Difference between revisions of "Thomas"

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But not alone are the Worshipful Masters of Thomas Lodge worthy of mention, for however well qualified they may have been to preside in the East, the complete success of their service must always have largely depended upon the support they received from the chairs in the West. and South, and from those who sat on the right and left, as well as from the subordinate officers. How well and ably this support has been rendered, let the long and honorable record of Thomas Lodge answer. The list of the minor officers of our Lodge is a long and honored one, embracing many of the stanchest members of the community, for whose service our Lodge is grateful, and whose names will ever find an honored place in our annals. And thus, as we turn the concluding page of the first centurial volume of our records, we are reminded that we are standing on the dividing line of two centuries. Glancing backwards we count scores, many times told, of our elder Brothers who have gone to rest. Not alone the simple monument tells its silent story of them. Their names survive in our annals, their noble deeds in our memories. Silent are the voices of those who bore the name of Guthrie, of Ely, of Colton, of Ballou, of Norcross, of Reynolds, and a host of others in the past, but the good influence of their lives remains to pilot us out of the old into newer fields of effort. Let us trust that the coming century shall furnish us with as noble leaders as did the past, and that the prosperity of Thomas Lodge shall increase in the ratio of its added years. Let us also trust that our Lodge, though venerable with age, may never allow' the moss of inaction to gather upon its walls, but that its sacred halls, hallowed by the rich associations of the past, shall continue to echo to the voices of busy Craftsmen, and that its members, having done faithful service in the quarries of earth, may find a welcome entrance at last into the heavenly temple not made with hands.
 
