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Location: Athol; Gerry (1811); Templeton (1813)

Chartered By: Isaiah Thomas

Charter Date: 09/13/1802 II-202

Precedence Date: 06/14/1802

Current Status: unknown


In Grand Master Heard's address in December 1857 (Page 1857-36 in the original Proceedings), this lodge was described as having "had but a nominal existence for many years." He also noted that "the records of Harris Lodge are obtained, but its Charter cannot be found. The Lodge funds were divided among its members in 1834."



  • Petition For Charter: 1802



Unclear when the charter was surrendered; a survey of District 6 in the early 1850s reported the lodge as dormant, but it might or might not be on the rolls.


  • 1912 (Notes in 150th Anniversary Celebration of the Town of Athol; from New England Craftsman; see below)
  • 1914 (Notes in 50th Anniversary Celebration of Star Lodge of Athol; from New England Craftsman; see below)
  • 1934 (Notes in History of Early Masonic Activity in Orange and Vicinity, part of the 75th Anniversary of Orange Lodge, 1934-141; see below)
  • 1934 (Notes in 75th Anniversary history of Star Lodge, 1939-350; see below)
  • 1963 (Notes in History of Freemasonry in the Brookfields, part of the centenary of Hayden Lodge, 1963-233)


From New England Craftsman, Vol. VII, No. 11, August 1912, Page 353:

Professor W. Scott Wade the orator of the occasion who spoke as follows:

"We are met today to commemorate the beginning of Free Masonry in Athol and to unveil this memorial stone which stands near the spot where the first lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in this town was instituted more than one hundred years ago.

"In the year of 1802 a petition was received by the Grand Lodge of Masons of Massachusetts for the establishment of a subordinate lodge in the town of Athol. After waiting the customary time of one year, the petition was granted and on October 13, 1803, Isaiah Thomas, the Patriot Printer of Revolutionary times, Most Worshipful Grand Master, accompanied by an imposing suite, rode up to the tavern or inn near this spot in a magnificent coach drawn by a pair of black horses. This sight so impressed the mind of the children who gazed with wonder and admiration, that they have handed down to their children the oral tradition of the great event.

"Here was formed the impressive procession which solemnly marched to the church on the common and listened to an eloquent and instructive sermon from the lips of Rev. Bro. Richard Eliot of Watertown, after which they marched back and enjoyed a banquet. Then Harris Lodge, F. & A. M., was instituted with due ceremonies, after ejecting from the hall two mischievous boys who had hoped to hide and, when everything was at its height, make their appearance to the consternation of the brethren. This lodge lived and prospered here until 1811, or for eight years. At the end of that time the town of Athol not increasing, and the town of Gerry or Phillipston as it is now called, being not so slow and having more active brethren presented a petition for the removal of the lodge to that town to the hall of Bro. Elijah Gould.

"Its stay in Gerry was not quite two years when, upon a second petition, it was removed to the larger town of Templeton. Here it remained until it surrendered its records and its jewels in 1857. The last recorded meeting was held in 1834. The money of the lodge was given to the town of Templeton to help care for its poor.

"During its life in Templeton it fell upon troublous times. A period of persecution and ostracization set in and Masons were accused of every crime in the calendar by those who were ignorant of its purposes, jealous of its influence, and incited by personal animosities. Out of this fire of opposition Free Masonry came to new life and new power. Some under stress of family and church gave up, but others remained firm and endured until the madness was forgotten."


About 1800, the brethren of Athol, and the neighboring towns of Orange, Royalston, Templeton and Gerry began to get together and discuss the idea of having a lodge in this vicinity. Athol was finally selected as the most convenient location and in the minutes of the quarterly communication of the Grand Lodge held in Boston, June 11, 1802, it is stated, 'Right Worshipful Whiting preferred a petition from a number of brethren in Athol, County of Worcester, for a charter to hold a lodge in that town.' A dispensation was granted Sept. 13, 1802 for the new lodge in Athol, to be known as Harris Lodge. Harris Lodge was constituted and its officers installed Oct. 13th, 1803. There were then in Athol less than 1000 people, and it is quite probable that practically the entire population gazed at the imposing spectacle of the arrival of the Grand Master and suite in his magnificent coach. The oral tradition of the great event has been handed down to their children's children. It is interesting to note that the father of Bro. Henry M. Humphrey of Athol Lodge, then a lad of eight years, witnessed the arrival of the coach and its two black horses, also the procession of Masons from the lodge room in Crosby's tavern on Pleasant street to the church on the common in the upper village. Harris lodge continued here for eight years. In 1811 it removed to Gerry, now Phillipston, which place although of 800 population had more active Masons than Athol. Its stay in Gerry was short, and in 1813, it was removed to Templeton. Meetings of the lodge were discontinued in 1834, and in 1857 Harris Lodge surrendered its charter, records and jewels to the Grand Lodge and was dropped by that body from the roll of lodges.


Soon after Harris Lodge received its Charter it joined with Harmony and Republican Lodges in celebrating St. John's Day in your town June 24, 1803. This was undoubtedly the first Masonic demonstration ever held in Orange.

