Belcher

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BELCHER LODGE

Location: Chicopee Falls

Chartered By: William Sewall Gardner

Charter Date: 09/13/1871 1871-150

Precedence Date: 07/09/1870

Current Status: merged with Elm Lodge to form Elm-Belcher Lodge, 11/17/1988.


PAST MASTERS

  • Benjamin Belcher, 1872-1874
  • Edgar T. Paige, 1875, 1876
  • James Flint, 1877, 1878
  • Charles O. Shaw, 1879, 1880
  • Nathaniel Clark, 1881, 1882
  • Alfred Langeway, 1883, 1884
  • John W. Woods, 1885, 1886
  • Charles O. Shaw, 1887
  • George W. Whitehouse 1888, 1889
  • George W. D. Lyon, 1890-1893
  • John W. Belcher, 1894
  • Albert E. Taylor, 1895, 1896; N
  • Woodman S. Page, 1897, 1898
  • Edward H. Elder, 1899
  • George H. Hathaway, 1900
  • Edward C. Page, 1901
  • Clarence A. Brodeur, 1902
  • Duffield Miles, 1903
  • Oscar B. Elder, 1904, 1905
  • Edward S. Taylor, 1906
  • Charles A. Smith, 1907
  • Clarence K. Smith, 1908
  • Edwin L. Davis, 1909
  • Robert H. Fay, 1910
  • Karl V. Schadee, 1911
  • Frank S. Woodhall, 1912
  • Albert F. Crowther, 1913; SN
  • Charles R. Loveland, 1914
  • Francis S. Nelson, 1915
  • John W. Valler, 1916
  • James Shaw, 1917
  • Henry I. Burnett, 1918
  • Roy Perry Miles, 1919
  • Edward C. Sheldon, 1920
  • William H. Phinney, 1921
  • Arthur C. Tovey, 1922
  • Charles J. Bolingbroke, 1923
  • Colonel E. Holgate, 1924
  • Frank P. Beardsell, 1925; N
  • Charles L. Wells, 1926
  • George E. C. Kelly, 1927
  • John Fairley, 1928
  • Karl Woodman Page, 1929
  • Henry Hulton, 1930
  • Albert Edwin Davis, 1931
  • Paul Wesley Osborne Sr., 1932
  • Elmore L. Pahl, 1933
  • Louis W. Bartlett, 1934
  • Alexander R. Dunbar, 1935, 1945; N
  • Wallace S. Phinney, 1936
  • David G. West, 1937
  • Arthur Johnson, 1938
  • L. J. Hockenberry, 1939
  • Otto R. Vail, 1940
  • William Donnelly, 1941
  • Ronald D. Rogers, 1942
  • Robert F. Fay Jr., 1943
  • Frederick E. Aggerup, 1944
  • Ronald D. Rogers, 1945
  • Edwin A. Hulton, 1946, 1947
  • John Hassapelis, 1948
  • Peter F. Scott, 1949
  • Clifford A. Bergquist, 1950
  • Joseph Jardine, 1951
  • David M. Lindsay, 1952
  • George C. Conable, 1953
  • Harold E. Messer, 1954
  • Roland I. Outhuse, 1955
  • Edward H. Pollack, 1956
  • Erwin T. Mellor, 1957
  • Harold Wainwright, 1958
  • James C. Fettes Jr., 1959; SN
  • George R. Fettes Sr., 1960
  • John R. T. Duncan, 1961
  • Edward T. Kalagian, 1962
  • Douglas D. Watt, 1963
  • Donald J. Lohnes, 1964, 1967; N
  • Robert B. Richardson, 1965
  • Arthur J. Levesque Jr., 1966
  • Reginald Levesque, 1968, 1975
  • Ralph F. Haywood, 1969
  • William E. Gibbs, 1970
  • Albert C. Kennedy, 1971
  • George Leocopoulos, 1972
  • John Hassapelis, 1973, 1974
  • Alexander E. Nicoll, 1976
  • William R. Duxbury, 1977
  • James D. Donnelly, 1978
  • Ralph F. Haywood, 1979
  • Thomas L. Nitsch, 1982, 1983
  • Leslie P. Lohnes, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985
  • Leonard G. Ward, 1986
  • Robert E. Shaw, 1987
  • Robert H. Merkel, 1988

REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS

ANNIVERSARIES

  • 1945 (75th Anniversary)
  • 1970 (Centenary)

VISITS BY GRAND MASTER

BY-LAW CHANGES

1878 1894 1908 1909 1912 1916 1924 1929 1934 1938 1953 1974 1975 1980

HISTORY

  • 1870 (Petition for Dispensation, 07/06)
  • 1871 (Petition for Charter, 09/13; granted; constituted by District Deputy William J. Sawin)
  • 1945 (75th Anniversary History, 1945-135; see below)
  • 1970 (Centenary History, 1970-210; see below)
  • 1988 (Petition to consolidate with Elm Lodge, as Elm-Belcher, 09/14; granted.)

75TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, MAY 1945

From Proceedings, Page 1945-135:

By Right Worshipful Edwin Lyman Davis.

FORMATION

In the general scheme of the Almighty, seventy-five years is but a brief span of time, yet it represents the activities of a considerable number of His creatures in their attempt to carry out, in their limited way, the plans laid down on the Trestle-board.