But not alone are the Worshipful Masters of Thomas Lodge worthy of mention, for however well qualified they may have been to preside in the East, the complete success of their service must always have largely depended upon the support they received from the chairs in the West. and South, and from those who sat on the right and left, as well as from the subordinate officers. How well and ably this support has been rendered, let the long and honorable record of Thomas Lodge answer. The list of the minor officers of our Lodge is a long and honored one, embracing many of the stanchest members of the community, for whose service our Lodge is grateful, and whose names will ever find an honored place in our annals. And thus, as we turn the concluding page of the first centurial volume of our records, we are reminded that we are standing on the dividing line of two centuries. Glancing backwards we count scores, many times told, of our elder Brothers who have gone to rest. Not alone the simple monument tells its silent story of them. Their names survive in our annals, their noble deeds in our memories. Silent are the voices of those who bore the name of Guthrie, of Ely, of Colton, of Ballou, of Norcross, of Reynolds, and a host of others in the past, but the good influence of their lives remains to pilot us out of the old into newer fields of effort. Let us trust that the coming century shall furnish us with as noble leaders as did the past, and that the prosperity of Thomas Lodge shall increase in the ratio of its added years. Let us also trust that our Lodge, though venerable with age, may never allow' the moss of inaction to gather upon its walls, but that its sacred halls, hallowed by the rich associations of the past, shall continue to echo to the voices of busy Craftsmen, and that its members, having done faithful service in the quarries of earth, may find a welcome entrance at last into the heavenly temple not made with hands.
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==== 150TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, DECEMBER 1946 ====
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''From Proceedings, Page 1946-359:''
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''By Worshipful Allen F. Davis.''
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One hundred and fifty years is a long time to men who have learned to travel at the speed of sound; a long time to an organization which pauses for an hour to review its own past, a century and a half in the making; but in the light of history, such a period is relatively short, nor does it all seem far removed and long ago to those who in their own memories can recall a third or a half of the intervening years. It is only the more distant years which appear to draw away into the vanishing dimness of forgotten yesterdays; we remember present and the recent past, but lose the vision of the times before our own experience began.
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Lodges are men, and their histories are nothing more than the composite record of the men who in their own times left the impress of their own personalities upon the communities in which they lived, upon the men who followed them, upon the Lodge whose history they made.
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As Thomas Lodge enters the second half of its second century, the members of today may well look back upon the men who gave us our beginnings and built our proud heritage; may well look back upon the changing times through which they wrought, upon the growth and development of the community in which they had so large a part; and, looking back, may well stop to consider whether we of today would have wrought as well.
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When  [http://masonicgenealogy.com/MediaWiki/index.php?title=GMRevere Paul Revere] signed the charter of Thomas Lodge one hundred and fifty years ago, he brought into being a Lodge almost in the wilderness. Palmer was a scattered farming community, with a few houses grouped around the meeting-house at the Old Centre, and a few more on King's Row along the river bank. As late as 1812 there was no place within the town's borders which could properly be called a village; three families owned all of what is now Thorndike; Three Rivers was known as the "Dark Corner" and the homes of its two families were hidden in the woods, and a narrow road led to the one house and grist-mill where Bondsville now stands. Monson, but recently a part of Brimfield, was little different from her neighbor to the north and the Brimfield community was scattered over the hills and woodlands. Small wonder that our charter members chose to hold their meetings on or before the full moon; they rode over narrow roads and narrower paths. The first Massachusetts turnpike was chartered in the same year that Thomas Lodge began, and our early Brothers had been meeting in Lodge for two years before the eighteen foot roadway was built as far as Palmer. The Petersham and Monson turnpike, connecting with the turnpike from Stafford, was not built until six years later. They were strong men, busy men, those pioneers who paused in their struggle to wrest a living from the rocky soil and asked the Grand Lodge to charter them into a Lodge. When and where they had received their degrees our records do not tell us, but we know that several of them met at Scott's Tavern, and after careful thought, Samuel Guthrie, David Young, Peter Wallbridge, Hezekiah Fiske, Ephraim Allen, Elisha Woodward, Amasa Stowell, John Moore, David Peck, Zebediah Butler, Jesse Converse and Isaiah Blood, Jr. sent their petition to the Grand Lodge at Boston. Represented among the twelve were the towns of Palmer, Monson, Brimfield and Stafford, and their charter, signed on December 13, 1796, by  [http://masonicgenealogy.com/MediaWiki/index.php?title=GMRevere Paul Revere], Grand Master;  [http://masonicgenealogy.com/MediaWiki/index.php?title=GMDunn Samuel Dunn], Deputy Grand Master;  [http://masonicgenealogy.com/MediaWiki/index.php?title=GMThomas Isaiah Thomas], Senior Grand Warden;  [http://masonicgenealogy.com/MediaWiki/index.php?title=MAGLJLaughton Joseph Laughto]n, Junior Grand Warden and attested by Daniel Oliver, Grand Secretary, gave them full power and authority to convene as Masons within the town of Monson. No doubt Monson was for them the most central meeting place, and the upper rooms in the new tavern which later became the Century Hotel provided better accommodations than could have been found in either of the other settlements. Taking the name of their Lodge from that of Isaiah Thomas, the patriot whose signature was a part of their birthright, the twelve men named Dr. Samuel Guthrie, a practicing physician of Brimfield, as their first Master, were constituted into a regular Lodge and began their work.
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Thomas Lodge has two priceless heirlooms of that distant day. One is our original charter, cherished throughout the years not only as the symbol of the Lodge's creation and continued existence, but as an irreplaceable memento of the man who fills so large a place in our country's history. Few Lodges can boast a Paul Revere charter: none are better born. Second only to our charter are our jewels, presented to our founders by the man whose name we bear — Isaiah Thomas — and made for the purpose by his friend and brother patriot, Paul Revere, who besides his great part in shaping the destiny of our Commonwealth and Country, was the greatest silversmith of his time. Used for all meetings until about twenty years ago, the jewels are now cased under glass for protection and safekeeping.
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We have no detailed records of Thomas Lodge's first two years, but in that time sixty-three new members were added to the rolls, all of them men of reputation and standing in their communities. Dr. Guthrie continued as Master until 1802, and Captain Ozim Blashfield of Brimfield, who succeeded him for a year, continued the progress so well begun. Dr. Ede Whitaker of Monson directed the activities of the Lodge for the next five years, years of prosperity, of sound and rapid growth, years which saw the new Lodge well established. Then came the lean years, when new memberships were few and when there existed a strong feeling that the Lodge should be moved to Brimfield, where many of its members lived. Those were the years when town, state and country were also growing fast, when the War of 1812 was in the making and was fought, when the scattered farmsteads began to be drawn into closely settled villages and the churches were beginning to be organized separately from the governments of the towns. They were the years when Lodge meetings were held from nine in the morning until seven at night, when the members still rode their long way home by the light of the moon.
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Then came another time of growth and after that the years of darkness. The effects of the Morgan episode and the anti-Masonic period which followed were felt as fully here as in the state where it originated. From 1827 the Lodge took no new members for eight years and in the latter part of that time, their meetings were far from regular. The membership which had been increased by two hundred and fifty dropped to a handfull, as men of all walks of life yielded to the pressure and clamor against the fraternity as a whole. On January 14, 1835, the thirty remaining members of Thomas Lodge gathered at the call of the Master, Joshua L. Reynolds, for what might well, with weaker men, have been their last session. The cash in the treasury was divided among the members, to be used for charitable purposes, the Bible and cushion given to the Chaplain, Dr. Ely, and the jewels given into the keeping of the officers who last wore them. Then it was voted, and written into the record in a firm, bold hand, "That this Lodge be closed."
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For the next twenty-one years we have no record. Even the pages which perhaps bore some entry of the activities of the faithful few during that period are torn from the record book, and tongues which might have told us the story are long since still. We have only a legend and a tradition, but we know that on occasion, the men who had withstood the wave of misunderstanding met with each other, kept fresh in their minds and hearts their Masonry and their resurgent faith, and when the time had come, were ready and able to reopen their Lodge.
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In that same twenty-one years, the entire character of the community changed. The pioneer days were over, and the little farming settlements had become villages and towns. The coming of the railroad in 1838 created a new village at the depot; the mills built at Thorndike had greatly increased that village in size and importance, and in a very short space of time, the Old Centre was no longer the common meeting place of the people. The old First Church, whose meeting-house was controlled by the town as late as 1835, divided in 1847, the old church moving to Thorn-dike and the second church society erecting its own meetinghouse at the Depot village. Newly built factories were running in Bondsville and Three Rivers and the coming of the second railroad, which was extended from the south in 1850 and to the north three years later, completed the change. Palmer had ceased to be a farming community and had become an industrial and commercial town. Similar factors wrought similar changes in the other towns which had once supplied the Lodge membership, and the rapidly growing towns also grew apart. The same growth was undoubtedly responsible to some extent for the rapid dying out of the anti-Masonic sentiment which had been so strong only a score of years before, and the time was ripe to reopen the Lodge.
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Thomas Lodge still had men, strong men. In 1856 Joseph L. Reynolds and Col. Elias Turner, who had been Master and Senior Warden of the Lodge at its closing together with S. F. Newton, Jacob Thompson, J. R. Flynt, Dr. Alfred Ely, J. Nichols, D. B. Hannum, Otis Bradford and Joel Tucker petitioned the Grand Lodge for the return of the charter of Thomas Lodge. Their request was granted in September of that year, with permission to remove and thereafter hold the Lodge in the town of Palmer, and on October 11, 1856, Wor. Brother Reynolds, Col. Turner, Jacob Thompson, Jacob Nichols, with a few more of their former members and a few visiting Brethren reopened the Lodge they had closed twenty-one years before. The jewels and the Lodge property which had been confided to the members were all returned, the records were reopened and Thomas Lodge began to make its place in a new community.
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Within the next five years, the Lodge had gained nearly eighty members, men of character and reputation in the town and its villages, and had regained the strength which was so evident in its beginning. The Lodge continued to grow through the period of the Civil War and the trying years which followed, and the names on its roster of those years are the names of the same men who served the town and community, operated its factories and industries, conducted its business and commerce, and graced its social affairs.
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Twenty-nine Brethren, nearly a fourth of the total membership, served in the Civil War, a record of which no Lodge need be ashamed.
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For seventeen years after its reorganization, Thomas Lodge met in the upper story of the McGilvray Block on South Main Street, which was then the business center of the town, moving to the Commercial Block in 1873. Here the Lodge remained until 1885, when new quarters were fitted up in Wales Hall and occupied until 1890. Smaller accommodations in the same building served as a meeting place for three years longer, until in late 1893, the present lodge building was purchased.
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These years, too, were years of many and rapid changes. They saw the founding of our banks, the beginnings of the wire mill which is now the town's major industry, the development of the cotton mills which were the lifeblood of our villages, the building of our churches of other denominations, and the transition from a community dominated by the descendants of the pioneer families to a town composed of new elements, diversified and often controversial, new people, new ideas. Our schools, meager and small at the beginning of the century, grew in these later years to a comprehensive and carefully supervised system. The tide of business moved away from South Main Street where the railroads had first established it, and the town which we of today remember, came into being.
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The names of the men who directed the affairs of the Lodge in its second growth are the names of the men who as business men and citizens did for the town what they did for the Lodge as Masons. Their record is impressive. Each in his own time gave to Thomas Lodge the best that was in him, and each left to his successor a record of steady progress. When the time came for Thomas Lodge to celebrate its 100th anniversary, the members who gathered for that occasion could point with pride to the institution which they and their Masonic forefathers had built.
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By the beginning of the new century, the pattern of the Lodge, as well as the town, seemed fairly well established. The Lodge continued to grow and prosper, taking into its membership many of the outstanding men of the community, and expanding its sphere of influence. Its ritualistic work was invariably of a high order and the men who presided over its meetings and its business and charitable affairs were men whose Masonry was real. Like their predecessors, they built well in a changing world. This was the period which brought the street-car and the automobile which was eventually to replace it, the period which marked the beginning of the end of the cotton mills in this area, the period which brought the First World War, in which thirty-seven of our members answered the nation's call. The town was still growing in population, but its texture was changing, and changing fast. At the time Thomas Lodge celebrated its 125th anniversary, the membership was 326, and the Lodge had entered upon another period of rapid growth, the result of the postwar years.
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Our last twenty-five years are well within the memories of many of our members. We recall the meeting in 1923 when it was voted to lay the Revere-Thomas jewels away; we remember when the Lodge rooms were refurnished later that year and when at a single meeting we raised an additional thousand dollars to add to the estimated cost of the work; the record is fresh in our minds of the years when our membership reached nearly 400. Recent history, too, are the years of the great depression which affected Lodge and town alike, which saw the closing of the cotton mills, and the end of the textile era; years which reduced our membership by more than a hundred and which gave our Masters and members new problems, day by day. World War II is still with us, though active hostilities are at an end, and some of our members have only recently laid aside their service uniforms.
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The one hundred and fifty years of our past lie behind us, and we cannot well forecast the future. But, looking back over the way we have come, we can see the unchanging landmarks and by them can chart our Lodge's course, trusting that the men who shall direct our future will be in their times as strong and faithful men and Masons as those who have gone before.
  
 
=== YEARS ===
 
=== YEARS ===
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'''[http://www.masonicgenealogy.com/MediaWiki/index.php?title=MassachusettsYear1796 1796]'''
 
'''[http://www.masonicgenealogy.com/MediaWiki/index.php?title=MassachusettsYear1796 1796]'''
 
'''[http://www.masonicgenealogy.com/MediaWiki/index.php?title=MassachusettsYear1800 1800]'''
 
'''[http://www.masonicgenealogy.com/MediaWiki/index.php?title=MassachusettsYear1800 1800]'''

Revision as of 00:43, 14 January 2015

THOMAS LODGE

Location: Monson; Palmer (1856)

Chartered By: Paul Revere

Charter Date: 12/12/1796 II-93

Precedence Date: 12/12/1796

Current Status: Active


NOTES

MEMBER LIST, 1802

From Vocal Companion and Masonic Register, Boston, 1802, Part II, Page 19:

  • R. W. Samuel Guthrie, M.
  • W. Ozens Blashfield, S. W.
  • W. Ede Whitaker, J. W.
  • Isaac Holmes, Tr.
  • Joel Norcross, Sec.
  • William Bull, Tiler
  • Zera Preston, Deacon.
  • Isaac Warren, Deacon.
  • John Horn, Steward.
  • Amos Norcross, Steward.

