Wilder

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WILDER LODGE

Location: Leominster

Chartered By: Winslow Lewis

Charter Date: 06/13/1860 VI-308

Precedence Date: 06/13/1859

Current Status: Active


PAST MASTERS

  • William Durant, 1859, 1860
  • Calvin B. Cook, 1861
  • John H. Lockey, 1862, 1870, 1871
  • Daniel R. Haynes, 1863, 1864
  • Alfred L. Burditt, 1865
  • Joseph P. Lockey, 1866, 1867, 1884, 1885
  • Charles Augustus Wheeler, 1869, 1872, 1873
  • Samuel A. Whittier, 1874, 1875
  • Francis C. Bowen, 1876
  • Joel D. Miller, 1878
  • Francis H. Shaw, 1878, 1879
  • O. J. Putnam, 1880
  • W. B. Tenney, 1881
  • Thomas J. Ames, 1882-1884
  • William F. Wilkins, 1887
  • Henry R. Brown, 1888
  • Francis W. Tenney, 1889, 1895
  • Edward D. Moody, 1890, 1891; Mem
  • Harry C. Garfield, 1892
  • Everett B. Richardson, 1893, 1894; Mem
  • William A. Putnam, 1896
  • George G. Lawrence, 1897, 1898
  • James C. Smith, 1899, 1900; Mem
  • Alexander MacKenzie, 1901, 1902
  • George R. Eldridge, 1903
  • John E. Lambert, 1904
  • Rolfe W. Smith, 1905, 1906; Mem
  • Edgar L. Currier, 1907
  • Frank A. Joy, 1908
  • Andrew E. Harper, 1909
  • Calvin J. Carter, 1910
  • David W. Garland, 1911
  • James F. Harris, 1912
  • Charles F. Houghton, 1913
  • Earl R. Person, 1914
  • Archie Morgan, 1915
  • John C. Hull, 1916
  • Frank D. Polley, 1917, 1918; N
  • Alexander Tannahill, 1919
  • Albert E. Cutler, 1920
  • Bernard R. Garland, 1921
  • H. Edmund Rand, 1922
  • Edgar E. Bullard, 1923
  • Herbert G. Frazee, 1924
  • Alfred A. Wheeler, 1925
  • Howard G. Sanford, 1926
  • Harrison V. Parker, 1927
  • Henry G. Savage, 1928
  • Arthur R. Savage, 1929
  • Carl W. Hill, 1930
  • Albert T. Smith, 1931
  • C. Chester Keogh, 1932
  • Kenneth B. Blood, 1933
  • Guy S. Foote, 1934
  • Olen P. Marshall, 1935
  • Frank H. Blackman, 1936; N
  • Earl A. Johnson, 1937
  • Paul B. Beers, 1938
  • Frank A. Pehrson, 1939
  • Alfred N. Luther, 1940
  • Roy M. Harris, 1941
  • George E. Barton, 1942
  • Silas F. Richardson, 1943
  • Harold B. Bell, 1944
  • Robert B. Smith, 1945
  • Everett A. Gaetz, 1946
  • Edward W. Carlson, 1947
  • Lawrence R. Nye, 1948
  • Lyman G. Stucke, 1949
  • Howard B. Lane, 1950
  • Robert W. Alexander, 1951
  • Russell R. Cook, 1952, 1953
  • Joseph F. Lake, 1954; SN
  • Wilfred G. Harvey, 1955
  • George W. Yule, 1956
  • James E. Howieson, 1957
  • Kenneth F. Lamb, 1958
  • Earle P. Rugg, 1959
  • Robert H. Erdmann, 1960
  • Archie L. Cochran, 1961
  • Waldo R. Saunders, 1962
  • Walter T. Johnson, 1963
  • Virgil D. D’Onfro, 1964, 1965
  • E. Howard Gaetz, 1966
  • Edmund R. Willrich, 1967, 1968
  • Nicholas P. Rigopoulos, 1969
  • James P. Doig, 1970
  • Ronall H. Day, 1971
  • Robert C. Keogh, 1972; N
  • Carlton C. Whitney, 1973
  • Kenneth R. Curry, 1974
  • George D. M. Pushee, III, 1975
  • Michael N. Mastaler, 1976, 1978
  • Wendell H. Hughes, 1977
  • Michael N. Mastaler, 1979
  • Richard A. Smith, 1980
  • Harry W. Harnden, 1981, 1982
  • Carl S. Johansson, 1983; SN
  • Kenneth A. Cochran, 1984, 1987, 1996
  • Ernest J. Kelly, 1985
  • Glendon A. Hatton, 1985
  • Charles E. Koski, 1986
  • Robert W. Wegenka, 1988, 1989
  • Roland A. Nelson, Jr., 1990, 1991
  • Peter G. Trei, 1992-1994, 2002
  • Mark J. Litalien, 1995
  • Kevin M. Foster, 1997
  • Roger E. Winchester, 1998, 1999; PDDGM
  • Robert A. Young, 2000, 2001, 2003
  • Paul H Andrews, 2004-2006
  • Kenneth M. Andrews, 2007, 2008; DDGM
  • Kenneth D. Ruel, 2009, 2010
  • Craig Claflin, 2011
  • Robert Audlee, 2012

REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS

  • Petition for Dispensation: 1859
  • Petition for Charter: 1860

ANNIVERSARIES

  • 1910 (50th Anniversary)
  • 1934 (75th Anniversary)
  • 1959 (Centenary)
  • 2009 (150th Anniversary)

VISITS BY GRAND MASTER

BY-LAW CHANGES

1870 1876 1879 1883 1885 1890 1894 1912 1917 1920 1921 1924 1929 1940 1941 1948 1949 1955 1961 1971 1972 1976 1979 1983 1990 2003 2008 2009 2012

HISTORY

  • 1934 (75th Anniversary History, 1934-52; see below)
  • 1959 (Centenary History, 1949-145; see below)

75TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, JUNE 1934

From Proceedings, Page 1934-52:

By Worshipful Edgar E. Bullard.

I consider it indeed an honor and a privilege to have a part in this important event in the life of Wilder Lodge, the 75th anniversary of its birth. I would, however, at this time extend to Worshipful Bros. Person and Rand my appreciation and hearty thanks for the hard work and assistance they rendered in procuring the data and facts from which my following remarks were dictated.

While this evening we are particularly interested in the founding and history of Wilder Lodge, I think it also might be of interest to take just a moment and trace the origin and development of Masonry in Leominster. Contrary to the general belief, Masonry in Leominster was not born with the institution of Wilder Lodge. News items taken from the Political Focus, a newspaper published in Leominster, show gatherings of Masons were held here during the years 1798 and 1799, but as no records are available showing any work done and as there is no record of a Dispensation being granted, it is assumed the Masonic gatherings in those years were purely of a social nature. In 1801, however, the records of the Grand Lodge show a Charter being granted to Aurora Lodge, of Leominster. At that time there were less than 50 Lodges in the State of Massachusetts and the total membership in the fraternity at that time was less than 2000. It might be of interest to note that at the time Aurora Lodge was started in Leominster the population here was 1495, that of Fitchburg 1390, while Lunenburg boasted of a population of 1243.

