- 1 OCCIDENTAL LODGE
- 2 REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
- 2.1 ANNIVERSARIES
- 2.2 VISITS BY GRAND MASTER
- 2.3 BY-LAW CHANGES
- 2.4 HISTORY
- 2.5 OTHER
- 2.6 EVENTS
- 2.7 GRAND LODGE OFFICERS
- 2.8 OTHER BROTHERS
- 2.9 DISTRICTS
- 2.10 LINKS
Chartered By: William Sewall Gardner
Charter Date: 09/13/1871 1871-150
Precedence Date: 06/14/1870
Current Status: Active
- John H. Burghardt, 1870-1872, 1874, 1879
- Henry J. Dunham, 1873, 1875, 1880, 1881
- Franklin W. Adams, 1876
- Charles H. Willis, 1877, 1878, 1882-1886, 1888-1890
- George Knowles, 1887
- William Monteith, 1891
- Charles E. Evans, 1892, 1893
- William C. Fields, 1894, 1895
- F. M. Griffin, 1896, 1897
- Joseph G. Schilling, 1898, 1899
- James H. Punderson, 1900, 1901; SN
- James Emmet Drumm, 1902, 1903
- Allen T. Treadway, 1904
- George W. Searing, 1905, 1906
- Adam Schilling, 1907, 1908
- Henry P. Wookey, 1909
- Charles E. Searing, 1910, 1911
- Charles A. Jones, 1912, 1913
- John Henry Knowles, 1914, 1915
- Stephen C. Burghardt, 1916
- F. George Foulsham, 1917
- Sereno Albert Noble, 1918, 1919
- Henry V. Rathbun, 1920, 1921
- Albert E. Adams, 1922
- Horace F. Terrell, 1923, 1924
- Wenzel H. Krebs, 1925, 1926
- Edmund C. Wilcox, 1927, 1928
- John W. Cooney, 1929, 1930
- John P. Palmer, 1931; N
- Clinton J. Foster, 1932, 1933
- Richard K. Thorsell, 1934, 1935
- John W. Harrington, 1936
- G. Olin Manchester, 1937
- John C. Cooney, 1938
- Newton A. Kasson, 1939
- Chester W. Baker, 1940
- Orville M. Trepania, 1941
- John S. Turner, 1942
- Russell F. Davidson, 1943
- Gilbert S. MacClintic, 1944
- Cecil E. Babcock, 1945, 1946
- Harold L. Williams, 1947
- Courtland V. Rathbun, 1948, 1949
- Miles Rees Moffatt, 1950
- David E. Braman, 1951
- Robert G. Williams, 1952
- Samuel H. Sprott, 1953, 1954
- Irwin R. Sprott, 1955
- Robert E. Bracknell, 1956
- John A. Miller, 1957, 1971
- William J. Buckler, 1958
- Norman V. Opperman, Sr., 1959
- John A. Dietrich, 1960
- Loren A. Warner, 1961, 1966
- Paul A. Moore, 1962, 1965, 1972-1974, 1986, 1992, 1995, 1996; N
- Henry C. Edwards, 1963; SN
- Frederick W. Downs, Jr., 1964
- Stephen H. Hopkins, 1967
- Ralph H. Tinker, Jr., 1968
- Kenneth M. Hall, 1969
- David E. Braman, 1970
- Richard W. Mouke, 1975, 1976
- David McMeekin, 1977
- George D. Rubin, 1978, 1993
- Charles W. Tyler, 1979
- Frank H. Brown, 1980
- Edward E. Stanard, 1981
- Bruce G. Rubin, 1982
- George Greene, 1983-1985
- Robert C. Elman, 1987, 1989
- Carl R. Bohn, 1988
- Charles R. Hunter, 1990
- Hugh G. Black, 1991, 1994
- Kenneth C. Hall, 1997, 1998, 2007
- Kevin Gene Foster, 1999, 2000, 2011; PDDGM
- John D. Robatalle, 2001, 2002
- Charles H. Hunter, Jr., 2003, 2004, 2015; PDDGM
- Robert H. Knight, 2005, 2006
- Kevin C. McGinnis, 2008-2010; PDDGM
- William T. Isenhart, 2012-2014
- Joshua David Hall, 2015
REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
VISITS BY GRAND MASTER
- 1912 (Benton)
- 1920 (Prince; 50th Anniversary; Special Constitution)
- 1923 (Ferrell)
- 1928 (Simpson)
- 1930 (H. Dean)
- 1933 (Chipman)
- 1937 (Allen)
- 1939 (Perry)
- 1941 (Schaefer)
- 1945 (Wragg; 75th Anniversary; Special Communication)
- 1968 (Booth
- 1970 (Jaynes; Centenary; Special Communication)
- 1920 ("Historical Sketch of Masonry in Stockbridge, 1777-1920", 1920-232; see below)
- 1970 (Centenary History, 1970-238; see below)
- 1977 (History of Berkshire Lodge #5, 1977-16)
HISTORICAL SKETCH OF MASONRY IN STOCKBRIDGE, 1777 TO 1820
From Proceedings, Page 1920-232:
By Brother Arthur W. Searing.
For such light as is possible for the Secretary to throw on the subject of local Freemasonry, he is most appreciatively indebted to his twelve predecessors who so carefully observed and have so correctly recorded the seven hundred and seventy-five communications of Occidental Lodge entrusted to their care, and to the Grand Secretary for facts that have enabled us to change rumor and tradition into truth and reality.
A special meeting of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was held in Boston February 14, 1777. This was the second meeting held by this body after the stand of the Minute Men at Lexington, April 19, 1775, the beginning of hostilities between Great Britain and America, and in consequence of which, the town being blockaded, no Lodge was held until December 27, 1776. At this meeting was heard the petition of Seth Dean and other citizens of Stockbridge for a Charter to hold and erect a Lodge in this town, and it is interesting to note that beside referring this petition to the March meeting, preliminary steps were taken to elect a Grand Master to succeed the late Most Worshipful Gen. Joseph Warren, killed at the battle of Bunker Hill. On the 8th day of March this Charter was granted by the Most Worshipful Joseph Webb to John Patterson, Samuel Brewer, Seth Dean, John Grace, Stephen Pearl, Charles and Israel Debel, all free, ancient and accepted Masons resident in Stockbridge and Lenox. They were given authority to meet and convene as Masons in the town of Stockbridge, to receive and enter Apprentices, pass Fellowcrafts, and raise Master Masons, upon the payment of such sums as may be hereafter determined, to be known under the name, title, and designation of Berkshire Lodge No. 5, they were enjoined to collect and receive funds for the relief of the poor and decayed brethren, their widows and children, to conform to all ancient customs and usages of Masons, were required to attend the Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge, and keep a fair and regular record of their proceedings. For the support of the Grand Lodge they were to contribute the sum of six dollars per quarter. This Charter was signed by Samuel Barrett, Senior Grand Warden, and Paul Revere, Junior Grand Warden. That this Lodge survived the most troublesome times in the history of the nation reflects great credit on its founders, who not only interested themselves in Masonic work but were actively prominent in town, county, and state affairs. John Patterson was commissioned General and served with Washington during his campaigns. Samuel Brewer held a Colonel's commission and served faithfully and well during the war. Seth Dean rendered great assistance to his cousin Silas, who was appointed Commissioner to Prance for the purpose of making arrangements for the supply of materials necessary for carrying on the war, and other members are frequently mentioned in the Town records as having always taken their places in affairs of interest and public welfare.
