- 1 THOMAS LODGE
- 2 REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
- 2.1 ANNIVERSARIES
- 2.2 VISITS BY GRAND MASTER
- 2.3 BY-LAW CHANGES
- 2.4 HISTORY
- 2.4.1 CENTENNIAL HISTORY, DECEMBER 1896
- 2.4.2 125TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, DECEMBER 1921
- 2.4.3 REMARKS IN THE HISTORY OF DAY SPRING LODGE, MAY 1938
- 2.4.4 150TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, DECEMBER 1946
- 2.4.5 FROM HISTORY OF MASONRY IN MONSON, CENTENARY OF DAY SPRING LODGE, MAY 1962
- 2.4.6 175TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, DECEMBER 1971
- 2.5 OTHER
- 2.6 GRAND LODGE OFFICERS
- 2.7 OTHER BROTHERS
- 2.8 EVENTS
- 2.9 DISTRICTS
- 2.10 LINKS
Chartered By: Paul Revere
Charter Date: 12/12/1796 II-93
Precedence Date: 12/12/1796
Current Status: Active
MEMBER LIST, 1802
From Vocal Companion and Masonic Register, Boston, 1802, Part II, Page 19:
- R. W. Samuel Guthrie, M.
- W. Ozens Blashfield, S. W.
- W. Ede Whitaker, J. W.
- Isaac Holmes, Tr.
- Joel Norcross, Sec.
- William Bull, Tiler
- Zera Preston, Deacon.
- Isaac Warren, Deacon.
- John Horn, Steward.
- Amos Norcross, Steward.
No. of Members, 94.
- Calvin Eaton
- Luther Carter
- Enos Hitchcock
- Samuel Guthrie, 1796-1801
- Ozens Blashfield, 1802
- Ede Whitaker, 1803-1805
- Steven Pynchon, 1806, 1807
- Joel Norcross, 1808, 1809
- Samuel Willard, 1810-1813
- Abraham Haskell, Jr., 1814-1820; SN
- George Bliss, 1821, 1822
- Timothy Packard, 1823-1825
- Joseph L. Reynolds, 1826-1835
- DARK 1835-1856
- Elias Turner, 1856-1859
- Sylvanus Shaw, 1860, 1861
- George Robinson, 1862; SN
- Marshall Fox, 1863
- James B. Shaw, 1864-1866
- Andrew Pinney, 1867-1870
- George B. Kenerson, 1871, 1872
- John W. Warren, 1873-1882?
- Samue H. Hellyar, 1883, 1884
- George O. Henry, 1885-1888
- William A. Weld, 1889-1891
- Charles T. Brainerd, 1892-1894
- George H. Wilkins, 1895; SN
- David L. Bodfish, 1896, 1897; Memorial
- H. W. McGregory, 1898, 1899
- Bryan Woodhead, 1900-1902
- William H. Norton, 1903-1905
- Edward B. Taylor, 1906, 1907
- Thomas A. McCRea, 1908, 1909
- Joseph F. Davis, 1910, 1911
- Charles L. Wald, 1912, 1913
- Charles M. Kempton, 1914, 1915
- Harrie M. Howe, 1916, 1917
- Ernest E. Hobson, 1918; N
- Samuel P. Goodsie, 1919, 1920
- George Patterson, 1921
- Harry B. Sanborn, 1922, 1923
- Charles F. Dingman, 1924; N
- Fred S. Potter, 1925
- Allen F. Davis, 1926, 1927; N
- J. H. MacGeachey, 1928
- Reginald C. Kempton, 1929
- John P. Reed, 1930
- Elmer J. Rhomas, 1931
- Ralph E. Canning, 1932
- Roy W. Johnson, 1933
- John Moon, 1934
- Herbert W. Bishop, 1935
- Paul Heine, Jr., 1936, 1937
- John W. Crane, 1938
- James A. Vennert, 1939
- Harold S. Crane, 1940
- Fred Fell, 1941
- Kenneth P. Keffe, 1942
- William T. Brown, 1943, 1944
- Augustus Newman, 1945; N
- William D. Spooner, 1946
- Lewis S. Flower, 1947
- Edward W. Branford, 1948
- Milton J. Wood, 1949
- Wilbur D. Gunn, 1950
- Frederick L. Worby, 1951
- Horace H. Randlett, 1952, 1991; SN
- Philip E. Cody, 1953
- Arthur E. Brown, 1954
- Harold R. Hobkirk, 1955
- Walter F. Kaufman, 1956
- Russell Thornquist, 1957
- Arthur V. Hedman, 1958
- Andrew G. Haveles, 1959
- Robert B. Taft, Jr., 1960; N
- Kenneth H. Main, 1961
- Earle A. Anderson, 1962
- Robert J. Cox, 1963
- Rud W. Hermanson, 1964
- Merritt B. Hyatt, 1965; SN
- George F. Sawyer, 1966
- Kenneth W. Phillips, 1967
- Edson N. Carnahan, 1968
- Robert E. Geer, 1969
- Charles W. Smith, 1970
- Richard E. Johnson, 1971
- Clarence Carrington, 1972
- Raymond E. Barton, 1973, 1976
- Chester E. Bolek, 1974
- Richard W. Cisco, 1975
- Folke V. Ellason, 1977
- John A. Rocasah, 1978
- Gerald J. Hechigian, 1979
- George Rahalm, 1980
- George W. Shorette, 1981, 1982
- Guy C. Lucia, Jr., 1983
- George C. Kindberg, 1984, 1985
- Roland I. Outhuse, 1986; PDDGM
- John A. Altomonte, 1987, 1988
- Ronald E. Wheeler, Sr., 1989
- David W. Prew, Sr., 1992, 1993
- Bernard B. Roche, 1994-1996
- Homer R. Brooks, 1997, 1998
- Douglas J. Fry, 1999; N
- Kenneth W. Rhodes, 2000, 2001; PDDGM
- Seth H. Blackwell, 2002
- Gary A. Roberts, 2003, 2004
- Lawrence A. Lucas, 2005
- Stuart C. Hazen, 2006
- Edward F. Miodowski, 2007
- William K. Adams, 2008
- Robert J. Parron, 2009, 2010
- John C. Christie, 2011, 2013
- Steven J. Ziobrowski, 2012
- Daniel Edmiston, 2014
- Douglas Battige, 2015, 2016
- Mark Davey, 2017
- Joseph Fleming, 2018, 2019
- Paul Matukaitis, 2020
REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
VISITS BY GRAND MASTER
- 1873 (John Wetherbee as Deputy Grand Master; Hall Dedication; Special Communication)
- 1890 ((Wells; Public cornerstone laying; Special Communication)
- 1893 (Acting Grand Master Shepard; Hall dedication; Special Communication)
- 1896 (Holmes; Centennial; Special Communication)
- 1904 (Sanford)
- 1926 (Simpson; Veterans' night)
- 1946 (Wragg; 150th Anniversary; Special Communication)
- 1971 (Jaynes; 175th Anniversary; Special Communication)
- 1975 (Deputy Grand Master Custance; Cornerstone laying; Special Communication)
- 1979 (Melanson)
- 1990 (Darling; installation)
- 1896 (Centenary History, 1896-401; see below)
- 1921 (125th Anniveraary History, 1921-531; see below)
- 1938 (Notes in the 75th Anniversary History of Day Spring Lodge, 1938-108; see below)
- 1946 (150th Anniversary History; 1946-359; see below)
- 1938 (Notes in the Centenary History of Day Spring Lodge, "History of Masonry in Monson", 1962-115; see below)
- 1971 (175th Anniversary History; 1971-560; see below)
CENTENNIAL HISTORY, DECEMBER 1896
From Proceedings, Page 1896-401, Address by Bro. O. P. Allen:
It is fitting that organizations as well as communities should have recurrent periods set apart for honoring the times and the men which combined to make up their historic past. Such recognitions add a halo to the names of those who have spent their lives in serving, and dignify those who observe them. Imbued with this reverent spirit of retrospection, we seem to be standing today upon a commanding height, peering through the mists which stretch across an extended vista, searching for objects which may revive the memories of a hundred years.
In the olden lauds, where the deeds of millenniums' are lwoven into the warp and woof of their history, a century seems as yesterday; but in this new world of ours we talk of such a period as a wondrous while, and reverently listen as its tales are retold.
To-day we meet to celebrate the centennial birthday of Thomas Lodge, to inquire about our ancient Craftsmen, and learn something of their lives and acts. In doing this we also celebrate, in a wider sense, an added milestone in the progress of the larger Institution — universal Freemasonry. That we may more fully enter into the spirit of this. occasion, let us inquire for a moment something about Masonic history.
Outside the first and paramount position which the Church must ever occupy in our thought, Freemasonry stands as the noblest Order ever instituted! It had its inception in the needs of humanity, and sprang into being at the very dawn of history; becoming a mighty civilizing force in Egypt and Phoenicia, taking refuge at first in the mysteries of the Isian and Dionysian rites; then was broadened and elevated by the magic touch of Solomon; ages later was transported to Rome, whence its influence spread throughout Europe, where it was fostered and honored by princes, kings and emperors. Its members were men of proud renown, the architects and builders of the wondrous temples of Egypt and Tyre, whose Titanic, ruins still attest the skill and ingenuity of the ancient Craftsmen. They too were the constructors of the sacred Judean temple of Jehovah, the pride of Israel, the wonder of the world, the despair of the archeologist, whose polished walls arose from foundation to keystone without the sound of hammer, or extra (ouch of chisel, so perfect was the system under which the ancient Masons performed their work. In after times, when Rome rose to imperial power, they crowned her seven hills with palaces whose splendor dazzled the eyes of all beholders, and when the. pagan days were fulfilled, they erected the cathedrals Of Europe for the worship of God, many of which still remain to excite our wonder and admiration.
For more than forty centuries Masonry was operative in its work, when there came a time for its fuller and wider development, to meet the growing needs of the progressive peoples. The principles and symbols of ancient Masonry served as the basis for the modern structure of Freemasonry. Whatever was crude and objectionable in the older system was eliminated. The door of the Lodge was opened to proper men of all professions, and Masonry became speculative in form and spirit. In the words of a noted writer, "It is therefore the scientific application, and the religious consecration of the rules and principles,. the technical language and the implements and materials, of operative Masonry to the worship of God as the Grand Architect of the Universe, and to the purification of the heart and the inculcation of the dogmas of a religious philosophy." This is modern Freemasonry, and is of universal application. It teaches reverence for the Master Builder of the Universe, and for His revealed will, loyalty to the government under whose protection it exists. It nourishes no bigotry, harbors no schisms, asks no man at the threshold of the Order what his creed- or politics, whether he be prince or peasant; but rather if he be a true man, moral in action, loyal in purpose, one who seeks the good of others, and will be ever ready to do his part' to honor the Order into which he seeks to enter.
Governed by these principles the Order has flourished and planted its Lodges in all lands where civilization and Christianity rule. But its path has. not always been strewn with flowers. It has had to meet opposition, and sometimes persecution, because it has been misunderstood and misrepresented by its enemies. But to-day it is honored and patronized by hosts of men who occupy the highest positions in Church and State, who have found in its principles a grand factor for the benefit of mankind. And yet our Order does not proselyte. It does not seek to enlarge its numbers by urging men to come into its fold. All who come must do so of their own accord, incited by the influence which its members sustain in the community.
It has no written creed, but the essence of its principles is embodied in the sublime idea of the "Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man." True to this noble sentiment, its deeds of charity are not blazoned before the world, but find a grateful echo in the hearts of needy Brothers, with often no other record save that written by angel pen.
The mysteries of the ancient peoples have faded from the minds of men, but evolved from them, purified aud enriched by the Divine Word, moulded and fitted to meet the needs of modern thought, Freemasonry has come to bless the world. It has served to unite diverse orders of men, to break clown barriers which have long divided, and caused men to meet on the level where all other measures have failed. May it ever continue in the future, as in the past, a mighty factor for good!
From this brief digression let us turn our thoughts to the more limited matters of our Lodge. The records do •not disclose the circumstances which led up to the formation of Thomas Lodge, at a time when there were but twenty Lodges in the State, and but four recently established west of Worcester. We have no knowledge where our charter members were made Masons, but probably in the eastern part of the State. We know from other documents, recently brought to light, that Freemasons had resided in Palmer as early as 1774. At least the two William Scotts, father and son, belonged to the Order, and doubtless received their degrees in Boston while the son was pursuing his studies at Harvard. When the second Scott tavern was built in 1774, at Shearer's Corner in Palmer, the third story of the new house was devoted to the purposes of a Masonic Hall, where members of the Craft held meetings for mutual benefit. As this was but forty years after the establishing of Freemasonry in America, and the Scotts were nien of education and wide influence, this Hall doubtless furnished the nucleus of the Order in Western Massachusetts, and may have paved the way for the foundation of our Lodge.
In 1796 twelve Freemasons of Monson and vicinity petitioned the Grand Lodge of the State of Massachusetts for the establishment of a Lodge of Freemasons in that town. The result of this-petition was the granting of the following
To all the Fraternity to whom these presents shall come, the Grand Lodge of the most Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons, for the Commonwealth of. Massachusetts, send greeting:
Whereas, a petition has been presented to us by Samuel Guthrie, David Young, Peter Walbridge, Hezekiah Fiske, Ephraim Allen, Elisha Woodward, Amasa Stowell, John Moore, David Peck, Zebediah [Butler, Jesse Converse, and Isaiah Blood, Jr., all Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, praying that they, with such others as shall hereafter join them, may be erected and' constituted a regular Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, which petition, appearing to us as tending to the advancement of Masonry and the good of the Craft: Know ye therefore, that we, the Grand Lodge aforesaid, reposing special trust and confidence in the prudence and fidelity- of our beloved Brethren above named, have constituted and appointed, and by these presents do constitute and appoint them, the said Samuel Guthrie, David Young, Peter Walbridge, Hezekiah Fiske, Ephraim Allen, Elisha Woodward, Amasa Stowell, John Moore, David Peck, Zebediah Butler, Jesse Converse, and Isaiah Blood, Jun., a regular Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, under the title and designation of Thomas Lodge, hereby giving and granting unto them and their successors, full power and authority to convene as Masons within the town of Monson, in the County of Hampden, and Commonwealth aforesaid, to receive and enter Apprentices, pass Fellow Crafts, and raise Master Masons: upon the payment of such moderate compensations for the same as may be determined by the said Lodge; also to make choice of a Master, Wardens, and other office bearers, annually or otherwise, as they shall see cause; to receive and collect funds for the relief of poor and distressed Brethren, their widows or children, and in general to transact all matters relating to Masonry which may to them appear to be for the good of the Craft, according to the ancient usages and customs of Masons. And we do hereby require the said constituted Brethren to attend the Grand Lodge at their Quarterly Communications, and other meetings by their Master and Wardens or by proxies, regularly appointed, also to keep a fair and regular record of all their proceedings, and to lay them before the Grand Lodge when required. And we do enjoin upon our Brethren of the said Lodge, that they be punctual in the quarterly payment of such sums as may be assessed for the support of the Grand Lodge. That they behave themselves respectfully and obediently to their superiors in office, and in all other respects conduct themselves as good Masons, and we do hereby declare the precedence of the said Lodge in the Grand Lodge and elsewhere to commence from the date of these presents.
In testimony whereof, we, the Grand Master and Grand Wardens, by virtue of the power and authority to us committed, have hereunto set our hands, and caused the seal of the Grand Lodge to be affixed at Boston, this December, the thirteenth day, Anno Domini, MDCCLXXXXVI, and of Masonry, 5796.
Paul Revere, G.M.,
Samuel Dunn, D.G.M.,
Isaiah Thomas, S.G.W.,
Joseph Laughton, J.G.W.,
Attest: Daniel Oliver, Grand Secretary.
In the original of this priceless document our Lodge is proud to possess the autograph of Paul Revere, the fearless patriot, the bare mention of whose name calls back the dramatic opening scene of the Revolution, when
"Through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night wind of the past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness, and peril, and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoofbeats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere."
