JohnHancock

From MasonicGenealogy
Jump to: navigation, search

JOHN HANCOCK LODGE

Location: Methuen

Chartered By: William T. Coolidge

Charter Date: 09/11/1861 VI-382

Precedence Date: 10/10/1860

Current Status: Active


PAST MASTERS

  • Stephen Huse, 1860, 1861
  • Ebenezer Sawyer, 1862, 1863
  • James O. Parker, 1864, 1865
  • Jacob Emerson, 1866, 1867
  • Granville E. Foss, 1868
  • Joseph S. Howe, 1869, 1870; SN
  • Darius S. Pierce, 1871, 1872
  • George W. Sawyer, 1873, 1874
  • Benjamin M. Hall, 1875, 1876
  • Robert H. Sheils, 1877, 1878
  • Henry N. Hall, 1879, 1880
  • Edward F. Johnson, 1881, 1882
  • Daniel H. Sawyer, 1883, 1884
  • George R. Merrill, 1885, 1886
  • Franklin Russell, 1887
  • J. Frank Emerson, 1888, 1889
  • Charles Easton, 1890, 1891
  • Tenney Morse, 1892, 1893
  • Eugene N. Hall, 1894, 1895
  • Everett L. Edmands, 1896, 1897
  • Arthur L. Russell, 1898, 1899
  • Millard F. Emerson, 1900, 1901
  • Clarence T. Adams, 1902, 1903
  • George P. Dunham, 1904, 1905
  • Edward A. Bower, 1906, 1907
  • Charles B. Marble, 1908; SN
  • William H. Buswell, 1909, 1910; SN
  • Frederic L. Barstow, 1911, 1912
  • Robert Stanley, 1913, 1914
  • John A. Ingraham, 1915, 1916
  • Joseph Sherlock, 1917, 1918; N
  • Silas Thomas, 1919, 1920
  • Charles H. Cooper, 1921, 1922
  • Herbert E. Gordon, 1923, 1924
  • Alfred Humphries, 1925
  • Edgar Wilson, 1926, 1927
  • Herbert Ellis, 1928, 1929
  • Ben Oldfield, 1930, 1931; N
  • Ralph W. Turner, 1932, 1933
  • Harry G. Irving, 1934, 1935
  • Edward V. Reed, 1936, 1937
  • J. Walter Ostler, 1938, 1939
  • Frank J. Kolb, 1940, 1941
  • Frederic L. Sjostrom, 1942
  • C. Roy Perry, 1943, 1944
  • George Frost, 1945, 1946
  • Clifton F. Swain, 1947, 1948; N
  • Norman Ashton, 1949, 1950
  • Henry R. Loeschner, 1951, 1952
  • William Taylor, 1953, 1954
  • Guy L. Beal, Jr., 1955, 1956
  • Eric Rothwell, 1957, 1958
  • Bernard B. Wallace, 1959, 1960
  • Harold C. Matthews, 1961, 1962
  • Manuel J. Enus, Jr., 1963, 1964
  • Raymond Dooley, 1965, 1966; SN
  • Charles F. Slack, 1967
  • J. Tyler Douglas, 1968
  • Fred A. Dobson, 1969; N
  • Ralph B. Duncan, 1970; N
  • Charles A. Shionis, 1971, 2002
  • John C. Kevgas, 1973
  • Thomas W. Cleary, 1974
  • Georfe F. Dyer, 1975
  • Richard F. Dooley, 1976, 1994
  • Walter H. Graichen, 1977
  • Wayne O. Newton, 1978
  • Peter W. Chapman, 1979
  • Arthur M. Dallon, 1980
  • William J. O'Donnell, 1981, 1982
  • Richard W. Ingalls, 1983, 1993
  • Alfred R. Nault, 1984, 2001
  • Thomas H. Hargreaves, 1985, 2005, 2006; PDDGM
  • Kenneth J. Wetmore, 1986
  • James H. Henderson, 1987
  • Paul A. Miller, 1988
  • Thomas W. Nesbitt, 1989
  • Paul M. Robito, 1990
  • Warren A. Archambault, 1991
  • Stephen E. Barbin, 1992, 1993
  • David L. Bowden, 1995
  • Richard C. Dewhirst, 1996
  • Scott C. Rosentrater, 1997
  • Cortland R. Posluszny, 1998
  • Richard D. Dooley, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2011
  • John I. Perkins, 2000
  • Michael T. Hargreaves, 2007, 2008
  • Geoffrey K. Hargreaves, 2009, 2010, 2016
  • Fred A. Dobson, Jr., 2012, 2013; PDDGM
  • Jeffrey H. Rousseau, 2014
  • Dennis W. Brassard, 2015

REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS

  • Petition for Dispensation: 1860
  • Petition for Charter: 1861

ANNIVERSARIES

  • 1910 (50th Anniversary)
  • 1935 (75th Anniversary)
  • 1960 (Centenary)
  • 1985 (125th Anniversary)
  • 2010 (150th Anniversary)

VISITS BY GRAND MASTER

BY-LAW CHANGES

1871 1872 1883 1894 1896 1911 1913 1920 1922 1929 1944 1947 1951 1953 1957 1974 1978 1983 1986 1991 1992 1995 1996 1998 2000 2009 2012 2014

HISTORY

  • 1935 (75th Anniversary History, 1935-161; see below)
  • 1960 (Centenary History, 1960-180)

50TH ANNIVERSARY ADDRESS, OCTOBER 1910

JohnHancock50_1.jpg JohnHancock50_2.jpg
JohnHancock50_3.jpg JohnHancock50_4.jpg
JohnHancock50_5.jpg JohnHancock50_6.jpg
JohnHancock50_7.jpg

By Worshipful Brother Joseph S. Howe, Past D. D. G. M.

Worshipful Master, Brethren, and Friends:

An historical sketch of John Hancock Lodge would be incomplete without some reference to the previous history of Masonry in Methuen. For this history we are mainly indebted to Bro. Charles H. Littlefield, of Lawrence, who has collected the facts, and embodied about all that is known of the early history of Masonry in this town, in his address at the seventy-fifth Anniversary of Grecian Lodge on the fourteenth of December, 1900. From this able and exhaustive address, most of the story here related is taken.

There were probably individual Masons in Methuen affiliated with Merrimack Lodge, Haverhill, and St. Matthews, Andover, but the first record we have of any action in Methuen toward the formation of a Lodge is as follows:—

"Methuen, Aug. 22, 1825.

A numberof Ancient, Free and Accepted Master Masons met at the house of Bro. Charles O. Kimball, for the purpose of taking measures to obtain a Charter for the formation of a Lodge in this town. Chose our Rev. Bro. C. 0. Kimball, Moderator, Bro. John Davis, Scribe, for said meeting.

"At this meeting, the name for the Lodge was selected, and committees were appointed to obtain a Charter and the approbation of the neighboring Lodges at Haverhill and Andover, and of the District Deputy Grand Master. The officers for the first year were also selected."

On December 14th, the Grand Lodge voted that the Charter ought to be granted, and it was issued accordingly. The number of charter members of Grecian Lodge was twenty-five, and included several of the most prominent citizens of the town, among them the pastors of the Baptist and Congregational churches, Rev. Charles O. Kimball and Rev. Jacob Weed Eastman. Rev. Charles O. Kimball was afterwards W. M. of Grecian Lodge for three years, and Rev. Jacob Weed Eastman, whose name appears first on the Charter, was pastor of the Congregational Church for several years, and was Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge in the years 1830, 31, 32 and 33. The place of meeting was secured in a building owned by the "Literary Society," situated on the East side of Broadway, on land now owned by Dr. R.H. Lawlor. Grecian Lodge continued to occupy it as a Lodge Room as long as it held meetings in Methuen. This building was afterwards purchased by Bro. Thomas McKay, and removed to theWest part of the village and converted into a dwelling house, which in recent years has been the home of Wor. Bro. James O. Parker. This building, now standing, is noteworthy not only as being the home of the first Masonic Lodge in Methuen, but also the home of the Literary Society, which has the distinction of having originated the lyceum system which afterwards spread over the country. The ceremonies attending the constitution of the Lodge took place May 10, 1826, and were conducted by a deputation from the Grand Lodge. According to the record, the Grand Lodge proceeded to the Hall of Grecian Lodge where they performed the usual Masonic ceremonies incident to the constitution of a Lodge, and installed the Master elect. The remaining events of the day are best told in the following extract from a Masonic paper published in Boston at the time.