Harris Lodge removed to Gerry in 1811, then followed three years of war. As soon as this most unpopular conflict was over the local Brethren became active for a Lodge nearer home.


From Proceedings, Page 1939-350:

In 1796 Harmony Lodge was opened at Northfield and, being some fifteen miles nearer our town, our Masonically-minded citizens soon sought affiliation there.

In the next five years 13 Athol men were proposed in that Lodge, two of them having started their Masonic career at Worcester. So in all we know of 19 Athol men who had Masonic connections and frequently attended meetings from 19 to 35 miles away over roads improved since the pioneer days but still hardly useable except on horseback. Recognizing the zeal of these far distant Brothers, Harmony Lodge celebrated the Feast of St. John the Baptist at Crosby's tavern in Athol, June 24, 1801. Mt. Zion Lodge, then of Hardwick, and Republican Lodge, of Greenfield, joined in this celebration. The Brethren gathered at Crosby's tavern, 834 Pleasant Street, and preceded by a "band of musick" marched to the meeting house on the upper common where Rev. Bro. Ezekiel L. Bascom, of Gerry (Phillipston), delivered the oration. This paved the way for a Masonic Lodge here.

Morning Star, Mt. Zion, and Republican Lodges assented to the proposal which was favorably considered by Grand Lodge and a Charter issued to Harris Lodge of Athol, September 12, 1802. The Lodge was duly constituted October 13, 1803, 136 years ago last Friday, by Isaiah Thomas, Grand Master. The records of this Lodge were taken to Boston in 1857, deposited in the Grand Lodge and burned when the Masonic Temple was destroyed in 1864, but the Treasurer's book is still extant and still in use as a part of the financial records of the town of Templeton. Hence we have only scant information about this Lodge.

We know that it met at Crosby's tavern (834 Pleasant Street) until 1807 when it moved to Brother Thomas Lord's tavern near the upper common. Late in 1811 it moved to Gould's tavern in Gerry (the large house still standing at the northwest corner of Phillipston common). December 30, 1813 it moved to French's tavern in Templeton where it continued until it disbanded following the Morgan excitement.

Rev. E. L. Bascom was its first Master and the second was Rev. James Thompson, of Barre. In all we know of some 24 Athol men who were members of this Lodge, a majority of these having previously joined either the Worcester or Northfield Lodges.



From Masonic Mirror and Mechanics' Intelligencer, Vol. III, No. 29, July 1827, Page 226:

The nativity of St. John The Baptist was celebrated by Harris Lodge in conjunction with Thomas Royal arch Chapter and by many companions and brethren of adjacent associations at Westminster on Monday the 25th day of June. The delightful air of a sunny but cool day invited a large concourse of spectators. The procession formed at the house of Col. Adams and proceeded to the meeting house with the most exact punctuality to previous arrangements. Appropriate, solemn, and eloquent religious services were performed by the Rev. Mr. Clarke of Princeton and the Rev. Mr. Mann of Westminster. Hymns and portions of Masonic poetry were sung with great musical elegance by a numerous choir of singers. An address was delivered by William Lincoln.

An enemy of the Masonic institution might have found an argument of irresistible power to combat his prejudices and unfavorable opinions, in the appearance of a procession composed of reverend and pious clergymen, useful and distinguished citizens, and men whose character, worth, and influence in society are certain pledges that whatever receives their united countenance must process intrinsic value. The simple yet rich dresses of the brethren, and the union of a great number of the fair daughters of our land, gave to the procession and imposing and beautiful appearance.

On returning from the meetinghouse, the brethren repaired to the house of Col. Adams, or an excellent or past had been prepared. The ladies were provided for by Dr. John White.

At the table, the R. W. Master, Dr. Charles W. Wilder, presided. Many excellent toasts were given uniting neatness of expression with purity of sentiment. The occasion was honored by the presence of the venerable Isaiah Thomas, little less distinguished as the patron of Masonic science that of the typographical art. The following sentiment was given by Mr. Thomas:

  • The light of Masonry, which arose in the East and has formed a grand Constellation in the West; - May every Lodge be a brilliant Star, and every Brother be illuminated by its rays, to guide him through life, in the paths of rectitude, probity, and honor.

And followed by this:

  • Our Past Grand Master, Brother Isaiah Thomas. The distinguished friend of Masonry and patron of printing – his works will long remain the best evidence of his eminence and success in each.

The following sentiment was presented to the sisters assembled to commemorate the day:

  • The Fair – Protected in their rights by the religion of our God, laws of our country, and the principles of our order.

Which was reciprocated in the following reply:

  • relying on such protection, and following such leaders, we will fear no danger.

The utmost harmony and most perfect order prevailed, and after a day of delightful social intercourse and conviviality, the brethren retired so early that we forbear to mention the hour lest it should strike with surprise those who have been devoted to the protracted excesses festive revelry.

We regret that we have not been enabled to obtain and present to our readers the many regular and volunteer sentiments offered on the occasion, as their worth entitles them to notice and preservation.

Worcester Aegis.



1803: District 6 (Central Mass., Worcester)

1821: District 6

1835: District 6

1849: District 6


Massachusetts Lodges