Ashler

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ASHLER LODGE

Location: Rockport

Chartered By: George M. Randall

Charter Date: 03/10/1852 V-372

Precedence Date: 03/16/1851

Current Status: in Grand Lodge Vault; merged into The Tyrian-Ashler-Acacia Lodge, 10/27/2007


PAST MASTERS

need list of living PMs

  • Eben Blatchford, 1851-1854
  • William Caldwell, 1855, 1856, 1858, 1859
  • James G. Caldwell, 1857
  • Samuel York, 1860-1868, 1873, 1874
  • N. F. S. York, 1869
  • D. C. Babson, 1870
  • William Marchant, 1871, 1872
  • Eugene R. Prior, 1875
  • Jason L. Curtis, 1876-1885
  • C. H. Manning, II, 1886
  • James Wallace, 1887-1892
  • Edgar Knowlton, 1893, 1894
  • T. T. Harwood, 1895, 1896
  • Charles Tresnon, 1897, 1898
  • James Abbott, 1899, 1900
  • Charles E. Jones, 1901, 1902
  • George F. Hodgins, 1903, 1904
  • C. Harry Rogers, 1905, 1906
  • William H. Supple, 1907, 1908
  • Louis A. Rogers, 1909, 1910; N
  • Ezra E. Cleaves, 1911, 1912
  • J. Manuel Marshall, 1913, 1914
  • Charles H. Cleaves, 1915, 1916
  • Herbert F. Knowlton, 1917, 1918
  • Edward M. Law, 1919, 1920; Memorial
  • Sumner Y. Wheeler, 1921, 1922
  • Norman M Hooper, 1923, 1924
  • Clarendon Waddell, 1925, 1926
  • Joseph E. Critchett, 1927, 1928
  • Stephen D. Marston, 1929, 1930
  • J(ohn). Harry Mills, 1931, 1932; SN
  • Ernest G. Roffey, 1933, 1934
  • J. Raymond Sanders, 1935, 1936
  • Bernard F. Brewer, 1937, 1938
  • James R. Hodgins, 1939, 1940
  • Chester E. Wallace, 1941, 1942
  • Verner R. Larsson, 1943, 1944
  • George E. MacLean, 1945, 1946; N
  • William G. Reed, 1947, 1948
  • Melvin C. Linder, 1949, 1950
  • N.O. Bruno Pearson, 1951, 1952; N
  • Preston O. Wass, 1953, 1954
  • Raymond M. Reed, 1955, 1956
  • Roland J. Smith, 1957, 1958
  • Walter F. Church, 1959, 1960
  • Matt A. Hautala, 1961
  • N. Abbott Hooper, 1962
  • Ernest A. Niemi, 1963
  • R. Edgar Barker, 1964
  • Karl A. Johnson, 1965
  • Frank W. Johnson, 1966
  • David B. Grimes, 1967
  • Philip H. Ackerman, 1968
  • Raymond G. Smith, 1969
  • Preston H. Dann, 1970
  • William W. Walima, 1971
  • Bradford L. Bigelow, 1972
  • Harold W. Adams, 1973, 1974; N
  • John E. Main, Jr., 1975, 1976
  • John W. Reed, 1977
  • Willard C. Trafton, 1978, 1979
  • John A. Halmen, 1980
  • John Louis Peters, 1981
  • Roy V. H. Johnson, 1982
  • Glenn W. Anderson, 1983
  • David Hopkins, 1984
  • Jay R. Smith, 1985-1987, 2004
  • R(aymond) A(llen). Brown, Jr., 1988, 1989, 1993; SN
  • Wayne W. Anderton, 1990
  • Peter A. Todd, 1991
  • William C. Nicol, 1992
  • James G. Adams, 1994
  • George E. French, 1995
  • George S(tanley). Patey, III, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003
  • Edwin E. Bjork, 1998
  • Richard S. Young, 1999
  • Todd P. Crane, 2000
  • Robert W. Streeter, 2001
  • Gary G. Lucas, 2005, 2006
  • Dana P. Andrus, 2007

REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS

  • Petition for Charter: 1852 Dispensation granted 03/16/1851; no reference in Proceedings
  • Consolidation Petition (with The Tyrian-Acacia Lodge): 2007

ANNIVERSARIES

  • 1951 (Centenary)
  • 2001 (150th Anniversary)

VISITS BY GRAND MASTER

BY-LAW CHANGES

1874 1899 1901 1903 1913 1916 1921 1927 1929 1934 1951 1967 1974 1975 1982 1988 2001 2004 2006

HISTORY

  • 1951 (Centenary History, 1951-44)

CENTENARY HISTORY, MARCH 1951

From Proceedings, Page 1951-44:

By Right Worshipful Louis A. Rogers and Right Worshipful J. Harry Mills.

The early history of Rockport is that of Gloucester, just as the early history of Masonry in Rockport is that of The Tyrian Lodge in Gloucester.