Our Charter also bears the autograph of another patriot, Isaiah Thomas, for whom our Lodge is named, and that we may more fully appreciate the noble namesake of our Lodge, a brief sketch of his life is introduced at this point. Isaiah Thomas was born in Boston, Jan. 19, 1749. He came from a long line of reputable English ancestry, but owing to reverses, his father, Moses Thomas, lost his property, and, dying, left his family in poverty. Young Thomas was bound out as an apprentice to a printer in Boston at the age of six years. Thrown thus early upon his own resources he became' self-reliant; deprived of the benefit of school education he taught himself and became. by severe application, a fluent speaker and a lucid writer. He overcame many obstacles where others would have faltered, and was crowned with a success of which any man might be proud. He. founded the Massachusetts Spy in Boston in 1771, now the oldest paper in the State, and when the time arrived for the public mind to be aroused against the encroachments of the crown, his paper glowed with patriotic appeals. He shrank not from duty when the hour of trial came, but. with gun in hand took his place in the ranks on the streets of Lexington; and when that memorable conflict was over, he moved his printing-press to Worcester, wrhere he built up a great business as a printer and publisher. At one time he was the foremost publisher in the county, and his name became a. noted one. His acquirements were such that he was accorded the degree of Master of Arts by Dartmouth College in 1814, and that of Doctor of Laws by Alleghany College in 1818. He was a" member of many societies and the founder of the American Antiquarian Society, of Worcester, to which he gave over $40,000.
Many other societies and individuals, besides his own family, were the recipients of his liberal bequests. He was for many years a member of the Grand Lodge of Masons, and for some time its Grand Master. He gracefully acknowledged the honor conferred upon him by our Lodge, in selecting his name for its designation, by the gift of a valued set of jewels for the officers, which are still in use. He also, many years afterwards, bequeathed Thomas Lodge the sum of one hundred dollars, which amount was paid to its treasurer, Amos Norcross, who went to Worcester for the purpose of receiving it, April 17, 1832. Dr. Thomas died April 4, 1831, full of years and honors, leaving a name long to be remembered.
With its Charter granted Dec. 13, 1796, and a nucleus of twelve members, Thomas Lodge began its work. It was provided with a convenient home in the upper rooms of the new tavern, erected, in the beginning of its charter year, in Monson, by William Norcross, and now known as the Century Hotel. The Hall was dedicated Dec. 30, 1800, and was occupied for Masonic purposes till the closing of the Lodge in 1835. For some unknown reason the records of the Lodge do not begin until Feb. 13, 1799, some two years after the Lodge was chartered; but from the fact that we find scattered through the records some fifty-five names of members added prior to the above date, we are led to conclude that much work was done of which we have no account. This view is strengthened by the fact that we find in a statement from the Grand Lodge, September, 1800, that seventy-nine Brothers had been initiated from March 7, 1797, to September, 1800, and as there were one hundred and eight members in the Lodge at that time, it would seem twenty-nine of them had either been members at the commencement or had become such by affiliation.
It seems, then, that the Lodge commenced active work March 7, 1797, but left no record of its doings for nearly two years. Dr. Samuel Guthrie was the first Master of our Lodge, and retained the position till 1802. Prior to 1802 the Lodge had been in the habit of taking notes from initiates for fees, but voted to dispense with the practice after this date, and accept cash payments only. Years of prosperity followed, and many members were added to the ranks. In 1819 four notable clergymen were made Masons in our Lodge whose names will ever reflect honor upon it: Rev. Dr Alfred Ely and Rev. Dr. Simeon Colton, of Monson, Rev. Benjamin Hill and Rev. Dr. Hosea Ballou of Stafford.
- Dr. Colton was a native of Longmeadow, a graduate of Yale in 1806, settled over the church in Palmer in 1811, dismissed in 1821, after which he was for some years the principal of Monson Academy, a teacher in North Carolina, and later president of Clinton College, Mississippi. The degree of D.D. was conferred upon him in 1846. He died at Ashborough, N.C., December, 1868. He was a man of much enterprise and of scholarly attainments. Dr. Colton often officiated as chaplain of the Lodge, and took much interest in the work.
- Rev. Benjamin Hill was a Baptist minister at Stafford, Ct.; removed to New Haven, where he became prominent and was honored with the title of D.D.
- The Rev. Dr. Hosea Ballou, 2d, was born in Halifax, Vt., Oct. 1S, 1796; died at Somerville, Mass., May 27, 1861. He was a grand-nephew of the elder Hosea Ballou, and, like his namesake, a well-known Universalist clergyman. He entered the ministry at a very early age, and was the first settled pastor over the first Universalist Society at Stafford, Ct. It was during his pastorate there that he was initiated in our Lodge. In later years he became the first president of Tufts College, his profound scholarship well fitting him for that honorable position, which he filled with distinction.
- Rev. Dr.. Alfred Ely, a native of West Springfield, graduated from New Jersey College in 1804; was settled over the Congregational church in Monson, Dec. 17, 1806, which pastorate he filled till his death, .July 6, 1866, a period of sixty years. Dr. Ely was a man of marked ability and broad views. He left a deep and lasting- impression of his personality upon the memories of the people among whom he labored so long. He was an enthusiastic workman in Thomas Lodge, serving as its chaplain for years; was often invited to give dissertations on the subject of Freemasonry in' his own and other Lodges, which were highly appreciated by the Brethren. By the courtesy of Brother Reynolds, of Monson, I have had the pleasure of reading one of these printed discourses given before Mount Vernon Lodge in Belchertown seventy-six years ago. It is a gem, every line of which sparkles with the light received from the absolute source. I quote ;a paragraph, touching the influence of Freemasonry, in which the Doctor says, "Our forms, our emblems, our lectures, unite in their tendency to improve the mind, to discipline it to justness of thought and of reasoning, to strengthen the mental powers, and to render us more capable of acting well our part in society; and what is of more importance, to form our conduct by the rules of virtue, to lead us to the practice of uprightness and benevolence in our intercourse with others, and to cultivate the friendly, social, and brotherly affections among ourselves. They have a further tendency, to awaken us to serious and solemn reflections on our mortality, and accountability to our great Master in heaven, and to bring us to worship, adore and serve Him." Truly this is an inspiring tribute to the underlying principles of our Order.
In 1828 the Lodge purchased books for a library to be- used by the members, and two years later voted to. dispense with the use of ardent spirits in the Lodge meetings, both -of which actions tend to show that Thomas Lodge was not, a laggard in the. march of progress, but rather a leader in vital matters of reform. Some incidents peculiar to the times may be noted in passing. It was the early practice of Thomas Lodge to hold its meetings from 9 A.M. to 7 P.M.; this was a necessity from the fact that members came from long distances, in the surrounding towns, as there was no other Lodge in the vicinity for many years.
From the early records we gather facts which impress us with the idea that extreme care was exercised when new names were proposed, that no unworthy person might obtain membership; this wise precaution doubtless gained an enviable prestige for the Lodge.
For many years it was the practice for visiting Brethren to pay the sum of twenty-five cents for each visit, thus allowing them to bear some of the burdens, while they received the benefit of the meetings.
There was a large membership in Brimfield, and at one time there existed a strong feeling in favor of removing the Lodge there, but wiser councils prevailed,. and Monson continued to be the home of the Lodge till the disbanding of its members.
For thirty-nine years our Lodge had prospered. Two hundred and fifty names had been added to its list' of members, many of whom were the leading men of Monson, Palmer, Brimfield, and. other towns, gathered from the varied walks of life. But in the midst of its useful labors there came a time of adversity. Some indiscretions of certain members of the Fraternity in New York had been magnified, misrepresented and construed to suit the purposes of designing political leaders, whereby the public mind was incited against the Order in a remarkable degree. Households were often divided and communities rent in twain over the burning question. Even many churches sought to discipline members because of their affiliation with Masonry; as an instance of which it is said the deacons of Dr. Ely's church urged him to publicly denounce the Order and its principles. The Doctor remained steadfast in his position, and said he firmly believed in the Order and never would condemn it, but at the same time, if it was causing any Brother to offend, he would so conform to the desires of his people as to refrain from attendance upon the meetings of the Lodge. He remained true to this declaration of principle through all the battle which raged for twenty years, and lived to see the complete triumph of Freemasonry over all its enemies. In the midst of the strife, and in view of all the circumstances, it seemed wise on the part of Thomas Lodge to close its doors and disband the Craftsmen till more propitious times should come.
On the 14th day of January, Anno Lucis 5835, thirty members of Thomas Lodge gathered for the last time, as it seemed to them. The salable effects had been disposed of for cash. It was voted to give the Bible and cushion to Rev. Dr. Ely, and that the jewels should remain in the custody of the officers who were last elected to wear them. By a careful canvass, it wras found that the Lodge had lost by death, dismissals and lapses on account of unpaid dues, two hundred and twenty of its members, so that but thirty remained. The balance of cash in the treasury, amounting to $227.55, was divided into thirty shares, and given to each of the members to be used as a small fund for charity by them. The parting words of regret and sadness were spoken by the Worshipful Master, J. L. Reynolds, and then it was voted "that this Lodge be closed."
The years of waiting went by slowly, but that they might keep alive the words and lessons of the past, the faithful Master and Senior Warden occasionally met in a retired place and recited to each other the work of the Lodge, hoping some time the long-vacant chairs might receive them again. At length their patient faithfulness was rewarded. Moved by the spirit of returning prosperity and the clearing of the once lowering skies, a few members, of Thomas Lodge petitioned for the restoration of the ancient Charter, and that the reorganized Lodge be located in Palmer. In response to this petition the Grand Lodge issued this order:
In Grand Lodge of Massachusetts,
Boston, Sept. 10, A.L. 5856.
Ordered that the Charter of the late Thomas Lodge, of Monson, be and the same is hereby restored to the following petitioners, former members of said Lodge, with permission to remove and hereafter hold the same in the town of Palmer, viz.: Brothers Elias Turner, J. L. Reynolds, S. F. Newton, Jacob Thompson, J. R. Flynt, A. Ely, J. Nichols, D. B. Hannum, Otis Bradford and Joel Tucker, and the foregoing petitioners, their associates and successors, are hereby invested with the rank and all the powers and privileges originally conferred by the within Charter.
Winslow Lewis, Grand Master.
Attest: Chas. W. Moore, Grand Secretary.
Armed with the restored Charter, J. L. Reynolds, W.M., Elias Turner, S.W., Jacob Thompson, J.W., and Joseph Nichols, Treasurer, members of Thomas Lodge, and a few visiting Brethren, met in Palmer, Oct. 11, 1856, to reorganize the Lodge which had been dormant for twenty-one years. On resuming the long-vacant chair in the East, the Worshipful Master, J. L. Reynolds, said, "There was great cause for congratulation, after being buried, as its enemies supposed, for so many years, and now bursting into life with the wrecks of its honor and fame around it, but at the same time with a sure and certain hope of a more glorious exemplification of its work." Surely the words of Brother Reynolds were more than a hope, they were prophetic, and have had a rich fulfilment, as we to-day can testify. On that eventful eleventh day of October the chairs in the East and West were filled again with their former occupants, thus linking with grateful remembrances the closing of the old and the opening of the reorganized Lodge. Thirty-four of the former members were made honorary" members of the reorganized Lodge, yet only J. L. Reynolds and Elias Turner became active members. The new home of the Lodge was established in the upper story of the McGilvray Block, where it remained till 1873. Entering upon its new life, the Lodge started with seven active members, and at the close of 1857, or fifteen months, had made twenty-one Masons, of whom only four remain: present members; J. S. Loomis is the senior living member, followed by C. H. Murdock, Judge George Robinson, and Dr. William Holbrook. The others have gone to their rest, or have been dismissed to other Lodges.
When the War of the Rebellion broke out, our Lodge was not lacking in patriotism. Bro. J. S. Loomis was active as a town officer, securing recruits for the army. C. H. Murdock volunteered for the war. Bro. Robinson remained at home, but has long done useful and honorable service in Masonic work, in which he still continues. Our veteran Dr. Holbrook was one of. the earliest in town to offer his service to his country, accepting a position as assistant surgeon in the Tenth Massachusetts Regiment. As a tribute of the appreciation in which he was held by the Lodge, a contribution from its funds and from the members was given him towards buying the noble black steed which bore him through the war and came back with him in safety. We can also point with pride to the gallant war record of twenty-seven other members of our Lodge, who obeyed the call of duty and patriotism in the hour of need, some of whom have been called from labor to rest. Surely this is an array of men and of members of which no Lodge need be ashamed. Of those who were made Masons in 1858, Bro. F. J. Wassum is the only remaining member.
Having need of better accommodations, this Lodge secured commodious rooms in the new Commercial Block, in 1873, which were occupied till Sept. 21, 1885, when it removed to the elegant rooms fitted up in Wales Hall; where it remained till August, 1890, when, owing to changes made in the Block, a smaller Hall in the same Block was occupied till December, 1893. In the latter year the Masonic Hall Association was incorporated, embracing the three Masonic Bodies in Palmer, by which the Hitchcock Block was purchased on Central street, and a second story added, containing a commodious Hall, now the permanent home o'f Thomas Lodge and the other Masonic Bodies of the. town. The Hall was dedicated with imposing ceremonies by Officers of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Dec. 5, 1893.
Thomas Lodge has always maintained an enviable position among its' sister Lodges, and being the senior in Hampden and Hampshire counties, its favor and counsel have often been sought in the formation of new Lodges. During its existence of one hundred years it has had a total membership of nearly six hundred. Its present membership is about one hundred and fifty. Death has decimated its ranks, and removals have been numerous. Many of the leading men of Eastern Hampden have lent their names and influence to its councils. Ministers of various denominations, lawyers, physicians, merchants, mechanics, farmers, have been arrayed in its ranks and sustained it by their influence. It needs but the careful perusal of its eight volumes of records to convince any one of the high moral standard of its membership. They disclose the fact that a few, lacking the moral strength of their Brothers, have required and received the needed reprimand, and in a very few cases the severe discipline of expulsion. This speaks well for the Lodge, not that a few members needed to be cast out, but that the councils of the Lodge were governed by right views of living. It goes without saying that when associations of men become so lost to moral sense that they have no power to check evil, or desire to enforce discipline, it is full time for them to separate. But as an offset to this, our -records reveal many touching deeds of charity to needy Brothers or their widows, of which the world knows not; words of sympathy in the hour of affliction, of encouragement in the hour of trial.
Thomas Lodge has been happy in its selection of Worshipful Masters, chosen for their personal worth and business capacity; one evidence of which is found in the fact that the Lodge has had but twenty-three Masters during one hundred years. Of these Joseph L. Reynolds presided in the East for thirteen years; J. B. Shaw, eight years; Dr. Samuel Guthrie and Judge Robinson, six years each; Dr. E. Whitaker, Joel Norcross, and G. B. Kenerson, five years each; A. Haskell, Timothy Packard, S. H. Hellyar, W. A. Weld, C. T. Brainerd, three years each;. Stephen Pynchon, Dr. Samuel Willard, George Bliss, Col- E. Turner, S. G. Shaw, A. Pinney, two years each; 0. Blashfield, Marshall Fox, Dr. J. K. Warren, G. O. Henry, and Dr. G. "H. Wilkins, our present Worshipful Master, one year each. It is doubtful if a more representative list of men can be found in Western Massachusetts who have presided over any association in consecutive order for a century.
A brief sketch of the Worshipful Masters of Thomas Lodge, who have been called from earthly labors, may be of interest, in this connection.
- Dr. Samuel Guthrie, the- first Master, served from 1797 to 1802; he headed the petition for the establishment of Thomas Lodge. He was a. practising physician in Brimfield, and died there in 1809, when the Lodge voted to attend the funeral in a body.
- Captain Ozim Blashfield was elected in 1802, and held office for one year. He was also of Brimfield. He had been a captain in the Continental Army. He was born in 1757, and died in 1808.
- Dr. Ede Whitaker was elected in 1803, and served five years. He came from Stafford to Monson in 1790, where he practised his profession till about 1840.
- Stephen Pynchon, of Brimfield, was elected in 1806r and served two years. He was a graduate of Yale in, 1789; a lawyer.by profession; town clerk of Brimfield from 1797 to 1823 ; town treasurer , from 1803 to 1810; selectman from 1805 to 1821; postmaster 1806; Representative 1805 to 1823. For many, years he was one of the leading men of his town.