In September, 1784, the Grand Lodge demanded the Charter of Berkshire Lodge for failure to pay its dues. This demand, however, was not enforced, for on December 6, 1785, the time of settlement was extended to the following year. This assessment, amounting to 7 pounds and 10 shillings, was undoubtedly paid, for when the Massachusetts Grand Lodge combined with the Saint John's Grand Lodge to form the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in 1792, Berkshire Lodge is borne upon the list of the former Grand Lodge. As no mention is made of its proceedings after that date it is presumed that it became extinct shortly afterwards.
On June 13, 1803, Wisdom Lodge was chartered in West Stockbridge and worked there until March 18, 1815, when they requested of the Grand Lodge and were granted permission to move to Stockbridge, where they remained until 1818, when they returned to West Stockbridge where they have actively practiced the tenets of their profession ever since. As to their being entirely satisfied with their last change we have no definite information.
After 1818 Masonic activities here ceased until 1870 when, on June 14, twenty-three citizens of Stockbridge and Master Masons petitioned for and were granted a Charter that the light of Masonry might again shine in this community. This Lodge was first named Stockbridge, but was early changed to Occidental in remembrance of the older organization. Like all other agencies for promoting the welfare of mankind and an earnest desire to assist them to higher ideals, we have in exchange for these motives experienced both joy and grief, approbation and criticism, and finally what we believe to be victory, but with defeat and possible annihilation sometimes in sight. The first few years were exceedingly prosperous ones, candidates being received in almost every meeting, and we are here reminded of Dr. Wright, beloved of all Berkshire Masons, who assisted in the East at the raising of our first Master Mason.
That we early intended to promote Masonry and confer its degrees on all comers entitled to enjoy its privileges is evidenced by the acceptance of the first three applications, those of an Englishman, an Irishman, and a Scotchman. This combination has become popular with, us, having been repeated many times since. The first prosperous years were followed by a depression of Lodge activities, resulting in the loss of many members through various causes. So persistent was this lack of interest that on one occasion of the official visit of the District Deputy Grand Master the chairs were all occupied by substitutes, with the exception of the Junior Deacon and Senior Steward, with complete nothingness in the body of the Lodge. The District Deputy in his report to the Grand Lodge rightfully recommended that the Charter be revoked. This suggestion was not considered, however, and soon after the upward trend again started and has steadily continued to the present time. In reaching the half century mark of our existence we feel that we have attained the ideal Lodge, having at our last meeting realized the long wished for possession of just one hundred members, all actively interested in its welfare. Although the larger part of our membership is scattered in ten different states, we are constantly reminded of their interest and loyalty in many, many ways. In the world war every sixth member elected to follow the colors, some of them following other flags than their own, but all believing in the freedom of all people, and we are justly proud of the fact that their going was of their own free will and accord.
While the scythe of time in the short space of fifty years has prevented the presence of those who first met as Masons under the name of Occidental Lodge, we believe in our inheritance from them, and until we relinquish our present places and again join them in that greater Lodge, we will, in the years to come, always strive to make each succeeding effort more effectual in promoting the welfare of the Craft.
CENTENARY HISTORY, MAY 1970
From Proceedings, Page 1970-238:
By Worshipful Ralph H. Tinker, Jr.
In the preparation of the History of Occidental Lodge from the years 1870 to 1970, all of the material has been taken out of documentary sources. The entire structure of the work is based upon the presumption that the evidence is reasonably accurate. Hearsay and verbal recollections have been avoided, not to cast doubt upon anyone, but rather in order to present a picture consisting of whatever concrete evidence may be found. In like manner speculation has been shunned despite the fact that the flow of continuity can be maintained better if apparent gaps are filled with theories.
It is hoped that this work will present some suggestions, offer guidelines and familiarize both the present day and the future membership of Occidental Lodge as regards the course that the Lodge has taken.
Unfortunately, some of the historical records relating to Occidental Lodge are not available. Failure to record the facts, misplacing and destroying documents, and carelessness in transcribing the events of the past have all been contributing factors in making our one hundred year picture considerably less complete than it should be.
In the Lodge Records themselves, there is a noticeable lack of continuity where items of interest are concerned, particularly in the early years. While it is undoubtedly true that all of the secretaries, in turn, have done a generally creditable work, there is no question but that they would have presented a somewhat different story had they written from the standpoint of one preparing an historical document.
The ultimate goal of achieving harmony in all matters is truly a noble aim and should be sought at all times. But the fact that the records have been wiped clean of all taint of discord must give rise to some degree of speculation in the thinking mind regarding underlying emotions of the members and the disturbances which they may have caused. While it is not possible to give credit due to the many Brethren of Occidental Lodge who have made this History possible by their work and participation over the past one hundred years, it is hoped that in some small way a tribute may be offered them through these pages.
I. THE LODGE
Upon reading the available records, we learn that by the year 1870 the town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts (which also included the villages of Glendale and Curtisville, or Interlaken as it is now called) was not unknown to Masons or Masonic Lodges. Berkshire Lodge No. 5 was chartered in 1777 in Stockbridge and what data is available on it appeared in an historical sketch by one of Occidental's secretaries and may be read in Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Proceedings for 1920. (1920 Mass. 231-238) For a few years prior to 1819, Wisdom Lodge had its Lodge Rooms in Stockbridge before moving to West Stockbridge where it now resides.
In neighboring communities other Lodges flourished. Cincinnatus Lodge was in Gt. Barrington and Evening Star Lodge was in Lenox until it was moved to Lee around 1848. In the early eighteen hundreds there was a Rising Sun Lodge in Sandisfield, and a Sheffield Lodge in Sheffield, but unfortunately neither one could generate enough interest to survive.
Stockbridge, in 1870, in many respects was on its way to becoming a prosperous community. It had a Masonic population which gave every promise, at least in theory, of being able to support its own Lodge.
Thus we find the records of Occidental Lodge opening with an undated entry indicating that some twenty-three brethren united to petition the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, A. F. & A. M. of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for permission to form a "Stockbridge Lodge" of Masons. The purpose of this new Lodge was "to promote and diffuse the genuine principles of Freemasonry; for the convenience of our respective dwelling, and other good reasons".