Grecian Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons was consecrated and its officers installed at Methuen, May 10th. The new Lodge with several neighboring Lodges, assembled at Literary Hall (erected a few months since to accomodate a Literary Society and Grecian Lodge) in the village, and formed a procession. A very respectable Deputation from the Grand Lodge was present, over which the R. W. John Bartlett presided. The procession, accompanied by an excellent band of music, moved to the Baptist Meeting House. The services commenced with an ode performed in handsome style by a select choir. Prayer by Rev. and Wor. Charles 0. Kimball, pastor of the church and Chaplain elect of Grecian Lodge. Sermon by Rev. and Wor. James Sabine of Boston and Chaplain of the deligation, from Matt. VII - 24-27. The prayer and sermon were both appropriate and interesting, the latter of which will be printed. The Lodge was then consecrated and its officers installed in due and ancient form by R. W. Bro. Bartlett, and Rev. and Wor. Bro. Sabine, assisted by the other officers of the D. G. Lodge. The address of the Grand Master for the day was eloquent and truly Masonic, and did honor to the Fraternity. The procession was again formed, and moved to a commodious tent and sat down to a repast, furnished by Bro. Wm. Richardson in a becoming and elegant manner. The number set at table amounted to about two hundred, including the ladies, whose taste and ingenuity were strikingly exibited in the beautiful trimmings and decorations by which the meeting house was adorned. After the cloth was removed, the following toasts were drunk.

  1. Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
  2. All Sudordinate Lodges.
    • May they be porches through which their members may gain admission to the Celestial Lodge above.
  3. Ancient Greece.
    • Her wisdom in contriving, her strength in supporting, and her beauty in adorning her every undertaking have been without a parallel in all succeeding ages.
  4. Masonry.
    • May the despotic governments that oppose it, be raised to the level of republicanism, and like the sun in his strength, may its beams irradiate every part of the habitable globe.
  5. The Daughters of Columbia.
    • Emblematical of the indented tessel, among the most distinguished of the manifold blessings and comforts which surround us, may they always keep their hearts tyled by virtue.

This is interesting as showing how our ancient Brethren did things in Methuen. Several applications for the degrees were received, and the outlook for the new Lodge was bright. But as Bro. Littlefield says in his address: —

"Before the Lodge had completed its first year of existence, a cloud appeared upon the horizon which was destined soon to overwhelm not only Grecian Lodge, but many others in the land. The disappearance of one William Morgan in 1826 in Western New York was charged to the Masons, and although no legitimate proof was ever offered to substantiate the charge, yet many believed that he had been spirited away on account of an exposal of the secrets of Masonry, which he was said to have published. The excitement spread through all the Eastern states and raged with great violence. It is said that there were more than one hundred and forty anti-Masonic newspapers in the country. An anti-Masonic political party was formed, which, in the national campaign of 1832, succeeded in carrying one state for its presidential electors. The excitement was intense in Methuen and the feeling bitter. The work of the Lodge languished. Applications ceased to come in and members withdrew. The last application received was from Ebenezer Sawyer, who was initiated June 8, 1832, and received the third degree September 7, 1832. The Lodge ceased to hold regular meetings, but a few of the loyal members occasionally met, and once a year elected officers until 1834.

The Lodge was occasionally represented at the Grand Lodge by its Master, and was maintained upon the roll of Lodges until 1838, when it was deemed best to surrender the Charter for a time. During the time that the Lodge existed in Methuen, it initiated twenty-five members and received thirteen members from other Lodges. These, together with the charter members, make a total of sixty-three members who were connected with the Lodge in Methuen."

Among the many people brought together by the building of the new City of Lawrence, which begun in 1845, were a number of Masons. They naturally felt the need of fraternal intercourse, and looked about for an opportunity to attend Lodge meetings. St. Matthews Lodge was too far away and the charter of Grecian Lodge had been surrendered. A meeting of Masons in the vicinity was called to consider the matter. Eight persons were found who had been members of Grecian Lodge, and they petitioned the Grand Lodge to return their charter. At the communication of the Grand Lodge held Dec. 27, 1847, it was voted to restore the charter for the Lodge to be holden in Lawrence. The record of the first meeting holden after the restoration of the charter is as follows:

"Methuen, Jan. 30, A. L. 5848

The following persons are residents and were former members of Grecian Lodge, viz:—

  • Stephen Huse
  • John Davis
  • Daniel Merrill, 2nd
  • Moses Merrill
  • Lewis Gage
  • William Huse
  • John M. Grosvenor
  • Josiah G. White
  • Enoch Stevens
  • Thomas McKay
  • Eben Sawyer
  • Jonathan Merrill


At a meeting of the Lodge duly notified, holden at the house of Dr. S. Huse, the Lodge opened on the degree of Entered Apprentice, R. W. Stephen Huse in the chair. Members present: S. Huse, J. Davis, E. Sawyer, E. Stevens, T. McKay, S. Sawyer. The charter having been returned by the M. W. G. Lodge, proceeded to the election of officers and chose:

* Stephen Huse, R. W. Master

  • John Davis, W. S. Warden
  • Thomas McKay, W. J. Warden
  • John Davis, Secretary

and voted to adjourn the choice of other officers to some future meeting. Bro. Eben Sawyer was elected a committee to gather the furniture and regalia of the Lodge, and deposit it at the Hall so far as materials can be found.

It was voted that when we adjourn it be to meet at Masonic Hall in Merchants Row, Essex Street in Lawrence. Several members were then proposed to become members of the Lodge. The Lodge was then closed to stand closed until Thursday next at 7 o'clock P.M. at place prepared.

This was the last regular Lodge meeting held in Methuen before the formation of John Hancock Lodge.

For the next twelve years, the Masons of Methuen had their home in Lawrence with Grecian Lodge. The best of feeling prevailed on all sides, but it was not always easy to attend the Lodge meetings in Lawrence. The town of Methuen was growing, and there began to be a feeling that the best interests of Masonry required the formation of a new Lodge. The first positive action taken was as follows:

"Methuen, September 26, 1860

At a meeting of Master Masons of this town holden at the Sons of Temperance Hall for the purpose of organizing a new Masonic Lodge, the meeting was organized by the choice of Stephen Huse as Chairman, and John G. White as Secretary.

Balloted for officers.

  • Stephen Huse was chosen Master
* Ebenezer Sawyer Sen. Warden
  • Charles Ingalls Jun. Warden
  • John Low Treasurer
  • John G. White Secretary
  • Charles Shed Sen. Deacon
  • E. S. Mowry Jun. Deacon


"Voted that the three first officers be a committee to confer with Grecian Lodge, about establishing a new Lodge, and prosecute that object to its termination, should Grecian Lodge grant our request. John Low and Charles E. Goss were added to this committee.

Voted that regular meetings be held the last Thursday of each month. Ebenezer Sawyer and Charles E. Goss were chosen a committee to hire the Sons of Temperance Hall in which to hold our meetings. Adjourned to next Thursday at 7 o'clock."

At the next meeting October 4, the committee on Hall asked for further time to report, and it was voted:

  • "that we adopt the name of Mt. Horeb for our new Lodge." No other business was done. A week later, on the eleventh of October, the record says that "The Grand Lodge had granted us a Dispensation."
  • "Voted: on motion made by Charles Ingalls that we substitute the name of John Hancock for Mt. Horeb as the name of our Lodge."
  • "The committee on Hall reported that the Sons of Temperance Hall can be hired of Mr. Daniel Currier for the term of five years for sixty dollars per annum, he fitting it up to suit our convenience, and the report was accepted."
  • "Voted: That we have ante rooms on the west end of Hall."

Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens were appointed a committee to procure Jewels, Clothing, and Working Implements for this Lodge, and Brothers E. Sawyer and C. Goss a committee to attend to altering the Hall."

The committee appointed to procure the formation of a new Lodge in this place, report that they have had a meeting with a committee appointed by Grecian Lodge to confer relative to the terms on which the members of that Lodge residing in this place, interested in the formation of this Lodge, should withdraw themselves from Grecian Lodge and relinquish their interest in the property of that Lodge, and that they have made an amicable adjustment of the whole matter. And that if a dispensation is granted for the formation of a new Lodge, we shall received one hundred and seventy-five dollars.