No. of Members, 94.

  • Calvin Eaton
  • Luther Carter
  • Enos Hitchcock

PAST MASTERS

  • Samuel Guthrie, 1796-1801
  • Ozens Blashfield, 1802
  • Ede Whitaker, 1803-1805
  • Steven Pynchon, 1806, 1807
  • Joel Norcross, 1808, 1809
  • Samuel Willard, 1810-1813
  • Abraham Haskell, Jr., 1814-1820; SN
  • George Bliss, 1821, 1822
  • Timothy Packard, 1823-1825
  • Joseph L. Reynolds, 1826-1835
  • DARK 1835-1856
  • Elias Turner, 1856-1859
  • Sylvanus Shaw, 1860, 1861
  • George Robinson, 1862; SN
  • Marshall Fox, 1863
  • James B. Shaw, 1864-1866
  • Andrew Pinney, 1867-1870
  • George B. Kenerson, 1871, 1872
  • John W. Warren, 1873-1882?
  • Samue H. Hellyar, 1883, 1884
  • George O. Henry, 1885-1888
  • William A. Weld, 1889-1891
  • Charles T. Brainerd, 1892-1894
  • George H. Wilkins, 1895; SN
  • David L. Bodfish, 1896, 1897; Memorial
  • H. W. McGregory, 1898, 1899
  • Bryan Woodhead, 1900-1902
  • William H. Norton, 1903-1905
  • Edward B. Taylor, 1906, 1907
  • Thomas A. McCRea, 1908, 1909
  • Joseph F. Davis, 1910, 1911
  • Charles L. Wald, 1912, 1913
  • Charles M. Kempton, 1914, 1915
  • Harrie M. Howe, 1916, 1917
  • Ernest E. Hobson, 1918; N
  • Samuel P. Goodsie, 1919, 1920
  • George Patterson, 1921
  • Harry B. Sanborn, 1922, 1923
  • Charles F. Dingman, 1924; N
  • Fred S. Potter, 1925
  • Allen F. Davis, 1926, 1927; N
  • J. H. MacGeachey, 1928
  • Reg. C. Kempton, 1929
  • John P. Reed, 1930
  • Elmer J. Rhomas, 1931
  • Ralph E. Canning, 1932
  • Roy W. Johnson, 1933
  • John Moon, 1934
  • Herbert W. Bishop, 1935
  • Paul Heine, Jr., 1936, 1937
  • John W. Crane, 1938
  • James A. Vennert, 1939
  • Harold S. Crane, 1940
  • Fred Fell, 1941
  • Kenneth P. Keffe, 1942
  • William T. Brown, 1943, 1944
  • Augustus Newman, 1945; N
  • William D. Spooner, 1946
  • Lewis S. Flower, 1947
  • Edward W. Branford, 1948
  • Milton J. Wood, 1949
  • Wilbur D. Gunn, 1950
  • Frederick L. Worby, 1951 DDGM?
  • Horace H. Randlett, 1952, 1991; SN
  • Philip E. Cody, 1953
  • Arthur E. Brown, 1954
  • Harold R. Hobkirk, 1955
  • Walter F. Kaufman, 1956
  • Russell Thornquist, 1957
  • Arthur V. Hedman, 1958
  • Andrew G. Haveles, 1959
  • Robert B. Taft, Jr., 1960; N
  • Kenneth H. Main, 1961
  • Earle A. Anderson, 1962
  • Robert J. Cox, 1963
  • Rud W. Hermanson, 1964
  • Merritt B. Hyatt, 1965; SN
  • George F. Sawyer, 1966
  • Kenneth W. Phillips, 1967
  • Edson N. Carnahan, 1968
  • Robert E. Geer, 1969
  • Charles W. Smith, 1970
  • Richard E. Johnson, 1971
  • Clarence Carrington, 1972
  • Raymond E. Barton, 1973, 1976
  • Chester E. Bolek, 1974
  • Richard W. Cisco, 1975
  • Folke V. Ellason, 1977
  • John A. Rocasah, 1978
  • Gerald J. Hechigian, 1979
  • George Rahalm, 1980
  • George W. Shorette, 1981, 1982
  • Guy C. Lucia, Jr., 1983
  • George C. Kindberg, 1984, 1985
  • Roland I. Outhuse, 1986; PDDGM
  • John A. Altomonte, 1987, 1988
  • Ronald E. Wheeler, Sr., 1989
  • David W. Prew, Sr., 1992, 1993
  • Bernard B. Roche, 1994-1996
  • Homer R. Brooks, 1997, 1998
  • Douglas J. Fry, 1999; PDDGM
  • Kenneth W. Rhodes, 2000, 2001; PDDGM
  • Seth H. Blackwell, 2002
  • Gary A. Roberts, 2003, 2004
  • Lawrence A. Lucas, 2005
  • Stuart C. Hazen, 2006
  • Edward F. Miodowski, 2007
  • William K. Adams, 2008
  • Robert J. Parron, 2009, 2010
  • John C. Christie, 2011
  • Steven J. Ziobrowski, 2012

HISTORY

CENTENNIAL HISTORY, DECEMBER 1896

From Proceedings, Page 1896-401, Address by Bro. O. P. Allen:

It is fitting that organizations as well as communities should have recurrent periods set apart for honoring the times and the men which combined to make up their historic past. Such recognitions add a halo to the names of those who have spent their lives in serving, and dignify those who observe them. Imbued with this reverent spirit of retrospection, we seem to be standing today upon a commanding height, peering through the mists which stretch across an extended vista, searching for objects which may revive the memories of a hundred years.

In the olden lauds, where the deeds of millenniums' are lwoven into the warp and woof of their history, a century seems as yesterday; but in this new world of ours we talk of such a period as a wondrous while, and reverently listen as its tales are retold.

To-day we meet to celebrate the centennial birthday of Thomas Lodge, to inquire about our ancient Craftsmen, and learn something of their lives and acts. In doing this we also celebrate, in a wider sense, an added milestone in the progress of the larger Institution — universal Freemasonry. That we may more fully enter into the spirit of this. occasion, let us inquire for a moment something about Masonic history.

Outside the first and paramount position which the Church must ever occupy in our thought, Freemasonry stands as the noblest Order ever instituted! It had its inception in the needs of humanity, and sprang into being at the very dawn of history; becoming a mighty civilizing force in Egypt and Phoenicia, taking refuge at first in the mysteries of the Isian and Dionysian rites; then was broadened and elevated by the magic touch of Solomon; ages later was transported to Rome, whence its influence spread throughout Europe, where it was fostered and honored by princes, kings and emperors. Its members were men of proud renown, the architects and builders of the wondrous temples of Egypt and Tyre, whose Titanic, ruins still attest the skill and ingenuity of the ancient Craftsmen. They too were the constructors of the sacred Judean temple of Jehovah, the pride of Israel, the wonder of the world, the despair of the archeologist, whose polished walls arose from foundation to keystone without the sound of hammer, or extra (ouch of chisel, so perfect was the system under which the ancient Masons performed their work. In after times, when Rome rose to imperial power, they crowned her seven hills with palaces whose splendor dazzled the eyes of all beholders, and when the. pagan days were fulfilled, they erected the cathedrals Of Europe for the worship of God, many of which still remain to excite our wonder and admiration.