The founders of Belcher 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 in the community.

During the summer of 1870, a number of the members of Chicopee Lodge who resided in the Falls met in the office of the Lamb Knitting Machine Company and discussed the advisability of requesting the Grand Lodge to issue a dispensation for a Lodge at Chicopee Falls. The outcome of the meeting was a unanimous vote of those present to make the request.

A dispensation was granted by Most Worshipful William Sewall Gardner, Grand Master, on July 9, 1870, returnable in September, 1871. This request for dispensation was signed by thirty-five petitioners, to wit:

  • Benjamin Belcher
  • John W. Belcher
  • Andrew P. Chapin
  • Samuel B. Cook
  • Henry J. Davey
  • Edward L. Foss
  • James C. Gassner
  • William H. Gilbert
  • J. B. Goff
  • Moses Gowen
  • Albert C. Hancock
  • Enoch V. B. Holcomb
  • Erasmus D. King
  • H. M. Kinney
  • S. R. Lucas
  • Andrew Lucas
  • W. H. Mayberry
  • John M. Morse
  • Eugene Munn
  • George W. Newell
  • H. Smith Newell
  • James H. Osgood
  • Thomas C. Page
  • Albert Perkins
  • L. M. Pierce
  • William Rhodes
  • Edmund Richards
  • Richard A. Russell
  • William J. Sawin
  • Phineas W. Smith
  • David E. Taylor
  • George S. Taylor
  • James E. Taylor
  • Bailey West
  • Charles J. Williams

This document reads substantially as follows:

To the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

We, the undersigned, being Master Masons of good standing, and having the prosperity of the Craft at heart, are anxious to exert our best endeavors to promote and diffuse the genuine principles of Freemasonry; and, for the convenience of our respective dwellings and other good reasons, we are desirous of forming a new Lodge, to be named BELCHER, We, therefore, with the approbation of the District Deputy Grand Master of the Lodge nearest our residence, respectfully pray for a Dispensation, empowering us to meet as a regular Lodge, at Chicopee Falls on the first Monday of each month and there to discharge the duties of Ancient York Masonry, in a constitutional manner, according to the forms of the Order and the laws of the Grand Lodge. And we have nominated and do recommend Brother Benjamin Belcher to be the first Master, Brother W. H. Gilbert to be the first Senior Warden and Brother Hancock to be the first Junior Warden of said Lodge. The prayer of this petition being granted, we promise strict obedience to the commands of the Grand Master, and laws and regulations of the Grand Lodge.

Approved July 9, 1870
William Sewall Gardner, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts.
Attest: Solon Thornton, Recording Grand Secretary.

The first meeting of the Lodge U.D. was held August 1,1870, in the Pierce Block on Main Street, then known as Mitchell's Bakery, and in the hall now occupied by The Improved Order of Red Men.

In his report to the Grand Master, Right Worshipful Samuel B. Spooner, District Deputy Grand Master, said: "Belcher Lodge at Chicopee Falls, now under dispensation has provided itself a hall second in taste and commodiousness to none in this portion of the State while its working force is developing a proficiency, energy and liberality, no less marked." These comments are as applicable today as when written seventy-five years ago. Long may we enjoy the privileges of such splendid encomiums from our Brethren.

Petitions for the degrees were received from Mervin H. Barnes, Edgar T. Paige and Alfred B. Ellsworth. At a subsequent communication, these petitioners were elected and Brother Edgar T. Paige, the first candidate initiated by the Lodge, became its second Worshipful Master, Worshipful Benjamin Belcher having held that office under dispensation and during the years 1871-1874 inclusive.

September 28, 1871, an informal meeting of the members of the Lodge was held for the purpose of perfecting plans for the constitution of the Lodge and installation of its officers. The meeting was called to order by Worshipful William J. Sawin, who had been appointed District Deputy Grand Master for the 10th Masonic District. Brother E. V. B. Holcomb was chosen Chairman and Brother W. H. Gilbert, Secretary. The following officers were elected for the ensuing year:

  • Benjamin Belcher, Worshipful Master
  • William H. Gilbert, Senior Warden
  • Albert C. Hancock, Junior Warden
  • James E. Taylor, Treasurer
  • Arthur B. West, Secretary

The Worshipful Master-elect appointed the following officers to be installed when the Lodge was constituted:

  • Bro. George S. Taylor, Chaplain
  • Bro. David E. Taylor, Marshal
  • Wor. Thomas C. Page, Senior Deacon
  • Bro. Albert Perkins, Junior Deacon
  • Wor. Phineas W. Smith, Senior Steward

" Bro. John M. Morse, Junior Steward " Bro. Samuel B. Clark, Tyler

Following the ceremonies of constitution, the lodge-room was dedicated to Masonic use in due and ancient form. The charter members of the lodge were as follows:

  • Benjamin Belcher
  • John W. Belcher
  • Andrew P. Chapin
  • Samuel B. Cook
  • Henry J. Davey
  • Edward L. Foss
  • James C. Gassner
  • William H. Gilbert
  • Moses Gowen
  • Albert C. Hancock
  • Enoch V. B. Holcomb
  • Erasmus D. King
  • H. M. Kinney
  • John M. Morse
  • Eugene Munn
  • George W. Newell
  • H. Smith Newell
  • James H. Osgood
  • Thomas C. Page
  • Albert Perkins
  • William Rhodes
  • Edmund Richards
  • Richard A. Russell
  • William J. Sawin
  • Phineas W. Smith
  • David E. Taylor
  • George S. Taylor
  • James E. Taylor
  • Bailey West
  • Charles J. Williams

The first code of By-Laws was drafted by Right Worshipful William J. Sawin, Worshipful Thomas C. Page and Brother James H. Osgood, and the seal of the Lodge was designed by Brother James E. Taylor.