The following Dispensation was then read by the worshipful Master:

"To all persons to whom these presents may come.

Greeting:

Whereas, a petition has been presented to me by sundry Brethren, to wit: — Stephen Huse, Ebenezer Sawyer, John Low, A. Richardson, B. G. Gutterson, John G. White, J. P. Flint, R. M. Bailey, Charles E. Goss, Elbridge S. Mowry, Charles Shed, George W. Truesdell, Charles Ingalls, and Harvey Hersey, praying to be congregated into a regular Lodge under the name and title of John Hancock Lobge, with permission to hold the same in the town of Methuen.

And whereas, said Petitioners have been recommended to me as Master Masons in good standing, by the Worshipful Master, Wardens, and Brethren of Grecian Lodge, holden in the town of Lawrence, and their petition having been countersigned and approved by our District Deputy Grand Master for the Third Masonic District.

Therefore I, Winslow Lewis, Grand Master of the M. W. Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, reposing full confidence in the recommendations aforesaid, and in the Masonic integrity and ability of the Petitioners, do by virtue of the authority of my office and of ancient Masonic usage hereby grant this Dispensation authorizing and empowering our truly and well beloved Brethren aforesaid to form and open a Lodge, after the manner of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and therein to admit and'make Free Masons according to the Ancient Custom and not otherwise. And this Dispensation is to continue in full force until the regular quarterly communication of our Grand Lodge aforesaid, to be holden in the City of Boston in the month of September A.D. 1861, A.L. 5861, unless sooner revoked by me, or by authority of our said Grand Lodge. And I do hereby appoint Brother Stephen Huse to be the First Master, Brother Ebenezer Sawyer to be the First Senior Warden, and Brother Charles Ingalls to be the First Junior Warden of Said Lodge. And it shall be the duty of said Master and Wardens and their associates, that they are hereby required to return this Dispensation with a correct transcript of all proceedings, had under the authority of the same together with an attested copy of their By-Laws to our Grand Lodge aforesaid, at the expiration of the time herein specified for examination, and such further action in the premises as shall be deemed wise and proper for the advancement of the general interest of the Craft.

Given under our hand and the seal of our Grand Lodge aforesaid at Boston this tenth day of October A.D. 1860, A.L. 5860.

After the reading of the Dispensation, Brother Senior Warden offered the following resolution which was unanimously adopted:

Resolved - that as the Grand Master of the most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has been pleased to grant our prayer in transmitting to us a Dispensation to form a Masonic Lodge in this place, we assume that responsibility with a firm and steadfast resolution to fulfill the duties thereby imposed, according to the best of our abilities." The Lodge was then closed to meet in one week from that date. One week later, October 18, 1860, the Lodge began to work, and received the first application for the degrees. This petition came from Bro. James O. Parker, and he was the first Mason made in John Hancock Lodge.

The prosperity of the Lodge is well indicated by the fact that it made thirteen Masons and held fifty-four meetings within a year from its formation. Most of the new members were middle aged men, and prominent citizens of the town. Bro. B. P. Nourse, Grand Lecturer, was employed by the Lodge three times to give instructions in Masonry. And when we remember that Brothers Huse and Sawyer were both experienced, well-informed Masons, it shows how anxious our older Brothers were, not only to do their work but to do it right. The results of this praiseworthy spirit were lasting, and remain with us to this day.

We find on the records a resolution, "That the thanks of John Hancock Lodge be presented to Bro. John C. Dow of Lawrence for his truly Masonic charity towards us in the gift of the truly beautiful Bible which now adorns the altar that we have erected and consecrated to Masonry," and also another resolution:

"That the thanks of John Hancock Lodge be presented to Bro. Luther E. Stevens of Lawrence, for his brotherly love towards us in the gift of a neat and convenient ballot box and other Masonic implements."

Bro. Stevens also subsequently gave a trowel. All of these articles, so far as known, are the ones now in use.

That the Lodge did its work to the satisfaction of the Grand Lodge, is shown by the fact that on Sept. 11th 1861, a charter was issued, to take precedence from October 10th, 1860. On the 20th of September, the Grand Lodge came to Methuen to perform the ceremonies of dedicating the hall and constituting the Lodge. The record states that the Lodge assembled at half past four o'clock, P.M., and the Grand Officers were escorted to the hall. "Due examination having been made, the hall was dedicated to Masonic purposes agreeable to ancient form. At the conclusion of the ceremony of dedication, the Grand Lodge then proceeded to constitute John Hancock Lodge as a regular Lodge, agreeably to the ancient usages and customs of the fraternity." The Lodge was then called off until half past seven o'clock. At that time "The brethren having assembled with a large audience of invited guests to witness the ceremonies of the occasion, the M.W. Grand Master, having been received with due honors, then proceeded to install the following persons as officers of the Lodge, in accordance with Masonic usage.

  • W. Stephen Huse, Master
  • Ebenezer Sawyer, Senior Warden
  • Charles Ingalls, Junior Warden
  • John Low, Treasurer
  • John G. White, Secretary
  • Charles Shed, Senior Deacon
  • Edwin S. Mowry, Junior Deacon
  • George W. Sawyer, Senior Steward
  • John N. Webster, Junior Steward
  • Charles E. Goss, Marshall
  • Thomas C. Mason, Tyler

At the conclusion of the ceremony of installation, the Grand Master made an eloquent and very interesting address to the officers of the Lodge and the brethren present. The Grand Lodge having retired, and the visitors also, the Lodge was closed." With these simple ceremonies, John Hancock Lodge came into being. The charter members of the Lodge were the same as those named in the dispensation, except Bros. Harvey Hersey and Geo. W. Truesdell, who had probably removed from town. Not one of them is now living. They have all passed beyond the veil. They were good men and true, good Masons all. Some of them had pass ed through the fires of persecution in the anti-Masonic days, when it cost something to be known as a Mason: none of them had caught the anti-Masonic craze.

From this time on the affairs of the Lodge ran smoothly. Applications came in and the Lodge has had a constant, healthy growth until the present time.

The "Sons of Temperance Hall," where the Lodge held its meetings, was the hall in the Currier Building, now occupied by the Grand Army. It was a plain room with a low ceiling, destitute of any ornament except the Masonic emblems hung upon its walls. As the Lodge grew in numbers and in financial resources, the members naturally began to desire a more attractive home. Accordingly arrangements were entered into with the owner of the building for such changes as the Lodge desired. The ceiling was removed and arched over, and the whole hall was frescoed and ornamented in a tasteful manner. The Lodge expended a large part of its funds in the change, and in new furniture, and when finished, it had a cosy attractive hall of which all were proud.

But misfortune overtook the Lodge when least expected. One day in July, 1894, the building caught fire, and when fire and water had completed their work, the hall was found to be ruined, and a large part of the furniture spoiled. Immediately after, Hope Lodge of Odd Fellows, in a most fraternal spirit, offered the use of their hall, and the offer was gratefully accepted.

Their hall was then in the building now owned by Mr. E. F. Searles, opposite the Town House. The Lodge held its meetings there for about two years, when it became necessary to remove again, this time to Pythian Hall, in the building now owned by the Lawrence Knitting Company. It remained in Pythian Hall until removal to its present comfortable quarters in the Odd Fellows Building.

The first Master of John Hancock Lodge was Dr. Stephen Huse. Bro. Littlefield thus speaks of him in his address before Grecian Lodge. "The next Master of Grecian Lodge was Dr. Stephen Huse, and he held the office until the surrender of the charter. When the Lodge was reorganized in Lawrence, he was chosen the first Master, and was again Master in 1850, 1854 and 1855. Dr. Huse did more to preserve the Lodge during the dark days of anti-masonic excitement and to reinvigorate it after its awakening in Lawrence, than any other member. He was born in Methuen, and soon ofter attaining his majority, received the degrees of Masonry in Merrimack Lodge in Haverhill in 1821. He soon after went to Reading to live, but returned to Methuen in 1826. He immediately applied for membership in Grecian Lodge and was chosen Junior Warden the same year and later Senior Warden. He was elected Master of the Lodge in 1830. He died August 4th, 1864, at Edgartown, and his remains were brought to Methuen by the Brethren of Edgartown and buried with Masonic honors." He stood high in his profession and was a leading citizen of Methuen until his death.