Long before the settlement of Cape Ann, the Penacook Indians roamed this territory and are said to have traded with the many European ships which engaged in fishing off these shores. In 1623, Roger Conant and a band of hardy settlers set up a fishing post at Cape Ann. This post, and the other little villages which sprang up along the shore, grew and in 1642, Gloucester became a town; it later became a city, in 1873. Sandy Bay, on the northeasterly side of Cape Ann, was one of those villages which comprised the Town of Gloucester. You all know, of course, that Sandy Bay was set apart from Gloucester and incorporated as the Town of Rockport in 1840.

Modern organized Freemasonry dates from 1717 in England. At that time there were only two Grand Lodges in the world — England and Ireland. Many Masons, who were members of Lodges in the Mother Country, were among the Colonists who settled in America; it is known that some of those Masons came to Cape Ann.

In 1733, the Grand Master of Masons in England gave Henry Price a dispensation to charter Lodges in America and in New England. Shortly thereafter the Grand Lodge of Scotland was constituted. In 1769, the Grand Master of Masons in Scotland gave Dr. Joseph Warren, of Bunker Hill fame, a dispensation to charter Lodges in parts of the same territory in which Henry Price had Masonic authority. The first Lodge chartered by Dr. Warren was The Tyrian in Gloucester, which was constituted on March 2, 1770, under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Grand Lodge. This Massachusetts Grand Lodge and the St. John's Grand Lodge, composed of Lodges instituted by to Henry Price, merged in 1792 and became the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts. Thus our Mother Lodge, The Tyrian Lodge, of Gloucester, was the first Lodge constituted by branch of the present Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, which Grand Lodge is generally conceded third place in the precedence of organized Freemasonry in the entire world. We may be justly proud of our heritage.

On January 7, 1851, about ten years after the incorporation of our Town, Samuel Parker, William Smith, Charles Tarr 3rd, Charles Rowe, Thomas O. Marshall, Henry Clark, William Stilwell and Eben Blatchford, all Master Masons and living in Rockport, being desirous of forming a Lodge of their own, at the home of Eben Blatchford for consultation. Seven of those men, together with William Giles and Francis Rowe, two more Masons, met again on March 4, 1851, in the Proctors School House Hall (the residence later of one of our most respected Past Masters, the late R. W. Edward M. Law), discussed the matter further, and agreed to apply for a dispensation to work under the name of Ashler Lodge. The records offer no clue to the reason for adopting the name "Ashler." If anyone hearing or reading this history knows of the reason for the selection of the name, or ever finds it among old family papers, information would be of great interest to the Lodge.

The petition was signed by William Caldwell, William Smith, ry Clark, Thomas O. Marshall, Francis Rowe, Charles Rowe and William Giles, all members of The Tyrian Lodge in Gloucester, William Manning, a member of St. George's Lodge, Waldoboro, Maine, Eben Blatchford, a member of Star of Bethlehem Lodge, Augusta, Maine, Charles Tarr 3rd, of New York City Lodge, New York, and Samuel Parker, who was probably a member of The Tyrian Lodge although the records lot quite clear on that point. These Masons eventually me the charter members of Ashler Lodge. On March 14, 1851 these same eleven Masons held a meeting for instruction, directed by R. W. William Ferson and Bro. Babson of The an Lodge. The dispensation was granted by the Grand Lodge on March 16, 1851, one hundred years ago today, although the charter was not issued until March 12, 1852, establishing the precedence of Ashler Lodge in the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and elsewhere to commence from March 16, 1851. The charter was signed by Most Worshipful George M. Randall, Grand Master, and was granted to the eleven petitioners as charter members.

So Ashler Lodge was formed one hundred years ago — an entire century. In the general scheme of the Supreme Architect of the Universe, one hundred years is but a brief span of time, yet it represents the activities of a great many of His creatures in their attempt to carry out in their limited way the plans laid down on the Trestleboard.

It would be impracticable and beyond your endurance for us to mention all of the many outstanding fraternal events disclosed by our examination of the records of more than eighteen hundred meetings, or to pay tribute to all who have contributed to the growth and success of the Lodge, so we will confine this history to the most interesting and most historical facts.

The first meeting was held on April 2, 1851, in "Ashler Hall." R. W. William Ferson, District Deputy Grand Master, accompanied by seven Brethren from The Tyrian Lodge, presented the dispensation from the Grand Lodge and organized Ashler Lodge into a Lodge of Masons for work by the appointment of Bro. Eben Blatchford as Worshipful Master, Bro. William Caldwell as Senior Warden, Bro. William H. Manning as Junior Warden, Bro. Henry Clark as Secretary, Bro. Thomas O. Marshall as Treasurer, Bro. Charles Tarr 3rd as Senior Deacon, and Bro. Charles Rowe as Junior Deacon. Bro. Blatchford was not a native of the town, having come to Rockport from Augusta, Maine, but being a prominent man in the town and most active in the formation of the Lodge, he was honored by being selected for its first Master, which office he held for the first four years. He later served as Secretary for seven years.

The first initiates were Launcelot Rowe and William Lurvey, Jr., both of whom were entered on May 5, 1851, passed on May 19, 1851, and raised on June 2, 1851. Brother Lurvey immediately became the first Tyler and served in that capacity for six years.

