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Location: Falmouth

Chartered By: Josiah Bartlett

Charter Date: 03/13/1798 II-126

Precedence Date: 03/13/1798

Current Status: Active


  • Charter restored 1821; returned to Grand Lodge 1832 or 1833, per 175th Anniversary History, Page 1973-199.


From Vocal Companion and Masonic Register, Boston, 1802, Part II, Page 27:

  • R. W. Elijah Swift, M.
  • W. Timothy Crocker, S. W.
  • W. Stephen Swift, J. W.
  • Franck Wicks, P. M., Tr.
  • Lewis Parker, Sec.

No. of Members, 18.

  • Prince Hatch
  • Thomas Lawrence
  • Major Hatch
  • Thomas Gifford


Need living PMs

  • Frank Wicks, 1798, 1899, 1801, 1802, 1808
  • Elijah Swift, 1800, 1803-1805, 1821-1823
  • Joseph Percival, 1806
  • Major Hatch, 1807
  • Timothy Parker, 1809
  • DARK 1810-1821
  • Aaron Cornish, 1824-1829
  • unknown 1830-1832
  • DARK 1833-1856
  • George Swift, 1857
  • George W. Donaldson, 1858
  • Benjamin F. Tucker, 1859, 1860
  • William Hewins, 1861, 1865, 1869
  • Joshua C. Robinson, 1866-1868, 1872, 1873
  • Erasmus Gourd, 1870, 1871
  • Almon P. Sturgis, 1874-1876
  • Charles E. Davis, 1877, 1878, 1882
  • William H. Hewins, 1879-1881; Mem
  • George W. Fish, 1883-1885
  • Browning Swift, 1886, 1887, 1891
  • Prince D. Swift, 1888-1890
  • George A. Merrithew, 1892, 1893
  • Levi A. Howes, 1894, 1895
  • Andrews W. Davis, 1896, 1897
  • Henry C. Coggins, 1898, 1899
  • Edward A. Bragg, 1900, 1901
  • Leland B. Lane, 1902
  • Cranston F. Godfrey, 1903
  • Asa L. Pattee, 1904, 1905; SN
  • Charles A. Bailey, 1906, 1907
  • Amasa W. Baxter, 1908, 1909
  • James Nicol, 1910, 1911
  • Levi Howes, 1912, 1913
  • Leonard R. Parkinson, 1914
  • George H. Green, 1915, 1916
  • Howard L. Pierce, 1917, 1918
  • Austin F. Lawrence, 1919, 1920
  • J. Edward Nickerson, 1921, 1922
  • Sidney W. Lawrence, 1923
  • John M. Howe, 1924
  • Rawson C. Jenkins, 1925; N
  • Sumner I. Lawrence, 1926; SN
  • Arthur G. Cushman, 1927
  • Charles F. Miller, 1928
  • Charles E. L. Gifford, 1929
  • Milford R. Lawrence, 1930
  • William Chambers, 1931, 1947
  • Charles F. Holden, 1932; N
  • Leroy S. Davis, 1933
  • John Donald, 1934
  • Richard H. Hopkins, 1935
  • Cornelius P. VanTol, 1936, 1937
  • Arnold W. Dyer, 1938, 1939
  • Joseph R. Hall, 1940, 1941; N
  • Delmar R. Jenkins, 1942
  • Harry L. Crooks, 1943
  • Milton E. Williamson, 1944, 1945; SN
  • Gustave E. Anderson, 1946
  • George H. Bigelow, 1948
  • William W. Peters, 1949
  • C. Edward Hall, 1950
  • Ray D. Wells, Jr., 1951
  • Harold L. Baker, Jr., 1952, 1973
  • George H. Potter, 1953
  • Samuel H. Wright, 1954
  • Roger L. Savery, 1955
  • Sumner G. Baker, 1956
  • Russell H. Brown, 1957
  • Robert J. Tilden, 1958
  • Frank L. Nickerson, 1959
  • Frederick W. Womnelle, 1960
  • Robert C. Tait, 1961
  • Richard C. Baker, 1962, 1964
  • Evan W. Moore, 1963
  • Rollin A. Kirtley, 1965
  • Howard R. DeLano, 1966; SN
  • F. Gordon Jaynes, 1967
  • Joseph P. Gerace, 1968
  • Elisha Robbins, 1969
  • Alfred G. Irish, 1970
  • Kenneth C. Smith, 1971
  • Harold W. Hammond, 1974
  • James A. Stevens, 1975
  • Stephen L. Baker, 1976
  • George A. Marken, 1977
  • Charles A. Peterman, 1978
  • Frederick F. Jones, 1979; N
  • Ralph R. Romkey, 1980
  • J. Paul Thompson, 1981, 1982
  • Kenneth R. Ilg, 1983
  • E. Joel Peterson, 1984
  • Andras J. Nyari, 1985
  • Clifford C. Goehring, 1986
  • Donald G. Fuller, 1987
  • Rodney O. Thrasher, 1988
  • Willard A. Plummer, 1989
  • Edgar L. Kleindienst, III, 1990
  • Richard W. Seychew, 1991
  • Robert A. Walker, 1992, 1997
  • Robert A. Greenfield, 1993
  • Steven M. Loyd, 1994
  • Alan R. DeRemer, 1995
  • Sidney L. Bearon, 1996; PDDGM
  • Robert Arthur Walter, 1997
  • William Richard Sproles, 1998, 1999
  • William R. Chaston, 2000
  • Arne Grepstad, 2001; PDDGM
  • James M. Howe, 2002
  • John E. Huguenin, 2003
  • Gary E. Travis, 2004
  • Glen J. Barkley, 2005, 2006
  • Brian D. Baker, 2007
  • Donald A. Lans, 2008
  • Sean E. LeBlanc, 2009; DDGM
  • E. David Doe, 2010, 2011
  • Kevin A. Thayer, 2012