Next to Dr. Huse, Ebenezer Sawyer was probably the most active in reorganizing Grecian Lodge and in the formation of John Hancock Lodge. He was born in Boxford, March 10th, 1809 and lived in Lowell for a time, but afterwards settled in Methuen. He received the degrees in Grecian Lodge in 1832 and was the last Mason made in that Lodge before the surrender of the charter. He succeeded Dr. Huse as Master of John Hancock Lodge in 1862, and 1863, and was influential in directing the affairs of the Lodge for many years. He died Sept. 7th, 1892.

His son, George W. Sawyer, was born in Methuen, July 6th, 1835, and received the degrees in John Hancock Lodge in 1861. He was an enthusiastic Mason and was Master in 1873 and 74. He was subsequently elected Senior Deacon until his failing health obliged him to decline the office. To him and to his father is largely due whatever reputation our Lodge has had for correct work. He made frequent visits to the Grand Lecturer to determine doubtful points, and it is safe to say that during his time no Lodge in the District adhered more closely to Grand Lodge requirements than this. He died Jan. 29th, 1901.

Bro. Benjamin M. Hall succeeded Bro. George W. Sawyer as Master. He was born in Methuen, March 10th, 1824 and was made a Mason July 19th, 1867. He died April 9th, 1896. After his term of service as Master was ended, he held the office of Treasurer for 18 years. He was a zealous and exceptionally well informed Mason and one of the most valued members of the Lodge until his death.

Bro. James O. Parker was the first Mason made in John Hancock Lodge. He was born in Pembroke, N.H., Nov. 22nd, 1827, and died June 24th, 1910. He was made a Mason Jan. 17th, 1861, and if he had lived to January next, would have been a Mason 50 years. He was elected Master in 1864 and 1865 and took an active interest in the Lodge until his death.

Dr. George E. Woodbury was an active, influential member of the Lodge for many years. He was born in Bedford, N.H., Feb 9th, 1838: was made a Mason in Lafayette Lodge and admitted to John Hancock Lodge June 14th, 1870. He was a zealous Mason, and although he was a constant attendant at the meetings of the Lodge, he would never accept an elective office. He held the office of Marshal for many years and performed the duties of the position with a skill rarely equalled. He died Dec. 26th, 1909.

The total membership of the Lodge from the beginning has been 483. Of this number 448 were made in this Lodge and 35 received by demit from other Lodges. The present membership is 279. The oldest member is Bro. Daniel T. Morrison, who will be 90 years of age on the 22nd of this month. The Senior member is Wor. Bro. Joseph S. Howe, who was made a Mason August 25, 1864, a little more than 46 years ago. Wor. Bro. Granville E. Foss is a close second, he having been made December 29th, 1864.

This, in substance, is the story of Masonry in Methuen and of John Hancock Lodge. We are proud tonight to be numbered among the goodly company of men who have upheld our ancient institution in this town. Among its best citizens, they have been a type of men with whom every good institution in our land would be safe. We have a noble example in the founders of our Lodge. We live in times when it is an honor to bear the name of Mason. They were maligned, persecuted, the victims of prejudice and misrepresentation, but like the ancient Tyrian they were "Faithful found among the faithless" when the time of trial came.

No one who personally knew Stephen Huse or Ebenezer Sawyer and their associates, can for a moment imagine them quailing before the storm that broke upon them. If they were here tonight, they would exhort us to continue with our good work, to keep our standard high and to demonstrate to the world the worth of Masonry in our lives, by looking beyond the ceremonies and symbols of our order, and striving to regulate our actions by the immortal principles of virtue and morality on which our ancient institution is founded.

75TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, OCTOBER 1935

From Proceedings, Page 1935-161:

By Right Worshipful William H. Buswell.

An historical sketch of John Hancock Lodge was written by Wor. Bro. Joseph S. Howe for the Fiftieth Anniversary observance in 1910. It was given in full in the anniversary booklet printed ar rhar rime. While this history is familiar to the older members, yet 638 members have been admitted since 1910 and the present membership is more than double that of twenty-five years ago. Many present members know nothing of the early history of Masonry in Methuen and of John Hancock Lodge. Therefore the following brief synopsis of that history covering its salient parts will be instructive to the Brethren.

The first record of any action toward organizing a Lodge in Methuen is in 1825 when a number of Free and Accepted Masons being affiliated with Haverhill and Andover Lodges, met and appointed a committee to obtain a Charter. On December 14 of that year the Grand Lodge voted to grant a Charter to Grecian Lodge; there were 25 charter members including several of the most prominent citizens of the town, among them being the pastors of the Baptist and Congregational Churches. Rev. Bro. Charles O. Kimball of the Baptist Church was afterward Worshipful Master of Grecian Lodge for three years, and Rev. Bro. Jacob Eastman of the Congregational Church was Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge from 1830 to 1833. The place of meeting was in a building owned by the "Literary Society" situated on the east side of Broadway on the site of present residence of Doctor Ganley.

On May 10th the Lodge was constituted and its officers duly installed by R.W. Bro.John Bartlett assisted by other Grand Lodge officers, the ceremonies being held in the Baptist Church, after which a procession was formed and accompanied by a band proceeded to a commodious tent where a repast was served and carious toasts were drunk.

Before the Lodge had completed its first year there occurred the so-called Morgan disappearance causing controversy which raged with great violence. Masonry became a national political issue. An anti-masonic party was formed and in the national campaign of 1832 succeeded in carrying one state for its presidential electors. The excitement in Methuen was intense and feeling bitter. The work of the Lodge languished, applications ceased, and members withdrew. The Lodge ceased to hold regular meetings, but a few loyal members occasionally met and once a year until 1834 elected officers. In 1838 it was deemed best to surrender the Charter for a time.

The building of the new City of Lawrence in 1845 brought together many people and among them a number of Masons who felt the need of fraternal intercourse. Among them were eight who had been members of Grecian Lodge in Methuen and they petitioned the Grand Lodge for return of their Charter, which was voted December 27, 1847, the Lodge to be holden in Lawrence. The last regular meeting in Methuen was held January 30th, 1848, when Doctor Stephen Huse was elected Worshipful Master and it was voted to meet in future at Masonic Hall in Lawrence.

For the next twelve years the Masons of Methuen had their home in Lawrence. While the best of feeling prevailed there began to be a feeling that the best interests of Masonry required the formation of a Lodge in Methuen. On September 26th, 1860, a meeting of Master Masons was held in Sons of Temperance Hall for purpose of forming a new Lodge. Officers were balloted for and Stephen I [use was chosen Master. At the next meeting October 4th the name Mt. Horeb was chosen which was changed to John Hancock the following week. A committee appointed to confer with Grecian Lodge reported that an amicable adjustment bad been made and if a Dispensation is granted for the formation of a new Lodge, the Methuen members could withdraw and receive one hundred and seventy-five dollars.

On October 18, 1860, the Dispensation was granted by Grand Master Winslow Lewis, who appointed Stephen Huse to be the first Master. And on October 18th, 1860, John Hancock began iu work and received the first application for degrees from James O. Parker, who was the first Mason made in the new Lodge. Brother Parker advanced rapidly and became Master three years later. Within a year thirteen Masons had been made and fifty-four meetings had been held. Most of the new members were middle-aged men and prominent citizens of the Town. That the work was satisfactory to the Grand Lodge is shown by the fact that on September 11, 1861, a Charter was issued to rake precedence from October 10th, 1860, and on September 20th the Grand Lodge came to Methuen, dedicated the hall, and constituted the Lodge, and the Most Worshipful Grand Master installed the officers.

Dr. Stephen Huse, the first Master of John Hancock Lodge, was Master of Grecian Lodge in Methuen from 1831 to 1834, when the charter was surrendered, and in 1848 was first Master of Grecian Lodge in Lawrence, and also 1850, 1854, and 1855. He was born in Methuen and received the degrees in Merrimack Lodge, of Haverhill. He stood high in his profession and was a leading citizen in Methuen till his death.

The Lodge held its meetings in Sons of Temperance Hall on which the Lodge had expended a large part of its funds in making necessary changes and for new furniture, when misfortune came; the building caught fire, the hall was ruined and furniture spoiled, and as a result the finances of the Lodge were in a low condition. Hope Lodge of Odd Fellows in a most fraternal spirit offered use of their hall in Methuen bank building. In about two years the Lodge moved to Pythian Hall in the building opposite the bank building and later to the new Odd Fellows building.