For more than forty centuries Masonry was operative in its work, when there came a time for its fuller and wider development, to meet the growing needs of the progressive peoples. The principles and symbols of ancient Masonry served as the basis for the modern structure of Freemasonry. Whatever was crude and objectionable in the older system was eliminated. The door of the Lodge was opened to proper men of all professions, and Masonry became speculative in form and spirit. In the words of a noted writer, "It is therefore the scientific application, and the religious consecration of the rules and principles,. the technical language and the implements and materials, of operative Masonry to the worship of God as the Grand Architect of the Universe, and to the purification of the heart and the inculcation of the dogmas of a religious philosophy." This is modern Freemasonry, and is of universal application. It teaches reverence for the Master Builder of the Universe, and for His revealed will, loyalty to the government under whose protection it exists. It nourishes no bigotry, harbors no schisms, asks no man at the threshold of the Order what his creed- or politics, whether he be prince or peasant; but rather if he be a true man, moral in action, loyal in purpose, one who seeks the good of others, and will be ever ready to do his part' to honor the Order into which he seeks to enter.

Governed by these principles the Order has flourished and planted its Lodges in all lands where civilization and Christianity rule. But its path has. not always been strewn with flowers. It has had to meet opposition, and sometimes persecution, because it has been misunderstood and misrepresented by its enemies. But to-day it is honored and patronized by hosts of men who occupy the highest positions in Church and State, who have found in its principles a grand factor for the benefit of mankind. And yet our Order does not proselyte. It does not seek to enlarge its numbers by urging men to come into its fold. All who come must do so of their own accord, incited by the influence which its members sustain in the community.

It has no written creed, but the essence of its principles is embodied in the sublime idea of the "Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man." True to this noble sentiment, its deeds of charity are not blazoned before the world, but find a grateful echo in the hearts of needy Brothers, with often no other record save that written by angel pen.

The mysteries of the ancient peoples have faded from the minds of men, but evolved from them, purified aud enriched by the Divine Word, moulded and fitted to meet the needs of modern thought, Freemasonry has come to bless the world. It has served to unite diverse orders of men, to break clown barriers which have long divided, and caused men to meet on the level where all other measures have failed. May it ever continue in the future, as in the past, a mighty factor for good!

From this brief digression let us turn our thoughts to the more limited matters of our Lodge. The records do •not disclose the circumstances which led up to the formation of Thomas Lodge, at a time when there were but twenty Lodges in the State, and but four recently established west of Worcester. We have no knowledge where our charter members were made Masons, but probably in the eastern part of the State. We know from other documents, recently brought to light, that Freemasons had resided in Palmer as early as 1774. At least the two William Scotts, father and son, belonged to the Order, and doubtless received their degrees in Boston while the son was pursuing his studies at Harvard. When the second Scott tavern was built in 1774, at Shearer's Corner in Palmer, the third story of the new house was devoted to the purposes of a Masonic Hall, where members of the Craft held meetings for mutual benefit. As this was but forty years after the establishing of Freemasonry in America, and the Scotts were nien of education and wide influence, this Hall doubtless furnished the nucleus of the Order in Western Massachusetts, and may have paved the way for the foundation of our Lodge.

In 1796 twelve Freemasons of Monson and vicinity petitioned the Grand Lodge of the State of Massachusetts for the establishment of a Lodge of Freemasons in that town. The result of this-petition was the granting of the following

CHARTER.

To all the Fraternity to whom these presents shall come, the Grand Lodge of the most Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons, for the Commonwealth of. Massachusetts, send greeting:

Whereas, a petition has been presented to us by Samuel Guthrie, David Young, Peter Walbridge, Hezekiah Fiske, Ephraim Allen, Elisha Woodward, Amasa Stowell, John Moore, David Peck, Zebediah [Butler, Jesse Converse, and Isaiah Blood, Jr., all Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, praying that they, with such others as shall hereafter join them, may be erected and' constituted a regular Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, which petition, appearing to us as tending to the advancement of Masonry and the good of the Craft: Know ye therefore, that we, the Grand Lodge aforesaid, reposing special trust and confidence in the prudence and fidelity- of our beloved Brethren above named, have constituted and appointed, and by these presents do constitute and appoint them, the said Samuel Guthrie, David Young, Peter Walbridge, Hezekiah Fiske, Ephraim Allen, Elisha Woodward, Amasa Stowell, John Moore, David Peck, Zebediah Butler, Jesse Converse, and Isaiah Blood, Jun., a regular Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, under the title and designation of Thomas Lodge, hereby giving and granting unto them and their successors, full power and authority to convene as Masons within the town of Monson, in the County of Hampden, and Commonwealth aforesaid, to receive and enter Apprentices, pass Fellow Crafts, and raise Master Masons: upon the payment of such moderate compensations for the same as may be determined by the said Lodge; also to make choice of a Master, Wardens, and other office bearers, annually or otherwise, as they shall see cause; to receive and collect funds for the relief of poor and distressed Brethren, their widows or children, and in general to transact all matters relating to Masonry which may to them appear to be for the good of the Craft, according to the ancient usages and customs of Masons. And we do hereby require the said constituted Brethren to attend the Grand Lodge at their Quarterly Communications, and other meetings by their Master and Wardens or by proxies, regularly appointed, also to keep a fair and regular record of all their proceedings, and to lay them before the Grand Lodge when required. And we do enjoin upon our Brethren of the said Lodge, that they be punctual in the quarterly payment of such sums as may be assessed for the support of the Grand Lodge. That they behave themselves respectfully and obediently to their superiors in office, and in all other respects conduct themselves as good Masons, and we do hereby declare the precedence of the said Lodge in the Grand Lodge and elsewhere to commence from the date of these presents.

In testimony whereof, we, the Grand Master and Grand Wardens, by virtue of the power and authority to us committed, have hereunto set our hands, and caused the seal of the Grand Lodge to be affixed at Boston, this December, the thirteenth day, Anno Domini, MDCCLXXXXVI, and of Masonry, 5796.

Paul Revere, G.M.,
Samuel Dunn, D.G.M.,
Isaiah Thomas, S.G.W.,
Joseph Laughton, J.G.W.,

Attest: Daniel Oliver, Grand Secretary.

In the original of this priceless document our Lodge is proud to possess the autograph of Paul Revere, the fearless patriot, the bare mention of whose name calls back the dramatic opening scene of the Revolution, when

"Through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night wind of the past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness, and peril, and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoofbeats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere."

Our Charter also bears the autograph of another patriot, Isaiah Thomas, for whom our Lodge is named, and that we may more fully appreciate the noble namesake of our Lodge, a brief sketch of his life is introduced at this point. Isaiah Thomas was born in Boston, Jan. 19, 1749. He came from a long line of reputable English ancestry, but owing to reverses, his father, Moses Thomas, lost his property, and, dying, left his family in poverty. Young Thomas was bound out as an apprentice to a printer in Boston at the age of six years. Thrown thus early upon his own resources he became' self-reliant; deprived of the benefit of school education he taught himself and became. by severe application, a fluent speaker and a lucid writer. He overcame many obstacles where others would have faltered, and was crowned with a success of which any man might be proud. He. founded the Massachusetts Spy in Boston in 1771, now the oldest paper in the State, and when the time arrived for the public mind to be aroused against the encroachments of the crown, his paper glowed with patriotic appeals. He shrank not from duty when the hour of trial came, but. with gun in hand took his place in the ranks on the streets of Lexington; and when that memorable conflict was over, he moved his printing-press to Worcester, wrhere he built up a great business as a printer and publisher. At one time he was the foremost publisher in the county, and his name became a. noted one. His acquirements were such that he was accorded the degree of Master of Arts by Dartmouth College in 1814, and that of Doctor of Laws by Alleghany College in 1818. He was a" member of many societies and the founder of the American Antiquarian Society, of Worcester, to which he gave over $40,000.

Many other societies and individuals, besides his own family, were the recipients of his liberal bequests. He was for many years a member of the Grand Lodge of Masons, and for some time its Grand Master. He gracefully acknowledged the honor conferred upon him by our Lodge, in selecting his name for its designation, by the gift of a valued set of jewels for the officers, which are still in use. He also, many years afterwards, bequeathed Thomas Lodge the sum of one hundred dollars, which amount was paid to its treasurer, Amos Norcross, who went to Worcester for the purpose of receiving it, April 17, 1832. Dr. Thomas died April 4, 1831, full of years and honors, leaving a name long to be remembered.