  • Petition for Charter: 1797 (Granted 1798)
  • Constitution of Lodge: 1805
  • Surrender of Charter: 1810
  • Restoration of Charter: 1856


  • 1924 (125th Anniversary)
  • 1948 (150th Anniversary)
  • 1973 (175th Anniversary)
  • 1998 (200th Anniversary)



1859 1877 1889 1899 1912 1914 1916 1918 1921 1946 1954 1957 1961 1968 1970 1974 1975 1978 1985 1988 1996 2003 2006 2009 2010 2011 2012


  • 1923 (125th Anniversary History, 1923-292; see below)
  • 1948 (150th Anniversary History, 1948-95)
  • 1973 (175th Anniversary History, 1973-197)
  • 1998 (200th Anniversary History, 1998-33); see below


From Proceedings, Page 1923-292:

By R. W. William H. Hewins.

On a petition to the M.W. Grand Lodge, and signed by Frank Wicks, Joseph Webb, Robinson Dimmick, Isaac Parker, Prince Hatch, Davis Swift, John P. Caswell, Hugh Donaldson, Timothy Crocker, Richard Bunker, James Wing and Lewis Parker, praying that a charter be granted to constitute a Masonic Lodge in Falmouth, to be known as Marine Lodge, A. F. & A. M. (Note: The Swift and Donaldson families have been represented in the Lodge for four successive generations.)

The petition was duly presented and was granted on the date of March 13, 1798. It was signed by the following Grand Officers: Josiah Bartlett, M. W. Grand Master; Samuel Dunn, R. W. Deputy Grand Master; Joseph Laughton, R. W. Senior Grand Warden; William Little, R. W. Junior Grand Warden; Daniel Oliver, Grand Secretary.

The first meeting, dated March 26, 1798, was at the house of Stephen Swift, being the old house next east of the Town Farm. At this time the following officers were chosen:

  • Frank Wicks, Worshipful Master
  • Hugh Donaldson, Senior Warden
  • Richard Bunker, Junior Warden
  • Frank Wicks, Treasurer pro tem.
  • Hugh Donaldson, Secretary pro tem.
  • James Wing, Tyler.

During this meeting the following vote was passed: "Voted that every visiting brother should be allowed to make one visit free of expenses, but every other visit he should pay 25 cents, unless otherwise determined by vote. They continued to meet at Brother Swift's until sickness in his family compelled them to meet elsewhere.

They next met at the house of Samuel Shiverick, in the southwest upper chamber. Brother Shiverick's house is the old house next west to the Post Office in Falmouth Village.

