From the dim pages of a small and time-worn minute book we find the fascinating story of the beginning of Free Masonry in Belvidere.

    By the dispensation from the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the state of Illinois, the members of Belvidere Lodge (Under Dispensation) met on the 14th day of March, A.D. 1848 and opened on the Third Degree with the following brethren in the chairs: A. E. Ames, Worshipful Master: C. Gardner, Senior Warden; Nijah Hotchkiss, Junior Warden; S. Carpenter, Senior Deacon; J. Curtis, Junior Deacon; O. Crosby, Treasurer; H. Ripley, Secretary and James Johnson, tyler. Brother G. W. Hyler was the only spectator.

The dispensation and letter from the Grand Master was read and Brothers Ripley and Hotchkiss were apointed as a committee to draft a code of By-Laws. Three petitions were read at this first meeting: D. Howell, J. Benson and N. W. Birge, and within thirty days the lodge had received six petitions so it was thought advisable to rent a hall.

It is not known where the first four meetings were held but, on April 14, 1848 it was voted to rent the Odd Fellows Hall located at the northwest corner of State and Mechanic Streets (now Lincoln Avenue) for a rental of eight dollars per quarter.

At this same meeting an order was drawn to Brother C. Jackson, Grand Lecturer, in the amount of twelve dollars for four days services and expenses while instructing the officers of Belvidere Lodge.

Brother Daniel Howell was the first candidate raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason (Under Dispensation). It was customary in these early days to ballot on each candidate before each degree and the name of every member present was written in the minutes.

According to the proposed By-Laws being used while under dispensation the regular stated meetings were "to be held monthly on Thursday preceding or at the full moon in each month at six o'clock P.M.

The fees for degrees then were only fifteen dollars, payable five dollars with the petition, three dollars with the first degree and seven dollars with the second degree. Ministers of the gospel were given the degrees without fee. The quarterly dues of each member were twenty-five cents and anyone whose dues were in arrears one year was suspended.

The charter dated October 4, 1848 was received and, at a special meeting held November 25, 1848, many of the same officers who had served Belvidere Lodge under dispensation were then duly installed into office by Brother C. Jackson, by proxy from the Most Worshipful Grand Master, as follows:

Alfred E. Ames, Worshipful Master; Amos Witter, Senior Warden; Nijah Hotchkiss, Junior Warden; N. W. Birge, Senior Deacon; D. Howell, Junior Deacon; Asa Williams, Treasurer; Joel Florida, Secretary; and James Johnson, Tyler.

After the installation, the charter was accepted from the Grand Lodge and thereupon Belvidere Lodge No. 60, A.F. & A.M. Became a reality with the following Charter members: Alfred E. Ames, Nijah Hotchkiss, Lucius Fuller, Asa Williams, Orris Crosby, Amos Witter, M. Ripley and Joseph G. Prentess. First degrees were then confered upon R.J. Simpkins and James B. Hammond, and the second degree on Simon P. Bassett, who was the first candidate to be raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason at a special meeting held soon after the charter was accepted. Such enthusiasm prevailed that a special meeting was held on Christmas night, 1848 and three second degrees were conferred.

In the minute book of 1848 and 1849, presumably written with a quill pen, there still is a completely legible manuscript of the original rules and By-Laws attested to by the individual signatures of the thirty-four members present. The original By-Laws stated that "all" officers should be elected and installation was to be held at the regular communication preceding the festival of Saint John the Evangelist.

When this Lodge was chartered in 1848, the State of Wisconson was being admitted to the Union from the Northwest Territory.

On March 4, 1849, Brother Asa Williams donated ten dollars to the Lodge for the purchase of a Bible, square and compasses. The first order drawn for fuel amounted to two dollars for stove wood.

The Lodge moved in the fall of 1849 to the Magher and Birge Building at 112 East Lincoln Avenue, now housing part of the Burton Motor Dealership, for a rental of sixty-five dollars per year. New Mohair Furnishings were purchased at a cost of two hundred dollars, and thirty dollars more was appropriated for the purchase of new stoves.

On July 4, 1850, the Lodge appointed Brother Robinson as collecter to collect delinquit dues, allowing a commission of 15% for his work.