As soon as the M. W. Grand Lodge returned a dispensation dated June 14th, 1870 in reply to the petition, a preliminary communication was called for July 12, 1870, in Dunham's Hall, Main St., Stockbridge. At this meeting, the dispensation was read to the assembled Brethren and due note was made of the fact that the M. W. Grand Lodge had approved the name "Occidental Lodge" and not the name "Stockbridge Lodge" as had been originally requested. In agreement with the request in the petition, the dispensation appointed Bro. John H. Burghardt as the first Master; Bro. Henry J. Dunham as Senior Warden; and Bro. Charles P. Burghardt as Jr. Warden. These officers, however, were not formally installed until by order of D. D. G. M. Daniel Upton, a Special Communication was called November 27, 1871 "for the purpose of constituting Occidental Lodge according to ancient usage and custom". Also at this first meeting, the appointed Master announced his slate of officers for the year and designated Dunham Hall as the place where each regular communication would be held the Tuesday evening on or before the Full Moon of each month.
Dunham's Hall was located in the Dunham Block — an un-imposing rectangular shaped building situated on the north side of Main Street, and slightly easterly of the present building known as the Benjamin Block where the pharmacy is located. It was demolished many years ago and no longer exists. That this place was not the most satisfactory location for the Lodge Rooms is evidenced by the reports of almost annual appointments of committees to endeavor to find other quarters where the Lodge could meet. The members continued to hold meetings in Dunham's Hall until the year 1892 when the Lodge rooms were moved to the third floor of a building across the street where they have remained to the present day.
The Dispensation of June 14, 1870 granted the officers permission to carry on the Work of a Lodge, and it was to remain in effect until the Quarterly Communication of the M. W. Grand Lodge in September 1871. The Dispensation further stated that all of the petitioners were Master Masons and were recommended by the Wor. Master, Wardens and Brethren of Wisdom Lodge in West Stockbridge.
A second preliminary communication was held July 9, 1870 at which time a finance committee was appointed and empowered to raise money by subscription from the Brethren to furnish and equip the Lodge Room. The results, however, evidently were not sufficient to meet the needs inasmuch as the Lodge was still paying interest on a note, held by the Lee Savings Bank, seven years later. And also at this time another committee was formed to draft the Lodge Constitution and By-Laws.
The third and last preliminary communication was called July 26, 1870 in order to set the fee for initiation, Following this meeting a Lodge of Instruction was held in the Lodge Room. Unlike the present day procedures wherein the Lodges of a District unite to form a separate organization called "The Lodge of Instruction", at that time its function was a definite part of the Lodge Work. It was held for the purpose of giving instruction and guidance so that the officers could perfect their degree work.
By way of explanation, it should be mentioned here that there were two different petitions for a Charter for Occidental Lodge submitted to the M. W. Grand Lodge. The original one of 1870 has already been mentioned.
The Dispensation of 1870 stipulated that it was to be returned to the Grand Lodge in time for their Quarterly Communication in September 1871, together with a transcript of all Lodge proceedings and a copy of the By-Laws. At that time, it was further stated, the Petition of 1870 would be reviewed and further action considered as to whether or not Occidental Lodge would be granted a Charter. There is no indication in the records that the officers did not conform to these directives of the M.W. Grand Lodge. It is stated, however, that another Petition was submitted to the M. W. Grand Lodge and that it was signed by twenty-two Brethren, some of whom were not named in the original Petition. Thus, there were a total of thirty-one Brethren submitting two different Petitions for the same purpose. And of this number only twenty-two names appear on the Lodge Charter which was obtained September 13, 1871 at a cost of fifty dollars to the Lodge. Its authority was retroactive to June 14, 1870, the date the Dispensation was granted. It was worded to include as members of Occidental Lodge not only all of the petitioners of the Second Petition, but also all the Brethren listed as members to that date. As a point of interest it should be noted that the Second Petition requested that the name of the Lodge should be "Occidental Lodge No.—" apparently in the expectation that the M. W. Grand Lodge would supply a number, but no number was forthcoming.
The first Regular Communication of Occidental Lodge was held in Dunham Hall, August 19, 1870. The Lodge By-Laws were voted accepted with the provision that the initiation fees agreed upon in the third preliminary communication be substituted for the terms originally set forth.
There would be no point served in this History to enumerate each meeting over the past one hundred years. On the other hand, in order to present as complete a picture as possible, some attention must be given to those details marking both successes and failures for the Lodge. In this respect it also must be remembered that Occidental Lodge has always been a small Lodge, and consequently its history will reflect its position accordingly.
The Lodge had barely commenced before a loss of membership began to be noticed. The first suspensions for nonpayment of dues were voted when the Lodge was four years old, and from this time on the pattern was repeated many times.
Occidental Lodge started with twenty-three members in 1870. There were thirty-five members in 1873; thirty members in 1878; and a decline to nineteen members in 1883. At this point, concern was voiced at all levels regarding the bleak outlook for the future of the Lodge. Survival demanded motion in one direction, and through dedicated labours, the Brethren met the challenge. By the year 1885 the membership increased to twenty, and in 1894 there were forty-one members listed. There was continual growth to the year 1931 at which time there were one hundred and twenty-eight members. This period seems to have marked the high point in membership because shortly thereafter there was a gradual decrease to a level of slightly less than one hundred members where the Lodge essentially remains at the present day.
For many years in the past the closest possible bond had been maintained with the M. W. Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts whose presiding Most Worshipful Grand Master, until in recent history, many times made a personal visitation to Occidental Lodge. On November 31, 1930 the Secretary of the Lodge reported that "our East has been occupied by every Grand Master from the institution of the Lodge to the present time". The only major point of disharmony between the M.W. Grand Lodge and Occidental Lodge was Occidental's inability, at a few times in its early years, to meet its Grand Lodge assessments.
In comparison with modern times, a century ago when transportation was limited and slow, it indicated a real effort for most Masons to attend Lodge meetings. Despite the difficulties, communications, in addition to the slated monthly meetings, were held at irregular intervals. Depending upon the need, in some months, as many as five extra meetings have been held.
For awhile Lodge meetings were held each month of the year, but as time went on, lack of attendance indicated the need for discontinuance of communications during the summer months. At a meeting on July S, 1887 with only the Wor. Master, Senior Warden and Secretary in attendance, it was decided to eliminate the regular meetings of Occidental Lodge during the months of July and August. Since that time it has been the practice to hold an annual summer recess.
There is no indication in the early records that Masters-elect were required to be qualified (i. e., by the qualification ceremony) as became the policy in later years. One of the earliest reports from the records of Occidental Lodge indicated that on January 4, 1893 the D. D. G. M. and his Marshal formed a committee to qualify the incoming Master.
Another change in custom which may be noted, relates to representation at Grand Lodge Communications. At first, for many years, the Lodge voted to send the Master to Boston, Mass. and pay his expenses. In later years, a proxy was selected and he had to pay his own expenses. Now it has become all but impossible to find anyone who will accept even the position of proxy.