To continue from Wor. Bro. Howe's history, in October of 1910 was celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Lodge, and Sunday, October 9th, the Lodge attended divine worship at St. George's Ebenezer Primitive Methodist Church and listened to an able sermon by the pastor Bro. Alfred Humphries, a member of the Lodge, the Orpheus Quartette assisting in the music. Friday, October 14th, the anniversary was celebrated, an event to be long remembered. In the afternoon Most Wor. Dana J. Flanders, Grand Master, and nine other Grand Lodge officers were met at Lawrence by the Master and Wardens and taken to Serin Organ Hall to see the "Great Organ" and then given an automobile ride through Mr. Searles' estate and around World's End Pond. 1 Lie the Master was nearly lost to the further celebration as the last car in which he was riding with Most Wor. John Albert Blake went off the road and narrowly missing several trees became mired in the swamp, the other -cars disappearing around a bend. Dusk was falling and the nearest house being half a mile away and the Lodge Hall two and a half miles, the Master had to do some strenuous leg work to get assistance for Bro. Blake and Colby and himself to the Lodge-room to open the Lodge. By commandeering a farmer with his horse and buggy it was accomplished. The Grand Lodge officers, invited guests and Brethren and their wives and ladies were escorted to the banquet hall where a fine banquet was served. Adjourning to the Lodge-room the Grand Master and his officers were waited upon by a committee of Past Masters and introduced to, received, and welcomed by the Master, Wor. Bro. William H. Buswell. The Grand Master responded congratulating the Lodge and remarked upon the youthful appearance of the ladies (the Master in his welcome had referred to the ladies being present at the dedication of the Lodge and the Grand Master facetiously assumed the Master to mean the same ladies now present). Remarks were also made by Rt. Wor. Rev. William H. Ryder, Deputy G.M., Rt. Wor. Rev. Edward A. Horton, Grand Chaplain, and D.D.G.M. Chas. B. Marble. There followed a fine entertainment by the Lotus Quartette, a soprano soloist, an entertainer, and music by an orchestra. The Master then declared the Lodge closed. The unanimous opinion was that the celebration was a great success. Two hundred fifty-three attended the banquet and more than 400 the following exercises. The net cost to the Lodge was $295, the members attending the banquet paying their own expense.

In 1911 a committee consisting of the Master, Secretary, and Senior Warden compiled new By-Laws, Grand Secretary Davis affording much valuable advice. On approval by Grand Lodge June 12, 1911, they were printed in a booklet which included also an abstract of Masonic Law, a list of membership August 31, 1911, and of all former members from time of organization in 1860 to August 31, 1911. Among other things they provided for a permanent fund and $2,000 from the accumulated general funds was set aside for this purpose.

At the regular communication March 26, 1915, there started one of the most important events for the Lodge. Bro. S. W. John M. Ingraham stated he had been authorized by Mr. Edward F. Searles to present to John Hancock Lodge the property and buildings known as the Young Men's Christian Association for Masonic purposes without any strings attached. A great surprise, the proposition was received with applause and several Brothers spoke in favor of accepting, including District Deputy Grand Master Dean K. Webster. After further discussion, the sentiment was that delay was inexpedient, and it was voted unanimously by the eighty-four members present, formally to accept the offer and a committee consisting of Wor. Bros. Foss, Buswell, and Marble was appointed to draw up resolutions thanking the donor.

It was voted that there be a committee consisting of the Master, Wor. Bro. Robert Stanley, and ten others appointed by him, which should consult with themselves, with such others as they saw fit, and estimate the probable annual expense, the initial expense of fittings, furnishings and methods of meeting the necessary expense of maintaining the buildings.

At the next regular communication, April 30, 1915, the deed from Mr. Searles was read, conveying the property to a Board of five Trustees appointed by the Master to hold the same for the Lodge, viz. Robert Stanley, John M. Ingraham, Wm. H. Buswell, Edwin J. Castle, and George William Kenison. The property to be considered as a memorial to Mr. Searles' father, Jesse Gould Searles.

The committee of 11 held several meetings and much argument ensued as to several suggested changes in annual dues and fees for degrees and possible effect of proposed increases. Their report was finally acted upon June 25. The annual dues being fixed at $7, an increase of 54, and fees for degrees $60, an increase of $15. A new By-Law provided the Trustees should hold the property in trust for the use and benefit of the Lodge, having full charge and care, but all expense should be borne by the Lodge.

On June 14th the Temple having been renovated and furnished, was opened for inspection by the Brethren. On October 3rd, 1916, at the one thousandth and first special communication called for that purpose, the Temple was dedicated to the purposes of Masonry in an impressive manner by M.W. Melvin Maynard Johnson and assisting Grand Officers. A procession was then formed and the members and visiting Brethren proceeded to Odd Fellows Hall where a banquet was served, followed by an address by M.W. Grand Master Johnson. A pleasing feature was the presentation by the Grand Master of a Fast Master's Jewel to Wor. Bro. Ingraham and a facsimile diploma of Jesse Gould Searles to his son Edward Francis Searles, the donor of the Temple, who was present at the guest of the evening. It can be stated here that at the regular communication December 30, 1932, this diploma was presented to the Lodge by Mrs. Byrnes.

John Hancock Lodge now had its own home. The cost of building changes and furnishings had been about $6,000 of which Mr. Searles assumed about $3,000. The Lodge funds were nearly exhausted and financially the Lodge was starting from scratch as it did after the fire in 1894. But the future was faced with faith, courage, and high hopes which the subsequent years have justified.

During the next several years applications were received in increasing numbers the climax being in 1920 when 79 members were admitted necessitating 52 communications. Doubtless some were influenced to petition for membership by the desire to obtain the club privileges and participate in the social activities which the facilities of the new Temple afforded. Yet throughout the State the rapid increase in members was general and it was easy to obtain applications from obliging members, since remedied through the present custom of most Lodges that those desirous of petitioning must first appear in person before the Master and Wardens for a pre-examination. Some applicants even thought membership meant a sort of insurance and in case of disaster to them, their families would be cared for by the Lodge. Some thinking Masons had a feeling this growth in numbers was of quantity rather than quality. The fact of the many rejections in John Hancock, 17 in 1923 alone, showed that investigating committees and the Lodge were on their guard against promiscuous admissions if some recommending members were not.

John Hancock has done its share in charitable works, carrying out the tenets of brotherly love and relief. It pledged some $2,000 to the war relief fund, contributed freely to the rainy day fund for the Masonic Home, exceeded its quota toward the building of the George Washington Memorial at Alexandria, and has attended to the needs of its own members in distress without calling on the Board of Masonic Relief for help. It has been rather fortunate in this respect in that demands have not been too great even through present depression.

In 1926 during the bi-centenary anniversary of the founding of Methuen it joined as an organization in the large procession which was one part of the celebration. It also attended in a body and marched in the large procession incident to the laying of the cornerstone of the Lawrence Masonic Temple in 1922.

As shown in our Roll of Honor, 21 of our members saw service in the World War. During the war several special communications were held to confer degrees on enlisted petitioners, dispensations sometimes being necessary as candidates could not wait the required time between degrees. After the war these Brethren were presented with gold watch fobs. In 1917 Bro. John A. Perkins presented the beautiful silk flag which now adorns the Lodge room. In 1925 it was voted to contribute $100 toward cost of the American Legion building. The Lodge has always been ready to join in aiding any appropriate civic under-taking as far as allowed by Grand, Lodge regulations.

For the second time in the history of the Lodge there was in 1923 a move on the part of some members to form a new Lodge. Though a committee was appointed to consider the matter nothing resulted, as in the previous case.

Two important outgrowths of the facilities afforded by the new Temple should not be overlooked. The organization of the Glee Club among the members and a house committee appointed by the Master. The Glee Club has attained a high degree of success by its constant rehearsals, has assisted in the degree work, sponsored minstrel and musical entertainments for the enjoyment of the public, has journeyed to the Masonic Home to entertain the Brethren and ladies there, and given concerts in the Nevins and Lawrence Homes for the Aged and at several churches and won prizes in singing contests by Glee Clubs.

The House Committee has arranged the many social activities, bowling and other tournaments, and various Ladies' Nights.

Both have been a real help in promoting that satisfaction and delight which disinterested friendship affords and spreading the cement of Brotherly Love and Affection. Their activities have been self-supporting, without financial expense to the Lodge.