They continued to meet in dwelling houses in various parts of the village until the new building was completed in 1801.

A meeting of the subscribers for the new building was held September, 1798.

"We the subscribers jointly and severally agree and engage to pay the sums annexed to our names by us subscribed into the hands of the committee who may be appointed to carry on the building of a School-house where the old one now stands.
"Which is divided into eighty shares, in company with the Masonic Society if they choose to join us, also the town so far as they may agree for the benefit of a town house.
A list of subscribers for building a School House in the town of Falmouth and what number of shares each one has and money paid one whole share being $7.42.

  • Timothy Crocker, 2
  • Frank Wicks, 2
  • Elijah Swift, 2
  • Weston Jenkins, 2
  • Ichabod Hatch, 2
  • Thomas Shiverick, 1
  • Zimri Tobey, 2
  • Timothy Parker, 2
  • Lot Price, 2
  • Samuel Lewis, 2
  • Thomas Jones, 2
  • Samuel Shiverick, 2
  • Parnel Butler, 1
  • Paul Price, 2
  • Silas Lawrence, 2
  • Shubael Hatch, Jr., 2
  • Thomas Bourne, 2
  • Joseph Snow, 1
  • Robinson Dimmick, 1
  • Joseph Crocker, 2
  • Joseph Hatch, 2
  • Zimri Bourne, 1
  • Joseph Mayhew, 1
  • William Nye, 1
  • Joseph Crocker, 1
  • Timothy Crocker, Jr., 2
  • David Swift, 2
  • Hugh G. Donaldson, 2
  • Consider Hatch, 2
  • Braddock Dimmick, 2
  • Major Hatch, 1
  • Temperance Palmer, 1
  • Thatcher Lewis, 1
  • Job Parker, 1
  • Prince Dimmick, 2
  • Joseph Palmer, Jr., 1
  • Benjamin Palmer, Jr., 1
  • Ebenezer Weeks, 1
  • Nathaniel Lewis, 2
  • Joseph Bourne, 2
  • Stephen Swift, 1
  • Richard Lake, 1
  • Henry Lincoln Warren, 2
  • Gifford Benjamin Butler, 2
  • Moses Hatch, 1
  • Matthew Price, 2
  • David Wood, 2
  • Ephraim Parker, 1
  • Joseph Parker, Jr., 1

Eighty Shares, Total $592.80. The Proprietors of the Schoolhouse met at the house of Shubael Hatch, Innholder in Falmouth, on Tuesday, October 1, 1799, and passed the following votes:

  • "Voted, that the Proprietors of the Schoolhouse and the Masonic Society complete the outside of the building and lay the floors equally between them.
  • "Voted, One half of the money be paid down, and the other half when the outside of said house is completed.
    • Elijah Swift's proposal being the lowest he was awarded the contract, it being for $675.
  • "Voted, that Capt. Timothy Crocker receive the money and pay it over to Elijah Swift, and sign the agreement with the said Swift for completing the building agreeable to contract."

At a Proprietors' meeting, held at the Inn of Shubael Hatch, August 19, 1800, it was voted that the sum of $15 that the old building sold for, be paid to Elijah Swift for two feet in addition to the width of the new Schoolhouse. On completion of the new building the Town occupied the lower rooms for school purposes.

The Lodge occupied the upper room, and continued to occupy it until about 1810, and then for some reason not given, they returned their Charter to the Grand Lodge, where it remained until 1820. ("A communication was received from the officers and members of Marine Lodge, at Falmouth, representing the situation of that Lodge; requesting leave to return their Charter to the parent Grand Lodge, and offering as reason for so doing, the impoverished state of their finances, the absence of many of their Brethren, and other inabilities which prevented their meeting at present and discharging their regular dues. The members of Marine Lodge were mostly seafaring men." — F. W. H. September 10, 1810; I Mass. 442.

Then it was again returned to the Lodge and they continued to meet until about 1832 or 1833. Then the Charter, working tools, and jewels were again returned to the Grand Lodge and remained there until 1857.

After giving up their Charter the building was sold to Thomas Swift who rented the lower rooms for store purposes, and the upper hall for a school room. It was so occupied until a new Schoolhouse was built.

