- 1 PENTUCKET LODGE
- 1.1 NOTES
- 1.1.1 PENTUCKET PROFILES, 2007
- 18.104.22.168 PREFACE
- 22.214.171.124 THE EARLY DAYS
- 126.96.36.199 CONSECRATION OF PENTUCKET LODGE
- 188.8.131.52 REVOLUTIONARY WAR
- 184.108.40.206 EARLY MEMBERS
- 220.127.116.11 CHARTER RESTORED
- 18.104.22.168 NEW LEADERSHIP
- 22.214.171.124 BENJAMIN BUTLER
- 126.96.36.199 MOTHER LODGE OF LOWELL
- 188.8.131.52 MASONRY IS PERSONAL
- 1.1.1 PENTUCKET PROFILES, 2007
- 1.2 PAST MASTERS
- 1.1 NOTES
- 2 REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
- 2.1 ANNIVERSARIES
- 2.2 VISITS BY GRAND MASTER
- 2.3 BY-LAW CHANGES
- 2.4 HISTORY
- 2.5 OTHER
- 2.6 EVENTS
- 2.7 GRAND LODGE OFFICERS
- 2.8 OTHER BROTHERS
- 2.9 DISTRICTS
- 2.10 LINKS
Chartered By: Timothy Bigelow
Charter Date: 03/09/1807 II-353
Precedence Date: 03/09/1807
Current Status: Active
Note that Lowell was formed from Chelmsford and did not exist as an entity when this lodge was chartered.
PENTUCKET PROFILES, 2007
This material was provided by Rt. Wor. Bro. H. Mark Leonard, PDDGM, Senior Grand Deacon 2016, and originally appeared in lodge notices. It is included here with his permission.
On a hot July day in the summer of 2012, I received a call from the Master of Pentucket Lodge, Wor. Jason Standley. He and his Junior Warden, Bro Shawn Smith, had been cleaning out an old closet storage area and found some Lodge memorabilia that they just didn’t recognize, so they asked me to swing by and tell them if anything was worth saving. Being an amateur historian, and inveterate pack rat, every thing is worth saving, so I decided to go by and see what I could salvage. Other than a few old photos, there wasn’t much there. So after I grumbled about a general lack of appreciation for historical documents, we identified a pile of junk that should have been thrown away years ago.
It was just as I was getting ready to leave that Jason said, “If you want to see old documents, let’s go up to the fourth floor.” Jay showed me a row of old rusty wall lockers full of documents, one for each Lodge in the building. After moving aside someone’s chair restoration project so that we could open the door to the locker, I was in shock. There before me was virtually every written record of Pentucket Lodge, Secretary and Treasurer, from over 200 years of existence.
I rummaged through to locate the earliest and there it was. An old leather bound record book full of hand written meeting records kept by the Secretary, beginning in 1822. I spent hours searching for the book from 1807 to 1821, but it turns out, there never was one. Those records are lost. I brought the three oldest books home with me, and thus began my first real research project with primary documents.
I had graduated college as a History major, but never really did anything in the field. I was however, a voracious reader and loved to trace people and events through biography readings, not text books full of dates and places. I had already read a few books about the local area, and began to recognize several of the same names and places in the Pentucket records. A picture started emerging of real people and places that I knew. People who formed the community that I had grown up in. Families that still live in Pawtucketville and attend the same church that so many in these dusty old books had created; from the first Master in 1807 through to myself. Names and people that have found their way into historical texts of the Industrial Revolution in America, once met together, laughed together, and shared Masonic experiences together in Pentucket Lodge.
The result is this short collection of historical profiles of our early lodge members. I’ve tried to place people into their environment, and make the family and fraternal connections that history books ignore. History doesn’t just happen, people make things happen. For over 200 years, Pentucket Lodge has been molding the lives of some of the most prominent people of the area. I’ve tried to capture some of them.
THE EARLY DAYS
We all know that Pentucket Lodge traces its founding back to 1807, but not many realize that Chelmsford and Billerica were already 150 years old by 1807, while Dracut had been established for over 100 years. Even earlier, the Rev. John Eliot in 1652 received a charter for the village of Wamesit (which became part of Tewksbury) at the juncture of the Merrimack and Concord rivers for his “Praying Indians”. The area around the Great Falls of the Merrimack was steeped in heritage, long before Pentucket Lodge.
Passaconoway, the great Chief of the Pennacook nation, established his lodge high on the hill overlooking the falls, where UMass Lowell North Campus now sits. The Great Falls were sacred fishing grounds for the entire Abenaki nation for generations. The Abenaki name for the falls was “PAWTUCKET”, while the lesser falls downstream where Haverhill is now located were called “PENTUCKET”. Passaconaway’s son and successor, Wonalancit, made his home with the Wamesit tribe at the juncture of the Concord and the Merrimack. This was the area where the Rev. John Eliot established his first mission to the “Praying Indians” in about 1650, which made him a legend in colonial New England. He was soon followed by settlers from the greater Boston area, eager for the opportunity to lay claim to virgin land almost free for the asking. All they needed to do was to settle in the area and establish a church.
Chelmsford and Billerica received charters in 1653. Both villages were on the south side of the Merrimack, with Billerica lying east of the Concord and Chelmsford to the west. Everything north of the Merrimack was still Pennacook land, until Dracut received her charter in 1701. Early in 1659, the very first settlers of Dracut lived in Chelmsford, and travelled across the river in canoe daily to farm their land. The north side was not safe for Englishmen. It wasn’t until 1701 that the original families from Chelmsford, the Colburn and the Varnum clans, soon followed by the Richardsons, Hildreths and others were well enough established on the north side of the river to petition for their own charter, and became the town of Drawcutt. Much of what we now know as Pelham NH was then a part of Dracut MA. The provincial boundary moved several times in that era, until about 1750 or so.
The early families of Dracut began holding their own Sunday services at the homes of either the Colburns or Varnums. They were led by pastors of the Chelmsford congregation. This went on until approximately 1700, when the settlers formed their own “Pawtucket Congregation” and built a small meeting house, used for worship and as the first schoolhouse. Located near the north side of the ferry crossing, the building, known as the Colburn Mission, was on Varnum Avenue, near the corner of Lexington Avenue. The Varnum homestead was about a half mile east - still there today, occupied by a Varnum - while the Colburn garrison house was a half mile west on what is known as Old Ferry Road, about where the Lowell Lodge of Elks hall is located today.
The river was still a major obstacle to development until 1795 with the creation of the first bridge across the Merrimack, located at the Falls, right where the current bridge stands today. The original proprietors of the toll bridge were Parker Varnum, Col. James Varnum, and Col. Louis Ansart, all of whom had served during the War. They further enhanced the value of their bridge by creating the Mammoth Road from the north end of the bridge to Concord, N. H.; the first surveyed highway north of the river. By 1803, they had competition for commercial traffic from the new Middlesex Canal, which opened up water transport from the Merrimack, just west of the falls, to the Port of Boston. The stage was now set for commercial development that would become the Town of Lowell by 1826.
Masonry had also been growing in the region during this time. First established under Henry Price by the Grand Lodge of England in 1733; Dr. Joseph Warren had been proclaimed Provincial Grand Master by the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1769. The United Grand Lodge of Massachusetts had been formed in 1792 with John Cutler as the first Grand Master. He was followed by Paul Revere, who expanded the constituent lodges from 22 to about 60. Masons from this area had to travel to Groton or Concord, to attend meetings, both of which were 15 miles away. That meant an overnight trip in those days. Consequently, in 1807, 15 local Masons petitioned Grand Lodge for a new Charter in Chelmsford. Seven were from Chelmsford, four from Dracut, and four from Tewksbury. Our Lodge folklore claims that the charter originally was requested to be named as PAWTUCKET Lodge, but came back as PENTUCKET. This is substantiated by Rev. Wilkes Allen, one of the Charter members in his official Chelmsford Town history written in 1820.
Who were these men and what were the early days like? What about those who would follow and what influence did they have on Lowell’s development? Pentucket Lodge has a rich heritage in Greater Lowell history, some of which can be discovered from old Lodge meeting records. Neighbors, family, Masonic brothers are who make up the membership of a Lodge, and the fabric of a community. In the next few months, I hope to explore some of these personal connections and contributions from some of the famous and not so famous men who make up our PENTUCKET LODGE HERITAGE.
CONSECRATION OF PENTUCKET LODGE
The history of Pentucket Lodge is the story of her people. Who among us can fail to acknowledge the influence of a cousin, a neighbor, a father or a brother as we carry out our fraternal, civic, or church obligations. So it was in the early 1800’s society near the Pawtucket Falls. A conversation with the Town Clerk could shift to a decision by the church Deacon, be not to the liking of the Captain of the local militia, and perhaps be arbitrated by the local Squire and civil magistrate; and all this became so confusing to the young farmer listening in, since for him, there was only one relationship in the conversation; each was his uncle. So it was with the founding fathers of Pentucket Lodge in March of 1807.
The official history says that fifteen Master Masons submitted a petition to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for the formation of a new Lodge located near the falls. The Charter was signed and returned by the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Timothy Bigelow, one of four Grand Masters from St. Paul Lodge in Groton. Bro. Isaac Colburn of Dracut was appointed Master Pro-Tem until such time as the Lodge could be duly consecrated and officers properly installed. The Lodge operated under this dispensation until October of 1809; 2 years and 8 months.
The fifteen charter members were from Dracut, Chelmsford, and Tewksbury. Dracut was everything north of the Merrimack, Tewksbury was the part of Lowell that is east of the Concord River (in 1800 the Memorial Auditorium and Saints Hospital would be in Tewksbury), and Chelmsford was all land west of the Concord and south of the Merrimack. The fifteen were: Moses Fletcher, Jonathan Fletcher, Benjamin Fiske, Wilkes Allen, Jonas Clark, Hezikiah Thorndike, Daniel Hayden from Chelmsford; Isaac Colburn, Jonathan Hildreth, Thomas Benson, Dudley Spofford from Dracut; Ebenezer Flint, John Chapman, Jeremiah Chapman, Pearce Rea, from Tewksbury. Without a doubt, they were all family, friends, neighbors, and Masonic brothers, well known to each other, seeking something much more than a shorter journey.
From March through December 1807, the Lodge met informally at a variety of members' homes. The first full meeting was recorded on December 10, 1807 in Whiting’s Hall. This “Public House” was owned by Erasmus Whiting and was located on the corner of Pawtucket and School Streets, at the base of the new bridge. The original structure is gone, replaced by the mansion of Frederick Ayer, which became the Franco-American School, still standing. In May of 1809, the Lodge moved across the street to the hall owned by Jonathan Fletcher, the Senior Warden.
It seems from Lodge records that Fletcher’s Hall, across School Street from Whiting’s Hall, was eventually purchased by Joel Spaulding, the grandfather of a soon to be Pentucket member of the same name. This building was later purchased by the Molly Varnum Chapter of the D. A. R., converted to a museum, and is still open today. They remained at Fletcher’s Hall / Spaulding House until 1816, when they moved to the Simeon Spaulding House in Chelmsford center, still standing today, but known as the Fiske House. It was at that time a tavern and stagecoach stop along the Boston Post Road.
A meeting of Grand Lodge was convened at Whiting’s Hall on the afternoon of December 10, 1809. Timothy Whiting, son of the hall owner, and District Deputy Grand Master, had been appointed by Most Worshipful Grand Master Isaiah Thomas as the Acting Grand Master for the day. On his suite were two soon to be Past Masters of St Paul Lodge of Groton, Wor. John Abbot and Wor. Caleb Butler, both of whom would become Grand Master in the near future. St Paul Lodge sent a large delegation as they viewed themselves to be the “Mother Lodge” for Pentucket. Pentucket convened their Lodge in the Spaulding House across the street. The entire group met at the base of the bridge, and formed a procession behind Grand Lodge to Pawtucket Church, on the north side where the church now stands. It was the custom to consecrate a new Lodge in a church, usually the home parish of the Master. Isaac Colburn was a member, and his family were founders of the “West Parish Society” of Dracut, which became known as Pawtucket Congregational Church. Isaac Colburn and Jonathan Hildreth were direct descendants of the original families of Dracut. The Lodge was consecrated, and officers duly installed. Pentucket was now officially entitled to do work and raise candidates. Isaac Colburn remained Master for five years. The first two candidates were Artemas Holden and Dr. Israel Hildreth, soon to be joined by Jefferson Bancroft, Charles Blood, and Daniel Balch, all names that will be discussed later.
With the recent completion of the PAWTUCKET bridge, the construction of fine homes and Public Houses along PAWTUCKET Street, the opening of the Middlesex Canal, with its connection to the Merrimack river just above PAWTUCKET Falls, and the growth of the area known as PAWTUCKET Village, it does seem plausible that Rev. Wilkes Allen, one of the original fifteen, is correct in his narrative history of early Chelmsford, when he states that PAWTUCKET Lodge requested a charter from Grand Lodge.
Lodge records from the frst two decades are sketchy at best, but there are church records and family genealogies to cross check. Sometimes the distinction between cousin or uncle, brother or nephew can get tangled. Village boundaries changed repeatedly, and were further confused with the introduction of Lowell, which was created completely by a purchased or eminent domain acquisition of Chelmsford, Wamesit, Tewksbury, Billerica, and Dracut. Through all this, the two church parishes of Chelmsford Center and Pawtucket Falls (known today as Pawtucketville) remain as constant providers of leaders and members for the early foundations of Pentucket.
Middlesex County in Massachusetts was a focal point of the Patriot cause in New England. The Minute Man companies from Dracut and Chelmsford made it to Concord in time for the fight at North Bridge. The late arrivals harassed the British column on the march back to Boston. The Minute Man companies soon gave way to organized militia, and the Falls area sent two companies to Charlestown and Breeds Hill under General Artemas Ward. The Middlesex militia knew they were on Breed’s Hill, not Bunker Hill. Four of the fifteen charter members of Pentucket fought on Breed's Hill, at least five more had relatives who were there. At one point in 1777, of the fifty soldiers in Captain James Varnum’s Dracut company, 13 were named Colburn, 12 Varnum, 3 Richardson and 3 Hildreth; 60% of the company was comprised from four families.
The Chelmsford company led by Captain John Ford had the expected Spaulding, Byam, Adams, Fletcher, and Parkers. Ford held one of the earliest commissions as an officer under the Committee of Public Safety, signed by the President, General Joseph Warren. There were many interesting members in Ford’s Company. Edward Spaulding was the uncle of Joel Spaulding (meeting house of Pentucket) and he claimed to have fired the first shot on Breed's Hill that downed British Major Pitcairn. (Pitcairn had led the British expedition to Concord on April 19th.) Benjamin Fiske was the grandson of Rev. John Fiske, first Pastor to the Chelmsford Congregation in 1655. Benjamin went on to later become a Colonel in the 7th Regiment of Middlesex Militia and was present at Saratoga. Benjamin Pierce was a private in Ford’s Company. After Bunker Hill, Pierce moved to New Hampshire where he became a General in the NH Militia, and was elected Governor. His son Franklin became President of the United States.
