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Old Masonic Place, New Salem

"The Old Masonic Place, also known as the Philip Martin place, was near a four-corners at Lake Mattawa where ' a road leading east and west passed the old Tyrell place and led over the Wendell hills. '

"The first owner was Dr. Edward Barton, Sr., who occupied the house for 40 years, which would make the date of the house approximately 1798. He was the first physician in this vicinity and was a great surgeon and a powerful politician of his day. Dr. Barton is buried in Holtshire Cemetery.

"He, with other Free Masons, organized and instituted a Lodge in the quarters arranged by Dr. Barton in the upper part of his house."


From New England Craftsman, Vol. III, No. 12, September 1908, Page 452:

The First Home of Masonry in Western Massachusetts

The picture accompanying this article is said to be that of "The First Home of Masonry in Western Massachusetts, Built 1750. Orange, Mass." We have made considerable effort to verify this statement. Brother James E. Kelton, secretary of Orange lodge says: "It is certain that Orange Lodge never met in this building, either the old lodge that gave up its charter in the 'Morgan days' or the present lodge that was organized in 1859." He says further that "reliable persons say that many years ago the letter G was at one end of the old attick." Brother John D. Bouker, to whom we looked for further light, says: "I have spent considerable time in looking up its history but have as yet found little satisfaction. The date on the post card (from which the picture is taken) I think very doubtful for the first house in town was built in 1737 and was in another part of the town and I have found no reason to think the part where the house in question is was settled for quite a number of years after.

"There certainly was a room in the house used for a Masonic lodge room — a letter G made of wood is or was until recently on the wall. The house is generally known as the old Masonic lodge room but I have not found any light as to when or by whom it was used. A lodge in New Salem was chartered in 1815 as you will see by Brother Nickerson's history and my own opinion is that the house was used by this lodge and was given up during the troublous times or a few years later. The part of Orange where the house stands was annexed from New Salem in 1837."

Referring to the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts we find under date of 11th, Sept., 5815, "A petition, signed by Alpheus Harding and eleven others, Master Masons, praying for a charter to open a Lodge in the town of New Salem, which was supported by certificates of approbation from Mount Zion and Pacific Lodges, and by the District Deputy Grand Master of the 7th Masonic District, was read and committed to the R. W. Elijah Morse, Sumner Barstow and Henry Purkitt, to report thereon."

On the 11th of December following the committee "reported in favor of granting the prayer of Rev. Alpheus Harding and others for a Dispensation for the Lodge in New Salem." The Grand Lodge records give little more information. The lodge was represented in Grand Lodge on several occasions in 1819, 1820 and 1821. It could not have been very prosperous for on two occasions it was reported in arrears to the Grand Lodge, once to the amount of $34 and again in the sum of $48. This was on December 27, 1830, which was the last time the lodge is mentioned and probably indicates the lime of its decease.