Athol

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ATHOL LODGE

Location: Athol

Chartered By: Sereno D. Nickerson

Charter Date: 09/10/1873 1873-87

Precedence Date: 09/12/1872

Current Status: in Grand Lodge Vault; merged with Star Lodge to form Star-Athol Lodge, 03/12/1997


PAST MASTERS

  • Erastus Smith, 1872, 1873
  • Joseph A. Holton, 1874, 1875
  • Henry M. Humphrey, 1876; Mem
  • Edwin B. Horton, 1877
  • Joseph H. Haskins, 1877-1879
  • Enoch T. Lewis, 1880
  • C. Waldo Bates, 1881, 1882
  • John J. Coxeter, 1883, 1884
  • Othello A. Fay, 1885, 1886
  • Eldridge A. Drury, 1887, 1888
  • Charles H. Forbes, 1889, 1890
  • Sidney F. Smith, 1891, 1892; SN
  • James F. Whitcomb, 1893, 1894
  • Frank L. Hood, 1895, 1896
  • Henry W. Harris, 1897-1899
  • George E. Gibbs, 1900
  • Leslie E. Smith, 1901
  • Othello A. Fay 1902, 1903
  • Nathan S. Marshall, 1904-1906
  • Fred R. Cobb, 1907
  • Charles H. Foster, 1907, 1908
  • Willie E. Gay, 1909, 1910
  • Charles W. Hood, 1911
  • J. Edward Barrus, 1912-1914
  • Napoleon F. Perron, 1915, 1916
  • Ludwig Knetchel, 1917
  • Harold W. G. Marshal, 1918
  • Herbert F. Hastings, 1919, 1920
  • Walter H. Cady, 1921
  • Earl B. Hubley, 1922
  • Andrew J. Wall, 1923
  • George M. Dodge, 1924
  • Frank W. Wilson, 1925; N
  • Reginald A. Siddons, 1926
  • Raymond H. Watson, 1927
  • Leon C. Allen, 1928
  • Nathaniel A. Cutler, 1929
  • Charles E. MacMannis, 1930
  • Chester L. Anderson, 1931
  • F. Russell Dame, 1932
  • Rodney S. Wilson, 1933; Mem
  • Arthur H. Sanders, 1934
  • Willlam A. Thorp, 1935
  • Warren C. Karner, 1936
  • Carl Christianson, 1937
  • George L. Wonsey, 1938
  • Joseph H. Ellinwood, 1939
  • David F. Hoyt, 1940
  • Franklin L. Sutton, 1941
  • George G. Engel, 1942; N
  • Clarence Lincoln, 1943, 1944
  • Myron A. Smith, 1945
  • Courtland B. Fitch, 1946
  • Finley J. Parks, 1947
  • Austin B. Stowell, 1948
  • Fred J. St. George, 1949
  • Willis A. Ellis, 1950
  • Chester M. Knickerson, 1951
  • William G. Thorp, 1952; SN
  • John H. Scribner, 1953
  • Victor F. Kimball, 1954
  • Charles L. Barnes, 1955
  • Warren W. Janes, 1956
  • Leon A. Bacon, 1957
  • Lester B. Preece, 1958
  • Verner S. Johnson, 1959
  • John H. Nelson, 1960
  • Maurice C. Heath, 1961
  • Harry A. Mildonlan, 1962
  • Russell G. Keyes, 1963
  • Clyde McKay, 1964
  • Louis Whipple, 1965
  • Richard E. Kimball, 1966, 1970
  • Warren C. Wilson, 1967; PDDGM deceased?
  • Theodore G. Tucker, 1968
  • David R. Gates, 1969
  • Edward G. Carver, 12/1969-1/1970
  • Gerald K. Raymond, 1971
  • Leslie W. Blakley, 1972
  • John D. Sinclair, 1973
  • Donald L. Osborne, Sr., 1974
  • Paul K. Clark, 1975
  • Benjamin W. Skinner, Jr., 1976
  • Loriston L. Barnes, Jr., 1977, 1996; PDDGM
  • Richard G. Corser, 1978
  • Stephen K. Hastings, 1979
  • Paul W. Nelson, 1980
  • William E. Willard, l981
  • Jerome L. Willard, 1982
  • Donald L. Osborne, Jr., 1983
  • Bruce A. Anderson, 1984
  • Charles F. Whitaker, 1985
  • Daniel O. Gross, 1986, 1993
  • Ronald J. Charland, 1987; N
  • Harley L Smith, Sr., 1988
  • Terry J. King, 1989, 1990
  • Robert J. Coleman, 1991
  • Richard E. Clark, 1992
  • Edward L. Meehan, 1994, 1995, 1997

REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS

  • Petition for Dispensation: 1872
  • Petition for Charter: 1873
  • Consolidation Petition (with Star Lodge): 1997

ANNIVERSARIES

VISITS BY GRAND MASTER

BY-LAW CHANGES

1874 1875 1882 1884 1897 1898 1916 1917 1923 1924 1927 1931 1936 1939 1944 1955 1957 1959 1961 1966 1971 1972 1979 1982 1995

HISTORY

  • 1922 (50th Anniversary History, 1922-252; see below)
  • 1947 (75th Anniversary History, 1947-268; see below)
  • 1969 (History of Masonic Temple in Athol, 1969-283)
  • 1972 (Centenary History, 1972-274; see below)

50TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, SEPTEMBER 1922

From Proceedings, Page 1922-254:

Athol Lodge - Glimpses of Half a Century, by Winfield H. Brock.

The first page of the oldest existing record book of Athol Lodge, A.F. and A.M. contains this dramatic entry:

"Know all members of the Brotherhood of Free and Accepted Masons that may during this or any future generation — should the ruthless hand of time not destroy this Book — have occasion to peruse the Records in this Book, from the next to the seventy-second Page inclusive that they are only copies of what were the original Records which were consumed in the fire of Music Hall Block, April 8, A.D. 1876, and that these copies were obtained with great difficulty from the charred remains taken from the Ruins after the fire, and returns previously gent to the Grand Lodge, by a Committee from Athol Lodge, who worked with unceasing determination in the face of what seemed at first almost an impossibility and are thus enabled to place upon record once more the doings of the Lodge in its earliest years.

This preface is written so that the Brother perusing the Records — and finding them incomplete in some cases — may know that the present members of Athol Lodge feel grateful that so much even is left, where at one time so little was hoped for. This entry in the beautiful handwriting of the late Worshipful Brother, James F. Whitcomb, is not only interesting as the record of a striking episode in the history of Athol Lodge, but it incidentally calls up, in very vivid manner to our older members, some of the occurrences which led to the very organization of the Lodge itself.

The Music Hall fire was a thrilling event. This beautiful hall, seating one thousand five hundred people, said to be the finest in Worcester County, occupied the site where is now the attractive home of Brother C. W. Pratt. It contained furnishings and equipment far beyond the times, one item of which was an individual gas plant. For some reason this failed to work properly and gas penetrated the spaces in the walls so that when the touch of flame came the whole great structure crumbled and melted in twenty minutes.

It was a tragic event to the uptown people, for it meant not only the loss of the building, but defeat in the long rivalry with the lower village. This great hall had been built at much sacrifice in the effort to retain for the upper village its prestige as the business and trading center, menaced now for nearly a score of years by the rapid growth of what was known as "Athol Depot" which had the advantage of the railroad. The Depot had not been able to match the new hall in beauty, comfort, or room, and public events, balls, lectures, and all important gatherings were held in Music Hall, compelling the Depot residents, much to their disgust, to climb the hill for everything worth while, and insuring profitable patronage for the numerous uptown stores from all the surrounding towns.

Time has destroyed the acerbities of this long rivalry between the villages. It has even made them amusing. At first the upper village was the stronger and was uniformly successful. The High School was located much nearer the upper than the lower village, in spite of the efforts of the able and determined depot crowd. One of the then protesting minority plead in town meeting for placing the building even "two feet" further down town toward the village side, promising that if this were done the "Depot" would declare itself satisfied, but the triumphant majority would have none of it, and did not yield an inch. Later the contest became more equal. As the village waxed stronger the name " Athol Depot, which previously had been a badge of pride and was scrawled by business men in magnified script on hotel registers everywhere, was now regarded as a badge of inferiority, and the long struggle began which finally resulted in the names of the post offices being changed, Athol Depot becoming Athol and the upper village becoming Athol Centre — a name which some good citizens of the Highlands never accepted for their business stationery, even to the time of the introduction of the carrier system and the consolidation of the post offices.

It is fun now to hear Brother Leander Morse tell how he went down with Henry Morse to visit their aunt, Sally Fish. They anticipated a glorious time, but the village boys who played in Aunt Sally's capacious yard would have nothing to do with the uptowners except to slap their mouths. Being more numerous, they were doubtless able in some degree to do this, though it has never been recorded that Leander and Henry admitted it.

