Mansfield PA and Richmond Township in Tioga County PA
Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Organizations of the Tri-Counties
 Friendship Lodge 247, Mansfield, Tioga County PA
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

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One Hundred Fifty Anniversary
Friendship Lodge No. 247
F. & A. M.
Mansfield, Pennsylvania
NOTE - I also have the Centennial booklet, but it is essentially the same information as far as it goes.

Visitation of Right Worshipful Grand Master – Roberyt L. Dluge, Jr. and Grand Officers

Mansfield Hose Company, Mansfield, PA

Saturday, November 11, 2000

Program

Mansfield Hose Company, Mansfield, PA

Invocation

Banquet 1:00 P. M.

Roast Beef

Turkey

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

One Vegetable

Cole Slaw

Rolls & Butter

Pickles & Olives

Vegetable Tray

Assorted Cakes

Beverages – Coffee, Hot Tea, Ice Tea

Greeting by Worshipful Master

Introduction of Guests

Introduction of Grand Master

Note: The Grand Master will introduce the Grand Lodge Officers accompanying him.

Address by the Grand Master

Benediction

Introduction

Friendship Lodge was established July 1, 1850, eleven years before the great Civil War began and seven years before either Mansfield was made a borough or the college was founded. At the time, Mansfield was just a small village with three or four stores, a school, tannery, grist mill, blacksmith shop, and about twenty five dwelling houses. This was a time when our nation faced many issues that threatened to divide it.

The history of Friendship Lodge is marked by hard dedicated effort on the part of its founders. Some of these men walked many miles to attend meetings, other rode horseback, and a few came by carriage. They came from distant parts of Tioga and Potter Counties. We have the example of Simon Husted, D. D. G. M., who rode alone on horseback the whole way from Towanda. It took him two days to make this journey. This was when the Lodge was constituted on October 17, 1850.

In spite of almost insurmountable odds and local crises, they persisted and the present Friendship Lodge is a lasting memory to their efforts. It is hard for us to believe, the hardships, privations, inconveniences, and sacrifices made by the early members in their efforts to promote the cause of Masonry in this isolated  section of Pennsylvania.

History of the Lodge

On July 1, 1850, R. W. G. M. William Whitney granted the warrant of the constitution of the Lodge. This resulted from a letter of petition written June 1st and signed by six of the warrant members, a letter of recommendation for these six men from James Wilson, P.M. of Lodge #51, and a letter from Union Lodge No. 108, located at Towanda, endorsing the petition and signed by the Worshipful Master and Secretary of that Lodge.

The Lodge was constituted on October 17, 1850, by Brother S. Husted, D. D. G. M. residing in Towanda. Two warrant members had been added to the six who originally petitioned the Grand Master. The eight were: Josiah Wright, W. M.; Loren Butts S. W.; Thomas Manton, J.W.; A Millard, Secretary; James Husted, Treasurer; Daniel Lamb, S.D.; John Lansbery, J.D.; and Loren Lamb, Tyler. Their ages, fifty to seventy, averaging sixty-two, indicated they have been Masons for some time. One came from a New England Lodge, and since the section had been settled by New Englanders, others had similar membership. All were farmers.

They met for the first eighteen months in Mansfield, and then the Worshipful Master seems to have taken them to Covington. During the first ten years around one hundred petitioners were initiated. They came from virtually all the towns of Tioga County and even as far away as Coudersport. However, the records show there was a heavy loss, even in this period as well as afterwards. There were several reasons for this. The change of location to Covington was evidently a cause for friction within the membership. The reason given was lack of a suitable place for meetings in Mansfield, but reading between the lines shows that much more than this was the root of the trouble. The formation of Lodges in Wellsboro, Blossburg, Tioga and Osceola between the years of 1858 and 1865 drew many members from our Lodge. As Brother Vedder said, "The early history of Masonic Fraternity at Mansfield was also the early history of the Masonic Fraternity of Tioga County."

In November of 1860, the Lodge returned to Mansfield. For about three years the Lodge met in a general store building no longer in existence. It then moved to what is now the Erie Railroad station where it remained to 1870. During this time some seventy members were added to the rolls. In February, 1867, Hiram B. Middaugh was elected Representative and was the first member to cast a vote in the Grand Lodge.