The first official visitation by a representative of the Grand Master was made by R. W. William Ferson, District Deputy Grand Master, on November 17, 1851. The Tyrian Lodge, on December 9, 1851, resolved to honorably discharge thirteen members from their Lodge to unite with Ashler, including those charter members of Ashler Lodge who were then members of The Tyrian Lodge.

The records of the first few years record the meetings as being held sometimes in Ashler Hall, at other times in Mason's Hall, but most often in Masonic Hall, all of them probably meaning the Proprietors School House Hall on School Street. For a considerable number of years, meetings were held almost every week. No notices were issued; each meeting, at its close, would adjourn to the next one to be held the following week. The names of all members and visitors attending the meetings were written in the records, and the members' zeal for Masonry is indicated by their almost perfect attendance and the fact that one of the degrees was exemplified at every meeting at which no candidate appeared for initiation.

The Charter, previously mentioned as having been issued on March 12, 1852, was received, read and accepted at a meeting held on March 22, 1852, and the Lodge was consecrated on May 26, 1852. On that day Ashler Lodge members, accompanied by several members of The Tyrian Lodge, were escorted by the Rockport Band through the principal streets of the town to the Universalist Church where appropriate services were performed by R. W. William Ferson, Senior Grand Warden, and other Grand Lodge Officers. The first officers, previously appointed on April 2, 1851, were duly installed at this meeting.

The first public installation of officers was held on December 10, 1855, when William Caldwell was installed Worshipful Master by Wor. Eben Blatchford, the first Master, who was retiring after faithfully serving the Lodge for the first four years of its existence.

The next recorded public installation occurred on January 25, 1864, at Johnson's Hall when Samuel York was installed Worshipful Master by Most Worshipful William Parkman, Grand Master, assisted by Right Worshipful William Sutton, District Deputy Grand Master, and a suite of Grand Lodge officers, in the presence of two hundred and fifty members and guests. The Grand Master, Grand Lodge officers and invited guests, twenty-two in number, were entertained at the residence of Wor. Eben Blatchford, the first Master, and Secretary at the time. It was a gala occasion. The records do not describe the entertainment except to note, "in all its parts was pronounced faultless."

In the early years of Ashler Lodge, considerable time was taken to investigate the petitioners for degrees, probably due to the slowness of transportation and the mails in those days. In many cases, investigating committees reported progress for many meetings before a ballot was finally taken.

On January 12, 1881, Ashler Lodge was again honored by a visit by a Grand Master. Most Worshipful Samuel C. Lawrence and other Grand Lodge officers installed Worshipful Jason L. Curtis for the sixth term of his ten-year reign as Master. This was another public installation and about five hundred Brethren and ladies attended. Shortly thereafter, M. W. Brother Lawrence was elected an Honorary Member of the Lodge. While Ashler Lodge has never been so fortunate as to have one of its members elected a permanent member of the Grand Lodge, we do boast that at one time we could list a Grand Master as an Honorary Member of our Lodge.

Worshipful James S. Wallace was installed in 1889 by a District Deputy Grand Master from Boston, although the records do not disclose his name. The Secretary's books do record, however, that this was a public installation in the presence of some five or six hundred of the "Beauty and Nobility of the Town."

Most Worshipful Frank L. Simpson, Grand Master in 1926, was our guest at the celebration of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of Ashler Lodge on June 17, 1926, and addressed a large gathering of members and visitors.

The most recent visit by a Grand Master was on March 12, 1945, when by invitation of Wor. George E. MacLean, Most Worshipful Albert A. Schaefer, Grand Master in 1941-1943, was present and delivered an inspiring address.

And tonight, we are most honored in having as our guest on this memorable anniversary Most Worshipful Thomas S. Roy, the present Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, and as such, the third ranking Mason in the entire world.

Financially Ashler Lodge has had its ups and downs. For many years, particularly in the 1870's and 1880's, the Lodge was so much in debt that year after year a "retrenchment committee" was appointed to recommend what might be done to reduce the debt. At one time a paper was circulated among the members for subscriptions to help liquidate the debt; the Secretary was instructed to furnish a list of all members to a committee appointed for that purpose so that none would be "denied the opportunity." One such committee, in 1882, made certain recommendations which, in their opinion, would "shake the yoke of indebtedness from our shoulders, and become once more a Lodge of Free as well as Accepted Masons." Those recommendations were adopted, but the Lodge continued in financial straits.

For a number of years the Lodge purchased turkeys for members' widows for Thanksgiving Day or Christmas. Bills for sickness and funerals were also paid, and the Lodge aided members, or widows of members, in distress. Surely in those days the officers of the Lodge had charity in their hearts, but it finally became necessary to discontinue many of those worthy deeds.

The most popular social affair of the year was the "Levee," or "Ladies' Night" as we now call it. To encourage the payment of dues, no member whose dues were in arrears was permitted to purchase a ticket. And no suspended member could be reinstated unless He paid one-half of his indebtedness in cash and gave his note for six months for the balance, and if the note was not paid in six months, he was subject to suspension again.

While mentioning the Levees, it is interesting to note that many times a member was permitted to purchase a ticket which would admit the Brother and two ladies, and he could have an extra, ticket for a small additional fee if he wished to take an extra lady to the party. Many of these social affairs were not financial successes, which contributed to the indebtedness of the Lodge.

