|Bibliographic Information for your source citations on any use of
this reprinted material: HISTORY OF UNION LODGE, NO. 108, F. & A.M.,
CODDING, James, A History of Union Lodge No. 108, Free and Accepted Masons, Towanda, Pa. Held under a warrant from The Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging. by James H. Codding, Past Master.Towanda, Pa., 1899, Reporter-Journal Printing Co., Towanda, Pa., Reprint publication on Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice, 2004, http://www.rootsweb.com/~srgp/jmtindex.htm
This is fortunately a record of harmonious and fraternal action; for no contention has arisen. Due mention has been made of the kindness of No. 70, to this Lodge, at its inception. That body favored her sons, departing from her, to an unusual extent, and the fraternal feeling has never been discontinued nor broken. As before shown, there were more brothers from No. 70, to unite in our revival in 1840, than the whole number of members in 1829.
There were many visits paid, backward and forward between the brethren of the two Lodges, from the earliest period. There seemed to be a general agreement to have mutual understanding and action, upon all questions affecting the Craft, without and within.
Once, it is of record, No. 1-8 forgot duty and law. One member from No. 70 was passed Fellow Craft and another raised Master Mason, without any reference to the rights of the Athens Lodge. The minutes of May 7, 1819, refer to this:
"Motion made and Seconded that the Worshipful Master Return an answer to a Letter Reed from the W. M. of Lodge No. 70 complaining of our unmasonic conduct in Passing a member and Raising another to the Sublime degree of a master mason stating the feelings of the Lodge on hearing the Letter Read".
The reproof was deserved and was probably sharply administered, but the apology ended the matter.
From 1817 to 1819 the Lodge dismissed probably twelve members, who desired to become charter members of the proposed Lodge No. 163 at Towanda. As has been told, it caused some uneasiness to see a new Lodge in location so menacing to the prospects of the mother Lodge; but consent was in due time freely given. And yet again was No. 108 to pass upon the same Warrant.
The revival of this Lodge and its removal to Towanda, inspired the brethren at Monroe with desire to have a Lodge at that place under a renewal of Warrant No. 163. The subject was presented Aug. 24, 1842 in No. 108, and consent given, but it was reconsidered Nov. 16th:
"and the merits of the question left open for discussion and decision at the next regular Communication".
Several postponements followed, till January 11, 1843, the decision was held in abeyance
"till the receipt of information of the action of the Grand Lodge upon the subject".
Feb’y 15. 1843. has this record:
"Information having been rec’d from the Grand Lodge that they desired the further action of this Lodge in relation to the establishing another at Monroe, the subject was again called up & after due deliberation it was unanimously resolved,
"That in view of the Interests of Masonry this Lodge deems the establishing of another Lodge at Monroe at this time inexpedient".
A letter from Grand Secretary Adams, March 14, 1843, reports, inter alia:
"Nothing has as yet been done with No. 163; the Grand Officers seem very nearly equally divided in opinion; there seems to be a disposition to make some arrangement whereby that Lodge may get to work".
There is no further reference to the subject until three years later. Feb’y 11, 1846, at a largely attended meeting.
"The following resolution was offered by Bro. G. F. Mason and seconded by Bro. H. S. Salisbury. Resolved,
"That this Lodge consent to the establishing a Lodge in Monroeton and that the Sect’y is hereby instructed to communicate the same to the Grand Lodge.
"The resolution was carried in the aff’t".
Which ended that question.
May 2, 1849, the Lodge recommended a proposed Lodge at Montrose, and E. S. Park and Daniel Brewster were certified as regular Master Masons for that purpose.
June 25, 1850, the following was adopted:
"Resolved, that we hear with gratification that Bros. Wright, Butts, Lounsberry, Manton, Sherwood and Phelps, have petitioned the R. W. Grand Lodge for a Charter for a Lodge to be established in Mansfield, Tioga Co., Pa., and we would earnestly recommend the prayer of their petition be granted".
The Warrant was granted July 1, 1850, as Friendship Lodge No. 247.
May 30, 1855, the Lodge by resolution endorsed the request of several brethren for a Lodge at LeRaysville. The project fell through, for the time. Four years later the same recommendation was again asked and granted, but again without result. A warrant was granted, however, Marcy 2, 1870 – No. 471.
In July, 1867, eleven members were dismissed that they might petition for a Lodge at Rome, ten miles distant. Their formal application was most cordially recommended in August (14th) following, and the Warrant of No. 418 was granted March 9, 1868.