With its Charter granted Dec. 13, 1796, and a nucleus of twelve members, Thomas Lodge began its work. It was provided with a convenient home in the upper rooms of the new tavern, erected, in the beginning of its charter year, in Monson, by William Norcross, and now known as the Century Hotel. The Hall was dedicated Dec. 30, 1800, and was occupied for Masonic purposes till the closing of the Lodge in 1835. For some unknown reason the records of the Lodge do not begin until Feb. 13, 1799, some two years after the Lodge was chartered; but from the fact that we find scattered through the records some fifty-five names of members added prior to the above date, we are led to conclude that much work was done of which we have no account. This view is strengthened by the fact that we find in a statement from the Grand Lodge, September, 1800, that seventy-nine Brothers had been initiated from March 7, 1797, to September, 1800, and as there were one hundred and eight members in the Lodge at that time, it would seem twenty-nine of them had either been members at the commencement or had become such by affiliation.

It seems, then, that the Lodge commenced active work March 7, 1797, but left no record of its doings for nearly two years. Dr. Samuel Guthrie was the first Master of our Lodge, and retained the position till 1802. Prior to 1802 the Lodge had been in the habit of taking notes from initiates for fees, but voted to dispense with the practice after this date, and accept cash payments only. Years of prosperity followed, and many members were added to the ranks. In 1819 four notable clergymen were made Masons in our Lodge whose names will ever reflect honor upon it: Rev. Dr Alfred Ely and Rev. Dr. Simeon Colton, of Monson, Rev. Benjamin Hill and Rev. Dr. Hosea Ballou of Stafford.

  • Dr. Colton was a native of Longmeadow, a graduate of Yale in 1806, settled over the church in Palmer in 1811, dismissed in 1821, after which he was for some years the principal of Monson Academy, a teacher in North Carolina, and later president of Clinton College, Mississippi. The degree of D.D. was conferred upon him in 1846. He died at Ashborough, N.C., December, 1868. He was a man of much enterprise and of scholarly attainments. Dr. Colton often officiated as chaplain of the Lodge, and took much interest in the work.
  • Rev. Benjamin Hill was a Baptist minister at Stafford, Ct.; removed to New Haven, where he became prominent and was honored with the title of D.D.
  • The Rev. Dr. Hosea Ballou, 2d, was born in Halifax, Vt., Oct. 1S, 1796; died at Somerville, Mass., May 27, 1861. He was a grand-nephew of the elder Hosea Ballou, and, like his namesake, a well-known Universalist clergyman. He entered the ministry at a very early age, and was the first settled pastor over the first Universalist Society at Stafford, Ct. It was during his pastorate there that he was initiated in our Lodge. In later years he became the first president of Tufts College, his profound scholarship well fitting him for that honorable position, which he filled with distinction.
  • Rev. Dr.. Alfred Ely, a native of West Springfield, graduated from New Jersey College in 1804; was settled over the Congregational church in Monson, Dec. 17, 1806, which pastorate he filled till his death, .July 6, 1866, a period of sixty years. Dr. Ely was a man of marked ability and broad views. He left a deep and lasting- impression of his personality upon the memories of the people among whom he labored so long. He was an enthusiastic workman in Thomas Lodge, serving as its chaplain for years; was often invited to give dissertations on the subject of Freemasonry in' his own and other Lodges, which were highly appreciated by the Brethren. By the courtesy of Brother Reynolds, of Monson, I have had the pleasure of reading one of these printed discourses given before Mount Vernon Lodge in Belchertown seventy-six years ago. It is a gem, every line of which sparkles with the light received from the absolute source. I quote ;a paragraph, touching the influence of Freemasonry, in which the Doctor says, "Our forms, our emblems, our lectures, unite in their tendency to improve the mind, to discipline it to justness of thought and of reasoning, to strengthen the mental powers, and to render us more capable of acting well our part in society; and what is of more importance, to form our conduct by the rules of virtue, to lead us to the practice of uprightness and benevolence in our intercourse with others, and to cultivate the friendly, social, and brotherly affections among ourselves. They have a further tendency, to awaken us to serious and solemn reflections on our mortality, and accountability to our great Master in heaven, and to bring us to worship, adore and serve Him." Truly this is an inspiring tribute to the underlying principles of our Order.

In 1828 the Lodge purchased books for a library to be- used by the members, and two years later voted to. dispense with the use of ardent spirits in the Lodge meetings, both -of which actions tend to show that Thomas Lodge was not, a laggard in the. march of progress, but rather a leader in vital matters of reform. Some incidents peculiar to the times may be noted in passing. It was the early practice of Thomas Lodge to hold its meetings from 9 A.M. to 7 P.M.; this was a necessity from the fact that members came from long distances, in the surrounding towns, as there was no other Lodge in the vicinity for many years.

From the early records we gather facts which impress us with the idea that extreme care was exercised when new names were proposed, that no unworthy person might obtain membership; this wise precaution doubtless gained an enviable prestige for the Lodge.

For many years it was the practice for visiting Brethren to pay the sum of twenty-five cents for each visit, thus allowing them to bear some of the burdens, while they received the benefit of the meetings.

There was a large membership in Brimfield, and at one time there existed a strong feeling in favor of removing the Lodge there, but wiser councils prevailed,. and Monson continued to be the home of the Lodge till the disbanding of its members.

For thirty-nine years our Lodge had prospered. Two hundred and fifty names had been added to its list' of members, many of whom were the leading men of Monson, Palmer, Brimfield, and. other towns, gathered from the varied walks of life. But in the midst of its useful labors there came a time of adversity. Some indiscretions of certain members of the Fraternity in New York had been magnified, misrepresented and construed to suit the purposes of designing political leaders, whereby the public mind was incited against the Order in a remarkable degree. Households were often divided and communities rent in twain over the burning question. Even many churches sought to discipline members because of their affiliation with Masonry; as an instance of which it is said the deacons of Dr. Ely's church urged him to publicly denounce the Order and its principles. The Doctor remained steadfast in his position, and said he firmly believed in the Order and never would condemn it, but at the same time, if it was causing any Brother to offend, he would so conform to the desires of his people as to refrain from attendance upon the meetings of the Lodge. He remained true to this declaration of principle through all the battle which raged for twenty years, and lived to see the complete triumph of Freemasonry over all its enemies. In the midst of the strife, and in view of all the circumstances, it seemed wise on the part of Thomas Lodge to close its doors and disband the Craftsmen till more propitious times should come.

On the 14th day of January, Anno Lucis 5835, thirty members of Thomas Lodge gathered for the last time, as it seemed to them. The salable effects had been disposed of for cash. It was voted to give the Bible and cushion to Rev. Dr. Ely, and that the jewels should remain in the custody of the officers who were last elected to wear them. By a careful canvass, it wras found that the Lodge had lost by death, dismissals and lapses on account of unpaid dues, two hundred and twenty of its members, so that but thirty remained. The balance of cash in the treasury, amounting to $227.55, was divided into thirty shares, and given to each of the members to be used as a small fund for charity by them. The parting words of regret and sadness were spoken by the Worshipful Master, J. L. Reynolds, and then it was voted "that this Lodge be closed."

The years of waiting went by slowly, but that they might keep alive the words and lessons of the past, the faithful Master and Senior Warden occasionally met in a retired place and recited to each other the work of the Lodge, hoping some time the long-vacant chairs might receive them again. At length their patient faithfulness was rewarded. Moved by the spirit of returning prosperity and the clearing of the once lowering skies, a few members, of Thomas Lodge petitioned for the restoration of the ancient Charter, and that the reorganized Lodge be located in Palmer. In response to this petition the Grand Lodge issued this order:

In Grand Lodge of Massachusetts,
Boston, Sept. 10, A.L. 5856.