To partly relieve the financial burden, and not wishing to discontinue refreshments, candidates for the Master Mason degree were obliged to furnish the collations for the third degree meetings. At one such meeting in 1890, it is recorded that "cold meats, fruits, ice cream, coffee, etc., were furnished by the candidates, and after paying due attention to this part of the degree, cigars were lighted and amidst the smoke, not of battle but of about one hundred and twenty-five cigars, speeches and songs were in order until early morning."

In 1892 the Lodge abolished this custom, but reconsidered a few meetings later and decided to continue it. A few years later the custom was again discontinued and has never been resumed.

In spite of its financial difficulties, the Lodge, from its beginning has continually been in quest of more spacious quarters more particularly for a home of its own. It is difficult to read the records of more than a very few years without finding committees appointed to look into the matter of purchasing or leasing new lodge rooms. As early as June 1852, the Master Secretary and Treasurer were instructed to act concerning the purchase of the Proprietors School House Hall, in which the meetings were then held, and for which the Lodge paid a rental of $10.00 per year. In 1865, a "Hall Committee" reported they had received a favorable answer from Granite Lodge of Odd Fellows regarding the joint use of Odd Fellows Hall. A few months later the Odd Fellows asked permission to use the Masonic rooms for their meetings and their request was granted. Evidently the Lodges later got together and agreed to the joint use of the Odd Fellows Hall and both Lodges appointed committees to formulate a code of By-Laws for the regulation of the hall. The largest meeting to that time was held on December 10, 1866, when fifty-seven members assembled to bid adieu to the "Old Temple." The Master, Worshipful Samuel York, and Wor. Eben Blatchford spoke of the happy hours passed in the lodge rooms and presented a short history of the progress of the Lodge to that date. A special committee of three was appointed to carry the Three Great Lights to the new hall. The following week, on December 17, 1866, the first meeting was held in the new quarters and it was voted that the old Masonic hall be used by the Masonic Fraternity as a reading room, restricted to Masons exclusively.

The new hall was dedicated and the officers installed on January 14, 1867, when the Grand Master again visited. Most Worshipful Charles C. Dame, Grand Master, Right Worshipful William Sutton, Senior Grand Warden, and a suite of Grand Lodge officers conducted the dedication ceremonies. All then repaired to Johnson's Hall and a bountiful supper which awaited them. After "satisfying the inner man," dancing was enjoyed until 2:00 a.m.

On November 11, 1872, the Lodge voted to instruct their Hall Committee to lease the hall in the "Town House" for a lodge room, and voted also to spend $1,000.00 in fitting up the rooms, as much as possible of that sum to be raised by subscription. There is no record of how much was raised, but it is recorded that the Lodge went further in debt. The records do not indicate just when the Lodge moved to the new rooms in the Town Hall, but it was some time in 1873 or 1874. The top floor of the Town Hall was our quarters from then until about two years ago when we were obliged to vacate our home of about seventy-five years and lease the rooms in Spiran Hall, where we are meeting tonight.

Even after moving to the more spacious rooms in Town Hall, the members were not wholly satisfied, probably due mostly to the three flights of stairs it was necessary to ascend. Many a member puffed his way up those stairs to attend the meetings, and many of the older members found it too difficult to even try. In 1883 a committee was appointed to confer with a committee from the Odd Fellows regarding leasing a hall to be used in common by both Lodges, but at the following meeting, it was decided to renew the lease for the Town Hall rooms. Again, in 1891, the purchase of "Eureka Hall" for $3,000.00 was considered, but it was determined that the cost of removing the building, which did not meet their needs, and erecting a new hall suitable for Lodge use, would cost about $10,000.00, so no further action was taken.

Other purchases considered were the "Sheridan House" in 1892, "Manning Hall," in 1893, and the "Abbott House" property in 1896. Again, in 1906, a committee was appointed to report on the advisability of purchasing the "Thompson Block" at the corner of School Street and Broadway. From 1906 to 1949, although new quarters were probably in the minds of the officers and members, no serious consideration was given to the matter, probably because no suitable property was available, and the Lodge did not have sufficient funds to build their own hall.

There were many times in the past thirty years, however, when repairs to the Town Hall obliged the Lodge to hold meetings in Odd Fellows Hall or Spiran Hall. Many an initiate received his degrees in various lodge rooms, and one of the writers of this history was raised at a meeting of Ashler Lodge held in The Tyrian lodge rooms in Gloucester.

During the 1880's, interest in the Lodge waned and attendance fell off sharply. At many of the meetings only the officers attended and sometimes only five or six, barely enough to properly work the degree. The attendance improved considerably in the 1890's.