The fife player in the company was a free black man from Dracut named Barzaillia Lew. Lew’s father had been a fifer with the Chelmsford Company at the defeat of Montreal in the French and Indian War. Orphaned at a young age, Lew had been raised by the Blood family of Chelmsford (Middlesex Village). He was very respected as a musician and was a parishioner of the Pawtucket Church, where he led the church music program for many years, until succeeded by his daughter. In the late 1780’s, Lew purchased a farm on Varnum Avenue from Parker Varnum, at the corner of Totman Road, only a quarter mile from Abraham Colburn, father of Isaac our first WM. Young Isaac Colburn grew up literally next door to the Lew children. They attended the same church, and for more than 30 years, Colburn listened to the Lew family music during services. Barzaillia’s son, Peter, became Grand Master of Prince Hall Masons from 1811 to 1816; the same time that Colburn was Master of Pentucket Lodge. What did they talk about after Sunday services? Lew is buried in Clay Pit Cemetary, off Varnum Avenue, behind the Elks Hall on Old Ferry Road.
Col Parker Varnum and his brother Joseph Varnum, together with Col Luis Ansart formed the Pawtucket Bridge Corporation. Ansart was a former French officer who became Washington’s Chief of Artillery. He married a sister of Parker Varnum and stayed on in Dracut after the war. They brought in Jefferson Bancroft and Artemis Holden as overseers and Isaac Colburn as a carpenter to work on the bridge. Erazmus Whiting, Jonathan Fletcher, and Joel Spaulding erected large halls or taverns on the southern approach. Squire Jonathan Hildreth was representative to the Great and General Court of Massachusetts. He had the task of clearing any gov’t roadblocks to the bridge construction. All were parishoners of the Pawtucket Village church, and early members of Pentucket Lodge, except for the Varnums. The future was shifting from the farms to Middlesex Village, and the new Town of Lowell. The Middlesex Canal and the bridge changed everything, forever.
First Master of Pentucket Lodge, 1807
Isaac Colburn was born in 1777 in Dracut, the son of Lieutenant Abraham Colburn and Mercy Richardson. The family made their home on Varnum Avenue, not far from the original Colburn garrison house on Old Ferry Road. Descended from the original settlers of Dracut, Colburn lived among dozens of Colburn and Varnum descendants in the West Village, the area of Lowell now known as Pawtucketville. As a youth, he was molded by Revolutionary War veterans, full of personal stories of their service with Washington’s Northern Army. By 1806, Isaac had been elected Captain of the Dracut Militia Company in the First Middlesex Regiment. He had skill as a carpenter, which he developed further while working on the construction of the Pawtucket Bridge. One of the Proprietors of the Corporation, General Varnum sent young Colburn to work for his old friend, General Henry Knox, who was building a large home in Thomaston, Maine. Knox made Colburn his master carpenter as he worked throughout the summers of 1804-5-6. Gen’l Knox introduced Colburn to Masonry, and sponsored him into Thomaston Lodge, where he was raised in 1806. Colburn attended meetings at St Paul’s Lodge in Groton, where he came to know Timothy Bigelow, John Abbott, Caleb Butler, and Timothy Whiting.
In 1809 Colburn was appointed Deputy Sheriff for Dracut by General William Hildreth, Jonathan’s uncle and High Sheriff of Middlesex County. He held that post until his death in 1821. Between 1807 and 1821, Colburn held various posts in Dracut, beginning with selectman, town moderator and even town treasurer. Only 30 years old when he signed the Pentucket charter in 1807, Colburn was the first choice of Grand Master Bigelow to be Master of the new lodge. This was supported by the membership, who elected him five times to continue as Master. Isaac Colburn died at the relatively young age of 43, well on the path to a significant career, in town government, as well as Masonry.
For 20 of the next 25 years, Pentucket would be led by men from the Pawtucket Village. Influence had shifted from the farms of Chelmsford to the commercial enterprises of the Falls and Middlesex Village. More changes were on the horizon that were linked to the river and canals rather than the land.
Artemis Holden was the first candidate raised in Pentucket Lodge in August 1808. Born in Townsend in 1776, Holden moved to Chelmsford in 1797, where he established himself as a cooper. His shop was on Pawtucket Street, not far from the Bridge. A member of Pawtucket Church, Holden became well established in his prosperous business, and was elected Pentucket’s second Master in 1812. In 1826 he was elected Treasurer of the Town of Lowell, and held that post until 1836, when the city charter took effect.
Jonathan Fletcher was a charter member and first Senior Warden. He was born in Chelmsford in 1782, and spent his entire life in the family homestead on Willie Street, near where the old natural gas storage tanks once stood. Fletcher was a blacksmith, responsible for much of the iron work of the original Pawtucket Canal, and the Pawtucket Bridge. He was married to Mary Varnum, daughter of Prescott Varnum, the proprietor of the Bridge. Fletcher also owned a Public House at the corner of School and Pawtucket streets. Another member of Pawtucket Church, he was elected Master of Pentucket in 1814.
Charles Blood was born in the West Village section of Dracut, on Varnum Avenue, in 1790, near the Colburn Garrison House. As a young man, Blood worked on the building of the Middlesex Canal, becoming a lead worker of the granite locks construction segments. He was soon hired by Brother Daniel Tuck, owner of the largest granite quarry (in recent times known as Fletcher’s Quarry) as general manager and business agent. He next became part owner and manager of the Chelmsford Glass Company, which was on Baldwin Street in Middlesex Village, along the Canal. He next opened the Stoney Brook saw mill in North Chelmsford, near the present mills on Princeton Street, along the brook. Finally, Blood built a tavern in the Vinal Square area, and became quite wealthy serving the needs of canal travelers until his death in 1864. A deacon of Pawtucket Church, he was elected Master of Pentucket in 1817, and was also a Charter member and founder of Mount Horeb Royal Arch Chapter, serving as Scribe for many years. Charles was the brother of Colburn Blood, who served for many years as Treasurer of Pentucket, until succeeded by his son, Colburn Jr., for many more.
Jonas Clark was a Charter member. Born and raised in Chelmsford, Clark was a private at Bunker Hill, eventually rising to Captain of a Chelmsford militia company. After the War, Clark ran the ferry across the Merrimack at the end of Old Ferry Road, until the completion of the Bridge. After the ferry became obsolete, he joined with Wor Charles Blood in his Tavern business in Vinal Square, Chelmsford.
ISRAEL HILDRETH, JR.
Dr. Israel Hildreth, Jr. was the nephew of Charter Member Jonathan Hildreth. Born in Dracut in 1791 near present day Hovey Square, Hildreth became a physician in 1815, and developed the largest practice in the area. Squire Hildreth, the High Sheriff of Middlesex County was another uncle. Dr. Hildreth became the chief of this highly respected and wealthy founding family of Dracut. He was at one time the Regimental Surgeon for Col. Jefferson Bancroft and the 5th Middlesex Militia and father-in-law of Bro. Benjamin Butler, famous Civil War Major General, Congressman, Governor of Massachusetts, and wealthy mill owner of Lowell and Lawrence. Dr. Hildreth was elected Master of Pentucket in 1819 and served until 1824 when he declined another election. Hildreth was the leading family of the First Congegational Church of Dracut, known as “The Old Yellow Meeting House”, even though it was white, in Dracut Center.
Jesse Phelps was born in Lancaster in 1800, moving to Lowell in 1826 as first overseer of the Merrimack Manufacturing Company. He was a member of the Town Selectmen, City Council, State Legislature and Deacon of St Ann’s Church in Lowell, where Theodore Edson was rector, and long time Chaplain of Pentucket Lodge. Raised in Pentucket in 1826, he was first elected Master in 1827, and again in 1832 and 1845. His home, which was the residence of the Merrimack Manufacturing Company overseer, at the corner of Worthen and Merrimack streets, served as the meeting place for almost 6 years, until the surrender of the charter in 1834. His position as Overseer of the largest mill at the time, made Phelps one of the most influential men in Lowell. Phelps was apointed as Master again in 1845 by Grand Lodge to receive the re-instituted charter of Pentucket, ending 11 years of darkness in Lowell Masonry.
Jefferson Bancroft was perhaps equal to Phelps in terms of influence during this period. Born in Warwick, MA, in 1803, Bancroft was orphaned at age 11 and became an apprentice at the Moses Leonard blacksmith shop in Warwick MA, until coming to Lowell in 1823 to work for the Proprietors of the Pawtucket Bridge (Varnum, Colburn, Hildreth). He worked his way through the mill management hierarchy, eventually becoming the Overseer of the Appleton Mills. Bancroft was married to the daughter of Dr. Amos Bradley, partner in medical practice with Dr Israel Hildreth. He was active in the Pawtucket Church, and several classic societies in the town. He founded the Dracut Academy, a private school for the wealthy in 1836 in partnership with Dr Hildreth, and in 1838 hired the young Benjamin F. Butler as headmaster. Fisher Ames Hildreth and his sister, Sarah, together with Bancroft’s son, Kirk, were students. In 1839 Bancroft appointed Butler a Lieutenant in the 5th Regiment of Massachusetts Militia, of which he was the Colonel Commanding. That position made Bancroft military commander of the northern half of Middlesex County. In 1831 he was made Senior Deputy Sheriff of Middlesex County, a post which he held almost continuously until 1890. He was in charge of the jails in Cambridge and Lowell (Keith Academy building on Thorndike Street). From 1836 through his death in 1890, Bancroft was alternately elected to City Council, Alderman, State Legislature, even as Mayor of Lowell, almost never being out of office.
Bancroft was raised in Pentucket Lodge in 1826, elected Master in 1829, and served for over twelve years as Marshall. In 1852 he demitted from Pentucket and became a charter member and first Master of Ancient York Lodge of Lowell. Bancroft was Master of Ancient York at the same period that William North was Master of Pentucket. His son, Dr. Kirk Bancroft, served as General Ben Butler’s staff Surgeon through out the Civil War. Bancroft united the influence of family, church, military, city government, county law enforcement, and Masonic connections and became a power to be respected.
What took place in Lodge 200 years ago ? Would a member from 2015 recognize the proceedings of 1815 ? The answer is, “YES”. Without going into items that shouldn’t be discussed in this forum, it is interesting to take a look at some of the recorded minutes from our early days.
- January 1825. The members voted to buy a “Records Book” for the recording of Secretary’s meeting minutes. Prior to this, we have no written meeting minutes that have survived, just member’s records. All the following items come from these minutes of convened meetings, in a leather bound book kept by the Secretary.
- February 1825. The organization of the Lodge can be reasoned from these early meetings. The Pentucket meeting schedule was based on the lunar cycle. As a “Moon Lodge”, we met on the “ Thursday preceding the full moon” of each month, which meant a different date each month. That was for the official, as special communications were held whenever there was work to do. In many months, that meant every Thursday evening. It was very common for multiple degrees to be given at a single meeting, sometimes on the same candidates. Most often, an application was read, voted upon the subsequent month, and the candidate initiated and passed on the same evening, but not raised until several months following. A third degree Mason still needed to be voted upon and accepted as a Member at a subsequent meeting, which wasn’t automatic. The costs of membership were not cheap, by 1820 income standards of about $10 per month. The fee for candidates was $29, payable in four increments; $15 at initiation, $5 at second degree, $5 at third degree, and $4 at acceptance for membership. Annual dues were $1.50, payable as “Quarterages” of 37.5 cents quarterly. Visitors were charged 25 cents per visit to defray the costs of refreshments. Meetings were held in taverns, so refreshments were plentiful. All payments were collected and recorded in open meeting with names being open Lodge record. A member was automatically suspended upon failure to meet the fourth Quarterage payment when due.
- May 1825. Meetings were being held in Wood’s Hall, a tavern near the entrance to the Middlesex Canal, about where the present ball field at Middlesex and Baldwin Streets is located today. The membership voted a committee to “locate a more commodious location for Lodge meetings, this hall being too small for same”. They also voted to accept the invitation from Grand Lodge to attend the ceremonies for laying the cornerstone of the Bunker Hill Monument. As such, Pentucket became part of the Honor Guard for the Marquis de LaFayette at the ceremony.
- August 1825. Voted to secure the hall of Balch & Colburn for the meeting place. This was a much larger and more substantial structure that was also a Tavern and Hotel. The largest Public House in Chelmsford, the hall was owned by Daniel Balch and Samuel Colburn. The building is still located on Pawtucket Street, at the end of Fletcher, overlooking the Falls. This was the end of the Middlesex Turnpike from Boston. A large granite structure, it later became the home of James Ayer, who afterwards founded an orphanage called the Ayer Home, that was in operation through the 1970’s.
- September 1825. Attended the cornerstone ceremonies for First Congregational Church in Dunstable (Nashua, NH) at the request of Rising Sun Lodge.
- October 1825. At the Annual Meeting, Bro. Samuel Colburn was elected Junior Warden, and Bro Daniel Balch elected as Senior Deacon.
- November 1825. Granted release of jurisdiction to St Matthew's Lodge of Andover for the change in location from North Parish Andover to the South Parish. The original charter release had been granted in 1822. Pentucket held total jurisdiction for membership over most of what is today Greater Lowell and Greater Lawrence.
- February 1826. Granted similar release of jurisdiction to Clinton Lodge of Billerica for the formation of a new lodge.
- March 1826. Conducted cornerstone ceremonies for the First Baptist Society of Lowell, corner of Church & George Streets, where it presently stands. Prior to this meeting, the records state that the Lodge conducted meetings in Chelmsford. Starting with the March meeting, the name of Lowell is used for the first time. Several months later, the charter was changed to reflect this new town. Members also made an interesting vote regarding refreshments. Since its beginnings, the Lodge had recorded expenses for “New England rum, Holland gin, Lisbon wine & brandy”, etc., but on March 13th it was voted that “refreshments shall consist of bread, biscuits and cider only”. However, it should be remembered that meetings were still being held in the “largest and most accommodating Public House in the Town of Lowell”. We can only guess at what took place after the official closing of the Lodge.
- April 1826. Voted to allow Mt Horeb Royal Arch Chapter use of the Lodge furniture and one night monthly shared use of the hall at no cost.
- June 1826. Voted to receive the applications from Jefferson Bancroft and Rev. Theodore Edson, two names that would become leaders of Lowell for the next 50 years. Edson, as pastor of St Ann’s church, was immediately appointed Chaplain of Pentucket, which post he held for over 60 years. Bancroft would become Worshipful Master of Pentucket, Middlesex County Sheriff, Colonel of the Militia, Mayor of Lowell, and a Charter Member and First Master of Ancient York Lodge.
- December 28, 1826. Although not a part of this discussion, Masonry across the nation, and especially in New England and New York was about to enter hard times. Anti-Masonic sentiment was growing, sometimes even leading to violence for members. Pentucket was not exempt from the turbulence. Grand Lodge required all members to take an oath of allegiance, and Pentucket administered this oath for the first time in December 1826, led by Jesse Phelps and Jefferson Bancroft. In the next several months, nearly 100 members would “take upon themselves the required test at the altar in due form as prescribed by Grand Lodge.” Although little is written about exactly what this entailed, it was most definitely a requirement for membership, taken very seriously at the time.
- February 1827. Voted to join with Mt. Horeb R. A. Chapter in rental of a new hall at the corner of Merrimack and Worthen streets. This was upstairs above the home of Jesse Phelps, in a building owned by the Merrimack Mfg. Co. This ended the practice of holding meetings in Public Houses or Taverns. It was also voted to allow Council to use one night per month for meetings.