PAGE 104 INSTERT PHOTO
Signatures of Worshipful Masters
1868 – 1899
(one half size)
On Sept. 11, 1867, the Lodge by resolution asked GrandLodge to grant a Warrant to petitioning brothers at Canton, Pa., "believing that a Lodge located at that place will be of advantage to the Craft". The Warrant (No. 415) issued March 4, 1868.
The following Lodges have been, at different times, warranted in Bradford County, but became extinct:
No. 150. Mount Moriah Lodge, Troy, Dec. 2, 1816 – followed by No. 306 Trojan Lodge, March 2, 1857.
No. 280 Harmony Lodge, Canton, Sept. 5, 1853 – followed as above.
And the two following, our county neighbors, now exist, of which no mention has hereinbefore been made:
No. 428. Smithfield Lodge, East Smithfield, Sept. 10, 1868.
No. 618. Wyalusing Lodge, Wyalusing, constituted Oct. 18, 1898.
The question of jurisdiction, or rather, no jurisdiction, between subordinate Lodges, has in a few instances assumed a threatening aspect. But under proper treatment the difficulties have disappeared. When sister Lodges have responded to our inquiry, if "Masonic Objection" existed, by a black ball, it has been taken in good part. And it is probably correct to assert that Union Lodg3e has never insisted upon an objection, when a neighboring Lodge has asked consent.
One case stands fortunately alone in our experience. In 1867 a petitioner applied, was approved and initiated. At that point it was learned that his petition was fraudulently made, the applicant having been rejected in Lodge No. 70, several years before. Charges were preferred and a trial carefully conducted. The result was the highest Masonic penalty – expulsion.
Visitors have ever been welcome. A pride in the orderly and correct
performance of work has stimulated desire that others should enjoy all
that was presented. There has never been any assumption of superiority,
but the Lodge has endeavored to meet the ideas naturally entertained of
its position. And in efforts to maintain the highest standard, Union Lodge
has not restricted its labors to its own members, but cordially extended
to all worthy brethren every opportunity for improvement, she has herself
INCIDENTS OF LATER YEARS
A Philadelphia Brother, (Bro. William B. Read, P. M. and Secretary of Lodge No. 59.) the author of an excellent history of his Lodge, very justly remarks, that Lodge "minutes do not abound in incidents to serve the eager pen of the compiler, *** the years of greatest labor afford the least material for publication". A little experience proves the correctness of these observations, and especially when we leave the past and deal with our own time. There is no novelty in what we ourselves have done, and the more exact superintendence of law leaves the years much alike.
The Midsummer St. John’s Day of 1842 was celebrated with feasting and an oration by David Wilmot. This brother achieved national fame in Congress, where he served in both branches, and he was probably, in later years, the most celebrated member ever enrolled in the Lodge.
The following anniversary was marked by an oration by Bro. C. L. Ward, at "the Methodist Chapel", followed by refreshments "at the Clairmont House". Bro. Ward was an honor to the Lodge and his scholarly attainments, cultured manners and liberal spirit were worthy of long remembrance. These were the last celebrations of St. John the Baptist’s Day in the Lodge.
A resolution against profanity in 1844, suggests the possibility that it was needed, but the record gives no evidence.
In 1853 the Lodge accepted an invitation to lay the corner stone of the Susquehanna Collegiate Institute. A dispensation was procured and a large number of brethren in Masonic clothing participated in the procession and ceremony, viewed by a great concourse of citizens. There is no minute showing any other occasion on which the Lodge, "as such", directed a similar function.
In 1857, under the suasion of Bro. Samuel F. Colt, the idea of a Library took root. A subscription paper is still extant, and some advance was made, but the progress was short lived. The members were busy men, and refreshments were more enticing than books. It was not long before the interest grew cold and the little nucleus which had been procured, disappeared "by absorption". Since 1890, however, some books have again been brought together, such as are most needed for correct Masonic information, and the room where they are kept is constantly accessible to the members.
October, 1865, several of our Past Masters attended a so-called Convention at Altoona. The proceedings were published in a small, now rare, pamphlet at Towanda. The purpose was to formulate amendments to the Ahiman Rezon, and the resolutions as adopted, asked for a representation in Grand Lodge proportionate to membership, and for payment of representative’s expenses. This Lodge concurred in the proposals, which were duly debated in Grand Lodge, and in due time came the law establishing representation upon its present basis.
In 1870 the Lodge refused to donate ten dollars to build a Lodge room for a Lodge in another State, but gave the amount to a brother who had lost his property. The doctrine was correct, and the fact is mentioned as a commentary upon the former action of our Lodge in asking remission from Grand Lodge for the same purpose.