It was not uncommon in these early days for members to prefer charges against one another for conduct which they considered unbecoming to a Mason and, on numerous occasions, it resulted in expulsion. At the meeting of June 6, 1850, the Lodge voted to buy a "black covered book" to record the names of persons rejected, suspended or expelled.

Under the leadership of many loyal pioneers such as Brothers A. Ames, A. C. Fuller, A. W. Burnside, Gen. Stephen A. Hurlbut, Major C. B. Loop and Nijah Hotchkiss, the Lodge successfully survived the trying times preceding and during the period of the Civil War.

The most illustrious member of this Lodge was General Stephen A. Hurlbut, who came to Belvidere from Charleston S.C. in 1845 as a young lawyer. He was Worshipful Master of Belvidere Lodge No. 60 during the years 1853, 1859 and 1860. Brothers J.D. Willson, and H.J. Doolittle and A. Burnside were apointed a committee on arrangements for his second installation which was held publicly on December 27, 1858 at Union Hall at two o'clock p.m. Invitations were extended to all Lodges in the District, supper was served at seven o'clock and the hall was filled to capacity.

General Hurlbut was a member of the Constitutional Convention of Illinois in 1847, was a candidate for presidential elector on the Whig ticket in 1848, a member of the state leLegislature in 1859, 1861 and 1867, and chosen Presidential elector-at-large on the Republican ticket in 1868. As a soldier he organized Company B of the 15th Regiment and was soon raised to the rank of Brigadier General. He commanded the 4th Division at Pittsburg Landing and was credited with saving the day for the union army at the batle of Shiloh, and for meritorious service on that occasion, was appointed to the rank of Major General in command of the 16th Army Corps at Memphis and the Department of the Gulf. These advancements in rank could very possibly have been made to him by President Abraham Lincoln.

In 1869 he was appointed by President Grant as Minister of the United States to Columbia. Returning in 1872, he was elected to the 43rd Congress and later reelected to the 44th Congress, after which time he was appointed Minister to the country of Peru, South America, where he died at his post of duty in April of 1882.

His funeral was probably the largest ever held in Belvidere. Crusader Commandry No. 17, of Rockford had charge of the services which were attended by the Knights Templars, Masons, soldiers and many other friends coming by special trains from all directions. The service was held in the city park and later at the family home on East Street (renamed Hurlbut Avenue, in his memory), burial being in the Belvidere Cemetery. The monument on his grave has the Masonic emblem engraved on one side and the Knights Templar emblem is at the top.

At the meeting of March 30, 1850, the Lodge appropriated $2.75 for the schooling of the children of a Master Mason's widow.

Candidates were examined by a committee as to their proficiency prior to being admitted into the lodge roon.

Demits were granted to Brothers Mesler, Barrows, Holden, Spencer, Robinson, Gleason and Gooding for the purpose of forming a lodge at Cherry Valley on April 5, 1855. Belvidere Lodge No. 60, A.F. & a.m. voted to recommend Brother S.E. Gooding as Worshipful Master, Brother H. Robinson as Senior Warden, and Brother Stacy Holden as Junior Warden of the new lodge.

Brother Day, on Ocrober 5, 1855, (said Brother being from Buffalo) presented samples of regalia for officers and upon agreement between the Worshipful Master and said Brother Day, a full set of officer's and Past Master's Regalia were sent on approval for a purchase price of $120.00, if accepted, or to be returned at the expense of the local Lodge. The regaila was purchased upon a $50.00 down payment and the balance was paid in six months.

From the available records it is believed that Brother Nijah Hotchkiss, a Past Master, was the first to represent Belvidere Lodge No. 60 at the Grand Lodge meeting held in Peoria, Illinois, on November 2, 1855, and he was allowed $6.62 for mileage and per diem.

By a resolution passed on November 2, 1855, all payments of fees and dues were thereafter to be made in nothing but gold or silver.

Brothers Rix, Hotchkiss, and Jones , having been appointed as a committee to design the first official seal of this lodge, the same was accepted and purchased on May 18, 1856, at a cost of $8.35.

A resolution "thanking the Beleidere Brass Band for the services, and the Galena and Chicago Union Railway Company for conveying the brethern of this Lodge free of charge on this melancholy occasion to the funeral of Brother Baily of Freeport" was passed on June 21, 1858.