The members' desire for "more light" caused them in 1899 to vote to install electric lights in the lodge rooms. The first meeting at which the new lights were used was quite an occasion and brought out a large attendance. In December, 1900, a committee of Past Masters was selected to formulate plans for a fitting celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary in 1901, the cost not to exceed $300.00. For some reason, the records do not state why, the celebration was held on March 21, 1901, instead of on March 16th. Three hundred tickets were issued, but unfavorable weather held the attendance to about 250. Invitations were extended to Brother Andrew Elwell of Gloucester, the only living Mason, so far as was known, who was present when Ashler Lodge was instituted, Brother Launcelot Rowe, the first candidate to be initiated by Ashler Lodge in 1851, the Masters of The Tyrian and Acacia Lodges of Gloucester, all widows of Masons residing in Rock-port, and all past members of Ashler Lodge who had regularly severed their membership. The evening's entertainment was composed of instrumental selections by an orchestra and vocal selections by the "Ashler Lodge Quartette." An address to the assemblage was given by Worshipful Jason L. Curtis, the senior living Past Master of Ashler Lodge, in which he touched on the birth of Masonry in Rockport fifty years before, and its growth to that time. A supper was served and then dancing was enjoyed until one o'clock.

Wor. Brother Curtis died suddenly of a heart attack about one month later, on April 21st, and a large delegation of members and visitors attended the Masonic burial rites.

In 1903, a By-Law was adopted establishing a Permanent Fund, but nothing further seems to have been done until 1913 when the first Permanent Fund Trustees were elected. Evidently the Lodge had by then enjoyed some degree of prosperity because in October, 1914, $1,500.00 was transferred from the Lodge treasury to start the Fund. Worshipful Edward M. Law, Master in 1920, proposed an amendment to the By-Laws providing that $1.00 of the annual dues of each member should be transferred to the Permanent Fund. This amendment was adopted, and in Wor. Brother Law's report at the end of his term as Master, he stated that he "hoped the Permanent Fund will now grow more rapidly so that some time in the future there may come a time when the Lodge may be in a position to own its own home."

The Permanent Fund did grow. There have been times when it has been necessary to use some of the income of the Fund to meet extraordinary expenses of the Lodge, but the principal has increased each year, and the income correspondingly, so that it is now possible for the Lodge to seriously consider the purchase of a suitable building, which is now available. To R. W. Brother Law we are indebted, probably more than to any one else, for now being in such financial condition that we might finally own our own Temple after being homeless for one hundred years.

Forty-one Masters have served Ashler Lodge. During the first forty-two years we had only eleven Masters, one of whom, Wor. Samuel York, ruled and governed the Lodge for eleven years; another, Wor. Jason L. Curtis, was Master for ten years. Over the past fifty-eight years, starting with Wor. Edgar Knowlton in 1893 and 1894, every Master has served two years. One Master resigned from membership in the Lodge some time after his term expired. We now have sixteen living Past Masters, the senior being Wor. George F. Hodgins, Master in 1903 and 1904, all of whom take an active interest in the Lodge.

While Ashler Lodge has never been privileged to have one of our members a permanent member of the Grand Lodge, we have, however, been honored by having three of our Past Masters appointed District Deputy Grand Master for the Ninth Masonic District. R. W. Louis A. Rogers was appointed by Most Worshipful Dana J. Flanders in 1911, and again by Most Worshipful Everett C. Benton in 1912. Most Worshipful Herbert W. Dean appointed R. W. Edward M. Law in 1930 and 1931. R. W. J. Harry Mills was Most Worshipful Albert A. Schaefer's Deputy in this District in 1942 and 1943.

Many of our Past Masters have raised their sons, perhaps the most unusual being Wor. George F. Hodgins, who raised his son, James R. Hodgins, and then some years later, installed him as Worshipful Master. About two years ago, Wor. George, assisted by his son, Wor. James, raised his grandson, James R. Hodgins, Jr., in a very impressive ceremony long to be remembered by the many Masons who witnessed it.

Another unusual event was a meeting held in 1866 when Samuel York, Jr., John E. York and William S. York, all sons of the then Wor. Master, Samuel York, were initiated Entered Apprentices by their father. And another father, Wor. William Caldwell, Master in 1855 and 1856, stepped aside so that his son, James G. Caldwell, might be Master in 1857, and then occupied the East again in 1858 and 1859.

In 1912, at a Past Masters' Night, Dr. and Wor. Ezra E. Cleaves, who passed away only two months ago, prepared and read to the Lodge a biography of all Masters who had served Ashler Lodge during its first forty years. While that biography is too long to incorporate into this history, it might be of interest to any Brother who cares to read the records of that meeting. Some interested Brother could do a great service to Ashler Lodge and its future historians by preparing a biography of the Masters of the past sixty years, most of whom are now living or have passed away in recent years, thus bringing this most interesting paper up-to-date.

Two other Past Masters raised sons who are now officers of the Lodge and who, no doubt, will some day be Masters. These father and son meetings have always been very impressive; probably future historians will record many more similar to those just mentioned.

Many Treasurers and Secretaries have served the Lodge faithfully and well,perhaps the Dean being Bro. Joseph Manning. Brother Manning was received, passed and raised in one week in 1852; was elected Junior Warden in 1854 and 1855 and was the Lodge Treasurer from 1858 until 1892, a span of thirty-four years — a record unsurpassed by any officer of Ashler Lodge in its entire one hundred years.

