The following history of Farmers Lodge No. 153 was prepared by Bros. Geo. E. Smith P.M., W.L. Pierpont P.M., and W.B. Hoskinson P.M., and read at the Centennial Celebration on September 21, 1947.
Through the courtesy of Bro. Hoskinson, P.M., and present Secretary, we are presenting it for our readers as well as a record of this historic Lodge.
The Village of Fredonia was laid out by Spencer Arnold, a member of a Masonic Lodge in the State of New York. His burial is in the old cemetery just west of the village, and the marker on his grave has all the Masonic emblems of the first Three Degrees. We are informed that he was the Great Grandfather of our Brother F.A. Carpenter P.M., on his Mother’s side of the family.
The following is the first Minutes of the organization’s proceedings:
“At a meeting of Master Masons this day appointed at Fredonia, Ohio; a Dispensation from R.W. Bro. Wm. B. Thrall, G.M. of the Grand Lodge, was presented and read, constituting and establishing a Lodge of Master Masons at this place under the name of Farmer’s Lodge and there upon a Lodge of M.M. was opened in due form. Present were Syene Hale, W.M., Thomas McClelland, S.W., Silas Williard, J.W., and other Brethern not here named.
The secretary presented and read the Petitions of the following named persons asking to be admitted into the Lodge: Benj. G. Carroll, Eliziah Hurst, Samuel Carver, A. G. Dowe, and Francis Horton.
On motion ordered that Bro. Lewis Friener be appointed a committee of one to examine into the character of the said petitioners and report at our next meeting. On motion ordered that Bros. Syene Hale and Pascal Devinney be appointed a committee to draft a code of By-laws for the government of the Lodge and that they be requested to report at our next meeting.
On motion ordered that when this Lodge adjourns it will meet one week from this day. No further business appearing the Lodge was closed with harmony.”
Silas Williard, Secy.
List of Charter Members
· Syene Hale - a Doctor of Medicine
· Stephen Cooper
· Cornelius Devinney - who at the time owned Brooks Corners Farm, south of village at cross roads
· Thomas McClelland - carpenter and builder of original Lodge Hall
· David Eaton - local resident
· Bryant Thornhill - local resident
· Crandell Rosecrans - father of General Rosecrans
· Timothy Spellman - farmer living southwest of village, a son of Timothy Spellman, a charter member of Center Star Lodge, Granville
· Silas Williard - grandfather of our late Brother George W. Williard
· Sollis Runnels - who lived on what is now known as Wheatcraft Farms and built the original brick house which is said to have had secret rooms in the basement which were used by negro slaves for hiding from officers, and being part of the famous underground railway of Civil War times.
· J. P. Devinney - son of Cornelius Devinney, aforementioned, they being breeders of short horned cattle, among first in the county
· Phineas Inscape - local resident
· Lewis Frienier - harness and shoe maker
Charter Officers 1847
· Syene Hale - Worshipful Master
· Thomas McClellend - Senior Warden
· Silas Williard - Junior Warden
First Elected Officers for 1848
· Syene Hale - Worshipful Master
· Thomas McClellend - Senior Warden
· John P. Devinney - Junior Warden
· Silas Williard - Secretary
The first few meetings of the Lodge were held in the dwelling which is still standing on the original location, on North and South Road (Ohio State 661) on the west side, the third house south of East and West Road (County Road #16) also the dwelling on road 661, the second on west side, north of road #16, until the completion of the original Hall in the latter part of 1848. The aforesaid original Hall was built by Bro. Thomas McClelland, charter member, and the lumber and saw bills were donated by Bro. Frost Preston, grandfather of our present Bro. Charles M. Preston, P.M.
Copy of First Grand Lodge Report, October 3, 1848
The first years initiates were thirty-two as follows:
Our Charter date September 22, 1848, was signed by the following Grand Lodge Officers, R.W. M.J. Krieder, G.M.; R.W. John Battier, Dept. G.M.; R.W. I.N. Burr, G.S.W.; R.W. Kent Jarvis, G.J.W.; and B.F. Smith, G. Secy.; in their own hand writing.
William F. Jaggers
William A. Aram
John P. Woodberry
John L. Kinkead
Wm. A. Bellus
John H. Jones
Chas. J. Eaton
Chas. H. Coe
Rev. Lewis Hillery
Wm. F. Preston
Jas. B. Penn
How Our Name Originated
The Charter of a Lodge at Belpre named Farmers #20 was surrendered. Belpre being near Marietta, the number was assigned to Magnolia Lodge, Columbus, and the name of Farmers was assigned to our Lodge with the number 153. (It being the custom of the Grand Lodge at that time to transfer names and numbers).
Bro. Abner W. Dennis presented to the Lodge on September 19, 1848, the Square and Compasses which we are still using. It is presumed that he made them by hand. (Bro. Dennis served Newark Lodge #97 as Master in 1850- to -3-66).
