“A lodge is a certain number of Masons duly assembled, legally constituted, having the Holy Bible, Square, and Compasses, with a Charter or Warrant empowering them to work.”
Before the year 1869, the members of the order of Free and Accepted Masons, resident at South Hadley Falls, were affiliated with the Mount Tom Lodge of Holyoke. Owing to the early hour at which the swing ferry suspended business, the zealous brethren were obliged to purchase and maintain a rowboat for crossing the river above the dam. This added a certain piquancy to the sense of duty done, especially on dark and stormy nights, when the roar of the falls was unpleasantly near.
In 1869, four years after the Civil War, a group of respected Masons and citizens of South Hadley evidently read and re-read this important paragraph of Masonic Law and decided at that time it would be well to petition the Grand Lodge for a dispensation for a lodge to be known as Mount Holyoke. Perhaps this group looked out over the Connecticut Valley at the Mount Holyoke Range and from this picture of strength and beauty decided to name this child of Masonry, Mount Holyoke Lodge, knowing that in its growth there should be strength to support and beauty to adorn all great and important undertakings. Early in I869, an application was made to the Grand Lodge for a dispensation which was granted on March 30, 1869 by Most Wor. William Sewall Gardner, Grand Master and Rt. Wor. Solon Thornton, Recording Grand Secretary. In his report to the Grand Lodge in I869, Rt. Wor. D. W. Crafts, District Deputy Grand Master of the 10th Masonic District, in which the lodge was first assigned, truthfully said that Mount Holyoke Lodge was an offspring of Mount Tom Lodge. The fifteen petitoners for dispensation were:
- Rev. George E. Fisher
- James O.Allen
- William Harris
- Benjamin C. Brainard
- E.Ogden Dwight
- George F. Bassett
- John A. Smith
- Rev. Richard Knight
- Martin V. B. Jenkins
- Richard Green
- Irving W. Brown
- John Sinclair
- Karl August Kappell
- Emerson B. Judd
- Frederick W. Moos
The officers under the Dispensation were: Rev. George E. Fisher, Wor. Master; Emerson B. Judd, Senior Warden; William Harris, Junior Warden; R. Ogden Dwight, Secretary; Benjamin C. Brainard, Treasurer The petitioners for a Charter, none of them superstitious, because there were thirteen, received this Charter, June 6, 1870, and this document was signed by William Sewall Gardner, Grand Master, Samuel C. Lawrence, Senior Grand Warden, Richard Briggs, Junior Grand Warden, Solon Thornton, Recording Grand Secretary. A listing of the thirteen Charter members and the lodges in which they received their degrees are as follows:
- Rev.George E. Fisher, Hope Lodge
- Martin V. B. Jenkins, Frederick Lodge, Conn.
- George F. Bassett, Evening Star Lodge
- Richard Green, Apollo Lodge, Suffield, Conn.
- John Sinclair, Mount Tom Lodge
- John A.Smith, Mount Tom Lodge
- Frederick W. Moos, Mount Tom Lodge
- Karl August Kappell, Mount Tom Lodge
- Benjamin C. Brainard, Mount Tom Lodge
- Irving W. Brown, Mount Tom Lodge
- Rev. Richard Knight, Mount Tom Lodge
- R. Ogden Dwight, Mount Tom Lodge
- William Harris, Mount Tom Lodge
History would not be complete without a recording of the first officers who worked under the new Charter and these officers were installed July 25, 1870:
- Worshipful Master – Rev. George E. Fisher
- Senior Warden – James O. Allen
- Junior Warden – William Harris
- Treasurer – Benjamin C. Brainard
- Secretary – John L. Matthews
- Senior Deacon – George F. Bassett
- Junior Deacon – John A. Smith
- Chaplain – Rev. Richard Knight
- Marshal – Martin V. B. Jenkins
- Senior Steward – Richard Green
- Junior Steward – Irving W. Brown
- Tyler – John Sinclair
Mount Holyoke Lodge was organized in the old school building on School Street and has occupied six locations during the past one hundred years. The first lodge room was in the Glasgow Company’s building on School Street and remained there for a trifle over four years. The lodge then moved to the Graves and Walton Building at the corner of Main and Bridge Streets which was afterward known as Dudleys Hall. The entire third floor of this building was occupied by Mount Holyoke Lodge. On September 5, 1886 this building was destroyed by fire and all of the property of Mount Holyoke was destroyed with the exception of the present Jewels which were in a case on the wall of the Tyler’s room similar to the one now used. The case fell face downward, and protected the Jewels which were found later in the day by Bro. Serbertrum E. Bliss.