The Lodge very properly refused, in 1872, to receive a petition from an applicant who could neither read nor write. The wonder was, that a man could be found thus disqualified, who had the nerve to offer himself.
Since 1840 the question of banquets and refreshments has had due attention. For a time moderate, inexpensive collations were the rule. Later these gave way to annual banquets of some pretensions, but for some years, after about 1870, nothing whatever was attempted. Since the Lodge has had its own banquet room (1888), the subject has been judiciously handled. Once or twice in each year the W. M. directs suitable preparation and the brethren have enjoyed these occasions in a temperate and most fraternal manner. The brethren, who have taken these matters in charge, have produced much pleasure for the Lodge without financial burden.
The Worshipful Master of 1876 was the first to receive a Past Master’s Jewel by presentation from the Lodge. All his successors have been likewise remembered, and the custom has uniformly been a source of gratification to Lodge and recipient. These jewels have been such as Grand Lodge approves, good without extravagance, and worthy to be worn on every proper occasion.
With the year 1877 the term "Ancient York Masons" passed from use on minute-book, petitions, certificates and other documents, and the words "Free and Accepted Masons" were used instead. The Ahiman Rezon of that year placed the latter phrase in the official title of Grand Lodge.
For some years this had been foreshadowed; then the change became complete. Distinguished Masons had argued against the correctness of the designation "Ancient York", on the general ground that the old Grand Lodge at York had never issued Warrants creating Lodges outside of England, and the few Lodges of its obedience at home, were short lived.
But the words were descriptive of a certain character, and not of descent, and had the same force as the reference to the "Old Institutions", found in the title and Warrants of the Ancients. However intangible and shadowy may be the tradition which assigns to York the first seat of English Grand Lodge Association, it is still worthy of preservation, and every brother who receives light in a Pennsylvania Lodge, will continue to have his attention called to this imperishable Masonic legend.
About Grand Lodge Centennial time, in 1886, the Secretary after due permission delivered a lecture, to present the history pertinent to the time. And a few years later upon request, another lecture was presented, to furnish if possible some information about William Morgan and the "Batavia incident". These were they only lectures before the Lodge and in the Lodge room for half a century. The accomplished Brother Sidney Hayden delivered a lecture, but according to the minutes, it was a public matter.
It is curious to relate, but is the truth, that for a long time after 1840, the members of the Lodge could not, or would not, understand the regulations of Grand Lodge with reference to "passing to the Chair". They procured their dispensations all right, but were bound to go into Union Chapter to perform the ceremony. The Webb idea of Chapter organization apparently controlled District Deputy, Worshipful Master, and all the rest. So for a time there is no record in the Lodge of these "passings", but later, entire conformity to Grand Lodge Regulations became established, and the records preserve the individual history in proper place. The entire cessation of that irregular practice marks the final abandonment of any adhesion to foreign work, and a cheerful return to the old ways of our Grand Lodge.
The inquiring reader, who investigates carefully the statistical tables showing the work performed year by year (appendix J), will feel both curiosity and amazement at the rapid fluctuations exhibited for a number of years following 1843. Perhaps the same vibrations were common elsewhere, but the facts have not been published. It is pure guesswork to account for the conditions as shown by the figures. The Lodge must have been conscious of these "ups and downs", but there are no remarks. It may be remembered and asserted however that times were more unsettled than now, and changes more frequent. The opening up of Texas, the Mexican War, the "California fever", the settlement of Western territories were all felt, and must have had their sway. The Civil Was also exercised a prodigious influence. Men saw practical results, in the way of care, protection and safety, and the Lodge doors were besieged for admission. There was danger to the Fraternity in such a rush of applicants, but taken altogether, the Lodge acted wisely. If perchance good men were excluded, the other extreme was not reached.
Right here the careful inquirer may point to the long list of rejections. The number is indeed long enough to provoke reflection. But Union Lodge has always been free in the use of the black ball, and it is probably sufficient to add, that the harmony of the Lodge has not been interrupted thereby.
During the last thirty years the Lodge has made reasonable progress. There has been on phenomenal growth nor special decline. Unless Towanda should greatly increase in population, the probabilities are that annual losses will average about equally the gains. And at all events, to guard well the doors should be the policy of the future as it has been the practice in the past.
In 1861, when the dark cloud of Civil War settled over the Nation the Lodge membership was one hundred and seven. Sixteen of the brethren were soon in the Union Army. Their names, according to seniority of membership, are here given:
Bro. Jeremiah Culp, Major 57th Regiment Penn’a Volunteers; killed at Fair Oaks, Va.