BENJAMIN BELCHER 1831-1885

May 22, 1885, a special communication was called for the purpose of arranging for the funeral of Worshipful Benjamin Belcher, the first Master of Belcher Lodge, who died May 21, 1885.

Worshipful Benjamin Belcher was born in 1831, son of John W. Belcher and grandson of Benjamin Belcher, who was one of the original settlers on the Chicopee River and whose farm covered most of the site of the present village of Chicopee Falls. Brother Belcher early in life entered into business, and ir August, 1849, went to New York City, where he remained until December, 1855, when he returned to Chicopee Falls as bookkeeper and assistant in the firm of Whittemore, Belcher & Company, of which his father was then a member. He also became a member of the firm in January, 1859, and so continued until January 1, 1875, when the firm dissolved and he became the senior partner in the firm of B. & J. W. Belcher, and so continued until his death. He took a deep interest in Masonic affairs and was one of the founders and the first Master of Belcher Lodge, which office he held for four consecutive years, during the formative period of the Lodge, and his business ability and judgment were of inestimable value to the Lodge and to his Brethren. Belcher Lodge was named in honor of his grandfather, Benjamin Belcher, and at the regular communication of the Lodge held July 6, 1885, Brother George S. Taylor, in behalf of Mrs. Belcher, presented to the Lodge the regalia, consisting of apron, scarf and trowel, of our late Worshipful Brother Belcher's grandfather, for whom this Lodge was named. This regalia was framed and for many years hung in the lodge-room in Pierce's Block on Main Street. It now hangs in the main hall of the lodge-room floor of the new Temple and is one of our most valuable possessions.

NEW HALL, 1909

At the May, 1909, communication, a previously appointed committee reported as follows:

At the last Regular Communication the committee were given power to purchase the Mulvaney property at an amount not exceeding $8,000. The following week Wor. Thomas C. Page offered his property to the Committee at a price of $12,000.00.

After careful examination of the Mulvaney house and plans for an extension and repairs it was found that the cost would reach $15,000. and it was the opinion of a portion of the committee that the house should be moved about fifty feet from its present position which would add something over $2,000. to the above amount. Your committee have also procured plans and a contractor's estimate for a new building to be placed upon any suitable lot as shown in plan #2 the complete price of which $17,254.00 exclusive of lot, heating and lighting which complete would reach a total of about $20,000. The Page house to build cost $22,000 and a prominent builder, after looking over the property said he could not duplicate it for $25,000. The land is assessed at $4,000. A conservative estimate of the value of the property at present is $330,000.

Under the minimum expense plan the property can be acquired for $12,000 plus alterations of $1,500. We therefore, recommend that Belcher Lodge rescind the vote to purchase the Mulvaney property and advise the purchase of the Page property at $12,000 and that the committee be given another month to present further plans for your consideration and acceptance.

The committee's report was accepted and they were authorized at once to purchase the Page property.

July 6, 1909, the committee reported that they had purchased the Page property and it was voted that they go ahead with the alterations as submitted in plans Nos. 1 and 2, at an expense not to exceed $2,000.

Worshipful Edward H. Elder, Chairman of the Committee, had charge of the alterations and gave unsparingly of his time and ability to the successful culmination of the plans. The Temple was completed and dedicated October 26, 1909.

The following Grand Officers performed the ceremonies of dedication:

Other distinguished guests were:

Worshipful Rev. Edward A. Horton delivered the principal address following the dinner. In the evening of the same day, Right Worshipful Fred A. Eldred made his official visitation and Brother Samuel W. Sleith was raised to the sublime Degree of Master Mason. Worshipful Chauncey E. Peck, Grand Lecturer, delivered his beautiful and impressive charge to the candidate, and the festivities closed with a buffet lunch in the new banquet hall.

1910-1945

January 3, 1910, Brother George S. Taylor, a Charter Member of the Lodge and first Mayor of Chicopee, passed to his reward. September 27, 1919, Right Worshipful Albert F. Crowther was installed District Deputy Grand Master of the 33rd Springfield Masonic District.

September 11, 1920, Belcher Lodge joined the other Lodges in the vicinity of Springfield and assisted at the laying of the corner stone of the Holyoke Masonic Temple, with Most Worshipful Arthur Dow Prince, Grand Master, officiating.

September 4, 1923, Brother Joseph J. Walker presented to Belcher Lodge sixty-one volumes from the library of Brother H. Smith Newell, namely: eight volumes of Scribners, 1878-1881; twenty-one volumes of Century, 1881-1892; thirty-two volumes Harper's Weekly, 1860-1883. This is a very valuable collection as it covers the record of the Civil War, as well as the Reconstruction Period.

October 19, 1923, Right Worshipful Clarence Arthur Brodeur passed to his reward. In addition to the offices which he had held in Masonry, he had served the Grand Royal Arch Chapter as Deputy Grand High Priest.