Neighboring Lodges were given a great deal of consideration in the activities of Occidental Lodge until, in more recent years the Lodge has gradually become more and more inactive. Any meeting beyond that referring to the ordinary business transactions was certain to be preceded by invitations for other Lodges to send representatives. Cincinnatus, Evening Star and Wisdom Lodges were the most frequently mentioned in the records, although occasionally, the Lodges of the Pittsfield area were also included.
There seems to have been a general relaxing of formality in the Lodge over the years. At one time, for instance, "freedom of speech" was a privilege granted only by the Master, and until a Brother was given permission to speak, no one said anything except the Master, an Officer at work or a recognized Brother. This is in marked contrast to contemporary times where one may find several conversations going on at once in a Lodge room at Work.
As a rising star on the Masonic Horizon, Occidental Lodge was not apparent to the naked eye as may be judged from a report in the Grand Lodge of Mass., "Proceedings 1871" wherein D. D. G. M. Daniel Upton, while mentioning his visitation to Occidental Lodge Monday, September 4th writes: "In the exemplification of the work, I regret to say that I found them sadly deficient in accuracy and manner, and in great need on instruction". Apparently the officers determined to improve matters, for, in his report of December 6, 1878, where he wrote in reference to his District, D. D. G. M. H. S. Russell reported: "From year to year a marked improvement . . . has been manifest, so that now the Lodges generally, in the district have become quite proficient".
It is of interest to note that in its beginning, Occidental Lodge was in the Ninth Masonic District. Due to increased population, new Lodges being formed, and changes in District boundaries, the Lodge was moved to the Fifteenth Masonic District, and then shifted again in more recent years to the Sixteenth Masonic District where it resides at the present time.
Certainly, the Lodge has never been in what might be termed a favorable financial posture. In the early years there were times when the Brethren were hard pressed to meet their obligations, and occasionally the payment of bills had to be delayed. Eventually, however meager it was, the time arrived when the treasury contained a surplus of funds. Without presenting a more detailed account, it may be stated that aside from providing for the bare essentials, Occidental Lodge has never been in a position financially to engage in the charitable, social and material benefits that are so necessary for an active Lodge.
Some of the officers have received compensation for their work in the Lodge. The Tyler, for instance, for many years was voted the sum of fifty cents per meeting night to tile the Lodge and clean the Lodge Room. If funds were in short supply, his dues would be voted to be remitted in lieu of cash payment. On September 7, 1949, the Lodge voted to pay the Secretary the sum of fifty dollars per year salary, and the Treasurer ten dollars per year. Sometime later the Treasurer was raised to twenty-five dollars per year, and the total of seventy-five dollars per year remained on the books until 1960 when the presiding Secretary and Treasurer decided that the Lodge was financially unable to assume that burden, and the matter was discontinued indefinitely.
Upon considering the one hundred year picture as a whole, it would appear that Occidental Lodge has not been outstanding in the performance of extra-Masonic activities. In the matter of Lodge of Exemplification, occasionally a small group attended the meetings held in Pittsfield, Mass., but the records of the early years of the Lodge show that for the most part, the Grand Lecturer was invited to come to Stockbridge for the Exemplification which took three evenings to complete. After a great deal of talking and persuasion, the Grand Lodge Officers finally convinced the membership to accept the group Lodge of Exemplification as a necessary function.
The attitude of the members simply reflected the general tone of the town's inhabitants; for they have always maintained from the earliest times, and in fact still continue to exercise an independent spirit which most communities have lost in the crush of civilization, if they ever possessed it.
Somewhat earlier in this History, reference was made as regards the Lodge of Instruction. This too is an organization which has received little beyond mandatory support from Occidental Lodge even though the records indicate that the meetings were given due notice and many words were spoken in their behalf. In its history since 1928, the Twentieth Lodge of Instruction of the Pittsfield Sixteenth Masonic District has had as Master, three past Masters of Occidental Lodge: Wor. Newton A. Kasson, 1942-43; Wor. David E. Braman, 1954-55; and Wor. Henry C. Edwards, 1968-69.
The Past Masters' Association which was organized in Pittsfield, Mass., October 6, 1948 did draw some interest from the Lodge's eligible membership for a time, but now it seems to be recognized only as an instrument for qualifying the Masters-elect.
Past Masters' Night, however, as an institution belonging to the Lodge, seems to have been popular, generally well attended and insofar as the records indicate, credited for having done excellent work. The origin of this event apparently dates back to the evening of April 5, 1911, when the Brethren were read an invitation to attend Past Masters' Night at Cincinnatus and Evening Star Lodges. It was then voted that the Master of Occidental Lodge should appoint a committee to organize a similar event to take place in Occidental Lodge.
The quest for Lodge Rooms is a subject which certainly has taken a great deal of time and space in the Lodge records. From the earliest years, committees were formed annually for this purpose and then discharged when their efforts were proven fruitless. In any event, whether a matter of poetic justice or the irony of life, at a Lodge picnic held July 21, 1936, Rt. Wor. Bro. A. T. Treadway offered the "Stafford House" located south of the Red Lion Inn, as a gift to the Lodge to be used for meeting rooms, etc. The property was then valued at sixty five hundred dollars and was free of encumbrances.
An investigating committee reported sometime later that care of the property would require an additional five dollar increase in the yearly dues of each member. A report of Sept. 2, 1936 indicated that a poll of the members by postal cards on the question of whether or not to accept the offer resulted in thirty-five votes "yes" and eighteen votes "no". A second ballot of over one hundred cards was then arranged and on November 4, 1936 only fifty replies had been received to the same question as on the first survey. Thirty-six voted "yes" and fourteen voted "no". The Lodge Brethren then voted to reject the offer.
The Lodge has always rented rooms for its meetings, and with the possible exception of a few difficult years early in its life, it has managed to meet the payments. By the year 1877 Occidental Lodge was paying one hundred twenty-five dollars yearly rental for rooms in the Dunham Block. For some reason, the records indicate a considerable variance in the amount of the fee paid for rent. For the year 1883 the Lodge paid only sixty dollars for rent. When the Lodge moved to its present location in 1892, the rent was one hundred dollars per year. Today the Lodge pays two hundred-forty dollars for the use of its rooms.
At a meeting November 7, 1907 electric lights for the first time were put to use in the Lodge Rooms. "They were voted a great improvement over the lamps just discarded", as the Secretary reported for that meeting.
According to Grand Lodge Records, as recorded in the minutes of Occidental Lodge dated January 6, 1942, Royal Wyman Treadway was raised by Rt. Wor. Bro. Allen T. Treadway, which was the third time in its records that a Brother had been raised by his grandfather.
Occidental Lodge has had few organists. Apparently the first Brother to fill that office was Joseph G. Schilling. In the year 1919, Bro. George French held the chair. Music has never had an important role in Masonic Ritual according to any of the available records of the Lodge.