The next longest service to the Lodge was rendered by Bro. George F. Cunningham, who was elected Treasurer in 1904 and served faithfully in that office until 1936, when he was succeeded by his son, Bro. John W. Cunningham, our present Treasurer. Thirty-seven years continual service by a father and son is another record of which Ashler Lodge may justly be proud.

Two Secretaries have also served long terms — Bro. John E. Knowlton for twenty years, from 1897 to 1917, and Bro. George W. Sargent for nineteen years, from 1924 until 1943.

The records of a meeting held on April 24, 1865, state it was "the largest meeting ever held since the formation of the Lodge; every seat was filled and one member had to sit on the floor." Perhaps the reason was the further recording, "It was the first meeting at which refreshments were served." To this day it somehow seems that refreshments have a direct bearing on the attendance.

Ashler Lodge members have always had wives and sweethearts, and many a "Levee" or Ladies' Night has been held for the enjoyment of the fairer sex. At one such affair, held in 1872, "Hodgkins Quadrille Band" was engaged, a bountiful supper was served, and dancing was enjoyed until 4:00 a.m. Since then Ladies' Nights have been held every year or two, always a social success, but sometimes a drain on the Lodge treasury. Another late meeting must have been the one held on October 6, 1884, an official visitation by a District Deputy Grand Master. It is recorded that the Lodge paid a bill of $3.00 for "boarding Grand Lodge officers."

In 1852, Bro. Moses Kimball of Boston presented a Lodge banner in token of his friendship for Ashler Lodge and Rockport, where he spent a part of his boyhood. In 1914, a new banner and a National Flag were purchased and were dedicated by Rev. Frank E. Barton, our beloved Chaplain for many years. A new American Flag was purchased in 1943 with funds started by a contribution from R. W. Herman G. Halsted of New York City, a summer resident of Rockport and a frequent visitor at our meetings.

The Anchor Club, composed of Masons employed by the Boston and Maine Railroad, has visited Ashler Lodge on many occasions and has raised at least two of our Past Masters. One of the largest meetings in the history of the Lodge was an Anchor Club visit on June 1, 1930, when two hundred and forty Masons, representing fifty-seven Lodges, attended.

The only member of Ashler Lodge to receive a Henry Price Medal was Bro. Rufus McLellan. He received his degrees and became a member in 1864; was Junior Deacon for three years; Senior Deacon and Junior Warden one year each. The medal was presented on March 10, 1919, on the occasion of his fifty-fifth Masonic birthday. On November 10, 1937, Masonic funeral rites were held for Bro. McLellan who died at the ripe old age of ninety-seven, having been a Master Mason and a member of Ashler Lodge for seventy-three years — truly a remarkable record of Masonic service.

Many of our members have received Veteran's Medals, awarded by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts to Master Masons who have been members in good standing for fifty years. The most impressive presentation occurred on April 2, 1928, during Wor. Joseph E. Critchett's term as Master, when R.W. William H. Parker, District Deputy Grand Master, visited us and presented a Veteran's Medal to each of the following eleven members of Ashler Lodge:

  • Bro. Rufus McLellan
  • Bro. Augustus M. Tupper
  • Bro. Benjamin N. Tarr
  • Bro. John Hooper
  • Bro. Daniel A. Knowlton
  • Bro. Thomas A. Knowlton
  • Bro. J. Wakefield Hodgkins
  • Bro. James Ed Bradley
  • Bro. George D. Mitchell
  • Bro. Sumner D. York
  • Bro. L. Prescott Mitchell

All of these Brothers have since been raised to the Celestial Lodge above, but the memory of their long and faithful service to the Craft remains with us.

In recognition of distinguished service to the Craft, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts also awards the Joseph Warren Distinguished Service Medal. On January 21,1945, R. W. Theodore A. Holland, District Deputy Grand Master, accompanied by Wor. George E. MacLean, Master of the Lodge, and a group of Officers and Past Masters, visited Wor. Edgar Knowlton, who had been confined to his home for some few years. "Edgar," as he was known to every local Mason, whether Past Master or youngest initiate, was Master of Ashler Lodge in 1893 and 1894. In recognition of his having been a Past Master of the Lodge for fifty years, R.W. Brother Holland presented a Joseph Warren Distinguished Service Medal to Wor. Brother Knowlton, the only member of Ashler Lodge, so far as the records disclose, to receive this award. Those of us who were present recall the pleasure with which "Edgar" accepted the medal and how, in spite of his serious illness, he related many amusing incidents of his term as Master.

The DeMolay Boys and the Rainbow Girls have many times exemplified their rituals, much to the enjoyment of the many members who attended those meetings.

One of the best remembered of more recent meetings was that held on June 4, 1945, when the Police Square Club of Massachusetts visited us and raised two of Rockport's "Finest" — our Police Chief and another officer. Throughout the years Ashler Lodge has endeavored to make the meetings interesting for its members. At many meetings at which no candidate appeared for initiation, a Brother volunteered to serve as a candidate so that a degree might be worked. Entertainment of many forms has been furnished — travel talks, speakers on a great variety of subjects, moving pictures, musical artists, professional entertainers, even shows and contests in which the officers and members participated. Of the latter, perhaps the most unusual was a "Liars Contest" held at a meeting about ten years ago. Much to the surprise of the many members participating, two ministers were awarded prizes for being the best prevaricators!