Perhaps the most dramatic event of the long struggle centered around the purchase of a fire engine. The village engineers, ignoring their fellow members, ordered an Amoskeag machine. The uptowners resented the assumption of authority and ordered a Jucket engine. It was thought that probably the town would have to pay for whichever engine arrived first. Abner Stratton, leader of the village, declared the Jucket should never enter the engine house. Lyman Hapgood, father of the late Herbert L. Hapgood, strong man of the uptown boys, asked who was to stop it. The Jucket freight car got right of way from Fitchburg, reached the town first, was met by the uptown firemen and volunteers, hundreds strong, under the lead of Hapgood, and was drawn in triumph to the engine house (which stood at the Highlands, as now, at corner of Main and Pleasant Streets), no one daring to interfere. This was a triumph for uptown.

The village scored later when its leaders retained the Amoskeag engine, which at last had arrived, persuaded the town to pay for this second engine, also, and finally with the Amoskeag machine beat the Jucket at a firemen's muster. The Jucket was undoubtedly the more powerful engine — though subject to erratic streaks which required the nursing of a good engineer.

It was unavoidable that in a community so sensitive and so sharply divided even a Masonic Lodge should feel the influence of the rivalry of the two sections. Star Lodge was started quite largely through the zeal of some of the Brethren of the lower village. Its first meeting was held (under a Dispensation granted July 4, 1864) on July 25, 1864, in Houghton's Block, where the City Hotel now stands. Here the meetings were held the first year. The uptown members were in the majority, however, and on June 26, 1865, the original petitioners for the Dispensation met and voted to move to the new hall in the upper village (at 1479 Main Street, the hall now occupied by the G. A. R. over Lee's hardware store). The vote was fifteen yeas and four nays, absent six. This created something of a commotion. At this very meeting a motion was made "to see if the members of the Lodge would agree to sign a petition for a Lodge in the lower village, if it should at any time be thought expedient to form another Lodge in this town. There were twelve yeas, one nay, thirteen not voting, the members not voting thinking it "not expedient to pledge themselves.

The Lodge continued to meet in the hall in the upper village for seven years. The rivalry between the villages was now at its acute stage. There were also other things concerning which there were differences of opinion.

March 25, 1872, a motion was made "that Star Lodge be removed from its present location to the Hall now used and occupied by Union Royal Arch Chapter in the Depot village." May sixth, at a special meeting, this motion was carried, twenty-eight voting in the affirmative, twenty-one in the negative. This led to an appeal to the Grand Lodge by aggrieved Brethren, with the final result that matters were arranged in a manner creditable to all. A Committee of twelve Brethren from each village was chosen "to consult together in regard to a separation and the formation of a new Lodge.

This committee reported that Star Lodge be divided, that the Lodge recommend the petition for a new Lodge, and the Lodge property be equally divided between Star Lodge and the petitioners for a new Lodge.

The Lodge accepted this report and voted to recommend the petition of Erastus Smith, the Master, and forty-eight others for a new Lodge. It was also voted to transfer the lease of the hall to the new Lodge, and a committee of four, two from each village, was chosen to divide the property. They were given power to add another member to the committee if in any case they did not agree, but the fifth member was unnecessary. Right Worshipful Brother F. E. Wing, in his admirable historical address at the fiftieth anniversary of Star Lodge, states that "the property was divided in an entirely amicable and satisfactory manner, and the unpleasantness due to the feeling between 'uptown and downtown' was effectively banished from Masonry in Athol."

Athol Lodge soon received its Charter, and Star Lodge received a cordial invitation to attend the Constitution of Athol Lodge, October 23, 1873. The two Lodges have lived together in fraternal harmony and mutual helpfulness. It may not be out of place to say right here that in the opinion of many Brethren this apparently necessary and unavoidable division which resulted in two Lodges in a small town, has in all probability worked out advantageously, both for the good of the fraternity and for the good of the community. The amicable settlement and the cordial acceptance of its results also affords a fine illustration of the right way to settle disagreements — the brotherly and friendly way which Masonry teaches.

One of the earliest items of business recorded in the doings of Athol Lodge was the acceptance of the committee's report on the division of the property. Star Lodge. had money and property valued at $668.15, cash $221, furniture and other property $447.15. Athol Lodge received at once in money and property $302.25 "leaving a balance due Athol Lodge of $32.30 besides one-half of all moneys due Star Lodge October 1, 1872, and not then collected."

It would seem that Athol Lodge retained the furniture of the hall while Star Lodge kept the jewels, as at the very first meeting of Athol Lodge, October 16, 1872, "The committee on finance reported that they had borrowed two hundred dollars of Brother C. A. Cook, and the note had been signed by the Worshipful Master and other Brothers of the Lodge.

Brother Cook was a jeweler, and at the same meeting "the committee on purchase reported that they had purchased jewels, etc., for the Lodge." At the next meeting "voted that Athol Lodge extend their thanks to Brother L. B. Morse for the lesser lights which he had presented them." Brother George L. Stratton was also thanked for the present of a seal. Thus with a furnished Lodge-room, a new set of jewels, and a debt of two hundred dollars, Athol Lodge, working under a Dispensation from the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, held its first Eegular Communication October 16, 1872, with these officers present:

  • Erastus Smith, Worshipful Master
  • Joseph A. Holton, Senior Warden
  • Henry M. Humphrey, Junior Warden

as appointed and named in the Dispensation. The appointed officers were:

  • E. A. Thomas, Treasurer
  • E. T. Lewis, Secretary
  • C. L. Sawyer, Senior Deputy
  • E. B. Horton, Junior Deputy
  • Rev. Ira Bailey, Chaplain
  • George H. Hoyt, Marshal
  • E. E. Twitchell, Senior Steward
  • L. B. Morse, Junior Steward
  • Henry Gray, Tyler

The Charter members, forty in number were as follows: S. Atwood Bemis, Jacob S. Cook, H. M. Humphrey, Henry Gray, Leander B. Morse, B. Warren Rich, Rev. Ira Bailey, William H. Pierce, Enoch T. Lewis, Joseph A. Holton, Seth Holton, Edwin A. Thomas, Horace Hapgood, James Oliver, Jr., Washington H. Amsden, Dexter Aldrich, Thomas H. Blake, Andrew S. Chubb, Albert Horton, Edwin B. Horton, Lyman D. Babbitt, Dwight E. Bass, Othello A. Fay, George W. Rickey, Joseph N. Hanson, David W. Day, John H. Williams, Fred F. Twitchell, Caleb A. Cook, James P. Lynde, Joseph H. Haskins, Jonathan D. Ward, Willard Hagar, William S. Addy, Dwight Ward, Cephas L. Sawyer, Fred A. Chubb, Robert F. Boyce, Erastus Smith, George H. Hoyt.

Only six of the list are now living, Brother Leander B. Morse, Jonathan D. Ward, who reside in Athol (and are with us tonight), George W. Rickey, of Grand Rapids, Mich., Albert Horton, of Dorchester, E. A. Thomas, of Taunton, and Fred F. Twitchell, the second Secretary of the Lodge, now of Los Angeles, Cal. Brother Twitchell was of the firm of Holbrook, Twitchell & Co., dealers in dry goods in the corner store, Music Hall Block, a very up-to-date establishment for the times, and the record books of Athol Lodge were in his care and in his office when the terrible fire occurred which destroyed the hall and burned the records. These, as stated, were afterward replaced in a measure at the cost of great trouble and pains by a committee consisting of Brothers F. F. Twitchell, Erastus Smith, and E. T. Lewis.

In spite of the fact that so few of those original members are still with us, there are still many Brothers whose memories go back over the past fifty years.

It is no part of the purpose of this paper to cover the early history of Masonry in Athol — a task which has already been ably done by Worshipful Brother E. V. Wilson, but I think it is quite within our province to call attention to the relation of Athol Lodge to the community in which it was placed fifty years ago, and its influence therein.

Conditions were almost unbelievably different. No coal strike would have annoyed us in those days, for hardly anybody burned coal. Even the locomotives on the Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad, passing through the town, were wood burning. Cord wood was the main reliance and was high in price and threatened to be higher because it was practically the sole fuel. Not so much fuel was used as now, however, for few tried to heat the whole house. Hundreds of well-to-do families lived mainly in their kitchens during the cold weather, and to heat the sitting room regularly was luxury. Street cars, automobiles, and even bicycles had not been heard of. Usually a man who became prosperous acquired a horse, and there was emulation as to who should have the best one, the palm being usually carried by Brother Washington H. Amsden, who built the house now occupied by John A. McGregor, opposite the old Town Hall, and who prided himself on always having a handsome and spirited animal. Brother George A. Oakes created a sensation by pushing about a sort of velocipede, made of two buggy wheels connected fore and aft, much to the admiration of the small boys. Those were the days when meat was cheap. It was killed in Athol slaughter houses, as our late Worshipful Brother Henry Harris could testify, and a common if not universal breakfast was beefsteak, potato, and pie.

The first telephone came some years later when Brother E. Ward Cooke installed a private line connecting his dental office in the recently created Athol National Bank Building with his house and the office of his father-in-law, Worshipful Brother Enoch T. Lewis. This telephone he made and erected himself, and it preceded the telephone company and its public service by many years. The small kerosene lamp was the standard method of illumination and had not entirely superseded candles, but gas was on the way, and we find in the record of December 4, 1878, that a committee was appointed "to confer with the owners of Puller Block to see what can be done toward repairing the Lodge-room, also what can be done toward lighting with gas." There was some opposition to the new method of lighting, either on the score of cost or otherwise, for on January 8, 1879, it was "moved not to pipe for gas." Said motion was laid on the table and it was voted that the committee on gas make further inquiry."