Ordered that the Charter of the late Thomas Lodge, of Monson, be and the same is hereby restored to the following petitioners, former members of said Lodge, with permission to remove and hereafter hold the same in the town of Palmer, viz.: Brothers Elias Turner, J. L. Reynolds, S. F. Newton, Jacob Thompson, J. R. Flynt, A. Ely, J. Nichols, D. B. Hannum, Otis Bradford and Joel Tucker, and the foregoing petitioners, their associates and successors, are hereby invested with the rank and all the powers and privileges originally conferred by the within Charter.

Winslow Lewis, Grand Master.
Attest: Chas. W. Moore, Grand Secretary.

Armed with the restored Charter, J. L. Reynolds, W.M., Elias Turner, S.W., Jacob Thompson, J.W., and Joseph Nichols, Treasurer, members of Thomas Lodge, and a few visiting Brethren, met in Palmer, Oct. 11, 1856, to reorganize the Lodge which had been dormant for twenty-one years. On resuming the long-vacant chair in the East, the Worshipful Master, J. L. Reynolds, said, "There was great cause for congratulation, after being buried, as its enemies supposed, for so many years, and now bursting into life with the wrecks of its honor and fame around it, but at the same time with a sure and certain hope of a more glorious exemplification of its work." Surely the words of Brother Reynolds were more than a hope, they were prophetic, and have had a rich fulfilment, as we to-day can testify. On that eventful eleventh day of October the chairs in the East and West were filled again with their former occupants, thus linking with grateful remembrances the closing of the old and the opening of the reorganized Lodge. Thirty-four of the former members were made honorary" members of the reorganized Lodge, yet only J. L. Reynolds and Elias Turner became active members. The new home of the Lodge was established in the upper story of the McGilvray Block, where it remained till 1873. Entering upon its new life, the Lodge started with seven active members, and at the close of 1857, or fifteen months, had made twenty-one Masons, of whom only four remain: present members; J. S. Loomis is the senior living member, followed by C. H. Murdock, Judge George Robinson, and Dr. William Holbrook. The others have gone to their rest, or have been dismissed to other Lodges.

When the War of the Rebellion broke out, our Lodge was not lacking in patriotism. Bro. J. S. Loomis was active as a town officer, securing recruits for the army. C. H. Murdock volunteered for the war. Bro. Robinson remained at home, but has long done useful and honorable service in Masonic work, in which he still continues. Our veteran Dr. Holbrook was one of. the earliest in town to offer his service to his country, accepting a position as assistant surgeon in the Tenth Massachusetts Regiment. As a tribute of the appreciation in which he was held by the Lodge, a contribution from its funds and from the members was given him towards buying the noble black steed which bore him through the war and came back with him in safety. We can also point with pride to the gallant war record of twenty-seven other members of our Lodge, who obeyed the call of duty and patriotism in the hour of need, some of whom have been called from labor to rest. Surely this is an array of men and of members of which no Lodge need be ashamed. Of those who were made Masons in 1858, Bro. F. J. Wassum is the only remaining member.

Having need of better accommodations, this Lodge secured commodious rooms in the new Commercial Block, in 1873, which were occupied till Sept. 21, 1885, when it removed to the elegant rooms fitted up in Wales Hall; where it remained till August, 1890, when, owing to changes made in the Block, a smaller Hall in the same Block was occupied till December, 1893. In the latter year the Masonic Hall Association was incorporated, embracing the three Masonic Bodies in Palmer, by which the Hitchcock Block was purchased on Central street, and a second story added, containing a commodious Hall, now the permanent home o'f Thomas Lodge and the other Masonic Bodies of the. town. The Hall was dedicated with imposing ceremonies by Officers of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Dec. 5, 1893.

Thomas Lodge has always maintained an enviable position among its' sister Lodges, and being the senior in Hampden and Hampshire counties, its favor and counsel have often been sought in the formation of new Lodges. During its existence of one hundred years it has had a total membership of nearly six hundred. Its present membership is about one hundred and fifty. Death has decimated its ranks, and removals have been numerous. Many of the leading men of Eastern Hampden have lent their names and influence to its councils. Ministers of various denominations, lawyers, physicians, merchants, mechanics, farmers, have been arrayed in its ranks and sustained it by their influence. It needs but the careful perusal of its eight volumes of records to convince any one of the high moral standard of its membership. They disclose the fact that a few, lacking the moral strength of their Brothers, have required and received the needed reprimand, and in a very few cases the severe discipline of expulsion. This speaks well for the Lodge, not that a few members needed to be cast out, but that the councils of the Lodge were governed by right views of living. It goes without saying that when associations of men become so lost to moral sense that they have no power to check evil, or desire to enforce discipline, it is full time for them to separate. But as an offset to this, our -records reveal many touching deeds of charity to needy Brothers or their widows, of which the world knows not; words of sympathy in the hour of affliction, of encouragement in the hour of trial.

Thomas Lodge has been happy in its selection of Worshipful Masters, chosen for their personal worth and business capacity; one evidence of which is found in the fact that the Lodge has had but twenty-three Masters during one hundred years. Of these Joseph L. Reynolds presided in the East for thirteen years; J. B. Shaw, eight years; Dr. Samuel Guthrie and Judge Robinson, six years each; Dr. E. Whitaker, Joel Norcross, and G. B. Kenerson, five years each; A. Haskell, Timothy Packard, S. H. Hellyar, W. A. Weld, C. T. Brainerd, three years each;. Stephen Pynchon, Dr. Samuel Willard, George Bliss, Col- E. Turner, S. G. Shaw, A. Pinney, two years each; 0. Blashfield, Marshall Fox, Dr. J. K. Warren, G. O. Henry, and Dr. G. "H. Wilkins, our present Worshipful Master, one year each. It is doubtful if a more representative list of men can be found in Western Massachusetts who have presided over any association in consecutive order for a century.

A brief sketch of the Worshipful Masters of Thomas Lodge, who have been called from earthly labors, may be of interest, in this connection.

  • Dr. Samuel Guthrie, the- first Master, served from 1797 to 1802; he headed the petition for the establishment of Thomas Lodge. He was a. practising physician in Brimfield, and died there in 1809, when the Lodge voted to attend the funeral in a body.
  • Captain Ozim Blashfield was elected in 1802, and held office for one year. He was also of Brimfield. He had been a captain in the Continental Army. He was born in 1757, and died in 1808.
  • Dr. Ede Whitaker was elected in 1803, and served five years. He came from Stafford to Monson in 1790, where he practised his profession till about 1840.
  • Stephen Pynchon, of Brimfield, was elected in 1806r and served two years. He was a graduate of Yale in, 1789; a lawyer.by profession; town clerk of Brimfield from 1797 to 1823 ; town treasurer , from 1803 to 1810; selectman from 1805 to 1821; postmaster 1806; Representative 1805 to 1823. For many, years he was one of the leading men of his town.
  • Joel Norcross was elected in 1808, and served five years, at different times. He was a leading merchant and manufacturer of Monson, and a man of affairs, concerned in founding important manufacturing interests, one of the founders of Monson Academy, a real estate Owner, and identified in the growth of the town. He was a member of the Congregational church. He was born Aug. 6, 1776, and died in Monson.
  • Dr. Samuel Willard was elected in 1810, and served two years. He was the son of Rev. John Willard, of Stafford. He built a part of the Stafford Springs House in 1802, and retained a large interest in the plant till 1815.
  • Dea. Abraham Haskell was elected in 1814, and served three years. He was one of the selectmen of Monson in 1817, and represented the town in the Legislature in 1821; was a deacon of the Congregational church. Iu his old age he went West, where he died.
  • Hon. George Bliss was elected in 1816 and served two years. He commenced the practice of law in 1816; afterwards moved to Springfield, where he became a leading member of the Bar; was Speaker of the House and later President of the Massachusetts State Senate.
  • Timothy Packard was elected in 1823 and served three years. He was a leading; merchant of Monson for many years, and was honored with several town offices.
  • Hon. Joseph L. Reynolds was elected the first time in 1826, and presided in the East for thirteen years, which included office in the old and the reorganized Lodge, and virtually during the interregnum of twenty-one years. He was an officer of' commanding presence and dignity, and served the Lodge with honor aud ability during the most trying period of its existence. He was closely identified with the manufacturing interests of Monson, where he built up a large and successful business. Besides, he was a man of affairs, in appreciation of which he was elected in 1854 to represent Hampden County in the State Senate, where he served with honor. He was for many years a member of the Congregational church at Monson. He was born in North Kingston, R.I.. Dec. 31, 1796, and died in Monson, June 9, 1885.
  • Col. Elias Turner was elected in 1856 and served two years. He was a long-time resident of Palmer. He.gained his military title by serving in the State militia. He held the office of selectman, served on the school committee, etc., in Palmer, where he died May 4, 1875, at "the age of eighty. He had the honor of holding office in the ancient and reorganized Thomas Lodge.
  • Sylvanus G. Shaw was elected in 1860 and served two years. He was a native of Brimfield, but went to Hartford soon after attaining his majority, and learned the trade of a mason, where he erected many notable buildings on Main street. He came to Palmer in 1845, and engaged in farming and later in trade. He represented the town in the Legislature in 1857. He died in 1864, at the age of fifty-eight.
  • Marshall Fox was elected in 1863 and served one year. He was for a long time a respected business man of Palmer, in which town he died Oct. 17, 1884, aged sixty-nine.
  • George O. Henry was elected in 1886 and served one year. He was a native of Palmer. When the war broke out he enlisted in Co. C, thirty-sixth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers, and gave honorable service to his country. He was Master of Day Spring Lodge, Monson, and the first Master of Anchor Lodge, of Wales. He spent his later years in Palmer, where he died March 9, 1892, aged fifty-two.