- Joel Norcross was elected in 1808, and served five years, at different times. He was a leading merchant and manufacturer of Monson, and a man of affairs, concerned in founding important manufacturing interests, one of the founders of Monson Academy, a real estate Owner, and identified in the growth of the town. He was a member of the Congregational church. He was born Aug. 6, 1776, and died in Monson.
- Dr. Samuel Willard was elected in 1810, and served two years. He was the son of Rev. John Willard, of Stafford. He built a part of the Stafford Springs House in 1802, and retained a large interest in the plant till 1815.
- Dea. Abraham Haskell was elected in 1814, and served three years. He was one of the selectmen of Monson in 1817, and represented the town in the Legislature in 1821; was a deacon of the Congregational church. Iu his old age he went West, where he died.
- Hon. George Bliss was elected in 1816 and served two years. He commenced the practice of law in 1816; afterwards moved to Springfield, where he became a leading member of the Bar; was Speaker of the House and later President of the Massachusetts State Senate.
- Timothy Packard was elected in 1823 and served three years. He was a leading; merchant of Monson for many years, and was honored with several town offices.
- Hon. Joseph L. Reynolds was elected the first time in 1826, and presided in the East for thirteen years, which included office in the old and the reorganized Lodge, and virtually during the interregnum of twenty-one years. He was an officer of' commanding presence and dignity, and served the Lodge with honor aud ability during the most trying period of its existence. He was closely identified with the manufacturing interests of Monson, where he built up a large and successful business. Besides, he was a man of affairs, in appreciation of which he was elected in 1854 to represent Hampden County in the State Senate, where he served with honor. He was for many years a member of the Congregational church at Monson. He was born in North Kingston, R.I.. Dec. 31, 1796, and died in Monson, June 9, 1885.
- Col. Elias Turner was elected in 1856 and served two years. He was a long-time resident of Palmer. He.gained his military title by serving in the State militia. He held the office of selectman, served on the school committee, etc., in Palmer, where he died May 4, 1875, at "the age of eighty. He had the honor of holding office in the ancient and reorganized Thomas Lodge.
- Sylvanus G. Shaw was elected in 1860 and served two years. He was a native of Brimfield, but went to Hartford soon after attaining his majority, and learned the trade of a mason, where he erected many notable buildings on Main street. He came to Palmer in 1845, and engaged in farming and later in trade. He represented the town in the Legislature in 1857. He died in 1864, at the age of fifty-eight.
- Marshall Fox was elected in 1863 and served one year. He was for a long time a respected business man of Palmer, in which town he died Oct. 17, 1884, aged sixty-nine.
- George O. Henry was elected in 1886 and served one year. He was a native of Palmer. When the war broke out he enlisted in Co. C, thirty-sixth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers, and gave honorable service to his country. He was Master of Day Spring Lodge, Monson, and the first Master of Anchor Lodge, of Wales. He spent his later years in Palmer, where he died March 9, 1892, aged fifty-two.
Of the Past Masters of Thomas Lodge who are still with us, I may be pardoned if I do not speak individually, save to say they are all representative men, whose relation to our Lodge we are proud to acknowledge and of whose varied lives and honorable service in town, and State and Lodge, the future historian will have ample material for eulogy when the next Centennial shall be observed.
But not alone are the Worshipful Masters of Thomas Lodge worthy of mention, for however well qualified they may have been to preside in the East, the complete success of their service must always have largely depended upon the support they received from the chairs in the West. and South, and from those who sat on the right and left, as well as from the subordinate officers. How well and ably this support has been rendered, let the long and honorable record of Thomas Lodge answer. The list of the minor officers of our Lodge is a long and honored one, embracing many of the stanchest members of the community, for whose service our Lodge is grateful, and whose names will ever find an honored place in our annals. And thus, as we turn the concluding page of the first centurial volume of our records, we are reminded that we are standing on the dividing line of two centuries. Glancing backwards we count scores, many times told, of our elder Brothers who have gone to rest. Not alone the simple monument tells its silent story of them. Their names survive in our annals, their noble deeds in our memories. Silent are the voices of those who bore the name of Guthrie, of Ely, of Colton, of Ballou, of Norcross, of Reynolds, and a host of others in the past, but the good influence of their lives remains to pilot us out of the old into newer fields of effort. Let us trust that the coming century shall furnish us with as noble leaders as did the past, and that the prosperity of Thomas Lodge shall increase in the ratio of its added years. Let us also trust that our Lodge, though venerable with age, may never allow' the moss of inaction to gather upon its walls, but that its sacred halls, hallowed by the rich associations of the past, shall continue to echo to the voices of busy Craftsmen, and that its members, having done faithful service in the quarries of earth, may find a welcome entrance at last into the heavenly temple not made with hands.
125TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, DECEMBER 1921
From Proceedings, Page 1921-531:
HISTORY OF THOMAS LODGE
By Rt. Wor. David L. Bodfish
It is fitting that organizations, as well as individuals, as they travel along the pathway that leads from the dim and mystical past to that bright and glorious future to which we all aspire, should pause for a moment as they pass the fast recurring milestones and take a backward glance over the path already trod, view its sunny heights and study its shadows, perchance to learn from past experiences something that shall prove of inestimable value in meeting the problems that may confront them in the days to come. It is not my purpose at this time to enter too deeply into the history of Thomas Lodge during the first century of its existence; this was recited with remarkable clearness at the time of our centennial celebration by our Historian, Brother Orrin Peer Allen, who a few years since passed to the ranks of the great majority in the Supreme Grand Lodge above.
As we stand upon some vantage point in this most beautiful section of old Massachusetts we are prone to look out over the valleys to the rugged hilltops of Palmer and Monson as they lie with their green foliage partially veiled by the haze of a bright June day or gaze with rapture upon these same hillsides clothed with all the glory of an autumnal sunset, their sides painted in the deep colors of crimson and gold, a picture that even a Raphael might well despair of imitating. In gazing upon the heights we fail to note the base upon which rest the mountain tops that give us so much of inspiration and pleasure. At the bottom lie the rich farms that help to feed the multitudes, the mills that furnish employment to the thousands that dwell in this section of our state and here are seen the golden sheaves of the harvest, of more sober shade but far greater worth than the brilliant foliage that crowns the hilltops.
It is the custom of the historian in reciting the deeds of almost any organization to tell of the bright spots in its history and dwell largely upon the men and events that are the exception rather than the rule in the record of its life, It was necessary that there should be a Washington to guide the affairs of the Continental Army in the days of the Revolution, but it was the heroic patriotism of the men who starved at Valley Forge and poled the boats across the ice-filled waters of the Delaware that won for us the heritage we now enjoy. It is necessary that in the political world we should have our presidents and governors, but the stability of our nation depends largely upon the great body of common people who uphold the men who rule in every crisis of our country's history. It is essential for the government of the Craft that we should have our Grand Masters, our District Deputy Grand Masters, and our Masters of Lodges, but the history of Masonry is not made so largely by those "who rule and teach" as by those "who submit and obey." While this history must of necessity deal largely with the men who were in places of authority during the century and a quarter that has passed since the organization of Thomas Lodge, I would not fail in passing to pay a tribute to the hundreds of loyal, large hearted men. who during that period have exemplified in their own lives the great principles of right and truth for which our grand Brotherhood stands.
The man who is well born, who grows to manhood in a favorable environment, and who bears an honorable name may well yield a generous handicap to his less fortunate associate in the race of life. Thomas Lodge was indeed fortunate in its birthplace. The early settlers in this section were of sturdy Scotch-Irish ancestry with a sprinkling of those who traced their descent from the rugged yeomanry of England. To these men life was a serious thing, and in search of greater religious and political liberty they came to the new world and these principles of right and justice they incorporated into the community life that soon sprang up amid the hills and valleys of western Massachusetts. From the descendants of these early pioneers was recruited the early membership of Thomas Lodge and to this heritage we are indebted for much of the success that has attended its efforts in promoting the universal brotherhood of man.
Our Lodge was born at a favorable period in our country's history. Our illustrious Brother George Washington was about to retire from his eight years service as president of the new nation and the elder Adams had been chosen as his successor. The new government was running smoothly and the men who had given so much of themselves for the welfare of the nation were now able to turn their thoughts to other channels. Freemasonry had demonstrated its loyalty to the principles enunciated in the immortal Declaration of Independence and the members of the order had sealed with their blood their belief in the principles for which the new nation stood. It was especially fitting that at this time the thoughts of the members of the Masonic Fraternity who dwelt in this section of the state should turn toward a closer organization and should choose for the name of the new organization that of the noted patriot and loyal Mason, Isaiah Thomas, at that time Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge. All the prestige that can come to any organization through the fortunate selection of a name came to Thomas Lodge and with it the deep appreciation of the man it had sought to honor, who presented the new Lodge with a set of officers' jewels which are still in use and at a later period bequeathed the Lodge the sum of one hundred dollars.
The history of the formation of Thomas Lodge is shrouded in mystery. We do not know why this organization was formed at a time when there were but twenty Lodges in the state, or where the men who perfected the organization received their degrees. Our historian relates that the two William Scotts who lived in Palmer in 1734 belonged to the Fraternity and that they doubtless received their degrees in Boston while the younger was a student at Harvard College. In 1774, when the second Scott Tavern was built at Shearer's Corner, the third story of the building was reserved for Masonic uses and here the members of the Craft were wont to assemble for years for purposes of mutual instruction, and this small nucleus doubtless paved the way for the organization of our Lodge.
In 1796, twelve Freemasons of Monson and vicinity petitioned the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for the establishment of a Lodge of Freemasons in that town, and on the 13th of December Samuel Guthrie, David Young, Peter Walbridge, Hezekiah Fiske, Ephraim Allen, Elsiha Woodward, Amasa Stowell, John Moore, David Peck, Zebadiah Butler, Jesse Converse, and Isaiah Blood, Jr., were constituted a regular Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, under the title and designation of Thomas Lodge, and to them was issued the priceless document now in the custody of the Master of Thomas Lodge. To this Charter were affixed the signatures of Paul Revere, Grand Master; Samuel Dunn, Deputy Grand Master; Isaiah Thomas, Senior Grand Warden; Joseph Laughton, Junior Grand Warden, and the document was attested by Daniel Oliver, Grand Secretary.
The name of Paul Revere brings vividly to our minds that opening scene of the Revolution, when
Through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night wind of the past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness, and peril, and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoofbeats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere."
Revere was an enthusiastic Mason, an active participant in the activities of the stirring days of '75, and succeeded to the position of Grand Master in 1795, serving for three years.
Isaiah Thomas, the honor of whose name this Lodge shares with the newly organized Isaiah Thomas Lodge, of Worcester, was a native of Boston, where he was born on January 19, 1749. He founded the Massachusetts Spy in 1771, and was instrumental in arousing the public mind against the encroachment of the crown. When the crucial moment came, with gun in hand, he took his place in the ranks of the Minute men at Lexington, and being driven out of Boston on account of his patriotism he moved to Worcester where he became one of the foremost printers in the country. He was elected Grand Master in 1802, serving for three years and was again elected in 1808, serving a single year. Left in poverty by the death of his father and bound out as an apprentice to a printer at the age of six years, by severe application he educated himself and became a fluent speaker and able writer. He was granted the degree of Master of Arts by Dartmouth College in 1814 and of Doctor of Laws by Alleghany College in 1818. He founded the American Antiquarian Society of Worcester, to which he gave $40,000. Many other organizations, as well as individuals, were recipients of his bounty. He died in 1831 full of years and honors.
Thomas Lodge began its work in the new tavern erected by William Norcross, in Monson, now known as the Century Hotel. The hall was dedicated December 30, 1800, and was occupied for Masonic purposes until 1835. The Lodge began its active work March 7, 1797, but there is no record of its work for the first two years, though from other records it is evident that about sixty-three were added to its membership during that period.
Samuel Guthrie was its first master and served until 1802. In the years of prosperity that followed many noted men were added to its membership. Among these might be mentioned four notable clergymen who were made Masons in 1819, Rev. Alfred Ely and Rev. Dr. Simeon Colton of Monson and Rev. Dr. Benjamin M. Hill and Rev. Dr. Hosea Ballou, 2d, of Stafford, Conn.
Dr. Colton was a native of Longmeadow, a graduate of Yale College, settled over a church in Palmer in 1811, for some years principal of Monson Academy, later principal of a school in North Carolina and president of Clinton College, Mississippi.
Dr. Benjamin Hill was born in Newport, R. I., graduated from Brown University and was ordained as the second pastor of the Baptist Church in Stafford, Conn., in 1818, remaining until 1821. He was prominent in religious and educational circles.
Rev. Dr. Hosea Ballou was a native of Vermont and became a noted Universalist clergyman, entering the ministry at an early age. He was the first settled pastor over the Universalist Society of Stafford, Conn., where he was installed April 3, 1817, and remained there until 1821, when he removed to Roxbury. He later became the first president of Tufts College.
Dr. Alfred Ely was a native of West Springfield, a graduate of New Jersey College, and was settled over the Congregational Church in Monson December 17, 1806, which pastorate he filled until his death, July 6, 1866. He was a man of strong personality and left his mark upon the Lodge and the community in which he lived for so many years.
It was the custom in the early days of the Lodge's history to hold its meetings from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ; this was made necessary by the fact that members came from long distances, there being no other Lodges in this vicinity. Extreme care was taken in the admission of members, and to this measure is due the fact that the Lodge enjoyed an enviable prestige in this community. There was a strong movement in favor of removing the Lodge to Brimfield, because of the large membership from that town, but wiser council prevailed and the headquarters remained in Monson.
Thomas Lodge had enjoyed thirty-nine prosperous years and two hundred and fifty had been received into membership when the wave of adversity that had swept over Masonry throughout the country affected the local institution and it was decided to disband until more favorable days should come. On the 14th of January, 1835, thirty members of the Lodge gathered, as they believed, for the last time. The effects of the Lodge had been disposed of, the jewels were to remain in the custody of the officers who were the last to wear them, and it was voted to give the Bible and cushion to Rev. Dr. Ely, who in spite of the demand that he renounce Masonry remained true to his principles, although in deference to the wishes of his parishioners he refrained from attending the meetings of the Lodge. A canvass disclosed that the Lodge had lost by death, dismissal, and lapses on account of unpaid dues two hundred and eight of its members so that only thirty remained. The balance of $227.55 in the treasury was divided into thirty shares and given to the members to be used by them for charity. Joseph L. Reynolds, the Worshipful Master spoke a few parting words of regret and sadness and then it was voted "that the Lodge be closed." The Master and the Senior Warden, hopeful that at some future period the vacant chairs might again be filled, met occasionally and recited the work that none of it might be lost.
The years went by slowly until more than a score had passed when the blanket of misrepresentation and abuse that had covered the good name of Masonry was removed and the sprig of acacia, token of the life beyond the grave, again gave forth its perfume of brotherly love and truth to the people of this section of the old Bay State. In response to a petition to the Grand Lodge, on September 10, A. L. 5856, it was
"Ordered that the Charter of the late Thomas Lodge of Monson be, and the same is hereby restored, to the following petitioners, former members of said Lodge, with permission to remove and to hereafter hold the same in the town of Palmer, viz.: Brothers Elias Turner, Joseph L. Reynolds, S. F. Newton, Jacob Thompson, J. R. Flynt, A. Ely, J. Nichols, D. B. Han num., Otis Bradford, and Joel Tucker, and the foregoing petitioners, their associates and successors, are hereby invested with the rank and all the powers and privileges originally conferred by within Charter.
Winslow Lewis, Grand Master
Attest, Charles W. Moore, Grand Secretary"
Under the restored Charter Joseph L. Reynolds, Worshipful Master, Elias Turner, Senior Warden; Jacob Thompson, Junior Warden; Jacob Nichols, Treasurer, all members of Thomas Lodge, and a few visiting Brethren, met in Palmer, October 11, 1856, to reorganize the Lodge. The chairs in the East and West were filled with their former occupants and the men who had been so faithful to their trust for one and twenty years of weary waiting were come into their own again, the historic past was eternally linked with the glorious future and Thomas Lodge, realizing the promise of the evergreen symbol of undying hope, had risen from its grave of sadness and despair into the newer life of-faith and inspiration that was to characterize its future efforts. Only J. L. Reynolds and Elias Turner of the old organization became active members of the Lodge, although thirty-four of the former members were put on the honorary list. The new home of the Lodge was in the McGilvray Block, on South Main Street, where it remained until 1873. The Lodge started with seven members and at the close of 1857 had added twenty-one to its list.