As stated by Bro. Frederick Currier in his historical address covering Aurora Lodge, a better understanding of the difficulties under which Aurora Lodge was established and maintained here would be procured, if we stop and consider the changes which have taken place since that time. At that time not a cooking stove nor even a wagon with springs was in use. Every gentleman wore a queue and powdered his hair. Knee breeches and cocked hats were the attire of the day and railroad, telegraph, gas, electric light, sewing machines, and even the common match were not dreamed of.

The original Charter was delivered to Aurora Lodge on June 8, 1801, and Captain Mitchell Newhall became the first Master. Therefore, Captain Newhall can rightfully be called the father of Masonry in Leominster. He settled in Leominster in 1792, living the remainder of his life here as a gentleman farmer. He was a man of means and the records show that he advanced the $20.00 necessary to cover the expenses incidental to procuring the Charter of Aurora Lodge. Records of the Lodge state that to his executive ability, energy, and clear judgment was due the successful establishing of Aurora Lodge and Masonry in Leominster.

The first meeting place was in Kendall's Tavern, located on West Street, near the junction of Lindell Avenue. This tavern was a terminus of the Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike, which was a stage coach line operating between Boston and Greenfield. This tavern was erected in 1785 and for over 50 years its sign announced that refreshments for man and beast could be found within. As one of the regular stations for changing stage horses the old tavern was a scene of great activity. The house is still in a state of good preservation, but the extensive barns have long since disappeared.

The Lodge started off auspiciously with prospects of a bright future, and on September 17 of the same year, 1801, a committee was appointed to locate new quarters and they moved one week later to Brother Leland's tavern located on the spot where the Unitarian Church now stands. The third move was made in November of the same year when quarters were occupied at the corner of Monument Square and Pleasant Street. They held regular meetings in this location for over 40 years, or until the move was made to Fitchburg in 1844. It is interesting to note that the lease for their new quarters called for the payment of $18.00 per year with the specific clause that the landlord would provide wood and candles for their use and that the fires should be started one hour before the scheduled meeting of the Lodge.

On February 26, 1844, the subject of the removal of the Lodge to Fitchburg was discussed and on May 24, 1844, a vote was taken on that important subject. The membership at that time was 31 and prior to the meeting a notice was sent to every member with information pertaining to the important matter that was to be acted upon. All present, with the exception of one member, voted for the move to Fitchburg. The last meeting of Aurora Lodge was held in Leominster on December 23, 1844. For 14 years, or from 1844 until the birth of Wilder Lodge in 1859, Leominster was without a Masonic organization.

In the year 1859 we find in the records thought of establishing another Lodge in Leominster. On May 4, 1859, preliminary steps were taken at which time Bro.Sewell Richardson called the resident Master Masons of Leominster to his home for the purpose of considering the advisability of taking steps to establish a Lodge in this town. At that meeting it was voted to take steps to establish such a Lodge and Bro. Sewell Richardson was chosen President and Bro. C. B. Cook, Secretary. They also chose at that meeting William Durant, W. M., C. B. Cook, S. W., and Benjamin Higbee, J. W. It was the duty of these three officers to petition the Grand Lodge for permission to form and open a Lodge of Master Masons in Leominster. On May 21, 1859, the committee reported that a Dispensation had been granted. They suggested that the new Lodge be called "Hermon Lodge" but on recommendation of the Most Worshipful Grand Master of that time, John T. Heard, the name Wilder was adopted.

I quote herewith a letter received from the Grand Master under date of May 19, 1859, pertaining to that subject:

"Dear Sir and Brother: "Permit me to suggest the name of Wilder for that of the Lodge for the Brethren of Leominster in honor of that true Mason, David Wilder, of that town, whom we all respect. He was D. D. G. M. of what was then the 5th district in 1818, 1819 and 1820 and if I remember rightly, was at one time Master of Aurora Lodge.

"The name Wilder would sound well."

Fraternally yours
John T. Heard"

Records of Aurora Lodge show David Wilder to have been raised on October 27, 1803, was Master from 1812 to 1816; D.D.G.M. in 1818, 1819, and 1820 and D.G.M. in 1832. He was a Mason for more than 60 years and never faltered in his support of Aurora Lodge or of Masonry. He died at his residence in North Leominster September 21, 1866, at the age of 88 years. No citizen of Leominster probably has ever held more positions of trust, given by the people, than did our late Brother under whose name we still carry on. He represented the town for 11 years in the Legislature, was a Justice of the Quorum throughout the Commonwealth, a State Senator, Commissioner of the Highway, member of the Governor's Council, and was for five years Treasurer of the Commonwealth. On December 3, 1853, he finished writing the History of Leominster which was his last work.

We find the Dispensation which had been granted by the Grand Lodge presented to Wilder Lodge by W. M. Charles Fessenden, of Aurora Lodge, July 2, 1859. The Dispensation was signed by M. W. G. M. John T. Heard. Apparently the very friendly relations that have always existed between Aurora and Wilder Lodges started back in those early days, for our records in several instances mention the valuable assistance rendered to Wilder Lodge by the Brethren of Aurora Lodge, particularly W. M. Charles Fessenden.

The first regular communication of Wilder Lodge was held under date of July 14, 1859, in what was then called Harmony Hall, located on the south side of the square between Pleasant Street and what is now the Sawtelle block. Later in this same year the name of the hall by vote of the Lodge was changed from that of Harmony Hall to Masonic Hall. The officers who filled the stations at the first meeting of Wilder Lodge were:

  • W.M. — William Durant
  • S.W. — Calvin B. Cook
  • J.W. — Benjamin Higbee
  • S. — Jonas Calburn
  • J.D. — Ephraim Buss
  • T. — Sewell Richardson

At this first meeting Bros. Durant and Cook presented the first code of By-laws. Many of them stand today as first originated. Their dues were designated as "quarterages" and called for the payment of 25¢ per quarter. The meetings were called to be held on Thursday evening on or next preceding the full of the moon. The time was stated as 7 1/2 or 7 1/4 o'clock. The use of the moon as designating our time of meetings remained in the By-laws until November 16, 1915, at which time they were changed to read the first Tuesday of each month.

On December 13, 1859, is reported the first death in Wilder Lodge, being that of Thomas Robbins who was buried with full Masonic rites on December 15, 1859.

The Charter was delivered to Wilder Lodge on July 10, I860, and from all indications, was a gala event in the history of our Fraternity. The M. W. G. M. Winslow Lewis and suite attended this meeting and after the usual dedicatory ceremonies the Grand Officers, Officers, members, and visitors, escorted by the Leominster Cornet Band, marched to the Leominster House where a bountiful supper was in waiting. The records show a feature of the evening to have been a surprise tendered the Brethren by their wives and sweethearts who joined them at the festive board. After the banquet a march was made back to the quarters where the Officers were duly installed by J. G. W. W. D. Coolidge. Thus it was under these pleasant circumstances that the Lodge, whose 75th birthday we are tonight commemorating, was formally dedicated. It appears to me that either an error must have been made in recording this event or else there has been a radical change in the characteristics of the fair sex since that time. It is hard to imagine, in this present day and age, a group of women knowing they were to attend an important banquet with their husbands and yet keeping it a secret from them.