The electric light did not make its appearance until some years later, with Brother W. H. Brock as the first secretary of the new electric light company. There was neither public water supply, nor sewer system.

It must not be inferred, however, that uptown Athol was in any sense behind the times during the first decade of Athol Lodge. It was a wide-awake, progressive place. Its stores were well stocked and attracted trade from Phillipston, Petersham, Barre, Royalston, Templeton, and even from the Depot village.

The astonishing thing, as one studies the record, is that the leaders in most of these activities were in the main members of Athol Lodge. Take out the charter members of Athol Lodge and those who became members a few years later, and little of the business life of the village would be left.

In obedience to the committee's request that this paper be reminiscent of the activities of those older men who made Athol Lodge honored and respected, some of you older Brethren are invited to recall the Athol of four or five decades ago. Make the tour of Summit House Square. First comes to mind Brother James P. Lynde, the family physician, the first Superintendent of Schools, admirable public speaker. One night in the early eighties he came across the road at dusk to the drug store, lantern in hand, his cape coat hanging from his shoulders. "Just starting for my one thousandth baby case," he said to Right Worshipful Brother Henry M. Humphrey, who looked at him inquiringly over the show cases of his drug store. Dr. Lynde was persona grata in more than a thousand homes.

  • Brother Dr. James Oliver, until recently Athol's grand old man, is still well remembered.
  • Brother E. A. Thomas ran a very well stocked and successful dry goods store in Summit House Block.
  • Brother George W. Rickey was the reliable watchmaker and jeweler, as he continued to be for two generations.
  • Brother E. Ward Cooke was the town dentist, active in politics, Secretary of the Worcester Northwest Agricultural and Mechanical Society, and friend of all good causes.
  • Right Worshipful Brother Henry M. Humphrey, as stated, was a successful druggist. He was District Deputy Grand Master for the Twelfth Masonic District, member of the School Committee, and of the Legislature and active until three years ago, long outliving most of his generation, a tower of strength to the Lodge, to the church, and to the community.
  • Brother Dexter Aldrich was auctioneer and grocer, a strong and original man. He died in 1882. He was greatly interested in Masonry and in his will left one hundred dollars to Athol Lodge.
  • Worshipful Brother E. B. Horton was Postmaster, and a good one.
  • Brother F. F. Twitchell was a merchant. His firm, as stated, occupied the largest store in the Music Hall Block and was very prosperous until the great fire. He was the second Secretary of Athol Lodge and still survives, making his home in Hingham.

Worshipful Brother J. A. Holton was a shoe dealer in Union Block where the present Post office, Station A, is located. He was for many years the efficient Secretary of the Lodge.

  • Worshipful Brother O. A. Fay was a leading grocer, lumber and real estate dealer. For many years he ran the grocery where E. B. Newton now does business. He was an ardent Mason, an active spirit in the Lodge, and the donor of numerous gifts, including a carpet and many souvenirs he brought from the Holy Land — land of King Solomon and King Hiram. His advice was always sound and valuable. He was well versed in Masonic ritual and not averse to occasional humor. Not a few of the Brethren remember the zest and efficiency with which he worked the "Mount Moriah" degree.
  • Brother L. B. Morse, a leading manufacturer, active citizen, member of the Legislature, was in his younger days an active worker and leader in many lines. At one time a young admirer claimed that he was the most influential citizen of the town, having reference particularly to local politics. He is one of the few charter members still with us.

The activities and responsible positions held by charter members may be continued at length. Worshipful Brother B. T. Lewis is not to be forgotten in any list of Athol notables of that day. He was marble worker, funeral director, Trial Justice, Town Treasurer, Constable for thirty years, President and Secretary of the Worcester Northwest Agricultural and Mechanical Society, and the first Secretary of Athol Lodge. He was a small man, but muscular. The boys feared him as truant officer, and he had the reputation of being "quick as lightning." He was a versatile and able man, and in early years a worker in the Lodge.

Nor should Worshipful Brother Brastus Smith, the first Master, also Master of Star Lodge at the time of the separation, be forgotten. He was a manufacturer of shoes in the shop on Main Street, once known as the old wallet shop. long since made into tenements. He was a just man. correct in the ritual, and a man of sound judgment and strict integrity.

We have gone slightly away from Summit House Square because we have been confining the list, thus far, to charter members. But including members who were made Masons in early years, the list becomes still more astonishing. As one reads it one wonders again what would have been left of the business activities of Athol if the Brethren of Athol Lodge had been suddenly deported to some other community.

  • The Summit House, then a prosperous hotel, was the home of good meals under Brother D. A. Jennison, a pleasant faced, kindly man who made many friends.
  • Brother George A. Oakes had a drug store.
  • Worshipful Brother Joseph H. Haskins was town blacksmith, occupying the shop in the building now owned by Brother George W. Boutell in the rear of the Brewer and Carlson Garage. Brother Haskins was a man of keen intelligence, excellent judgment, and a wide information. He could talk politics or economics while shoeing horses.
  • Brother S. A. Bemis was also a successful and competent blacksmith.
  • Worshipful Brother J. P. Whitcomb was Postmaster, Secretary of the Worcester Northwest Agricultural and Mechanical Society, and thorough and efficient in all that he undertook. He was long a Secretary of Athol Lodge. His birthday, September ninth, almost coincides with the date of this anniversary celebration. He had been forty-eight years a Mason.
  • Brother W. S. Wiggins had a shoe store in the Music Hall Block. For years he taught singing school, sang in chorus and quartettes, and was Organist of Athol Lodge.
  • Brother George W. Stevens and Brother Charles Crosman were grocers in Union Block. Brother Stevens is still with us. His store always had the reputation of being reliable.
  • Brother Lewis H. Cheney, present Treasurer of Athol Lodge, and one of its most respected members, conducted a wheelwright shop and carriage manufactory in the rear of the present fire station. The days when "carriages without horses should go" seemed very far ahead then. Nowadays who ever hears of buying a carriage?
  • Brother R. F. Boyce was carpenter, builder, and contractor.
  • Brother John H. Williams was a druggist at the Depot, having sold out uptown to Brother Humphrey, but he retained his house and interest in the Highlands.
  • Brother Willard Hagar was undertaker. He often officiated as Marshal of the Lodge, and was a kindly, genial man, much liked by everyone.
  • Brother T. W. Savage was a respected dry goods merchant.
  • Brother F. V. Orcutt was the leading tailor; Brother Solon W. Lee a prominent shoe manufacturer; Brother Cephas L. Sawyer a prosperous baker and cracker manufacturer. His bakery was near the residence of Brother A. F. Tyler on School Street. At recess time a real procession of boys from the school was apt to file through the bakery, each one grabbing a hot cracker from the basket into which they were being shoveled. Brother Sawyer liked the boys and never said a word.
  • Brother Amos II. Locke was the town photographer, with home uptown and studio over the Transcript office down town, and Brother L. M. Wellman also lived uptown and conducted a successful marble and granite business on the island." He was a big man and no one in Athol Lodge or elsewhere ever guarded better the third gate.

The list might be still further extended. Brothers Jonathan D. Ward and J. N. Hanson were employed at the Amsden door and sash factory, then one of the important enterprises of the town. It was owned by Brother Washington H. Amsden to whom reference has been made.

  • Brother Frederick Allen was a furniture manufacturer, Brother L. E. Brooks a merchant (with us tonight), and Brother Almond Smith, who is still as young as any of us, was then doing a big business manufacturing match sticks, in company with his brother-in-law, Herbert L. Hapgood, at the old stand on Chestnut Street, below the Congregational Church.

The list is by no means complete, but enough has been given to show what a place the membership of Athol Lodge filled in the community. The clergymen should not be forgotten. Reverend Brother Ira Bailey, for a time Secretary of the Lodge, was known and respected by everybody. Reverend B. P. Gibbs and Reverend D. H. Rogan, Chaplains, were strong men in their day and generation. Nor should Brother George H. Hoyt, the brilliant lawyer, defender of John Brown before the Civil War, representative in the Legislature, editor, and orator be overlooked. Athol Lodge began with forty Charter members. It has always been conservative in regard to the making of new Masons. Its record of growth by ten year periods is as follows:

  • 1872: 40 Members
  • 1882: 85 Members
  • 1892: 123 Members
  • 1902: 130 Members
  • 1912: 152 Members
  • 1922: 232 Members

The largest number of Masons made in any one year was in 1920, thirty-five. In 1913, seventeen members were made, and in 1914, twenty. In 1878, 1879, and 1898, one member was received each year. Of course, losses by death and removal have been constant, but very few years of the fifty have failed to show some increase in membership. At the present time with two hundred and thirty-two members, ninety-five are out of town. Forty-eight members of Athol Lodge are members of the Royal Arch Chapter, twenty-eight are members of the Commandery, and forty members outside Massachusetts are scattered in eighteen different states.

Nineteen members of Athol Lodge were enrolled in the service of their country during the Great War, and the record shows that Brother Charles H. Ladd gave his life for his country October 13, 1918.

The story of the separation from Star Lodge and the division of the property has been told. Athol Lodge began two hundred dollars in debt, as stated, having borrowed the money from Brother Cooke to pay for the jewels.