Twenty-nine of the Brethren served in the War of the Rebellion, others giving loyally of their substance and time in aid of the Union cause. In 1873, having need of larger accommodations, the Lodge removed to the Commercial Block, where it remained until September 21, 1885, when it moved into the quarters that had been fitted up for its use in Wales Hall. In 1890 it moved to a smaller hall in the same building where it remained until 1893. In the latter part of the year the Palmer Masonic Hall Association was organized by the three Masonic bodies, the Hitchcock block was purchased, another story was added for the accommodation of the Lodges and on December 5, 1893, the hall we now occupy was dedicated in Ample Form by the Officers of the Grand Lodge.
Thomas Lodge has had but thirty-six Masters during its century and a quarter of existence, of these there were but twenty-three during the first hundred years. Joseph L. Reynolds presided in the East for thirteen years; J. B. Shaw, eight years; Dr. Samuel Guthrie, and George Robinson, six years each; Dr. E. Whitaker, Joel Norcross, and G. B. Kenerson, five years each; A. Haskell, Timothy Packard, S. H. Hellyar, W. A. Weld, Charles T. Brainerd, and Byram Woodhead, three years each; Stephen Pynchon, Dr. Samuel Willard, George Bliss, Col. E. Turner, S. G. Shaw, Andrew Pinney, David L. Bodfish, Harry W. McGregory, William N. Norton, Edward B. Taylor, Thomas" A. McCrea, Joseph F. Davis, Charles L. Waid, Charles M. Kempton, Harrie M. Howe, and Samuel P. Goodale, two years each; 0. Blashfield, Marshall Fox, Dr. J. K. Warren, G. 0. Henry, Dr. G. H. Wilkins, E. E. Hobson, and George Paterson, one year each.
The poet has said:
Lives of great men all remind us,
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time."
It may not be out of place for us to trace the footprints of these men who have presided over the destinies of Thomas Lodge during the years that have passed since its organization one hundred and twenty-five years ago. Perchance we may gain something of hope and encouragement that will help us in the days to come, something that will aid us in meeting the new conditions that have arisen in the world of today and that will come in the tomorrow when men grounded in the Masonic faith and believing in the universal brotherhood of man will be needed as never before in the world's history.
- Dr. Samuel Guthrie, the first Master, who headed the petition for the organization of Thomas Lodge, was a physician in Brimfield and died there in 1809.
- Capt. Ozin Blashfield, also of Brimfield, served as Captain in the Continental Army and died in 1808.
- Dr. Ede Whitaker, elected in 1803, came from Stafford to Monson in 1790, where he practiced his profession until about 1840.
- Stephen Pynchon, of Brimfield, was elected in 1806. He was a graduate of Yale in 1789; commenced the practice of law in Brimfield in 1793; served as town clerk from 1797 to 1823 ; town treasurer from 1803 to 1810; selectmen from 1805 to 1821; postmaster from 1806 to 1823 ; representative from 1805 to 1823. He was seventh in line of direct descent from William Pynchon, the founder of Springfield, and was born in that town January 31, 1769, and died in Boston February 5, 1823, while representing Brimfield in the legislature.
- Joel Norcross, elected in 1808, was a leading merchant and manufacturer of Monson, one of the founders of Monson Academy and actively identified with the development of the town. He was born at Sturbridge August 6, 1776 and died in Monson May 5, 1846.
- Dr. Samuel Willard, elected in 1810, was the son of Rev. John Willard, of Stafford. He built part of the Stafford Springs House in 1902 and.retained a large interest in the plant until 1815.
- Abraham Haskell, of Monson, elected in 1814, was one of the selectmen in 1817 and represented the town in the legislature in 1821. He was a deacon of the Congregational church in that town.
- Hon. George Bliss, Jr., elected in 1821, was born in Springfield Nov. 16, 1793, and died there April 19, 1873. He graduated at Yale in 1812, was admitted to the bar in 1815 and commenced practice in Monson, but later removed to Springfield, where he entered into partnership with his father-in-law, Jonathan Dwight. In the War of 1812 he was aid to Gen. Bliss, where he gained the title of colonel. He was one of the proprietors of the Western Railroad, and was general agent and president from 1836 to 1842. He was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1827*, 1828, 1831, 1832, 1833, 1839, and 1853, being Speaker the last named year. He was a member of the State Senate in 1835 and was chosen president in place of Hon. B. T. Pickman, deceased. He was a member of the Governor's Council in 1848 and 1849 and a presidential elector in 1852.
- Timothy Packard, elected in 1823, was a leading merchant of Monson for many years and held several town offices, being selectman in 1838. He was born in Wilmington, Vt., and died in Monson March 15, 1865.
- Hon. Joseph L. Reynolds was elected for the first time in 1826 and presided over both the old and reorganized Lodge. He was a prominent manufacturer of Monson and was elected in 1854 to represent Hampden County in the State Senate. He was born in North Kingston, R. I., Dec. 31, 1796, and died in Monson June 9, 1885.
- Col. Elias Turner, who held office in both the old and reorganized Lodge, was elected in 1856. He was a prominent resident of Palmer, holding the office of selectman and member of the School Board. He died May 4, 1875, at the age of eighty years.
- Judge George Robinson was born in Hubbardston, Mass., Oct. 1, 1835. He was engaged in business in Palmer and Ware for several years and when a vacancy occurred in the Judgeship of the District Court by the death of Judge Allen he was appointed to the position. He became a member of Thomas Lodge in 1857 and was first elected Master in 1862. He was a member and Past High Priest of Hampden Chapter, R. A. M. and of Washington Council, having served as Thrice Illustrious Master of that body. He was also a member of Springfield Commandery of Knights Templars and a Past Master of Eden Lodge, of Ware, of which he was a charter member and the first Master. He was also connected with various other organizations, holding positions of trust and responsibility in each. He died May 10, 1898, having been stricken down while participating in the work at a Masonic meeting.
- Marshall Fox was born in Woodstock, Conn., March 11, 1816. When thirteen years of age he went with his parents to Stratton, Vt., and later removed to Brookfield, Mass. For some years he drove a stage from Brookfield to Worcester and later from Palmer to Ware. In 1840 he removed to Three Rivers and in 1855 he came to Palmer, engaging in business on Main street in which he continued until his death Oct. 17, 1884. He was chosen Master in 1863.
- James B. Shaw was born at Hartford, Conn., July 23, 1837. He commenced his business career in Palmer in 1862. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1873; was Town Clerk and Treasurer for more than thirty years; was for many years president of the Palmer National Bank and special justice of the District Court of Eastern Hampden. He became a member of Thomas Lodge in 1859 and was first elected its Worshipful Master in 1864 serving eight years in all at different periods. He also served for a quarter of a century as High Priest of Hampden Chapter and was a member of Washington Council and of Springfield Commandery of Knights Templars.
- Andrew Pinney was born in Safford, Conn., May 20, 1833, where he began his business life in 1857 as agent of the New London railroad, later serving in the same capacity at Waterbury and New London. He came to Palmer in 1860 where he served in the New London Northern Railroad Company as its agent for eleven years. In 1871 he became superintendent of Palmer Carpet Company in which position he continued until his death. He served as Master of Thomas Lodge in 1868 and 1870. He was also a member and Past High Priest of Hampden Chapter. He died May 5, 1903.
- George B. Kenerson was born at Standish, Me., June 7, 1836. He began his career as a railroad man as a fireman in New Bedford in 1855, removing to Norwich, Conn., in 1859, where he was promoted to engineer, in which position he served for thirty-seven years, retiring in 1896 because of ill helath. He was elected Worshipful Master of Thomas Lodge in 1871, serving five years in all. He was a member of Palmer Lodge of Odd Fellows, and also a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.
- John K. Warren, M. D., was born in Manchester, N. H., March 1, 1846. He receive his early education in Mt. Vernon and Francestown Academies and graduated March 1, 1870, from the New York Homeopathic Medical College. He came to Palmer April 22, 1870, when he began the practice of medicine which he continued until he removed to Worcester in 1882, where he is still in practice. He was chosen Worshipful Master of Thomas Lodge in 1873 and is its oldest living Past Master, a welcome and honored guest on his visits to the Lodge.
- Samuel H. Hellyar was born in Warren, Mass., April 18, 1856. He finished his education in Leicester Military Academy and studied law in the office of Brother Charles L. Gardner. He entered the mercantile business in Palmer in 1879. He served as one of the Board of Selectmen and Overseers of the Poor in 1886; was for a decade one of the Auditors of the town, and held other positions of trust. He was elected Master of Thomas Lodge in 1883 and served for three years. He was also a member and Past High Priest of Hampden Chapter and a member of Springfield Commandery, Knights Templars. He died Dec. 14, 1905.
- George O. Henry was born in Palmer, June 5, 1840. Most of his life was spent in Palmer, Monson, and Wales where he carried on the business of carriage making. He enlisted for the war July 17, 1862, in Company E, 36th Mass. Volunteers and served until discharged June 5, 1865. He was elected Master of Thomas Lodge in 1885 and 1886, and was a Past Master of Day Spring Lodge, of Monson, and of Anchor Lodge, of Wales. He was a member and Past High Priest of Hampden Chapter and of Springfield Commandery Knights Templars. He was for many years a prominent member of L. L. Merrick Post, G. A. R., and was its commander at the time of his death, March 9, 1892.
- William A. Weld was born in Holland, Mass., August 19, 1849. He came to Palmer in 1872 and was for some years engaged in the mercantile business in this town. He served as Tax Collector in 1892, 1893, and 1894. He was elected Worshipful Master in 1879 and served for three years. He was also a member of Hampden Chapter and Washington Council and a charter member of the Order of the Eastern Star. Brother Weld is always a welcome guest on his occasional visits to Thomas Lodge.
- Charles T. Brainerd, the oldest in age but youngest in spirit of our Past Masters, was born in Palmer, May 2, 1844. He attended Westfield Academy and then learned the machinist's trade with the Ames Manufacturing Company, of Chicopee. He returned to Palmer in 1872 where he has since resided. He has served the town for several years as a member of the Board of Selectmen and as Highway Surveyor. He was elected Worshipful Master of Thomas Lodge in 1892 and served for three years. He is also a member of Hampden Chapter, of which he is Past High Priest. Brother Brainerd has recently been awarded the Henry Price Medal, given by the Grand Lodge to members of the order who have been members for fifty years and have been conspicuous in the work of the Fraternity. May he long be with us to enjoy the merited honor which he has received.
- George H. Wilkins, Master during the Centennial year, was born at Amherst, N. H., December 28, 1855. He attended McCullum Institute at Mt. Vernon, N. H., and graduated at the New Hampshire State College in 1879 and from the New York Homeopathic Medical College in 1883 and at once settled in Palmer where he remained until his removal to Newtonville in 1901, where he died Nov. 17,1915. He was a member and Past High Priest of Hampden Chapter and a member of Washington Council and Springfield Commandery. In 1896, at the close of his term as Master, he was appointed District Deputy Grand Master for the Seventeenth Masonic District and held that office for two terms. Dr. Wilkins was not only a good Mason but also a good citizen and was interested in all that was for the best interests of the community in which he lived, and as "the Beloved Physician, he entered deeply into the life of countless homes in this section of the state.
Early in 1896 plans were started for the observance of the one hundredth anniversary of the organization of the Lodge and a committee of arrangements was appointed with George H. Wilkins as chairman and H. W. McGregory as secretary, the other members being W. H. Brainerd, C. T. Brainerd, J. B. Shaw, George Robinson, H. E. W. Clark, J. C. Green, H. R. Paine, C. H. Hobbs, W. P. Stone, and D. L. Bodfish.
Other committees were appointed as follows: Invitation, H. W. McGregory, Chairman; Reception, J. B. Shaw, Chairman ; Music, C. B. Piske, Chairman; Decoration, W. H. Brainerd, Chairman; Refreshment, C. E. Pish, Chairman, and Printing, G. H. Wilkins, Chairman. The plans went forward in perfect order under the direction of the Worshipful Master, and when December 15, the date set for the anniversary observance, arrived all arrangements were perfected, and the program was carried out as arranged.
Promptly at 2.30 0 'clock the Lodge was organized and the committee appointed for the purpose announced the Grand Officers who were welcomed by the Worshipful Master. A procession was then formed and the Lodge proceeded to the Second Congregational Church where the exercises were held.
Mrs. W. H. Small presided at the organ and the Temple Quartette furnished the vocal music. Prayer was offered by Rev. Bro. F. W. Betts, of Syracuse, N. Y.
Wor. George H. Wilkins of Thomas Lodge gave the address of welcome to the members of the Grand Lodge and visiting Brethren and M. W. Edwin B. Holmes, Grand Master, responded for the Grand Lodge. Brother Orrin P. Allen delivered the historical address and this was followed by an address by Rev. Brother George C. Lorimer, D. D. of Boston. At six-thirty o'clock the Brethren sat down to well filled tables in the Opera House. After the close of the banquet the Worshipful Master introduced Wor. Brother George Robinson as toastmaster, who introduced the speakers in his usual happy manner. M. W. Edwin B. Holmes responded to the toast, "The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
R. W. Sereno D. Nickerson, Grand Secretary, responded to "The Event We Celebrate;" Rev. Dr. Lorimer spoke on The Cardinal Virtues of Freemasonry: Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice;" Hon. Charles L. Gardner responded to the toast, "Woman;" "The Rock of Freemasonry," was responded to by Rev. F. W. Betts; "The Tenets of Freemasonry: Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth," by Brother W. H. Small; Rev. G. M. Gerrish responded to the toast, "Faith, Hope, and Charity;" "The Town of Palmer" was responded to by H. B. Knox, of Providence, a former principal of our High School, and Worshipful Arthur C. Boyden of Bridgewater spoke for Fellowship Lodge, another institution chartered by Paul Revere.
Dr. G. H. Wilkins responded for Thomas Lodge and its guests assuring the Brethren present that the latch string would always be out. The Lodge was then closed and the first century of the existence of Thomas Lodge became a matter of history.
The approaching centennial served to focus the eyes of the men of Palmer upon the institution that had existed in the community and had exerted a quiet but beneficial influence upon the life of the town for a hundred years. Men of honor and reputation to the number of seventeen were added to the membership of the Lodge. Pour of these remain in town and are occasional visitors at the Lodge, some have removed to other towns, but the largest portion have been called to the Supreme Grand Lodge on High.
The celebration, successfully carried out, gave further impetus to the work of the Lodge and during the next two years twenty-four were added to the membership. In 1897 the Feast of St. John the Baptist was first observed by the Lodge attending service at St. Paul's Church, where an appropriate sermon was preached by Rev. Brother O. G. Petrie, a custom that has since been observed annually in similar manner. Pictures of the Past Masters who served since the reorganization were also secured, thus preserving for future generations the faces of the men who have occupied the East of Thomas Lodge.
In 1898 the Lodge received the gift of a set of jewels for the use of the officers who attend the meetings of the Grand Lodge. During 1897 and 1898 Thomas Lodge furnished the District Deputy Grand Master for the Seventeenth District in the person of Rt. Wor. George H. Wilkins, an honor that had not been given the Lodge for a long period. The interest shown by Dr. Wilkins while Master of his own Lodge was thus shared with the other Lodges of the district and there was a perceptible quickening of interest in Masonic work throughout the whole district.
This period, which brought many new members into the Lodge, also marked the passing of many whose faces had become familiar through long association with Masonry and Thomas Lodge. Conspicuous among these was Judge Robinson, Past Master and former District Deputy Grand Master, recently elected Secretary of the Lodge, who was stricken down in the harness.
The days that have passed since the dawn of our second century have flown swiftly, new faces have entered our portals each year and many we have known and loved have passed to "that land from whose bourne no traveler returns.