The first year of the existence of Wilder Lodge was apparently a very successful one as the records show 58 persons being raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. The first visitation was made to Wilder Lodge by D .D. G. M. G. J. Wilder under date of December 5, 1860.

On September 5, 1865, a committee was appointed to renew the lease on their quarters which was negotiated for the sum of $80.00 per year, somewhat different from the $1500 per annum rent we pay at the present time. However, apparently everything was not proportionately cheaper in those days because under a little later date we find the Lodge authorizing the payment of a bill for $1.00 which covered the purchase of five baskets of kindling wood. In the early days of Wilder Lodge apparently the social side of the Order was a very important feature of their activities. Apart from church and political gatherings it was about the only organization that drew men together for social intercourse. On July 28, 1868, we note that the Lodge voted to buy and send out 500 circulars regarding a picnic they were contemplating holding. On September 1, 1868, a bill for $80.00 was presented to the Lodge from the Leominster Brass Band for their services. No record appears as to what the band was engaged for or where and when the picnic previously referred to was held. It is also of interest to note that under date of November 16, 1869, a New Year's Party was held at which time the ladies were invited and a good time was had by all.

Apparently our forebears were imbued with the same Yankee spirit that is characteristic of New Englanders regarding finances, for we find under date of December 24, 1868, the following notation in the records of their meeting:

"Voted to purchase of Mrs. C. M. Pierce a photograph of our deceased Brother, Sewell Richardson, for the sum of 15¢."

An unfortunate fire occurred in the building which housed Masonic Hall on October 7, 1873, and dealt the Fraternity at that time a severe blow. A special meeting was called the next evening in Monoosnock Hall at which time the Master and Wardens were authorized to make purchases to replace the jewels and paraphernalia that were destroyed by the fire. A committee was also appointed at the same time to secure and set up temporary quarters which was done in a building owned by the Lockey Bros, on Mechanic Street.

On September 22, 1874, a committee was appointed to look into the advisability of securing new permanent quarters in a block which was then being erected by J. C. Allen on the corner of Pleasant and Park Streets. The committee reported that favorable terms could be procured and a five-year lease was taken on these quarters, the terms being $200. per year. These new quarters were formally dedicated at a special communication held under date of April 15, 1875. The meeting was called to order at 1:30 P.M. and the dedication ceremony was performed by R. W. D. G. M. C. A. Welch, assisted by other Grand Officers. That occasion will go down as one of the most notable in the history of Wilder Lodge. After the ceremony 200 members and guests proceeded to the banquet hall where a bountiful dinner was served followed by speeches by the Grand Officers. In the evening a reception was given to the friends of the members and the records show over 500 in attendance. Music was furnished by the Leominster Brass Band and dancing was in order in the banquet hall. The cost of furnishing the new apartments totaled $2,252.88 and, through popular subscription of the members, there was collected to defray this expense $2,279.47.

Apparently the added expense of the new quarters, together with the loss sustained by the disastrous fire, placed the Lodge in a somewhat unsound financial condition, for under date of May 22, 1877, we find a committee being appointed to devise means of wiping out a deficit of $250. which apparently existed. Again under date of January 7, 1879, a committee was appointed to circulate a paper for subscriptions in order that a Lodge debt of $750. might be liquidated. True characteristic Masonic charity again came to the rescue of the Lodge, the committee reporting on August 17, 1880, that the debt of $750. had been wiped out by the donations of 71 Brethren.

The first Past Master's jewel to be presented in Wilder Lodge was presented to Past Master Durant, our first Master, on January 8, 1878, with an appropriate ceremony. Unfortunately our distinguished first Master of Wilder Lodge was not privileged long to enjoy this jewel for the next year on July 13, 1879, he was buried with full Masonic honors at a communication held at high twelve which was attended by Aurora and C. W. Moore Lodges of Fitchburg, together with many high Masonic dignitaries in this district.

Wilder Lodge was again graced by a visit from officers of the Grand Lodge, the records showing that on October 17, 1882, M. W. G. M. Samuel C. Lawrence paid the Lodge an official visit. Apparently his visit was for the purpose of explaining a per capita Grand Lodge tax which was voted by Wilder Lodge immediately following this official visit. Apparently this per capita tax was not looked upon with favor by many members of the Fraternity for under date of October 24, 1882, the Secretary of the Lodge received $126. from an anonymous giver, said money to be used for paying the per capita tax of 14 Brothers who had dimitted. Although the Lodge never knew the name of the generous giver, it extended to the unknown a unanimous vote of thanks for the charitable act.

Again the question of quarters came up in 1888 and a committee was authorized to renew a short term lease from the Allen estate at a cost of $250. per year, it being distinctly understood in the contract that the owners would not be responsible for any damages which might be caused by a leaking roof. After six more years of occupancy of quarters in the Allen Block the Lodge voted in 1894 to lease new quarters in the Columbia Block, what is now the Columbia Hotel, for a term of 15 years. This lease was negotiated for a sum of $700 per year and the quarters were dedicated with appropriate ceremonies under date of March 19, 1895. After the dedication ceremonies a banquet was served which was followed by a social and entertainment in the evening to which the ladies were invited. These new quarters were shared with Temple Chapter No. 45, Order of the Eastern Star, which was instituted March 19, 1894. Temple Chapter has been a very prosperous and successful organization and has assisted materially in perpetuating the principles and precepts of the Masonic Institution.

The fiftieth anniversary of Wilder Lodge was a very pleasing event and was held on June 14, 1910. The organization was graced by the presence of many Grand Officers and a splendid paper was prepared and read on the history of Wilder Lodge by W. B. James C. Smith. Unfortunately for the Lodge and unfortunately for this committee, that paper could not be located for use on this occasion.

The first Henry Price service medals were presented in Wilder Lodge by M.W.G.M. Melvin M. Johnson. The happy recipients of the medals were Worshipful Bro. T. G. Ames and Bro. E. F. Pierce who at that time had completed more than 50 years of active service in Masonry.

Wilder Lodge is handing down to posterity records which show its patriotism during the trying days of the World War. Liberty Bonds were freely purchased, members who were in the service were exempted from dues, money was placed in the hands of the Red Cross to be used for furnishing tobacco to the boys who were across doing their bit, cigars were generously purchased by the Master and sent to the members who were overseas, and under date of May 17, 1918, the Lodge voted to purchase a service flag in honor of the boys who enlisted to uphold the integrity of our country. This service flag was dedicated on August 3, 1918, at which time Col. Alfred Alloe, who was then stationed at Fort Devens and a member of Tyrian Lodge No. 370, of Cleveland, Ohio, gave a stirring address. Music was furnished by an orchestra from Camp Devens. The names on the honor roll of Wilder Lodge denoting service in the World War at that time were as follows:

  • Bro. C. E. Akeley
  • Bro. H. G. Barrett
  • Bro. Leroy Barrett
  • Bro. J. E. Cheney
  • Bro. W. W. Connor
  • Bro. C. W. DeWolf
  • Bro. C. E. Green
  • Bro. R. R. Harris
  • Bro. S. J. Haskell
  • Bro. C. W. Hill
  • Bro. H. W. Kittredge
  • Bro. H. E. Lancey
  • Bro. E. H. Leet
  • Bro. C. W. Lombard
  • Bro. W. K. Morse
  • Bro. E. J. Nettle
  • Bro. C. Nicholson
  • Bro. C. E. Phelps
  • Bro. E. F. Potter
  • Bro. A. N. Raymond
  • Bro. H. G. Sanford
  • Bro. G. A. Stancomb
  • Bro. W. H. Tenney
  • Bro. C. Trembly
  • Bro. G. H. Woodbury

A very pleasing occasion occurred on the evening of April 8, 1919. It was designated as Past Masters' night and during the course of the evening Worshipful Bro. G. G. Lawrence was presented with a gold watch in recognition of his 21 years of service as Secretary of Wilder Lodge. There were 150 present, including Masons from five different states as well as from Nova Scotia.