II. THE BY-LAWS
While most Lodges can differ but little from the standards set forth by the presiding Grand Lodge, considerable latitude is granted individual Lodges in the matter of their By-Laws. In substance, By-Laws are a set of rules which govern a Masonic Lodge and its members. They are formulated by a committee organized for that purpose by the Lodge Members, and once approved by the Lodge, they must be submitted to the M.W. Grand Lodge for final authorization.
Occidental Lodge approved its By-Laws in the year 1870. They were drawn up from the standpoint of a working Lodge not yet having received its Charter and were so worded. They consisted of twenty-five articles dealing with the Lodge, its officers and members.
In 1892 a new set of By-Laws in a new format was prepared and approved, and the rules of 1870 were declared void. This version consisted of thirteen titled articles with each having from one to five sub-divisions. While some alterations have been made down through the years, the 1892 By-Laws are essentially the same rules which govern the Lodge today.
Of noteworthy interest in comparing the two sets of By-Laws is the fact that two articles were dropped in the 1892 version. In the 1870 By-Laws, Article XII stated: "Each member shall, at all times, pay due regard to the Christian Religion"; and Article XX stated: "All officers shall render full account of their proceedings during their time in office." These two items were omitted in the 1892 revision.
The minor changes which have been made from time to time are concerned chiefly with regard to meeting schedules, time of the annual election of officers and dues payments. On October 4, 1939, it was voted to allow members of seventy years or more of age exemption from paying annual dues. At a meeting September 7, 19SS, it was voted to draw up an amendment to allow for June election of Officers. Previous to this time from the formation of the Lodge until the year 1945, the regulations allowed for the annual election to be held in December. Then on April 4, 1945 this was changed so that the annual election would be held the first Wednesday evening in September and this ruling continued in effect for ten years. According to the report at a meeting on May 3, 1944, the change enacted in 1945 was instituted at the request of the M. W. Grand Lodge.
On June 15, 1945 a change in Article VIII was approved. This referred to suspensions for non-payment of dues and was altered from mandatory suspension after three years of arrears of dues, to conditional suspension after two years lapse in dues payments.
There were three rulings made by the Lodge at various periods in its history which should be mentioned, even though they were not incorporated in the By-Laws. At the March 3, 1909 regular communication, the Lodge voted that each member present for refreshments at the close of the Lodge at each meeting should pay the sum of twenty-five cents to help defray the expenses involved. The only exception was to be the annual visitations of the D. D. G. M., and this expense was to be borne by the Lodge. On March 2, 1932, by a vote of the Lodge, the Brethren banned smoking in the Lodge Rooms. And on November 7, 1942, it was voted to remit the dues of all members who were in the armed services.
III. SOCIAL LIFE
The social aspect of Masonry found its place in the activities of the Lodge from its first inception until more recent years. This was not only manifest in the activities following Lodge Meetings, but also in the many ways where the townspeople might share.
The records of the Lodge demonstrate that the prosperity of the Lodge increased in due proportion with the sharing of its benefits among the citizens of the town. In fact, in the first twenty-five years of its life, Occidental Lodge had but one public installation and by the year 1894 the membership had barely passed forty Brethren.
The year 1895 however seems to have marked a turning point for the Lodge, and the examples set by neighboring Lodges certainly played no small part in the over-all change. On June 6, 1895 a delegation from Occidental Lodge attended the one hundredth anniversary of Evening Star Lodge in Lee, Mass. Unfortunately a detailed account of the event did not appear in Occidental's records.
The first public installation of note occurred on the evening of January 1, 1896 in Dunham Hall, Stockbridge. Bro. F. M. Griffin, Master-elect and his Suite of Officers were installed by Rt. Wor. William P. Wood, Past D. D. G. M. and D. D. G. M.-elect Wor. Frank E. Peirson. Entertainment was furnished by the Stockbridge Male Quartet and Doty's orchestra. The ceremonies were followed by a ball and banquet. The rooms were decorated with evergreens, bunting and Chinese lanterns. The Secretary reported that "the tables were groaning under the weight of good things to eat". Some two hundred and twenty-five townspeople were present.
On June 24, 1896 a group of forty-five Masons gathered at Stockbridge and went by train to Gt. Barrington, Mass., where they took part in the centennial anniversary of Cincinnatus Lodge. They were attended by the Chatham Comet Band. Another memorable occasion took place on May 4, 1914 when a delegation from Occidental Lodge entrained to Pitts-field, Mass. where they joined over thirteen hundred fellow Masons in a parade with bands and drum corps as a part of the ceremonies for the dedication of the Masonic Temple in that city.
One of the most successful social events in our one hundred year history was a public installation in the new Town Hall, Stockbridge, on December 31, 1903. In addition to the Masonic ceremonies, dancing and New Year's festivities were included. It was estimated that three hundred and fifty people attended this social event; and for a small community, such a gathering in those days was no small accomplishment.
The fiftieth anniversary of Occidental Lodge was celebrated June 20 and June 21, 1920. On June 20th one hundred Masons met at the Lodge Rooms from which place they formed a procession and marched behind the Stars and Stripes to the Congregational Church for Divine Services; and afterwards returned in the same manner. The next day, some eighty Masons marched to the Town Hall for the anniversary ceremonies. All Lodges of the District were represented with the exception of Dalton. The Town Hall was decorated with palms and llowers. The program included an address of welcome by Rt. Wor. Bro. Allen T. Treadway, Past Grand Warden of the M. W. Grand Lodge of the Commonwealth of Mass. The presiding Grand Master of the M. W. Grand Lodge, M. W. Arthur D. Prince, was present with his Suite of eleven Grand Officers. The presiding Grand Master gave an address as did several Past Grand Masters who were also present. Medals were presented to some of the Brethren and each of the wives of the Grand Lodge Officers were presented appropriate bouquets. Refreshments and dancing followed.
In connection with the fiftieth anniversary, the presiding Secretary of Occidental Lodge, Bro. Arthur W. Searing, prepared and read an historical review of "Masonry in Stock-bridge from 1777 to 1920". The recording of this history can be found in the Grand Lodge Proceedings, 1920. This work is particularly noteworthy inasmuch as it appears to be the sole existing link with the past in the years prior to the formation of Occidental Lodge.
While our records do indicate that two other histories have been prepared, upon the occasions of the twenty-fifth and seventy-fifth anniversaries of Occidental Lodge, the present compiler has been unable to locate them.
Frequently the Lodge was invited by the Pastor of the Congregational Church to attend evening worship. At such times invitations were extended to neighboring Lodges to share in the services of Divine Worship, and there was generally a good attendance.