- May 1827. Conducted cornerstone ceremony for First Methodist Society church of Lowell. Bro. Colburn Blood, Jr., Lodge Secretary, was Deacon and Elder of the Methodist Church in Lowell, located on Hurd Street, known as St Paul’s Methodist Church, still standing today.
- September 1831. Virtually all candidates dried up, Special Communications were no longer held, only monthly, and sometimes even that was cancelled. One entry … ”Not being Officers and Members sufficient, the Lodge was closed for 3 months.” The Lodge was held open primarily through the dedication of Phelps, Bancroft, Blood and Balch.
- March 20, 1834. The lack of interest finally culminated in this entry … “Lodge opened … Lodge Closed.” This was in the term of Jesse Phelps as Master. Thus began 11 years of Masonic darkness in Lowell, as the charter of Pentucket Lodge was surrendered to Grand Lodge five days later.
The storm of Anti-Masonic sentiment prevailed in Lowell for 11 years. Although the Lodge was in darkness, the light had not been totally extinguished. The central core of members who had been the foundation of the Lodge in the past were still in Lowell, and ready to rekindle the Lights of Freemasonry. By the summer of 1845, the storm had passed.
PLANNING MEETINGS. On July 14, 1845, a group of 43 Masons met at the Merrimack Manufacturing House of Jesse Phelps (at the corner of Merrimack and Worthen) to discuss the retrieval of the original Pentucket Charter from Grand Lodge. Fifteen of the brethren present were past members of Pentucket Lodge, the others were men who had moved to the Lowell area during the intervening 11 years seeking their fortunes in the mills or other commerce in the City. Bro. Daniel Balch was voted Chairman as the first order of business, with Bro. Colburn Blood Jr selected as Secretary. The next item was to appoint a committee of five, led by Jesse Phelps and Jefferson Bancroft, to call on Grand Lodge to determine what needed to be done. The meeting adjourned to the following week. On the 22nd, they again met at the Merrimack Manufacturing House to select an individual spokesperson to travel to Boston and deal directly with the Grand Secretary to resolve procedural questions. They first selected Daniel Balch, who declined. They then chose William North, who also declined. Finally, Colburn Blood accepted the charge and the group decided it was better to deal on a Secretary to Secretary level to start administrative procedings in motion.
The meeting of the Secretaries took place in Boston, and on the 29th the answer was returned. Grand Lodge would require that seven prior members of Pentucket formally petition Grand Lodge for the restoration of their Charter. If restored, the charter would belong to those seven only, who together would constitute the entire membership of Pentucket Lodge and be granted all rights and privileges of the former Lodge to constitute, organize and conduct business. The group agreed and nominated seven Pentucket members to be signatories on the restored charter: Jesse Phelps, Daniel Balch, Joshua Swan, Colburn Blood, Jr., Ransome Reed, Jefferson Bancroft, and Joel Adams.
The group again met at the Merrimack House and appointed a committee of six to examine all proposed brethren beyond the initial seven for membership in the Lodge, if and when the Charter were to be restored. They chose Daniel Balch, Jefferson Bancroft, William North, Colburn Blood, A. W. Fisher, and Prentice Cushing. Their task was to examine each man claiming to be a Mason for possible membership in the Lodge. The next several meetings were dedicated exclusively to this requirement for examination and vouchering of every applicant.
CHARTER RESTORED. At the quarterly meeting of Grand Lodge on September 10th , 1845, it was voted to grant the request of the seven Pentucket Brethren and restore the original charter to them immediately, along with the records and archives which had been held for safekeeping in Boston. The group of seven met again on September 16th to formally receive the charter, and adopt the original set of Pentucket by-laws for their government. They met again on the 22nd to formally elect the seven as officers of Pentucket Lodge. Jesse Phelps was elected Master, since he had been the last presiding Master at the time of the charter surrender. Daniel Balch was elected Senior Warden, and Joel Adams Junior Warden. Worshipful Master Phelps exemplified part of the First Degree lecture, after which they all adjourned downstairs to Wor. Phelps' parlor for a celebration in honor of the restoration. Rev. Bro. Theodore Edson gave the dedication oratory. Pentucket Lodge was duly organized.
REBUILDING THE LODGE. The primary order of business for the next several meetings was the rebuilding of the membership. By September 28th, thirty-one additional men had been examined and voted by the initial seven to membership. They employed the traditional Masonic method of examination and/or vouchering of applicants to determine their status, so that by October 16th there were over 100 members ready to elect a more permanent slate of officers. Daniel Balch was elected Worshipful Master, thereby allowing Jesse Phelps to finally lay down the Master’s gavel for the last time and enjoy the Past Master status he had justly earned. The Lodge had also outgrown the capacity of Phelps’ home as a meeting place, and selected Wentworth’s Hall at the corner of Merrimack and Shattuck Streets (still standing ), entering into a pact with Mt Horeb R. A. Chapter to share expenses.
A whole new era of growth and Masonic expansion was now beginning in Lowell, with a new set of Masonic leadership. Pentucket was back on a schedule of weekly meetings to meet the demands of new applicants and affiliations. Lowell had grown from a small town of about 1500 in 1826 to the second largest city in New England by 1856, with over 70,000 inhabitants. Masonry had grown from a single rural Lodge of about 50 members, to a strong community of four Blue Lodges, one R. A. Chapter, and a K. T. Commandery, with total combined membership of over 1500. In effect, there were now more Masons in Lowell than the entire population only 50 years prior, and that after weathering the Anti-Masonic storm that eliminated many lodges in other locations. The nation had yet to go through the internal struggle of the Civil War, and the mill city of Lowell had not yet resolved the competing friction of the anti-slavery movement, with the need for cheap cotton in the mills. The leaders of Pentucket were prominent on both sides of the struggle.
It may be difficult to envision today, but by the late 1860’s, the City of Lowell had grown to be the second largest city north of New York, second only to Boston in population, but almost an equal in terms of influence and power. Boston held the power created by old money and families, but Lowell held the keys to influence their future prosperity. To be a leader in Lowell at that time was to be nationally recognized. The mill owners mostly lived in Boston, but the mill management walked the streets of Lowell. The position of Overseer was today’s equivalent of Senior VP, but with influence extending far outside the walls of the factory. Pentucket Lodge was home to many of the overseers of Lowell’s textile mills. They would mold the future of Masonry in Lowell and much of the Commonwealth.
Much of the following information was taken from a detailed centenary Edition History of Pentucket Lodge, edited by Wor. Benjamin W. Clemens (1904-06). Wor. Clemens did a noteworthy effort of researching the Masonic background of every Past Master, but there is more to our Lodge heritage. Brethren beyond the Past Masters have risen to prominence in Local, State, and National government. It is a monumental task beyond the abilities of this writer to consolidate them all, but I have attempted to combine local town histories, together with Masonic texts, and found many common names that paint an interresting picture of the prominence and influence of Masonry, Pentucket Lodge in particular, during the first Hundred Years of our Brotherhood in Lowell. These following are only a few that I could easily identify.
Daniel Balch was the third leading name in our Charter restoration group. I have already discussed Jesse Phelps and Jefferson Bancroft, but Balch is on the same level. Born in 1797 in Bradford, MA, Balch was raised in Montgomery Lodge, Medway, and first came to Dracut in 1823. He and Samuel Colburn were owners of the large granite hotel and Public House on Pawtucket street (Ayer Home). He was admitted a member to Pentucket in 1825, also joining Grecian Lodge in Methuen in 1829. Balch was the second Overseer of Merrimack Manufacturing Company, with Jesse Phelps. It appears that he was a special sort of Overseer for the owners of Merrimack Manufacturing, in that he was sent to Methuen, Lawrence, Lewiston, and Portland as new ventures were being established. He returned to Lowell in 1841 and was a driving force behind the restoration of Masonry in Lowell, becoming Master of Pentucket in 1845-46. He was the leader apparent of Lowell Masonry, when in 1847, he was sent to Manchester NH and built up the world famous Amoskeag Mills, becoming Senior Overseer of the entire mill operation.
Balch was a Charter Member of Mt Horeb R.A. Chapter in Lowell, first High Priest in 1826, and again in 1846. He was a founder of Mt Horeb R.A. Chapter in Manchester in 1847, serving as their first High Priest in 1847-48, becoming High Priest of the Grand Chapter of NH in 1851-52. Balch had also become a member of Lafayette Lodge in Manchester, serving as Worshipful Master in 1847. Daniel Balch was elected Most Worshipful Grand Master of NH in 1853. He spent the next twenty years as a leader of New Hampshire Masonry, paying many Fraternal Visits back to Lowell. He was a contemporary and personal friend of William North and William Sewell Gardner, and in NH, he was their Masonic senior.
William North was perhaps the “Eighth Man” on the Charter Restoration Committee of Seven. Born in Weathersfield, CT, in 1794, North came to Lowell in 1834 as Overseer of all dyeing operations for the Middlesex Manufacturing Company, a position he held until his death in 1872, at which , his son Frederick replaced him. He also served repeatedly on the Lowell City Council, School Committee, and State Legislature. He was a Vice President and Director of the Lowell Institution for Savings, and a founder of St Paul’s Methodist Church along with Colburn Blood.
North’s Masonic history is extensively profiled on the web site of the Lodge bearing his name, so I will do a shortened version. Raised in Seneca Lodge of Torrington CT, North was elected a member of Pentucket at the Charter Restoration in 1845, and served as WM from 1849–56. He was selected as DDGM for 1857-59, re-elected Worshipful Master in 1860, and resigned upon his election as Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. North’s term as Master of Pentucket coincides with the terms of Jefferson Bancroft, Joel Spaulding, and William Sewall Gardner in Ancient York, and Daniel Balch in New Hampshire Grand Lodge.
Rev. Theodore Edson came to Lowell in 1825 and was raised in Pentucket Lodge in 1826. Edson was brought to town by Kirk Boot as the first pastor of St Anne’s Episcopal Church on Merrimack Street, the home church of the mill management. Rev. Edson was immediately appointed Chaplain of Pentucket Lodge, which post he held off and on for the next 60 years, together with Rev. Brother Smith Baker of First Congregational Church. Edson was the leading religious leader of his day in New England, and is firmly embedded into the history of Lowell. Likewise, he was considered as the “Chaplain of all Masons” in the city, serving with Pentucket, Ancient York, and Kilwinning Lodges.
The militia tradition has always been strong in New England, nowhere any more so than Middlesex County. The First Middlesex Regiment was at Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, and Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga NY. Four charter members of Pentucket were there, but most of our early membership starts with the next generation. Isaac Colburn and Zacheus Fletcher were Captains as the First Reg’t became the Fifth. Fletcher and Israel Hildreth were Lieutenant Colonels; Bancroft and Benjamin Butler were Colonel Commanders of the 5th. Redesignated as the 6th Regiment in 1860, at least 30 members of Pentucket were called up with the Sixth Massachusetts by President Lincoln in April of 1861. Butler became highest ranking, reaching Lieutenant General by the end of the Civil War.
The roster of names of Town Selectmen, Aldermen, and City Councilors is just too long to list here, as are State Legislators and Judges. Israel Hildreth Sr and Jefferson Bancroft held the position of High Sheriff, Middlesex County, the highest law enforcement position of the day. Eight of our Brothers were elected Mayor of the City of Lowell; Elisha Huntington, Jefferson Bancroft, Ambrose Lawrence, Stephen Mansur, Jonathan Folsom, Edward Sherman, Charles Stott, and John Richardson. One served as Governor of the Commonwealth, Benjamin Butler, with Butler also having been elected as a US Representative and US Senator. Pentucket had no shortage of leadership to share with the City of Lowell.
No discussion of the Civil War era in Massachusetts would be complete without reference to Pentucket’s most famous member and his role in that struggle. Benjamin Franklin Butler was born in Deerfield, NH in 1818 but spent his early years in Nottingham (Hudson) NH. Ben was the younger of two sons born to Captain Jonathan Butler, the Commander of a troop of Dragoons under General Andrew Jackson at the 1814 Battle of New Orleans. The father died in 1825, and the widow Butler moved to Lowell in 1828 with her two sons, Andrew and Benjamin, where she ran a boarding house. Ben graduated in the very first class at Lowell High School in 1834, and then graduated Colby College in Maine, class of 1838. He returned to Lowell, and was admitted to the Bar in 1840, where he learned very quickly that there was big money to be made as an attorney for the up and coming mill owners and merchants of Lowell.
From the beginning, Butler displayed the driving ambition and complex nature of his personality. While becoming very wealthy working for the owners, he spent many hours of pro-bono work organizing and improving the lot of the Mill Girls and immigrant laborers. He earned the anger of his employers by leading the effort to restrict mill labor to a 10 hr work day, yet he continued in the owner’s employ, eventually becoming so wealthy that he bought into ownership, and became one of the larger mill owners in Lowell and Lawrence. Butler started his political career as a Democrat in the State Legislature. He attended the 1856 Democratic national convention and led the nomination efforts for Jefferson Davis and James Buchanan. By 1865 he had become recognized as one of the most Radical of Republicans, gaining election to the House as a Republican. In 1867, he led the impeachment trial against President Andrew Johnson, claiming the President was not a strict enough Republican. Yet by 1882, having lost at two attempts as a Republican, Butler was elected Governor of Massachusetts as a Democrat. Butler’s driving ambition and his ability to capture the moment for his own progression was most evident in his military carreer.
Almost immediately upon returning home after college, Butler recognized that to get ahead in Lowell, a young lawyer needed to have either wealth as a mill owner, or status as an upper class family. His only hope was to ride the military background of his father, brief as that had been. Butler managed an appointment as Third Lt in the Lowell Light Infantry from Zacheus Fletcher, father of one of Ben’s students at Dracut Academy where he was teaching in 1839. This was the beginning of the entwinement of the two greatest fraternities that influenced Butler’s personal connections for the rest of his life: Masonry and Miltary. Benjamin Butler was raised in Pentucket Lodge in Sep 1846. Although there is no record of his ever having served as an officer in the Lodge, Butler seems to have been well acquainted with several leading members of the Craft.
Zacheus Fletcher, Butler’s first commanding officer in the Lowell Light Infantry, was PM of Pentucket Lodge (1824-25) . Fletcher became Lieutenant Colonel of the 5th Regiment under Col Jefferson Bancroft, PM of Pentucket(1829-31). The Regimental Surgeon was Dr. Israel Hildreth, Master of Pentucket 1819-24, Butler’s father-in-law. This was the famous 5th Reg’t of Massachusetts, the direct descendant of the old 1st Middlesex Reg’t of Bunker Hill fame, and the premier military unit in the state. For the next 20 years, Butler would work his way through commands until he eventually became Regimental Commander of the 5th, which was then re-organized as the 6th Mass. Volunteers in 1860. Butler would always surround himself with Masons as he progressed militarily. Although difficult to cross reference, I have so far found upwards of two dozen Lowell Masons in the 6th Massachusetts by the time of Civil War activation. It was comprised of 4 Companies from Lowell, 2 from Lawrence, 1 from Dracut, and 3 from Chelmsford, Acton, Groton and surrounding towns: 10 in all.