Bro. Joseph E. Spalding, Sergeant Co. C, 171st Regiment Penn’a Volunteers.
Bro. Henry J. Madill, became Brevet Major General.
Bro. Stillman J. Legg, Sergeant Co. B, 141st Regiment Penn’a Volunteers.
Bro. Isaac A. Park, Captain Co. D, 141st Regiment Penn’a Volunteers.
Bro. Guy H. Witkins, became Lieutenant Colonel 141st Regiment Penn’a Volunteers;
Killed at Petersburg, Va.
Bro. Henry B. McKean, became Lieutenant Colonel 6th Penn’a Reserves ( 35th
Bro. Julius W. Mason, became Lieutenant Colonel 6th Regiment U. S. Cavalry.
Bro. Edward D. Payne, Surgeon U. S. Navy.
Bro. Daniel Meehan, promoted to Captain Co. H, 52d Penn’a Volunteers.
Bro. W. H. H. Gore, became Major 6th Penn’a Reserves (35th Regiment).
Bro. Edward L. Benedict, Second Lieutenant Co. I, 57th Regiment Penn’a Volunteers.
Bro. Geo. W. Jackson, Captain Co. A, 141st Regiment Penn’a Volunteers.
Bro. William T. Davies, promoted to Captain Co. B, 141st Regiment Penn’s
Bro. Andrew A. St. John, Corporal Co. B, 141st Regiment Penn’a Volunteers.
Bro. Addison G. Mason Adjutant 5th Penn’a Reserves (34th Regiment). Promoted
Brevet Major on Gen. Meade’s Staff.
A Large number of gallant soldiers, at later times became members of the Lodge. The foregoing list presents those only who went from the Lodge to their Country’s service.
In the late Spanish War, two members saw service. The Junior Warden, Bro. Thomas M. Stalford, attended to important duties in Co. M, 9th Penn’a Regiment. Bro. Newton E. Mason has found his life-work in the United States Navy, and as a Lieutenant Commander, was Executive Officer on the Brooklyn. In the severe and important engagement off Santiago de Cuba his ability and gallantry won special mention, and advancement towards further promotion. The Lodge, proud of his record, expressed its gratification by a resolution placed upon its minutes.
It is notable that the first By Laws did not provide in any way for dues.
The original members evidently believed that fees for degrees would cover current expenses of the Lodge and calls for charity. Hence the dues or "quarterages" were fixed, by some unrecorded understanding, at seven cents per month, being exactly the sum for which they were liable to Grand Lodge. In so depending upon initiations there was unsoundness, and yet they escaped failure. But for the custom, almost obligations for everything, even to small amounts, the balance would have been steadily on the right side. The By Laws fixed the fees at fifteen dollars, and they were divisible. Two dollars were to accompany "the proposal", eight dollars to be paid at initiation, two dollars for "passing fee" and three dollars at raising. And the fifteen dollars so to be paid represented a greater living value than fifty dollars in this year 1899.
Expenses were small. For twenty-two years rent never exceeded three dollars and three-quarters per annum. During some years there was no charge. The Secretary had no stated compensation; the Tyler was simply exempt from dues, if he "performed his part". Refreshments seldom exceeded one dollar per meeting, and clothing and jewels, once purchased, were expected to last. The charities and Grand Lodge were the only creditors which caused the members to feel anxiety in opening the Treasurer’s box. (Such box was actually kept in the Lodge Room, under lock and key. The references to it are frequent.) Had the notes there stored, mere promises to pay been actual cash, there would have been no trouble.
But the methods of the early time all favored running accounts. If they owed Grand Lodge, say, twenty-three dollars, it was deemed sufficient for the time to remit twenty, and so it happened at times, that the brethren were startled by demands they did not understand. Then would follow an effort to collect, usually by placing matters in the hands of some business-like brother, to get what he could. A ledger was kept, but not always by the Secretary. A committee would at intervals "charge up" to the members, and ascertain the credits, if possible. Yet with all this, the books were fairly kept, and it is particularly notable, how carefully the accounts with the Treasurer were made up. It is worth remembering that financial reports, showing just what was in the Treasury at the close of the year, are yet in the archives, for almost every year of the working existence of the Lodge.