Following the good times of the early '70s came the panic times which culminated in 1877, 1878, and 1879, and the Masonic Brethren like all others, were hard up. On September 19, 1877, it was voted that the Senior and Junior Stewards, (Brothers L. H. Cheney and John E. Wood) be a committee to confer with the Secretary and Treasurer, (Brothers E. Ward Cooke and L. E. Brooks), to provide means to meet bills which should become due. Voted, that the Worshipful Master be added to the above committee," (Worshipful Brother E. B. Horton being Master).

June twelfth a committee was empowered to raise money by borrowing, or otherwise, to meet the indebtedness of Athol Lodge, and on August seventh this committee reported that they had borrowed fifty dollars of Worshipful Master J. H. Haskins, and had given a demand note therefor on the Lodge. This committee were Brothers J. H. Haskins, C. L. Sawyer, E. T. Lewis, Erastus Smith, and E. Ward Cooke.

This seems to have tided the Brethren through their financial shortage until the time came for removal to the hall in Brewer's Block when the expenses mounted up, and we find that a little later the Lodge again borrowed money of Worshipful Brother Haskins, this time the note being one hundred dollars.

The expense of furnishing the new hall had amounted to more than was expected, and the balance of four hundred beyond the one thousand one hundred dollars paid down was taken care of by a loan from Worshipful Brother 0. A. Fay. It was provided that this note should be paid by reserving the income from initiations, and it was not so very long before the indebtedness was wiped out.

The low-water mark of finances, so far as the running expenses of the year were concerned, seemed to be in 1881 when the report was ninety-eight cents in the treasury, and bills due amounting to $62.96 in hand. In 1879 the total receipts for the year were $286.77, the expenses $268.30, and the balance left on hand was $17.87.

About 1907 the Lodge may be said to have begun to have money, the balance that year on hand being $152.28. In 1920 the total receipts were $2,628.51 and the net resources $1,492.58. This was the high-water mark of the receipts for any single year.

The first mention of a salary for the Secretary is November 6, 1884, when it was voted to pay Secretary J. A. Holton five dollars for his past year's services, and to pay thereafter five per cent of the amount collected as the salary of the Secretary. In 1887 the salary of the Secretary was made twenty-five dollars a year. In October, 1920, the salary of the Secretary was made on a basis of twenty cents a member.

In 1911 it was voted to establish a permanent fund, and it was voted that ten per cent of the money annually collected by the Lodge should be put into this fund, which should remain undisturbed unless taken for some special purpose by a special vote of the Lodge. It was provided that at least a month's notice must be given of the intention to expend any of this money, and that it should then only be taken on two-thirds vote of the members present.

The dues were raised from two dollars to four dollars a year October 1, 1914, and the initiation fee from thirty dollars to forty dollars the same year.

At various times the Lodge has received gifts from interested members, some of which have already been referred to. In 1879 Worshipful Master Haskins presented a rough ashler and a perfect ashler to the Lodge, also seats for the dining room, and twelve dozen teaspoons and six dozen table spoons. The same year the thanks of the Lodge were given to Jerome Jones, of Boston, for the gift of one dozen silver plated knives.

As has been stated, Star Lodge had been successful for seven years in the hall in Puller's Block, over Lee's Hardware Store uptown, when it voted to move to the lower village, precipitating the step which led to the starting of Athol Lodge and the amicable division of the property. The lease was transferred from Star Lodge to Athol Lodge, and the hall was occupied for a dozen years, not always without some friction and annoyance, for in 1880 it was voted to withhold the rent until the building is repaired so as to protect said rooms from damage by rain or snow." Later it was voted to apply to the owner for damages for failure to keep the roof in repair.

A part of the time the old hall was sublet to the Grange, and we find also a vote authorizing the committee to sub-let the banquet hall to the Young Men's Literary Association. This was a rather successful debating society which for a time held meetings and ran a reading room on the second floor of the block, but it did not continue with much success beyond the first year, as we find an entry that "it is improbable that the banquet room will be required by the Young Men's Literary Association."

It was in this Young Men's Literary Association that quite a number of young men who afterward became prominent in town affairs gained considerable facility in public speaking. Among them were Brothers 0.; A. Fay, Almond Smith, Herbert A. Hapgood, Dexter A. Smith, and other friends.

The Fraternity was not unmindful of the march of progress, for we find on June 8, 1881, the thanks of the Lodge were extended to Brothers Brooks and Cheney for assistance in putting in fixtures for illuminating with gas.

In 1881, also, it was voted to grant the use of the Lodge-room to Parker Post and Matrons for such compensation as may be decided on, and in 1882 Brother A. W. Carter was made a committee to procure a carpet sweeper.

In this year Brother Dexter Aldrich gave the Lodge in his will a legacy of one hundred dollars. A relic of the old feeling between the villages was shown, however, in the provision that if the Lodge ceased to work at Athol Centre during the next fifteen years the money was to revert to the widow, Ursula Aldrich.

The Brethren had by this time become somewhat dissatisfied with the old quarters and listened to overtures from Brother George S. Brewer, who was building a block on the corner of Main and Chestnut Streets, where the Bemis Bakery is now located. It was voted to lease these apartments, and on July 27, 1885, the first meeting of the Lodge was held in the new quarters. On December 11, 1885, the rooms were dedicated with appropriate ceremonies.

The occupation of this hall was indeed a notable event. The Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, Abraham H. Howland, Jr., of New Bedford, was in charge of the ceremonies and the hall was dedicated to Freemasonry, Virtue, and Universal Benevolence, agreeable to ancient form. Worshipful Brother Coxeter, who is present tonight, was Master at the time. More than three hundred were present. Cold turkey, tongue, chicken and lobster salads, ice cream, etc., are recorded as items on the menu, and not a few of the Brethren complained of full stomachs until the day after.

Five years later there was trouble with the roof of this new hall which the landlord evidently fixed without much difficulty, and in this year it was voted also to ask Brother Brewer to put water in the building.

On September 4, 1889, it was voted to rent the banquet hall to the Grange for three dollars a night, gas and fuel included.

On December 24, 1890, a vote of the Lodge extended the sympathy of the Brethren to Star Lodge which had just lost its hall by fire, and offered the use of the hall. Star Lodge accepted the offer and used the hall once, but later made arrangements with Chapter and Commandery for the use of the hall in the lower village.

Orange Lodge was burned out the same year, and on November seventh Athol Lodge extended a vote of sympathy.

A new piano came in 1891, its cost being one hundred and seventy-five dollars and the old organ, and on December 25, 1895, a committee was appointed to see about lighting the hall with electricity. The committee reported little progress inasmuch as the company will not wire this portion of the town this winter.

On January 22, 1913, a committee from Star Lodge made a proposal to lease Lodge-rooms in the new block then being built by L. S. Starrett, at a rental of two hundred and fifty dollars per year. This proposition was accepted, and it was voted to sell the Lodge property, the vote being twenty-six yes to sixteen no. There was received for the old fixtures, which were made useless by the change, the sum of $358.79.

The first meeting was held in the new quarters of Star Lodge on May 7, 1914, and Athol Lodge had the honor of raising the first three Masons in the new Lodge-room. They were Brothers George Gibbs Angell, Arthur Bradbury Perkins, and Charles Richardson Burnham.

On January 27, 1921, the rent of the hall was raised to four hundred dollars a year.

In reading the records of Athol Lodge one becomes interested in the annual recurrence of what was known as the Sugar Festival. We seem to have nothing nowadays which matches this sweet and joyous event, which for many years was an animal feature in the social life of Athol Lodge.

On February 22, 1878, the Lodge voted to hold a "Jubilee" at an early date, which later on was fixed in May. The records do not state what the character of this function was.

Brother Jonathan D. Ward, one of our Charter members, recalls a social event which he did not personally attend, much to his regret, but in which his wife was greatly interested. He recalls that they had a splendid time, and that fat, attractive doughnuts, which proved afterwards to have been stuffed with cotton, added to the hilarity of the occasion. This might have been the Jubilee.

On September 26, 1881, there was an event of an entirely different nature. The book records a "Special Communication to attend the funeral services of our deceased Brother, James Abram Garfield, Chief Magistrate of the United States of America," which were held in the Town Hall. Some of us here present distinctly remember that impressive and solemn occasion. Reverend H. A. Blake, the Pastor of the Congregational Church, offered prayer, and there were brief speeches by Charles Field, Esq., Reverend William Full, of the Methodist Church, Reverend J. N. Cox, of the Baptist Church, Dr. James Hemenway, of the Advent Church, our Brethren Dr. James P. Lynde, Reverend Ira Bailey, Secretary of the Lodge, Chester Canham, of the Athol Transcript, and E. V. Wilson, Esq., and by George W. Horr, Esq.

It was during this week that the yellow day occurred, so dark that lamps had to be lighted at noonday in order to read, and the whole week was dark and yellow as though nature herself had been stirred by the death of this second martyred President.

On June 16, 1912, in conjunction with Star Lodge, a very impressive ceremony was held on Pleasant Street at the home of Brother Winfield H. Brock. In an old colonial inn, on the site now occupied by Brother Brock' s house, Harris Lodge, the first Masonic Lodge in Athol, had held its meetings and performed its work. A high boulder had been set near this historic spot and a memorial tablet placed thereon. Nearly three thousand people gathered to help dedicate this tablet. The exercises included music by a quartette, a notable historic address by Worshipful Brother W. Scott Ward, and an appropriate Masonic poem by Brother Winfield H. Brock.