At the April 1861 call from President Lincoln, Butler was a Brigadier General , 1st Mass Brigade Commander (3rd, 4th, 6th and 8th Regiments). The 6th (Lowell Light Infantry) was the first Regiment to be activated and the first to sustain casualties. On the way to Washington, while marching through Baltimore, the first two soldiers from Butler’s 6th M. V. M. (the Lowell Company) were killed by rioters. These were the first Union casualties of the Civil War. The Ladd and Whitney monument in front of Lowell City Hall, which was consecrated by Pentucket Lodge in 1869, is dedicated to their memory. The 6th was shortly joined by her sister Regiments, along with two New York units. Butler set up his headquarters in the Naval Academy grounds at Annapolis and secured all of Maryland and Washington DC for the Union. President Lincoln promoted him to be the first Major General of Volunteers, and eventually he became senior ranking as Commander of the Army of the James. In 1861, Butler declared all escaped slaves who made it into his territory as “Contraband of War”, and as such were now declared free and not to be returned to their owners. This early Butler version of an Emancipation Proclamation came a full year before President Lincoln made his proclamation.
Butler is most famously known in the South as “The Beast of New Orleans”. After leading the capture of the city, he was named military governor, where he set out many harsh regulations to control the civilian population. He was and still is much vilified in New Orleans. It is rumored that many items of fine art and silver trinkets “liberated” from the citizens of New Orleans may now be adorning the parlor shelves of New England gentry. However, an equal rumor was that Butler personally confiscated all pilfered items of Masonic value (jewels, working tools, Bibles, etc.) from his troops and returned them to local Lodge officers whenever possible. It is documented that he had a Confederate civilian executed for desecrating a US flag, then later paid the man’s widow a lifetime pension from his personal funds.
Again, Butler was surrounded by those he trusted: his Masonic brothers. Hiram Hall (Pentucket PM 1860) had been a clerk in Butler’s Lowell law office before the war, and was his personal secretary throughout the war. Wesley Batchelder (Pentucket PM 1879) was Hall’s young assistant. James Trueworthy (Pentucket PM 1858) was a 1stSgt in the 6th Reg’t, and an aid to Butler. Col. Andrew Jackson Butler (brother) and Col. Fisher Ames Hildreth (brother-in-law) were personal assistants and Deputy Governors of New Orleans. Together, Pentucket Lodge made up the true ruling cabinet of New Orleans.
Personal and family connections were also interwoven with Masonry and Military connections. Butler married Sarah Hildreth, the leading stage actress of her day, who was the daughter of Dr Israel Hildreth(PM). Col Jefferson Bancroft (PM), Mayor of Lowell, and Middlsex County Sheriff, was Butler’s legal mentor. His best friend was Fisher Ames Hildreth, Sarah’s brother, and namesake of Fisher Ames, the leader of a very wealthy New England merchant family. The owners of Ames Shovel Manufacturing Company became millionaires as a result of the California Gold Rush in 1849, selling tools, not mining.
Butler’s daughter Blanche married a young Union General, Adelbert Ames. Ames had been the Colonel of the 20th Maine who trained Joshua Chamberlain of Gettysburg fame. Captain Adelbert Ames earned the Medal of Honor at Antietam, and eventually rose to Major General, 5th Corps Commander in the Army of the Potomac by war’s end. Ames later became a Lieutenant General and commander of all US Volunteer Troops during the Spanish War of 1898. This marriage joined Butler’s family to the wealthy mill owners that he had always served. Succeeding generations became very wealthy even by today’s standards. Ames Tool Company, Ames Woolen Manufacturing, Wamesit Power Corporation, J. P. Stevens Co., US Bunting Co., US Cartridge Co., NABISCO, are just the more well known of the Butler/Ames holdings. Butler, Ames, Hildreth, and Isaac Colburn (1st Master of Pentucket) are all buried in the Hildreth Cemetery in Lowell, almost within sight of each other.
MOTHER LODGE OF LOWELL
Some of the following was taken from the Centenary Edition History of Pentucket Lodge, edited by Wor. Benjamin W. Clemens (1904-06).
Prior to 1820, Pentucket Lodge held total jurisdiction for membership over most of what is today Greater Lowell and Greater Lawrence. In 1822, release of jurisdiction was granted to St Matthew's Lodge of Andover for the formation of a new lodge. In 1826 similar release of jurisdiction was given to Clinton Lodge of Billerica for the formation of a new lodge in that town. It doesn’t appear from our lodge records that Pentucket was directly involved in these new lodges, beyond warm and friendly visitations and social interactions. From our founding in 1807 through the charter restoration in 1847, Pentucket had been the only Masonic Lodge in Lowell. By 1852, that was about to change. In a very real sense, Pentucket may be called the “Mother Lodge“ of each of the other four lodges in Lowell, since it is from Pentucket that a large portion of founding members for the others may be found.
ANCIENT YORK. In June of 1852, a group of Masons from Pentucket petitioned Grand Lodge for a charter. Dispensation was granted, and a Charter was issued on June 9th, 1853. The lodge was called Ancient York in recognition of the old English traditions of Masonry. Of the twenty-one charter members, twenty were from Pentucket. Wor. Jefferson Bancroft (Pentucket Master 1829-31) was the first Master of Ancient York, followed by Samuel Hutchinson and Joel Spaulding, also Brothers from Pentucket. The two lodges shared warm fraternal relations, used the same furniture and meeting hall, enjoyed joint social gatherings, and even shared information regarding candidate investigation results. Secretary’s meeting minutes disclose a common practice of conducting business of Pentucket Lodge in the presence of visitors from Ancient York, contrary to the established tradition of a “Members Only” policy for business transactions. This was a display of the trust between the two sister lodges. Official functions were always attended by both bodies, regardless of which had been the initiator. Masonry in Lowell had enterred a period of expansion and growth unlike anything seen previously, or since that time.
LOWELL MASONIC ASSOCIATION. Since first meeting in the hall on Pawtucket Street owned by Daniel Balch in 1825, Pentucket and Mt Horeb R. A. Chapter had shared in the expenses of maintaining meeting space. By 1853, with the addition of Ancient York Lodge, it was decided to formalize the arrangement. The three groups adopted a compact that agreed to share equally in all decisions, expenses, and ownership of all furnishings related to the meeting hall for their shared use. Each group elected three Trustees to represent them at Association meetings, and formalize any business dealings necessary for the support of the Lodges. As may be expected, the original leadership of the Association was comprised of Jesse Phelps, William North, and William Sewall Gardner. Although some of the specifics have evolved, the compact of the Lowell Masonic Association remains essentially unchanged today, with the addition of new bodies, as Masonry grew in the city.
KILWINNING LODGE. By 1866 the need for another lodge had become apparent. A dispensation was granted in April of 1866, and a Charter granted in March of 1867 to the petitioners authorizing them to form a new lodge under the name of Kilwinnning, in recognition of the ancient Scottish traditions of Masonry. Twelve of the thirty one charter members were Pentucket brethren, with five others from Ancient York having been originally raised in Pentucket. The first Master was William Sewell Gardner (Ancient York Master 1855-56) with the next three being from Pentucket. The Rev. Bro. Theodore Edson also was a charter member and served as Chaplain. Another charter member from Ancient York was Bro. Thomas Talbot, who would later be elected Governor of Massachusetts, and the become the namesake of the Lodge in Billerica.
WILLIAM NORTH LODGE. Just two weeks after the granting of the Ancient York charter, yet another petition was received on March 26, 1867 for a new lodge in Lowell. On March 11, 1868 a charter was granted to thirty eight petitioners, twenty eight from Pentucket, to form a new lodge called William North, in honor of the esteemed Past Master from Pentucket who had presided for seven of its most prosperous years. It should be noted that his son Frederick North was presiding Master of Pentucket from 1865-67. The first Master was Hiram N. Hall (Pentucket Master 1860-62) , who had been on General Butler’s personal staff throughout the Civil War. Four out of the first five Masters of William North Lodge had been raised in Pentucket.
WILLIAM SEWALL GARDNER LODGE. The four lodges in Lowell continued to grow and prosper for the next sixty years, but by 1928 the combined membership had grown to almost 2800 Masons, and it was time for yet another lodge to be formed. The man most influential in the creation of the new lodge was Bro. Lucius Derby, a longtime member and Secretary of Pentucket. Bro. Derby called a meeting of 52 men whom he knew to be interested in being charter members, and submitted a petition to Grand Lodge, which granted a charter in February 1928. Wor. Garfield Davis (Pentucket Master 1920-22) was the first Master of William Sewall Gardner Lodge, followed by Bro. Derby as the second Worshipful Master. The Lodge prospered for nearly 80 years until April of 2007. On April 13th 2007, William Sewall Gardner and Kilwinning Lodges merged to form a new lodge, bearing the combined name, and continuing the lineage of both lodges.
The high point of Masonry in Lowell had been reached by approximately 1930. The combined membership of the Blue Lodges was close to 3000. The new Masonic apartments on Dutton Street housed three York Rite bodies, three Scottish Rite bodies, five Blue Lodges, an Eastern Star Chapter, a Rainbow Chapter, and a DeMolay Chapter. The City of Lowell had grown from the first carding mill on Hale’s Brook to a thriving “Mile of Mills” along the Merrimack, among the leading producer of textiles in America. From a population of about 1500 at the time of the Town Charter in 1826, to nearly 120,000 people by 1926. The Twenties were indeed “Roaring”, but as with the rest of America, the Depression of the Thirties could not be held off.
MASONRY IS PERSONAL
When Pentucket received her charter in 1807, all of Maine was still within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. There was no town called Lowell, and there were no mills along the Merrimack. The Middlesex Canal had recently opened, and some engineer in New York named Vanderbilt was experimenting with steam powered ships and carriages that ran on iron rails. Thomas Jefferson was president, the first to be inaugurated in the new city of Washington, DC. President Jefferson was negotiating the price for the Louisiana Territory from Emperor Napoleon of France. He was the young lawyer from Virginia who wrote the Declaration of Independence, with guidance from Wor. Bro. Benjamin Franklin, and captured the flamboyant signature of Wor. Bro. John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, thereby establishing July 4th, 1776, as the birth date of our nation. That was only 30 years earlier than the birth date of our Lodge.
In April of 1775, Bro. Paul Revere earned his place in history by carrying the alarm from Boston to Concord, that the British regulars were on the way; but he had already earned his place in Masonry. He was Senior Grand Deacon for Most Worshipful Joseph Warren. Was Revere merely doing the duties of his office by carrying messages as directed by the Master to the Senior Warden, John Hancock? In May 1775, Most Worshipful Brother Warren was offered the command of the New England militia collecting together around Charlestown, in recognition of his position as Grand Master of the Provincial Masonic Lodge. Warren declined the honor, since he was a doctor and not a soldier, and then died two weeks later in the trenches of Bunker Hill (Breed's Hill) with his fellow colonial Masons, attending to their wounds. The Joseph Warren medal is now the highest honor a Mason can be given for service to his Lodge and community. Four charter signers of Pentucket were there.
By July 1775, Bro. George Washington arrived in Cambridge to take command. He was recognized as a soldier, a proven battle commander, and respected Mason of Virginia, who would be acceptable to the rag tag army of New England patriots; but only after he received the recommendations of Bros. Franklin, Hancock, and others known to Massachusetts Masons. The rest, as they say, is History. But, to our Pentucket charter members in 1807, it wasn’t history. It was their personal memories.
Only 12 years had gone by since Most Worshipful Brother Revere laid the cornerstone of the present day Massachusetts State House, as the second Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge Of Massachusetts. This was done at the request of old Sam Adams, the original firebrand leader of the Sons of Liberty, now the Governor of Massachusetts. (No, I don’t think he ran a brewery back then.) The ceremony was a direct duplicate of that which Bro Washington had used two years earlier to lay down the cornerstone of the Nation’s Capitol building, which was still under construction. The inclusion of Masonic lodges made a civic event a significant ceremony back then. It was just a meeting without the Masons. Today, we find it difficult to relate to the civic importance of our early Brothers. What they thought, felt and did was important in their communities, and to a great extent reflected the teachings of the Craft. They didn’t leave behind all that they professed as they closed the doors of a lodge room. The community was their lodge; they represented the teachings of our order, and they were expected to walk and act as such.
The charter members of Pentucket Lodge didn’t see these men as historical figures from a text book. They were brother Masons. Some had been at Concord, fought at Bunker Hill, suffered through the winter in Valley Forge together, witnessed the inauguration of their leading Brother as first President of the United States, sat in Lodge with the leading men of their day, and now wanted a Lodge of their own in the Town of Chelmsford, near the falls of the Merrimack. Bro. Isaac Colburn was the first Master of Pentucket. Several prominent local families were represented … Fletcher, Blood, Hildreth, Spaulding and others. This was personal, they were friends, family, neighbors who enjoyed each other’s company, and wanted to initiate others into their fraternity. History would make them “Founding Fathers”; Masonry made them Brothers.
I don’t want to be a “Founding Father”; not yet! But I realize I have been involved in the Masonic fraternity in Lowell for 50 years. That’s a quarter of the 200 year history of Pentucket. The connection started as a young man in DeMolay in 1962. Why have I and a group of Brothers stayed around so long when countless others have fallen by the wayside? Why do we still recognize each other, share joys and sorrows, excitement and pain? We have remained Brothers for many of the same reasons as the men of 1807. For us, Masonry is personal. It is more than the words in the cipher books, more than the floor work of the degree teams, more than the ceremonials of the Grand Lodge visitors, certainly more than the countless meetings and hours of administrative tedium that it takes to keep a Lodge running. Masonry is personal. These men are friends, family, neighbors, and enjoy each other’s company. Masonry had made them Brothers.
One of the men from the church where I grew up - the same Pawtucket Church of Colburn, Varnum, Hildreth, Phelps, Bancroft, and Lew - first introduced me to DeMolay. I didn’t know anything about the organization. My father wasn’t a Mason; but Walter Bujnowski took care of those details. I had known his family all my life. His oldest daughter was my youth group leader, the youngest was the kid we tried to lose, and there were several in between. In DeMolay, I met new people, found out that a Masonic Temple was not a synagogue, discovered that a Rainbow Girl didn’t carry a flag or twirl a baton. I learned other teachings too, but didn’t realize it. The names and faces of fifty years ago are still alive, and real in my mind. Couples met, families were formed, and there are grandchildren now in the same Preceptor chairs that we once filled, with the same names that once sat there 50 years ago. We have been in each other’s wedding party, attended children’s and grandchildren’s baptisms and weddings. I couldn’t even count the number of birthdays, anniversaries, holiday celebrations, and lately, too many memorial services. Some have gone on, but not in my mind.
It was a natural thing to continue into Masonic Lodges together. There were five lodges in Lowell, but most of us went to Pentucket. Was Pentucket the biggest, the oldest, the most active, display the best ritual, best financial stability, most dedicated service? All those things are supposed to matter, but the reason was more basic. Our DeMolay Chapter Dad Advisor, Bro. Frank Holland Gentle, Jr., was a member of Pentucket; he was loved and respected more than we even realized ourselves, so whatever he had chosen, was what the rest of us would choose. Masonry was personal. These men were my friends, family, neighbors, and we enjoyed each other’s company. DeMolay had made us Brothers, Pentucket would make us Masons.