Of the Past Masters of Thomas Lodge who are still with us, I may be pardoned if I do not speak individually, save to say they are all representative men, whose relation to our Lodge we are proud to acknowledge and of whose varied lives and honorable service in town, and State and Lodge, the future historian will have ample material for eulogy when the next Centennial shall be observed.

But not alone are the Worshipful Masters of Thomas Lodge worthy of mention, for however well qualified they may have been to preside in the East, the complete success of their service must always have largely depended upon the support they received from the chairs in the West. and South, and from those who sat on the right and left, as well as from the subordinate officers. How well and ably this support has been rendered, let the long and honorable record of Thomas Lodge answer. The list of the minor officers of our Lodge is a long and honored one, embracing many of the stanchest members of the community, for whose service our Lodge is grateful, and whose names will ever find an honored place in our annals. And thus, as we turn the concluding page of the first centurial volume of our records, we are reminded that we are standing on the dividing line of two centuries. Glancing backwards we count scores, many times told, of our elder Brothers who have gone to rest. Not alone the simple monument tells its silent story of them. Their names survive in our annals, their noble deeds in our memories. Silent are the voices of those who bore the name of Guthrie, of Ely, of Colton, of Ballou, of Norcross, of Reynolds, and a host of others in the past, but the good influence of their lives remains to pilot us out of the old into newer fields of effort. Let us trust that the coming century shall furnish us with as noble leaders as did the past, and that the prosperity of Thomas Lodge shall increase in the ratio of its added years. Let us also trust that our Lodge, though venerable with age, may never allow' the moss of inaction to gather upon its walls, but that its sacred halls, hallowed by the rich associations of the past, shall continue to echo to the voices of busy Craftsmen, and that its members, having done faithful service in the quarries of earth, may find a welcome entrance at last into the heavenly temple not made with hands.

150TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, DECEMBER 1946

From Proceedings, Page 1946-359:

By Worshipful Allen F. Davis.

One hundred and fifty years is a long time to men who have learned to travel at the speed of sound; a long time to an organization which pauses for an hour to review its own past, a century and a half in the making; but in the light of history, such a period is relatively short, nor does it all seem far removed and long ago to those who in their own memories can recall a third or a half of the intervening years. It is only the more distant years which appear to draw away into the vanishing dimness of forgotten yesterdays; we remember present and the recent past, but lose the vision of the times before our own experience began.

Lodges are men, and their histories are nothing more than the composite record of the men who in their own times left the impress of their own personalities upon the communities in which they lived, upon the men who followed them, upon the Lodge whose history they made. As Thomas Lodge enters the second half of its second century, the members of today may well look back upon the men who gave us our beginnings and built our proud heritage; may well look back upon the changing times through which they wrought, upon the growth and development of the community in which they had so large a part; and, looking back, may well stop to consider whether we of today would have wrought as well.

When Paul Revere signed the charter of Thomas Lodge one hundred and fifty years ago, he brought into being a Lodge almost in the wilderness. Palmer was a scattered farming community, with a few houses grouped around the meeting-house at the Old Centre, and a few more on King's Row along the river bank. As late as 1812 there was no place within the town's borders which could properly be called a village; three families owned all of what is now Thorndike; Three Rivers was known as the "Dark Corner" and the homes of its two families were hidden in the woods, and a narrow road led to the one house and grist-mill where Bondsville now stands. Monson, but recently a part of Brimfield, was little different from her neighbor to the north and the Brimfield community was scattered over the hills and woodlands. Small wonder that our charter members chose to hold their meetings on or before the full moon; they rode over narrow roads and narrower paths. The first Massachusetts turnpike was chartered in the same year that Thomas Lodge began, and our early Brothers had been meeting in Lodge for two years before the eighteen foot roadway was built as far as Palmer. The Petersham and Monson turnpike, connecting with the turnpike from Stafford, was not built until six years later. They were strong men, busy men, those pioneers who paused in their struggle to wrest a living from the rocky soil and asked the Grand Lodge to charter them into a Lodge. When and where they had received their degrees our records do not tell us, but we know that several of them met at Scott's Tavern, and after careful thought, Samuel Guthrie, David Young, Peter Wallbridge, Hezekiah Fiske, Ephraim Allen, Elisha Woodward, Amasa Stowell, John Moore, David Peck, Zebediah Butler, Jesse Converse and Isaiah Blood, Jr. sent their petition to the Grand Lodge at Boston. Represented among the twelve were the towns of Palmer, Monson, Brimfield and Stafford, and their charter, signed on December 13, 1796, by Paul Revere, Grand Master; Samuel Dunn, Deputy Grand Master; Isaiah Thomas, Senior Grand Warden; Joseph Laughton, Junior Grand Warden and attested by Daniel Oliver, Grand Secretary, gave them full power and authority to convene as Masons within the town of Monson. No doubt Monson was for them the most central meeting place, and the upper rooms in the new tavern which later became the Century Hotel provided better accommodations than could have been found in either of the other settlements. Taking the name of their Lodge from that of Isaiah Thomas, the patriot whose signature was a part of their birthright, the twelve men named Dr. Samuel Guthrie, a practicing physician of Brimfield, as their first Master, were constituted into a regular Lodge and began their work.

Thomas Lodge has two priceless heirlooms of that distant day. One is our original charter, cherished throughout the years not only as the symbol of the Lodge's creation and continued existence, but as an irreplaceable memento of the man who fills so large a place in our country's history. Few Lodges can boast a Paul Revere charter: none are better born. Second only to our charter are our jewels, presented to our founders by the man whose name we bear — Isaiah Thomas — and made for the purpose by his friend and brother patriot, Paul Revere, who besides his great part in shaping the destiny of our Commonwealth and Country, was the greatest silversmith of his time. Used for all meetings until about twenty years ago, the jewels are now cased under glass for protection and safekeeping.