Again under date of December 10, 1919, consideration was given by the Lodge to new quarters. A committee was appointed which negotiated a lease for the delightful quarters which we now occupy for a sum of $1500. per annum. The dedication of these quarters was held in April, 1920, at which time M. W. G. M. Arthur D. Prince and his suite honored us by their presence. Prior to the installation ceremonies a banquet was held in the Municipal Building where 543 Masons enjoyed a banquet, the piece de resistance of which was turkey.

Future generations when scanning the records of Wilder Lodge will undoubtedly ponder over the fact that while the dedication ceremonies of these quarters occurred on April 5, on April 6 a meeting was called and a committee was appointed by the Worshipful Master to devise means for defraying the expenses incidental to moving and equipping these quarters. Our only explanation is that those in charge must have had explicit confidence in the generosity of the Brethren of Wilder Lodge, a confidence which was later substantiated by the activities of a committee headed by Bro. W. H. Cropper, Chairman and Bro. Ralph W. Robbins as Secretary who raised by popular subscription the sum of $7,826.45 for this purpose. The beautiful lighting effects which we enjoy were made possible by the generosity of Bro. Horace F. Cook.

The high water mark for activities in Wilder Lodge occurred in 1919, when 88 persons were admitted, the work being performed during the course of 78 special and 12 regular communications. It was often necessary to hold four special communications a week for degree purposes and the work incidental to the lecturing and raising of 88 persons to the degree of Master Mason in one year kept the officers extremely busy, for which fact I can personally vouch. Figuratively speaking, during that period many fair Leominster maidens joined the ranks of the so-called "Masonic Widows."

At the time these quarters were leased the social activities of the Lodge were taken over by the Masonic Club and the present recreational rooms established. This was a radical departure from the previous customs of Wilder Lodge as the old quarters in the Columbia contained only two card tables and a few packs of cards which were procured only after considerable debate on the part of the members. The Masonic Club flourished for several years, sponsoring many activities which proved to be delightful Masonic social affairs. Recently, because of lack of interest, the club was disbanded and the assets taken over by the Lodge. Since the occupancy of these quarters many delightful occasions and many important events have taken place. All of these, however, are easily within the recollection of those present and time prohibits me from mentioning them in detail.

The lodge was saddened in 1922 by the untimely death of Bro. D'Onfro who was killed a few days prior to the date set for him to become a Master Mason. Realizing the favorable impression that Masonry had made on the young man, the family of our deceased Brother was anxious that some Masonic emblem be placed on his tombstone. Therefore, in Evergreen Cemetery on a tombstone may be found the square and compasses with one point of the compass elevated above the square, the other being hidden, standing as a perpetual record to the Craft that Bro. D'Onfro had received light as yet but partially.

The Lodge was again saddened on February 12, 1931, when R. W. Bro. Ralph W. Smith was laid to rest with full Masonic rites. Again on August 26, 1933, death removed from our midst R. W. Bro. Everett B. Richardson, one of the oldest members of Wilder Lodge in point of service and the only living Past District Deputy appointed from Wilder Lodge.

The writing into the records by the Secretary of this present delightful occasion, graced by the presence of the M. W. G. M. and his suite, will complete the chronology of leading events in the history of Leominster Masonry and of Wilder Lodge.

This has been one of the most interesting and pleasant tasks that I have ever undertaken. It was difficult, however, when arriving at the stage in the life of Wilder Lodge when I personally could recall many of the characters who have been an inspiration to me, to refrain from paying tribute to them during this occasion. I realized, however, that that would be unfair as undoubtedly there had been in the life of the Lodge many more like them prior to the time that I became affiliated with this institution. Now that I have completed the history of Wilder Lodge, it might not be out of place for me to pay my personal tribute to these men who have been an inspiration to me and, I feel, have been an inspiration to you also.

Bro. Clesson Merriam for 65 years a Mason, 31 years a member of Wilder Lodge, stands out in my mind as a faithful, loyal Mason, exemplifying to the nth degree the tenets of our institution. He was presented the Henry Price medal during my term as Master of this Lodge and the thrill the old gentleman got out of that evening stands out in my mind as one of the high lights during my administration.

Worshipful Bro. Thomas J. Ames, another veteran of 60 odd years, whose name is conspicuous all through our records showing the service that he rendered to Wilder Lodge, is another Mason whom I have admired and respected. He died on February 27, 1927, and next to his flag, I believe "Tommy," as he was called by his old associates, loved Wilder Lodge.

Worshipful Bro. J. C. Smith, the oldest living Past Master in point of continuous service, a member who has held many offices of trust within the Lodge and through whose efforts the Leominster Royal Arch Chapter was instituted on December 8, 1923. For many years his delightful delivery of the charge deeply impressed all who were privileged to hear it and to me he stands as the personification of a real Mason.

There is my good friend, Worshipful Bro. H. E. Rand, who since the time he was raised in 1916 has been continuously serving Wilder Lodge and its members. Surely when writing up the complete history of Wilder Lodge the memory of this faithful and loyal servant cannot be omitted from the records.

Worshipful Bro. John Gay, quiet, unassuming, yet loyal, faithful, and dependable. For 23 consecutive years he held an office in Wilder Lodge, this service being appropriately recognized by the members of the Lodge, when on October 24, 1933, he was presented with a beautiful Past Master's apron.

I was out of the city all day yesterday so up until last night I thought it was going to be my pleasure and privilege to mention the name of our late Brother among those living Past Masters whom I have always greatly respected and admired. Fate decreed otherwise, however, and so tonight instead we are all shocked and we all mourn because of his sudden death and our sudden loss.

During the dictation of this chronology of Wilder Lodge, many times this part of the third degree lecture flashed through my mind:

"The hour glass is an emblem of human life.
Behold how swiftly the sands run
and how rapidly our lives are drawing to a close."

Twenty-five years hence, undoubtedly, Wilder Lodge will celebrate its one hundredth anniversary. On that occasion many who are present this evening will not be present to answer "here" when the roll of the workmen is called.

Seventy-five years hence the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary will, undoubtedly, be celebrated. On that occasion probably no one present here this evening will be privileged to attend. This should bring back to us in a most vivid manner the fleetness of time and the certainty of death. Therefore, it seems to me that we would do well on this occasion to rededicate the remainder ot our lives to upholding the splendid traditions of Wilder Lodge which was named in honor of that sterling and sturdy gentleman, David Wilder, whose service to his fellow men might well become an inspiration to us all; it seems to me that we might well rededicate the remainder of our lives to promoting and perpetuating the tenets, principles, and precepts of our time honored Institution, which after all, simply means the rededication of the remainder of our lives to the ideals of the home, the church, community, state, and our flag.