In 1900 the Relief Fund was started by the incorporation of all dues remaining unpaid previous to 1900 into such a fund and a committee was appointed to solicit subscriptions. The response to this appeal was a generous one and today the interest will practically care for the aid of sick and needy members of the Fraternity, and Thomas Lodge readily paid its apportionment and has been an annual contributor to "The Rainy Day Fund" to meet the additional calls on the Grand Lodge charities.
The Lodge as well as the Nineteenth District met in full the call for subscriptions to the building of the memorial to the memory of George Washington, the Mason, at Alexandria, Va.
The Lodge has recently established a plan for life membership, which can be acquired by the payment of fifty dollars in one sum, and becomes operative in the cases of those who have been members of the Lodge for a period of thirty years or more. Under this plan the Lodge today has thirty members on this list, all but three of whom came under the thirty-year provision.
With the coming of the World War came the call to service for the members of Thomas Lodge, in company with those of other organizations throughout the land — to the young men for service in the field—to the older men for service along philanthropic and industrial lines at home. The response was prompt and willing. The Lodge purchased Liberty Bonds and the members gave of their time and money to the various enterprises that were devised to aid the soldiers and those in other lands who were the victims of the war.
The following members of the Lodge were in the service in some capacity: John Chambers, T. H. Cole, Jr., Edward Barton, J. A. Vennert, R. G. Emery, G. F. Hughes, J. K. McKenzie, Isadore Platkin, P. P. Ezekiel, C. E. Fuller, Jr., G. L. Paine, W. A. Clark, Dr. W. C. Tannebring, H. J. Smith, F. J. L. Moore, F. M. Ralton, Dr. R. A. Greene, M. F. Ruggles, W. W. Magee, Dr. H. C. Cheney, Dr. W. E. Sedgwick, E. D. Linnel, W. E. Gailey, G. E. Batchelder, Dr. C. H. Tannebring, R. C. Kempton, L. S. Thompson, R. B. Canning, F. D. Thompson, Jr., John Cole, Willard S. French, George D. Hummers, W. F. Calkins, G. A. Burford, W. 0. Lyon, J. C.'Geer, and B. W. Bartholomew.
Not all of these men went across, but those who did won enviable records as soldiers of the Republic and some of them will bear the scars of battle throughout life. The memories of the war are not pleasant to dwell upon, but the experiences through which our Brothers passed gave them a larger outlook upon life and a better knowledge of the value of Masonry.
The years since the conflict ceased have been busy ones not only in Thomas Lodge but throughout the Commonwealth. Masonry and its principles have impressed themselves upon the boys who were in the service as never before and they have sought a more intimate knowledge of the institution that has been of so much benefit to mankind.
Three hundred and thirty-eight have been admitted to Thomas Lodge in the period that has elapsed since our centennial celebration. Our present membership is three hundred and twenty six.
Thomas Lodge has had fourteen Masters during the twenty-five years that have passed since its centennial celebration in 1896.
- David L. Bodfish, who started off the new century, was born at Wareham, Mass., January 19, 1864. After graduating from Wareham High School he entered the employ of E. N. Thompson as clerk in 1881. In 1889 he removed to Brockton and in 1891 purchased a dry goods store in Bridgewater, where he remained until 1894, when he removed to Palmer and opened a dry goods and clothing store in the Cross Block, continuing until 1910, when he closed out the business and entered the employ of the Massachusetts Highway Commission. He was admitted to membership in Social Harmony Lodge, of Wareham, in 1885 and served as Senior Warden in 1888, joined Fellowship Lodge of Bridgewater in 1891 and served as Senior Deacon in 1893 and 1894, joined Thomas Lodge in 1894, and served as Senior Warden in 1896, Master in 1897 and 1898 and as District Deputy Grand Master for the Seventeenth District in 1903 and 1904.
- Harry W. McGregory was born in California, March 3, 1862. Soon after his birth his parents took up their residence in Sacramento and after six years came east and settled in Wilbraham, Mass. They soon removed to East Worcester, N. Y., later coming to Springfield, where Mr. McGregory grew to manhood. He finished his education at the Springfield High School and in 1880 began his business career in the Springfield Institution for Savings. In the fall of 1889 he went to Bridgeport, Conn., where he engaged in the mercantile business. In May, 1893, he was elected Treasurer of the Palmer Savings Bank where he remained until 1901 when he went to Springfield, having been elected President of the Agawam National Bank of that city. He later removed to Hamilton, N. Y., and is at present a resident of Akron, Ohio. Brother McGregory was secretary of Thomas Lodge the year of the centennial and to his efficient efforts the success of that event is largely due. He served as Master of Thomas Lodge in 18159 and 1900. He was a member and Past High Priest of Hampden Chapter and a member of Washington Council. He is at present associated with a newly formed Lodge in Akron, Ohio.
- Byram Woodhead was born in Mirfield, Yorkshire, England, May 2, 1864. When an infant he removed to Birstall, Yorkshire, England, where he received his education. He came to this country in 1883 and located at Maynard, Mass. A few months later he removed to Fitchburg, Mass., where he learned photography and about three years later in company with W. J. Wood started in business at Farmington, N. H. The next year they removed to Palmer and in 1893 Brother Woodhead purchased the interest of his partner and continued the business until his death, May 11, 1918. He was admitted to membership in Thomas Lodge November 24, 1896, and served as Worshipful Master in 1901, 1902, and 1903. He was a member and Past High Priest of Hampden Chapter also a member and Thrice Illustrious Master of Washington Council. Brother Woodhead was an enthusiastic Mason, accurate as a ritualist, faithful to every trust and always ready to assist his fellowmen in time of need. His early passing left a void in the ranks of the Masonic Fraternity that it is hard to fill.
- William H. Norton was born at Leamington, Me., June 2,1870. He came to Palmer in 1897 and entered the employ of the Thorndike Company as overseer of carding and spinning. He served on the School Board of which he was chairman for two years. He was admitted to membership in Thomas Lodge June 5, 1900. He was appointed Senior Steward in 1901 and was elected Junior Warden for 1902,
Senior Warden for 1903, and served as Worshipful Master in 1904 and 1905. He was a member of Hampden Chapter and of Washington Council during his residence in Palmer. He was made a Knight Templar in 1908, Knight of Malta in 1909, and member of Ramesco Temple, Mystic Shrine, in 1910. Brother Norton removed to Hamilton, Ontario, several years ago and has been active in Masonic circles in his adopted country, being affiliated with Georgina Lodge 345 and St. Patrick's Chapter, of Toronto.
- Edward B. Taylor was born in Collinsville, Conn., March 6,1859. He learned the trade of baker at the establishment of his brother-in-law at Hartford and after working at his trade for a time came to Palmer in 1890. He began the grocery business in company with C. W. Robinson and later purchased the interest of his partner and conducted the business until his retirement about three years ago. He is at present in the employ of the Wickwire-Spencer Corporation. He was admitted to membership in Thomas Lodge June 29, 1897, and after serving in several of the minor offices was elected Worshipful Master in 1905, serving during 1906 and 1907. He is a member of Quaboag Council, Royal Arcanum, and an active member of the Second Baptist Church, having been director of the choir for more than a quarter of a century.
- Thomas A. McCrea was born at Fredericton, New Brunswick, April 23, 1868. He came to Palmer in July, 1902 and entered the employ of the Thorndike Company. In 1912 he removed to Huntington where he remained eight years, returning to Thorndike in 1920. He was admitted to membership in Thomas Lodge February 17, 1904, and served as Senior Deacon in 1905 and 1906, Junior Warden in 1907, and Worshipful Master in 1908 and 1909. He affiliated with Huntington Lodge in 1915 and served one year as Junior Warden. He is also a member of Hampden Chapter and of Washington Council.
- Joseph Foster Davis was born in West Warren, January 28, 1872, the youngest son of Joseph H. and Eliza Pepper Davis. After finishing the grammar school he went to work in the office of the Warren Cotton Mills and remained there until 1897. During a portion of that year he was in the employ of the Otis Company at Ware. In 1898 he removed to Bondsville where he was in the employ of the Boston Duck Company. The following year he moved to Thorndike and entered the employ of the Thorndike Company as paymaster. In 1905 and 1906 he served as paymaster for both the Thorndike Company and the Warren Cotton Mills. He was later appointed superintendent of the Thorndike Mills, which position he held at the time of his death, March 12, 1916. Brother Davis became a member of Thomas Lodge June 5, 1900, and after filling several of the minor offices was elected Worshipful Master in 1909, serving during 1910 and 1911. Joseph F. Davis came of old New England stock, his ancestors being among the early settlers of Worcester County. His descent can be traced to Joseph Bartlett of Cambridge and through him to Robert Bartlett who married Mary Warren, daughter of Dr. Richard Warren of the Mayflower. Brother Davis inherited the old New England conscience from his Pilgrim ancestors and was always to be relied upon in whatever position of trust or responsibility he might be placed.
- Charles L. Waid was born in Ludlow, January 24, 1875. He attended the public schools of Palmer, finishing with the high school. He entered the Palmer Savings Bank in February, 1894, as clerk and was elected Treasurer in February 1901, resigning the present year to accept a position as treasurer of Lee Bros. Co. of Athol, Mass. Brother Waid was admitted to membership in Thomas Lodge April 30, 1900, elected Master November 6, 1911, serving during 1912 and 1913. He joined Hampden Chapter January 13, 1904 and served as High Priest in 1910 and 1911 and as District Deputy in 1912 and 1913, and as Grand Scribe of the Grand Chapter in 1914. He is also a member of the Order of Past High Priests. He became a member of Washington Council April 3, 1905 and was elected Thrice Illustrious Master in October, 1908, serving during 1909.
- Charles M. Kempton was born in Palmer August 9, 1872, the son of Marshall and L. Augusta Kempton. After passing through the Palmer schools he entered the Palmer Post Office as clerk and has remained in the Government service for a period of thirty two years, being at the present time Assistant Postmaster. He was admitted to Thomas Lodge January 8, 1907, and served as Worshipful Master during 1914 and 1915. He is a member of Hampden Chapter and served as High Priest in 1914, and a member of Washington Council, of which he was Thrice Illustrious Master in 1913. Brother Kempton is also a member of Revere Chapter, O.E.S., of Springfield Commandery, Knights Templai's, and
of Melha Temple, Mystic Shrine. On October 10, he had the privilege of raising his own son to the degree of Master Mason in Thomas Lodge. Harrie M. Howe was born in Westboro, Mass., December 12,1876. He entered the employ of the M. J, Whittall Associates in Worcester in 1901 and came to Palmer as manager of the Palmer Carpet Mill in 1903. He was admitted to membership in Thomas Lodge July 13, 1908, and served as Master in 1916 and 1917. He is a member of Hampden Chapter, serving as High Priest in 1916, also of Washington Council, of which he was Thrice Illustrious Master in 1918. Brother Howe is also a member of Springfield Commandery, Knights Templars, Order of Melchis, Melha Temple, Mystic Shrine, Springfield Lodge of Perfection, Rose Croix Chapter, Princes of Jerusalem, and Massachusetts Consistory, of Boston.
- Ernest Emery Hobson was born in Palmer, September 29, 1878, the son of Henry S. and Clara D. Hobson. He received his education in the public schools of Palmer, graduating from the Palmer High School in 1896. He graduated from the University of Maine Law School in the summer of 1900 and began the practice of law in Palmer on October first of that year. He is a member of both the Maine and Massachusetts Bars. Brother Hobson was elected as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from the First Hampden District in 1907, 1908, and 1909, serving on the Committees on Rules, Judiciary, and Lighting. He was elected to the Senate in 1917 and 1918, serving on the following committees: Rules, Judiciary, Labor (Chairman), Constitution Amendments (Chairman), Social Welfare, and Administration and Commissions. In 1906 and 1907 he was Senior Vice Commander of the Massachusetts Division, Sons of Veterans; in 1911 and 1912 was Grand Regent of the Grand Council of Massachusetts, Royal Arcanum, and representative to the Supreme Council from 1912 to 1915. He was made a member of Thomas Lodge in 1907 and served as Master in 1918 and as District Deputy Grand Master for the Nineteenth Masonic District in 1920 and 1921. He is also a member of Hampden Chapter and of Washington Council and of Revere Chapter, 0. E. S. He is also a member of the investment board of the Palmer Savings Bank and a director of the Palmer National Bank.
- Samuel P. Goodale was born at Saco, Maine, May 8, 1881, the son of Benjamin and Ella A. Goodale. Brother Goodale comes of good Masonic stock, his father being a member of Saco Lodge No. 9 and a member of the Chapter, Council, Commandery, and Shrine. He came to Thorndike in the fall of 1913 and entered the employ of the Connecticut River Power Co. and the Chicopee Mfg. Co. He was admitted to membership in Thomas Lodge on June 2, 1915; served as Senior Steward in 1916 and 1917, as Junior Warden in 1918, and as Master in 1919 and 1920.
- George Patterson was born in Arbroath, Scotland, March 17, 1884, and came to America in September, 1903, and to Palmer in 1909 as Agent for the Prudential Life Insurance Company. He received his degrees in Thomas Lodge in 1914 and after serving in several offices was elected Master in 1920, serving during the present year. Brother Patterson is a member of Hampden Chapter and served as High Priest in 1919 and 1920. He is also a member of Washington Council.
- Harry B. Sanborn, the present Master, was born in South Berwick, Me., May 22, 1881. When nine years of age he removed with his parents to Peabody, Mass., and three years later to Sanbornville, N. H. He graduated from Brewster Academy, Wolfboro, N. H., in 1900 and went to work in Boston, Mass., in the electrical and gas business. Brother Sanborn came to Palmer in 1911, as superintendent of the Worcester County Gas Company. He was made a Mason in Soley Lodge, of Somerville, on October 30, 1903. He joined Thomas Lodge by affiliation on October 21, 1912, and was elected Worshipful Master at the annual meeting in November. Brother Sanborn is a member and Past High Priest of Hampden Chapter and of Quaboag Council, Royal Arcanum, of which he has been treasurer for some years. The new year has started in auspiciously and the Worshipful Master is to be congratulated upon the bright outlook for the days to come.
Tonight we stand upon that invisible line that separates the historic past with its successes and failures from the unknown future with its wonderful possibilities. We no longer note these events in the history of our organization by years and decades but think in terms of centuries and major fractions thereof. We are proud of the men who have been associated with Thomas Lodge in the days gone by and we look forward into the future with perfect faith and confidence in the men who are to bear the burdens in the days to come.
As we think tonight of those who so loyally stood by this Lodge during the first century of its existence, the words of James Russell Lowell in "The Present Crisis" come to us with special emphasis:
"Count me o'er earth 's chosen heroes, they were souls that stood alone,
While the men they agonized for hurled the contumelious stone,
Stood serene, and down the future saw the golden beam incline
To the side of perfect justice, mastered by their faith divine,
By one man's plain truth to manhood and to God's supreme design.
New occasions teach new duties; Time makes ancient good uncouth;
They must upward still, and onward who would keep abreast of Truth;
Lo, before us gleam our campfires! We ourselves must Pilgrims be,
Launch our Mayflower and steer boldly through the desperate winter sea,
Nor attempt the Future's portal with the Past's blood rusted key.
Tonight we hear a voice coming to us from out the distant past. The tongue that uttered the eloquent words to which we shall listen has long been silent and the hand that signed our Charter has mouldered into dust, but the name of Isaiah Thomas will be cherished by the members of Thomas Lodge until the sound of the gavel shall be heard in the East for the last time and the Great Lights shall be finally extinguished, never again to be displayed upon our altar.
We are met today to honor the memory of these heroes who wrought so faithfully and well during the early years of Thomas Lodge. Amid the storm of hatred and criticism they stood, holding high the banner of Masonry when there were none so poor as to do them honor. Today, with pride we recall their deeds and are glad to shine in the reflected light of their accomplishments. We honor the loyalty of Reynolds, Turner, and Ely, of Robinson, Wilkins, and Woodhead, and of our Brother Brainerd, who is still with us, and deeply appreciate the years of faithful service given to Masonry and this Lodge. We glory in the patriotism of Revere and Thomas, who assisted in the organization of Thomas Lodge, and of Henry, Cross, and Holbrook, of our beloved Brother Clark, who for more than half a century has been a regular attendant at our meetings, and in the devotion of the younger band, who in the greatest war of the ages fought in the defense of the great truths for which Masonry stands. Neither would we forget the hundreds of loyal Brethren, who in all the years that have passed since our Lodge was constituted have been faithful to their obligation, have upheld the honor of Thomas Lodge, and have always stood for Liberty and Justice and the Brotherhood of Man.