When I was taken by the hand to be raised in Pentucket Lodge, it was with a strong grip from Wor. Walter Bujnowski, the same man who led me to DeMolay earlier. His son in law was Senior Steward. The room was full of familiar faces, even my uncle and father by now had joined. There were three of us in that class who had traveled through DeMolay together. We had been in each other’s wedding party, and we had each married our favorite Rainbow Girl. There were others from the Chapter already inside waiting for us. I helped raise many of their sons over the years . . . even a few grandsons, including Walter’s grandson and great-grandson. Some of them have also gone on.
A lot has transpired since that night. I really don’t know how it happened, but lately , whenever our Master forms a reception committee… “Chaired by the senior Past Master present,” it turns out to be me! The DeMolay boy who was Best Man in my wedding has gone on, his sister married the DeMolay brother for whom I was Best Man. The kid who conducted me through DeMolay degrees is now Godfather to my older son, Walter’s son in law is Godfather to my younger son. His wife presented me with Walter’s Past Master’s jewel when I became eligible. How many of us get to wear the jewel of the same past Master who raised them? Five of Walter’s great-grandchildren were visiting at my home last week, the oldest was recently made a Mason in Pentucket. Frank Gentle, the Dad Advisor is gone. He never had children of his own, but brought four nephews into Pentucket, two are Past Masters. One of them is now the DeMolay Dad Advisor himself, and has become what his uncle once was. It goes on and on. For all of us, Masonry is personal.
We certainly have no claim or ambitions of exclusivity. New faces, new ideas, new experiences have been the lifeblood of our Lodge. We couldn’t be who we claimed to be, if we weren’t open to new Brothers. I believe that what I found can be passed along, can be shared with like thinking men. My efforts to do this have been expressed by my commitment to the local Blue Lodge. I find myself drawn to the basics of the initiation process. The local Lodge is where it all begins, where the foundations are built, where our lessons are first explained. In my case, indeed for many others, this was where the door to a long and rewarding experience was first opened. Sure, there is ritual to be learned, words to be memorized, floor work to be practiced, which all contributes to a meaningful experience for candidates, but there needs to be something more. Every candidate receives those things, but they don’t all last as members. What is it that turns a candidate into a lifelong Brother? Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love need to be more than the tenets of our Fraternity. In order to last, Masonry needs to be personal.
- Isaac Colburn, 1807-1812
- Artemus Holden, 1813, 1815, 1816
- Jonathan Fletcher, 1814
- Charles Blood, 1817, 1818
- Israel Hildreth, 1819-1823
- Zacheus Fletcher, 1824
- John Fletcher, 1825, 1826
- Jesse Phelps, 1827, 1828, 1832-1834, 1846; Mem
- Jefferson Bancroft, 1829, 1830
- Richmond Jones, 1831
- DARK 1835-1846
- Daniel Balch, 1845
- Prentice Cushing, 1847, 1848; SN
- William North, 1849-1855
- Isaac Cooper, 1856, 1857
- James B. Trueworthy, 1858, 1859
- Hiram N. Hall, 1860-1862
- Thomas G. Gerrish, 1863, 1864
- Fred T. North, 1865, 1866
- Ruel J. Walker, 1867, 1868
- Samuel S. Fuller, 1869
- Albert B. Hall, 1870, 1871
- Oliver Ober, 1872, 1873
- Frederick Frye, 1874, 1875
- Charles H. Richardson, DDGM, 1876, 1877; Mem
- Wesley R. Batcheler, 1878
- Benjamin C. Dean, 1879, 1880
- George F. Morgan, 1881
- William D. Brown, 1882, 1883
- Henry Caril, 1884, 1885
- Adelbert N. Huntoon, 1886, 1887
- Herbert A. Wright, 1888, 1889
- Charles A. Cross, 1890, 1891
- Frank W. Emerson, 1892, 1893
- Avery B. Clark, 1894, 1895
- Charles S. Proctor, 1896, 1897; N
- George H. Smith, 1898, 1899
- Winslow S. Clark, 1900, 1901
- Horace C. Page, 1902, 1903
- Benjamin W. Clements, 1904, 1905; SN
- Frank W. Hall, 1906, 1907
- George P. Howes, 1908, 1909
- Martin L. Kirkeby, 1910, 1911
- Frank D. Proctor, 1912, 1913
- William R. Foster, 1914, 1915
- Edson K. Humphrey, 1916, 1917; Mem
- Robert A. Kennedy, 1918, 1919
- Garfield A. Davis, 1920, 1921; N
- A. Gordon Foster, 1922, 1923
- Percy J. Wilson, 1924, 1925
- Willard A. Parker, 1926, 1927
- Roscoe C. Turner, 1928, 1929
- Harry Priestly, 1930, 1931
- Alexander Semple, Jr., 1932, 1933
- Everett T. Reed, 1934, 1935
- Ralph A. Johnson, 1936, 1937
- Walter W. Colby, 1938, 1939
- Raymond W. Sherburn, 1940, 1941
- Elton L. F. Silk, 1942, 1943
- Wilbur H. Roberts, 1944, 1945; N
- Edmond H. Gunther, 1946, 1947
- Herbert G. Pascall, 1948, 1949
- Ray Pike, Jr., 1950, 1951
- Francis A. Mathews, 1952, 1953
- John P. Wood, 1954
- Raymond V. Ullom, Jr., 1955, 1956;SNPDDGM
- Millis C. Pelton, 1957, 1958
- Roland E. Mosley, 1959, 1960;NPDDGM, PSGW
- Willis A. Clark, Jr., 1961, 1962
- Richard C. Gillis, 1963, 1964
- Donald A. Pelton, 1965, 1966
- Walter F. Bujnowski, 1967, 1968
- Robert S. Gibson, 1969
- Bradley H. Tuttle, 1970, 1971
- Ainsworth C. Pedersen, 1972, 1973
- Charles Boyajian, 1974, 1975
- Philip G. Tays, 1976, 1977
- Robert A. Silk, 1978, 1979
- William B. Roberts, 1980, 1981
- H. Mark Leonard, Jr., 1982, 1983 PDDGM
- David B. Ullom, 1984, 1985
- John E. Ullom, 1986, 1987
- Douglas A. Hanks, 1988, 1989
- Joseph L. Husson, 1990, 1991
- David B. Hanks, 1992, 1993
- Robert G. Wallace, 1994, 1995
- Linscott Fadden, 1996, 1997
- Raymond R. A. Bul, 1998, 1999
- Jeffrey A. Northrup, 2000, 2001
- Robert J. Walsh, 2002, 2003
- George N. Tournas, 2004, 2005
- Wayne L. Standley, Sr., 2006, 2007
- Wayne L. Standley, Jr., 2008, 2009
- Jason A. Standley, Sr., 2010-2012
- Edward D. MacNess, 2012-2014
- Shawn B. Smith, 2014-2016
- A. Rick Frederick, 2016-2019
- Terrence P. Fetters, 2019-2020
- Paul K. Ciampa, 2020-2022
REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
VISITS BY GRAND MASTER
- 1872 (Nickerson; Hall dedication; Special Communication)
- 1890 (Wells; Participation in city hall cornerstone laying, 1890-87)
- 1897 (Hutchinson; 2 visits, including 90th Anniversary)
- 1898 (Hutchinson; 2 visits)
- 1907 (Blake; Centenary; Special Communication)
- 1911 (Flanders; Ladies' Night)
- 1913 Senior Grand Warden GMLAbbott L. Abbott; Dedication of hall; Special Communication)
- 1920 (Prince)
- 1927 (Simpson; Veterans' Night)
- 1935 (Allen)
- 1938 (Perry; Reduction of fees authorized, 1938-261)
- 1950 (Keith; Charles S. Proctor Night)
- 1954 (W. Johnson; reception for Charles S. Proctor)
- 1957 (A. Jenkins; 150th Anniversary; Special Communication)
- 1974 (Vose)
- 1957 (150th Anniversary History, 1957-56; see below)
150TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, MARCH 1957
From Proceedings, Page 1957-56:
By Worshipful Francis A. Mathews.
In the early part of the 19th Century in the several villages scattered through Chelmsford and Dracut there were a number of influential men who were Masons and who desired to enjoy the benefits of a Lodge without being compelled to travel 14 or 15 miles to Corinthian in Concord or Saint Paul in Groton. Therefore, early in 1807 fifteen of them petitioned the Grand Lodge of the Ancient Society of Free and Accepted Masons of Massachusetts for a charter for a Lodge at the Falls. It is generally agreed that the intention of the petitioners was to call it Pawtucket Lodge, but probably because of a clerical error, the charter was made to Pentucket, which incidentally was the Indian name for Haverhill. This charter was granted March 9, 1807. Some of the original petitioners were men whose names are familiar to people of Lowell today: Coburn, Fletcher, Hildreth, Chapman, Fiske and Clarke.
Let us go back and briefly sketch the background of these times. By the end of the American Revolution, Chelmsford, from which much of Lowell was later taken, had become a town of considerable importance, and at the beginning of the 19th Century, it had steadily grown in population so as to be known as a large town with several villages, the most enterprising of which was the one at Pawtucket Falls. In 1792 the first bridge across the Merrimack in Massachusetts had been constructed at the location of the present Pawtucketville Bridge. This displaced the old ferry which had operated above the Falls, but which had never been dependable. This bridge provided easy transportation over the river for the heavy stream of traffic between Boston and the farms north of here.
In the same year, 1792, a corporation was formed to build a canal around the Falls. This, the Pawtucket Canal, was opened with a ceremony in October 1796. The business enterprises connected with travel across the bridge and transportation through the canal made the village at the Falls an industrious and influential community. The Middlesex Canal was started in 1794 and completed in 1803. This canal was largely responsible for the growth of the section known as Middlesex Village, it being the northern terminal of the canal.
At the time the Lodge charter was granted, Thomas Jefferson was President; and James Sullivan was Governor of the Commonwealth and was considered to be sympathetic to the administration, which it appears, the Masons of that time were not. In the history of the Lodge written at the time of the 100th anniversary it was noted that party feeling ran high and intense bitterness was common. To quote a line from this history, "the superior breeding and elegant manners of the gentlemen's party has been superseded by the rudeness, irreverence and ignorance of the mob." Evidently the Masons of that day were not Democrats.
Aaron Burr had lately been arrested and was to be tried for treason. A British warship had recently fired a broadside at the U. S. Frigate Chesapeake, thus insulting our flag. Robert Fulton had at last succeeded in running a steamboat on the Hudson, and the people at the Falls were sure that very soon the packet boat "Gov. Sullivan" would be replaced by a steamboat making regular trips from Concord, New Hampshire, to Boston by the Middlesex Canal.
The mechanical age had not touched this community as yet; the only manufacturing establishment in the vicinity was Mr. Hale's carding mill on River Meadow or Hale's Brook.
This history gives a long list of inventions which had not yet been developed. A few examples will suffice: photographs, matches, writing pens, kerosene oil, metal or armored ships, labor unions and strikes, Sunday papers or postage stamps, golf or women's clubs, and also no graft in political offices.
The Lodge has met in a dozen or more places. Many of these buildings are still standing. It is interesting to read a brief resume of these sites. They first assembled in what was known as Whiting's Hall, described as a "Large and commodious hall in the rear of Phineas Whiting's Tavern," situated where the French Orphanage now stands. Access was gained by means of an outside stairway. At the head of the stairs was a small ante-room in which the Tyler was sometimes stationed during Lodge meetings to ward off cowans and eavesdroppers or, to be more exact, inquisitive boys and girls.
On the morning of October 12, 1809, Pentucket Lodge met in the Spalding House, now occupied by the Molly Varnum Chapter D. A. R., for the special purpose of receiving the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, who had come here to consecrate the new Lodge.
In this hall the Master of Pentucket Lodge was invested with the "Characteristicks of the Chair." Then a procession was formed and led by a band. The Masons marched in full regalia across the bridge to the church (since been replaced by the present Pawtucketville Congregational Church), where an "elegant and enlightened" discourse was delivered and the remaining officers of the Lodge were installed.
"The procession was reformed shortly after High Twelve and returned to Mr. Whiting's Hall where several of the Reverend Clergy and other Gentlemen joined with the fraternity and partook of a 'sumptuous refreshment' after which a number of toasts were drank."
Regular Lodge meetings continued to be held in Whiting's Hall until 1811, when they moved across the street to a hall owned by Senior Warden Jonathan Fletcher, where they met except for one meeting until 1816. This meeting was held for a special purpose at the home of the Master, Artemas Holden, probably for the purpose of instruction in the ritual, because Holden was noted for his proficiency. The following day they again met in the home of Simeon Spalding in Chelmsford Centre. This house is still standing and is known as the Fiske house. This was probably the first meeting at this house and of more than usual interest because it is recorded that the Rev. Bro. Wilkes Allen, Pastor of the Church and Society of Chelmsford, delivered a discourse. They continued to meet here until 1819.
It is evident that there existed at this time among some of the Brethren a jealousy against the village at the Falls, and the cause may have originated in the increased business and growth of this important point on the Merrimack River. The residence of the Rev. Mr. Allen at the middle of the town, may have added to the strength of those who resided in the other villages. August 17th, 1817, the opposition advanced so far as to raise a committee charged to consider the expediency of changing the name of the Lodge. Probably those friendly to removing to the Palls, claimed that by reason of the name, there was great propriety in the Lodge being located there, and that its name indicated the place where it should be held. This excitement, however, declined, and the committee made no report. . .
A committee was raised May 14th, 1814, to consider the expediency of fitting up a hall for the accommodation of the Lodge. At the annual meeting in October of this year, a Chaplain and a Marshal were chosen for the first time, no such officers having been previously needed. . . On the 7th of January, 1819, the committee appointed in May 1814, to consider the expediency of fitting up a hall, were ordered to report in writing at the next meeting. February 4th, 1819, they reported that —
Mr. Wood will furnish his hall in May next, and let it with the appendages to the Lodge for twenty dollars per year, for the purpose of holding meetings in; and that Brother Daniel Tuck will furnish his hall, and give the use of it to the Lodge for two years, with the appendages, and after that time will let the same to the Lodge for twelve dollars per year, for the purpose of holding meetings in.
After this report was made, Brother K. Adams remarked that in case the Lodge should remove to Mr. Wood's hall, he was authorized to say that one year's rent would be given to the Lodge; and Brother Israel Hildreth said, in that case he was authorized to offer another year's rent free from Brother Tuck. On motion of Brother Allen to accept Brother Tuck's offer of his hall, it was voted not to accept it. A vote was taken to accept Mr. Wood's offer.
Thus it appears that there was considerable competition between Mr. Wood and Brother Tuck, and that the feelings of the members were deeply interested in the contest.
Brother Tuck's house was situated at North Chelmsford near the residence of General Adams. Mr. Wood's hall was at Middlesex Village, and is now the three-story house next to that occupied by the Village Riding Academy operated by Eddie Gaudette. In those days it was the second house on the north side of the road leading to North Chelmsford, west of the old Middlesex Canal. It has since been converted into an apartment house.
Middlesex Village was at this time a flourishing place. The Canal which here connected with the River was doing an extensive business in the transportation of freight and passengers. Glass works were in full operation near by. Hat manufactories and other business were carried on to some extent, and the importance of this place as a central point for the location of the Lodge was clearly seen by the Brethren. . .