Another notable event was the Fiftieth Anniversary of the founding of Star Lodge, celebrated June 29, 1914, the conspicuous features of which were a notable historic address by Right Worshipful Brother Frank B. Wing, and a poem by Worshipful Brother Edgar V. Wilson.

So far as known nothing has ever interfered with the regular meetings of Athol Lodge except in October, 1918, when the "flu" was abroad in the land, and all public meetings of every sort were prohibited. The regular election of officers occurred a month later in November of that year, under special Dispensation.

It may be of interest to the keepers of late hotirs to know that on March 5, 1884, it was voted to begin regular meetings at 7.30 p.m. instead of at 7 p.m. as previously.

On June 1, 1886, Worshipful Brother J. H. Haskins presided as Master of the Lodge when his son, Ralph H. Haskins, was made a Master Mason, the first time, so the record states, such a thing had happened in Athol Lodge. Later on, September 5, 1888, Right Worshipful Henry M. Humphrey, officiated in a similar way when his son. John H. Humphrey, was made a Master Mason. Similar events have been noted several times since.

The record of special gatherings, of banquets and collations bears witness to the fact that the Mason's life is not all work but includes a due proportion of social relaxation.

One is tempted to think that perhaps in the matter of refreshments the olden days were better than these when one finds in the record December 6, 1877, after the installation of officers, installed by District Deputy Henry M. Humphrey, with music under direction of Organist W. S. Wiggins, "the company adjourned to the Summit House and partook of a most delicious supper furnished by Landlord Jennison, then returned to the Lodge-room for speaking and closed at 11.15 without form."

If there were time it would be interesting to speak of some of the notable men who were made Masons in Athol Lodge. One of them who has risen high in the world and who perhaps counts most to us as personal acquaintances and friends was Brother Wilson H. Lee who was made a Master Mason in Athol Lodge October 24, 1876. He is now an Honorary Member of Athol Lodge. Another notable member was Worshipful Sidney P. Smith, who was made a Mason in Athol Lodge and served as Secretary for one year. He was Master of the Lodge in 1891. He was District Deputy Grand Master for the Twelfth Masonic District, a member of the State Senate and House, a prominent candidate for the Republican nomination for Congress, and chief competitor of his classmate, Speaker F. H. Gillett of the National House, when the latter was first elected. His services as Principal of the High School, as lawyer, and leading citizen are still gratefully remembered. Brother Smith died June 17, 1902, age fifty-two. Athol Lodge has had twenty-nine Masters, as follows:

  • Erastus Smith*, 1872
  • Joseph A. Holton*, 1874
  • Henry M. Humphrey*, 1875
  • Edwin B. Horton*, 1876
  • Joseph H. Haskins*, 1877-1880
  • Enoch T. Lewis*, 1879
  • C. Waldo Bates*, 1881
  • John J, Coxeter, 1883
  • Othello A. Fay*, 1885, 1902
  • Elbredge A. Drury*, 1887
  • Charles H. Forbes, 1889
  • Sidney P. Smith*, 1891
  • James F. Whitcomb*, 1893
  • Frank L. Hood , 1895
  • Henry W. Harris*, 1897
  • George E. Gibbs*, 1900
  • Leslie E. Smith, 1901
  • Nathan S. Marshall*, 1904
  • Fred E. Cobb, 1906
  • Charles H. Foster, 1908
  • Willie E. Gay, 1910
  • Charles W. Hood, 1912
  • J. Edward Barrus, 1914
  • Napoleon F. Perron, 1916
  • Ludwig S. Knechtel, 1917
  • Harold W. G. Marshall*, 1918
  • Herbert F. Hastings, 1920
  • Walter H. Cady, 1921
  • Earl B. Hubley, 1922

* Deceased The Secretary's important duties have been discharged by ten men during the past fifty years. Most of them have been referred to elsewhere in this rapid sketch. The list is as follows:

  • E. T. Lewis, 1872-1874 (2 years)
  • F. F. Twitchell, 1874-1876 (2 years)
  • E. Ward Cooke, 1876-1879 (3 years)
  • Rev. Ira Bailey, 1879-1882 (3 years)
  • Dr. J. J. Coxeter, 1885-1888 (3 years)
  • Sidney P. Smith, 1884-1885 (1 year)
  • Joseph A. Holton, 1882-1884, 1888-1901 (15 years)
  • James F. Whitcomb, 1901-1910 (9 years)
  • Ludwig S. Knechtel, 1910-1912 (2 years)
  • Waldo E. Fay, 1912-1922 (10 years)

It will be noted that Worshipful Brother J. A. Holton had much the longest term of service, fifteen years. The present efficient and genial incumbent, Brother Waldo E. Fay, comes next with ten years to his credit already, and Worshipful Brother James F. Whitcomb third, with nine years.

This unpretentious glimpse of Fifty Years of Athol Lodge has sought to picture its origin, its remarkable group of early members, its influence on the community, and some of the prominent events of its history. It would fail utterly if it did not record the indebtedness of its members to Masonry itself:

Hail to the Craft! at whose serene command
The gentle arts in glad obedience stand.
To works of art her merit not confined
She regulates the morals, squares the mind,
Corrects with care the sallies of the soul
And points the tide of passions where to roll.

Nor should we ever forget or fail to teach patiently to those who apply for membership in our Lodges the great objects of Masonry (particularly those three which were so admirably summarized in Worshipful Brother Ward's address in 1912), namely: To make better men, better social beings, better citizens.

It is inspiring to belong to so great, so ancient, so noble an institution. It is encouraging to believe that Athol Lodge is still led and officered by men who revere the principles of Masonry and who will do their part to hand on to their successors the knowledge and the instruction they have received. We know little of the future, but we may be permitted to hope that Athol Lodge may never be found wanting when tested by Masonic standards, and that it may long continue a vital part of that great institution which on American shores was rocked in the Cradle of Liberty by a Washington, a Franklin, a Hancock, and a Warren, and which, unaffected by war, persecution, fanaticism, infidelity, or even indifference, stands proudly in the light of Heaven, with not a marble fractured nor a pillar fallen.

75TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, SEPTEMBER 1947

From Proceedings, Page 1947-268:

By Brother Walter A. Blakley.

The history of any Lodge or organization is not complete unless some of the occurrences which led to the very organization itself are clearly understood.

Athol Lodge, A.F. & A. M., was formed out of rivalry between Athol Center, now known as Athol Highlands, and Athol Depot, now known as Athol. This rivalry among its citizens made it unavoidable that in a community so sensitive and so sharply divided, even a Masonic Lodge should feel the influence of the rivalry of the two sections.

Star Lodge was started quite largely through the work of some of the Brethren of the lower village. Its first meeting was held (under a dispensation granted July 4, 1864) on July 25, 1864, in Houghton's Block, where the Athol Savings Bank now stands. During the first year, the uptown members were in the majority and in a short time, June 26, 1865, it was voted to move to the new hall in the upper village, at 1479 Main Street, over the present Highland Hardware Company. This created quite a commotion. However, the Lodge continued to meet in the hall for several years before the rivalry between the two villages reached its acute stage. On March 25, 1872, a committee of twelve Brethren from each village was chosen "to consult together in regard to a separation and the formation of a new Lodge."

This committee reported that Star Lodge be divided; that the Lodge recommend the petition for a new Lodge; and the Lodge property be equally divided between Star Lodge and the petitioners for a new Lodge. The Lodge accepted this report and voted to recommend the petition of Erastus Smith, the Master, and forty-eight others for a new Lodge. Athol Lodge soon received its charter, and one of the earliest items of business recorded in the doings of Athol Lodge was the acceptance of the committee's report on the division of the property, valued at $669.11 — cash, $221, and furniture and other property, $447.15. Athol Lodge received at once in money and property $302.25, "leaving a balance due Athol Lodge of $32.30 besides one-half of all moneys due Star Lodge October 1, 1872 and not then collected."

It would seem that Athol Lodge retained the furniture of the hall while Star Lodge kept the jewels, as at the very first meeting of Athol Lodge, October 16, 1872, "the committee on finance reported that they had borrowed two hundred dollars of Brother C. A. Cook and the note had been signed by the Worshipful Master, and other Brothers of the Lodge."

Brother Cook was a jeweler, and at the same meeting, "the committee on purchase" reported that they had purchased jewels, etc. "for the Lodge." Brother L. B. Morse provided the lesser lights and Brother George L. Starron, the seal. Thus with a furnished Lodge room, a new set of jewels, and a debt of $200, Athol Lodge, working under the Dispensation from the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, held its first regular communication October 16, 1872, with Erastus Smith as Worshipful Master, Joseph A. Holton as Senior Warden, and Henry M. Humphrey as Junior Warden.

Athol Lodge was formed with forty charter members.

Early records of Athol Lodge were destroyed in the Music Hall Block fire on April 8, 1876, but through tireless work of the charter members, charred remains taken from the ruins after the fire, and returns previously sent to Grand Lodge were examined, and what seemed an impossibility, was thus obtained. Early records once more of the doings of the Lodge were again on file.