Bro. Mathew Critchott made and presented the original Trowel and Twelve Bells Clock which are also still in use. Bro. Critchott was a blacksmith and discovered a method of welding iron and steel similar to modern methods, but did not tell anyone his secret.
On October 7, 1847, an E.A. Degree was conferred on Bros. Benj. G. Carroll, Elijah Hunt, Samuel Courier, and Pascal Horton; this being the first work done in the Lodge.
Unusual and Peculiar Meetings
Our records show that on February 12, 1850, Bro. Franklin Spellman was passed and raised on this date, listed as an emergency. On March 28, 1853, Rev. Geo. W. Shaffer received all Three Degrees and a Dimit was granted after the work completed, also emergency listing.
Bro. Silas O. Preston served as Secretary for a number of years and made our present Record of Membership which required a vast amount of time and work, as the information had to be sorted out of the Minute Books.
Purchase of present Lodge Property.
A motion on November 2, 1937, by Bro. A.C. Keckley that the Trustees of the Lodge use their own judgement regarding the purchase of the Fredonia School property was duly recorded and carried.
On December 7, 1937, the Trustees of the Lodge recommended that the Fredonia School building and lot be purchased for $227.50. A motion by Bro. F.L. Galbraith, that our Trustees purchase Fredonia School building and lot as recommended by the Trustees was duly recorded by Bro. C. Russel Hoar and the vote was unanimous. The final purchase price was $232.50.
· Our Lodge has a completed set of records from the beginning and Grand Lodge proceedings from 1808.
· We have a gavel made from timber from the Forest of Lebanon.
· There have been 460 who have received the M.M. Degree, 15 who have received the E.A. Degree and quit, and 8 who have received the F.C. Degree and quit.
· Our Local Chapter Order of the Eastern Star Charter was dated October 24, 1912.
· Bro. Geo. E. Smith is at present our oldest member and also the oldest P.M.
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A List of Past Masters
Geo. W. Williard
Frank A. Carpenter
Chas. C. Spiker
Robert D. Warthen
C. Russel Hoar
Orville J. Pierpont
John P. Devinney
Geo. E. Smith
Wm. L. Pierpont
Wayne H. Hoar
The Last 25 Years
The first 100 years saw 40 members become Worshipful Master. During the last 25 years, we have had 21 Worshipful Masters, including our present Worshipful Master, Bro. Robert W. Hutchinson.
The first Celebration was held on September 21, 1947. The Date of our Charter is September 22, 1848, including the year 1847 to September 22, 1848. Actually Farmers Lodge has been in existence 126 years. The first year of operation under dispensation, and 125 years as a Charted Lodge.
List of Worshipful Masters serving during the last 25 years
· Three of the above Brothers are deceased.
· Seven of the first Forty are still living.
Farmers Lodge Membership in 1947 was 80 members. During the last 25 years our membership has gone down to 77 members, and has steadily risen since 1962 to our present membership of 119 members.
Interestingly, also the Annual Return of 1947, the Grand Lodge Dues covering all the Members, Initiations, and Raised, to read total G.L. Dues $152.50 for 80 members.
Our 1973 Return covering all fees to Grand Lodge was $580.00 for 117 members. Of course, annual dues in 1947 were $5.00, and we are currently paying $10.00.
Other than increase in membership, nothing else of great particular importance has happened.
We do have, and are honored for the following:
· Bro. Samuel Snyder - 67 year member
· W. Bro. W.B. Hoskinson is a 61 year member - W.M. in 1915 - 1917, Secretary of the Lodge for 37 years, having almost 61 years perfect attendance to Lodge.
· W. Bro. A.C. Keckley - 53 year member, W.M. in 1924
· Bro. A.A. Simmons - 50 year member, presented
· W. Bro. J. Wilber Gregg - Knight of the York Cross of Honor, W.M. in 1953, Present Lodge Education Officer
Farmers Lodge won the 19th District Inspection Gavel in 1973.
· 13 members of Farmers Lodge are 32* Masons
· 12 Members of Commandery
· 14 Members of Bigelow Council
· 14 Members of Warren Chapter
WB Ralph G. Lawrence
WB Raymond Galbraith
WB Harry Swoger
WB Charles E. Earhart
WB Paul F. Bline
WB J. Wilber Gregg
WB Wm. Lee Smith
WB Ralph R. Bline
WB Carl E. Sasser
WB Lawrence E. Wright
WB Lloyd E. Eikelberry
WB E. Joe Crim
WB Louis Schwartzenberger
WB Robert E. Gregg
WB Ray E. Billman
WB Lewis W. Myers
WB Estel Ray Smith
WB James A. Rice
WB Walter G. Montgomery
WB Robert E. Wyckoff
WB Robert W. Hutchinson
Farmers Lodge No. 153
Chartered September 22, 1848