Another popular program instituted in the early days of the Lodge was a night dedicated to the wives of the Lodge Brethren. Ladies Night, as it was called, apparently did not occur every year, but rather when enough interest could be generated to make it successful. The program for the evening usually involved a dinner and was followed by dancing. A great deal of the success of Occidental Lodge may be attributed to the wives and mothers of the members. They have worked unseen and unheralded. Occasionally some have received tokens from the Lodge expressing appreciation and esteem. While the Fraternity does not admit them as members, the assistance of these ladies has been invaluable. In this connection, Occidental Lodge has never had a local Order of Eastern Star although in the past one hundred years several committees have been formed at one time or another for the purpose of evaluating the possibility of starting such a group for the members and their ladies. The results have always been the same; there were an insufficient number of persons interested to make the group possible. As a result, a few of the Brethren and their wives affiliated with the O. E. S. in West Stockbridge, Mass.
On September 19, 1901, a Special Communication was called for the purpose of holding a memorial service for the late President William McKinley at the Congregational Church. The Masons attended in a body and the service was conducted by the Rev. Charles S. Rich. A special resolution expressing the sentiment of the Lodge was spread upon the records, and a copy sent to the widow of Bro. William McKinley. In a letter which was also spread upon the Lodge records dated September 1901, Canton Ohio, Mrs. McKinley acknowledged receipt of the resolution.
Another annual event which has been a custom of long standing in Occidental Lodge is the Christmas remembrance to the widows of Lodge-Brethren. At this time the Lodge sends each widow a flower or some small token.
Over the years the Lodge has been honored by visitors from far and near. On October 5, 1927 at a Communication which included a visitation by the presiding District Deputy and a banquet at the Red Lion Inn, Brig. Gen. Charles Stewart Wilson, Grand Master of Egypt and the Sudan, was a special guest. At a meeting on October 2, 1930, Wor. Bro. Mailing, Most Worshipful Grand Master of Denmark, attended Occidental Lodge on the Suite of M. W. Claude L. Allen, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts. The Lodge later received an autographed photograph of the Grand Master of Denmark.
While some mention should be made concerning Occidental Club, little can be offered beyond a few cursory remarks since there are no written records available insofar as this group is concerned. The Club, a social organization consisting of members of Occidental Lodge, met in a small cottage directly behind the Benjamin Pharmacy Block. It was largely a recreational facility where the Brethren could gather for games, a meal or conversation. The Club began in early 1941, but there seems to be some doubt as to when it actually terminated. In fact, it seems simply to have faded away. According to the recollection of some of the members, the building where they met was unexpectedly sold to someone else without any kind of warning. In Occidental's records, it was noted that on September 4, 1946, Occidental Club reported that it was going to give its dishes and other articles to the Lodge because the Club rooms had been sold and they had no other place to go. A final effort was made to salvage the Club when on November S, 1947, a petition was brought before the Lodge asking if the Brethren would consider sharing the Stafford House with Occidental Club. (This, of course, was the same building which had been offered as a gift to the Lodge in 1936.) At a special meeting on November 24, 1947 and after much discussion, the Lodge voted against the proposal and gave a lack of finances as the reason for so doing. The last act of the Club seems to have been on March 2, 1949 when it donated to Occidental Lodge a check for over two hundred dollars to pay for new officers' aprons and the balance to go into a fund for future rug replacement.
A Special Communication was held Friday evening, September 14, 1945 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Occidental Lodge. (1945 Mass. 285-6). The presiding Master for that year was Wor. Cecil E. Babcock. Most Wor. Grand Master, Samuel H. Wragg, of the M. W. Grand Lodge of Mass., together with a large and distinguished Suite of Grand Officers, were in attendance. After the ceremonies of opening the Lodge, reception of the Grand Officers took place, and this was followed by appropriate remarks by some of the Grand Officers. Then everyone repaired to the Red Lion Inn for a banquet and the program of the evening which centered around speeches by the Grand Lodge Officers. In all, the celebration took about three hours to complete and was in marked contrast to the fiftieth anniversary which was spread over a two day period.
There was a time in Occidental's history when it was customary to present Honorary memberships to members of other Lodges. But in recent years there seems to have been little interest shown in extending this form of courtesy.
A rather unusual meeting took place November 21, 1930, and for this reason it would be amiss not to include some mention of it in this record. On that occasion the Lodge gave a birthday anniversary celebration to their Chaplain, Wor. Bro. George Knowles, who had been a Mason for nearly sixty years. The presiding M. W. G. M. of Masons in Massachusetts was in attendance. A scroll signed by the Brethren was presented to Wor. Bro. Knowles.
It was a little over a year later on January 8, 1932 following funeral service in the Congregational Church, that Wor. Bro. Knowles was given Masonic Burial Service at the grave. As a final tribute, at a meeting of Occidental Lodge, May 5, 1954, Wor. Bro. E. C. Wilcox presented to the Lodge a ring which had belonged to Wor. Bro. Knowles. This was a Masonic ring and is presently in the display archives of the Lodge.
There was a time when the visitation of the Grand Lecturer was considered a rather important event. On February 1, 1893, for one example, Occidental Lodge voted to invite the Grand Lecturer to the Lodge for an exemplification of the work. On three different evenings, March 13, 14 and 15, a degree was exemplified and each communication was followed by a criticism, discussion and a talk by the Grand Lecturer. During this time he was entertained by the presiding Master of the Lodge. Floral decorations were provided in the East by the Junior Steward and each meeting was followed by a lunch prepared by the refreshment committee. Incidentally, the Lodge was later billed, in regard to this particular occasion, in the amount of $33.68 for grocery expenses; all of which indicated in terms of the 1893 dollar value that a goodly spread was had.
In connection with the visitations of the Grand Lecturer, upon at least one occasion there was some comment made in regard to what might and might not be recorded in the Lodge Minutes. A definite objection was offered by the Grand Lecturer in any case which involved corrections or procedures concerning the Ritual when the Secretary attempted to incorporate them in his reports. The opinion rendered on this matter was essentially that inasmuch as Lodge records could be considered public records, the confidential aspects of the ritual should be kept out of those records.
Much to the regret of those Brethren who would like to know as much as possible of the history of the Lodge, Occidental's Records contain no account of the dedications of either of the Lodge Rooms. In the minutes of the September 30, 1873 meeting, the Secretary notes an omission in his records to the effect that it had been voted by the Lodge to have a public dedication of the hall which was the first Lodge Room in the Dunham Block. The next entry, dated October, 1873 (no day indicated) commences a listing of the Grand Lodge Officers present at a Special Communication of Occidental Lodge, and then abruptly ends. With an almost equal disregard for the actual sequence of events, very little is reported concerning the new Lodge Room after being moved across the street. At a meeting June 7, 1892, the Secretary reported that the Lodge had voted that the Grand Master, M.W. Daniel Upton, should be invited as a special guest for the opening of the new Lodge Room. A later entry in the records indicated the presence of this Grand Master at Occidental Lodge on October 27, 1892, together with a delegation from Cincinnatus Lodge. Note was made that at this time, Bro. Allen T. Treadway received his Third Degree, and that a banquet was given to honor the occasion. Nothing was mentioned of any formal dedication of the New Lodge Room at this or any other time.