We might add that the amicable settlement and cordial acceptance of its results between Star Lodge and Athol Lodge afford a fine illustration of the right way to settle disagreements-the brotherly and friendly way which Masonry teaches.

Early records show that the small kerosene lamp was the standard method of illumination and had not entirely superseded candles. However, the record of December 4, 1878, shows that a committee was appointed to confer with the owners of Fuller Block to see "what can be done toward repairing the lodge room, also what could be done toward lighting with gas." The record of January 8, 1879 states that it was moved not to pipe for gas. There was neither public water supply nor sewer system at this time.

Athol Lodge was always conservative in regard to the making of new Masons. Its record of growth shows as follows:

  • 1872, 40 members
  • 1882, 85 members
  • 1892, 123 members
  • 1902, 130 members
  • 1912, 152 members
  • 1922, 232 members
  • 1934, 213 members
  • 1947, 216 members

The largest number of Masons made in any one year was in 1920, when there were thirty-five; 1925, with twenty-three; 1947, with twenty-two; and 1913, with twenty. Membership reached its peak in 1928 with 269, while in recent years the lowest number was 161 in 1938.

Finances of Athol Lodge have also had their ups and downs. As stated before, Athol Lodge began $200 in debt. On June 12th, 1877, a committee was empowered to raise money, by borrowing or otherwise, to meet the indebtedness of the Lodge, and on August 7th, this committee reported that they had borrowed $50 from Worshipful Master J. H. Haskins and had given a demand note therefor on the Lodge. This seems to have tided the Brethren through their financial shortage until the time came for removal to the hall in Brewer's Block, when the expenses mounted up, and we find that a little later the Lodge again borrowed money of Worshipful Brother Haskins, this time the note being $100.

The expense of furnishing the new hall amounted to more than was expected and the balance of $400 beyond the $1100 paid down was taken care of by a loan from Brother O. A. Fay. This indebtedness, however, was soon wiped out.

In 1881 the Treasurer's report listed a balance of ninety-eight cents in the treasury and bills due amounting to $62.96 on hand. In 1907 the Lodge was really in the money, a balance of $152.28 being shown. In 1920, $2,628.51 was taken in, while in 1947, total receipts were $2,765.84, which is the high mark for receipts in any single year. Athol Lodge continued from 1920 until the depression of the thirties in a very prosperous sort of way and it was not until 1930 that the dollars became fewer and the membership began to drop due to dimits, suspensions for non-payment of dues and lack of applications for membership. In 1926 the report shows that Athol Lodge had $546.46 in the treasury, with $1142.99 in the permanent fund.

The first mention of salary of the Secretary is Nov. 6, 1884, when it was voted to pay Secretary J. A. Holton $5 for his past year's services. In 1887 the salary of the Secretary was made $25.00 a year. In October, 1920, the salary of the Secretary was made on a basis of twenty cents a member.

In 1911 it was voted to establish a permanent fund and it was voted that ten per cent of the money annually collected by the Lodge should be put in this fund, which should remain undisturbed unless taken for some special purpose by a special vote of the Lodge. It was provided that at least a month's notice must be given of the intention to expend any of this money, and that it should then only be taken on two-thirds vote of the members present. This fund was added to year after year until in 1930 it had amounted to $1352.62. As is always the case when money is involved, the Brethren are very anxious to find ways and means of disposing of it, and at various times it was proposed that this permanent fund be changed to a building fund, but in all cases, the records show that this was turned down by the Brethren. Later this ten per cent of the money annually collected by the Lodge was changed to read that all money in excess of $300.00 at the end of the fiscal year be turned over to the fund. 1931 was the first year in which any large amount was taken from this fund, when the amount of $600.00 was withdrawn for running expenses.

The dues of Athol Lodge were raised from $2.00 to $4.00 a year October 1, 1914, and on September 25, 1924, it was raised to $5.00 per year. On May 28, 1931, a vote was taken to raise the dues to $7.00 annually, but this recommendation was defeated. The initiation fee was raised from $20.00 to $30.00 in 1914, while on April 28, 1927, it was raised to $40.00, and May 28, 1931, it was raised to its present rate of $50.00.

Athol Lodge has had three homes. When Star Lodge voted to move to the lower village, which was the beginning of Athol Lodge, and the amicable division of the property, the lease was transferred to Athol Lodge and the hall was occupied for a dozen years at 1479 Main Street, however, not without some annoyance, for in 1880 "it was voted to withhold the rent until the building is repaired so as to protect said rooms from damage by rain and snow." We find that in 1881 the Lodge voted thanks be extended to Brothers Brooks and Cheney for assistance in putting in fixtures for illumination with gas.

In 1882 the Brethren had become somewhat dissatisfied with the quarters and listened to Brother George S. Brewer, who was building a block on the corner of Main and Chestnut Streets, where the Bemis Bakery is now located. It was voted to lease these apartments, and on July 27, 1885, the first meeting of the Lodge was held in the new quarters. On December 11, 1885, the rooms were dedicated with appropriate ceremonies.

The occupation of this hall was indeed a notable event, Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, Abraham H. Howland of New Bedford being in charge of the ceremonies. More than three hundred were present to enjoy the event, along with a dinner consisting of cold turkey, canned tongue, chicken and lobster salads, ice cream, etc.

In 1890 Brother Brewer was asked to put water in the building for the use of the Brethren.

On December 24, 1890, a vote of the Lodge extended the use of the lodge-rooms to Star Lodge, which had just lost its hall by fire. Star Lodge accepted the offer and used the hall once, but later made arrangements with the Chapter and Commandery for the use of a hall in the lower village.

In 1895 a committee was appointed to see about lighting the hall with electricity. However, the committee reported that the company would not wire this portion of the town this year, and the matter was dropped.

On January 22, 1913, a committee from Star Lodge made a proposal to lease lodge-rooms in the new block then being built by L. S. Starrett, at a rental of ?250 per year. This proposition was accepted, and it was voted to sell the Lodge property. The sum of ?358.79 was taken in by the sale.

The first meeting was held in the new quarters on May 7, 1914, and Athol Lodge had the honor of raising the first three Masons in the new lodge-room.

Only twice has anything interfered with the regular meetings of Athol Lodge. In October, 1918, the "flu" was abroad in the land and all public meetings of every sort were prohibited. The election of officers occurred a month later, in November, under special dispensation. Again, on September 22, 1938, the New England flood and hurricane caused the annual meeting to be postponed, and by special dispensation of the Grand Master, this meeting was held on October 6th.

During the 1938 flood and hurricane, two Athol Lodge Brethren received severe losses — Brother Lester Lincoln, the loss of his laundry business, and Brother Oakley Whitney, of Orange, Massachusetts, the loss of his greenhouse. World War II, which was declared in December, 1941, caused Athol Lodge a number of headaches, due to the loss of a number of its members and officers to the Armed Services. As in the past, Athol Past Masters picked up the reins and by their combined efforts, Athol Lodge came through the war years with flying colors and was returned to the Brethren and servicemen without a blemish.

Henry Marton Humphrey was the first District Deputy Grand Master from Athol Lodge. During the past twenty-five years, Athol Lodge has been very proud and honored with the appointment of two of its members as District Deputy Grand Masters of the 13th Barre District. The first Athol Lodge member to receive this honor was Worshipful Frank W. Wilson in 1931, and the last member to be appointed, Worshipful George G. Engel. "George," as he is known by his Brethren, has certainly done his part in upholding At hoi Lodge in Masonry, having been Master in 1942-43, Secretary in 1944-45, Past Master of the Lodge of Instruction and Past District Deputy Grand Master within the short space of time. In addition to this, he has filled in at the various stations in the lodge-room when needed.

Those serving as Worshipful Master of Athol Lodge during the past twenty-five years are: Earl B. Hubley, 1922, Andrew J. Wall, 1923, George M. Dodge, 1924, Frank W. Wilson, 1925, Reginald A. Siddons, 1926, Raymond H. Watson, 1927, Leon C. Allen, 1928, Nathaniel A. Cutler, 1929, Charles E. MacMannis, Jr., 1930, Chester L. Anderson, 1931, F. Russell Dame, 1932, Rodney S. Wilson, 1933, Arthur H. Saunders, 1934, William A. Thorp, 1935, Warren C. Karner, 1936, Carl G. Christiansen, 1937, George L. Wonsey, 1938, Joseph H. Ellinwood, 1939, David F. Hoyt, 1940, Franklin L. Sutton, 1941, George G. Engel, 1942-43, Clarence L. Lincoln, 1944, Myron A. Smith, 1945, Courtland B. Fitch, 1946, and Finley J. Parks, our present Master.

Athol Lodge's fiftieth anniversary celebration was held on September 9, 10 and 11, 1922. On September 9, an outdoor meeting was held at Lakeside in the afternoon, featured by a clambake attended by over three hundred Masons. On September 10, Divine Services were held at the Congregational Church, with eighty Masons in attendance. The big event of the anniversary came on September 11th in the lodge-room, when, with 156 Masons in attendance, the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Arthur D. Prince, unable to be in attendance, was represented by Right Worshipful Dudley H. Ferrell, Deputy Grand Master, and his Suite. Rev. R. Perry Bush, Grand Chaplain, gave the prayer; musical selections were furnished by the Hayden Male Quartet; and an historical address was given by Winfield H. Brock, followed by an address by Deputy Grand Master Dudley H. Ferrell. Worshipful Earl B. Hubley was the presiding Master.