CENTENARY HISTORY, JUNE 1959

From Proceedings, Page 1959-145:

By Worshipful Andrew E. Harper.

Once upon a time a group of laborers were engaged in the construction of a magnificent edifice. These workmen organized into groups according to their abilities, from the youngest apprentice to the master craftsman. After completing this beautiful Temple for King Solomon, these groups of men, with their various trade secrets, continued to work together in other parts of their country. As time went on, similar groups were formed, and they spread throughout the world, eventually coming to North America and Massachusetts.

In 1798 and 1799, we find according to the Political Focus, Leominster's newspaper of that day, mention of social gatherings of Freemasons, as these groups now called themselves. And in 1801, the records of the Grand Lodge show a charter granted to Aurora Lodge of Leominster. Captain Mitchell Newhall was its first Master. Therefore, Captain Newhall can rightfully be called the father of Masonry in Leominster. He was a man of means, and the records show that he advanced the $20.00 necessary to cover the expenses incidental to procuring the charter. Their first meeting-place was in Kendall's Tavern, located on the Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike, which ran through Leominster. This Tavern is near the junction of West Street and Lindell Avenue, just off the present Route 2, and is now used as a residence.

To get a picture of the times, let us consider that the population of Leominster at that time was 1495, while Fitchburg trailed us with 1390; there were less than fifty Lodges in the State of Massachusetts, and the total membership of the Fraternity in this State was less than 2000 compared with nearly 135,000 today. There were no cook stoves, nor even a wagon with springs then; every gentleman wore a queue and powdered his hair; knee breeches and cocked hats were the attire of the day; railroads, telegraph, telephones, gas, electric lights, sewing machines and even the common match were not dreamed of, let alone radio and television, the auto and the airplane.

This Masonic Lodge soon moved to another location at the corner of what is now Monument Square and Pleasant Street, where they leased quarters for the sum of $18.00 per year, with the specific clause that the landlord would provide wood and candles for their use, and that the fires should be started one hour before the scheduled meeting of the Lodge.

In the early 1840's, a railroad was built through this section of the country. Original plans to come through Leominster were changed, and the tracks went to Fitchburg. This resulted in Fitchburg's becoming a much larger center of population. And, in 1844, the members of Aurora Lodge voted to move the Lodge to that City.

On May 4, 1859, Brother Sewell Richardson called the resident Master Masons of Leominster to his home to consider the advisability of establishing a Lodge in this Town. At that meeting, Brother Richardson was chosen President, and Brother Calvin B. Cook Secretary; and it was voted to take steps to establish such a Lodge. They also chose William Durant to be Worshipful Master, Calvin Cook, Senior Warden, and Benjamin Higbee, Junior Warden. Brother Luther Longley was also present. It was the duty of the three officers to petition the Grand Lodge for permission to form and open a Lodge of Master Masons in Leominster. On May 21, 1859, the committee reported that a dispensation had been granted. They had suggested that the new Lodge be called "Herman Lodge" but on recommendation of the Most Worshipful Grand Master of that time, John T. Heard, the name Wilder was adopted.

A letter received from the Grand Master under date of May 9, 1859, pertaining to that subject reads as follows:

Dear Sir and Brother:

Permit me to suggest the name of Wilder for that of the Lodge for the Brethren of Leominster in honor of that true Mason, David Wilder, of that town, whom we all respect. He was District Deputy Grand Master of what was then the 5th district in 1818, 1819 and 1820 and if I remember rightly was at one time Master of Aurora Lodge. The name Wilder would sound well.

Fraternally yours,
John T. Heard

Records of Aurora Lodge show David Wilder to have been initiated on October 27, 1803; was Master from 1812 to 1816; District Deputy Grand Master in 1818, 1819 and 1820; and Deputy Grand Master in 1832. He was a Mason for more than sixty years and never faltered in his support of Masonry. He died at his residence in North Leominster, September 21, 1866, at the age of eighty-eight years and was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, Leominster. No citizen of Leominster probably has ever held more positions of trust given by the people than did our late Brother, under whose name we still carry on. He represented the town for eleven years in the Legislature, was a Justice of the Quorum throughout the Commonwealth, a State Senator, Commissioner of the Highway, Member of the Governor's Council and was for five years Treasurer of the Commonwealth. He was also a member of the Unitarian Church for 57 years, 34 of which he served as Deacon. On December 3, 1853, he finished writing the "History of Leominster," which was his last work.

We find the dispensation which had been granted by the Grand Lodge presented to Wilder Lodge by Worshipful Master Charles Fessenden of Aurora Lodge on July 2, 1859. This dispensation was signed by Most Worshipful Grand Master John T. Heard.

The first regular communication of Wilder Lodge was held under date of July 14, 1859, in what was then called Harmony Hall, located on the South Side of the square between Pleasant Street and what is now the Lubin Block. Later in this same year, the name of the hall, by vote of the Lodge, was changed from that of Harmony Hall to Masonic Hall. The officers who filled the stations at the first meeting of Wilder Lodge were:

  • William Durant, Worshipful Master
  • Calvin B. Cook, Senior Warden
  • Benjamin Higbee, Junior Warden
  • Jonas Colburn, Secretary
  • Ephraim Buss, Junior Deacon
  • Sewell Richardson, Tyler

At this first meeting Brothers Durant and Cook presented the first code of by-laws. Many of them stand today as originated. Their dues were designated as quarterages and called for the payment of 25¢ per quarter. The meetings were called to be held on Thursday evening of or next preceding the full of the moon. On July 18, 1861, this was changed to Tuesday evening. The time was stated as seven and one-half or seven and one-quarter o'clock. The use of the moon as designating our time of meetings remained in the by-laws until November 16, 1915, at which time they were changed to read the first Tuesday of each month.

The Charter was delivered to Wilder Lodge on July 10, 1860, and from all indications, it was a gala event in the history of our Fraternity. The Most Worshipful Grand Master, Winslow Lewis, and suite attended this meeting, and, after the usual dedicatory ceremonies, the Grand Officers, Officers, members and visitors, escorted by the Leominster Corner Band, inarched to the Leominster House, where a bountiful supper was in waiting. The records show a feature of the evening to have been a surprise tendered the Brethren by their wives and sweethearts, who joined them at the festive board. After the banquet, a march was made back to the quarters, where the officers were duly installed by the Junior Grand Warden, W. D. Coolidge. Thus it was under these pleasant circumstances that the Lodge, whose 100th birthday we are tonight commemorating, was formally dedicated. It appears to me that either an error must have been made in recording this event or else there has been a radical change in the characteristics of the fair sex since that time. It is hard to imagine, in this present day and age, a group of women knowing they were to attend an important banquet with their husbands and yet keeping it a secret from them.

The first year of the existence of Wilder Lodge was apparently a very successful one, as the records show fifty-eight persons being raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. The first visitation was made to Wilder Lodge by District Deputy Grand Master, C. J. Wilder, under date of December 5, 1860.