April 22nd, 1819, the Lodge voted (eighteen to eleven) that the Lodge be removed to the hall of S. F. Wood, near the head of the Canal, after an ineffectual attempt to refer the whole matter to disinterested Brethren, whose determination should be final. . .
The Lodge was held at the house of Simeon Spalding, in the middle of the town, three years and four months. May 6th, 1819, it met for the first time at the hall of S. F. Wood, at Middlesex Village. . .
In the days we are now alluding to, it was customary at each meeting to call the Craft from "labor to refreshment." Visitors were admitted upon their first visit free, but afterwards, they were expected to pay twenty-five cents, if they partook of refreshments. From this custom originated the rule (until quite recently a regulation of Pentucket Lodge) that no visiting Brother shall be admitted more than twice without permission of the Master — that they should not be permitted to live upon the Lodge, and enjoy its hospitality, without contributing something to its support. In the change of times this rule is now of as much importance to the Craft as it was in those days of eating and drinking. . .
In 1819 it became apparent that the expenses of the Lodge were too great, and that recourse must be had to some economical plan to relieve it from embarrassment. Accordingly, November 25th, 1819, a committee was appointed to propose refreshments less expensive than those which had been provided. The same evening the committee reported that "the refreshments of the Lodge shall be crackers and cheese, and the liquors rum and gin." This report was accepted for six months. . .
The following May, a committee raised for the same purpose, recommended "bread and cyder," and it was accepted. March 13th, 1821, it was voted that the refreshments in future be composed of "bread, biscuit and cheese." . . .
Thus at this early date, some years before temperance as a moral reform was preached and inculcated upon the basis of total abstinence, and years before the community was generally excited upon the question, Pentucket Lodge took the foremost step in the great reform which has since pervaded all classes of society, and upon which volumes have been written by the philanthropist, and political economist. It is a matter of much interest that the Masonic Fraternity thus early awoke to the evil of the use of intoxicating liquors at every meeting of the Lodge. Columbian Lodge, of Boston, in 1821, made a similar reform, and it is fair to presume that the movement was general among the Lodges of Massachusetts.
In 1825 the Lodge moved to a hall connected to the tavern kept by Messrs. Balch & Coburn in East Chelmsford. This tavern is the stone building on Pawtucket Street now known as the Ayer Home. They met here for two years and it was during this time that the Town of Lowell was incorporated. There is an endorsement on the charter authorizing the Lodge to meet in the new Town of Lowell.
On May 31, 1826, Pentucket Lodge, assisted by Mt. Horeb Royal Arch Chapter, which had just obtained its charter, laid the corner-stone of the First Baptist Church, now known as the First United Baptist Church.
The Chapter had by vote of the Lodge been using the latter's hall and furniture but they were not satisfied with the accommodations. In October 1826 each body appointed a committee to confer and report back on the advisability of securing new quarters. The Lodge committee reported against moving. In January 1827 a new committee was appointed to secure a hall for the ensuing year, its report to be binding.
February 8th, 1827, the Lodge committee reported "that they had endeavored to keep in view that friendship and brotherly love which ought ever to exist among Masons, and notwithstanding the different opinions which have been called forth relative to the removal of the Lodge to a more retired room, your committee, taking into view the connection between the Chapter and the Lodge, and many other circumstances connected therewith, have agreed with Mt. Horeb R.A. Chapter, for the use of their hall, now finishing in the brick block lately erected by the Merrimack Manufacturing Company, on the following terms: that the Lodge pay half of the rent of said hall, which is sixty dollars a year, and that they be on equal footing with the Chapter in regard to fixtures of the hall, fuel, lights, &c." (This is the building now occupied in part by the Arthur L. Turcotte Wine & Liquor Store.)
In March 1827, Ahasuerus Council was admitted to use of the hall and furniture for $30.00 a year. The Council ceased to function April 7, 1830. The Lodge lingered on until March 2, 1834, when the last meeting was held.
The charter, jewels, and property of the Lodge were surrendered to the Grand Lodge. The furniture divided among the Brethren or sold at auction and a long dark night settled down upon Masonry in Lowell.
The Chapter had expended much money in the decoration and furniture of the new hall and was deeply in debt. On September 7, 1829, a committee was appointed to confer with the Lodge regarding the expediency of purchasing the Chapter furniture, but the Lodge reported it would be inexpedient. This is the first intimation from the Lodge or Chapter records of the tempest which was gathering.
A Meeting of the Chapter was held April 1, 1833. No meetings were again held until July 1st, 1836 — when it was voted that the furniture be sold and the proceeds applied to extinguish the debt. The Grand Chapter of Massachusetts on March 10th, 1840 revoked the charter of Mt. Horeb R. A. Chapter.
This brings us to an incident in Masonic history which is seldom thought of today. In the year 1826, there occurred what is generally known as the Morgan Affair, in which Masonry was blamed for the disappearance of one William Morgan. It was never proved that the Masons had caused his disappearance, but some people sought to use it as a platform on which to build an anti-Masonic political party. Of course the attempt failed, but for a number of years feeling against the Fraternity was bitter and widespread. Families were divided, brother arrayed against brother, father against son, and even wives against their husbands. The hatred of Masonry was carried everywhere and there was no retreat so sacred that it did not enter. The pressure was so strong that withdrawals by individuals and bodies were numerous. In 1827, 227 Lodges were represented in the Grand Lodge of New York. By 1835 the number had dwindled to 41. Every Lodge in the State of Vermont surrendered its charter or became dormant, and the Grand Lodge of Vermont held no meetings for several years. Pentucket succumbed in 1834 and ceased to function for eleven years.
On September 10, 184S, seven members petitioned the Grand Lodge for a restoration of the charter of Pentucket Lodge, its jewels and its property; and at the Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge in September, 1845, the prayer of the petitioners was granted. Pentucket Lodge was reopened September 16th, 1845, after a lapse of eleven years, six months, and fourteen days, at the dwelling house of Brother Jesse Phelps, on the Merrimack Corporation, on the westerly side of Dutton Street, a few doors north from Merrimack Street. The Lodge met at the same place September 22nd and 27th. Pentucket Lodge held its first meeting in Wentworth's Hall October 2nd, 1845, and again commenced its career of usefulness. (This hall was in the building now occupied in part by the Thompson Hardware Company.)
The Chapter had its charter restored March 10, 1846.
The Lodge increased in numbers. In 1851 and 1852 it became apparent that the establishment of another Lodge in this thriving and growing city was necessary. Pentucket Lodge cordially gave permission to several of its members to form a new Lodge in Lowell. The name of Ancient York was fixed upon, and Grand Master Randall granted a dispensation dated June 9th, 1852; W. Jefferson Bancroft, who in 1828, had presided over Pentucket, was appointed Master. The establishment of Ancient York Lodge created a generous rivalry between the two Lodges, and its effect was soon observed in the manner of work, and the attendance at Lodge meetings. . .
The insufficiency of the apartments in which the meetings were held, induced the Brethren to raise a committee for the purpose of securing more suitable rooms. Mr. John Nesmith was then erecting the building on John Street; the two Lodges and the Chapter entered into an arrangement, by which the Hall adjacent rooms were built and finished as they required. A joint agreement was entered into by which three Trustees from each Lodge and from the Chapter were elected for three years — one third of whom retired each year — who should have charge of the Masonic apartments, the property and furniture of which were jointly owned by the three bodies. . .
In January, 1853, the Lodges and Chapter left Wentworth's Hall which had been occupied by Pentucket Lodge nearly seven years and removed to the Masonic Hall in Nesmith's Block. (This building is now occupied by the Wedgewood Restaurant.)
Pentucket Lodge celebrated the semi-centennial of its charter in March, 1857, by a Lodge meeting in Masonic Hall and a supper at French's Hall on Central Street. The large hall was filled, and the speeches made were interesting and instructive. . .
The success of the Society had been such in the City of Lowell, that in the early part of 1866 the propriety of establishing a third Lodge was discussed. A petition was accordingly prepared, to which Pentucket and Ancient York gave their approval. The name of Kilwinning was chosen as representing the earliest history of Scottish Masonry, as Ancient York did that of the English Craft, through both of which distinguished sources we, in Massachusetts, take pride in tracing our Masonic lineage. A dispensation was issued, dated April 23rd, 1866. . .
The establishment of Kilwinning did not satisfy the increasing demands of the Craft in this city. A number of young, enterprising, enthusiastic Brethren, belonging to Pentucket and Ancient York, associated themselves together and petitioned for another Lodge. They selected the name of William North, who was familiarly known to his Lowell Brethren as "Father North," a veteran in the Institution who had identified himself with Freemasonry early in life, and followed its fortunes in sunshine and in storm with his characteristic fidelity. He had presided over Pentucket during seven of its most prosperous years. In the decline of life he retained the vivacity of youth and endeared himself to his younger Brethren by familiar yet dignified intercourse. He was a Christian man, a kind, genial brother, honored by his Brethren, and respected by all who knew him. A dispensation was granted to William North Lodge (thirty-two petitioners) March 26th, 1867, and March 11th, 1868, a charter was issued. . .
The last meeting held in Masonic Hall, on John Street, was January 31st, 1872, when it was used by Pilgrim Commandery, the Fraternity of Lowell having occupied it nineteen years. . .
When it was opened, in January, 1853, there were but seventy-one Lodges in Massachusetts; now there are over two hundred. . .
The increase in the number of the Craft in Lowell has equalled the general prosperity throughout the Commonwealth. The popu lation of Lowell is now rising 40,000. The number of Brethren affiliated with the Lodges on the first of September last, as appears by the official returns to Grand Lodge, were as follows: Pen tucket, 265; Ancient York, 196; Kilwinning, 43; William North, 111; total, 615. . .
During these nineteen years two new Lodges have been chartered, Ahasuerus Council been revived, a Commandery instituted, and four bodies of the Scottish Rite established in this city. The influence of these organizations and of their members has not been confined to limits of this municipality, but has extended to the Grand Bodies of which they are constituent parts, not only in State, but in the Nation. Especially in the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, our venerable mother, has this influence been exerted and felt. Through all the embarrassments and trials through which, in late years, our Grand Lodge has been called upon to pass, it has always received the encouragement, support and sympathy of the Lodges of Lowell and their representatives. From time to time the highest honors have been freely bestowed upon, and most responsible officers of trust in the Grand Lodge confided to, the Brethren of this city. During the entire period of the occupation of the John Street Hall, the Lodges of Lowell were represented among the officers of the Grand Lodge.
By this time the John Street apartments were inadequate and for several years the Brethren had been looking for a new home more suitable to their growing needs.
In the summer of 1870 the Honorable Hocum Hosford started construction of the building now occupied in part by the Dutch-land Tea Room and the Morse Shoe Store. After getting his building under way, Brother Hosford, who at the time was Worshipful Master of Kilwinning Lodge and Eminent Commander ot Pilgrim Commandery, proposed to the Trustees of the Lowell Masonic Association that "he finish the third and fourth stories in such manner as they desired and lease the same for a period of ten years with the privilege of another lease for the same period. This proposal was accepted and in February, 1872, the Fraternity moved into their new Temple, which was excelled by very few in the country. Briefly, these quarters on the third floor consisted of the main lodge room, 49' x 38' x \lx/i, known as Hosford Hall, the Armory for the Commandery, a small hall 30' x 20', fitted with the furniture from the old hall, ante-rooms and lockers for each of the bodies. On the fourth floor was the banquet hall, a kitchen, a "sodality room" and an ante-room for each of the several Lodges and each equipped to suit its respective tenant.
Masonry continued to grow, and about 1903, Pollard Hall was added to these apartments. This hall was located on the third and fourth floors over the Pollard Store Annex at the corner of Palmer and Middle Streets. These two halls were connected by a long ramp. This entire establishment was completely destroyed by the fire of 1926.
Wor. Brother Ray Pike, Jr., received his first two degrees in these quarters just prior to the fire. He is still wondering if someone set the fire to keep him out. The next meeting was held at the Hillside Congregational Church, where he received his third degree.
After that, the several bodies in the City met in the First Lmiversalist Church on Hurd Street, now the office of the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company, until 1928, when with fitting ceremonies they moved into this beautiful building of which we are all justly proud. In short, it can be said both literally and figuratively — PENTUCKET LODGE has been around.
By the latter part of 1927, the total membership of the four Lowell Lodges was approaching 2,800. There were numerous Masons residing in the City who were not affiliated with any of the four, and the Grand Masters for years preceding favored more and smaller Lodges. In short, conditions were right for the founding of a new Lodge in the City. Lucius A. Derby, for fifty-six years the Secretary of Pentucket Lodge, was largely responsible for the initial steps toward establishing this new Lodge.
There were fifty-two signers of the petition, including representatives from the four Lowell Lodges and thirteen others from states outside of Massachusetts. They held their first meeting in the First Universalist Church on February 28, 1928.
They had chosen the name of William Sewall Gardner for their new Lodge. He was a native of Hallowell, Maine. He had practiced law here until 1861, when he moved to Boston. He was a Justice of the Supreme Court. He joined Ancient York Lodge in 1852 and was its Master in 1856 and 1857. He was active in the York and Scottish Rites, was the first Master of Kilwinning Lodge, and District Deputy Grand Master in 1862 and 1863. In the Grand Lodge he held the offices of Marshal and Senior Warden, and in 1869, 1870 and 1871, was the Most Worshipful Grand Master.
Members of Pentucket were prominent in the formation and early life of this new Lodge and furnished its first three Masters: R. W. Garfield A. Davis, Lucius A. Derby and Walter L. Muzzey.
An occasion of historic interest occurred on March 18, 1954, when the Lodge celebrated its 147th Anniversary. The Most Worshipful Whitfield Whittemore Johnson, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, had accepted an invitation to join in the festivities, largely because it was also the 64th Masonic birthday of his friend R. W. Charles S. Proctor. Brother Proctor was then in his 89th year and in good health. He had been District Deputy Grand Master in 1907 when the Lodge celebrated its 100th Anniversary.
On this day the Grand Master opened the Grand Lodge in Pentucket Hall in the Spalding House on Pawtucket Street. This is the room in which the Lodge met and received the Grand Lodge on the day of its consecration 144 years and 5 months previous and the Grand Master, after opening, reminisced briefly on this fact. A picture was taken of those present at this meeting and is now hanging in the Tyler's room of the Masonic Temple. In the group were two other prominent Masons who had given many years of service to the Fraternity: Most Wor. Melvin Maynard Johnson, Grand Master in 1914, 1915 and 1916, and 62 years a Mason; Right Wor. Harry G. Pollard, Deputy Grand Master in 1920, and 58 years a Mason. M.W. Brother Melvin Johnson in his remarks after supper commented on this meeting and humorously said that the Spalding House and its furnishings were not the only "antiques" present.
As this historic sketch is being written for our 150th Anniversary, it is worth noting that these men are still with us and also that Andrew Gray Jenkins, who was then District Deputy Grand Master and in the group, is now our Most Worshipful Grand Master.
