". New York, like Pennsylvania, was "Ancient". But ancient or modern, the labors were much alike and the "American Rite" as taught by Thomas Smith Webb had not yet taken root. Webb’s first Monitor was published in 1797, but the missionary work carried on by him and his associates, was a matter of later time. In ascribing the changes to him there is little chance to err. Dr. Mackey, who surely knew, speaks of the "American Rite as first taught by Webb", and the evidence is undisputed which makes him the great innovator, in the methods of Masonic work.
The presumption is therefore a strong one, which indicates that the founders of the Lodge came together, possessing practically the same work, at that too, in harmony with the ritual approved by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. So, the conclusion follows, that the early Masters of No. 108 taught very much the same forms in Masonry as do their descendants after more than ninety years.
In one or two instances the Secretary of the Lodge, as if unconsciously, has used phrases, evidently those of the ritual, which remain the same today. And the records are wholly silent along certain lines, which would naturally have been mentioned, had the Webb liturgy been in use.
Again, Col. Kingsbery was, through all the early time, the firm friend, adviser and support of the Lodge. To his careful counsel the Lodge owed much. He had, in this section, no superior in Masonic knowledge. He was intensely loyal to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and had the confidence of the Grand Officers. Had he known of any innovating tendencies, he would certainly been influential to correct them.
Still again, when the Lecturer authorized by Grand Lodge paid his official visits of inspection, he gave no sign that the work was not what it should be. HE left ample instructions for changes in form of minutes, called attention to the regulations affecting petitions, ballot, elections, &c., but so far as can be discovered, left no hint that the work was "foreign" or irregular. He reports to Grand Lodge, Jan’y, 1826, of No. 108, that ‘its members have been attentive and zealous in the performance of their Masonic duties and labours".
The truth must be reluctantly admitted, however, that the "new ideas" did make their appearance in the Lodge. But they were not brought by the founders, nor by those immediately connected with them. They were of a later date, and came on the flood tide of the reaction which followed the anti-masonic dispensation. For a time they grew and flourished, but after running their course, became weak and finally extinct, and the brethren stood again "on the old ways".
One of the conspicuous features of early Masonic inter-course, was refreshment. The Junior Warden’s call was not a mere symbolic allusion, but had practical, welcome meaning. In the still older times, the oldest of which we have record, it is probable that no Lodge was held without calling in due course, after work, the cakes and cheese, the punch bowl and the pipe. In the course of years the convivial idea had been much modified, but some grounds of necessity intervened to preserve the practice. When brethren, to attend their Lodge and return home, had to travel long distances, and often on foot, refreshment became distinctly necessary and it was valued accordingly. Hence this Lodge, from early time, made refreshment a regular feature. It was plain, inexpensive, and even with whiskey the assertion may be ventured, it was temperate. One brother appearing in Lodge intoxicated received sharp punishment – suspension for one year – and there is no doubt the brethren kept a watchful eye that no brother should fall into excess. Manners were more free than at present, and it is probably just as true, that there was less hypocrisy.
Following another old custom, the brethren frequently observed St. John the Baptist’s Day. And it is indeed to be regretted that in the rush of modern business and the multiplication of so-called Masonic bodies, this excellent observance has fallen so much into disuse. The period of the year, the character of the day, the lesson of its connection with Masonry, all afford to the brethren an opportunity for reminder and enjoyment, which should not be omitted. The day, in the old time, was anticipated by preparation, and a procession, oration and supper where the salient features. St. John’s Day in Winter was also frequently observed, as more than merely a time set for installation. A few estracts may illustrate:
"At an extra communication ** at the house of William Means Esquire in the township of Towanda for the purpose of celebrating St John’s December the 27th A. D. 1808 *** The Brethren formed Procession Proceeded to hear a sermon Delivered by the Revern’d Mr. Harroway and Returned to the Lodge room again in due form. Resolved that Brothers Eliphalet Mason & Brother Ebenezer Tuttle Be a committee to wait on the Revernd Mr. Harroway and request a copy of his sermon. Resolved the Treasurer pay the committee eight dollars to pay Mr. Harroway".