On February 3, 1862, a motion was carried whereby the fluid lanps were to be altered into kerosene lamps and that the Tyler be instructed to fill said lamps before leaving after each meeting.

A special meeting was called for April 16, 1862 and a special car was chartered on the Chicago, North Western Railway for the purpose of attending the funeral of Col. E.F.W. Ellis, a Past Master of Star in the East Lodge No. 166, Rockford, and Brother A. F. Johnson of Cherry Valley Lodge No. 173, both of whom were killed at the battle of Pittsburg Landing.

In April 1862, the Grand Master authorized Belvidere Lodge No. 60 to confer the degrees of symbolic masonry on nine canidates in less time than prescribed in the Grand Lodge By-Laws. It is presumed that the said candidates were about to be inducted into the Union Army.

Several Brothers, including Captain C. B. Loop, requested in open meeting that "should it be their lot to fall upon the battlefield, that this Lodge give their remains a Masonic burial".

Four members of this lodge, namely Col. T. W. Humphrey, Captain E. M. Bush, Lt. A.M. Longcor and J.E. Benedict "sealed their patriotism with their life blood" at the Battle of Vicksburg. As each of these fallen heroes arrived in Chicago, a Brother of this Lodge was appointed to be at the depot and convey the remains to the family home. On the day of the funeral, the deceased Brother was accorded the last rites, attended by many local and visiting brethren.

Two pillars, or columns, an arch and the letter "G" were purchased in 1864 at a cost of twelve dollars.

In 1867 the Lodge moved to the third floor of the Gardner and Bassett Building (now knowm as Burton Motors) located on the northeast corner of North State Street and East Lincoln Avenue. It is reported that after Brother Gardner became the sole owner of this property he gave the use of the rooms rent free to the Lodge for a considerable time. The Lodge continued to meet in this building until it was condemed by the State Fire Marshal in about 1910, after which the meetings were held in the Odd Fellows Hall until the present temple was completed in 1912.

A communication dated April 23, 1889, from the Most Worshipful Grand Master was received asking all members of constituent lodges to observe April 30, 1889, as the centennial of the inauguration of the first President of the United States, Brother and General George Washington.

It took from March 18, 1889, to May 20, 1889, for a committee to make necessary arrangements for the installation of electric lights in the Lodge room.

It took from March 18, 1889 to May 20, 1889 for a committee to make necessary arrangements for the installation of electric lights in the lodge room.

Upon the death of a distressed brother, the following bills were allowed and paid by the Lodge: watching with the remains for three nights $4.50, tolling of the chirch bell 50¢, singers $2.00, two carriages $6.00, and the undertakers fee of $30.00. Many other requests for charity from other states were received from time to time, most noteworthy being those caused by the Chicago Fire and the Johnstown flood.

At the meeting of January 4, 1892, it was voted that "all candidates who have been raised to the sublime degree of Master Maaon shall be given a lamb-skin apron."

An incident of those early days which may cause a smile today occurred when, at regular meeting, a motion was made "that the Lodge buy twelve new spittoons". However, the motion was laid on the table.

There was a joint and public installation of the Eastern Star and Belvidere Lodge No. 60 held in January 1893. The hall was filled to its utmost capacity. Again a public installation of the officers of Belvidere Lodge No. 60 was held in 1904 in the Derthick Opera House with J.T. McCutcheon, the famous Tribune cartoonist, being present and drawing sketches of many of the officers and prominent citizens.

The two lots where the present First Federal Savings and Loan parking lot is located were purchased on February 6, 1889, but were later sold.

on April 3, 1911, the second and third floors of the First National Bank Building were purchased at a cost of $4,000.00. About $10,000 was spent in remodeling the building and this amount was financed through the First National Bank.

The dedication of this beautiful new temple was held in the afternoon and evening of April 11, 1912. Tickets to the banquet and ball were sold for $5.00 each. The Most Worshipful Grand Master, being unable to attend because of illness, was represented by the District Deputy Grand Master. After officially receiving the Grand Officers, two third degrees were confered in the afternoon. A delicious banquet was served at the Presbyterian Church and this was followed by the dedication ceremonies and public reception of the Grand Officers at the new temple. Music by a good orchestra closed the historical day with dancing.