In 1857 a petition was drawn up by the old members of the Lodge and forwarded to the Grand Lodge asking that their Charter and records be returned and permission given to reorganize once more. The petition was granted and a new Lodge was formed under the old Charter. The first meeting of the Lodge after the Charter had been returned was held at the house of Bro. Albert Nye, opened on the first degree. His house was the one now owned by Harry V. Lawrence. Applications having been received from James T. Dillingham, Thomas L. Swift and Solomon II. Baxter, wishing to become members, they were balloted for and accepted, and came forward and received the Entered Apprentice degree.

A dispensation having been granted for sufficient reasons by the District Deputy Grand Master, who was present, the above named persons were Passed and Raised to the sublime degree of Master Masons. The officers chosen were regularly installed by the District Deputy Grand Master; George W. Swift, Worshipful Master; Benj. F. Tucker, Senior Warden; George W. Donaldson, Junior Warden; William Hewins, Treasurer; Frederick Davis, Secretary; James P. Garvin, Senior Deacon; Thomas L. Swift, Junior Deacon; Solomon H. Baxter, Tyler. Visiting Brothers present: B. S. Pope, District Deputy Grand Master; George Marston; Major S. B. Phinney of Barnstable; Silas J. Bourne; Ferdinand G. Kelley; Bro. Childs; Bro. Hallett; Bro. Bearse; Bro. Simmons; Bro. Baker; all from James Otis Lodge, Barnstable.

Brother Nye was very active in getting the Charter returned and after the first few meetings at his house the Lodge hired and fitted the rooms over what is now the Falmouth Coal Office. They remained there a few years, when they bought this present building, the same that they had occupied in 1801.

Marine Lodge has now the original Charter granted by the Grand Lodge, dated 1798.

  • It owns the building it now occupies.
  • It has a Charity Fund of a few thousand dollars.
  • It has one hundred and eighty-six members.
  • It has sixteen Past Masters, and two Past District Deputy Grand Masters living at the present time.


From Proceedings, Page 1998-33:

By Wor. Robert A. Greenfield.

We learn from Falmouth tradition, as well as from the archives of Grand Lodge, that it was in the heart of a few outstanding men consisting of a Doctor and a few Sea Captains to build a Masonic Lodge here in Falmouth. These men petitioned M. W. Paul Revere to constitute a Masonic Lodge in the small town of Falmouth. However, it was M. W. Josiah Bartlett who finally granted Marine Lodge its Charter on March 13, 1798.

Marine Lodge is the twenty-fifth oldest lodge in the State of Massachusetts and the third oldest on Cape Cod (King Hiram's Lodge in Provincetown and Adams Lodge in Wellfleet being the oldest on the Cape.) The first meeting of Marine Lodge was held on March 26, 1798 in the home of Stephen Swift, who was probably the only member of the Craft to be chosen Senior Steward in his own living room. A granite monument, which sits on the grassy knoll in front of the Gus Canty Recreation Center, was erected to the memory of the first meeting place. On the monument is a brass plaque stating that the first meeting site sat 200 hundred feet to the east of the marker. The place is now the site of Falmouth Inn, across the street from the Dairy Queen.

A sickness in the Swift family made it necessary to move the meeting place to the home of Samuel Shiverick, where it remained until 1801. The site of his home is now occupied by the Falmouth Post Office. The construction of the first Lodge building was a joint venture between the members of Marine Lodge and the Town of Falmouth. Shares in the building were sold; fifty Marine Lodge members bought eighty shares. In 1801, the Falmouth School Board agreed to share in the cost of the building with the Masonic Society. Wor. Elijah Swift, the second Master of Marine Lodge, received the contract to build the structure. Bro. Timothy Crocker received the money from the subscribers and co-signed the contract on their behalf, with Wor. Swift. The Lodge occupied the upper floor and Falmouth School District used the lower floor.

The period between 1801 to 1820 were the first years of darkness for Marine Lodge, largely due to the fact that most of the members were seamen and, therefore, not in town often. Our Charter was returned in 1820 and there is no record of meetings held until 1824. In 1832 or 1833, the Charter, jewels, and working tools of Marine Lodge were returned to the Grand Lodge and remained there until 1857.