But, my Brothers, it is not enough for us to glory in past accomplishments. "We must upward still and onward, if we keep abreast of Truth." Opportunity looms large upon the horizon of the future, opportunity to demonstrate to mankind the verity of our profession. As Revere, Warren, and Thomas and their associates brought liberty and justice to the people of the American Colonies so we may aid in their world wide extension. Freemasonry recognizes no sect or opinion, is bound by no ties of race or creed, and acknowledges no obligation save its allegiance to the doctrine of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man and its pledge of loyalty to those human instrumentalities that best promote those principles among the nations of the earth.
And so, my Brethren, with this backward glance as we pass another milestone in the life of Thomas Lodge, we fearlessly launch our Mayflower upon the wintry sea and steer boldly toward the future's portal with confidence in the Pilot who has guided our craft through the storms and breakers of the past and who will still direct our way if we hold the wheel true and steady and shape our course by that Divine Compass, whose needle ever points to the North Star of our Hope on High whose light never changes nor grows dim.
REMARKS IN THE HISTORY OF DAY SPRING LODGE, MAY 1938
From Proceedings, Page 1938-108:
While today we celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of Day Spring Lodge it seems fitting that we enlarge the subject to Masonry in Monson, as at the time of the establishing of a Lodge here it not only served Monson, Brimfield, and Wales, as we do today, but also Palmer and even disregarded the State boundary and included Stafford, Connecticut.
At the time Samuel Guthrie, David Young, Peter Walbridge, Hezekiah Fisk, Ephriam Allen, Elisha Woodward, Amasa Stowell, John Moore, David Peck, Zebediah Butler, Jesse Converse, and Isaiah Blood, Jr., twelve Freemasons of Monson and vicinity, petitioned the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for the establishment of a Lodge of Freemasons. In 1796 there were but twenty Lodges in the state and but four recently established West of Worcester. These twelve Masons presumably came from the eastern part of the state.
This petition was acted upon favorably and on December 13, 1796, a Charter was granted under the name of Thomas Lodge, giving them and their successors full power and authority to convene as Masons within the town of Monson, to receive and enter apprentices, pass fellowcrafts, and raise Master Masons.
This Charter is remarkable and priceless as it bears the signature of Paul Revere as Most Worshipful Grand Master. An outstanding Mason and patriot immortalized in Longfellow's "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere."
The document also has the signature as Grand Senior Warden of another patriot, Isaiah Thomas, for whom the Lodge was named, who gracefully acknowledged the honor conferred upon him by the gift of a valuable set of jewels. He later bequeathed the sum of one hundred dollars to the Lodge.
The meeting place was on the second floor of the new tavern known as the Century Hotel and was used continuously until the closing of the Lodge in 1835.
Active work began March 7, 1797, but left no record of its proceedings for nearly two years. Dr. Samuel Guthrie was the first Master. The Lodge is fortunate in having in its possession a certificate of membership signed by him in 1801. At first notes were accepted from initiates, but the practice was discontinued after two years and only cash payments accepted.
The following years were prosperous. Of special note was the raising of four clergymen in 1819 whose names will ever be honored by the Fraternity. All of them later received the merited degree of Doctor of Divinity. These gentlemen were;
- Dr. Simeon Colton, a Yale graduate, settled over the church in Palmer, then principal of Monson Academy for some years and later President of Clinton College, Miss. A man of scholarly attainments.
- Dr. Benjamin M. Hill, a graduate of Brown, Pastor of the Baptist Church in Stafford, later moving to New Haven. Instrumental in establishing the Commandery in New Haven.
- Dr. Hosea Ballou 2nd, first settled pastor of the Universalist Church at Stafford; a profound scholar who later became the first President of Tufts College which he served until his death.
- Dr. Alfred Ely, a man of marked ability and strength of character, settled as minister of the Congregational Church in Monson for sixty years, of whom it has been said, "No man has ever exerted a greater influence for good in this community." A great believer in Masonry.
As many members of the Lodge lived a long distance away it was customary to open the Lodge at 9 A.M. and close at 7 P.M.
About 1830 the Lodge voted to dispense with the use of spirituous liquors in the Lodge.
It was customary to charge visiting Brethren twenty-five cents each meeting.
As extreme care was exercised in selecting new members, the Lodge enjoyed an enviable reputation. Many leading citizens in the several towns were among its members. Notwithstanding this the anti-masonic feeling, so strong in the early thirties in New York State, spread to this locality and was very intense and bitter; described by one of former days as "fearful times, families, churches and communities were separated by what appeared as irreparable breaches." Dr. Ely and seventeen influential members of his church, Masons, were violently opposed by others of the congregation. The Doctor was urged to publicly denounce the order and its principles. This he refused to do but offered to remain away from the meetings.
Under such circumstances it seemed wise for the Lodge to close until times should be more favorable, so on January 14, 1835 thirty members met for the last time. The bible was given to Dr. Ely and the jewels were to remain in the custody of those who last wore them. Joseph L. Reynolds was Master at the time.
In view of subsequent events it is reasonable to suppose that at sundry times and in divers places members of the craft must have met together for after a period of twenty-one years, in 1856, the feeling against the Fraternity having subsided, a few former members of the Lodge petitioned the M. W. Grand Lodge that the Lodge be reorganized and located in Palmer. Accordingly the charter was restored to the petitioners, Brothers Elias Turner, Joseph L. Reynolds, S. F. Newton, Jacob Thompson, J. R. Flynt, Alfred Ely, J. Nichols, D. B. Hannum, Otis Bradford, and Joel Tucker, on September 10, 1856 and on October 11th the Lodge opened with the same officers in the East and West.
150TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, DECEMBER 1946
From Proceedings, Page 1946-359:
By Worshipful Allen F. Davis.
One hundred and fifty years is a long time to men who have learned to travel at the speed of sound; a long time to an organization which pauses for an hour to review its own past, a century and a half in the making; but in the light of history, such a period is relatively short, nor does it all seem far removed and long ago to those who in their own memories can recall a third or a half of the intervening years. It is only the more distant years which appear to draw away into the vanishing dimness of forgotten yesterdays; we remember present and the recent past, but lose the vision of the times before our own experience began.
Lodges are men, and their histories are nothing more than the composite record of the men who in their own times left the impress of their own personalities upon the communities in which they lived, upon the men who followed them, upon the Lodge whose history they made. As Thomas Lodge enters the second half of its second century, the members of today may well look back upon the men who gave us our beginnings and built our proud heritage; may well look back upon the changing times through which they wrought, upon the growth and development of the community in which they had so large a part; and, looking back, may well stop to consider whether we of today would have wrought as well.
When Paul Revere signed the charter of Thomas Lodge one hundred and fifty years ago, he brought into being a Lodge almost in the wilderness. Palmer was a scattered farming community, with a few houses grouped around the meeting-house at the Old Centre, and a few more on King's Row along the river bank. As late as 1812 there was no place within the town's borders which could properly be called a village; three families owned all of what is now Thorndike; Three Rivers was known as the "Dark Corner" and the homes of its two families were hidden in the woods, and a narrow road led to the one house and grist-mill where Bondsville now stands. Monson, but recently a part of Brimfield, was little different from her neighbor to the north and the Brimfield community was scattered over the hills and woodlands. Small wonder that our charter members chose to hold their meetings on or before the full moon; they rode over narrow roads and narrower paths. The first Massachusetts turnpike was chartered in the same year that Thomas Lodge began, and our early Brothers had been meeting in Lodge for two years before the eighteen foot roadway was built as far as Palmer. The Petersham and Monson turnpike, connecting with the turnpike from Stafford, was not built until six years later. They were strong men, busy men, those pioneers who paused in their struggle to wrest a living from the rocky soil and asked the Grand Lodge to charter them into a Lodge. When and where they had received their degrees our records do not tell us, but we know that several of them met at Scott's Tavern, and after careful thought, Samuel Guthrie, David Young, Peter Wallbridge, Hezekiah Fiske, Ephraim Allen, Elisha Woodward, Amasa Stowell, John Moore, David Peck, Zebediah Butler, Jesse Converse and Isaiah Blood, Jr. sent their petition to the Grand Lodge at Boston. Represented among the twelve were the towns of Palmer, Monson, Brimfield and Stafford, and their charter, signed on December 13, 1796, by Paul Revere, Grand Master; Samuel Dunn, Deputy Grand Master; Isaiah Thomas, Senior Grand Warden; Joseph Laughton, Junior Grand Warden and attested by Daniel Oliver, Grand Secretary, gave them full power and authority to convene as Masons within the town of Monson. No doubt Monson was for them the most central meeting place, and the upper rooms in the new tavern which later became the Century Hotel provided better accommodations than could have been found in either of the other settlements. Taking the name of their Lodge from that of Isaiah Thomas, the patriot whose signature was a part of their birthright, the twelve men named Dr. Samuel Guthrie, a practicing physician of Brimfield, as their first Master, were constituted into a regular Lodge and began their work.
Thomas Lodge has two priceless heirlooms of that distant day. One is our original charter, cherished throughout the years not only as the symbol of the Lodge's creation and continued existence, but as an irreplaceable memento of the man who fills so large a place in our country's history. Few Lodges can boast a Paul Revere charter: none are better born. Second only to our charter are our jewels, presented to our founders by the man whose name we bear — Isaiah Thomas — and made for the purpose by his friend and brother patriot, Paul Revere, who besides his great part in shaping the destiny of our Commonwealth and Country, was the greatest silversmith of his time. Used for all meetings until about twenty years ago, the jewels are now cased under glass for protection and safekeeping.
We have no detailed records of Thomas Lodge's first two years, but in that time sixty-three new members were added to the rolls, all of them men of reputation and standing in their communities. Dr. Guthrie continued as Master until 1802, and Captain Ozim Blashfield of Brimfield, who succeeded him for a year, continued the progress so well begun. Dr. Ede Whitaker of Monson directed the activities of the Lodge for the next five years, years of prosperity, of sound and rapid growth, years which saw the new Lodge well established. Then came the lean years, when new memberships were few and when there existed a strong feeling that the Lodge should be moved to Brimfield, where many of its members lived. Those were the years when town, state and country were also growing fast, when the War of 1812 was in the making and was fought, when the scattered farmsteads began to be drawn into closely settled villages and the churches were beginning to be organized separately from the governments of the towns. They were the years when Lodge meetings were held from nine in the morning until seven at night, when the members still rode their long way home by the light of the moon.
Then came another time of growth and after that the years of darkness. The effects of the Morgan episode and the anti-Masonic period which followed were felt as fully here as in the state where it originated. From 1827 the Lodge took no new members for eight years and in the latter part of that time, their meetings were far from regular. The membership which had been increased by two hundred and fifty dropped to a handfull, as men of all walks of life yielded to the pressure and clamor against the fraternity as a whole. On January 14, 1835, the thirty remaining members of Thomas Lodge gathered at the call of the Master, Joshua L. Reynolds, for what might well, with weaker men, have been their last session. The cash in the treasury was divided among the members, to be used for charitable purposes, the Bible and cushion given to the Chaplain, Dr. Ely, and the jewels given into the keeping of the officers who last wore them. Then it was voted, and written into the record in a firm, bold hand, "That this Lodge be closed."
For the next twenty-one years we have no record. Even the pages which perhaps bore some entry of the activities of the faithful few during that period are torn from the record book, and tongues which might have told us the story are long since still. We have only a legend and a tradition, but we know that on occasion, the men who had withstood the wave of misunderstanding met with each other, kept fresh in their minds and hearts their Masonry and their resurgent faith, and when the time had come, were ready and able to reopen their Lodge.
In that same twenty-one years, the entire character of the community changed. The pioneer days were over, and the little farming settlements had become villages and towns. The coming of the railroad in 1838 created a new village at the depot; the mills built at Thorndike had greatly increased that village in size and importance, and in a very short space of time, the Old Centre was no longer the common meeting place of the people. The old First Church, whose meeting-house was controlled by the town as late as 1835, divided in 1847, the old church moving to Thorn-dike and the second church society erecting its own meetinghouse at the Depot village. Newly built factories were running in Bondsville and Three Rivers and the coming of the second railroad, which was extended from the south in 1850 and to the north three years later, completed the change. Palmer had ceased to be a farming community and had become an industrial and commercial town. Similar factors wrought similar changes in the other towns which had once supplied the Lodge membership, and the rapidly growing towns also grew apart. The same growth was undoubtedly responsible to some extent for the rapid dying out of the anti-Masonic sentiment which had been so strong only a score of years before, and the time was ripe to reopen the Lodge.
Thomas Lodge still had men, strong men. In 1856 Joseph L. Reynolds and Col. Elias Turner, who had been Master and Senior Warden of the Lodge at its closing together with S. F. Newton, Jacob Thompson, J. R. Flynt, Dr. Alfred Ely, J. Nichols, D. B. Hannum, Otis Bradford and Joel Tucker petitioned the Grand Lodge for the return of the charter of Thomas Lodge. Their request was granted in September of that year, with permission to remove and thereafter hold the Lodge in the town of Palmer, and on October 11, 1856, Wor. Brother Reynolds, Col. Turner, Jacob Thompson, Jacob Nichols, with a few more of their former members and a few visiting Brethren reopened the Lodge they had closed twenty-one years before. The jewels and the Lodge property which had been confided to the members were all returned, the records were reopened and Thomas Lodge began to make its place in a new community.
Within the next five years, the Lodge had gained nearly eighty members, men of character and reputation in the town and its villages, and had regained the strength which was so evident in its beginning. The Lodge continued to grow through the period of the Civil War and the trying years which followed, and the names on its roster of those years are the names of the same men who served the town and community, operated its factories and industries, conducted its business and commerce, and graced its social affairs.
Twenty-nine Brethren, nearly a fourth of the total membership, served in the Civil War, a record of which no Lodge need be ashamed.
For seventeen years after its reorganization, Thomas Lodge met in the upper story of the McGilvray Block on South Main Street, which was then the business center of the town, moving to the Commercial Block in 1873. Here the Lodge remained until 1885, when new quarters were fitted up in Wales Hall and occupied until 1890. Smaller accommodations in the same building served as a meeting place for three years longer, until in late 1893, the present lodge building was purchased.
These years, too, were years of many and rapid changes. They saw the founding of our banks, the beginnings of the wire mill which is now the town's major industry, the development of the cotton mills which were the lifeblood of our villages, the building of our churches of other denominations, and the transition from a community dominated by the descendants of the pioneer families to a town composed of new elements, diversified and often controversial, new people, new ideas. Our schools, meager and small at the beginning of the century, grew in these later years to a comprehensive and carefully supervised system. The tide of business moved away from South Main Street where the railroads had first established it, and the town which we of today remember, came into being.
The names of the men who directed the affairs of the Lodge in its second growth are the names of the men who as business men and citizens did for the town what they did for the Lodge as Masons. Their record is impressive. Each in his own time gave to Thomas Lodge the best that was in him, and each left to his successor a record of steady progress. When the time came for Thomas Lodge to celebrate its 100th anniversary, the members who gathered for that occasion could point with pride to the institution which they and their Masonic forefathers had built.
By the beginning of the new century, the pattern of the Lodge, as well as the town, seemed fairly well established. The Lodge continued to grow and prosper, taking into its membership many of the outstanding men of the community, and expanding its sphere of influence. Its ritualistic work was invariably of a high order and the men who presided over its meetings and its business and charitable affairs were men whose Masonry was real. Like their predecessors, they built well in a changing world. This was the period which brought the street-car and the automobile which was eventually to replace it, the period which marked the beginning of the end of the cotton mills in this area, the period which brought the First World War, in which thirty-seven of our members answered the nation's call. The town was still growing in population, but its texture was changing, and changing fast. At the time Thomas Lodge celebrated its 125th anniversary, the membership was 326, and the Lodge had entered upon another period of rapid growth, the result of the postwar years.