In 1870, after the sale of the King Property to the Erie, the Lodge was moved to the second story of what was then known as the Cigar Factory where it remained till 1882 when it moved to the second story of what is now known as the Longbothum House, and in 1889 to the second floor of the Kingsley Shoe Store, now the Witmore Store. It was during this last period that a real crisis in the history of the Lodge occurred and nearly ended the Friendship Lodge.

In the list of Past Masters, it will be noted that Mart King was Master for three years and Henry Allen eleven years, for a total of fourteen years within a period of twenty three yeaars from 1863 to 1886. The minutes show that Mart King was Secretary from 1860 to 1872, except in the years that he served as Master. The minutes show that in many meetings he presided as Master and signed the minutes as Secretary. In spite of the fact that between 1869, when the Lodge returned to Mansfield, and in 1876, there were 132 initiations and memberships recorded, there were also 178 suspension, withdrawals and expulsions. The two years in which the greatest losses occurred were 1867 and 1873. By 1876, the membership had shrunk to 23 and soon went down to 10 or 11, where it remained while Brother Allen was Master. After Brother Wentworth Vedder, who had joined the Lodge in 1883, became Master in 1886, due to some irregularities, he lifted the Warrant and took it to Philadelphia to consult with the Grand Lodge authorities.

They gave him permission to reorganize the Lodge under the old Warrant. In April 1887, seven members met with D.D.G.M. Aaron Niles of Wellsboro, who installed the officers of the Reorganized Lodge. At this time there was $25 in the treasury.

However, if one may read between the lines of the minutes, the Lodge did not immediately recover from this ten years of disaster. Even though quite a few joined and though there were many initiations, the meetings were poorly attended and the finances were in poor shape. There was a deficit shown at the end of each year. But the members had faith in the Lodge. When, in 1895, the Lodge moved into its first reasonably modern quarters, the Kohler Block, twenty four members took $10 bonds to be redeemed in five years, and the officers signed an additional note for $100. This money was used for the purchase of new furniture. The present officers’ chairs and members’ settees (except those in the East) were then purchased and only in 1950 reupholstered. These bonds were later redeemed by borrowing money from private individuals and the whole amount was not repaid till 1903.

The year of 1900 seems to have been the year when the fortunes of the Lodge definitely turned for the better. There was steady and continued growth both in membership and the finances. By 1920, there were 162 members in the Lodge and balance of $1,400 in the treasury. This fine showing was in addition to seem $1,300 spent in fitting up new rooms on North Main Street. The move to these new quarters was made because of the unsatisfactory conditions in the Kohler Block.

The Lodge remained in these quarters at No. 3, North Main Street, for twenty years. The membership increased to 182 by 1940 and they found it impossible to renew the lease or the Lodge might still be in these quarters. The Lodge moved to its present location at 23 North Main Street, again some $1,000 were spent, in addition to much time and work fitting up the new rooms.

The history of the Lodge should not close without mentioning a few of the Brothers who have been unceasing in their efforts to advance the interest of the Lodge. Brother Wentworth Vedder, P.D.D.G.M., was active for more than thirty years, Brother Frank Simmons, PD.D.G.M., Brother Harvey Van Norman, and Brother Harold G. Strait, has done much to advance the cause of Masonry. Through the interests of these men our records are almost entirely intact.

The first even of significance in the 1950’s was the celebration of One Hundred Years of Friendship Lodge No. 247 on June 24, 1950. The preparation for this occasion began in 1949. A committee composed of Brothers H. T. Witmore, Harold Strait, George Retan, and Raymond VanNoy was appointed to make arrangements for the celebration. The Lodge hall was redecorated, walls and ceilings redone, the furniture was reupholstered, new carpeting installed and floors refinished. The preparations were completed before the 24th day of June, 1950.