On January 20, 1922, an event that seldom occurs in the history of a Lodge was the fraternal visit of Most Worshipful Arthur D. Prince, Grand Master, who assumed the East and raised the candidate, a personal friend, being assisted by Past Masters of various Lodges.

A few statistics may be useful for future reference. The total membership from the beginning has been 1121, 483 in the first 50 years and o.iS in the last 25 years. The membership 50 years ago was 279, today, 591. The high point was 636 in 1931. The senior living Past Master is Worshipful Brother George R. Merrill, Master in 1885-86, 50 years ago. The permanent fund of the Lodge stands today at its highest point, and a sizeable amount, having shown a steady growth since 1919 when it made a new start after equipping the new Temple, and this notwithstanding it has been necessary to use $1400. during the past three years. The Lodge has felt the present depression and many Brothers have been unable to pay their dues. The Master and Wardens have been most generous in remitting dues when investigation showed the distress and necessity to be serious, thus exemplifying the tenets of our institution, and this with full sanction of the Lodge. Admissions have decreased there being only four in each of the last three years. Too, our loss by death last year was the largest in the history of the Lodge, seventeen. The high cost of government has also affected the Lodge in that the tax on our building has increased from $192.50 in L916 its first year to $503.88 for the present year or 160%.

There have been 554 regular and 1360 special communications to October 1, 1935.

Finally, Brethren, we can rejoice that the Lodge work and adherence to ritual correctness has been of a high standard. Worshipful Brother Howe states that during the first year of the Lodge the Grand Lecturer was employed three times to give instructions in Masonry and Worshipful Brother Huse and his Wardens were experienced and well informed Masons and anxious not only to do their work but to do it right. The early records show the Brethren met frequently, even on the Sabbath, lecturing and singing. The results of this spirit were lasting and remain to this day, for the officers of the past 25 years have well carried out the traditions of their predecessors. It may not be amiss to state that on one occasion the Master of another Lodge in the district dubbed John Hancock the banner Lodge of the district. To quote from Worshipful Brother Howe's words, "We are proud tonight to be numbered among the goodly company of men who have upheld our ancient institution in this town. They were a type of men with whom every good institution in our land would be safe. If they were here tonight, they would exhort us to continue with our good work, keep our Standard limn, and demonstrate to the world the worth of Masonry in our lives and strive to regulate our actions by the immortal principles of virtue and morality on which our ancient institution is founded."

CENTENARY HISTORY, JUNE 1960

From Proceedings, Page 1960-180:

The history of Masonry in Methuen does not begin with John Hancock Lodge. Early in the 1800's many residents of the town who were members of the Fraternity were affiliated with Merrimack Lodge of Haverhill and Saint Matthew's Lodge of Andover. The first record of any action in the town toward the forming of a Lodge and obtaining a charter from Grand Lodge is embodied in an address by Bro. Charles H. Littlefield of Lawrence on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Grecian Lodge. This anniversary took place on December 14, 1900. Bro. Littlefield collected many facts and data which he gave in his address. Much of the data is contained in an address by Wor. Joseph S. Howe, P. D. D. G. M., on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of John Hancock Lodge, October 1910.

The first action toward forming a Masonic Lodge in the town took place as follows:

Methuen, under date of August 22, 1825,

A number of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons being anxious to form a Lodge and take steps to obtain a charter, met at the house of Bro. Charles O. Kimball to discuss the matter. Rev. Bro. Kimball was chosen moderator and Bro. John Davis scribe for the meeting. At this meeting a name was selected for the Lodge, and committees were appointed to obtain a charter for the formation of a Lodge in Methuen with the approval of the neighboring Lodges at Haverhill and Andover as well as that of the District Deputy Grand Master. The officers for the first year were also selected.

On December 14th, the Grand Lodge voted its approval of the charter and issued it accordingly. There were twenty-five charter members of Grecian Lodge, which included a number of very prominent citizens, among them the pastors of the Baptist and Congregational churches, Rev. Charles O. Kimball and Rev. Jacob Weed Eastman. Rev. Bro. Kimball afterwards became Worshipful Master of Grecian Lodge for three years and Rev.Bro. Eastman, the first name on the charter, was Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge during the years 1830-1833. The meeting place was in a building owned by the "Literary Society," situated on the east side of Broadway, where Grecian Lodge continued to hold meetings while in Methuen. The ceremonies attending the constitution of the Lodge took place May 10, 1826, and were conducted by a deputation from the Grand Lodge over which R. W. John Bartlett presided. The events were published in a Masonic paper in Boston.

Before the Lodge had been in existence a year, a cloud appeared on the horizon which was destined to overwhelm a great many Masonic Lodges, including Grecian Lodge. This was the Morgan incident in 1826, at which time one William Morgan disappeared, and this disappearance was charged to Masonry. No legitimate proof was ever offered to substantiate this, but for a long time many believed he had been spirited away for revealing Masonic secrets. Excitement raged all through the Eastern States. More than 140 anti-Masonic newspapers appeared in the country, and even an anti-Masonic political party was formed which took part in the 1832 national campaign and succeeded in carrying one state for its presidential electors.

The feeling and excitement was so bitter in Methuen that Lodge work languished. Applications ceased to come in, and a great many members withdrew. The last application was received from Ebenezer Sawyer, who was initiated June 8, 1832, and raised to the Third Degree September 7, 1832. The Lodge ceased to hold regular meetings, although a few loyal members met occasionally and once a year elected officers until 1834. The Lodge was carried on the roll of Lodges and was occasionally represented at the Grand Lodge. In 1838 it was deemed best to surrender the charter for a time. During the period that the Lodge existed in Methuen, it initiated twenty-five members. It had thirteen affiliates from other Lodges who, together with the charter members, make a total of sixty-three Brethren who were connected with the Lodge in Methuen.

In 1845, the new City of Lawrence began to grow. Many new buildings began to rise, and with this work came many men who were Masons. They were interested in fraternal fellowship, and sought the opportunity to associate with a Lodge in order to attend meetings. Grecian Lodge had surrendered its charter, and they felt that Saint Matthew's Lodge in Andover was too far to travel at that time. A meeting was called to consider the matter, and eight former members of Grecian Lodge came together and petitioned Grand Lodge for the return of the charter.

At the Grand Lodge communication held December 27, 1847, it was voted to restore the charter for the Lodge with meetings to be held in Lawrence. At the first meeting held after restoration, the records show:

Methuen, January 30, A.L. 5848

The following persons are residents and were former members of Grecian Lodge:—

  • Stephen Huse
  • John Davis
  • Daniel Merrill 2nd
  • Moses Merrill
  • Lewis Gage
  • William Huse
  • John M. Grosvenor
  • Josiah G. White
  • Enoch Stevens
  • Thomas McKay
  • Eben Sawyer
  • Jonathan Merrill

A meeting of the Lodge, after due notice, was held at the home of Dr. Stephen Huse. The Lodge was opened on the First Degree with W. M. Stephen Huse in the chair. Members present were S. Huse, J. Davis, E. Sawyer, E. Stevens, T. McKay and S. Sawyer. With the charter having been returned by the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, election of officers took place. Chosen were:—

  • Worshipful Master, Stephen Huse
  • Senior Warden, John Davis
  • Junior Warden, Thomas McKay
  • Secretary, John Davis

The Lodge voted to adjourn and select the remaining officers at some future meeting. Bro. Eben Sawyer was elected to form a committee to gather furniture and Lodge regalia, to be deposited at the 11 all so far as materials could be found.

It was voted on adjournment that the group meet at Masonic Hall in Merchants Row, Essex Street, Lawrence. The Lodge was then closed until Thursday next at 7 o'clock P.M. at the place prepared. This was the last regular meeting held in Methuen before the formation of John Hancock Lodge.

For the next twelve years, the Masons of Methuen had their home with Grecian Lodge in Lawrence. While there was good feeling all around, it was not always easy to attend meetings in Lawrence. The Town of Methuen was growing, and a feeling arose that the best interests in Masonry required the formation of a Lodge in town. The first positive action taken was as follows:

Methuen, September 26, 1860

At a meeting of Master Masons of this town held at the Sons of Temperance Hall for the purpose of organizing a new Masonic Lodge, with Stephen Huse chosen as Chairman, John C. White as Secretary, the following officers were ballotted for and chosen:

  • Master, Stephen Huse
  • Senior Warden, Ebenezer Sawyer
  • Junior Warden, Charles Ingalls
  • Treasurer, John Low
  • Secretary, John G. White
  • Senior Deacon, Charles Shed
  • Junior Deacon, E. S. Mowry


It was voted that the first three officers be a committee to confer with Grecian Lodge about establishing a new Lodge and to pursue the matter to termination, should Grecian Lodge act in favor. Later John Low and Charles E. Goss were added to the Committee. It was also voted that regular meetings be held the last Thursday of each month. Ebenezer Sawyer and Charles E. Goss were chosen as a committee to hire the Sons of Temperance Hall in which to hold meetings. Meeting was adjourned until the following Thursday at 7 o'clock.