In 1857, some of the older members of Marine Lodge petitioned the Grand Lodge to have the Charter restored. After it was returned, meetings were held in Albert Nye's home, which is now known as Mostly Hall. The members were unable to meet in the original Lodge building as it had passed into private hands. At that first meeting, with the District Deputy Grand Master present, three applications were accepted. With dispensation having been given, the Lodge proceeded to confer all three degrees on the three candidates. In addition, the Lodge elected and installed the new officers.

After moving from Bro. Nye's home, Marine Lodge met over the Falmouth Coal Company's office. In 1862, Marine Lodge bought the original Lodge building from the International Order of Odd Fellows, bringing us home at last.

During the latter half of the nineteenth century, Marine Lodge experienced a resurgence in membership as did Masonry nationally. Many believe that the agonies of the Civil War played a part in this resurgence causing men to reestablish their Masonic ties.

Since the establishment of Camp Edwards and Otis Air Force Base, Marine Lodge has conferred degrees to many military men stationed away from home as a courtesy to other Lodges. Many servicemen joined Marine Lodge and an untold many others visited regularly. This spirit of brotherhood continues today.

In 1935, construction of the present lodge building was started and a cornerstone was laid by M. W. Claude L. Allen, who returned a year later to dedicate the new building.

In 1987, Wor E. Joel Peterson and a committee of fellow Marine Lodge members, developed a plan to promote Masonic Awareness. The purpose was twofold: to inform the general public of the Masonic heritage that existed in Falmouth and to inform potential candidates of the procedures to become a member of this or any well governed lodge. They sponsored a Pre-Candidate breakfast, which explained the workings of Freemasonry. This breakfast produced 22 candidates for 1988 and has become the model and foundation for Masonic Awareness in Massachusetts.

The Lodge hall provides facilities for the meetings of the Order of Eastern Star, the Order of Rainbow Girls, and the order of DeMolay, as well as other groups that have had the need to use the building for various meetings throughout the years. We have two commercial tenants also that have helped to make it financially possible for us to remain on Main Street. Physically, the Lodge continues to occupy the same site as the original building which was lovingly constructed in 1801 and reconstructed in 1935-1936. In 1990, the building was greatly enhanced by the addition of air conditioning in the Lodge room. In 1991, new vinyl siding and new thermal windows were added to the beauty of the building.

Many Masters have given much of themselves and their time in effort to keep the building beautiful and in good repair. Wor. George H. Peters brought us new lighting; others brought us heating, ventilation, and a dining room. In 1972, Wor. Kenneth C. Smith did a renovation of the inside of the building.
In 1988, Wor. Willard A. Plummer gave our building a new face lift. Each of
the other Past Masters have provided his own unique contribution in
providing us with wisdom, strength, and beauty.

In 1923, the 125th anniversary of Marine Lodge, we boasted 186 members; in 1948, the 150th anniversary, we had grown to 268 members; in 1973, the 175th anniversary, we had expanded to 416 members. Today, we
 remain essentially at the same number, with 402 members. About half of our
 members reside in the Falmouth and the surrounding area; the others are
 dispersed over the face of the earth.

By 1992, Marine Lodge has had eleven District Deputy Grand Masters of which three are still living: R. W. Frederick F. Jones, R. W. Howard R. Delano, and RW E. Joel Peterson. We have thirty-two living Past Masters, most of whom are still living in the Falmouth area and attend Lodge meetings regularly.

December 27th, 1992, Marine Lodge saw the advancement of one of our own members elevated to the position of Grand Master, Most Worshipful David W. Lovering. During his term of office, March 8, 1994 we saw the recognition of Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Masons.

In 1996 our own R. W. E. Joel Peterson was elected to office of Grand Senior Warden for the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts. In 1997 another one of our members, R. W. Peter R. Smith, was elected Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge.

We cannot forget the Master who received us into the Craft and the Brethren who have spent many long hours instructing us during our arduous undertaking of learning what it takes to become a good Mason. Let us not forget, but be ever mindful, that all of us, no matter to what plateau we ascend, we are all but workers in the temple, in our own way.

So Mote It Be.


By Bro. Ted Huguenin.