On September 5, 1865, a committee was appointed to renew the lease on their quarters, which was negotiated for the sum of $80.00 per year, somewhat different from what we pay at the present time. However, apparently everything was not proportionately cheaper in those days because under a little later date we find the Lodge authorizing the payment of a bill for $1.00 which covered the purchase of five baskets of kindling wood. In the early days of Wilder Lodge apparently the social side of the Order was a very important feature of their activities. Apart from church and political gatherings, it was about the only organization that drew men together for social intercourse. On July 28, 1868, we note that the Lodge voted to buy and send out 500 circulars regarding a picnic they were contemplating holding. On September 1st a bill for $80.00 was presented to the Lodge from the Leominster Brass Band for their services. No record appears as to what the band was engaged for, or where and when the picnic previously referred to was held. It is also of interest to note that under date of November 16, 1869, a New Year's party was held, at which time the ladies were invited and a good time was had by all.

Apparently our forebears were imbued with the same Yankee spirit that is characteristic of New Englanders regarding finances, for we find, under date of December 24, 1868, the following notation in the records of their meeting: "Voted to purchase of Mrs. C. M. Pierce a photograph of our deceased Brother, Sewell Richardson, for the sum of 15¢."

An unfortunate fire occurred in the building which housed Masonic Hal! on October 7, 1873, and dealt the Fraternity a severe blow. A special meeting was called the next evening in Monoosnock Hall, at which time the Master and Wardens were authorized to make purchases to replace the jewels and paraphernalia that were destroyed by the fire. A committee was also appointed at the same time to secure and set up temporary quarters, which was done in a building owned by the Lockey Bros., on Mechanic Street.

On September 22, 1874, a committee was appointed to look into the advisability of securing new permanent quarters in a block which was then being erected by J. C. Allen on the corner of Pleasant and Park Streets. The committee reported that favorable terms could be procured, and a five-year lease was taken on these quarters, the terms being $200.00 per year. These new quarters were formally dedicated at a special communication held on April 15, 1875. The meeting was called to order at 1130 P.M. and the dedication ceremony was performed by Right Worshipful District Deputy Grand Master, C. A. Welch, assisted by other Grand Officers. After the ceremony, 200 members and guests proceeded to the banquet-hall, where a bountiful dinner was served, followed by speeches by the Grand Officers. In the evening a reception was given to the friends of the members, and the records show over 500 in attendance. Music was furnished by the Leominster Brass iiand, and dancing was in order in the banquet-hall.

The first Past Master's jewel to be presented by Wilder Lodge was presented to Worshipful William Durant, our first Master, on January 8, 1878, with an appropriate ceremony. Unfortunately, our distinguished first Master of Wilder Lodge was not privileged to long enjoy this jewel for the next year, on July 13, 1879, he was buried with full Masonic honors at a communication held at high twelve, which was attended by many high Masonic dignitaries in this District.

Wilder Lodge was again graced by a visit from officers of the Grand Lodge, the records showing that on October 17, 1882. Most Worshipful Grand Master Samuel Lawrence paid the Lodge an official visit. Apparently his visit was for the purpose of explaining a per capita Grand Lodge tax, which was voted by Wilder Lodge immediately following this official visit. Apparently this per capita tax was not looked upon with favor by many members of the Fraternity, for under date of October 24th, the secretary of the Lodge received $126.00 from an anonymous giver, said money to be used for paying the per capita tax of fourteen brothers who had demitted. Although the Lodge never knew the name of the generous giver, it extended to the person a unanimous vote of thanks for the charitable act.

Again the question of quarters came up in 1888, and a committee was authorized to renew a short-term lease from the Allen estate at a cost of $250.00 per year, it being distinctly understood in the contract that the owners would not be responsible for any damages which might be caused by a leaking roof. After six more years of occupancy of quarters in the Allen block, the Lodge voted, in 1894, to lease new quarters in the Columbia block, later the Columbia Hotel, for a term of fifteen years. This lease was negotiated for a sum of $700.00 per year, and the quarters were dedicated with appropriate ceremonies under date of March 19, 1895. After the dedication ceremonies, a banquet was served, . which was followed by a social and entertainment in the evening, to which the ladies were invited. These new quarters were shared with Temple Chapter, No. 45, Order of the Eastern Star, which was instituted March 19, 1894. Temple Chapter has been a very prosperous and successful organization and has assisted materially in perpetuating the principles and precepts of the Masonic institution.

The fiftieth anniversary of Wilder Lodge was a very pleasing event and was held on June 14, 1910. The organization was graced by the presence of many Grand Officers, and a splendid paper was prepared and read on the history of Wilder Lodge by Wor. James C. Smith. Unfortunately, for the Lodge and for the committee, that paper could not be located for use on this occasion.

The first Henry Price Medals were presented in Wilder Lodge by Most Worshipful Grand Master Melvin Johnson. The happy recipients of these medals were Wor. Thomas J. Ames and Bro. Eben F. Pierce, both of whom had completed fifty years of active service in Masonry.

Wilder Lodge is handing down to posterity records which show its patriotism during the trying days of World Wars I and II. Bonds were freely purchased, members who were in the service were exempted from dues, money was placed in the hands of the Red Cross to be used for furnishing tobacco to the boys who were across doing their bit, cigars were generously purchased by the Master and sent to the members who were overseas, and on May 17, 1918, the Lodge voted to purchase a service flag in honor of the boys who enlisted to uphold the integrity of our country. This service flag was dedicated on August 3, 1918.

Again, on December 10, 1919, consideration was given by the Lodge to new quarters. A committee was appointed, which negotiated a lease for the delightful quarters which we now occupy for a sum of $1500.00 per year. The dedication of these quarters was held in April 1920, at which time Most Worshipful Grand Master Arthur Prince and his suite honored us by their presence. Prior to the installation ceremonies a banquet was held in the Municipal Building, which was enjoyed by 543 Masons.

The beautiful lighting effects which we now enjoy were made possible by the generosity of Brother Horace F. Cook.

The high-water mark for activities in Wilder Lodge occurred in 1919 when 88 persons were admitted, the work being performed during the course of 78 special and 12 regular communications. It was often necessary to hold four special communications a week for degree purposes; and the work incidental to the lecturing and raising of 88 persons to the degree of Master Mason in one year kept the officers extremely busy.

At the time these quarters were leased, the social activities of the Lodge were taken over by the Acacia Club, and a recreational room was established in part of what is now the banquet hall. This was a radical departure from the previous custom of Wilder Lodge, as the old quarters in the Columbia Block contained only two card tables and a few packs of cards, which were procured only after considerable debate on the part of the members. This club flourished for several years, sponsoring many activities which proved to be delightful social affairs. Later, however, the club was disbanded, and the assets taken over by the Lodge.

Wilder Lodge was saddened in 1922 by the untimely death of Bro. Ralph D'Onfro, who was killed a few days prior to the date set for him to become a Master Mason. Realizing the favorable impression that Masonry had made on the young man, the family of our deceased Brother was anxious that a Masonic emblem be placed on his tombstone. This was done in an appropriate manner, showing his standing in the Craft at the time of his death. A set of solid silver working tools and the clock in the card room were given the Lodge by his widow in his memory. On March 11, 1923, under our sponsorship, a Chapter of DeMolay was organized. And on September 24, 1955, an Assembly of Rainbow Girls was instituted, sponsored by our affiliated Eastern Star.