May 20, 1912, a resolution was adopted giving Kishwaukee Chapter No. 90, Royal Arch Masons a life lease of the lodge room for the payment of $3,000.00.

A lease was signed on March 5, 1917, between Belvidere Lodge No. 60 and Adeline Chapter No. 118, Order of the Easterbn Star. The minutes state that the Eastern Star had already paid $2,500 toward furniture and fixtures and, by the aditional payment of $1,700.00 and cancellation of an $800.00 building bond with accrued interest, the Eastern Star was given a ninety-nine year lease, providing for an annual payment of $100.00. They were also allowed renewal privileges by the payment of $500.00 before the expiration of the present lease and the same annual payment thereafter. These leases with the Kishwaukee Chapter No. 90 and the Eastern Star were of considerable help in the retiring of the building bonds, and on January 7, 1918, the indebtedness was entirely paid off.

In the spring of 1918, our country was plunged into World war One and thirty members of Belvidere Lodge No. 60 answered the call to the colors. Brother Omar McDougal made the supreme sacrifice. One dollar for each member was contributed to the Grand Lodge Special War Fund. War bonds were purchased and a committee was apointed to see that each member in the armed forces received a letter each month from the Lodge. In August, 1918, an edict was issued by the Grand Master ordering all Lodges in Illinois to use only the English language in all ritualistic work.

On December 7, 1941, in response to the sneak attack by Japinese carrier-based airplanes on our Pacific Fleet based in Perl Harbor President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared war on Japan, which immediately again plunged our country into war in Europe. The Lodge contributed 100% to the service center fund, bought bonds and donated to many other worthy causes during the period of World War Two.

Through all of the 150+ years of it's existance, Belvidere Lodge No. 60 has been honored in the craft by the elevation of five of its members to the 33rd degree of Masonry, in recognition of their service to the community and Freemasonry:


Was the first 33rd degree of Belvidere Lodge and a member from 1895 until his death in 1944. According to a book of Templar history in Illinois, in June 1903 Crusader Commandery, Rockford had an escort for President Theodore Roosevelt from the train depot on South Main Street in Rockford to the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial between Main and Wyman Streets for the dedication of that building. It is very possible that WB Balliet was in charge of that escort, as he had just been elected Eminent Commander of Crusader Commandery No. 17.


occupation was that of undertaker, or funeral director, here in Belvidere. It is reported that he spent many hours waiting for trains at the Railroad station to receive bodies being returned for burial from World War Two. He also greeted many men coming home from war and gave petitions to many men to become members of the Lodge. Many of those men are still on the membership roll.


No information can be found concerning this brother, except that he was the Superintendent of the Boone County Home and later became a resident of the Illinois Masonic Home in Sullivan, Illinois, where he died in 1950.


was a Grand Lecturer and very active in all Masonic activities in this area. He was once a Grand Lodge officer in Illinois, but had to resign because of ill health.


received his 33rd Degree in October 1995. He traveled the ranks of the Grand Chapter of the Royal Arch Masons of Illinois, and in 1990-1991 he served as Most Excellent Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter. Three years later he served the Grand Chapter, order of the Eastern Star as Associate Grand Patron and was elected and installed Worthy Grand Patron in 1994. He belongs to many invitational and honory organizations too numerous to list.


In a unique situation in 1990-1991, R.W.B. Brown was elected and served as Right Eminent Grand Commander of Knights Templar in Illinois at the same time as Il. Bro. Glen Ballinger was serving as Most Excellent Grand High Priest. They held a joint York Rite Reception and belong to the same Lodge, Royal Arch Chapter, Council of Criptic Masons, and Commandry of Knights Templar. (Brother Brown serves as the Right Worshipful District Deputy Grand Master for the 3rd Northern District of the state of Illinois at the time of this writing, and will receive the Meritorious Service Award this summer./ Web Ed.) Two other members of Belvidere Lodge have earned the Meritorious Service Award (or honorary 33rd degree of the Scotish Rite). They are the late W.B. Ross E. Kinkade and R.W.B. William J. Tate. R.W.B. Tate also served as District Deputy Grand Master for the 3rd Northern District of the state of Illinois at the time of Belvidere Lodge #60's Sesquecentennial Celebration in 1998.