The paper money of the early day was not better than the obligations of the members. It was not safe to stow away and one example will illustrate. At the beginning of 1819 the Treasurer had $217.06 in obligations and $139.32 "in cash". There was a long arrearage due Grand Lodge, and the Treasurer sent $130.00 of his "cash" to pay the debt. The result was discouraging. The Grand Secretary reported as follows:
"Received County Bank notes $130.00
Discount of $125.00 sold at various prices, 33.46
One note not salable and returned 5.00 38.46
To the credit of the Lodge 91.54
To Bro. Adonijah Warner, Treasurer for several years following 1811, is due the first real system of Treasury accounts. One can, to this day, follow his precise entries, and understand all receipts and disbursements. And he insisted always that the Committee should annually go over his statements and sign the books. The last audit of the old time – Peter Allen, Treasurer, 1829 – showed notes on hand $217.55, and the Lodge’s statement showed due to Grand Lodge $36. 78.
In 1841 the fees were continued at fifteen dollars, but not divisible. The dues were placed at "twelve and one-half cents each stated meeting" (say $1.50 per year), with this pernicious regulation:
"The Secretary shall, at each stated meeting next preceding St. John the Evangelist’s day note everyone herby disqualified for membership" – by owing a year’s dues – "as suspended for non-payment and so return him to the Grand Lodge, having before duly notified the delinquent that he was thus in arrear; and he shall remain suspended until restored by payment, or expelled for continued delinquency".
This ipso-facto arrangement produced great irregularities, and as a consequence it is almost impossible for about fifteen years to trace the exact legal membership of the Lodge. The Secretary could do about as he liked, and he did not always record his decision.
Under the new regime, the Lodge balances did not grow, notwithstanding the large amount of work. Expenses increased largely. Rents, the fitting up of three halls, and some losses, with the other charges, made the members satisfied to "come out even". And it was an article of faith with more than one, that Lodges should not accumulate property. It has found expression, more than once, that each generation should take care of itself.
In 1855 the fees were increased to twenty dollars, apparently divisible again – eight, seven and five. Later, in the same year Grand Lodge decided generally against such arrangement. Dues were made two dollars per annum, and the correct doctrine established for suspensions, to wit, due notice of arrears and action by the Lodge.
In 1866 the fees were raised to thirty dollars, but dues remained as before.
Five years later the fees became forty dollars by enactment of Grand Lodge.
Towards the close of 1871 the Lodge was in debt, although a large amount of work had been done in the preceding years. The active members, upon business principles, proposed a substantial raise in the annual dues. This touched a tender spot. An exhaustive examination was made of the finances for many years, but no committee could do more than state the situation. So the dues were increased to four dollars. Some members withdrew, but to their credit, it is recorded that most returned.
At that figure the dues should have remained, at least until a proper permanent fund was established. All experience proves the wisdom of such an accumulation. Its income aids each passing year, and it is itself a guaranty of the future.
But Oct. 13, 1875, the By Laws were again amended, fixing annual dues at three dollars, where they still remain.
The Lodge has lost some money, which it loaned, on two occasions. As the members were themselves chiefly to blame, the result was accepted without litigation or remonstrance.
It has given freely. No appeal, based upon calamity, or the individual need of a worthy brother, has so far been refused.
RECORDS, BY LAWS AND SEALS
The substance of this compilation shows of course, that the minute books of the Lodge have been preserved. Such is fortunately the case, though the oldest record book was found by the writer about twenty-five years since, in a condition which corroborated a tradition as to its peculiar use. It has been re-bound since then and is substantially complete. It shows that some of the Secretaries did not attend to their minutes at the time, but left them to be "brought up" when some one fund opportunity or pay therefore. Allowing for the frequent changes in the Secretariat, the work is well done and preserves a continuous record. In the first book but one Secretary signed the minutes and he was a "pro tem" for one meeting.
The records are in seven volumes, differing from each other in size and thickness, and they cover the time as follows:
1. April 3, 1807, to and including April 28, 1825.
2. June 30, 1825, to and including July 2, 1845.
3. July 16, 1845, to and including, Dec. 24, 1857.
4. Dec. 30, 1857, to and including Sept. 29, 1869.
5. Oct. 20, 1869, to and including Dec. 17, 1878.
6. Jan’y 1, 1879, to and including Dec. 16, 1891.
7. Jan’y 1, 1892, to and including ___________
To Dec. 27, 1899, twenty-six brethren have in turn served as Secretary of the Lodge. Their names and years of service will be found in Appendix H. Form that list it can be ascertained that fourteen served for one year or less; three for two years; tow for three years; four for four years; one for five years; one for nine years, and one for twenty-five years. The three last served unbroken terms, while some who preceded them did not do so. Their records show much variation in style, but the Form of Minutes directed by Grand Lodge in late years, has accomplished a desirable result.