June 22, 1924, Belcher Lodge having been the recipient of an invitation from Most Worshipful Dudley H. Ferrell, Grand Master, joined the Grand Lodge and other particular Lodges in laying the corner stone of the new Springfield Masonic Temple. It was estimated that four thousand Masons marched in the procession.

August 5, 1924, Brother Irving H. Page, one of our most generous benefactors, passed to his Fathers in the Great Beyond. A life-like portrait, donated by his nephew, Worshipful Karl Woodman Page, adorns the wall of the parlor on the left of the entrance of the Temple, now used as headquarters by the Trustees of the Chicopee Falls Masonic Home Association, Inc.

Most Worshipful Frank L. Simpson presented Henry Price Medals to two Grand Lecturers of the Grand Lodge, members of Belcher Lodge, May 5, 1926 — Edwin L. Davis and Roy Perry Miles.

Alexander Robertson Dunbar received his Master Mason Degree March 1, 1927, served as Master in 1935, and at the annual communication held October, 1944, was again elected to that office and is the present incumbent.

March 22, 1927, Grand Master Frank L. Simpson paid a visit to Belcher Lodge and presented Veteran's Medals to Brothers Embury P. Clark and Adolphus R. Martin.

April 3, 1928, Right Worshipful Dana R. Johnson visited us, in his capacity as District Deputy Grand Master, and presented a Veteran's Medal to Brother Samuel R. Clark.

June 4, 1929, it was voted to increase the dues from $5.00 to $7.50 per annum.

February 28, 1931, 490 Masons attended a reception for the Deputy Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, Right Worshipful Edwin Lyman Davis, held in the Springfield Masonic Temple, and on January 19, 1940, at the same Masonic Temple, 325 paid tribute to the Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Right Worshipful Roy Perry Miles. Both the above functions took place at special communications of Belcher Lodge, opened in Chicopee Falls, and by virtue of special dispensations, adjourned to Springfield. The Grand Master and his Suite were present on both occasions.

April 29, 1941, Belcher Lodge celebrated the ninety-fourth anniversary of the birth of Worshipful John Wesley Woods, and Right Worshipful Edson R. Dunbar, District Deputy Grand Master of the (Springfield) 33rd District, on behalf of the Grand Master, Joseph Earl Perry, presented him with the Joseph Warren Medal, in recognition of his outstanding service to the Craft for more than fifty years.

Belcher Lodge has supplied the Grand Lodge with the following Grand Officers:

  • Right Worshipful William Jackson Sawin, born at Hancock, New Hampshire, August 8, 1833, received his Masonic degrees in Chicopee Lodge in 1865 and was its Master in 1869. He was District Deputy Grand Master of the old 10th District 1871-72-73; became a Charter Member of Belcher Lodge, and was Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge in 1875.
  • Right Worshipful Albert Eaton Taylor was born at Chicopee Falls October 9, 1865, and received his degrees in Belcher Lodge in 1892. He was Worshipful Master in 1895 and 1896; District Deputy Grand Master in 1904 and 1905; Past High Priest of Unity Chapter, R. A. M.; Past District Deputy Grand High Priest of the 5th District and Past Grand Scribe.
  • Right Worshipful Clarence Arthur Brodeur was born at Colchester, Vermont, and received his degrees in Belcher Lodge in 1900. He was Worshipful Master in 1902; District Deputy Grand Master, 1906-1908, of the 16th Masonic District; Senior Grand Warden, 1910.
  • Right Worshipful Edwin Lyman Davis was born at Peterborough, New Hampshire, February 19, 1868. He received his degrees in Belcher Lodge in 1901; was elected Secretary in 1904 and served continuously until the installation of the present Secretary, Worshipful Paul Wesley Osborne, in 1942, with the exception that he served as Senior Warden in 1908 and as Worshipful Master in 1909; was appointed Grand Lecturer of the Grand Lodge in 1911 and served in that capacity through 1926; was the first District Deputy Grand Master of the (Chicopee) 18th Masonic District, 1927 and 1928; Chairman of the Education Committee of the Grand Lodge, 1929-1930; Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge in 1931. He also served as District Deputy Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter R.A.M., 1911-1912.
  • Right Worshipful Albert Francis Crowther, born at Chicopee Falls December 24, 1877, received his degrees in Belcher Lodge in 1906; was Worshipful Master in 1913; Secretary during 1908-1909, and District Deputy Grand Master of the (Springfield) 33rd District, 1920-1921.
  • Right Worshipful Frank Pate Beardsell was born in Farsley, England, September 9, 1887. He received his Masonic degrees in Belcher Lodge in 1918 and was Worshipful Master in 1925. He was District Deputy Grand Master of the (Springfield) 33rd District during 1935 and 1936, and as such officer, was in charge of flood relief during the great floods of 1936 and received the plaudits of the Grand Master and the Masons of the 18th Chicopee, 18th Springfield and 33rd Springfield Districts for his untiring and highly valuable service. He has served as Proxy for Belcher Lodge in the Grand Lodge for many years.
  • Right Worshipful Roy Perry Miles was born in Chicopee Falls May 18, 1886. He received his Masonic degrees in Belcher Lodge during 1913 and was its Worshipful Master in 1919. He was appointed Grand Lecturer of the Grand Lodge in 1926, serving as such officially through 1939, and by dispensation, acted as such during 1940. At the Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge in December, 1939, he was elected Senior Grand Warden by an overwhelming majority. At the conclusion of his term of office, he was again appointed Grand Lecturer and continues to hold that important position at the present time, being the second Past Master of Belcher Lodge to occupy that high station and the third to hold that of Senior Grand Warden. He has for eleven years held the office of Treasurer of Belcher Lodge and is the present incumbent of that office. He is Past High Priest of Unity Chapter, R.A.M., and has been at the head of the three Scottish Rite Bodies in Springfield from the 4th through the 18th. He is now Second Lieutenant Commander of the Connecticut Valley Consistory.