In order to understand what life was like in the town of Falmouth at the time of the founding of Marine Lodge, it is necessary to go back to the turbulence of the Revolution and its aftermath. The Revolution was particularly hard on Falmouth for a number of reasons. A lot of its wealth was expended during this period due to the negative impacts of the war on many of its maritime means of livelihood and contributions to the war effort. Livestock was also depleted due to British plundering. Falmouth was literally on the front lines, with British warships and landing parties in the immediate area for much of the war. British interest was due to Falmouth's strategic position as a chokepoint for sea-borne communications and shipping (there was no railroad, highway system or Cape Cod Canal). Falmouth was also the strategic staging point for patriot political and military efforts to hold Martha's Vineyard, the Elizabeth Islands and even Nantucket. The British bases in the immediate area were in Tarpaulin Cove and Vineyard Haven, from which smaller vessels called "shaving-mills," of up to three masts, with a cannon on the bow and well-armed crews of about 25, roamed the coast looking for provisions and livestock, as well as patriot shipping. They were fast and maneuverable. They often landed to raid individual farms and homesteads. Falmouth has a long coast line, which was very difficult to monitor and protect.

It was a war of long uneventful watches, false alarms, raid and counter raid, ambush and mixed loyalties. Only a fraction of these events were even recorded (usually due to some noteworthy or particular actions of an individual). There were clearly Tories who knew well the area and its people that sided with the British. These problems were compounded by the fact that the town was not self-supporting with respect to food staples. Some of the firefights involved ships with food stuffs, which sometimes changed hands several times. The local militia, under the superb leadership of Major (later General) Joseph Dimmick, was usually successful in these endeavors, which involved both land and sea actions.

British frustrations with Falmouth led to the planned attack of April 3, 1779. Without prior warning from a known "Tory" on Pasque Island, the town would have been taken and burned. Four militia companies responded, Falmouth Center, North Falmouth, Sandwich Center and Sandwich Snake Pond, totaling about 200 men opposing an assault force of about the same number. It was a one-sided affair. There were no local casualties. The cannonading of the defenders and the town did little real damage and started no fires (believed due to the spring thaw). The assault forces being in open boats, while the militia was behind earthworks, were reported to have taken fifteen killed and twenty wounded, including the Tory commander. Interestingly, a very similar scenario was to be repeated during the war of 1812, involving the British warship Nimrod with about the same results.

The situation in Falmouth after the revolution mirrored the rest of the country but was probably somewhat worse due to the proximity and duration of local war activity. There were huge national and state debts, confused and changing national governmental structure and a war ravished economy. The general confusion was great, there were disagreements and conflicts about what should be done (demonstrated by Shay's rebellion of 1786 in this state). Economic recovery did not start immediately. The new Constitution was ratified in 1788; Wor. George Washington was sworn in as the first President in 1789; and Congress passed in 1790 an act to redeem war-time paper money at $1 for $100 of paper. The State forgave Falmouth's unpaid Revolutionary War assessments, due to particular hardship. Falmouth was one of only four towns on the Cape to be so designated. These events worked to stabilize the situation and 1790 started a decade of prosperity for Falmouth.

The first U.S. Census of 1790 (comparable 1800 census data are in parenthesis) lists 217 (268) families, 783 (910) free white males, 816 (931) free white females, with 38 (41) "free other" for a total of 1,637 (1882) free souls in Falmouth. The 1790 Census summary lists no slaves in Massachusetts, but there is reason to believe that this may not be completely true for Falmouth (detailed records indicate 2). The national numbers in 1790 were a total of 3,893,635 people, which included 694,280 slaves. The town's population was divided up pretty much as it is today, with a town center around the Green and eastward along Main Street, population clusters in Woods Hole, West Falmouth, North Falmouth and East Falmouth. The number of families indicates the number of houses in the whole Town. A road map of 1795 shows the Town's main roads as they are today, with Route 28 and Woods Hole Road, Main Street, Route 28 to Hyannis, Sandwich Road and Old Barnstable Road.