In 1949 three brothers joined the lodge at the same time (under dispensation). They were Harris Silver, Morton Silver and Allen Silver. In 1992, this occasion happened again when Daniel Scott Mickey, Jeffrey Allen Mickey, and Robert George Mickey were elevated to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. A dinner was served at each event and a fine time was enjoyed by all.


On June 15, 1959, Boyd "D" Lodge No. 857, A.F. &A.M. in Kirkland, Illinois merged with Belvidere Lodge No. 60, A.F. &A.M., after they made a request to do so in writing and the request was voted on and acceoted.

Belvidere Lodge Received all paraphanalia of Boyd &D" Lodge, including furniture and organ.

In 1960, Loves Park Lodge No. 1145 was building a new building and the furniture was given to them. It was refinished before being put into service ans is still in use today in Loves Park Lodge.

The organ wass used in Belvidere Lodge for some peroid of time by the organist of the Lodge. At some point in time it was sold to a brother of the Lodge and today it is not known who the brother was or when it was sold.

There are no Past Masters of Boyd "D" Lodge remaining on the membership roll and there are only therr brothers of Boyd "D" Lodge still on the roll of membership: Wwilliam P. Kersten, in Kirkland, Illinois; Marling J. Smith, in Bradenton, Florida; and Roy E. Vrba, a 50 year member living in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In 1976 the Lodge purchased the first floor of our building for $30,000.00 from Paul L. Parsons. The Lodge borrowed $30,000.00 from Marengo Savings and Loan for closing costs and remodeling. The Worshipful Master at that time was John A. Parks; the Senior Warden was Robert B. Schuster, Jr.; and the Junior Waarden was Frank J. Ripplinger. Albert J. Kiddell was the Secretary. At the present time the entire first floor is rented to Attorney David H. Towns, a member of the Lodge.

On December 11, 1989, the loan was paid off and the mortgage was released under the direction of Worshipful Master Harvard O. Coppernoll. Merry Christmas!

In addition to Cherry Valley Lodge No. 173, Belvidere Lodge No. 60 was also instrumental in starting Marengo Lodge No. 138. Both of these Lodges are still in existence today and we are very proud of the part we played in their formation.

We have changed from travel by horse to travel by spaceship in 150 years, but nothing has changed in our respect to the many different officers in our Lodge who have held their office, in some cases for many years. I am not speaking of just the office of Worshipful Master, but those of Tyler and Chaplain as well. W.B. Edward Butz held the office of Tyler for nearly 50 years. He was a member for 70 years. Our present Chaplain, W.B. Harvard O. Coppernoll, has been a stronghold in our Lodge and has held his office for several years. Many Worshipful Masters have served in that position for several years and they are listed in the Past Masters pages. We thank them for their dedicated service to our Lodge.

Twenty-five years ago this year an elevator was donated to Belvidere Lodge by Brother Paul L. Parsons. It goes from the first floor to the third floor, and makes it much easier for our older members and those of the Eastern Star to get to the Lodge room. This donation is noted by a plaque on the wall by the first floor elevator door honoring Bro. Parsons for this gift, which on its completion cost nearly $50,000.00.

Another construction project donated to the Lodge was the placing of steel beams in the ceiling and roof area of the building, replacing wooden beams. This was done by Bro. Max Summers, who owned Belvidere Construction Company.

Both of these Brothers are now deceased, but Belvidere Lodge is certainly vary appreciative and has thanked them and their families for these very generous gifts.

During the fall and winter of 1997-1998 the windows, fire escape doors and entrance door on the west side of the rental property were replaced. This included the windows on the west and north sides of the third floor. These improvements were done at a cost of just over $20,000 to make our building more energy efficient and are entirely paid for. Painting and clean-up on the interior has been done by brethren who have volunteered their time.

We are very proud of Belvidere Lodge No. 60 and its achievements over the past 150 years. One thousand five hundred and forty-five members have been raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason since 1848 and there are presently 216 members.

We hope in the next 150 years that the members of this Lodge will never lose sight of the needs of others and will continue to radiate our tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth to the Honor of Thy Holy Name, and that these tenets and teachings will ever grow in the hearts and minds of the Brethren.

Geo. H. Sisson J. B. McCartney
Fred D. Griswold Richard Walls
Fred A. Marean Ross E. Kinkade, MSA

Re-edited and written by Charles A. Brown

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