Belcher Lodge's roll of honor of those who fought for the defense of the principles for which Masonry has always stood includes the names of forty-seven:

  • Everett M. Atwood
  • Homer E. Barton
  • James Bearder
  • Robert A. Bowman
  • Ralph M. Burnett
  • Raymond F. Button
  • Joseph Carson
  • Robert G. Carson
  • William R. Casey
  • Peter Cohen
  • Tom F. Crowther
  • Edward H. Elder
  • Fred M. Fay
  • Wm. A. Ferguson
  • Frank F. Farwell
  • Walter Harmon
  • Thomas B. Harris
  • Colonel E. Holgate
  • Harry L. Hunt
  • Edwin T. Johnson
  • Joseph Jardine
  • Standish B. King
  • Waino G. Kuniholm
  • John MacKechnie
  • Donald MacKechnie
  • William J. McCann
  • Fred Osborne
  • Wilbur B. Peard
  • John W. Pennington
  • Frank G. Pilling
  • John T. H. Powers
  • Horace H. Pritchard
  • Fred L. Robertson
  • Eugene F. Russell
  • Edward S. Scott
  • Edward E. Sheldon
  • Lester H. Smith
  • Stuart M. Smith
  • George W. Stuart
  • Perley K. Stone
  • George C. Whelpley
  • Arthur A. White
  • Henry C. Wilson
  • John B. Windrum
  • Silas Williams
  • Otto R. Vail
  • Roscoe H. Stone

An honor roll has been prepared and hangs in the Tyler's room of the Temple, where all may read and rejoice in the glory won by the sacrifices of our men and our Brothers. We hope that the time is not far distant when we can publish with this brief history of our Masonic existence, the portraits and war records of each of these valiant Brethren. Any who are present will please take due notice and govern themselves accordingly without waiting for a personal invitation.

As of May 19, 1945, the following twenty-two members of Belcher Lodge are in the Armed Services of our Country:

  • James F. Beek
  • Arthur E. Benson
  • Albert H. Ferris
  • Lee C. Hancock
  • Gaylord Hookenberry
  • Edwin A. Hulton
  • Wallace S. Phinney, P. M.
  • Rev. William R. Phinney
  • Gordon Rodgers
  • Roland Rogers
  • John W. Valler
  • Lawrence Wolfson
  • Arthur R. Low
  • Irwin A. Frye
  • Gordon Low
  • Norman L. Hoffman
  • Donald R. Mallery
  • Woodrow W. Henry
  • William F. Nutter
  • Douglas C. McNeil
  • Chauncey G. Pentz
  • Robert A. Washer

In passing, it is worthy of mention that Belcher Lodge has been fortunate in having members who have served the Lodge over long periods of years. In addition to Worshipful Brother Woods, we should mention Brother Charles William King, who served as Treasurer for thirty-three consecutive years, and Worshipful William Henry Phinney, who has served in all the stations, was Worshipful Master in 1921, and has served continuously as Chaplain from the date of his retirement from the Master's chair until the present time — a period of twenty-three years. We thank the Almighty for such Brothers as these.

September 29, 1942, Right Worshipful Gilbert N. Leete, District Deputy Grand Master, in behalf of the Grand Master, presented Brothers Frank Sylvester Taylor and Earl Bernando Smith with Veterans' Medals for conspicuous service and unbroken membership covering a period of more than fifty years.

We have endeavored to bring to your attention some of the highlights which are recorded in our records. At the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary, your Historian covered in detail the principal incidents covering that first fifty years of existence. This time we have abridged that record in order that we may not be accused of overdoing that which is at best a rather "dry" document.

CENTENARY HISTORY, MAY 1970

From Proceedings, Page 1970-210:

By Wor. Edwin A. Hulton and Wor. Elmore L. Pahl.

In the general scheme of the Almighty, one hundred years is but a brief span of time, yet it represents the activities of a considerable number of His creatures in their attempt to carry out, in their limited way, the plans laid down on the Trestleboard.

During the summer of 1870, a number of the members of Chicopee Lodge who resided in the Falls met in the office of the Lamb Knitting Machine Company and discussed the advisability of requesting the Grand Lodge to issue a dispensation for a Lodge at Chicopee Falls. The outcome of the meeting was a unanimous vote of those present to make the request.

A dispensation was granted by M. W. William Sewall Gardner, Grand Master on July 9, 1870 returnable in September 1871. This request for dispensation was signed by thirty-five petitioners.

It was decided to call the Lodge "Belcher" in honor of Benjamin Belcher, Grandfather of Benjamin Belcher, the first Master of the Lodge. Worshipful Benjamin Belcher held that office for four consecutive years during the formative period of the Lodge. Worshipful Brother Belcher's grandfather's regalia, apron, scarf and trowel are displayed prominently in the Memorial Room.