While on the subject of ministers, a very odd class of candidates was raised at a meeting held only a few years ago. A florist, a minister and an undertaker were raised at a Past Master's Night. Probably all three of these Brothers are here tonight.

Since Ashler Lodge was constituted, its members have always been active in civic affairs. There probably has not been a single year in our entire century of existence in which the roster of town officials has not included some of our members. That has been particularly true during the past twenty-five years. Only two years ago, two town officers, one of whom was the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, were initiated and all chairs were filled by town officers and employees, of which forty-four were present.

A form of entertainment of particular enjoyment was a series of Christmas Smokers in the 1930s, attended by a great number of our members and guests. Since 1941, Ashler Lodge has sponsored an annual Christmas Party for the children of our members and of Masons living in our town. These parties have grown and grown and have become one of the most enjoyable affairs of our Masonic year.

Meetings are suspended during July and August when a number of Brother Masons are sojourning in Rockport for the summer months. In order to become better acquainted with our "summer-resident Masons," an outing was held in August, 1946, to which all sojourning Brothers known to any of our members were invited. This has become an annual affair and our list of Masonic friends has grown with each year's outing. Many of our merchants have been very agreeably surprised to learn that so many of their customers were affiliated with the same great fraternity.

Since Ashler Lodge was instituted in 1851, our country has engaged in four major wars — the Civil War, the War with Spain, the First World War and the Second World War. In all of these great conflicts, members of our Lodge have participated with distinction, both with the armed forces and on the home front. If international disputes could only be discussed by men with Masonic teachings in their hearts, and settled on the principles of our great fraternity, war would be no more. Let us hope and pray that we will never again be obliged to take up arms to protect our country and the institutions we hold so dear.

Masonry unites men of every country, sect and opinion. Farmers, merchants, ministers, doctors, tradesmen, lawyers, bankers, mechanics and men of many different nationalities have knocked at the door of Ashler Lodge, and having passed the one great Masonic test — character — have been admitted to our fraternity and to the one place in secular life where true democracy is found, the one place where the rich and poor, the learned and the unlearned, without distinction of race, creed or occupation, may "meet upon the level" and associate as Brethren. The teachings of the Craft have made most men better; no man has been made worse by entering through our portals.

In the short space of time which was allotted for the presentation of this history, it has been impossible to name the hundreds of Masters, officers and members who have played such an important part in the growth and success of our Lodge. It would be highly improper, however, to omit mention of our present Master, Wor. N. O. Bruno Pearson, whose term as Master brings to a close our first one hundred years and launches us on our second century. For many months he has given unsparingly of his time and his energy in planning and supervising the many details of this three-day observance of our anniversary. To him all credit is due.

The founders of Ashler Lodge builded better than they knew, for they could not, by any possibility, have foreseen the mighty influence for good that their efforts were to exert on the generations which have followed them. We owe them great tribute. How wisely and how securely those founders built is very beautifully expressed by the poet who wrote:

"Father's lodge thought nothing of it,
'mid their labors and their cares,
Those old Masons learned to love it,
that fraternity of theirs.

"What's a bit of stormy weather,
when a little down the road
Men are gathering together,
helping bear each other's load?

"Father's lodge had made a village;
men of father's sturdy brawn
Turned a wilderness to tillage,
seized the flag and carried on.

"Made a village, built a city,
shaped a country, formed a State,
Simple men both wise and witty,
humble men, and yet how great!

"Father's lodge had caught the gleaming
of the great Masonic past;
Thinking, toiling, daring, dreaming,
they were builders to the last.

"Quiet men, not rich, but clever, with the tools they found at hand
Building for the great forever,
first a village then a land.

"Father's lodge no temple builded,
shaped of steel and carved of stone;
Marble columns, ceilings gilded,
father's lodge had never known.
<br. But a heritage of glory they have left
the humble ones —
They have left their mighty story
in the keeping of their sons."


EVENTS

CONSECRATION OF LODGE, JUNE 1852

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XI, No. 9, July 1852, Page 266:

Br. Moore:-Ashler Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, was consecrated at Rockport, on Wednesday, June 26th. The members of the Lodge, accompanied members of Tyrian Lodge, Gloucester, were escorted through some of the principal streets, by the Rockport band, to the Universalist Church, where the were performed before a large audience. R. W. S. G. W. William Ferson, presided, assisted by Rev. Mr. Huntoon, of Marblehead, Rev. Mr. Lovell, and G. Smith, Esq., of Boston.

After the ceremonies. of the consecration were concluded, the olficers of Lodge were installed. They are as follows :

  • Eben Blatchford, Master
  • William Caldwell, S. Warden
  • William H. Manning, J. Warden
  • Thomas O. Marshall, Treasurer
  • Henry Clark, Secretary
  • Charles Tarr, 3d, S. D.
  • Launcelot Rowe, J. D. and
  • Francis Rowe and Charles Rowe, Stewards.