Wilder Lodge observed its 75th anniversary on June 6, 1934, during the term of Worshipful Master Guy S. Foote. There were over 250 present, including Most Worshipful Grand Master Curtis Chipman and suite, together with visitors from fifteen different Lodges in Massachusetts, and three in New Hampshire. The address of the evening was given by the Most Worshipful Grand Master, and an interesting history of the Lodge was presented by Wor. Edgar E. Bullard.

On December 1, 1936, a Past Master's jewel was presented to Wor. Oliver J. Putnam, who had been elected to serve this Lodge as Master in 1880, at which time Past Master's jewels were not given by Wilder Lodge. It was during the term of Wor. Andrew E. Harper, just fifty years ago, that this fine custom was started. Wor. Brother Putnam was raised a Master Mason on August 14, 1866. He entered the Holy of Holies on July 24, 1937, at the age of 95, his membership in Wilder Lodge covering a span of 71 years.

In the fall of 1936, Wor. James C. Smith (Col. Smith, as we knew him), long an active Mason and one who was influential in instituting Leominster Royal Arch Chapter on December 8, 1923, was appointed District Deputy Grand Master of this District. He served less than a year when he was taken by death, the following July 26th. Wor. Frank D. Polley was appointed to complete this two-year term. On his first official visitation to Wilder Lodge, October 18, 1938, Right Worshipful Brother Polley presented the Lodge with our beautiful State Flag, a gift from himself and his three sons, Irving F., Robert G., and William E. Polley, all members of Wilder Lodge, in memory of his father, Frank D. Polley, who was a Charter Member of this Lodge.

When Brother Vernon G. Wass was raised a Master Mason February 15, 1944, Bro. Arthur L. Wass, an older brother, gave an interesting history of Masonry in the Wass family, totaling at that time, 170 years. At present, there are six Wass brothers, and the son of one of them, who are members of this Lodge. This now makes a total of 277 years in Masonry for this one family (227 in Wilder Lodge).

During his term as Master, Wor. Paul B. Beers suggested the possibilities of having an organ in the Lodge instead of the piano, but it was not considered advisable at that time. However, the seed had been sown; and it germinated and matured during Wor. Edward W. Carlson's regime. A Hammond Electric Organ was purchased and installed; and it was used for the first time during the conferring of an Entered Apprentice degree on January 14, 1947.

The following month H. Leroy Cook completed his initiatory work and was raised by his cousin, Wor. Calvin Cook of Arlington. The grandfather of both of these men, Calvin B. Cook, served as the second Master of Wilder Lodge. Calvin's father received his degrees here and Leroy's son, Russell, is now a Past Master of this Lodge.

In 1950 Wilder Lodge was again honored by the appointment of a District Deputy Grand Master, this time it being Wor. Frank H. Blackman, who is serving as Honorary Chairman of this celebration.

On October 16, 1951, Aurora Lodge, through its Master, Wor. Kenneth H. Wyat, presented Wilder Lodge a page from a record book of Aurora Lodge, dated September II, 1825, which bears the signature of David A. Wilder, in whose honor this Lodge was named. This prized document is now framed and hangs on the wall of our anteroom.

On May 16, 1955, Wor. Harrison V. Parker, on behalf of himself and his wife, Elizabeth, presented Wilder Lodge with a beautiful King James Version Bible. The following week it was dedicated in a very impressive service led by our Chaplain, Bro. John H. Peavey.

During the past quarter century, the degree work has been colorfully presented by a number of visiting degree teams, such as the Scottish Hirams, Simonds' Sirams and the General Electric's 290 Club, as well as by our own very efficient officers.

In recent years Wilder Lodge has actively supported the Blood Bank movement as one of its ways of expressing charity to its fellow man. At the meeting held on May 5, 1959, the Leominster Assembly No. 80, Order of the Rainbow for Girls, presented the Lodge with three silver batons suitably inscribed, as a gift in recognition of our 100th anniversary.

If time permitted, there could be enumerated many other interesting facts connected with Wilder Lodge, including a number of three-generation groups, various activities in which members of Wilder Lodge have participated, individually or collectively, and individual records of long service in Masonry. One exception, however, is that of the speaker, who is the only living fifty-year Past Master of Wilder Lodge, he having served as Master exactly fifty years ago, when the Lodge celebrated its 50th anniversary, and is still actively interested in Masonry.

This long record was recently noted, on March 17th of this year, when Wilder Lodge observed Past Masters' Night, with nineteen Past Masters participating in the work of conferring the Master Mason Degree. On that occasion, your humble servant was presented a fifty-year Past Master's Certificate from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and signed by our Grand Master, Most Worshipful Andrew G. Jenkins. This certificate is the first ever given to a member of Wilder Lodge, and is given only to fifty-year Past Masters.

When the Secretary writes the records of this delightful occasion, graced by the presence of Most Worshipful Grand Master Andrew G. Jenkins and his suite, it will complete the chronology of leading events in the history of Leominster Masonry and of Wilder Lodge for the past one hundred years.

In reviewing the life and activities of an organization such as Wilder Lodge, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, and thinking of the ideals that have held this group together, and then realizing that this is only one of thousands of such groups located in practically every country of this world, we cannot help being impressed and inspired by the closely-knit ties and the universal landmarks which have made this great brotherhood the greatest fraternal organization in the world. With one hundred years of fine leadership as a foundation, we cannot help looking forward with inspiration and hope to the next 25, 50 and 100 years, and trust that we will continue to grow and build our own physical and spiritual Temple. Therefore, we would do well on this occasion to rededicate our lives to upholding the splendid traditions of Wilder Lodge, which was named in honor of that sterling and sturdy gentleman, David Wilder, whose service to his fellow-men might well be an inspiration to us all; and to rededicate our lives to promoting and perpetuating the tenets, principles and precepts of our time-honored institution, which simply means to rededicate our lives to the ideals of the home, the church, the community, the state and our flag, ever remembering to meet each other on the level, always act on the plumb and part on the square.

OTHER

  • 1874 (Jurisdictional dispute, 1874-9)

EVENTS

CONSTITUTION OF LODGE, AUGUST 1860

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XIX, No. 10, August 1860, Page 311:

The new Masonic Lodge at Leominster was constituted by the officers of the Grand Lodge, on Tuesday last. The members have named their Lodge after one of the oldest Masons in the Commonwealth, formerly State Treasurer, Hon. David Wilder, of Leominster. About a year ago, a dispensation was granted to this Lodge, and it has now received a charter by the name of the David Wilder Lodge. The members have erected a new hall for their meetings, and this was formally dedicated on Thursday afternoon by the Grand Master. In the evening, the officers elect for the ensuing, year were duly installed. Previous to the installation, a procession was formed by the David Wilder Lodge, escorting the Grand Lodge, and attended by the Leominster Band. After moving around the square to the Leominster House, the company entered the large dining hall, where a large party of ladies were assembled to welcome them. The ladies had prepared a surprise for their friends, in being present themselves and in attending to the decoration of the tables. Numerous beautiful bouquets were arranged on the tables, and appropriate – flowers with " a sprig of acacia" and a lily on each plate. A brief address was also delivered in behalf of the ladies, by Br. Smith, to which a suitable response was made by Dr. Winslow Lewis.