We have no detailed records of Thomas Lodge's first two years, but in that time sixty-three new members were added to the rolls, all of them men of reputation and standing in their communities. Dr. Guthrie continued as Master until 1802, and Captain Ozim Blashfield of Brimfield, who succeeded him for a year, continued the progress so well begun. Dr. Ede Whitaker of Monson directed the activities of the Lodge for the next five years, years of prosperity, of sound and rapid growth, years which saw the new Lodge well established. Then came the lean years, when new memberships were few and when there existed a strong feeling that the Lodge should be moved to Brimfield, where many of its members lived. Those were the years when town, state and country were also growing fast, when the War of 1812 was in the making and was fought, when the scattered farmsteads began to be drawn into closely settled villages and the churches were beginning to be organized separately from the governments of the towns. They were the years when Lodge meetings were held from nine in the morning until seven at night, when the members still rode their long way home by the light of the moon.

Then came another time of growth and after that the years of darkness. The effects of the Morgan episode and the anti-Masonic period which followed were felt as fully here as in the state where it originated. From 1827 the Lodge took no new members for eight years and in the latter part of that time, their meetings were far from regular. The membership which had been increased by two hundred and fifty dropped to a handfull, as men of all walks of life yielded to the pressure and clamor against the fraternity as a whole. On January 14, 1835, the thirty remaining members of Thomas Lodge gathered at the call of the Master, Joshua L. Reynolds, for what might well, with weaker men, have been their last session. The cash in the treasury was divided among the members, to be used for charitable purposes, the Bible and cushion given to the Chaplain, Dr. Ely, and the jewels given into the keeping of the officers who last wore them. Then it was voted, and written into the record in a firm, bold hand, "That this Lodge be closed."

For the next twenty-one years we have no record. Even the pages which perhaps bore some entry of the activities of the faithful few during that period are torn from the record book, and tongues which might have told us the story are long since still. We have only a legend and a tradition, but we know that on occasion, the men who had withstood the wave of misunderstanding met with each other, kept fresh in their minds and hearts their Masonry and their resurgent faith, and when the time had come, were ready and able to reopen their Lodge.

In that same twenty-one years, the entire character of the community changed. The pioneer days were over, and the little farming settlements had become villages and towns. The coming of the railroad in 1838 created a new village at the depot; the mills built at Thorndike had greatly increased that village in size and importance, and in a very short space of time, the Old Centre was no longer the common meeting place of the people. The old First Church, whose meeting-house was controlled by the town as late as 1835, divided in 1847, the old church moving to Thorn-dike and the second church society erecting its own meetinghouse at the Depot village. Newly built factories were running in Bondsville and Three Rivers and the coming of the second railroad, which was extended from the south in 1850 and to the north three years later, completed the change. Palmer had ceased to be a farming community and had become an industrial and commercial town. Similar factors wrought similar changes in the other towns which had once supplied the Lodge membership, and the rapidly growing towns also grew apart. The same growth was undoubtedly responsible to some extent for the rapid dying out of the anti-Masonic sentiment which had been so strong only a score of years before, and the time was ripe to reopen the Lodge.

Thomas Lodge still had men, strong men. In 1856 Joseph L. Reynolds and Col. Elias Turner, who had been Master and Senior Warden of the Lodge at its closing together with S. F. Newton, Jacob Thompson, J. R. Flynt, Dr. Alfred Ely, J. Nichols, D. B. Hannum, Otis Bradford and Joel Tucker petitioned the Grand Lodge for the return of the charter of Thomas Lodge. Their request was granted in September of that year, with permission to remove and thereafter hold the Lodge in the town of Palmer, and on October 11, 1856, Wor. Brother Reynolds, Col. Turner, Jacob Thompson, Jacob Nichols, with a few more of their former members and a few visiting Brethren reopened the Lodge they had closed twenty-one years before. The jewels and the Lodge property which had been confided to the members were all returned, the records were reopened and Thomas Lodge began to make its place in a new community.

Within the next five years, the Lodge had gained nearly eighty members, men of character and reputation in the town and its villages, and had regained the strength which was so evident in its beginning. The Lodge continued to grow through the period of the Civil War and the trying years which followed, and the names on its roster of those years are the names of the same men who served the town and community, operated its factories and industries, conducted its business and commerce, and graced its social affairs.

Twenty-nine Brethren, nearly a fourth of the total membership, served in the Civil War, a record of which no Lodge need be ashamed. For seventeen years after its reorganization, Thomas Lodge met in the upper story of the McGilvray Block on South Main Street, which was then the business center of the town, moving to the Commercial Block in 1873. Here the Lodge remained until 1885, when new quarters were fitted up in Wales Hall and occupied until 1890. Smaller accommodations in the same building served as a meeting place for three years longer, until in late 1893, the present lodge building was purchased.

These years, too, were years of many and rapid changes. They saw the founding of our banks, the beginnings of the wire mill which is now the town's major industry, the development of the cotton mills which were the lifeblood of our villages, the building of our churches of other denominations, and the transition from a community dominated by the descendants of the pioneer families to a town composed of new elements, diversified and often controversial, new people, new ideas. Our schools, meager and small at the beginning of the century, grew in these later years to a comprehensive and carefully supervised system. The tide of business moved away from South Main Street where the railroads had first established it, and the town which we of today remember, came into being.

The names of the men who directed the affairs of the Lodge in its second growth are the names of the men who as business men and citizens did for the town what they did for the Lodge as Masons. Their record is impressive. Each in his own time gave to Thomas Lodge the best that was in him, and each left to his successor a record of steady progress. When the time came for Thomas Lodge to celebrate its 100th anniversary, the members who gathered for that occasion could point with pride to the institution which they and their Masonic forefathers had built. By the beginning of the new century, the pattern of the Lodge, as well as the town, seemed fairly well established. The Lodge continued to grow and prosper, taking into its membership many of the outstanding men of the community, and expanding its sphere of influence. Its ritualistic work was invariably of a high order and the men who presided over its meetings and its business and charitable affairs were men whose Masonry was real. Like their predecessors, they built well in a changing world. This was the period which brought the street-car and the automobile which was eventually to replace it, the period which marked the beginning of the end of the cotton mills in this area, the period which brought the First World War, in which thirty-seven of our members answered the nation's call. The town was still growing in population, but its texture was changing, and changing fast. At the time Thomas Lodge celebrated its 125th anniversary, the membership was 326, and the Lodge had entered upon another period of rapid growth, the result of the postwar years.

Our last twenty-five years are well within the memories of many of our members. We recall the meeting in 1923 when it was voted to lay the Revere-Thomas jewels away; we remember when the Lodge rooms were refurnished later that year and when at a single meeting we raised an additional thousand dollars to add to the estimated cost of the work; the record is fresh in our minds of the years when our membership reached nearly 400. Recent history, too, are the years of the great depression which affected Lodge and town alike, which saw the closing of the cotton mills, and the end of the textile era; years which reduced our membership by more than a hundred and which gave our Masters and members new problems, day by day. World War II is still with us, though active hostilities are at an end, and some of our members have only recently laid aside their service uniforms.

The one hundred and fifty years of our past lie behind us, and we cannot well forecast the future. But, looking back over the way we have come, we can see the unchanging landmarks and by them can chart our Lodge's course, trusting that the men who shall direct our future will be in their times as strong and faithful men and Masons as those who have gone before.

YEARS

1796 1800 1813 1820 1829

charter surrendered 1835; restored 1856 (though it appears in Grand Master Randall's 1853 Address

1856 1866 1873 1886 1887 1890 1893 1894 1896 1897 1902 1904 1918 1920 1921 1924 1926 1927 1930 1933 1936 1938 1944 1946 1950 1956 1959 1962 1971 1975 1976 1979 1983 1990 1994 2006 2010


GRAND LODGE OFFICERS

DISTRICTS

1803: District 6 (Central Mass., Worcester)

1820: District 7 (North Central Massachusetts)

1821: District 10

1853: District 10 listed by GM Randall in December 1853(?)

1856: District 6

1867: District 10 (Springfield)

1873: District 18 (Palmer)

1883: District 17 (Palmer)

1911: District 19 (Palmer)

1927: District 19 (Palmer)

2003: District 28


LINKS

Massachusetts Lodges