The services, which lasted for some time, were closed by an able and address from Rev. Mr. Huntoon.

Respectfully yours, Henry Clark, Secretary.

OFFICIAL VISIT, APRIL 1861

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XX, No. 7, May 1861, Page 202:

R. W. D. D. Gen. Wm. Sutton, accompanied by a delegation of Brethren, paid an official visit to this Lodge on Monday evening, April 15.

The Lodge, in expectation of the visit, had assembled to the number of fifty, and greeted the delegation with a most cordial reception ; and gave an exhibition of their proficiency, by working the Master's Degree with a precision reflecting great credit upon the Master, Bro. York, and all the subordinate officers.

After the completion of the Work, Bro. Sutton addressed the Lodge in some complimentary and very happy remarks, and introduced Bro. Wm. Parkman, to whom he had deputed a very agreeable duty.

Bro. Parkman, on behalf of Bro. Sutton, in some neat and pertinent remarks, presented the Lodge with a beautiful copy of the Holy Bible, Square, Compasses, and Gavel; closing his remarks by observing that, as the work was so excellent, it gave more than ordinary pleasure to present them with new working tools, and expressing the hope that as they, with very imperfect tools, had found many good materials, they might, with these new implements, disembowel some as yet undiscovered and perfect ashlars. The Master happily responded, and the evening closed with a fine collation, and a merry dance with the wives and daughters of the Brethren, assembled in a neighboring hall.

The delegation returned agreeably surprised to have found in this remote
town a Lodge of such activity and Masonic intelligence.

HALL DEDICATION, JANUARY 1867

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXVI, No. 4, February 1867, Page 113:

The new Hall recently fitted up by Ashler Lodge, at Rockport, Cape Ann, was dedicated by the M.W. Grand Lodge, on Monday evening, Jan. 14. The ceremonies were in the usual form, and on the conclusion of them, the brethren repaired to the Town Hall, where the officers of the Lodge were installed by Grand Master Dame, in the presence of the ladies of the members. The ceremonies were interspersed with music, and were witnessed with interest by the large company present The hall is a very neat one, and is well furnished.

At the conclusion of the installation services, the R.W. Br. William Sutton, of Salem, rose, and in a few neat and appropriate words, presented to the W. Master, for the use of the Lodge, a set of silver jewels, consisting of the square, level, plumb, and working-tools, contained in an elegant case made for the purpose. The reply of the W. Master Br. York was exceedingly neat, and to the purpose.

An excellent supper followed these proceedings, and the festivities of the evening were closed with dancing, which was continued until a late hour. The occasion was a most agreeable one, and was enjoyed by all present. The officers are as follows:

  • Samuel York, W.M.
  • Nathaniel F. S. York, S.W.
  • David C. Babson, J.W.
  • Joseph Manning, Treasurer.
  • W. S. York, Secretary.
  • W. Marchant, S.D.
  • Rufus McLellan, J.D.
  • Benjamin Jones, S.S.
  • Henry Lowe, J.S.
  • Benjamin Parsons, Jr., Tyler.
  • James Story, Marshal.
  • Samuel Barker, Chaplain.

INSTALLATION, JANUARY 1878

From Liberal Freemason, Vol. I, No. 11, February 1878, Page 348:

A public installation of the officers of Ashler Lodge of Masons at Rockport was held on Thursday evening. January 17, and the Town Hall was crowded with a large and interested audience. The service of installation was impressively performed by Dist. Dep. G. M. William C. Maxwell ot Lynn, assisted by Past Master Stewart. The officers installed were as follows: W. M., Jason L. Curtis; S. W., James S. Wallace; J. W., Joseph West; Treasurer, Joseph Manning Secretary, William G. Davis, Jr.; S. D., Eben G. Abbott; J. D., Benjamin Tarr, Jr.; Chaplain, N. F. S. York; S.8., Fred. A. Stimpson; J.S., Daniel G. Keene; Tyler, John Parsons, Jr.

An excellent band discoursed at intervals, and a select choir gave some choice music. An addition to the entertainment, of much interest, was the introduction, by Mr. Maxwell, of Mrs. J. K. Harris, of Lynn, who read with excellent effect,- "How he saved St. Michael's," which was encored so earnestly that she then gave a couple of humorous selections, Lanty Leary, and the Puzzled Dutchman, closing with the touching poem, Papa's Letter.

The ceremonies in the hall concluded, an adjournment was made to the rooms above, where an elegant supper was served, and enjoyed with much zest by the large assembly.

The heavy work of the supper over, speeches in response to calls were made by Jason L. Curtis, William C. Maxwell, Gen. William Sutton of Peabody, Stewart of Saugus, Aaron F. Clark of Gloucester, and G. P. Whitman of Rockport.

The assembly then returned to the hall, where dancing occupied the hours till far towards morning.


GRAND LODGE OFFICERS

OTHER BROTHERS


DISTRICTS

1851: District 2

1867: District 5 (Salem)

1883: District 9 (Newburyport)

1911: District 9 (Gloucester)

1927: District 9 (Gloucester)

2003: District 10


LINKS

Tyrian-Ashler-Acacia Lodge web site

Massachusetts Lodges