At the meeting held on October 4, the hall committee asked for more time before reporting. It was voted that we adopt the name of Mt. Horeb for our new Lodge. There was no other business brought before the meeting. A week later the record states that, on the eleventh of October, the Grand Lodge granted Dispensation.

Voted: on a motion made by Bro. Charles Ingalls that the name of John Hancock be substituted for Mt. Horeb as the name for the Lodge.

The Committee on the Hall reported that the Sons of Temperance Hall could be hired of one Daniel Currier on a five-year term for sixty dollars per annum, and that he would fit the hall to suit the convenience of the Lodge. The report was accepted. It was also voted that the Lodge have ante-rooms on the West end of the Hall.

The Senior and Junior Wardens were appointed as a committee to procure the Jewels, clothing and working implements for the Lodge, and Brothers E. Sawyer and C. Goss serve as a committee to attend to the necessary alterations on the new hall. The committee appointed to procure the formation of a new Lodge reported that they had met a committee appointed by Grecian Lodge to determine on what terms the Methuen members should withdraw from Grecian Lodge and relinquish their interest in the property of that Lodge. They reported that an amicable adjustment had been made on the matter, and after a dispensation had been granted for the formation of the new Lodge, that John Hancock Lodge should receive one hundred and seventy-five dollars.

The following Dispensation was then read by the Worshipful Master:

Whereas, a petition has been presented to me by sundry Brethren, to wit: — Stephen Huse, Ebenezer Sawyer, John Low, A. Richardson, B. G. Gutterson John G. White, J. P. Flint, R. M. Bailey, Charles E. Gow, Elbridge S. Mowry, Charles Shed, George W. Truesdale, Charles Ingalls, and Harvey Hersey, praying to be congregated into a regular Lodge under the name and title of John Hancock Lodge with permission to hold same in the Town of Methuen:

And whereas, said Petitioners have been recommended to me as Master Masons in good standing by the Worshipful Master, Wardens, and Brethren of Grecian Lodge, holden in the town of Lawrence, and their petition having been countersigned and approved by our District Deputy Grand Master for the Third Masonic District;

Therefore, I, Winslow Lewis, Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, reposing full confidence in the recommendations aforesaid and in the Masonic integrity and ability of the Petitioners, do by virtue of the authority of my office and of ancient Masonic usage hereby grant this Dispensation authorizing and empowering our truly and well beloved Brethren aforesaid to form and open a Lodge, after the manner of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and therein to admit and make Free Masons according to the Ancient Custom and NOT OTHERWISE. And this Dispensation is to continue in full force until the regular quarterly communication of our Grand Lodge aforesaid to be held in the City of Boston in the month of Sept. A.D. 1861, A.L. 5861, unless sooner revoked by me, or by the authority of our said Grand Lodge. And I do hereby appoint Brother Stephen Huse to be the First Master, Brother Ebenezer Sawyer to be the First Senior Warden, Brother Charles Ingalls to be the First Junior Warden of said Lodge. And it shall be the duty of said Master and Wardens and their associates that they are hereby required to return this Dispensation with a correct transcript of all proceedings had under the authority of the same together with an attested copy of their By-Laws to our Grand Lodge aforesaid, at the expiration of the time herein specified for examination, and such further action in the premises as shall be deemed wise and proper for the advancement of the general interest of the Craft.

Given under our hand and seal of our Grand Lodge aforesaid at Boston, this tenth day of October A.D. 1860, A.L. 5860.

Winslow Lewis, Grand Master
Attest: Charles W. Moore, Grand Secretary

After the reading of the Dispensation, Bro. Sr. Warden offered the following resolution which was unanimously adopted: "Resolved that as the Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Lodge of Massachusetts has been pleased to grant our prayer in transmitting to us a Dispensation to form a Masonic Lodge in this place, we assume that responsibility with a firm and steadfast resolution to fulfill the duties thereby imposed, according to our best abilities."

The Lodge was then closed to meet one week after that date.

One week later, October 18, 1860, the Lodge began work and received its first application for the degrees. This petition came from one James O. Parker, who received his degrees in John Hancock Lodge accordingly. The first year the Lodge held fifty-four meetings and thirteen Masons received degrees. Most of the men were middle aged and very prominent citizens of the town. Note is made of the gift of a Bible to John Hancock Lodge by Bro. John C. Dow. A ballot box was the gift of Bro. Luther E. Stevens and later a trowel. Both of these men were from Lawrence.

The work of the Lodge proved satisfactory to the Grand Master, and on September 11, 1861, a charter was issued to take precedence from October 10, 1860. On September 20, the Grand Lodge came to Methuen to perform the ceremonies of dedicating the hall and constituting the Lodge. The Grand Master, having been received with due honors, then proceeded to install the proper officers of the Lodge in accordance with Ancient Masonic usage.

  • Master, Stephen Huse
  • Senior Warden, Ebenezer Sawyer
  • Junior Warden, Charles Ingalls
  • Treasurer, John Low
  • Secretary, John G. White
  • Senior Deacon, Charles Sued
  • Junior Deacon, Edwin S. Mowry
  • Senior Steward, George W. Sawyer
  • Junior Steward, John H. Webster
  • Marshal, Charles E. Goss
  • Tyler, Thomas C. Mason

At the conclusion of the ceremony of installation, the Grand Master made a very interesting address to the officers and brethren of the Lodge present, retired with his suite, and the Lodge closed in Ample Form. The Lodge prospered during the following years, and a good deal of money was expended in the improvement of the lodge-room. New furniture was purchased and finally the hall, when finished, had a very attractive appearance.

In July 1894, misfortune overtook the Lodge. A fire broke out which completely destroyed the property. At this time Hope Lodge of Odd Fellows, in true fraternal spirit, offered the use of their hall, which was gratefully accepted. The Odd Fellows Hall was in the building opposite the Town House, at that time owned by Mr. E. F. Searles. After about two years, it became necessary to move again, this time to Pythian Hall, then owned by the Lawrence Knitting Company. The Lodge remained here until removal to more comfortable quarters in the Odd Fellows Building, where it was located at the time of the fiftieth anniversary in 1910.

A brief history of Dr. Stephen Huse states that he was born in Mcthuen April 30, 1799. He received his degrees in Masonry in Merrimack Lodge of Haverhill in 1821. Soon after, he went to live in Reading, but he returned to Methuen in 1826. He immediately applied for membership in Grecian Lodge and was chosen Junior Warden the same year, later Senior Warden. He was elected Master of the Lodge in 1830, and served again as Master in 1850, 1854 and 1855. He died August 4, 1864, at Edgartown. His remains were brought to Methuen by the Brethren of Edgartown and buried with Masonic honors. Wor. Ebenezer Sawyer, who followed Dr. Huse as Master of John Hancock Lodge, was born in Boxford March 4, 1809, and died September 7, 1892.

Bro. James O. Parker, the first man to be made a Mason in John Hancock Lodge, died June 24, 1910. Had he lived until the following January, he would have been a Mason for fifty years. He was elected Master of the Lodge during the years 1864 and 1865.

Other prominent members included George W. Sawyer, who, born in Methuen July 6, 1834, received his degrees in John Hancock Lodge in 1861. and was Master of the Lodge in 1873 and 1874. Wor. Benjamin M. Hall, who succeeded him, was born in Methuen March 10, 1824, and was made a Master Mason July 19, 1867. He died April 9, 1896. He was Master of the Lodge in the years 1875 and 1876, and served as Treasurer of the Lodge for eighteen years following his term as Master.

