BELFAST LODGE (MAINE)
Chartered By: Francis J. Oliver
Charter Date: 09/09/1816 III-56
Precedence Date: 09/09/1816
REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
- Petition for Charter: 1816
- Manassas Sleeper, 1816-1820
From History of Phoenix Lodge, No. 24, of Belfast, Maine, By John Lymburner Locke, 1863.
Belfast Lodge never worked under a dispensation. Previous to applying for a charter, the few brethren here who had been members of the Fraternity in other places, were wont to meet in private houses to recite the lectures, and to interchange the greetings that are peculiar to those of the mystic tie.
When it was proposed to take the requisite steps towards banding themselves together as a brotherhood, the following brethren petitioned for a charter from the M. W. Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, which bears date of Dec. 30, 1816, to wit: Timo. Frisbee, C. C. Chandler, Thaddeus Hubbard, Manassas Sleeper, Jas. Gilbreth, David Webster, Asa Edmunds, Chas. Hall, Thos. Whittier, 2d, Sam'l Jones, Elijah Torry. Of these petitioners, David Webster, now of Castine, — who was born Jan., 1790, — is the only survivor.
From the only leaf that is preserved of the earliest record kept — of which more will be said hereafter — it is found that the first meeting was convened at the house of John Huse, in the building now occupied by S. A. Howes & Co., as a store, at the corner of Main and High streets. No account can be obtained of the preliminary meeting that was held, but the choice for officers is indicated, with the pro tern, exceptions by the annexed extract which is gleaned from the fragmentary scrap above mentioned. The record thus reads:
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. By virtue of a Charter from the Grand Lodge at Boston, dated the 9th day of Sept., A. L. 5816, a regular Lodge is opened in Belfast, in the County of Hancock, in the said Commonwealth of Mass., at the house of John Huse, on the 3d day of March, A. L. 5817.<br
- M. Sleeper, W. M.
- D. Webster, S. W. pro tem.
- T. Frisbee, J. W. pro tem.'
- A. Edmunds, T.
- C. Hall, S.
- S. Jones, J. D.
- E. Torrey, S. S."
- Joseph Barnes.
- Samuel Bird.
Note. The Charter is signed by these Grand Officers: Francis J. Oliver, Grand Master; C. Augustus Peabody, Senior Grand Warden; (The Junior Grand Wardens name cannot be deciphered. As he merely accepted the office pro tem it is immaterial.) John Soley, Grand Secretary; Andrew SIgoumey, Grand Treasurer. The cost of the Charter was $85.00.
Note. As the Charter wan granted on the 30th of Dec, the date here given probably corresponds with that of the petition.
At said meeting, the following persons were proposed for initiation: Eben'r Williams, Esq., John Jones, Nathan Swan.
The next meeting was on Monday evening, March 10th. The names of the officers are the same as above given, and these are the visitors: Wm. Wording, Noah Miller, C. Tilden, John Miller, Tolford Durham.
Bro. Job White, the oldest member of the original organization that resides in this city, says, that on the day of the installation of officers a procession was formed at the hall and proceeded to the old Academy, where, before a large audience an appropriate and interesting address was delivered by Rev. John H. Ingraham of Thomaston.
At this time it may not be uninteresting to interweave with this history an account of the recovery of the greater portion of our early records, which, for the last fifteen years have been considered as irrecoverably lost.
When the writer undertook the task of writing this history, he found that the early operations of the society were involved in a maze of doubt, because all of the records back of 1846 were missing. In 1849 a committee was appointed to ascertain where the lost records were; but their mission was unsuccessful. No clue as to the whereabouts of said records was obtained until recently. On the 23d of March, 1863, while conversing with a friend — who was not a Mason — upon the difficulties that presented themselves at the very outset of his investigations, the writer closed his statement by deploring the loss of the early records. His friend then incidentally observed that a former Secretary of the Lodge, who had removed to Massachusetts, had left in his care a desk containing a collection of old books and papers, and possibly something might be found among them that, would aid the writer in his researches.
Agreeably to the request made by the writer his friend examined the contents of the desk — which were in his barn —and to the mutual surprise of both persons, he found the long lost book of records! This makes the doings of the Lodge complete from 1822 to the present time. However, it is still to be lamented that the lack of our written transactions from 1817 to 1822 yet renders the early records of the Lodge incomplete. Yet, as though it were by a favor of Providence, a stray leaf, either copied or torn, from the records of 1817, was found between the leaves of the recovered volume, which gives the names of all but two of the first officers elected at the time the Lodge was instituted. It is a remarkable fact, that the brother who had the missing book of records in his possession, was one of the committee chosen to make the search in 1849, and also as Secretary, recorded the vote of bis instructions at the time. It would thus appear that the Secretary himself was not aware that the missing records were in his own possession. Thus, by a most fortunate incident a long hiatus in our history has been avoided.
The Lodge occupied the Huse hall but a few months, for, (as Bro. Timo. Chase affirms) in Jan., 1818, the communications were held in the so-called " Old Babel", originally a three story wooden building which stood on the spot where the Marshal block of stores now stands, on Main Street.
On the 25th of May, 1817, the first code of by-laws was adopted. In 1818 the Lodge numbered S3 members. This indicates a good degree of prosperity for the first year's operations.
This history is very descriptive of the early years of Belfast #24, up until the surrender of the original charter in 1828, and covers the early period of Phoenix #24, its successor. Only the portion relevant to the Massachusetts constitution is copied here.
1820 and after: Grand Lodge of Maine.