As you enter this luxurious Temple and enjoy the comforts which have been provided, reflect, at least for a moment, upon the founders of Masonry in this region, as they gathered on that bleak December day in 1807, in the cheerless hall of Phineas Whiting. They were brave men, accustomed to hardships and privations. They trod upon no carpet in their perambulations and processions, no electric lights flooded that melancholy room with a brilliancy rivalling that of the meridian sun. The bare windows were without shades or draperies. An uncushioned seat ran around the room. The officers occupied ordinary chairs upon a common level. A small table stood before Wor. Master Coburn. A warm fire blazed upon the ample hearth and this was the only hospitable token save the good cheer which the bright fire heated as they passed from labor to refreshment. The accommodations were meagre, their properties few, but their hearts were warm and beat with true fraternal feeling. They were fully imbued with the great principles of Freemasonry and although few in number they were closely allied and stood firm and united. They have long since departed this life. By slow degrees, the Institution which they founded here has increased until it now occupies its present proud position. Difficulties, trials, persecutions and bitter hatred have, from time to time, beset it; but through the protecting care of Divine Providence, it has survived them all. . .
In 1828, when Masons' Hall was opened the Institution found a home of its own which the members could control for the first time. The old custom of resorting to houses of entertainment as the only places where the Lodge could properly be held was then abandoned. That custom has not since returned. The effect of this change upon the Institution and upon the character of its members is apparent. The Lodges have been more respected by the community at large, and the members, as a class, have been selected from more elevated spheres of life. It can fairly be stated that the character of gentlemen enrolled as members of the Masonic Society in Lowell will rival in this respect any other Society in this city. . . . The growth and prosperity of Freemasonry have been commensurate with the growth and prosperity of this city which has sprung up "like the enchanted palaces of the Arabian tales" and have kept pace with its rapid advance. . .
Brethren: Let us remember that whatever honor we have heretofore attained, whatever prestige we have gained from the past and however high and influential our Society has become, its present prosperity and future triumphs must depend upon our lives and our separate individual exertions. Let us not live alone upon the hereditary glory of our Institution but let us make proof of our own ministrations, striving to build up higher yet the walls and towers of our Temple.
- 1809 (Constitution of lodge, II-432)
- 1819 (Irregularities, III-253, III-264)
- 1820 (Difficulties, III-281, III-296)
- 1821 (Report of delinquency, III-373)
- 1827 (Hall Dedication; at dedication of Lowell Masonic Hall, October 1929, 1929-170; see below)
HALL DEDICATION, FEBRUARY 1827
From Proceedings, Page 1929-170:
AN ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE DEDICATION
OF A NEW MASONICK HALL,
FEB. 28, 1827
An apology is due from me so lately initiated in masonry for presuming to address you at all and especially for standing in the place of my reverend brethren so much my superior in the Craft and so much worthier to appear before you in this capacity on an occasion like this. Whilst I thought only of an opportunity of expressing my thanks to this right worshipful Lodge and this Most Excellent Chapter for the light, instruction and honours which you have so generously conferred upon me and for the respect and tenderness with which you have carried me through the several gradations of masonry — my feelings betrayed me and I felt my incompetence to sustain this honour when it was too late to decline it.
I find myself therefore thrown upon your indulgence and whilst I assume the language of exhortation, shall feel myself only as your pupil.
Having dedicated this Hall to Masonry in the name of Him whose eye ever sees within our Lodge, in the hope that that eye will vouchsafe a benignant look upon this work of charity and love, let us cast a glance at some of the leading features and purposes of the institution with a view to a practical improvement.
It is one of the purposes of Masonry as you all very well know, to put the social feelings of your nature under high and extraordinary cultivation. The perfection of our nature is the perfection of our social character. The reflecting mind reads this truth in the book of nature, of providence and of religion. Yes, nature links us together and prompts us to strengthen the tie. Providence has made us dependent on each other and in that dependence has opened the sources of almost all our valuable improvement and refined enjoyment. The Christian religion is eminently social through all its departments.
The regeneration of our hearts is a renewal of our social susceptibilities and heaven the ultimate point of blessedness and hope is the sanctification and maturity of our social affections and character. The social character is most effectually cultivated by close contact. That if I mistake not is to be a feature of the heavenly enjoyment.
The more points of close contact, then, the better for good men. I have brothers by the tie of blood. I have brethren in the bonds of a loved profession. I have brethren by the sacred tie of religion. I have brothers by the dear and strong tie of Masonry, an institution in which fraternity is one of its very objects; which brings the social feelings under direct cultivation and put them into vigorous exercise. If there are any generous and social feelings in the heart, the Lodge will cherish them with kindly warmth: it will draw them forth and nourish them.
But when a man enters whose heart is impenetrably wrapped in the cold envelope of some selfish and partial design, he passes rapidly through the degrees: he looks with wary eye to see if there be any thing which he can turn to his own private purpose and finding nothing, he shakes his head at masonry and seldom has time to visit the Lodge any more. But he who has disinterested affections to cultivate; he who brings a heart capable of strong and close and pure attachments, will enter with diligence into your labours and will be content with his wages.
Be true then, brothers and companions, to this feature of your institutions. Bring hearts worthy of friendship and you will find hearts here to meet them. If you walk worthy of the masonick character you cannot but find sympathy — and see that ye weep with them that weep — that ye share in the distress and help the infirmities of a brother.
Brethren, beware how you admit men to your society, who from their situation in life, their habits or their natural temperament you have good reason to believe incapable of warm and generous friendship. Order is a feature of masonry. The order and regularity that prevails at publick meetings of masons, however large and crowded, over that of every other sort of meeting whatever, is striking even to the eye of a careless observer, and leads the world to suspect the truth that there is some secret power in your institution by which this marked, superior and untiring regularity is maintained. It is even so. Brethren, for the integrity of your masonick character, for the honour you have pledged, for the reputation of your institution let the power of that secret never be diminished among you.
Now to make a strict subordination of rank and station consistent with that perfect equality upon which all men naturally stand, was long a problem of very different solution. And little does the world know or dream how much it is indebted to freemasonry for its happiest forms of political institutions and for all the most successful experiments in rational and practical liberty.
I have often contemplated the commencement of the American Revolution with amazement, when the leading men of that day had become exasperated by the delay of justice and by repeated unavailing threats; when the pub-lick mind was heated even to desperation; when the oppressive fabrick of provincial government had crumbled away; when the yoke of existing authority was thrown off and no provision made for a substitute; when the civil arm was paralized, when the judiciary was in effect abolished; when every man was left to do that which was right in his own eyes, amenable to no law and liable to no apparent authority. I have often wondered what strong unseen influence at that critical moment, laid its silent, salutary and efficient authority upon this whole mass of excited, disordant materials? What invisible tie bound them together? What did link the machinery then, so that one impulse should give motion to the whole? What effectual checks had those leading spirits upon each other that no one could snatch the sword of ambition and overstep the bounds of due influence and seize upon the prize of arbitrary sway? What light illumined and what genius inspired them? The leaders of that struggle were worthy Masons and it was in the Lodge that they inhaled and cherished the spirit of Liberty, in the Lodge they cemented their indissoluble fraternity. The power of masonry was a curb on ambition and the light of masonry disclosed the true principles of freedom and suggested the happiest models of free government when our own was constituted.
Brethren, when you behold the order of the Lodge, when you witness and I trust experience its influence on the mind, contemplate the moral beauty of the principle as you see it exemplified, and mark well how subordination and equality combine together to form that lovely union which constitutes the life of happy society and the soul of desirable liberty. Never will rational liberty fail of a sanctuary on earth so long as the Temple of Masonry shall endure.
Interwoven throughout the institution, is, as you very well know, a complete system of moral emblems. This the world might have guessed from your charts and other printed documents and from what they see exhibited on publick occasions.
All nature is rich in emblems, we find them in the arts and in the sciences; we find them in morals and in religion. The nature of man is adapted to emblematical instruction and many of our best impressions are received in this way. The postures and ceremonies of religion's worship are emblematical and so are the sacred ordinances of the Gospel.
But when I speak of emblematical morality as constituting a distinctive feature of masonry, you understand me brethren, to allude to our peculiar method of using emblems. These implements of speculative Masonry are so applied in a system of important and very impressive instruction, that they become almost as instrumental in building up the moral character as the square and trowel in erecting our needful habitations. And it is this use of our emblems that makes them so interesting, significant and instructive to us.
When the uninitiated examine your chart, what do they see f Tell them that those pictures are moral emblems and what do they feel or understand? But to you, who are Masons in deed and not in name only, do know how to apply them emphatically and effectually to the edification of your moral character.
When you come before the publick as it is sometimes proper you should, and exhibit the implements with which you work on that noble edifice, what do they see but a mere show, a gay unmeaning pantomime. When the officers of this chapter were publickly installed, having been at that time but recently raised to the third degree of masonry, I knew but little of what was going on. And yet I had learned enough to suspect that rich streams of instruction were overflowing around us, though perceived only by enlightened eyes.
Did I mistake or was it indeed a fact that whilst some looked with a countenance of scorn upon that which seemed to them only a ridiculous show, the hearts of others were full as they could contain of sublime instruction and impressive feeling.
But though Masonry, in the use of its emblems, unfolds to you an admirable system of moral instruction, it is indispensably necessary that you set your selves to understand the nature and use of your tools and that you apply them accordingly in order that your work may be real and your character truly improved.
Although the moral apparatus of the Lodge is efficacious as any thing of the kind can be, yet Masonry has no machinery that can operate on yon against your will or without your will.
No power can give you effectual instruction unless your own minds be exercised upon it and your hearts opened to receive it. It depends upon you to make it a school of Virtue, after all. The purpose of speculative Masonry is a moral one interwoven with religion. He who looks not at the moral edifice which you build, he who likes to witness and engage in your work whilst he sees not or feels not the moral influence is a Mason in name only but not in truth. Such a Mason reminds us of a little child, when by chance he got hold of a book. He is delighted to put his hand on the gay smooth cover, to turn over the rustling leaves and perhaps to jabber in imitation of reading, but what knowledge does he thereby gain of the subject matter of the book. You must regard the moral of what you see and hear within the Lodge if you would be worthy of your calling.
And here I cannot but recommend the union of Christian faith and Christian motives with instrumentality of masonry. I say this, dear brothers and companions, not only because I know that in your indulgence you will consider me entitled to say so, but it is from the deepest and sincerest convictions of my heart. Masonry is indeed all that it claims to be. It is an admirable system of means and apparatus adapted to a noble end. It has been judiciously placed on the broadest platform possible. Its covering is the canopy of Heaven, its sphere is the round world itself. All however have not the light of Christianity as we have it and in us it requires a greater degree of moral pravity to resist it than is implied in the ignorance of the barbarian.
There is a divinity and inspiration in Christianity which Masonry lays no claim to. And brethren, we must borrow from Christianity the influence of its spirit to give sincerity to our devotions and purity to our motives, power to the means of virtue and genuine life to our morality.
As another prominent feature of our society, I will only remind you that it is a charitable institution. I know of no charitable fund that is placed upon a footing so sure and so unexceptionable as yours.
The world sometimes cries — "Where are your charities, we see nothing of your charities." That is as it should be, my brethren. They have no occasion to know when and where you distribute your funds — Let the streams of your bounty flow on silently and unperceived. Let every Mason make it a part of his business and duty to search in secret for worthy deserving participants of this fund. Let every brother feel that he has done an essential service to his Lodge when he has found out where and how the Masonick charity may be silently bestowed. Let it be more honorable to present the claims of suffering in your Lodge than even to wear the badge of distinction. Let the tears of the widow whose wants you may relieve be more precious than pearls. Let the crying of a brother's orphan infant, possess a power over your soul like the sound of the mallet. Here it shall be your honour and your reward to find out ways and means of relieving the suffering. Here when you bring a worthy claim on Masonick charity, you should feel that you offer a prize to the Lodge.
Then when your wife shall be a widow the watchful eye of the brethren shall unperceived be over her, unknown to her, the stream of relief shall be made to flow in her way; and her safety, her reputation and her comfort shall be guaranteed by the pledged honour of every brother. When your children are fatherless they shall not have to ask for friends, the finger of oppression shall not touch them if a Mason can prevent it. A door of hopeful exertion by some invisible hand shall be opened before them and every stumbling stone in the pathway of honorable distinction shall be privately removed.
Beware then, how you pervert funds destined to so sacred and benevolent a purpose and though I would not be in favor of defeating a worthy object by an ill timed parsimony, yet beware how you now put your finger on that which might cheer the heart of your widow or feed your hungry orphans. On worthy objects and to a proper extent, spare not and God will bless your basket and replenish your store.
These, brethren, are among the well known purposes and characteristicks of freemasonry. You must have perceived already what is necessary to be a true Mason. The world has no other means of judging of the tendency of the institution than by our lives—shall they have the power to point to the intemperate man, the dissolute, the profane, the unjust, the oppressor, the immoral and say with a sneer "is that Man a Mason". Alas, that we should ever be obliged to confess that some men do sin not only against the restraints of society, the light of conscience, the yearnings of religion but against the influence of the Masonick institution, the remonstrances of their brethren and against the obligation of Masons.
On this happy occasion, while we dedicate this hall to Masonry, and morality let us dedicate our lives anew to virtue and to religion.
Let us all from this moment, resolve to redeem our Masonick character, to use the means of virtue that are here to be offered us to repair the breaches of our moral edifice, to build up the waste places of our character and in humble dependence on the presiding spirit of all true Lodges on earth — Let us humbly strive to train our better part for the service and presence of the same spirit in the Lodge of Heaven.
Note — The Spelling and Capitalization follow the old form as written by Dr. Edson in his original manuscript.
OFFICER LIST, JANUARY 1818
From New England Galaxy, Vol. I, No. 15, 01/23/1818, Page 3:
Officers in Pentucket Lodge, Chelmsford.
- R. W. Charles Blood, M.
- W. Israel Hildreth, S. W.
- George Hutchinson, J. W.
- Isaac Colburn, Treasurer.
- Ebenezer Adams, Secretary.
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST DAY, JUNE 1828
From Amaranth, or Masonic Garland, Vol. I, No. 4, July 1828, Page 124:
The 24th was celebrated at Lowell by appropriate services. The address was delivered by Rev. Mr. Freeman. The public exercises are spoken of as highly respectable, and gratifying to the numerous auditors. The masonic brethren formed a procession at Masonic Hall, and moved lo Mr. Carter's Hotel, where a large company dined, and closed the day by the festivities of the board.
CENTENARY CELEBRATION, MARCH 1907
From New England Craftsman, Vol. II, No. 7, April 1907, Page 260:
Frank W. Hall; Solon Stevens; Charles S. Proctor
Worshipful Master; Historian' Toastmaster
Among the important events connected with the history of Freemasonry in Lowell, nothing has exceeded in interest the celebration of the centennial of Pentucket Lodge which occurred Saturday, March 9, 1907, and which was observed in a most elaborate manner with the assistance of the Most Worshipful Grand Master and officers of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and other distinguished Masons. The event had been long anticipated, its detail had been carefully arranged and generously provided for.
The general management of the celebration was in the hands of a committee whose chairman was Right Worshipful Charles S. Proctor, District Deputy Grand Master of the district and a Past Master of Pentucket Lodge.
The celebration occupied practically a whole day beginning at half past ten o'clock in the morning and ending at about half past ten in the evening.
One of the interesting incidents of the day was a reception held in the old Spalding House where Pentucket Lodge was constituted one hundred years before. The officers of the Grand Lodge, with the committee in charge, entered the historic house shortly after eleven o'clock. The old rooms of the house with their memories and the Masonic tablet were reminders of days long gone and a striking contrast of the difference in the requirements of the early days and those of the present time.