The economic activities in the town involved agriculture, hay production of about 500 tons/yr (1802), sheep, cattle and orchards particularly being noted. There were eight mills in the town (1800), one a fulling mill and the others grist and possibly saw mills. Most were wind powered. There was also substantial salt production of 35,000 bushels/yr (1800), mostly located around Salt Pond, and maritime industries. There were 60 vessels owned in Falmouth averaging 55 tons in 1800. Six were fishing vessels (two fishing the Straits of Belle Isle and four fishing the shoals) and the rest were coasters. The majority of the coasters were involved in lumber and trade with the southern states, especially the ports of Charleston, Beaufort and Savannah. During this era many "mechanics" from the town went to the South in the fall and returned in the spring or early summer. These were the original "snow birds." "Mechanics" were skilled workers primarily in wood. They were probably mostly ship/house wrights, and carpenters. There are also indications that "prefabbed" houses may have been shipped south during this period along with the workers to assemble them. These winters in the South were stated to be a lucrative enterprise for the skilled craftsmen involved. The ship building era associated with offshore whaling hit Falmouth much later, starting about 1820. However, Nantucket had begun whaling about a hundred years before Falmouth. Men from Falmouth undoubtedly shipped out on ships from Nantucket and other ports. There was local shipbuilding. A shipyard did exist in Quissett harbor in 1802 and West Falmouth and Waquoit are also mentioned in this regard. The substantial amount of coastal shipping vessels used during this era had to be built somewhere in the area, but specific information is lacking.

The religious life of Falmouth during the 1790's was dominated by only two sects: the "official" Congregational Church and the Quakers. Prior to the revolution there were only two exceptions Cape-wide, both Baptist, one in Harwich (1756) and the other in Barnstable (1771). The Methodists did not appear in Falmouth until the start of the 19th century, with the first meeting house in 1808 and first church in 1811. The first Episcopalian Church in Falmouth was The Church of the Messiah started in Woods Hole in 1852. The first Catholic Church, St. Joseph's in Woods Hole, wasn't founded until much later in 1872. It was not religious freedom but rather religious tolerance, and Falmouth was more tolerant than many other New England towns. It wasn't until the 19th century (petition to the General Court and a town vote, both in 1810) that Quakers and Episcopalian/Methodists were relieved of having to pay a church tax to support the local Congregational Church. However, as late as 1825 Congregational Church records tell of a committee appointed "to look up delinquents and bring them back to their duty."

The decade saw a number of innovations in the Town. The first Post Office was established in 1795. The first Postmaster was Capt. Joseph Palmer, a former Revolutionary War Militia Company Commander. An inoculation Hospital for smallpox was established by Dr. Francis Wicks (Charter Member and first Master of Marine Lodge) at Nobska Point in 1797. It was isolated, due to the skepticism about the viability of the new procedure, with the nearest population being about ten houses in Woods Hole. There had been a smallpox hospital on Great Hill (Falmouth Heights), as early as 1777. Presumably it was an isolated site at that time. It was run by Dr. George Hugh Donaldson (Charter member and first Senior Warden of Marine Lodge) who came from England in about 1776. Dr. Donaldson was instrumental in bringing the vaccination technique to Falmouth by his correspondence with Dr. Jenner in England. Tradition says he overcame opposition by inoculating his own children and sending them to stay with small pox patients. On a different line, the first Poor House in Falmouth was established on Shore Street in 1800.

There were a few contentious town issues during the 1790's. One issue involved problems resulting from animals running free. This got to the point that a town ordinance was passed in 1795 to ban pigs running lose. A town "Hog Officer" was appointed to enforce this statute. An other recurring issue involved the "center" of town. The town had grown eastward from the Town Green extending along Main Street. The controversy was about where to place the new meeting house and Congregational Church. The issue was finally settled by building two meeting houses, although the East End Meeting House was not a separate congregation until 1821. The first was completed on the Town Green (actually on the green, not its present location) in 1796 and the "town bell" made by M.W. Paul Revere was bought and installed the same year. In 1799 a town ordinance was passed to ring the bell at 6 AM, noon and 9 PM. This bell is presently in the tower of the church. The East End Meeting House was completed in 1797. Another issue involved the herring fishery, which was used primarily as a source of bait and was of some economic consequence. The controversy involved the damming of the streams for mills or other purposes, preventing the fish from going upstream to multiply. The core of the issue was conflicting rights of property owners versus public rights of access to the common resource fishery. The General Court in 1798 passed a law "regulating the fishing of alewives in Falmouth". Feelings got so high that in 1800 some town's people loaded a town cannon on the Green and then filled it with herring (aimed at someone's house maybe?). Unfortunately, when fired the canon burst, killing one person. There were also sufficient disagreements and unhappiness with town policy that the northern part of the town petitioned in 1797 to be allowed to secede from Falmouth and join Sandwich. This was strongly opposed by the rest of the Town in the General Court and the petition was denied. Interestingly, these issues are not that different from current town politics.