Our last twenty-five years are well within the memories of many of our members. We recall the meeting in 1923 when it was voted to lay the Revere-Thomas jewels away; we remember when the Lodge rooms were refurnished later that year and when at a single meeting we raised an additional thousand dollars to add to the estimated cost of the work; the record is fresh in our minds of the years when our membership reached nearly 400. Recent history, too, are the years of the great depression which affected Lodge and town alike, which saw the closing of the cotton mills, and the end of the textile era; years which reduced our membership by more than a hundred and which gave our Masters and members new problems, day by day. World War II is still with us, though active hostilities are at an end, and some of our members have only recently laid aside their service uniforms.
The one hundred and fifty years of our past lie behind us, and we cannot well forecast the future. But, looking back over the way we have come, we can see the unchanging landmarks and by them can chart our Lodge's course, trusting that the men who shall direct our future will be in their times as strong and faithful men and Masons as those who have gone before.
FROM HISTORY OF MASONRY IN MONSON, CENTENARY OF DAY SPRING LODGE, MAY 1962
From Proceedings, Page 1962-115:
The history of Masonry in Monson, however, goes back 166 years to 1796. In that year there were only twenty Lodges in the State, four of which had recently been established west of Worcester. Samuel Guthrie, David Young, Peter Walbridge, Hezekiah Fisk, Ephraim Allen, Elisha Woodward, Amasa Stowell, John Moore, David Peck, Zebediah Butler, Jesse Converse and Isaiah Blood, Jr., all Freemasons of Monson and vicinity, petitioned the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for the establishment of a Lodge of Freemasons.
On December 13, 1796, a charter was granted under the name, of Thomas Lodge. This charter was signed by the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Paul Revere, and by the Grand Senior Warden, Isaiah Thomas, for whom the Lodge was named. This Lodge served not only Monson but Brimfield, Wales, Palmer, and even crossed the state border to include Stafford, Connecticut. Meetings were held on the second floor of the Century Hotel until 1835, when Thomas Lodge surrendered its Charter to the Grand Lodge.
Dr. Samuel Guthrie served as the first Master of Thomas Lodge. At first, notes were accepted from initiates, but after two years, the practice was discontinued and only cash payments were accepted. As many members of the Lodge lived at some distance, it was customary to open Lodge at 9 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Visiting Brethren were charged twenty-five cents per meeting. About 1830, the Lodge voted to dispense with the use of spiritous liquors in the Lodge.
Brother Edward F. Morris describes the next years as follows:
"The years 1826 to 1832 were memorable for what was termed the anti-Masonic excitement. It had been supposed, whether truly or not has never been determined, that a member of the Masonic society, one William Morgan, a thriftless tailor, of Batavia, N. Y., who had pretended to unlawfully divulge the secrets of Free Masonry, had been forcibly taken by night to a place of concealment, and later drowned in Lake Ontario. It appears that no evidence supported this story beyond the fact that he did mysteriously disappear. It proved, however, to be the occasion of widespread prejudice and opposition to the society of Freemasons, which quickly spread wherever Masons had lodges or resided. It was the means of dividing families, churches and communities, the people being separated into three classes, to wit: Masons, Anti-Masons, and Jacks. The latter were those who took no decided position with either the Masons or Anti's, and it was said that the Anti's felt more bitterly to the Jacks than to the Masons themselves. People of the present generation have very little conception of the depth, intensity and bitterness of feeling against members of this society which pervaded our community, and many others in the eastern and middle states."
Seventeen members of the Congregational Church, including the Pastor, Rev. Alfred Ely, were Masons. Because of this, in the year 1830, it was anticipated that Dr. Ely would be obliged, in the interests of peace, to give up his charge, and that the church would be divided. It was proposed, therefore, to erect a conference house. Three hundred shares of stock at $5.00 each were sold, nearly all the stock being taken by Masons. The lot between the present houses of George Letter and Ralph Miller on Fountain Street was purchased and a building known for years as the "Vestry" was erected in 1831-32.
Due to the Anti-Masonic Times, the Lodge Brethren deemed it wise to close until times should be more favorable, so on January 14, 1835, thirty members, with Joseph L. Reynolds as Master, met for the last time. The Bible was given to Dr. Ely and the jewels were to remain in the custody of those who last wore them.
It is reasonable to suppose that at sundry times and in diverse places members of the Craft must have met, for in 1856, the feeling against the Fraternity having subsided, a few former members petitioned the Grand Lodge to reorganize Thomas Lodge in Palmer. Accordingly, the charter was restored to the petitioners, Brothers Elias Turner, Joseph L. Reynolds, S. F. Newton, Jacob Thompson, J. R. Flynt, Alfred Ely, J. Nichols, D. B. Hannum, Otis Bradford and Joel Tucker on September 10, 1856, and on October 11th, the Lodge opened in Palmer with the same officers in the East and West as had held these stations in Monson.
175TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, DECEMBER 1971
From Proceedings, Page 1971-560:
From 1796 to 1971
By Worshipful Horace H. Randlett
(For a more detailed history of Thomas Lodge covering the earlier periods, please refer to: 1896 Mass. 401-423; 1921 Mass. 531-565; 1946 Mass. 359-365)
When Paul Revere signed the charter of Thomas Lodge one hundred and seventy-five years ago today, he brought into being a Lodge almost in a wilderness. Palmer was scattered over the hills and dales, with few houses grouped around the meeting house at the Old Centre, and a few more on King's Row along the banks of the Quaboag River. Monson was little different from her neighbors and Brimfield was scattered over the hills and woodlands.
They were strong, busy men, those early settlers who paused in their struggle to wrest a living from the soil and asked the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts to charter them into a Lodge. The records do not disclose the circumstances which led up to the formation of Thomas Lodge at a time when there were but twenty Lodges in the State, and but four recently established west of Worcester. We have no knowledge where our charter members were made Masons. We know from other documents that Free Masons had resided in Palmer as early as 1774, at least the two William Scotts, father and son, belonged to the craft. When the second Scott Tavern was built in 1774 at Shearer's Corner in Palmer, the third story of the new house was used by members of the craft for their mutual benefit. Over the years that intervened, it no doubt brought together members of the craft for many enjoyable evenings. As time went by they must have realized that they missed much by not having a Lodge nearby, and that they could never progress beyond a social gathering if they did not do something about it.
After several meetings at Scott's Tavern in 1795-96, twelve of them decided to petition the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for a charter. Under the leadership of Samuel Guthrie, David Young, Peter Walbridge, Hezekiah Fiske, Ephraim Allen, Elisha Woodward, Amasa Stowell, John Moore, David Peck, Zebediah Butler, Jesse Converse and Isaiah Blood, Jr., they sent their petition to the Grand Lodge at Boston. Represented among the twelve were the towns of Palmer, Monson, Brimfield and Stafford, and their charter signed on December 13, 1796 by Paul Revere, Grand Master; Samuel Dunn, Deputy Grand Master and attested to by Daniel Oliver, Grand Secretary, gave them full power and authority to convene as Masons within the town of Monson. Monson was for them the most central meeting place, and the upper rooms in the new tavern, which later became the Century Hotel, provided better accommodations than could have been found in either of the other towns. Taking the name of the Lodge from that of Isaiah Thomas, the twelve men named Dr. Samuel Guthrie, a physician of Brimfield, as their first Master, and were constituted into a regular Lodge and began their work.
Thomas Lodge has two priceless heirlooms of that distant day. One is our original charter, cherished throughout the years, not only as a symbol of the Lodge's creation and continued existence, but as an irreplaceable memento of the great patriot, Paul Revere. Second to our charter are our jewels presented to the Lodge by Isaiah Thomas. Commissioned by Isaiah Thomas, executed by Paul Revere in coin silver, the jewels were worn by the officers of the Lodge on all occasions until 1927. At that time it was felt that they were too priceless for such daily use, and they were put away in the bank vault where they laid buried in darkness for nearly a quarter of a century. It was felt by the officers and members alike that they should be used on occasions. As a result, the Paul Revere jewels are used at every installation of the Lodge as a symbol of the unbroken chain of command from Master to Master.
We have no detailed records of Thomas Lodge's first two years, but in that time 63 new members were added to the roster. Dr. Guthrie, our first Master, served for six years. In 1802 he was followed by Captain Ozim Brashfield of Brimfield, who served for one year. From 1803 to 1806 the Lodge was under the direction of Dr. Ede Whitaker of Monson. Their meetings were held on or before the full moon and lasted from nine in the morning until seven at night.
The Lodge proceeded to grow and prosper with its ups and downs until the late 1820's. The effects of the Morgan episode and the anti-Masonic period which followed were felt as fully here as in the State where it originated. From 1827 the Lodge took in no new members for a period of eight years and their meetings were far from regular. Their membership of over two hundred and fifty had eroded to less than fifty. On January 14, 1835, the thirty remaining members gathered at the call of the Wor. Master. Joshua L. Reynolds, for what might have been their last session. The cash in the treasury was divided among the members to be used for charitable purposes. The Bible and the cushion were given to the Chaplain, Dr. Ely, and the jewels were given into the keeping of the officers who last wore them. Then it was written into the record "THAT THIS LODGE BE CLOSED".
The next twenty-one years are lost. There is no written record, although it is believed that the faithful few did meet secretly on occasions and kept in touch. In 1856 Joseph L. Reynolds and Col. Elias Turner, who had been Master and Senior Warden of the Lodge at its closing, together with S. F. Newton, Jacob Thompson, J. R. Flynt, Dr. Alfred Ely, J. Nichols, D. B. Hannum, Otis Bradford and Joel Tucker petitioned the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for a return of the charter of Thomas Lodge. Their request was granted in September 1856 with permission to remove and thereafter hold Lodge in the Town of Palmer. On October 11, 1856, armed with the restored charter, J. L. Reynolds, Worshipful Master; Elias Turner, Senior Warden; Jacob Thompson, Junior Warden; and Jacob Nichols, Treasurer, met in Palmer and reorganized the Lodge which had lain dormant for the past twenty-one years. On resuming the long vacant chair in the East, W. M. Reynolds said, "There was great cause for congratulations after being buried, as its enemies supposed, for so many years and now bursting into life with the wrecks of its honor and fame around it, but at the same time with a sure and certain hope of a more glorious exemplifications of its work." Surely these words were more than hope, they were prophetic and have had a rich fulfillment.
The last half of the eighteenth century brought many changes. Fast fading into the past were the scattered communities of farmers. The industrial growth of the entire area was changing the entire way of life for those who made their homes in the area. New families with widely different backgrounds and nationalities were spreading across the community. The old English and Yankee traditions were giving away to the influence of many different nationalities. The Lodge, however, did not change like the community around it. It clung to its ancient traditions. Masonic families were united in the common goal to preserve their ancient heritage. The names of the men who as business men and citizens did for the Town what they did for the Lodge as Masons. Their record speaks for itself. So from 1900 until the depression of the thirties, the Lodge enjoyed a period of prosperity.
The annual Masonic ball was the social event of the year, but this event has long gone by the board having been cut down by the great depression of the thirties.
David L. Bodfish, William Norton, Ernest E. Hobson, George Patterson, Harry B. Sanborn, Charles F. Dingman, Fred Potter, Allen F. Davis and John Moon are but a few of the men who served Thomas Lodge as Master during the first half of our second century. These men travelled widely and did much to promote the image of Masonry.
Wor. Lewis Flower ushered in the last twenty-five years with our one hundred and fiftieth anniversary on December 14, 1946. The last twenty-five years lie well within the memory of many who are here tonight. Two of the present officers were officers at that time (the Secretary was the Inside Sentinel and the present Master was the Junior Deacon). It is impossible to mention all the events of the last twenty-five years, and perhaps someone else would have mentioned different events. If such is the case, I know that they will recall these events with intimate detail and will associate them with the pleasures that they received.
Under the leadership of Charles Smith and Richard Johnson, our two youngest Past Masters, Thomas Lodge has promoted the spirit of good fellowship and understanding by uniting in a social event with the Knights of Columbus under the name of Masonknights and have successfully promoted the MASON-KNIGHTS Clam Bake. Through these united efforts they have raised a sizable sum of money which will be donated by the Mason-knights to a community project. Thus, they have made better understanding between the two groups. The sponsorship of Pioneer Valley Chapter Order of DeMolay by Thomas Lodge has seen its ups and downs, but once again it is marching forward accomplishing its purpose. Service to the youth of the community and to us in preparing them to become Masons some day. During this period the Masonic Blood Bank came into its own. Thomas Lodge is more than proud to do its part to promote this great philanthropy.
Of the Masters of the last twenty-five years, five have been summoned to the Grand Lodge above; five have moved away and one has been honored by the Grand Lodge by being appointed District Deputy Grand Master for the Palmer 19th Masonic District. Each Master during this period has brought something to the Lodge and has left his Lodge richer for having served. Now, as we look forward to the last quarter of our second century, we are able to count our blessings and look forward to the last quarter of the second century with our work cut out for us, but with the promise of a bright future ahead.
In closing, I would like to call attention to the Bible on the altar which was a replacement in 19S2, and was purchased by the officers of that year and dedicated with appropriate ceremonies by our Chaplain, the Reverend Perly Grant; since which time it has been the custom for every Master to sign the Bible on his retirement from office. In view of our One Hundred and Seventy-Fifth Anniversary, I would like to break with tradition by asking permission of the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Herbert H. Jaynes, if he would be so kind as to have his Marshal conduct our present Master to the altar where he will sign the Bible and put his signature to the closing of this brief history of Thomas Lodge.
- 1800 (Decision not to be permitted to meet alternately in Monson and Brimfield, II-196)
- 1813 (Communications regarding dispute, II-561, II-565)
- 1820 (Transfer of district, III-291)
- 1829 (Delinquency, IV-170)
- 1866 (Communications regarding jurisdictional dispute, VII-69)
- 1924 (Participation in Springfield temple cornerstone laying, 1924-335)
- 1983 (Presentation of Masonic Flag, 1983-15)
GRAND LODGE OFFICERS
- William R. Barnett, DDGM, District 19 (Palmer), 1998, 1999; Biography; N
- Seth H. Blackwell, DDGM, District 19 (Palmer), 2000, 2001
- David L. Bodfish, DDGM, District 17 (Palmer), 1903, 1904; Memorial
- Allen F. Davis, DDGM, District 19 (Palmer), 1948, 1949; Thomas; N
- Charles F. Dingman, DDGM, District 19 (Palmer), 1938, 1939; Thomas; N
- Douglas J. Fry, DDGM, District 19 (Palmer), 1996, 1997; N
- Abraham Haskell, Jr., DDGM, District 5, 1821-1825; SN
- Ernest E. Hobson, DDGM, District 19 (Palmer), 1920, 1921; N
- Merritt B. Hyatt, DDGM, District 19 (Palmer), 1980, 1981; SN
- Augustus Newman, DDGM, District 19 (Palmer), 1958, 1959; Thomas; N
- Roland I. Outhuse, DDGM, District 19 (Palmer), 1988, 1989
- Robert J. Parron, DDGM, District 28, 2016, 2017
- Horace H. Randlett, DDGM, District 19 (Palmer), 1974, 1975; SN
- Kenneth W. Rhodes, DDGM, District 19 (Palmer), 1990, 1991
- George Robinson, DDGM, District 18 (Palmer), 1879, 1880; SN
- Robert B. Taft, Jr., DDGM, District 19 (Palmer), 1968, 1969; N
- George H. Wilkins, DDGM, District 17 (Palmer), 1897, 1898; SN
OFFICER LIST, JANUARY 1828
From Amaranth, or Masonic Garland, Vol. I, No. 4, July 1828, Page 124:
The following officers of Thomas Lodge, Munson, Mass. were elected Jan. 1828.
- J. L. Reynolds, M.;
- E. Turner, S. W.;
- T. H. Brown, J. W;
- L. F. Newton, T.;
- E. Norcross, S.;
- E. Phillips, S. D.;
- J. R. Flynt, J. D.;
- D. P. King, T.
ST. JOHN'S DAY IN SPRINGFIELD, JUNE 1868
CENTENARY CELEBRATION, DECEMBER 1896
From Springfield Republican, 12/16/1896:
THOMAS LODGE OF MASONS.
THE CENTENNIAL AT PALMER.