A plan to form a Square Club was brought before the Lodge at a meeting on November 2, 1960. Its purpose was to help with expenses by raising money. On December 7, 1960, the Lodge voted to form a Square Club. The final report in the records occurred under an entry dated January 4, 1961 indication that one of the Brethren had been appointed to contact the members in regard to this Club. Beyond this no further mention of the effort was made.
In Masonic literature it is not unusual to run across reference to Masonic plays. In the one hundred years of Occidental Lodge history, there seems to be only one instance of a Masonic play being presented in the Lodge Rooms. On the evening of June 5, 1940, a group of Masons from Unity Lodge in Dalton came to Occidental Lodge and presented a play entitled "Greater Love Hath No Man".
IV. FURNISHINGS OF THE LODGE
One of the very first gifts to Occidental Lodge was a Holy Bible presented October 4, 1870 by Bro. Henry J. Dunham. This was later replaced by an Altar Bible donated by Rt. Wor. Bro. Allen T. Treadway on July 2, 1919 and it served the Lodge until December 7, 194S. At that time a Bible donated by Wor. Bro. Stephen C. Burghardt replaced it upon the Altar. The ribbons for the Burghardt Bible were given to the Lodge on February 6, 1946 by Bro. Harrison L. Lamond. This Bible is the one currently being used.
The Marble Tablets which are to be found at each of the first three Officer's stations were presented to the Lodge by Bro. H. S. Fitch on March 19, 1872.
The large George Washington picture was given to the Lodge on June 7, 1892 by Susan Pratt. The Members voted to pay for the glass and mat, and Bro. George W. Searing (who became Master in 1905) donated the work of framing the picture which was formally presented on March 1, 1893.
A set of Working Tools was donated September 7, 1893 by Bro. W, C. Fields; the Hour Glass was a gift of Bro. M. E. Dunbar on January 4, 1893; a set of candidate's suits was presented by Bro. B. F. Baker on March 3, 1893 and on June 7 of the same year he gave the Lodge a Falling Board.
The Lodge Banner was purchased by the members and was finally received for a meeting on December 4, 1895. The Banner had been ordered some months earlier, but when it arrived it had to be returned to the maker because of faulty workmanship.
Occidental Lodge has in its possession at least three Setting Mauls. The first was presented by Bro. F. S. Aymar on January 4, 1894; the second was given by Bro. H. V. Blackford on November 1, 1916; and the third, an Egyptian Maul, was offered to the Lodge on July 6, 1928 as a gift from M.W. Charles S. Wilson, Grand Master of Egypt and the Sudan, as a token of his esteem following his visit to Occidental Lodge on October 5, 1927. This is kept in the Lee Savings Bank along with the Charter.
On the evening of March S, 1902, Occidental Lodge was given a "token of Remembrance" from Crescent Lodge in Pittsfield. This gift consisted of a set of Receiving Tools and they are still being used in the work. The Brethren voted to express their appreciation and send a communication of thanks to Crescent Lodge. A copy of this letter was also spread upon the records and read in part: "while we shall always prize the gift for its intrinsic value, we shall cherish it the more for the sake of the giver". It was signed by Wor. Bro. James E. Drumm and two Brethren who formed a committee to act for the Lodge in this matter.
A gavel of considerable value was presented to the Lodge on June 8, 1912 by the M. W. G. M., Everett C. Benton, during his visit to the Lodge. It was made from a log taken from a cedar tree in Lebanon by the Mount Lebanon Lodge of Beirut, Lebanon, and sent to the M.W. Grand Lodge in Boston, Mass. It was shipped on February 4, 1910 and arrived in Boston, Mass., on March 20, 1910, where it was made into gavels by Master Masons. According to the records, no one but Master Masons are said to have touched the wood from the time the tree was cut until the Grand Master handed the gavel to the "residing Master of Occidental Lodge.
Another gavel was presented to the Lodge on June 3, 1925 by Bro. Charles E. Hull. The head of the gavel is made of stone reportedly taken from King Solomon's quarries. Bro. Hull also gave the Lodge two stones from the same quarry to be made into Ashlers. A committee was appointed to arrange for their preparation and the results of this labor are the Rough and Perfect Ashlers which have been placed in the East of Occidental Lodge.
The Lodge possesses a nearly complete collection of pictures, suitably framed, of the Past Masters of Occidental Lodge. At one time it was customary for them to be hung in the Lodge Room, but with more recent renovations plus a lack of space for the ever growing number of pictures, it has been necessary to store them until a more favorable means of display is available.
In addition to the documents bequeathed to Occidental Lodge throughout the years, the Lodge possesses an interesting collection of Past Masters' Jewels, Rings and other Masonic Medals.
Honor Rolls for the members who served in World Wars I and II are displayed on the walls of the ante-room. The work and materials involved in these displays were gifts to the Lodge.
The rugs, furniture, curtains and the like were purchased at various times with Lodge funds.
The Marshal's Baton was given to the Lodge by Bro. John W. Harrington on September 2, 1931 as a token of his esteem. He was Senior Warden of the Lodge at that time.
The piano was a gift of Bro. Benjamin on April 1, 1931.
The chart case was built and installed by Wor. John A. Miller and was accepted by the Lodge on September 30, 1962. Since his term as Master, Wor. Bro. Miller has served Occidental Lodge as Marshal for many years.
An artificial sprig of Acacia was given to the Lodge on March 3, 1965 by Bro. R. H. Tinker, Jr., as a token of hope for continuation of the Lodge.
Within its limited financial means, Occidental Lodge occasionally has rendered assistance as part of its work.
For many years the Lodge gave its share toward the Masonic Home at Charlton, Mass. The activities of the Home and its developing progress were frequent topics of discussion by visiting Brethren, and for a long time the Lodge had an elected representative to the Home.
Some of the requests for aid by other Lodges had to be tabled. From the records it is apparent that the pleas were many and for various purposes. If at all possible, however, some token of assistance was forthcoming.
In August 1921, the lodge made its final payment to the George Washington Memorial Fund, and for this, Occidental received a certificate on October 5, 1921 declaring the Lodge one hundred percent contributor to the fund.
Upon occasions the Brethren would surprise one of their Officers or fellow members with some token of their appreciation or esteem. A watch, pen, medal, ring and apron number among the kinds of gifts. Needless to say, judging from the records, the recipients have been astounded and speechless.
Then too, with the exception of a very few years, the Lodge has always made the very generous gift of a Past Master's Jewel to each of its retiring Masters.
Without the continual charitable acts by the many Brethren of Occidental Lodge, the Lodge itself could not have existed for very long. The records are replete with examples of time, labor and money that have been donated to the cause. In fact, a separate account would have to be compiled in order to give the necessary credits to the Brethren who have participated in this collective work.