On Dec. 27, 1809, the brethren marched to a "place of worship" and heard a sermon by "Visiting Brother M. Miner York". The compensation this time was three dollars.
June 25, 1811, "a communication" was held at the house of Esquire Means in Towanda:
"A mastors lodge opened in due form and the brethren formed a procession and marched to a room where an Oration was delivered by Brother A. C. Whitney after the Oration the brethren proceeded to a bower prepared for the occasion and partook of a feast prepared by William Means and after the supper returned to the lodge room. Moved and seconded that a Committee of two be appointed to wait on A. C. Whitney and request copy of the Oration that it may be produced and read to the next lodge in order whether it shall be printed or not".
H. L. Scott
George H. Bull
E. O. Goodrich
H. J. Madill
George E. Fox
G. F. Mason
Henry B. McKean
One more selection to illustrate the time. Date December 28, 1818:
"an Enter’d Apprentice Lodge open’d in due Form. After Refreshing Proceeded in procession to the School House where an Elegant oration was Deliv’d by Br. Hewitt and afterward Ret’d to the Lodge Room & call’d from Labor to Refreshment for the space of one Hour. Then Return’d to the Lodge Room and Br. A. Johnson made a motion & it was seconded that the Dinner and the Brothers and sisters be paid out the funds of the Lodge and each one Pay his eaqual Proportion toward the Drink. Vote taken & carr’d in the affirmative. The Bill was presented twenty two Brothers & 14 women & amts to $16.25 for the Lodge to pay. The day Being celebrated in Due form & closed in Harmony".
It is worthy of remark, that our only records for 1830 and 1832, are of the public celebration of St. John’s days – notable features considering the anti-masonic storm then raging.
An abridged account of a fairly typical Lodge meeting, slightly modernized in form of language, may be thus stated:
Time about 1814. The date, place ofmmeting and brethren present being written:
An Entered Apprentice Lodge opened in due form. The minutes of the last communication read, also a letter from Grand Lodge, the Treasurer to pay the postage, 371/2 cents. Bro. Wm. Myer and Hiram Mix two of the Committee to inquire into the character of A. C. H. wish to postpone report till next meeting. Bro. Cyp. Grant proposed D. O. of Orwell, age 29 years, occupation house joiner. Bro Oratio Grant vouches for his deposit money. Bros Mix, Warner and Myer appointed a Committee to inquire into his character. Committee to inquire into character of L. C. report favorable. Proceeded to ballot and went in favor of candidate. Brought forward, made an Entered Apprentice Mason and invested accordingly and gave his note for eight dollars initiation fee. No further business on this degree, it was dispensed with and a Fellow Crafts Lodge opened. Being no business it was dispensed with and a Master Masons Lodge opened. Bro Grant proposed L. S. to receive the degree of Master Mason. Resolved that he be raised to sublime degree of Master Mason. Accordingly brought forward, raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason and invested accordingly and paid $3.00 his raising fee. Paid to Treasurer. Called from labor to refreshment for one hour. Called to labor. Degree of Master Mason closed and Fellow Craft Lodge opened. No business, it was dispensed with and an Entered Apprentice Lodge opened. The Treasurer to pay Bro. Myer 62 1/2 cents for refreshment. Resolved that the Bros. pay their quarterages by next meeting that we may pay Grand Lodge. Closed in harmony.
The foregoing is composite work, to be sure, but the pieces are authentic and represent closely the average proceedings and their record. The call from labor was not merely eating and drinking, but the brethren as they gathered about the table discussed the news, the war, the crops and all local matters. It was a veritable newspaper to the members and visitors, and the worthy brother who had walked ten or twelve miles to attend, felt, as he trudged his way back home, in the helping moonlight, that he had been well paid for his effort.