Several times during the past seventy-five years, it has been the privilege of a Worshipful Master or a Past Master to raise his own son in Athol Lodge. In September, 1946, Worshipful Chester L. Anderson raised his son Chester L. Anderson, Jr. However, the most colorful and inspiring meeting was on December 17, 1931, when Worshipful Andrew J. Wall, one of Athol's most loyal Past Masters, raised his son Gardiner T. and also presented him with a Masonic pin which had been in the Wall family for five generations.

Winfield H. Brock, Historian at the fiftieth anniversary, died on September 18, 1936. We also have four Past Masters who served Athol Lodge during the past twenty-five years who are no longer with us—Leon C. Allen, 1928, Nathaniel A. Cutler, 1929, F. Russell Dame, 1932, and Arthur H. Saunders, 1934. We were also saddened this past year by the death of Worshipful Fred Cobb, Master in 1907.

Even during Athol Lodge's dark days of 1931 and 1932, the Brethren looked to the future, as the records say that a committee consisting of Wor. Leon C. Allen, Wor. Chester L. Anderson and Wor. Andrew J. Wall was appointed to meet with a like number from Star Lodge to discuss the possibility of purchase of the Metropolitan Camp Goods Company building on Marble Street as a home. This was on January 28, 1932, and as no further record refers to this committee, it must be assumed that it was not advisable to purchase.

One of the Lodge's highlights came on April 28, 1932, when we were honored by the visit of Right Worshipful Frederick W. Hamilton, Grand Secretary, who gave an interesting lecture on Masonic activities of the Grand Lodge.

On February 21, 1932, one of the most interesting services ever observed by Athol Lodge and Star Lodge was held in honor of the 200 hundredth birthday of George Washington. Dr. F. Russell Dame of Athol Lodge spoke a few words in welcome and pointed out that many of the great men who had been credited with the beginnings of this great nation have been members of this organization. Worshipful Charles C. Brown, Master of Star Lodge, introduced Winfield H. Brock, who in turn presented William G. Lord, who spoke on Washington the Statesman. He spoke of the trials of seven years of war; also of the formation of our government and Washington as President. One of the local points of interest showed that imprisonment for debt was provided by statute and many an honorable man with considerable tangible property languished in jail for a debt he would gladly pay. It was the Selectmen of Athol who took the initial step by petitioning the courts at Worcester to adjourn, awaiting more normal conditions, without consideration of the cases on the docket. What ensued is a matter of history. The petition being refused, armed mobs prevented the setting of the courts and civil war raged all over Western Massachusetts until Daniel Shays and his "army" were surprised on Petersham Common on February 4, 1787, and scurrying northward through Athol and Royalston, made their escape into the Ashuelot Valley in New Hampshire.

Washington's reaction to the news of this occurrence was to withdraw his objections for an immediate reorganized general government as premature or inadvisable and to accept the twice declined membership of the Virginia delegation.

Rev. Frank B. Crandall, Pastor of the First Church' Unitarian, Dr. Daniel I. Gross, Pastor of the Congregational Church, and Past Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Maine and Chaplain of Athol Lodge, and Rev. Wellington Pixler, Pastor of the Starrett Memorial Church, also spoke on the subject, Washington, the Mason.

In closing, it is most fitting that we pay honor to Athol Lodge's Past Masters, as it is through them that our Lodge has survived the past seventy-five years and we hope will continue to live and grow until September 11, 1972, when the records will show that one hundred years of Masonry will have been completed. This can only be accomplished through the wisdom of our Past Masters, who pass this wisdom on to others as a father to a son.

CENTENARY HISTORY, SEPTEMBER 1972

From Proceedings, Page 1972-274:

From 1947 to 1972
By Right Worshipful Rodney S. Wilson.

(Detailed histories of Athol Lodge for the earlier periods may be found in the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts as follows: 1922, pages 254-283; 1947, pages 268-276)

The program of the 75th Anniversary of Athol Lodge was as follows: Reception of the Grand Lodge officers, after which the Grand Master, Most Worshipful Samuel H. Wragg, presided during the remainder of the evening. (1947 Mass. 265—276)

The exercises opened with songs by the Grotto Glee Club of Worcester. An interesting history of Athol Lodge was read by Brother Walter A. Blakley, the Secretary of the Lodge. Following selections on the organ by Worshipful Rodney S. Wilson, organist of the Lodge, the Grand Master addressed the brethren in his usual instructive and inspiring manner. Brother Willis A. Ellis, Senior Deacon of the Lodge, presented the Lodge with a gavel and set of batons. The Secretary called the roll of the twenty-five year members of Athol Lodge and about fifty of the eighty-five responded. Several of the Grand Lodge officers were called upon to speak and after words of appreciation by the Master of Athol Lodge to the Grand Master for his presence and to the committees for their loyal assistance, the Grand Master closed the Grand Lodge and Athol Lodge in Ample Form at ten minutes before ten o'clock. Pray.er was offered by Worshipful and Reverend John Hoon, Grand Chaplain, following the singing of "The Lord's Prayer" by Brother Kenneth A. Morris.

Several times through the years it has been the privilege of a Worshipful Master or a Past Master to raise his own son in Athol Lodge. On December 17, 1931, a fine meeting was held when Worshipful Andrew J. Wall, one of Athol Lodge's most loyal Past Masters, raised his son, Gardiner F. Wall, to the degree of Master Mason and presented him a Masonic pin which had been in the Wall family for five generations. In September, 1946, Worshipful Chester L. Anderson raised his son, Chester L. Anderson, Jr., to the degree of Master Mason.

The brethren of Athol Lodge, even as far back as 1931 and 1932, when things didn't look too good, were thinking of the future, and a committee of Past Masters was appointed to meet with a like committee from Star Lodge to discuss the possibility of the purchase of the Metropolitan Camp Goods Company building on Marble Street as a home. This was on January 28, 1932 and as no further record refers to this committee, it must be assumed that it was not advisable to purchase this property.

In reading the records in the book that started with the Master's report August 31, 1955, one of the first items noticed was the death of Right Worshipful Frank W. Wilson. October 6, 1955 was the installation of officers in Athol Lodge and this seemed to be one year in many years in Athol Lodge that Worshipful Rodney S. Wilson was not installed as organist of the Lodge. This station was filled by Brother Clifford L. Adams.

On January 20, 1956 a committee of Past Masters escorted District Deputy Grand Master, William G. Thorp, into the Lodge-room. He was presented to the Worshipful Master by his father, Worshipful William A. Thorp. Later the District Deputy presented a 50-year Medal and Lapel Pin to Brother Ernest E. Williams and this Brother was accorded a standing ovation at the close of the presentation.

Brother Charles B. Bemis was not present to receive his medal so Right Worshipful Brother Thorp presented his medal on January 30, 1956 with Worshipful Warren W. Janes and Brother Chester Bemis present. He was given the medal in the same spot where he received his degrees—that is in the old Masonic Hall above the Bemis store. Brother Bemis was very pleased with this presentation.

The Starrett Craftsmen, an organization formed by the Masonic Brothers who were employed at the L. S. Starrett Company, were very busy during some of these years and worked several times in Athol Lodge as well as other Lodges in surrounding towns. Their work was always done in a fine and impressive manner.

On January 15, 1960 Brother Warren C. Wilson was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason by his father, Worshipful Rodney S. Wilson. Another pleasant occasion for a father and son.

Again looking to the future, a building committee from Athol Lodge was appointed on December 16, 1960 to confer with a similar committee from the other Blue Lodges in Athol and Orange to consider a new location for the groups mentioned. Reported on March 17, 1961 that nothing was heard from Star Lodge committee.

On April 8, 1961, a big event for both the Athol and Star Lodges along with the Starrett Craftsmen took place. Two bus loads left the Starratt Company parking lot to go to Newington, Connecticut. Stopped at the Pratt and Whitney Machine Plant in West Hartford, Connecticut; then a tour of Centennial Hall and a dinner at 6 o'clock. The busses then proceeded to the new quarters of Sequin Lodge No. 140, Newington, Connecticut, where the Athol Lodge officers were received and under a dispensation from the Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, the first section of the third degree was worked on George Stewart Geikie by the Athol Lodge officers. Recess at 8:30 and at 8:45 the Starrett Craftsmen were introduced and the work of the third degree was completed. Lunch was served at 11 p.m. at Pratt & Whitney Club. Arrived in Athol at 2 a.m., following a long and busy Masonic day.

On April 21, 1961 the building committee of Star Lodge not yet ready to act at this time, Orange Lodge would be represented if a joint meeting is to be held. It was agreed that Athol and Star Lodges should work together on any project and the opinions should be sought from all the brethren of the Lodges.

OnDecember8, 1961 a meeting to consider forming a corporation to acquire new quarters in Athol was held in Gardner to get information from a committee of Hope Lodge who had already had the experience of making a new home for their Lodge.