INTERESTING DAY FOR THE CRAFT.
Another Paul Revere Charter – Valuable Historical Address – Banquet in the Evening.
The centennial celebration of the founding of Thomas lodge of Masons of Palmer was held in that town yesterday. The event had been anticipated and preparations had been going on for months. The expectations were fully realized, and the members of the lodge feel that they hare celebrated this important event with that degree of pomp and ceremony which it merits. The entertainment feature was not forgotten, and the program was no arranged that not too much solemnity was given to the day.
The ancient charter. containing the autograph signature of Paul Revere, was brought forth from the resting place in the vault of the Palmer Savings Bank, and was an object of much curiosity. Rut few charters were issued while Paul Revere was Grand Master And their rarity makes them highly prized. (Ed. Note: This is of course untrue, as he issued 25 charters in three years.) Thomas Lodge is the senior in Hampden and Hampshire counties. The high position )n Masonic circles was well maintained yesterday, and prominent members of the older from all quarters of the state graced the gathering with their presence. But members of the craft were not alone in celebrating this birthday; the general public manifested a hearty interest and was fully invited to attend the exercises.
At 2.30 in the afternoon the lodge met at the lodge rooms and received the members of the Grand Lodge. At 3 o'clock a procession was formed which marched to the Congregational Church. The services there were public, and the people improved the unusual opportunity in great numbers. The organ was presided over by Mrs. W. H. Small, the Temple Quartet being in attendance.
Dr. George H. Wilkins, the Worshipful Master, gave the address of welcome, which was responded to by Most Worshipful Grand Master Edwin B. Holmes of Boston. Singing followed, and O. P. Allen, historian of the lodge, gave the historical address, an abstract of which is printed below. Rev. Dr George C. Lorimer of Boston gave an eloquent address, which was highly appreciAted. The musical selections rendered by the quartet during tbs exercises were also enthusiastically received. At the close of the services lodge again formed in procession and returned :o the lodge-rooms.
A grand banquet was held in the opera house at 6.30 in the evening. Over 400 guests were entertained, the catering being in charge of Armstrong of Boston. The banquet was attended entirely by invitation. It was undoubtedly the greatest event of its kind that ever took place in Palmer. There were many well-known men present and the board was graced by the presence of many women. Judge George Robinson acted as toastmaster, introducing each speaker with a grace and finish peculiarly his own. The beautifully decorated hail, filled with a joyous company, together wi^h the appropriate toasts and able responses, conspired to make the evening one of rare pleasure.
The firat toast was:
“The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, ancient in years, honorable in worthy achievements, progressively conservative, it has been presided over by brethren famous for their ability, integrity and wise zeal, from among whom we gladly recall the honored names of Paul Revere and Isaiah Thomas; the former, by h»a famous midnight ride, having been the patriot telephone of 1776; s leader in the successful effort to convert Boston harbor into a teapot, and whose signature as grand master is borne upon the carefully preserved charter of Thomas Lodge; the latter, for whom this lodge was named, then Senior Grand Warden and afterward Grand Master, a worthy second to his distinguished chief in the Grand Lodge, as he had an efficient ally in the struggle for independence; both trusted associates of the heroic Gen. Joseph Warren, who was Grand Master when he was slain at the battle of Hunker Hill. Each of those, as well as each Grand Master, according to his opportunity, well served as called to duty, yet none have served with more ardent devotion, untiring effort and successful results than the distinguished Brother now occupying that highest office in the gift of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and who I esteem it an honor now to present to you, Most Worshipful Edwin B. Holmes, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts."
The response by Mr. Holmes was an eloquent tribute to Masonry and included a number of pleasing references to Thomas Lodge.
The second toast, "The event we celebrate," was given with these sentiments:
"We may build more splendid habitations, fill our rooms with paintings and with sculptures, but we cannot buy with gold the old association,
Long may the light our fathers set
Remain our glory and our debt."
This was responded to by Grand Secretary Sereno D. Nickerson of Boston.
The third toast, "The rock of Freemasonry," was given with this sentiment:
"The lyfe so short, the craft so long to learne,"
And was responded to by Rev. F. W. Betts of Syracuse, N. Y.
The fourth toast was "Woman," and was ably responded to by C. L. Gardner.
The fifth toast, “The tenets of Freemasonry, brotheriy love, relief and truth,” was given with this sentiment:
"Uniting in common purpose, men of every country, sect and opinion; lessening the force and turning the tide of sorrow and misfortune; leading on the day when hypocrisy and deceit shall be unknown. and heart and tongue join in promoting each other's welfare, and rejoicing in each other's prosperity."
The response was by Rev. Dr. George G. Latimer.
Rev. G. M. Gerrish responded to the sixth toast, "The principal rounds of the heavenly ladder."
"The principal supports of Freemasonry - wisdom, strength and beauty. Its wisdom - divine leadings; its strength - the common needs of humanity; its beauty - power to adorn character with fadeless gems, which shall ever enrich mind and soul,"
Was responded to by W. H. Small.
The last toast was "Thomas Lodge to its guests - glad host to most welcome friends." Response by Worshipful Master George H. Wilkins.
The responses were all made with a spirit which showed the deep interest felt by the guests. Thomas Lodge and its officers received numberless compliments, which were well merited.
Too much credit cannot be given the retiring officers, who planned and carried out yesterday's celebration. The entire program showed care and skill in arrangement, and the perfect manner in which it was carried out proved that no detail had been forgotten. They have the satisfaction of managing an event which will always hold prominent place in the history of the social organizations of Palmer.
Mr. Allen's Historical Address.
After paying an introductory tribute to the Institution of Masonry, Mr. Allen said:
The records do not disclose the circumstances which led up to the formation of Thomas Lodge, at a time when there were but 20 lodges in the state, and but four recently established west of Worcester. We have no knowledge where our charter members were made Masons, but probably in the eastern part of the state. We know from other documents recently brought to light, that Freemasons resided in Palmer as early as 1774, at least the two William Scotts, father and son, belonged to the order and doubtless received their degrees in Boston while the son was pursuing his studies at Harvard, and when the second Scott tavern was built in 1774 at Shearer's Corner in Palmer, the third story of the new house was devoted to the purpose of a Masonic hall, where members of the Craft held meetings for mutual benefit.
As this was but 40 years after the establishing of Freemasonry in America, and the Scotts were men of education and wide influence, this hall doubtless furnished the nucleus of the order in Western Massachusetts, and may have paved the way for the foundation of our Lodge. In 1796 12 Freemasons of Monson and vicinity petitioned the Grand Lodge of the state of Massachusetts for the establishment of a lodge of Freemasons in that town. The result of this petition was the granting of a charter.
In the original of this priceless document our lodge is proud to possess the autograph of Paul Revere, the fearless patriot, the bare mention of whose name calls back the dramatic opening scene of the Revolution. Our charter also bears the autograph of another patriot, Isaiah Thomas, for whom our lodge was named, and that we may fully appreciate the noble namesake of our lodge, a brief sketch of his life is introduced at this point.
Isaiah Thomas was born in Boston, January 19, 1749. He came from a long line of reputable English ancestry but owing to reverses his father, Moses Thomas, lost his property and dying, left his family in poverty. Young Thomas was bound out as an apprentice to a printer in Boston, at the age of six years. Thrown thus early upon his own resources, he became self-reliant; deprived of the benefit of school education, he taught himself and became, by severe application, a fluent speaker and a lucid writer.
He overcame many obstacles where others would have faltered, and was crowned with a success of which any man might be proud. He founded the Massachusetts Spy in Boston in 1771, now the oldest paper in the state, and when the time arrived for the public mind to be aroused against the encroachments of the crown, his paper glowed with patriotic appeals. He shrank not from duty when the hour of trial came, but with gun in hand took his place in the ranks on the streets of Lexington, and when the memorable conflict was over, he moved his printing-press to Worcester, where he built up a great business as a printer and publisher. At one time he was the foremost publisher in the county, and his name became a noted one.
His acquirements were such that he was accorded the degree of Master of Arts by Dartmouth College in 1814, and that of Doctor of Laws by Allegheny College in 1818. He was a member of many societies and the founder of the American Antiquarian Society of Worcester, to which he gave over $40,000; many other societies and individuals besides his own family were the recipients of his liberal bequests.
He was for many years a member of the Grand Lodge of Masons and for some time its Grand Master. He gracefully acknowledged the honor conferred upon him by our lodge in selecting his name for its designation by the gift of a valued set of jewels for the officers, which are still in use. He also many years afterward bequeathed Thomas Lodge the sum of $100, which amount was paid to its treasurer, Amos Norcross, who went to Worcester for the purpose of receiving it, April 17, 1832. Dr. Thomas died April 4, 1831, full of years and honors, leaving a name long to be remembered.
With its charter granted December 13, 1796, and a nucleus of 12 members Thomas Lodge began its work. It was provided with a convenient home in the upper rooms of the new tavern, erected in the beginning of its charter year in Monson by William Norcross and now known as the Century Hotel. The hall was dedicated December 30, 1800, and was occupied for Masonic purposes till the closing of the lodge in 1835.
For some unknown reason the records of the lodge do not begin till February 13, 1799, some two years after the lodge was chartered, but from the fact that we find scattered through the records some 55 names of members added prior to the above date, we are led to conclude that much work was done of which we have no account. This view is strengthened by the fact that we find in a statement from the Grand Lodge September, 1800, that 79 brothers had been initiated from March 7, 1797, to September, 1800, and as there were 108 members in the lodge at that time, it would seem 29 of them had either been members at the commencement or had become such by affiliation.
It seems then that the lodge commenced active work March 7, 1797, but left no record of its doings for nearly two years. Dr. Samuel Guthrie was the first Master of our lodge and retained the position until 1802. Prior to 1802 the lodge had been in the habit of taking notes from initiates for fees, but voted to dispense with the practice after this date, and accept cash payments only.
Years of prosperity followed, and many members were added to the ranks. In 1828 the lodge purchased books for a library to be used by the members, and two years later voted to dispense with the use of ardent spirits in the lodge meetings, both of which actions tend to show that Thomas Lodge was not a laggard in the march of progress, but rather a leader in vital matters of reform.
For 39 our lodge had prospered; 250 names had been added to its list of members, many of whom were the leading men of Monson, Palmer, Brimfield and other towns, gathered from the varied walks of life; but in the midst of its useful labors, there came a time of adversity; some indiscretions of certain members of the fraternity in New York had been magnified, misrepresented, and construed to suit the purposes of designing political leaders, whereby the public mind was incited against the order to a remarkable degree so that households were often divided and communities rent in twain, over the burning question; even many churches sought to discipline members because of their affiliation with Masonry. In the midst of the strife, and in view of all the circumstances, it seemed wise on the part of Thomas Lodge to close its doors and disband the craftsmen till more propitious times should come.
On the 14th day of January Anno Lucis 5835, 30 members of Thomas Lodge gathered for the last time, as it seemed to them. The salable effect had been disposed of for cash. It was voted to give the Bible and cushion to Rev. Dr. Ely, and that the jewels should remain the custody of the officers who were last elected to wear them. By a careful canvass it was found that the lodge had lost by death, dismissals and lapses on account of unpaid dues 220 of its members, so that but 30 remained. The balance of cash in the treasury amounting to $228 was divided into 30 shares, and given to each of the members to be used as a small fund for charityy by them. The parting words of regret and sadness were spoken by the Worshipful Master J. L. Reynolds, and then it was voted "that this lodge be closed."
The years of waiting went by slowly, but that they might keep alive the words and lessons of the past, the faithful Master and Senior Warden occasional met in a retired place and recited to each other the work of the lodge, hoping some time the long vacant chairs might receive them again. At length their patient faithfulness was rewarded. Moved by the spirit of returning prosperity and the clearing of the once lowering skies, a few members of Thomas Lodge petitioned for the restoration of the ancient charter, and that the reorganized lodge be located in Palmer. In response to this petition the Grand Lodge issued the order that the charter should be restored, with permission to hold meetings in Palmer.
Armed with the restored charter, J. L. Reynolds, W. M.; Elias Turner, S. W.; Jacob Thompson, J. W.; and Joseph Nichols, Treasurer, members of Thomas Lodge, and a few visiting brethren met in Palmer, October 11, 1856, to organize the lodge which had been dormant for 21 years. Thirty-four of the former members were made honorary members of the reorganized lodge, yet only J. L. Reynolds and Elias Turner became active members. The new home of the lodge was established in the upper story of the McGilvery Block, where it remained till 1873. Entering upon its new life, the lodge started with seven active members, and at the close of 1857, or 15 months, had made 21 Masons, of whom only four remain present members. J. S. Loomis is the senior living member, followed by C. H. Murdock, Judge George Robinson and Dr. William Holbrook; the others have gone to their rest, or have been dismissed to other lodges. Of those who were made Masons in 1858, F. J. Wassum is the only remaining member.
Having need of better accommodations, this lodge secured commodious rooms in the new Commercial Block in 1873, which were occupied till September 21, 1885, when it removed to the elegant rooms fitted up in Wales Hall, where it remained till August 1890, when owing to changes made in the block a smaller hall in the same block was occupied till December 1893. In the latter year the Masonic hall association was incorporated, embracing the three Masonic bodies in Palmer, by whom the Hitchcock Block was purchased on Central Street, and a second story added, containing a commodious and beautiful hall, now the permanent home of Thomas Lodge and the other Masonic bodies of the town. The hall was dedicated with imposing ceremonies by the members of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, December 5, 1893.
Thomas Lodge has always maintained an enviable position among its sister lodges, and being the senior in Hamden and Hampshire Counties, its favor and counsel have often been sought on the formation of new lodges. During its existence of 100 years it has had a total membership of nearly 600. Its present membership is about 150. Our records reveal many touching deeds of charity to needed brothers or their widows, of which the world knows not, and words of sympathy in the hour of affliction, of encouragement in the hour of trial.
Thomas Lodge has been happy in its selection of Worshipful Masters, chosen for their personal worth and business capacity; one evidence of which is found in the fact that the lodge has had 23 Masters during 100 years; of these Joseph L. Reynolds presided in the East for 13 years J. B. Shaw eight years; Dr. Samuel Guthrie and Judge Robinson six years each; Dr. E. Whitaker, Joel Norcross and G. B. Kennerson, five years each; A. Jaskell, Timothy Packard, S. H. Hellyar, W. A. Weld, G. T. Brainerd, three years each; Stephen Pynchon, Dr. Samuel Willard, George Bliss, Col. E. Turner, S. G. Shaw, A. Pinney, two years each; O. Blanchard, Marshall Fox, Dr. J. K. Warren, G. O. Henry and Dr. G. H. Wilkins, our present Worshipful Master, one year each. It is doubtful if a more representative list of men can be found in Western Massachusetts who have presided over any association in consecutive order for a century.
But not alone are the Worshipful Masters of Thomas Lodge worthy of mention, for however well qualified they may have been to preside in the East, the complete success of their service must always have largely depended upon the support they have received from the chairs in the West and South, and from those who sat on the right and left, as well as from the subordinate officers. How well and able this support has been rendered, let the long and honorable record of Thomas Lodge answer. The list of the minor officers of our lodge is a long and honored one, embracing many of the stanchest members of the community, for whose service our lodge is grateful, and whose names will ever find an honored niche in its annals.
And thus as we turn the concluding page of the first centurial volume of our records, we are reminded that we are standing on the dividing line of two centuries, and glancing backward, we count fables, any times told, of our elder brothers who have gone to rest, not alone the simple monument tells its silent story of them; their names live in our annals, their noble deed in our memories. Silent are the voices who bore the names of Guthrie, or Ely, or Colton, of Ballon, of Norcross and of Reynolds, and a host of others in the past, but the good influences of their lives remain to pilot us out of the old into newer fields of effort.
Let us trust that the coming century shall furnish us with as noble leaders as did the past, and that the prosperity of Thomas Lodge shall increase in the ratio of its added years. Let us also trust that one lodge, though venerable with age, may never allow the moss of inaction to gather upon its wall, but that its sacred halls, hallowed by the rich associations of the past, shall continue to echo to the voices of busy craftsmen, and that its members, having done faithful service in the quarries of earth, may find a welcome entrance at last into the heavenly temple not made with hands.