The original By Laws, adopted June 25, 1807, were entered on the first leaves of the oldest minute book, evidently reserved for that purpose. They are printed herewith as Appendix E. The pages containing them have suffered from wear, and the sections are restored by the aid of the By Laws of No. 70, which our brethren copied verbatim, so far as they used the subject matter. They will be found to present a sort of Ahiman Rezon, in and of themselves, differing widely in scope and form from those in later use. They were evidently considered quite flexible, to be "dispensed with" at the will of a majority, if occasion seemed so to demand. These By Laws were submitted to Grand Lodge, March 21, 1808, and referred to a Committee, which passed them without report.
In June, 1808, a Committee of Revision was appointed, which reported July 7th. The Lodge adopted "the alteration", but what it was is not recorded.
July, 1820, another Committee was appointed to revise, but no report was recorded.
Aug. 11, 1841, the By Laws were again sent to a Committee, which reported Nov. 24. The report was unanimously adopted, but the By Laws are not in the minutes. One Hundred and fifty copies were ordered to be printed. As the minutes are silent about by laws until 1855, it is quite probable that the By Laws of 1841 are those printed by Manning in Phila., in 1846, and are the first published regulations of the Lodge.
July 25, 1855, an amendment passed making stated meetings semi-monthly.
April 30, 1856, a Committee again took the By Laws in charge. The Secretary has not recorded its report, nor the action of the Lodge, but a communication from Grand Lodge, June 2d, announces their approval, with sundry alterations. These were printed by Bro. E. O. Goodrich in 1857, with "Rules for the Keeping and Use of Library" added.
March 28, 1866, a new code was adopted. It is recorded in the minutes and was probably printed but on copy has been found.
Feb’y, 1872, numerous changes were again made, and an edition printed – including the amendment increasing dues to four dollars.
Oct. 13, 1875, an amendment was adopted reducing annual dues to three dollars.
Dec. 19, 1877, stated meeting changed to first and third Wednesdays of each month.
Feb’y 7, 1883, a new Code was reported, adopted two weeks later, but not being satisfactory to Grand Lodge, was modified March 19 and April 2, 1884. By these regulations "first Wednesday" only became time of stated meeting. These By Laws were printed in excellent manner.
In 1888 time of stated meeting was changed to third Wednesday.
Feb’y 18, 1891, an amendment was passed modifying the conditions of Life membership.
March 20, 1895, another amendment adopted changing and dividing the Tyler’s duties and fees.
Feb’y 26, 1808,
"Resolved that this Lodge accepts of the seal made by Wm. B. Foster as the present Lodge Seal. Treas’r paid Wm. B. Foster 50 cents for the seal".
The leaden disk so made and accepted is still in the archives. It has the words and figures "Union Lodge No. 108" rather irregularly incised, and was intended for use upon paper placed above a moistened wafer.
In October, 1852, the Lodge formally adopted another seal. The design is described as: "All-seeing eye, square and compasses, surrounded by name and location of Lodge". The brass seal so engraved was principally used for printing, and as it presented a very black surface was rather somber and grotesque in effect. The same design adopted for embossing by aid of a modern seal press is better, and is the Lodge seal at this time.
Certificates were early in use. In the first year the brethren bought a supply of "blank Diaplomys", and used them. Several, as issued to the members, are still preserved. In 1842 another supply of blanks was procured. There is no later reference to their use, and the present Secretary remembers issuing no certificates for twenty-five years except those which are required upon resignation or restoration. The elaborate parchments sold by various publishers have never been adapted to our Regulations, and their use has been uniformly discouraged. A very few may have been issued, but certainly none in late years. The Grand Lodge certificate is the only proper one at this day.
OUTSIDE ST. JOHN’S MASONRY
It was the intention in compiling these pages to confine all statements to the Ancient Degrees. Perhaps that intention will not be violated by what follows. At all events, it will be accepted for what it is worth, and particularly because it involves no individual opinion.
There are imbedded in the oldest minute book and first ledge, several references to the Mark Degree. This is not unusual. Many old Lodges have records showing the same thing. And it was understood, in the early t9ime, that the Mark and other degrees could be conferred by brethren possessing them, under sanction of a Blue Lodge warrant. The Royal Arch was recognized as Ancient Masonry, and some Lodges had Chapters attached, conferring that degree without a separate charter. No. 70 was one, and labored effectively for years though under many disadvantages. A Grand Chapter was attached to our Grand Lodge from 1795, which became independent in 1824, and by its regulations after its independence, gave official status in Pennsylvania to the degrees of Mark Master Mason and Most Excellent Master Mason.