Several items of interest to Athol Lodge in 1962 as recorded in the minutes were:

  • January 18, 1962 — Orange Lodge was invited to work their candidate in the first degree in'Athol Lodge as fire damages in Orange Lodge building had not been repaired.
  • March 31, 1962 — A trip to Golden Rule Lodge in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, on invitation of Brother Barney A. Stearns, was taken to witness a third degree and a fine evening was enjoyed by many brothers from Athol Lodge.
  • September 21,1962 —The Athol Masonic Charity and Education Society received its charter and is now ready to take any action necessary in connection with the acquiring of new quarters for the Masonic Bodies of Athol.

Moving along in the history of Athol Lodge and the town of Athol itself, we come to the Bi-centennial Celebration which was a big event in the town and for the Masons of Athol and surrounding towns as they were well represented marching in the big parade and also with a fine Masonic float which was constructed by Brother Preston Hay ward. We had a Scottish band with Commandery men from Massachusetts and Rhode Island escorting the Blue Lodge officers and members, and the colorful units from Melha Shrine of Springfield, were also here.

On January 21, 1966 Worshipful Harry A. Mildonian explained the proposition of the purchase of the former United States Post Office Building at the corner of Main and Church Streets for a Masonic Temple. A motion to ratify any action taken by the Athol Masonic Charity and Education Society, Inc., now or at a future date as to the purchase of the proposed property, was voted on and carried.

February 18, 1966 — A motion was read to be voted on at the March meeting for Athol Lodge, to give $1,500. to the Athol Masonic Charity and Educational Society towards the purchase of the old Post Office Building, and on March 18, 1966 it was voted unanimously to transfer $1,500. from the permanent fund.

November 5, 1966 was another pleasant evening for a father and son when Worshipful Rodney S. Wilson had the great pleasure of installing his son, Warren C. Wilson, as Master of Athol Lodge. Other Past Masters on the installing suite were Worshipful Brothers Clyde McKay, Richard E. Kimball and John H. Nelson.

On April 21, 1967 a motion was made to take $5,000. from the permanent fund for the Athol Charity and Educational Society towards the necessary construction in the renovation of the building for a Masonic Temple and this motion was voted in May, 1967, by a unanimous vote.

On September 29, 1967 at the installation of Athol Lodge, Worshipful Warren C. Wilson received the jewel which was worn by his grandfather as Master of Athol Lodge which sets a record for three generations of Masters of Athol Lodge.

On March 15, 1968, Right Worshipful Wesley Boutelle was received in Athol Lodge for the purpose of presenting Worshipful Brother George M. Dodge with a Fifty-year Medal from the Grand Lodge. Worshipful Brother Dodge had been a great worker for the good of Athol Lodge for all of those fifty years.

On April 19, 1968, Worshipful Harry A. Mildonian gave a report of the activities of the building committee and asked for some work-parties to help with some of the tasks to be accomplished there. OnJune21, 1968, Athol Lodge was duly organized and opened in form at 7:30 p.m. This Communication was the first official Blue Lodge Communication held at the new Masonic Temple. It was held in the room which was to be the Lodge-room but at this time was a long ways from being finished, but our regular meeting was conducted as usual with the brethren sitting about on chairs in the incomplete surroundings. We even had music — not on the Hammond organ — but by Worshipful Rodney S. Wilson playing his accordion. Election of officers for 1968-1969 was also held and a collation was served among the rubbish of the Temple. There were 34 officers and brethren present at this first important meeting of Athol Lodge in the new home of Masons in Athol.

On December 20, 1968 the last meeting of the Lodge in the Starrett Building was held and already many things had been moved, or packed ready to move, and we look back with some thoughts of sadness as we remember all of the pleasant occasions that have transpired in these quarters and remember well the brothers who are no longer with us, but we must look ahead to the future.

In the last days of 1968 there was much to be done so that we might be ready in January, 1969 to hold our meeting in our new Masonic Temple in Athol. We cannot say too much in praise and thanks to the many who helped in the work of tearing down the old, and building up the new, to make our quarters in the new Temple what they are today. Much of the work done at the Temple by those experienced in carpentry, plumbing, painting, glazing, etc., was a big saving in money and our thanks should be given to these men, and at the risk of leaving out someone's name, I would like to list the following for their part in this work: Brothers Carl H. Christianson, Lawrence W. Irving, Harry A. Mildonian, William G. Thorp, Richard T. Smith, LeRoy H. Thayer, George G. Winters, Warren C. Wilson, Preston Hayward, Chester Graham, H. Burton Taylor, Richard Pease, and Durwood Cole.

The dedication of the Temple was held Saturday, October 11, 1969 at three o'clock with the Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, Most Worshipful Herbert H. Jaynes, and a distinguished Suite of Grand Lodge officers, and the dedication was done in a very impressive manner. (1969 Mass. 280-284) The program was presented as follows:

  • Welcome by Worshipful Edward C. Carver, Master of Athol Lodge and Worshipful Francis W. Foster, Master of Star Lodge.
  • Reception of Grand Master and Suite
  • Dedication of the Temple
  • Soloist, Keith C. Hatfield; Organist, E. Ellsworth Chase
  • At five o'clock dinner was served at the Athol High School
  • On Sunday, October 12, 1969 the public was invited to an Open House at the Temple from 2-6 p.m. and refreshments were served.

In the last 25 years Athol Lodge has been honored again with the appointment of two more Worshipful Masters as the District Deputy Grand Master for Barre Thirteenth Masonic District: Worshipful William G. Thorp, 1955, 1956; Worshipful Rodney S. Wilson, 1970, 1971. One of the pleasant duties of a District Deputy is the presentation of Fifty-year Grand Lodge medals and Lapel Pins to those Brothers in the District entitled, and in the last 25 years there were many of these pleasant occasions.

On January 15, 1971, it was the pleasure of the District Deputy to present a Fifty-year Medal on behalf of the Grand Lodge of the State of Maine, to Brother George G. Winters. Brother Winters was raised in Davis Lodge No. 191 located in Strong, Maine, and is now a member of Athol Lodge.

On June 16, 1971, the District Deputy had the great pleasure of raising his youngest son, John Steven Wilson, to the sublime degree of Master Mason, and he was ably assisted by his District Deputy Grand Marshal, who is his other son, Worshipful Warren C. Wilson.

In a little over three months from the date of Athol Lodge's one hundredth anniversary, we will have been in this new Masonic Temple for four years, and many fine meetings have been held here by all the bodies of Masonry, both in working degrees and also social functions held in the Lodge and dining rooms.

Athol and Star Lodges have worked together in many of these endeavors, such as our Poverty Suppers which have been enjoyed by many Brothers and their wives, as well as invited guests, and we have had some fine entertainment on these many occasions. Some of the Brothers, today, belong to both Athol and Star Lodges and all work in harmony to promote Masonry in our town.

OTHER

  • 1872 (Petition regarding relocation of Star Lodge)
  • 1879 (District exemplification)

EVENTS

CONSTITUTION OF LODGE, OCTOBER 1873

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXXII, No. 11, November 1873, Page 346:

A second Lodge was constituted at this pleasant and thriving village by the M. W. Grand Lodge of this Commonwealth, on Thursday, 23d of October, under the name of Athol. The Lodge had been working for the past year under a Dispensation from the Grand Master, with great success, and is now undoubtedly one of the most promising and respectable Lodges in the western part of the State. The officers of the Grand Lodge present were:

The Lodge was constituted in the afternoon, the Grand Lodge reaching the town about the usual dining hour, and wishing to return to the city by the evening train. At the conclusion of the constituting ceremonies the officers were installed. We have not a complete list, but give the names of the Master, Wardens and Secretary as follows: Erastus Smith, W. Master; Joseph A. Holton, S. Warden; H. M. Humphrey, Jr. Warden ; Enoch T. Lewis, Secretary.

The Lodge is located in the upper village, which is one of the most pleasant in the State, and its prospects are as encouraging as could be desired. At the conclusion of the installation services, the Grand Master addressed the brethren composing it on their general duties, and the importance of keeping their Lodge distinct from and disconnected with any of the thousand and one ephemeral secret societies with which the country is flooded, to the prejudice if not to the great injury of the Masonic fraternity, to which they bear no relation whatever. We regret that we have not room for a full report of this excellent address, for it might be profitably read in all our Lodges.

INSTALLATION, OCTOBER 1984

From TROWEL, Spring 1985, Page 24:

On October 20, 1984, Wor. Charles F. Whitaker, Master of Athol Lodge, A. F. & A. M., installed Bro. Albert H. Whitaker as Master of Star Lodge, A. F. & A. M., of Athol; both men are now serving as Masters of their respective Lodges in the Barre 13th District.

The usual format is for the father to be installing the son, but in this case it was the son installing the father. 'Junior' is also Master of the 30th Lodge of Instruction in that area. 'Senior' had been raised in 1948 in James Mair Lodge No. 729, Mars, PA.

Assisting in the installation were R .W. Edward T. Thompson as Installing Marshal and Wor. Frank Rota as Installing Chaplain. A special charge was delivered by R. W. Francis A. Buckley.

GRAND LODGE OFFICERS


DISTRICTS

1872: District 8 (Greenfield)

1883: District 12 (Fitchburg)

1911: District 13 (Fitchburg)

1927: District 13 (Barre)


LINKS

North Quabbin Lodge web site

Massachusetts Lodges