On this day the Brothers of Friendship Lodge #247 met in the Lodge hall at 23 North Main Street. The meeting was conducted by Worshipful Master Raymond VanNoy. Following the meeting, the members met in the dining room of the North Hall at Mansfield State College. Through arrangements made by the late Brother James G. Morgan, a very fine meal was served. Worshipful Master VanNoy welcomed the group to this fine occasion. The outstanding event of the evening was as address given by the late Brother George Retan, telling of the history of the Lodge, the crises, the labors endured by the early members in their efforts to establish Friendship Lodge and an enduring monument to Masonry. The distinguished guests who were there included the late William E. Yeager, R. W. G. M., the late Howard Vosburg, D. D. G. M., and Brother Harold G. Strait, D.D.D.G.M. The late Brother Yeager addressed the Lodge on the duties and obligations of Masons, the importance of giving proper instruction to those joining the Lodge and to the officers, their obligations to maintain high Masonic standards.

The period of the 1950’s and 1960’s was one of progress for Friendship Lodge. The attendance was good, with members, visitors, and many dignitaries honoring Friendship Lodge with their attendance. Friendship Lodge was privileged to have Brother Harold G. Strait serve as D.D.G.M. from 1948 to 1958. In December of 1972, Brother William Farrell assumed the responsibility of D.D.G.M.

On Saturday, May 3, 1975, the One Hundred Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Friendship Lodge No. 247 was celebrated at 23 North Main Street. The meeting was conducted by Worshipful Master Howard Carlson and the Lodge was visited by the Right Worshipful Grand Master Rochester B. Woodall and other Grand Lodge Officers. A dinner was held at the Warren L. Miller Elementary School. The Committee appointed for the One Hundred Twenty-Fifth Celebration included Brothers Howard Carlson, Sr., Richard Barron, Harold Miller, Jay Foreman, Roger York and Lamar Green.

Fire seems to be the worst enemy of Friendship Lodge No. 247. In the summer of 1977 the Lodge received severe damage, due to a fire to an adjoining building at 21 North Main Street. No items belonging to the Lodge were lost, however, the Lodge was re-painted, new carpet installed and Lodge continued to meet at 23 North Main Street above VanNoy'’ Furniture Store.

During the 80’s and 90’s Lodge membership declined from a high membership of over 240 in the early 70’s. In November of 1996, another fire which occurred to a building at 25 North Main Street, on the north side of the Lodge, destroyed the Lodge room, and the building was sold. Most of the Lodge furniture was saved, along with all the records. Since this fire, Friendship Lodge No 247, has been meeting in the Lodge rooms of Bloss Lodge No. 350 in Blossburg, PA.

Friendship Lodge is involved in numerous community fund raising activities, in conjunction with the matching Grant Program from Grand Lodge. We were able to present a check for $400 to the local Reach Program whose goal is to prevent and educate area youth on drug prevention and awareness.

Another successful effort was the presentation of a $200 check to the Personal Ponies Program. This group places miniature ponies for companionship into hands of mentally and physically challenged children. Other programs include auction for the Northern Tier Childrens Home which includes all Masonic Lodges in the 17th Masonic District. Friendship Lodge has also developed two scholarships for two qualified graduating seniors from our local high school. Our last funding project raised nearly $100 to contribute to the Relay for Life Campaign for Cancer Research.

As of November 2000, four years after the fire which destroyed out Lodge Room, Friendship Lodge No. 247 continues to meet at the Lodge Rooms of Bloss Lodge No. 350 in Blossburg, PA. Our membership at present is 126 members, however there remains an excellent spirit and outlook in the Lodge. The Brothers are constantly on the outlook for a suitable structure or Lodge Rooms in Mansfield, PA so that we may return to Mansfield. The Brothers who proceeded us in the life and work of Friendship Lodge have given us a good account of their efforts. The Celebration of their faithfulness over 150 years should be followed by Rededication of our efforts, our energies, our abilities, our insights, and our opportunities to the service of Masonry.