The first meeting of the Lodge U. D. was held on August 1, 1870 in the Pierce Block on Main Street then known as Mitchell's Bakery and in the hall now occupied by The Improved Order of Red Men.

In his report to the Grand Master, Rt. Wor. Samuel B. Spooner, D. D. G. M. said: — "Belcher Lodge at Chicopee Falls, now under dispensation has provided itself a hall second in taste and commodiousness to none in this portion of the State while its working force is developing a proficiency, energy and liberality, no less marked."

Petitions for the Degrees were received from: Mervin H. Barnes, Edgar T. Paige and Alfred B. Ellsworth.

At a subsequent Communication, these petitioners were elected and Brother Edgar T. Paige, the first candidate initiated by the Lodge, became its second Worshipful Master; Wor. Benjamin Belcher having held that office under dispensation during the years 1871-1874 inclusive.

On September 28, 1871, an informal meeting of the members of the Lodge was held for the purpose of perfecting plans for the Constitution of the Lodge and installation of its officers. The meeting was called to order by Wor. William J. Sawin who had been appointed District Deputy Grand Master for the 10th Masonic District. Bro. E. V. B. Holcomb was chosen Chairman and Bro. W. H. Gilbert, Secretary. The following officers were elected for the ensuing year: Benjamin Belcher, Worshipful Master; William H. Gilbert, Senior Warden; Albert C. Hancock, Junior Warden; James E. Taylor, Treasurer; Arthur B. West, Secretary.

The Worshipful Master elect appointed the following officers to be installed when the Lodge was constituted: Bro. George S. Taylor, Chaplain; Bro. David E. Taylor, Marshal; Wor. Thomas C. Page, Senior Deacon; Bro. Albert Perkins, Junior Deacon; Bro. Phineas W. Smith, Senior Steward; Bro. John M. Morse, Junior Steward; Bro. Samuel B. Clark, Tyler.

Following the ceremonies of Constitution, the Lodge-room was dedicated to Masonic use in due and ancient form.

The first code of By-Laws were drafted by Rt. Wor. William J. Sawin, Worshipful Thomas C. Page and Brother James H. Osgood; and the Seal of the Lodge was designed by Brother James E. Taylor.

On May 22, 1885, a special communication was called for the purpose of arranging for the funeral of Wor. Benjamin Belcher the first Master of Belcher Lodge, who died on May 21, 1885.

The need for a new Lodge Hall became apparent in the period between 1900 and 1910. Finally, early in 1909, a Committee was empowered to buy the "Mullvaney" property at an amount not exceeding $8,000. Within a week thereafter, however, Wor. Thomas C. Page offered his property, the present home of Belcher Lodge, to the Committee at a price of $12,000.

We can imagine the arguments, pro and con of our Brethren of those days before coming to the decision to purchase the Page property. We are grateful for that decision and the wisdom of that choice has been demonstrated over and over again. On July 6, 1909, the Committee reported that they had purchased the Page property and it was voted that they go ahead with the alterations as submitted in plans numbers 1 and 2 at an expense not to exceed $2,000. Wor. Edward H. Elder, Chairman of the Committee had charge of the alterations and gave unsparingly of his time and ability to the successful culmination of the plans. The Temple was completed and dedicated October 25, 1909. (1909 Mass. 123-125)

Wor. Rev. Edward A. Horton delivered the principal address following the dinner. In the evening of the same day, R. W. Fred A, Eldred made his official visitation and Bro. Samuel W. Sleith was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. Wor. Chauncey E. Peck, Grand Lecturer delivered his beautiful and impressive Charge to the candidate and the festivities closed with a buffet lunch in the new banquet hall.

On September 11, 1920, Belcher Lodge joined the other Lodges in the vicinity of Springfield and assisted at the LAYING OF THE CORNER STONE OF THE HOLYOKE MASONIC TEMPLE with M. W. Arthur Dow Prince, Grand Master.

That financial problems have ever been present, it is interesting to note that on June 4, 1929, it was voted to increase the annual dues from $5.00 to $7.50.

In the interests of brevity and because so many details have been covered in previous histories, we bridge the years and come to our 75th Anniversary, which was celebrated on May 19, 1945.

With the war in Europe just ended, the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Belcher Lodge was an additional joy to the Craft. The afternoon and evening of Saturday, May 19, 194S were devoted to the occasion. The following are excerpts from the Secretary's report of the events of that memorable day:

The Marshal retired and presented Wor. Howard Herschaft, acting D. D. G. Marshal for the 33rd District, who announced the presence of Rt. Wor. Howard C. Newhouse, who was awaiting a Fraternal Visit to Belcher Lodge.

The Past Masters of Belcher Lodge with Rt. Wor. Albert E. Taylor, was the Committee to escort the Deputy into the Lodge. Twenty Past Masters were present.

The Past Masters assumed their stations clad in the new aprons purchased by the members of Belcher Lodge for this anniversary also with the jewels that had been refinished. The candidate, Bro. Winfield Chester Twitchell, being proficient in the lecture of the second degree and having attended the Fifth Lodge of Instruction was then raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason in a special rendition of the ritual.