At the fiftieth anniversary, the total membership of the Lodge from its inception was 483 members, of which 35 members were affiliates. The membership in 1910 was 279. The oldest member at the time was Bro. Daniel T. Morrison, who on the 22nd day of October would be 90 years of age. The following Brethren served as officers of the Lodge during the fiftieth anniversary:

  • Worshipful Master, William H. Buswell
  • Senior Warden, Frederic L. Barstow
  • Junior Warden, Robert Stanley
  • Treasurer, Harrison Turner
  • Secretary, John Ostler
  • Chaplain, Rev. Charles H. Kershaw
  • Marshal, Wor. Granville E. Foss
  • Senior Deacon, John M. Ingraham
  • Junior Deacon, Joseph Sherlock
  • Senior Steward, Silas Thomas
  • Junior Steward, Charles H. Cooper
  • Tyler, John S. Maguire

At the present time only R.W. Joseph Sherlock remains. He has served with distinction as Master of the Lodge, District Deputy Grand Master, and for seven years (until leaving town for a period), Treasurer of the Lodge.

The last half of the century saw many changes take place, and the events are well within the recollection of many of the older members. It was during this period, due to the kindness of the late Edward F. Searles, that the Lodge acquired its own Temple. A set of By-Laws was compiled and printed, carrying the names of all members of the Lodge from its inception. A permanent fund was started with the initial sum of $2,000.00 to which it was agreed to add $20.00 per initiate plus any dividends the fund could earn.

At the regular communication of March 26, 1915, Bro. John M. Ingraham, then Senior Warden of the Lodge, brought to its attention that he had been authorized by Edward F. Searles to offer as a present to John Hancock Lodge the property and buildings known at the time as the Young Men's Christian Association. The announcement came as a complete surprise to the members and was received with great applause. Many Brethren, including the then District Deputy Grand Master, the late Dean K. Webster, moved for immediate acceptance. The 84 members attending the meeting moved as a unit and voted to accept the offer. A proper committee was selected to draw up an appropriate reply thanking Mr. Searles for his kindness.

For the first time in its existence, the Lodge had a home of its own, and it was situated in a very prominent position in the Town. With the new Temple came added responsibilities. At the regular communication of April 30, 1915, the deed from Mr. Searles was read conveying the property to a Board of Trustees, five in number, appointed by the Worshipful Master. This Committee and its successors were to hold, maintain, and take care of the property for the Lodge. The original Trustees were:

  • Robert Stanley
  • John M. Ingraham
  • William H. Buswell
  • Edwin T. Castle
  • George William Kenison

The name given to the new Temple was in honor of Mr. Searles' father, Jesse Gould Searles, and it was to be known as "The Searles Memorial Masonic Temple."

The building required considerable renovation and also new fixtures. The material and work done cost $6,000, of which Mr. Searles assumed one-half, of the cost. After the renovation and refurnishing, the Lodge was opened for inspection on June 14, 1915. The property was transferred on the 27th day of April 1915, signed by Mr. Edward F. Searles, Mr. Arthur Sweeney, Justice of the Peace, and the deed was received and recorded May 1, 1915, at 12:20 P. M.

The new Temple was very properly dedicated to the purposes of Masonry by M.W. Melvin M. Johnson at the one thousandth and first special communication held for that purpose. He was most ably assisted by the Grand Officers. Mr. Searles, being a guest of the evening, was presented with a facsimile of the diploma of his father, Jesse Gould Searles. Later at the regular communication held December 30, 1932, the real diploma was presented to the Lodge by Mrs. Byrnes.

On June 25, 1915, after much discussion based on several previous meetings, the Lodge decided to increase the dues and fees. The annual dues were fixed at $7.00 per annum, and fees raised to $60.00, an increase of $15.00. In 1945, the Lodge dues were raised to $10.00 per annum to meet the then rising costs. More recently, the dues have been increased to $12.00 per annum and the fees to $100.00. The Permanent Fund has now increased to $22,500.00. The donations have been increased from $20.00 to $45.00 per initiate, and the income derived from the Permanent Fund is given to the Relief Fund.

During the next few years, following Mr. Searles' gift of the Temple to the Lodge, applications for admittance to membership in the Lodge increased tremendously. There is no doubt that the new Temple was responsible for a great increase of interest.

During the year 1920, fifty-two communications were held to admit 79 members. In 1923 there were 17 rejections, apparently due to sober reflection on the part of the Lodge. It was learned that many of the new members had the impression that once they joined the Fraternity they would be cared for throughout life. It was found also that a great many of the new members joined only for what social advantages might be obtained through belonging to the Lodge. At this time it was deemed best that all new applicants appear before a pre-application committee at the Lodge.

During World War I, the Lodge pledged $2,000 to the War Relief Fund, and in 1925 the Lodge contributed $100 toward building the American Legion building. At the time of the 75th anniversary the Lodge membership was 591. Its highest was 636 in 1931.

During the depression, many of the Brethren were unable to pay their dues, but when investigation showed proper cause, the dues were remitted. In spite of all that could be done, membership lapsed and there were very few new applications. With the end of World War II in sight, a sudden change took place. In 1944, there were 23 new members admitted, and since that time applications have been made at a steady and high rate. At the present time, the Lodge has 696 members.

The original By-Laws, revised by John Ostler, Secretary at the time, were adopted January 28, 1927, and approved by Grand Lodge March 9, 1927. They were again revised March 1953 by Wor. George Frost, Secretary of the By-Law Committee appointed for that purpose. They were certified by the Grand Secretary, Earl W. Taylor, March 12, 1953. Since that time they have been revised to increase Lodge dues and fees, and to establish a permanent Relief Fund.

In recent years there have been many new members who are in their twenties, but the stamina of Masons is indicated by the fact that John Hancock Lodge has twenty members who have reached 85 years of age or over, twenty-eight who are between 70 and 75, thirty-two members between 65 and 70 and over forty members between 60 and 65 years of age. The Lodge contributes to the aid of widows of departed Brethren and helps to support several Brethren and widows in the Masonic Home. It also aids Brethren who are in temporary financial difficulties. This work is done without publicity of any kind that otherwise might cause some embarrassment. The Service Committee raises funds to supply crutches, wheel chairs, hospital beds, radios and TV sets to assist the sick. They also pride themselves that no sick Brother is left unattended.

The Lodge also prides itself on its activity in the Red Cross Blood Program by loaning the Temple for this purpose as well as making generous contributions in the blood of the members.

For the last fourteen years the Lodge has held a Children's Christmas Party, giving presents to all the children who attend.

This party is supported by voluntary contributions from the members.

The membership is scattered far and wide, although the great majority live nearby. The Lodge has one member who served in the Spanish-American War, a great many who served in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War, and also has several members still in service.

Six members of John Hancock Lodge have served as District Deputy Grand Master, fifty-three have served as Master of the Lodge, one member served as Master of Grecian Lodge for a period of nine years, and one member served as Master of a Lodge in Rhode Island.

OTHER

  • 1922 (Participation in cornerstone laying, 1922-105)
  • 1963 (Participation in cornerstone laying, 1963-227)

EVENTS

CONSTITUTION OF LODGE, JULY 1861

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XX, No. 8, June 1861, Page 256:

We understand that the new Lodge which has been working under a Dispensation for the year past, will be constituted on the 17th instant, under the name of John Hancock Lodge, should a Charter be obtained of the Grand Lodge at its ensuing session, of which there is very little doubt.

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XX, No. 10, August 1861, Page 384:

John Hancock Lodge is the name of a new Lodge, which, for the year past, has been working under Dispensation at the pleasant manufacturing town of Methuen, on the Merrimack River. Having met with the requisite encouragement and success, a Charter was granted by the Grand Lodge in September last for its permanent organization; and on the 20th of that month it was constituted and its officers installed in due and ancient form. The ceremony was performed by the Grand Master, assisted by the Grand Officers. The installation service was public and took place in the evening in the presence of the lady-friends of the Brethren.

The Lodge the past year has been very successful, and has been enabled to fit up a very neat and convenient hall for its accommodation. Among ils members are several Brethren who were attached to Grecian Lodge in the antimasonic times, but since removed to the neighboring town of Lawrence. Among them are the present W. Master, Dr. Stephen Huse, and both Wardens. The Lodge starts under highly favorable auspices.


GRAND LODGE OFFICERS

OTHER BROTHERS


DISTRICTS

1860: District 3

1867: District 6 (Newburyport)

1883: District 10 (Lawrence)

1911: District 11 (Lawrence)

1927: District 11 (Lawrence)

2003: District 11


LINKS

Massachusetts Lodges