The oldest recording in the secretary’s book is dated October 2, 1884 and Bro. Thomas Van Riper, Secretary, closed his report as follows: “no further business appearing, the lodge closed in peace and harmony.” During these past one hundred years peace and harmony truly has prevailed, else this lodge would not have gone forward as it has, in the Masonic way of life.
The first mention of Charity, outside of the lodge, is listed in the February 4, 1886 records — “on motion, the treasurer was ordered to forward $5.00 to the Grand Secretary for Texas Sufferers.”
One of the most interesting excerpts from the records is dated August 26, 1886, and reads:
“Lodge was opened on Master Mason Degree in Due Form. The Lodge was then formed in procession and marched to the Connecticut River Railroad Depot and took a special train to Northampton assisting in the ceremony of laying the corner stone of the new county court house at the above named place, after which all marched to Round Hill and partook of a clam-bake and then returned to the Connecticut River Railroad Depot and took a train to Holyoke and marched to the Lodge Room. The Lodge was closed in Due Form. Thomas Van Riper, Secretary.”
The invitation for this ceremony was extended to Mount Holyoke Lodge on August 5, 1886 by Jerusalem Lodge of Northampton.
As previously stated, fire destroyed the Lodge on September 5, 1886 and the Grand Army Post immediately extended an invitation to use their rooms until permanent quarters were obtained. Two evenings after the fire a meeting was held in Grand Army Hall by a special telegram dispensation received from Most Wor. Abraham H. Howland, Jr., Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts. At the second meeting held in the Grand Army Hall, September 27, 1886, an invitation was read from Mount Tom Lodge extending the use of their rooms together with the paraphernalia until the Lodge obtained suitable rooms. Mount Tom at that time was located on High Street in Holyoke. We readily accepted this kind invitation and remained at Mount Tom Lodge until January 6, 1887 at which time it was voted to return to the original home on School Street at an annual rental of $100.00 per year. Our return to South Hadley Falls was on February 3, 1887 after holding six delightful meetings within the Mount Tom Lodge Rooms.
Through an invitation received from Hampden Lodge in Springfield we find that Mount Holyoke Lodge again took part at a public ceremony on February 22, 1889 at which time we assisted in the exercises of laying the corner stone of the Post Office Building in Springfield.
Mount Holyoke Lodge has been honored by having seven District Deputy Grand Masters and the first appointment was Rt. Wor. Horace W. Gaylord who made his official visit to the Lodge on October 24, 1889. Following him were: Rt. Wor. Charles H. Smith, Rt. Wor. David Glassford, Rt. Wor. Ronald Astley, Rt. Wor. Ralph B. Wilson, Rt. Wor. Edgar G. Thompson, Rt. Wor. Huey H. McKay.
A number of years ago our own Grand Lodge strongly recommended that the Treasurers and Secretaries of all Lodges should be bonded in order to protect the individual Lodge and to make for a better business structure. On November 7, 1889: “Moved that the Treasurer give a bond of $1500.00. Carried.” It is quite evident that our forefathers in Masonry had the same thoughts as we folks of today.
On March 3, 1892, it was moved that the Lodge accept the proposition of Mr. Carey for the whole of the top and part of the second floor of his block on Main Street (over Lane’s Market), at a rental of $200.00 per year and amended that the Lodge take a lease for ten years. The committee who arranged this contract consisted of Brothers H. W. Gaylord, J. W. Bean, F. M. Smith, E. W. Thompson and H. E. Gaylord. It is of interest to note that on August 4, 1892, the Lodge “moved the furnishing committee use a good generous sum to furnish the new Lodge Room. Carried.”
The first meeting in the new Masonic Hall (Carey Building) was held on November 3, 1892, and at that meeting Brother Fred M. Smith was elected Worshipful Master. On the 25th of November a public installation of officers was held and 325 were present.
On January 4, 1894, an application from the Brethren of South Hadley was received asking permission to apply for a dispensation to form a Lodge at South Hadley. Permission was granted by Mount Holyoke Lodge, but fortunately for all, nothing further developed along this thought.
An invitation from the committee on the celebration of the 150th anniversary of South Hadley was read on July 2, 1903, and a committee appointed, with Worshipful Fred M. Smith as Chairman. A month later this terse statement is recorded: “Report of Committee on float that they had performed the duty assigned them.”
Again, this time on November 1, 1906, modern conveniences were in the minds of our Brethren when it was moved that the Lodge install gas in the kitchen.