In the days before Public Welfare and Social Security became mainstays of the Federal and State Governments, the Lodge was often requested to render aid to needy Masons, their widows and families. With the very limited financial means available, the Master of the Lodge many times had to turn to the Brethren for additional funds, or else deny the request entirely. Money for this purpose was always in short supply.
That Masonic Charity is not limited to monetary considerations is a fact well known to Masons. To be understanding, more often than not, requires considerable more effort than it does to donate money to a fund. Yet, this aspect of Charity is seldom heralded in the records of any Lodge, and therefore how can it be evaluated or presented in a written History? It is truly one of the unwritten aspects of each Mason's personal history.
To prepare a History and suggest that Occidental Lodge has never had issues arise which demand more than an average amount of effort and attention would indeed be erroneous.
Undoubtedly, the one issue which recurs with the greatest precision concerns the payment of dues. Throughout the history of the Lodge there has been a minority group of Brethren who do not want to pay their annual assessment in order to ensure the continuation of the life of the Lodge. The problem then, is simply a question of how to convince a Brother Mason to fulfill his obligation, when obviously he is reluctant to do so, and at the same time not estrange him from the Brotherhood.
Complaints of Brother against Brother have occasionally come before the Lodge, and as the records show, some diplomacy was needed in order to preserve harmony. In most cases, the disputes have been settled by arbitration, but in a few instances it has been necessary to refer to the M.W. Grand Lodge for the final verdict.
There is no record of any Masonic Trial having been conducted in Occidental Lodge at any time in its one hundred year history. In the few cases of expulsion that do exist, the Lodge merely conducted preliminary investigations and referred its findings to the M. W. Grand Lodge.
In the years 1913 and 1914 there arose the matter concerning the new school cornerstone. It seems that the Brethren of Occidental Lodge desired to lay the cornerstone for the new Williams High School building in Stockbridge. The school committee, however, repeatedly turned down their requests. The M.W. Grand Lodge was called in on the scene, but to no avail. The committee remained adamant and would not alter its decision, although the reason for this stand was not recorded, if it was known. So the matter stopped at that point, but not without leaving behind mixed emotions.
Numerous plaguing problems seem to have come from all quarters at one time or another; there were moths in the carpet; oil was found dripping from the lamps; after having moved to their third floor room the Brethren stifled from the heat in the summer and shivered in the winter; unauthorized bills were presented for payment; demitted Brethren attempted to visit the Lodge; changes had to be made in the Lodge Rooms in order to conform with the State Fire Inspector's rulings; and there were jurisdictional problems concerning candidates.
At one time in the early years of the Lodge it was the custom in voting for the Master to select whichever candidate for that office received the most votes. Apparently anyone could be a potential candidate. Several times, according to the records, a Brother would work faithfully through the chairs to a point where he was ready to be elected Master, only to have another candidate receive a majority of votes. Brethren who filled appointed offices were uncertain of advancement by successive steps. Many of the instances of Brethren failing to attend Lodge meetings, demands for demits and suspensions for nonpayment of dues can be attributed directly to the circumstances attending the filling of the chairs.
At a Communication on June 1, 1904, it was formally announced that someone had purloined the silverware of the Lodge. In keeping with the age-old remedy, a new lock was installed on the door.
The April 2, 1947 meeting was overshadowed by a Grand Lodge Communication which was read to the Brethren and admonished them in part "that the use of the key by candidates cease at once". And the edict was reiterated at a meeting on April 2, 1952 by another communication from the M.W. Grand Lodge. While no further data was transcribed, it may be assumed that the reference was not in connection with the official symbol.
Sometime in the course of business in the year 1967, an inquiry was sent to the Lodge concerning the possibility of a certain individual having once been affiliated with Occidental Lodge. It developed that no one had seen the Lodge Records in a decade or more, and so, a search was instituted. The following year the records were discovered in the basement of the local Bank. Then on January 2, 1969, by a vote of the Brethren present, the records were ordered removed from the Bank and placed in the Lodge Rooms in a safe (which incidentally came to the Lodge through the generosity of Bro. Heaton I. Treadway from the Red Lion Inn). Occidental's Record Books were placed in the safe on January 8, 1969.
Today the Lodge is faced with the greatest problem of all; the survival of the Lodge. In essence, new members are not being attracted and as a result there is no succession of line Officers. If a meeting is to be held, or a degree worked, the Past Masters must fill the chairs. While membership remains at a high level, the majority of Brethren no longer reside at a distance which permits them to attend meetings. Of the new members, pressures of work schedules (some of which involve night hours when the Lodge is in session), and family life commitments preclude their regular attendance at the meetings. And of the remaining Brethren, age and sickness have unfortunately made deep inroads in their lives.
Bound as they are by their basic tenets of self-determination and individualism, it would seem that while the Brethren must pursue a "wait and see" policy, the Lodge is rapidly becoming a victim of circumstances beyond its control.
Recalling, for the moment, that in the year 1883, Occidental Lodge was faced with an even greater potential disaster with only nineteen members on the rolls, and considering the remarkable recovery which was made, the present dilemma, it would seem, could resolve itself and thus become a foundation, as it were, for construction of the New Occidental Lodge for the next one hundred years.
- 1871 (Institution of lodge, 1871-209)
- 1873 (Constitution of lodge; Special Communication; no record in Proceedings)
- 1895 (Participation in centennial of Evening Star Lodge, 1895-79)
- 1896 (Participation in centennial of Cinncinatus Lodge, 1895-166)
50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION, JUNE 1920
From New England Craftsman, Vol. XV, No. 9, June 1920, Page 279:
Occidental lodge of Masons of Stockbridge celebrated its 50th anniversary on Sunday evening, the 20th, and Monday, June 21. The principal speaker of the service Sunday night in the old brick Congregational church, built in 1824, was the Rev. Dr. Frederick W. Hamilton, Grand Secretary of the grand lodge of Massachusetts. On Monday evening a reception was held at the Stockbridge town hall with Past Grand Master Melvin M. Johnson of Boston as speaker.
GRAND LODGE OFFICERS
- Henry C. Edwards, DDGM, District 16 (Pittsfield), 1969, 1970; SN
- Kevin G. Foster, DDGM, District 31, 2013, 2014
- Joshua D. Hall, DDGM, District 31, 2020, 2021
- Charles H. Hunter, Jr., DDGM, District 31, 2007, 2008
- Kevin C. McGinnis, DDGM, District 31, 2011, 2012
- Paul A. Moore, DDGM, Pittsfield 16, 1995, 1996; N
- John P. Palmer, DDGM, District 16 (Pittsfield), 1939, 1940; N
- James H. Punderson, DDGM, District 16 (Pittsfield), 1923, 1924; SN
- Allen T. Treadway, DDGM, District 15 (Pittsfield), 1905, 1906; Junior Grand Warden 1909
- George D. Rubin, Biography