Shortly before twelve o'clock the ladies of the party took carriages for the Textile school, across the river, and spent an hour in viewing the place. Promptly at noon the Grand Lodge went into session at the Spalding house. This session lasted for an hour and at one o'clock the members of the Grand Lodge entered carriages once more and drove to Masonic Temple, in Merrimack Street, where Pentucket Lodge, which had also been in session, formally received them.
At 1.30 the church parade was formed. A squad of eight policemen, all Masons, commanded by Capt. William R. Kew, headed the line. Then followed the American band, of 30 pieces. The officers of the Pentucket lodge were next, together with the members of the lodge. Altogether about 250 members were in line. The grand officers and invited guests occupied carriages, and brought up the rear of the line.
The procession proceeded to the First Baptist Church, where the literary exercises connected with the celebration were given. Worshipful Frank W. Hall, master of Pentucket Lodge, gave the address of welcome. The response was delivered by Most Worshipful Grand Master J. Albert Blake. The principal feature of the exercises in the church was the historical address of Right Worshipful Solon W. Stevens. Mr. Stevens said in part:
In Central park in the city of New York there stands a colossal monolith granite-obelisk which constantly bears silent, solemn testimony to the architectural skill of a people, the oldest born of time, whose history runs back into the unknown, whose origin seems miraculous and whose stupendous temples and pyramids were reared at a time when everywhere else rude huts and dug-outs were the only known means of shelter for the race of man.
It is known as "Cleopatra's Needle." It was erected by Thothmes III., 600 years before the birth of Christ, at Heliopolis, a city of Egypt described in the Scriptures as the land of On where Moses was born.
It is about 70 feet in height exclusive of the pedestal on which it rests which is not far from seven feet in height and the weight of the structure is 240 tons. It is covered on each side with hieroglyphics running in perpendicular lines commemorating the famous dynasties of Thothmes III and Rameses II.
Twenty-five years before the Christian era it was moved by Augustus Caesar from its original site to the city of Alexander to commemorate the military victories of the illustrious Roman over its Egyptian builders.
Here it stood for 1900 years, or until 1880, when it was presented to the United States by Ismail Pasha, a former Khedive of Egypt, aud re-erected in Central park in the city of New York.
When the monument was taken down to be shipped to this country there were found around and beneath its base several curious emblems and implements which to the eye of the intelligent observer had a peculiar significance.
Vox instance there was a mosaic pavement around the foundation which was located due east and west; in order to reach the main column it was necessary to ascend by three steps; beneath or rather in the centre of the foundation there were found a rough ashler, a perfect ashler, a square, a trowel, and a stone of pure white marble representing an anchor in its shape; and there was also found a keystone, the faces of which were covered with significant designs.
It is a matter of record that when this obelisk was erected in its present location more than 25 years ago these identical emblematic stones were carefully placed in the same relative situation which they had continuously occupied since a period of time 25 years before the Sou of God was born. It stirs the blood momentarily at least to think of the vast antiquity which enswathes this colossal granite column, pointing backward calmly and with dignity more than 3500 years to the land of mystery situated on the shadowy threshold of prehistoric times, the home of the Pharaohs and the Ptolemies, of Moses and of Joseph, while standing in this brilliant, restless 20th century in the heart of the empire city of the grandest of the five great national powers of the world.
The craftsmen have passed into oblivion like the mummied kings and queens whom they served, but their tools aud implements of architecture have become the symbolic representations of certain great moral principles whereby thoughtful men in every civilized land have been induced to group themselves into societies for mutual helpfulness, and the promotion of the great scriptural doctrines of the brotherhood of man under the guidance and fatherhood of God.
Of such societies Pentucket Lodge of ancient Free and Accepted Masons is one; and we have met today to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its organization.
The speaker then drew a detailed and highly interesting sketch of the formation of Pentucket lodge at the opening of the 19th century. A number of influential men who as Masons were quite anxious to enjoy the privileges of lodge association without being obliged to travel to Groton or Concord applied in the year 1807 for a charter for a lodge at the Falls. The petition was signed by the following: Deputy Sheriff Isaac Coburn of Dracut, Moses Fletcher of Chelmsford, Ebenezer Flint of Tewksbury, Jonathan Hildreth of Dracut, John Chapman, Jr., of Tewksbury, Jeremiah P. Chapman of Tewksbury, Pierce R. Rea of Tewksbury, Jonathan Fletcher of Chelmsford, Benj. Fisk of Chelmsford, Wilkes Allen of Chelmsford, Jonas Clark of Chelmsford, H. Thorndike of Chelmsford, T. Berson of Dracut, Dudley Spofford of Pelham, Daniel Hayden of Chelmsford.
Then followed biographical sketches of the early masters, and mention of some of the principal events that have contributed to the welfare of the Lodge.
Pentucket Lodge by the personal character and capacity of its members and citizens has always been closely identified with the welfare and development of Lowell both as a town and as a municipal corporation.
In the history of nearly every branch of manufacturing industry in the church history, the school history, the political history and in the government of this enterprising municipality the names of many members of this society appear as leaders in these various departments of progress and growth and in the list of the 35 gentlemen who have been elected to the office of mayor of this city, from the day of its incorporation, to the present time there may be found the names of the following brethren who have been members of Pentucket lodge, namely: Elisha Huntington, Jefferson Bancroft, Ambrose Lawrence, Stephen Mansur, Jonathan P. Folsom, Edward F. Sherman, Chas. A. Stott, John A. G. Richardson.
Thus brethren in rapidly moving panoramic vision may be seen some of the leading incidents in the career of this society running from the date of the beginning to the closing hour of the century.
In the tremulous realm of shadows, which crowd the vista of 100 years, there are many forms and faces on which loving eyes would feign linger long, but the hour for reverie is past. New duties will demand new responsibilities. In these shifting transitory days of confusion and change there is one principal which is eternal and sure. It is expressed in the doctrine of the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God. As long as a free and intelligent civil government shall endure so long will the symbolism of our institution point to the development of magnanimity of character and of strong moral convictions. Let us never be unmindful of the tenets of our profession.
And so, brethren, in remembrance of the past, but with hearts buoyant and eager for greater achievements in the future, as you close the record of the old century and open the books for the registry of fraternal functions in the new one, let the text the preacher of your consecration sermon in the old Pawtucketville church be uppermost in mind: "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things."
An interesting musical program was given and a Centennial Ode read which is given on another page.
"One Hundred Years Ago" was the title of the anniversary hymn. It was composed by the oldest living Past Master of Pentucket Lodge, Thomas O. Gerrish, now a resident of Malden. America was sung by the audience. The benediction was pronounced and the service concluded at 3:45 with an organ postlude. After the services the members left the church for the temple, where a collation was served.
The closing feature of the day was the magnificent banquet given at the Armory. It is not an exaggeration to state that no banquet in the annals of Lowell's social or fraternal life has been so lavishly planned. Every cold, hard outline of the big drill shed, in which 400 men can maneuver, was softened by the touch of the decorator. Thousands of yards of red, white and blue bunting were used. The great cross beams and braces of the roof were covered with pennons which fluttered now and anon, and the red walls were bright in their vestiture of the national flags.
Thirteen tables, each with accommodations for 44 diners, ran crosswise of the hall, while on the West side of the armory the guests' table ran the entire length of the shed. And the tables were dressed with the utmost care. Little dining candelabra were everywhere visible, and bunches of yellow jonquils were placed at intervals on each table. It was a glorious scene as the diners marched to their seats, while the American baud played with much beauty an inspiring march. And considering that 600 persons had to find their seats, there was a surprising lack of confusion. Everything was done with most admirable precision.
It was just 7.15 when Worshipful Master Frank W. Hall called to order. Grace was then given by Rev. Edward A. Horton, of Boston, the Chaplain of the Grand Lodge. Following this the task of bringing in the food was begun. From each end of the immense shed the dishes came, 75 members of the various Masonic lodges in the city acting as waiters.
At 9 o'clock Worshipful Master Frank W. Hall rapped to order and introduced the toastmaster of the evening, R. W. Charles S. Proctor. Mr. Proctor stated that the lodge had a seven-shooter to fire at the assembled company, in the shape of seven speakers. He dwelt upon the mystic significance of the figure seven, and then introduced as the first speaker Sereno Dwight Nickerson, Recording Grand Secretary since 1881. Mr. Nickerson responded to the toast, "Masonry of Former Days."
Most Worshipful Grand Master J. Albert Blake got a warm reception when called to speak upon the subject of Masonry in Massachusetts. He was very brief in his remarks, saying in part: "I think we all know the Grand Lodge today holds an enviable position in the world, and this is due, for the most part, to the efficient management of the order's affairs by the men of a century ago, men like those who brought this lodge into existence."
The next speaker was Wor. Frederick W. Farnham, Mayor of Lowell who said in part:
"Pentucket lodge is celebrating today an event which will add lustre to the already bright chronicles of Masonry. Masons will long think of your observance of this centenary. It is eminently fitting that we cast aside the cares of business and enter into the proper observance of the 100th anniversary of goad, old Pentucket Lodge. Through storm and sunshine, through adversity and prosperity, under the banner of liberty, equality and justice, embodiments of the grand old institution we have taken as our own. Pentucket Lodge has thrived and grown strong and today stands more virile than ever before.
As I look out on this magnificent assemblage I see the best representatives of the financial and social bulwarks of the commonwealth. Such has been the power of Masonry that many leading men of the nation have been identified with it, including the signers of the Declaration of Independence, presidents of these United States, governors of states, men of letters and of business. Our first Grand Master — first in the hearts of his countrymen — stands alone, supreme in our history — George Washington. Lafayette said of Masonry that it was a most happy institution, and one of the pillars of American independence.
And, among our members, is counted the commander-in chief of the army and navy of this country (applause ;) the first man in the United States, if not in the whole world today, President Theodore Roosevelt. (Applause).
Just so long as we live up to the principles of good government and good public service we shall stand by the most sacred tenets of Masonry, and shall vote down the annals of crime. The spirit that actuates Masonry today is the most important factor in government, of, for and by the people, and may it bless you all with peace and prosperity." (Applause).
Charles Carroll Hutchinson responded to the toast, "Fraternity and Masonry." He was introduced as "one of the highest types of Lowell's citizenship." Mr. Hutchinson spoke briefly on historical matters and said, in conclusion: "There are few things which command our respect and inspire our admiration as antiquity does."
Rev. Edward A. Horton, of Boston, chaplain of the Grand Lodge, gave the response to the toast "Masonry and Religion." After telling inimitably some stories, he said:
If anyone should ask me if Masonry were linked with religion I should say the two were linked through and through. We are told man should not live by bread alone and in the calm, quiet survey of life we see the wisdom of it. We live, as surely as the sun rises, by friendship, comradeship, sentiment, the poetry of life. Sentiment is mightier than all the statistics in the world. Pile up your statistics on the products of the looms in Lowell, compile the figures of the output of all the great manufacturing plants, here, and what, aside from sentiment, do they represent? Masonry is filled with sentiment. We are members one of another, from the man who pays his poll tax, to the illustrious leader of men in America, Theodore Roosevelt. Sincerity also abounds in Masonry and religion alike. The hand clasp of brother Masons on the street is a short cut to the heart, the surest token of sincere friendship. Anyone listening to me who possesses the idea that Masonry is hostile to the church, should dismiss the notion. Their respective missions are not dissimilar.
John C. Burke responded for Pentucket Lodge. In opening he extended thanks to all those who had contributed towards the success of the observance. He then eulogized Pentucket as the mother lodge of the city and reminisced about the early years of the organization. He touched upon the progress of the lodge, an exemplification of the Precepts of the order, fraternity and charity. In Europe, he said, in Past ages, Masons had engaged in Political struggles. Masons in those times were men in high positions, who were identified with great movements and, at that time Was customary to combine men of like minds and fight in a common cause. Today Masons are fulfilling their mission of charity, fraternity and brotherly love toward the world. He said that nations, no more than organizations could forget their God. He cited the national upheavals in Egypt, when Pharoah's hosts were destroyed, and in Babylon, when Belshazzar saw the handwriting on the wall. In conclusion he hoped that Free Masonry would continue to adhere to the guidance of supreme power and carry out the principles of love.
A very handsome Menu was provided giving list of speakers and portraits of Timothy Bigelow, who was Grand Master in 1806 and signed Pentucket's charter, and Sereno D. Nickerson, Recording Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge.
The officers of Peutucket Lodge are: Wor. Bro. Frank W. Hall, Worshipful Master; Bro. George F. Howes, Senior Warden; Bro. Milo W. Hale, Jr., Junior Warden; Wor. Bro. Avery B. Clark, Treasurer; Bro. Lucius A. Derby, Secretary; Rev. Bro. George C. Wright and Bro. Daniel R. Wallace, Chaplains; Bro. Charles R. Blanchard, Marshal; Bro. Martin L. Kirkeby, Senior Deacon; Bro. Frank D. Proctor, Junior Deacon; Bro. William R. Foster, Senior Steward; Bro. Robert A. Kennedy, Junior Steward; Bro. James Hunt, Inside Sentinel; Bro. Irvin A. Foote, Organist; Wor. Bro. Frank K. Stearns, Tyler. Trustees— Rt. Wor. C. S. Proctor, Wor. W. D. Brown, Wor. A. B. Clark.
GRAND LODGE OFFICERS
- Benjamin W. Clements, DDGM, District 12 (Lowell), 1915, 1916; SN
- Prentice Cushing, DDGM, District 3, 1850-1853; SN
- Garfield A. Davis, DDGM, District 12 (Lowell), 1935, 1936; N
- Edson K. Humphrey, DDGM, District 12 (Lowell), 1923, 1924; Memorial
- Peter Lawson, DDGM, District 3, 1854-1856; SN
- H. Mark Leonard, Jr., DDGM, District 12, 2017, 2018
- Roland E. Mosley, DDGM District 12 1973, 1974; Senior Grand Warden 1977; N
- William North, DDGM, District 3, 1857-1859; Senior Grand Warden 1861
- Charles S. Proctor, DDGM, District 11 (Lowell), 1906, 1907; Junior Grand Warden 1914; N
- Charles H. Richardson, DDGM, District 11 (Lowell), 1886; Memorial
- Wilbur H. Roberts, DDGM, District 12 (Lowell), 1949, 1950; N
- Solon W. Stevens, 1875-1878; Senior Grand Warden 1879
- Raymond V. Ullom, Jr., DDGM, District 12 (Lowell), 1959, 1960;
- John E. VanKuilenburg, DDGM, District 12, 2021, 2022
- Francis L. Bacon, Memorial
- Colburn Blood, Memorial
- Samuel W. Brown, Memorial
- Theodore Edson, Memorial
- Edward Everett, Memorial
- George French, Memorial
- Isaac Hosmer, Memorial
- Jonathan M. Marston, Memorial
- Charles Morrill, Memorial
- Jesse Phelps, Memorial
- Seymour W. Priestley, Memorial
- Mark J. Smart, Memorial
- Solon Stevens, Memorial
- Charles A. Stott, Memorial
- Joshua A. Swan, Memorial
- Abraham Tilton, Memorial
- Caleb Wentworth, Memorial