Wor. Charles R. Loveland was Master in the first section. Wor. Francis S. Nelson was Master in the second section and Rt. Wor. Edwin L. Davis was Master in the third section and Rt. Wor. Frank P. Beardsell gave the Charge in his splendid manner.

The Master then had the Junior Warden call the Craft from labor to refreshment and we adjourned to a splendid dinner at the white church at 6:30 P.M.

At 7:45 P.M., the Lodge was called from refreshment to labor and the Marshal retired and presented Rt. Wor. Whitfield W. Johnson, Grand Marshal of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, who announced the presence of Most Worshipful Samuel H. Wragg, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts.

A Committee of all Belcher Lodge Past Masters with Rt. Wor. Albert E. Taylor as Chairman escorted M.W. Bro. Wragg into the Lodge, who brought with him a very distinguished Suite of about thirty-five Grand Lodge members.

After assuming the East, the Most Worshipful Grand Master called for a solo by our soloist Bro. Leland B. Buzzell.

Then followed the history of Belcher Lodge written by Rt. Wor. Edwin L. Davis and read by Wor. Elmore L. Pahl.

The Most Worshipful Grand Master then delivered a splendid address followed by another solo.

The following guests then were called on for remarks: Rt. Wor. Stanley W. Wilson, Deputy Grand Master of Masons; Rt. Wor. Cyril W. Downs, Senior Grand Warden; Rt. Wor. James Watson, Junior Grand Warden; Rt. Wor. Edwin L. Davis, Past Deputy Grand Master; Rt. Wor. Howard C. Newhouse, D. D. G. Master, 33rd Masonic District; and Wor. Alexander R. Dunbar, presiding Master of Belcher Lodge.

The Lodge was then closed in Ample Form by Most Worshipful Brother Wragg, who announced that he would remain in the East if any one desired to come up and shake hands.

Belcher Lodge closed at 9:45 P.M.

During the period from the 75th Anniversary to the present time, many improvements have been made in the appearance of the building due primarily to the personal exertions of the brethren — we are so indebted to them for their devotion. Belcher Lodge has also been the recipient of some substantial gifts which we would like to acknowledge:

  • May 6, 1947: Aprons, jewels and libraries of Rt. Wor. Edwin Lyman Davis and Rt. Wor. Roy Perry Miles from their respective estates.
  • December 6, 1949: Lights in the East, West and South from Wor. Joseph Jardine.
  • 
April 4, 1950 Batons and standards for Senior Warden and Junior Warden Stations from Wor. Joseph Jardine.
  • 
November 4, 1952: Bible markers from Bro. Carl McAllister.

  • March 3, 1964: Altar Bible from Bro. James C. Fettes, Sr.

  • March 17, 1964: American Flag from Wor. Paul W. Osborne.
  • April 14, 1964: Electric organ from Bro. Joseph Carson on behalf of the Carson family in memory of their father and mother. The new organ was dedicated and played for the first time on May 5, 1964.
  • October 31, 1964: Gift of $500 from Bro. James C. Fettes, Sr. in memory of Mrs. Fettes to be used for a new altar. The new altar was built and used for the first time on Past Masters' Night on April 11, 1967.

At the December 1952 Communication of the Grand Lodge, R.W. Alexander R. Dunbar was appointed Grand Lecturer. Belcher Lodge then became the first Lodge ever in the State to have had three Grand Lecturers, namely: R. W. Edwin Lyman Davis, R. W. Roy Perry Miles and R. W. Alexander R. Dunbar, our present Grand Lecturer.

This was the start of a most illustrious Grand Lodge career for R.W. Alexander Dunbar. He has been re-appointed Grand Lecturer every year since and is now Senior Grand Lecturer. In addition, he was elected Senior Grand Warden in December 1958. He is the recipient of the Joseph Warren Medal (1954) and the Henry Price Medal (1959).

On the occasion of the presentation of the Joseph Warren Medal, we quote from the Lodge minutes: "Moved and Seconded that Belcher Lodge and its members note with sincere pleasure that R.W. Alexander R. Dunbar was accorded the unprecedented honor at Grand Lodge in December of being escorted to the East of Grand Lodge and then was presented by M. W. Thomas Roy, Grand Master with the Distinguished Service Medal and it is hereby ordered that the above notations be spread in full in the records of Belcher Lodge, so that future historians may have full knowledge of one who has brought honor to his Lodge and to himself".

The mementos in the Memorial Room have increased during the past twenty-five years and visitors are urged to go in and browse around.

The Secretary's minutes offer some interesting items during these past twenty-five years:

  • February 3, 1953: The initiation fee was increased to $75.00.
  • April 6, 1954: A barber shop chorus went to the Masonic Home in honor of our member's 79th birthday.
  • December 29, 1958: The Master, Wardens and Secretary attended the Feast of St. John on the occasion of the 225th anniversary of the Grand Lodge.
  • October 25, 1960: The newly elected Master was piped into the Lodge by a member of a Kiltie Band.
  • November 6, 1962: The start of the children's annual Christmas Party.

In addition to R.W. Alexander R. Dunbar, two other brethren of Belcher Lodge have been presented the Joseph Warren Medal: Rt. Wor. Frank P. Beardsell on October 23, 1956 and Wor. Paul W. Osborne on February 26, 1963.