One of our most beloved District Deputies, Right Worshipful Clarence A. Brodeur, on his visit to Mount Holyoke on April 18, 1907, presented remarks and suggestions from the Most Worshipful Grand Master in relation to a Masonic Home in Massachusetts. One month later the committee that was appointed reported favorable and it was then moved that Mount Holyoke contribute to the expense 5% of the gross receipts every year for five years. In the address of the District Deputy nine years later, he said: “that Mount Holyoke Lodge stood at the head of the honor list in regard to the Masonic Home Fund having paid $758.58.”
On August 7, 1913, it was voted to vacate the present quarters in the Carey Building at the expiration of the present term, namely: September 1, 1913, and it was further voted that a committee be appointed to negotiate with the Directors of Iona Lodge of Odd Fellows at South Hadley Center for the temporary use of their hall. We immediately changed our location to the Odd Fellows Hall, holding the first meeting on September 4, 1913, and continuing until we entered the present building. During the time that we held our meetings at South Hadley Center, the members of Mount Holyoke formulated plans for a building of our own. The Mount Holyoke Masonic Association was organized and chartered, and immediately secured the land from the Carew heirs; also by an exchange of a small portion of this with the Congregational Church.
The corner stone of our new Masonic home was laid on September 26, 1914, with appropriate Masonic ceremonies. Rt. Wor. Eugene L. Sheldon, Acting Grand Master, opened the exercises while members of the Grand Lodge stood in a semi-circle before the stone and the invited guests were seated in the building. The address was delivered by Rt. Wor. Clarence A. Brodeur, Acting Deputy Grand Master and then Principal of the Westfield Normal School. Perhaps the most impressive part of this memorable occasion took place when three blasts of the bugle signified to those present that the stone had been laid according to the ritual of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge and that the stone had been laid Level, Square and Plumb. The official Grand Lodge Suite composed:
- Rt. Wor. Eugene L. Sheldon of Easthampton, Acting Grand Master
- Rt. Wor. Clarence A. Brodeur of Westfield, Acting Deputy Grand Master
- Rt. Wor. Chauncey E. Peck of Wilbraham, Senior Grand Warden
- Rt. Wor. Edwin L. Davis of Chicopee Falls, Acting Junior Grand Warden
- Wor. Lewis M. Richards of Holyoke, Acting Grand Treasurer
- Wor. J. E. Johnson of Holyoke Acting Grand Secretary
- Rev. Bro. H. H. Merrill of Springfield, Acting Grand Chaplain
- Rt. Wor. Harry P. Ballard of Malden, Acting Grand Marshal
- Rt. Wor. Charles C. Spellman of Springfield, Past Grand Warden
- Rt. Wor. Edwin A. Blodgett of Springfield, Past Grand Warden
- Rt. Wor. William E. Gibbs of Westfield, D.D.G.M., 18th District
- Rt. Wor. Arthur P. Delabarre of Conway D.D.G.M. 14th District
It was on March 4, 1915 that Mount Holyoke Lodge held its first meeting in this Temple with an out-turning of members such as had never before been seen in the history of the lodge. The following month of April 10, 19I5, the Temple was formally dedicated by the officers of Grand Lodge. Again Mount Holyoke Lodge had the opportunity of witnessing our Ancient Grand Lodge Ceremony with Most Wor. Melvin M. Johnson, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts dedicating the building with Corn, Wine, and Oil. The dedicatory address at this ceremony was delivered by one of the outstanding Masons of our time, Most Wor. Frederick W. Hamilton,, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge who spoke on “Universal Benevolence.” The Grand Lodge Officers present at this meeting:
- Most Wor. Melvin M. Johnson, Grand Master
- Rt. Wor. Edwin A. Blodgett as Deputy Grand Master
- Rt. Wor. George C. Thacher, Senior Grand Warden
- Rt. Wor. Thomas T. Booth, Junior Grand Warden
- Rt. Wor. Charles H. Ramsay, Grand Treasurer
- Rt. Wor. Frederick W. Hamilton, Grand Secretary
- Rev. Bro. Francis L. Beal as Grand Chaplain
- Rt. Wor. William M. Farrington, Grand Marshal
- Wor. Robert G. Wilson, Senior Grand Deacon
- Wor. Frank Vogel, Junior Grand Deacon
- Wor. D. Edward Miller as Senior Grand Steward
- Rt. Wor. Edwin L. Davis as Junior Grand Steward
- Wor. George W. Chester, Grand Tyler
Our own Rt. Wor. David Glassford was Worshipful Master of Mount Holyoke during this period of history.