Falmouth had been criticized by the State for deficiencies in its educational system both before and after the Revolution. The first permanent schools were not established until 1767. Before this time a teacher rotated around Falmouth teaching for 3 months in each "quarter" of the Town. The 1767 change established both a "man's school" and a "woman's school". The women's school was a form of "lower" school for younger less-accomplished students. The town in 1788 voted 140 pounds for a grammar school. However, The first specifically built school building of record in the town was built by private subscription in 1800 by Wor. Elijah Swift (second Master of Marine Lodge) for $675. It was a combination school and Masonic Temple for the newly chartered Masonic Lodge of Falmouth. This building still exists and forms the rear part of the current Marine Lodge.

Well, what was the year 1798, the year Marine Lodge was Chartered, specifically like in Falmouth? The second President, John Adams, was in national office. The Governor of Massachusetts was Increase Sumner, elected the year before and destined to die the year after. The Selectmen of Falmouth were Jonathan Robinson, Samuel Nye, Paul Swift, Nathaniel Shiverick and Joseph Hatch. The Town was well into an era of prosperity, largely based on coastal shipping and other maritime endeavors. This era was to go on until about 1805 when European wars started affecting American maritime activities leading to the War of 1812 with Britain. There was a disquieting short quasi-war at sea with revolutionary France during the year of 1798, involving privateers on both sides. Capt. Rowland Crocker of Falmouth, in command of an American privateer, fought a battle at sea with a superior French vessel. He was severely wounded and his First Officer surrendered. He survived, was taken to France as a prisoner and got to shake the hand of Napoleon. He later had a long and distinguished maritime career as a ship's Captain. Rowland Crocker was the son of Bro. Timothy Crocker,(Charter Member of Marine Lodge) probably the Towns most influential citizen of the era who lived on The Green in the house later bought by Wor. Elijah Swift.

Marine Lodge was founded during a period of growth, prosperity and relative peace. This was a Falmouth whose form and structure were not fundamentally different from the present time. The main differences today are — much greater scale, with greater diversity and a large number of tourists.

Recommended References

  • Freeman, Frederick, 1858. The History of Cape Cod: The Annals of Barnstable County and of its Several Towns, Including the District of Mashpee, Vol. I (803 pages), Vol. II (803 pages), Geo. C. Rand & Avery, Boston, (Chapter in Vol. 11 on Falmouth,

pp. 415 - 488).

  • Geoffrey, Theodore, (Dorothy Wayman), 1928. Suckanesset: A History of Falmouth Massachusetts, 188 pages, Reprinted by Falmouth Historical Society with Index, 1992.
  • Jenkins, Charles W., 1889. Three Lectures on the Early History of the Town of Falmouth Covering the Time from its Settlement to 1812, Lectures Delivered in 1843, 113 pages and Index, published by L. F. Clarke, Steam Printers (The Local Press), Falmouth, MA
  • Smith, Mary Lou, 1986. The Book of Falmouth, A Tricentennial Celebration 1686-1986, 582 pages, Published by Falmouth Historical Commission.
  • Deyo, Simeon L., 1890. History of Barnstable County. 1010 pages, published by H.W. Blake $ Co., N.Y., Chapter XX — Falmouth (pp. 632 - 706)


  • 1924 (Participation in Hyannis cornerstone laying, 1924-371)



1803: District 3 (South Shore and Cape Cod)

1821: District 11

1856: District 8

1867: District 14 (New Bedford)

1883: District 27 (Nantucket)

1911: District 31 (Nantucket)

1927: District 32 (Hyannis)

2003: District 20


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Massachusetts Lodges