Chartered By: X
Dispensation Date: date
Charter Date: date
Current Status: status
Meeting Date: First Friday
REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
VISITS BY GRAND MASTER
What Cheer Lodge may justly be regarded as an outgrowth of the Centennial celebration of St. John's Lodge No.1 Providence on June 24, 1857. That celebration served to inspire the brethren with greater zeal for the development of the benevolent capabilities of Freemasonry. At that time there were but two Lodges in Providence, St. John's with 180 members and Mt. Vernon No. 4 with 176 members. The opportunity for the formation of a third Lodge seemed especially favorable.
The first annual meeting for the purpose of forming a new Lodge was held at the office of Brother Clifton A. Hall, No. 10 Franklin House, July 7, 1857. According to the records, it was then:
Resolved, that it is expedient to form a new Lodge of Masons in the city of Providence, and that we proceed to petition the Grand Lodge for a Dispensation allowing us to work as a Subordinate Lodge.
On the question of the name of the new Lodge, Brother Hooker proposed St. Andrew’s, but the name of What Cheer was unanimously adopted on the motion of Brother Blanding. The suggestion of Brother Booker has, however, been so far followed that the annual meeting has always been held on St. Andrew’s Day, (November 30th) except when the day of the week happened to be Saturday or Sunday.
The first work of the new Lodge appears in the following extract from the records of the regular communication held October 6, 1857:
An Entered Apprentice Lodge was then opened for the purpose of conferring the Entered Apprentice Degree. Mr. Nicholas Van Slyck, having paid the required fee and being duly prepared was then made a Mason in ancient form. Messrs. Fenner H. Peckham and William A. Johnson, having paid the required fees, and being duly prepared, were then made Masons in ancient form.
To the brethren of the Lodge it is a matter of great gratification that the first candidate for the degrees should in time have reached the well merited honor of Grand Master of Masons of the State and of Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
On the eve of November 30, 1857, that being St. Andrew’s Day, the first annual communication of the Lodge, and its first communication under its Charter, was held.
After the close of the Civil War, What Cheer Lodge gained rapidly in membership, the time of greatest activity being reached in the year 1870-71, when 125 petitions were presented, of which 63 were rejected and 62 granted. The additions were considerably less in the years immediately following, on account of the financial disturbances and several other reasons. The numerical increase was also affected by the introduction of dues, which up to that time were practically unknown in Rhode Island.
An interesting incident in the early history of the Lodge was the procuring of two ashlars from the so-called What Cheer Rock, sometimes called Slate Rock, on the Seekonk River, on which tradition says Roger Williams first landed when seeking a home in these Plantations, and where he was greeted with the Indian salutation, “What Cheer Netop?” These ashlars were procured by a committee appointed April 27, 1860, and were set up in time for the semi-annual communication in June of that year. They are still in use, the perfect one at the station of the Senior Warden, the rough one at the Junior Warden’s. They are about four feet high and one foot thick and bear appropriate inscriptions in gilt letters. They are of historic interest and attracted attention at the time of their erections as being the first public monument to the founder of our State.
What Cheer Lodge has had varying degrees of prosperity during the time of its organic life. It has been active and useful according to its means and opportunities during this time.
It has much to rejoice over in a review of the past and can justly point with pride to its membership as a whole and to its success in the work of Freemasonry. It recounts its history with no feeling of regret other than such as inevitably arises from the shortcomings of all human endeavor. It seeks wisely to improve the present and looks forward hopefully and courageously to the future.