Chartered By: Arthur E. Johnson
Charter Date: 09/13/1997 1997-145
Precedence Date: 07/04/1864
- Loriston L. Barnes, 1997; PDDGM
- Daniel O. Gross, 1998
- John H. Doughty, IV, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005; PDDGM
- Ronald J. Charland, 2001; N
- George Hodgson, Jr., 2002, 2003
- Arthur E. Mitchell, 2006
- John M. Petrie, III, 2007
REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
- 1997 (125th Anniversary)
VISITS BY GRAND MASTER
- 1997 (A. Johnson; Consolidation; 125th Anniversary; Special Communication)
- 2007 Consolidation; Special Communication)
- 1997 (125th Anniversary History, 1997-147; see below)
125TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, SEPTEMBER 1997
History of Athol Lodge
The recorded history of Freemasonry in Athol dates to March 23, 1795, when two Athol men, Joseph Pierce and Hiram Newhall, joined Morning Star Lodge in Worcester. Considering travel facilities and roads at that time, they must have been strongly motivated by the Craft. Before a Lodge was formed in Athol, our early Brothers regularly traveled over these rough roads, most of which were little more than trails through the woods, to Lodges in Northfield, Greenfield and Hardwick.
The first Lodge to be chartered in Athol was Harris Lodge. This Lodge was chartered on October 13, 1803, by then Grand Master, Isaiah Thomas. The Lodge later moved to the town of Gerry (now Phillipston) and then to Templeton. They disbanded following the Morgan incident.
Star Lodge was Chartered on July 4, 1864. They become our Mother Lodge when, in 1872, several of their members petitioned Grand Lodge for the right to form another Lodge in Athol. This was granted and on September 12, 1872, a charter was issued to Athol Lodge. Many of the charter members were also charter members of Star Lodge.
The original copies of the early records of Athol Lodge were destroyed in a fire of the Music Hall Block on April 8, 1876. They were reconstructed from reports found in the ashes, copies of reports that had been filed with Grand Lodge, and the recollections of members. Therefore, some of the early history is sketchy at best. We do know that the first meeting of Athol Lodge after the charter was issued was held on October 16, 1872, with Wor. Erastus Smith in the Oriental Chair. At this very first meeting, petitions were read from Edward L. Foster, Fred E. Stratton and Elmer H. Fisher. They were elected to membership and the Entered Apprentice Degree was conferred on them at the November meeting. They thus became the first non-charter members of the new Lodge.
The dues at that time were $2.00 per year with a Grand Lodge assessment of $1.00, for a whopping total of $3.00!
Apparently the streets weren't any safer than they are now as the records indicate that at least two of our early members met violent deaths. In the Spring of 1875, Brother Charles A. Stone was murdered, apparently by a woman, as the records show that the Lodge hoped that "his supposed murderess would be punished." On Sunday, September 13, 1885, at 12:30 o'clock p.m., a Masonic Funeral was conducted for Brother J. C. Sheon, 32°, who was murdered on September 3, 1885, while traveling in Mexico.
Athol Lodge has had several homes in its 125 year history. After the Music Hall Block burned in 1876, they met in the Fellows Block. This was deemed unsuitable and in 1885 a lease was signed on the G. S. Brewer Block which had just been erected at the comer of Main and Chestnut Streets uptown. In later years, both Star and Athol Lodges met in the Starrett Block on Main Street, downtown. This hall still exists. In 1969, the Post Office erected a new building and put their old quarters on the market. The Athol Masonic Charity and Education Society, Inc. was formed and purchased this building. It now houses both Star and Athol Lodges, Union Royal Arch Chapter, Athol Orange Commandery No. 37, and Themis Chapter No. 30, O. E. S.
In its lifetime, Athol Lodge has been assigned to several Masonic Districts. From its inception in 1862 through 1866, we were in the 6th District. We became part of the 13th. In 1926, the Thirteenth District was split into the Fitchburg 13th and the Barre 13th. We have been in the Barre 13th ever since.
Athol Lodge has been privileged to have several of our Brothers honored to serve as District Deputy Grand Master. Some of the recent ones are Frank W. Wilson, 1931-32; George G. Engel, 1944-45; William G. Thorpe, 1956-57; Rodney S. Wilson, 1970-71; Warren C. Wilson, 1982-83 and Ronald J. Charland, 1994-95.
Athol Lodge now has 102 active members. The average age of our members is 66.22 years. The average length of membership is 32.17 years. Our oldest member is Bro. Charles Francis Upham who is 94 years and 8 months of age. He is also our most senior member having been a Mason for 71 years and 9 months. He was raised December 17,1925. Our youngest member is Bro. Harley Llewellyn Smith, Jr. At 21 years and 8 months of age, Bro. Smith is also the last Master Mason to be raised in Athol Lodge. He was raised at our Wilderness Degree on June 20, 1997. The last member to sign the by-laws, however, is Bro. Philip Edwin Mattson who was raised two days prior to Bro. Smith on June 18, 1997.
For 125 years Athol Lodge has served the Craft in the town of the same name. This name is rich in Masonic history. The lodges of the Ancient Grand Lodge were known as "Athol Lodges." Today Lodges of English registry that were constituted under the Ancients are so marked. Now it is time for us to return to our roots. Tonight Athol and Star Lodges will again become one under the name of Star-Athol Lodge. This certainly is not the end of either Lodge but rather a new beginning. We trust that this new stronger Lodge will serve the Craft as well for at least another 125 years.
GRAND LODGE OFFICERS
- Loriston L. Barnes, DDGM, District 26, 2004, 2005
- Ronald J. Charland, DDGM, District 13 (Barre), 1994, 1995; N
- John H. Doughty, IV, DDGM, District 26, 2006, 2007
- Charles I. Montalbano, DDGM, District 13 (Barre), 2002