The brethren of Lodge No. 108, or some of them, worked the Mark Degree. Probability would suggest that they acquired it from No. 70. When or where they met, or who were the first officers and members cannot now be told. The following extracts are the sole remains:
June 2, 1808, "Resolved that the Treas’r of the Master’s Lodge pay the Treas’r of the Marck Lodge $2.00".
Dec. 1, 1808, "on motion and seconded that the Treas’r of the Master Lodge paty the Treas’r of the Marck Lodge $6.25 cents, the Treas’r of the Master Lodge paid the Treas’r of the Marck Lodge $6.25 cents".
In 1812, April 23, Luther Scott (This Luther Scott, a brother of George Scott, had been in Wysox a short time. Soon afterward he entered the Army where he made an honorable record. He died in 1819.) was proposed, balloted for and made an Entered Apprentice Mason, and passed to the degree of Fellow Craft, the Lodge "by resolve" unanimously agreeing so to do.
"At a special communication of Union Lodge No. 108, of the Mark Lodge", held April 26, the following is recorded:
"Mark Masters lodge opened. Brother Luther Scott proposed to come forward and receive the degree of mark Master. Balloted for and carried in the affirmative brought forward and invested accordingly B. Scott made choice of the hand holding the sword of Justice for his mark paid four dollars to the treasury there being no further Business closed in harmony".
Following this record, is another, of a "Special communication" the same day, stating that the same candidate, Luther Scott, was raised to the degree of Master Mason.
The Secretary has made up his record very neatly, but whether he became confused in transcribing or whether the minutes indicate the old estimation of sequence of the degrees, each reader may judge.
In the Ledger account of Bro. William Huyck, a credit has been crossed out and the following interlined, some time after March 30, 1822:
"this credit is not correct as you will see by the Mark Books. 8. Wilson Treasurer says he has Given him up a note belonging to the mark for this $1.50".
So there were books, of some kind, but they have vanished.
Several loose sheets, bearing various dates in 1841, indicate that there were eleven meetings of the Mark Lodge that year. At these meetings are recorded the names of twenty-two different members and three visitors. Fourteen candidates received the Mark degree, all well known names. Samuel Houston presided.
A letter written by Bro. William H. Adams, Grand Secretary, to Bro. Wilson Scott, Secretary of Lodge No. 108, under date of March 14, 1843, contains the following:
"I would like to know why a number of the Brethren in your returns are marked M. M (they having been E. P. & R. in No. 108), if for Mark Masons I would like to know from where you get the power to confer the degree".
Right there is the suggestion which by every likelihood led to the formation of Union Chapter No. 161. Our brethren in 1841 thought the Mark degree common property as in the aforetime. Now they were to learn that Grand Chapter claimed sole jurisdiction, and their work was irregular. March 11, 1846, Union Chapter was constituted.
And now, that the modern brother possessing many "high degrees" may not ignorantly pity the simplicity of the olden time, the following is here introduced. It is from the unpublished autobiography of Bro. Eliphalet Mason:
"I afterwards (about 1816) received from Bro. Horation Grant the following degrees, the said Grant being assisted by Geo. Scott, Esq., which are called the degrees of Knighthood: Royal arch master, Knight of the Ark, Super Royal Arch Master, Kinght of Jericho, Knight of the Roman Eagle, Knight of the Mediterranean Pass, Super Excellent Royal Arch Master, Knight of the Red Cross, and High Priest forever after the Order of the Melchisedeck".
Quite good for early days, and a worthy trio. All were founders of No 108; Grant and Scott, its two first Masters, and Mason was soon to become the fist Master of No. 163.
The following notes answer questions, sometimes asked, and may prove of interest for future comparisons. The statements are true for the history of the Lodge, to and including the present year – 1899:
The greatest number of initiations in any year was in 1841 – twenty-four.
The greatest number of admissions (upon certificates) was in 1874 – eighteen.
The greatest number of degrees conferred was in 1864 – sixty-nine.
The greatest number of suspensions in any year was in 1843 – thirty-one.
The greatest number of resignations in any year was in 1867 – sixteen.
The greatest net gain in membership was in 1841 – twenty-eight.
The greatest net loss in membership was in 1843 – twenty-eight.
The largest recorded attendance at any meeting was for that of September 25, 1895 – sixty-one members and ninety-six visitors.
The youngest brother installed Worshipful Master of the Lodge was George Scott, at the age of twenty-four years and one month.
The brother who Masonic life covered the greatest number of years was Burr Ridgway. Initiated July 20, 1814, he died Aug. 19, 1876. But he was not a member during some intervening years.
The senior member of the Lodge (1899), is Bro. Luther H. Scott, initiated September 29, 1841.