The surprise and entertainment, as well as the presence of the ladies, were highly enjoyed. After supper a procession was again formed, this time including the ladies, and lead by the Band, the entire company proceeded to the new hall of the Lodge. Here, after a suitable introduction and music, the officers were duly installed by W. D. Coolidge, Esq., in ancient form; and this ceremony was made particularly interesting by the excellent manner in which it was performed. Music by the choir. An address, full of feeling and sentiment, and admirably adapted to the occasion, was then delivered by Grand Master Lewis, and suitable instructive remarks were made by Dr. J. V. C. Smith and Rev. E. M. P. Wells, of the Grand Lodge. Among other officers of the Grand Lodge present were Messrs. C. W. Moore, Dr. Spaulding, Wheildon, J. P. Pattee, Dr. Davis, W. D. Stratton and E. F. Gay, District Deputy John A. Dana, Esq., of Worcester, and other prominent Masons. The following are the officers of David Wilder Lodge:—

  • Wm. Durant, M.
  • Calvin B. Cook, S. W.
  • J. H. Lockey, J. W.
  • L. Longley, Treas.
  • G. T. Lincoln, Sec.
  • D. B. Haines, S. D.
  • H. M. Lane, J. D.
  • J. G. Elton, S. S.
  • C. Burch, J. S.
  • S. Richardson, Tyler.
  • Chas. Carter, M.
  • B. M. Polley, Chaplain.

We are indebted for the above to Bro. Wheildon, of the Bunker Hill Aurora, and for the following to the politeness of the speaker.

ADDRESS BY THE GRAND MASTER

Gentlemen,— It is no part of my purpose to apologize for my presence on this occasion.

The cheerful smiles of those who are gathered here to greet you, tell the story; and it seems superfluous for me to say that they have come with the kindest feelings to tender to you their congratulations; to extend to you, their respected fathers, husbands, and friends, the fellowship of true and faithful hearts.

They seek not to unroll the curtains drawn around your venerable Order. They honor fidelity, and cherish it in you as a priceless gem. They would aid you in every noble enterprise and hail with delight every success which crowns your labors. They have not been unmindful of these your present efforts, and rejoice that the ark of your covenant is fraternally consecrated.

Around you are clustering their choicest affections. Their highest joys, their fondest hopes, center on you whose name they wear.

Bearing to you this tender relation, it cannot be unwomanly or unkind to meet you on this happy eve, and regale you with music's soft and mellow strains; to bestow upon you those smiles you prized so much in days gone by; to wreathe your tables in flowers, and by their presence give social cheer to your festive board. In their behalf I tender to you this little surprise. Receive it in the kindness in which it is proffered. Forgive aught that your manly dignity may deem improper, and take their gathered lilies — emblems of purity, stainless and sweet.

Honored Guests of these our friends, — We bid you welcome, thrice welcome, to this innocent repast of and friends. Woman's mission is one of love, — to cheer and soothe life's stormy scenes, and scatter flowers along the way.

True to herself, these fair hands have twined for you the summer flowers; and as you look upon their opening petals and matchless beauty, you will be reminded of the infinite skill and perfection of the Great Architect above. Accept them, ■with their best wishes that the wisdom which graced David's royal son may rest upon you in all your labors, till the Grand Master, whose summons we must all obey, shall call you to that temple not made with hands.

HALL DEDICATION, APRIL 1875

From New England Freemason, Vol. I, No. 4, April 1875, Page 188:

Dedication at Leominster.—The new Masonic apartments of Wilder Lodge, of Leominster, were dedicated on the 15th inst. The Grand Master being prevented from attending by sickness, the ceremony was conducted by R. W. Charles A. Welch, Deputy Grand Master. He was assisted by the following-named Brethren: P. G. M. Sereno D. Nickerson, as Special Deputy Grand Master; P. G. Warden Henry Endicott, as S. G. Warden; P. G. M. William Parkman, as J. G. Warden; R. W. John McClellan, G. Treasurer; P. G. M. William D. Coolidge, as G. Secretary; R. W. Charles H. Titus, as G. Chaplain; Brother Frank E. Jones, as G. Marshal, and W. Brother J. W. Edgerly, as G. Tyler. The ceremony of dedication having been completed, the Deputy Grand Master briefly addressed the Lodge, congratulating them upon their improved accommodations, and the taste, skill and liberality displayed in furnishing them. He also exhorted them to display new zeal and diligence in the discharge of their duties as Masons, and to exercise increased vigilance in guarding the Fraternity against the admission of unworthy members.

The Brethren were then called from labor to refreshment, and about one hundred and sixty of them sat down to a bountiful collation. This part of the entertainment having been disposed of very satisfactorily, the toast-master, Brother F. C. Bowen, addressed the company at some length, relating the particulars of the destruction of the former Lodge-room, the liberality of Brethren in providing everything necessary for the new, the sublime principles and important lessons inculcated by the Fraternity, and the happy results which would follow from a faithful observance of its teachings. In response to appropriate sentiments, brief speeches then followed from the Deputy Grand Master, the Past Grand Masters, Grand Secretary Titus, District Deputy Grand Master W. A. Smith, of Worcester, and Brothers Joslin and Huntley. Of the seven living Past Grand Masters, all were present but two; R. W. Brothers John T. Heard and Wm. S. Gardner honoring the occasion with their presence, and participating in the festivities, in addition to the Brethren before named.

Wilder Lodge was constituted in July, 1860. Eight Brethren signed the petition for a Dispensation, only three of whom are now living, and one, W. Brother Wm. Durant, was present at the dedication of the new hall. It has been distinguished for the excellence of its work and the high character of its members, and is now in a very flourishing condition, under the direction of the following-named officers: Samuel Whittier, W. M.; W. D. Somers, S. W.; J. D. Miller, J. W.; F. X. Boutwell, Treas.; George F. Morse, Sec.; T. J. Ames, S. D.; H. P. Durant, J. D.; Adam Urqunhart, S. S.; C. H. Glines, J. S.; Win. Durant, Chaplain; George England, Marshal; W. F. Wilkins, I. S.; J. S. Darling, Tyler.

The new apartments comprise the whole of the upper story of a fine brick block just erected by Brother J. C. Allen, in the very centre of the flourishing town of Leominster. The main hall will compare very favorably with any Masonic hall of its size in the State. It is finely frescoed and elegantly appointed. There are, besides, three ante-rooms, a kitchen and banquet hall, all neatly and appropriately furnished. The walls of the Lodge-room are adorned with portraits of Past Masters David Wilder, William Durant, Daniel R. Haines, Calvin B. Cook and John H. Lockey.

In the evening a reception was held, to which ladies, and the public generally, were admitted. A supper, music, and dancing in the lower hall, made the time pass very pleasantly. The whdle occasion was greatly enjoyed by all who were present, and the day will be long remembered by the Brethren of Wilder Lodge as one of great pleasure and satisfaction.


GRAND LODGE OFFICERS


DISTRICTS

1859: District 3

1867: District 11 (Worcester)

1872: District 7 (Lowell)

1878: District 11 (Worcester)

1883: District 12 (Fitchburg)

1911: District 13 (Fitchburg)

1927: District 13 (Fitchburg)

2003: District 22


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