It is also appropriate to note that there have been members of Belcher Lodge, who by their contributions to Masonry and to the well-being of their fellow-men have been elected to Masonry's highest honor — the 33rd Degree. They are as follows: R.W. Roy Perry Miles (1946); Wor. Elmore L. Pahl (1965).

We could not bring this history to a close without noting that this fraternity of ours, in spite of its failings and criticisms, contains a certain charisma that attracts men of high calibre to its service. We cannot help but glory in the lists of men who have served Belcher Lodge as its Masters and the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts as officers and representatives. However, a special word is due to those dedicated men who have devoted so much time right here in Belcher Lodge throughout the years. We thank the Grand Architect of the Universe for such men as Wor. Benjamin Belcher who took such an important part in the formative years of the Lodge; for R.W. Edwin Lyman Davis, Secretary of the Lodge for almost forty years; for R.W. Roy Perry Miles, Treasurer of the Lodge for almost twenty years; for R.W. Frank Pate Beardsell, Proxy for Belcher Lodge for many years and adviser to so many Masters over the years; for R.W. Alexander Robertson Dunbar for his so important looking out for the ritual of the Lodge and his advice to the officers; for Wor. John Woods— (who will ever forget his wonderful Charge?); for Wor. Charles W. King, Treasurer for thirty-three years; for Wor. William Henry Phinney, Chaplain for so many years; for Wor. Paul Wesley Osborne, Secretary for twenty-six years. What a role of honor and devotion.

We have endeavored to bring to your attention some of the highlights which are recorded in our records. At the celebration of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary, your Historian covered in detail the principal incidents covering that first seventy-five years of existence. This time we have abridged that record.


EVENTS

PRESENTATION, JUNE 1873

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXXII, No. 7, July 1873, Page 218:

At the regular meeting of Belcher Lodge, at Belchertown, on the 2d of June, a very generous and well merited compliment was paid to R. W. Bro. W. J. Sawin, M.D., the efficient and able Dis. Dep. Grand Master for the 10th Masonic District, in the presentation, by the Lodges of his district, of a rich and costly Gold Watch. The presentation was made by R. W. Bro. John Wetherbee, Deputy for the 18th District, in the presence of the Lodges of the 10th District, and a large assemblage of the Brethren. The presentation speech was a felicitous and taking performance, as was also the response by the genial recipient. "We should be pleased to lay both before our readers had we room to spare for the purpose. A banquet, almost as a necessary consequence, followed the exercises in the lodge-room; thus, not inappropriately closing what was undoubtedly a very pleasant occasion to all the parties interested in it.

The recent parade of the Grand Commandery of Pennsylvania at Meadville, seems to have been a grand affair. A contemporary says, "The inspection and review were enjoyed not only by all participants, but by a host of spectators, who filled the streets and every available space of the dwellings and public buildings on the route of the display, which every one asserted was the most brilliant ever witnessed in Western Pennsylvania. The evolutions of the various Commanderies were performed with great accuracy, and drew forth unbounded applause. The decorations of the city of Meadville, on every part of the line of the parade, were very brilliant. Numerous arches of evergreens were strung across the streets at various points, and pendant from them were Templar emblems, legends and words of welcome. Passion and Maltese crosses appeared everywhere. The ladies alone prepared over 3,000 feet of evergreens. It seemed as though the Knights and citizens of Meadville could not do enough for the pleasure and comfort of the Grand Officers and other visitors. The weather was delightful throughout the proceedings, and all the Knights departed home charmed with their reception and the entire proceedings."

HALL DEDICATION, OCTOBER 1909

From New England Craftsman, Vol. V, No. 2, November 1909, Page 61:

A Masonic Temple at Chicopee Falls, Mass., was dedicated by Grand Master Dana J. Flanders, and other officers of the Grand Lodge, Monday, October 25th. The ceremony was in the afternoon and witnessed by the brethren of Belcher Lodge and many others not members of the fraternity. Grand Master Flanders was welcomed by Worshipful Master Edwin L. Davis. The ceremony of dedication began with prayer by Grand Chaplain Edward A. Horton and proceeded in the usual manner. The building was examined and the report made that "the craftsmen had done their duty" and finally the proclamation was made that it had been dedicated in due form.

Grand Master Flanders congratulated Belcher Lodge on the completion of the building, and noted that it is a matter for congratulation that Masonry has grown so remarkably in this and other nations. He said it sometimes seemed to him as if Masons had so keen aspirations for growth in numbers, for wealth and material things, that there might be a forgetting of the internal things for which the order stands — brotherly love, relief and truth. He declared that as far as material and numerical side of the order was concerned, it was all that could be desired, and he enjoined upon Masons the practice of those other virtues which are the prime concern of the order.

At 5.30 o'clock the new banquet hall was dedicated by being first used. More than 100 persons were present. Following the banquet was speech making by tlie leading Masons present. Right Worshipful Clarence A. Brodeur of Westfield was toastmaster.

The new temple was formerly the residence of Brother T. C. Page. It has been made available for Masonic use by the addition of a wing. The house was bought in July by a building corporation. The cost of the house and land, with the cost of the improvements, has been about $20,000. The new wing is 50 feet by 34, and is of two stories. The new lodge-room on the second floor has much beauty of design! and the rooms of the residence, which have been painted and in some cases repaired, have been filled with attractive furniture. The building will be used by Belcher Lodge for its meetings and by the new Masonic club for a club-house.


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