Past Masters of Friendship Lodge No. 247
 
Josiah N. Wright 1850-51,52,55 John E. Farrer 1917 Walter Edgerton, Jr. 1960
Eli Gitchell 1853 George L. Palmer 1918 John Farrer 1961
Loren Butts 1854 Frank W. Simmons 1919 Thomas Farrer 1962
John Lang 1856-57 George R. Edgerton 1920 Carlton Rennie 1963
John Marvin 1858-59 Robert R. Palmer 1921 Walter G. Hinklie 1964
Lewis B. Smith 1860-61 Herbert Grant 1922 William G. Farrell 1965
Hiram B. Middaugh 1862 W. Albert Bates 1923 Jimmie W. Welch 1966
Mart King 1863-67-68 Harold G. Strait 1924 Lamar G. Green 1967
Reuben P. Buttles 1864-73 Ray T. Smith 1925 LaRue Tyson 1968
Samuel A. Ridgeway 1865 A. Howard Vosburg 1926 Duane Moore 1969
Henry Allen 1866-75-77-78-79 George B. Strait 1927 Richard Barron 1970
80-81-82-83-84-85 Warren L. Miller 1928 Roger York 1971
George W. Kingsley 1869 Fred E. Brooks 1929 Foster Marvin 1972
Francis M. Shaw 1870 George A. Retan 1930 Lyle Barden 1973
Alanzo M. Spencer 1871 George E. Dyer 1931 Harold Miller 1974
Jerome F. Kingsley 1872 Isaac Doughton 1932 Howard Carlson, Sr. 1975
James H. Washburn 1874-76 Philip W. Farrer 1933 Allen L. Kobbe 1976
Wentworth D. Vedder 1886-87-88-1900 Wilford W. Shaw 1934 Charles E. Pierce 1977
Frank E. VanKeuren 1889 Cecil H. Garrison 1935 William A. Herbst 1978
Frank H. Cooper 1890-91 Stewart M. Johnson 1936 David G. Garrison 1979
Milton R. Goodall 1892-93-96 Merle F. Garrison 1937 George P. Bluhm, Sr. 1980
Clarence H. Horton 1894 William E. Caswell 1938 Gerald Calkins 1981
Charles H. Ramsdell 1895 Fred A. Jupenlaz 1939 Ralph John Evans 1982
Michael Schipbanker 1897 Glen M. Gillett 1940 James H. Evans 1983
John M. Barden 1898 Glen H. Whittaker 1941 John H. Colegrave 1984
Tom W. Judge 1899 Thomas G. Harris 1942 William Craig Bailey 1985
J. Miller Clark 1901 Stephen S. Beach 1943 Jeffrey L. Evans 1986
Louis Ray Austin 1902 Wilbur W. Johns 1944-45 Craig Harting 1987
R. W. Rose 1903 Ross E. Bryan 1946 George Hilfiger 1988
Harvey J. VanNorman 1904 Walter Leach 1947 Vaughn L. Hoyt 1989
Frank E. Zimmer 1905 Hazel Witmore 1948 Keith D. Sutton 1990
Andrew Thomas Smith 1906 Cyril W. Wilson 1949 Barry Lauver 1991
Edmond A. Retan 1907 Raymond M. VanNoy 1950 Barry Lauver 1992
Morrison F. Rose 1908 John J. Hock 1951 Lane P. Smith 1993
Ray C. Longbothum 1909 John S. Marvin 1952 William A. Herbst 1994
Lynn H. Hall 1910 G. Rasmussen 1953 William A. Herbst 1995
Lewis M. Palmer 1911 Francis J. Shelley 1954 Keith D. Sutton 1996
Wilton W. Allen 1912 George Penno 1955 Winston Rumsey 1997
Wilmot D. Husted 1913 Ralph Evans 1956 Walter Bump 1998
Harvey B. Leach 1914 Marvin Johnson 1957 Jimmie W. Welch 1999
Fred W. Ehlers 1915 William Maurer 1958 Gerald K. Farrer 2000
George W. Cass 1916 Ronald G. Day 1959  

District Deputy Grand Masters From Friendship Lodge

Wentworth Vedder 1902-04

Frank Simmons 1921-22

A. Howard Vosburg 1928-47

Harold G. Strait 1948-58

William G. Farrell 1972-77

Elected Officers for the Year 2000

Worshipful Master – Gerald Farrer

Senior Warden – Thomas Hill

Junior Warden – Paul Shaw

Secretary – Walter Bump

Treasurer – William Herbst

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 22 FEB 2007
By Joyce M. Tice
Email: Joyce M. Tice
You are the  visitor since the counter was installed on 22 FEB 2007
Thanks to Al Walker for the book and Pat SMITH Raymond for typing it.