The longest, continuous, unbroken membership is held by Bro. William Griffis, initiated January 31, 1844, and still a member.
Something like hereditary tendency is shown in several families, in their connection with the Craft.
The following have been, at different periods, members of this Lodge:
Bro. Amos Mix; his son, Bro. Hiram Mix; his grandson, Bro Hiram Mix, Jr., and his great-grandsons, Bros. John W. Means, D. Henry Barstow and Cummins Houston.
Bro. George Scott; his sons, Bros. George Scott, Wilson Scott, Luther H. Scott, Walter Scott, H. Lawrence Scott and Clinton Scott; his grandsons, Bros. Morgan H. Scott and Harry A. Madill, and his great-grandson, Bro. Edward L. Smith.
Bro. Joseph Kingsbery (Col. Joseph Kingsbery so wrote his name. His descendants have preferred the spelling as used with their names.); his sons, Bros. Byron Kingsbury, Burton Kingsbury and Henry Kingsbury; his grandsons, Bros. George S. Kingsbury, Edward Kingsbury, Burton L. Kingsbury, W. Wallace Kingsbury, Adolph H. Kingsbury and Mahlon C. Stephens.
Bro. Eliphalet Mason; his sons, Bros. Gordon F. Mason, E. Hastings Mason and William A. Mason; his grandsons, Bros. Julius W. Mason, Addison G. Mason, Newton E. Mason and Edwin M. Mason.
Bro. William Myer; his son, Bro. E. Reed Myer; his grandsons, Bros. Richard E. C. Myer and Thomas E. Myer.
Bro. John A. Codding; his sons, Bros. James H. Codding, John W. Codding and Charles L. Codding; his grandson, Arthur Codding. In this case the notable circumstance occurred that when the grandson received the Third degree, his father and grandfather were present, at the well attended meeting of Sept 25, 1895.
There have been numerous instances in which father and son have been members. Those preceding have been given because the family line reached to or beyond the third generation.
From time to time, the Lodge has been called upon to render Masonic funeral honors to deceased brethren. The first of these occasions came early in 1808, on the death of the Senior Warden of the Lodge. The minutes up to 1839 mention distinctly three Masonic funerals. That there were others is probable, but no record was made. From that year until 1872 the minutes preserve the death record very imperfectly, and even less mention is made of funerals. Any attempt to compute the number of Masonic burials to the close of 1871, is of doubtful accuracy, but from the best available information, the number may be placed at twenty-seven, at least. Since that time, and to Dec. 1899, the Lodge has interred, with customary rites, forth-three. These figures include only members of the Lodge, for during the last twenty-five years the Lodge has, upon due request, performed the last duty for three members of other Lodges, who were buried at Towanda, and on several occasions has united with sister Lodges in the burial of their dead.
"How fast they fall- those we have known-
As leaves from Autumn branches blown,
So quickly sear!
Yes, one by one they drop away
As withered leaves that fall and stray
If it were given us to know the duration of our lives, this work might perhaps be deferred until the Centennial of our Lodge in 1907. But if any misfortune should deprive us of the old minutes they could not be replaced. And I cannot but feel that my experience as Secretary for twenty-five years, has placed in my personal knowledge many facts from outside sources which connect and construe some records, which, on their face, are imperfect and uncertain.
For these reasons the book is now published. That some other brother could better have used the material, is not to be doubted. That any other would have felt more interest in the work, I cannot admit.
"What is writ – is writ;
Would it were worthier!"
In gathering personal facts and data, I have had much assistance, which is gratefully acknowledged. (Bro. C. F. Heverly’s Histories of the Towandas, and of Monroe, have been freely used. Bro. Craft’s History of Bradford county has been of service. Valuable suggestions and recollections have come from Bros. Luther H. Scott and Wm. A. Chamberlin; also from Hon,. J. P. Coburn, J. V. Geiger, Esq., Henry G. Newell, Esq., and others. And not least was the courteous help extended by the Grand Secretary Bro. William A. Sinn and the members of his official force.) While many details are yet desirable, the result would have been still more unsatisfactory without such aid.
The effort has been to present a true narrative. At no point have extenuation or eulogy been needed. I commit this honorable record of our old Lodge to my brethren and to the future, satisfied that it calls for no embellishment at my hands.
And now, to the Members of Union Lodge No. 108, whose assistance has ever been extended to me, and whose fraternal regard has been unceasingly shown, I affectionately dedicate this work.
INSERT SIGNATURE IF POSSIBLE.
St. John the Baptist’s Day,
A. L. 5899.