History of Herkimer Lodge No. 423 F&AM
The history of Herkimer Lodge No. 423, Free and Accepted Masons roots as far back as when the State Legislators established Herkimer County in 1791.
On June 6, 1792, a petition was sent to the Grand Lodge, then in session, for a warrant to hold Lodge in Herkimer County and was signed by William Coldbreath. John Post and Michael Myers, in behalf of a number of Brothers, asked for a warrant to hold a Lodge in Herkimer County to be known as Amicable Lodge, John I. Morgan to be Master, John Post to be Senior Warden and Michael Myers to be Junior Warden.
The warrant was issued and the Lodge numbered 22. Meetings were held in Whitestown and old Fort Schuyler. The Lodge had nineteen members at the time of its formation. The Lodge was prominent until 1830. Grand Lodge does not show when the charter was given up.
The next chapter in Herkimer Lodge's history was written on March 5, 1794, when Morgan again petitioned Grand Lodge this signed by Myers and others, requesting a warrant to erect and conduct a Lodge in Herkimer village. The petition was granted on April 6, 1794. The Lodge name remained Amicable, but the number was changed to 36. In the petition it was pointed out that many of the Craft resided in the townships of Herkimer and German Flats, and that it provided a hardship for the members to attend the meetings in Whitesboro 18 miles away.
Grand Lodge immediately recognized the prayer for relief and when the Lodge was set up in Herkimer village, the first officers were Michael Myers as Master, John Rasbach as Senior Warden and Uriel Wright as Junior Warden.
Amicable Lodge, Lodge No. 36, enjoyed a prosperous life to 1834 when the charter was surrendered. This was during the "Morgan Incident", when many Masonic Lodges in the state surrendered their charters. One of the exceptions was Olive Branch Lodge in Frankfort and Western Star Lodge in Bridgewater which continued to do their work secretly and thus kept the Light in Masonry burning in Central New York.
Masonry in Herkimer and most of the state was inactive from 1834 to 1857, except for the "Lights" which were burning in a few widely scattered Lodges whose members were determined 'it never should go out". In fact, it was the example set by these sturdy craftsmen that reignited the "Lights" in many Lodges.
The "Darkness" disappeared on January 24, 1857 when a petition was presented to Grand Lodge, asking for the erection of Herkimer Lodge. Dispensation was granted on February 7, 1857. The records of the first meeting is dated May 9, 1857.
The first Master of Herkimer Lodge No. 423, Free and Accepted Masons, was Judge Ezra Graves. Officers of the Lodge that year was; Senior Warden, C. A. Burton, Junior Warden, J. Addy, Senior Deacon, H. H. Lewis, Junior Deacon J.G. Bellinger, Secretary C.H. Bachelder, and Treasurer, Robert Earl, William Hilts as Tiler.
Three more meetings were held that month, during which the initiation fee was $15.00, it was voted that they were to meet alternate Wednesdays. The affiliation fees were $2.00 and an extra $2.00 were levied on members who had signed the by-laws. Apparently the by-laws were amended shortly after for changing the meeting nights to Tuesday.
The new Herkimer Lodge No. 423 received their charter on June 20, 1857, and on July 6,1857 the first Officers were installed. Guest registry showed visiting brethren came from Richfield Springs, Utica, Frankfort, Mohawk, and Little Falls. That day the Lodge met and John Piper received the degree of Entered Apprentice.
The first meetings were held on the third floor of the corner of Albany and Main Streets. These quarters were used until 1881. The next home of the Lodge was held on the third floor of the Henderson and Devendorf block on the eastern side of Main Street. In 1897 the lodge moved again this time to the Earl Block on Main Street and the quarters were dedicated on that year.
Judge Graves the Lodge's first Master entered the picture again in May of 1903, when the property formerly owned by him was purchased by the Lodge. On this site the Herkimer Lodge erected it's first temple. The corner stone was set on October 10, 1903, the first meeting was held on November 15, 1904, and the dedication was on June 23, 1906. This was the home of Herkimer lodge until a disastrous fire struck on in February 1917, when the Temple with all it's furnishings fell prey to fire. The ashes had hardly cooled when members completed arrangements to return to the Earl Block and plans were under way for the rebuilding of the Temple.
Several sites were considered but the vacant lot on the westerly side of North Main Street next to the Herkimer Reformed Church, was favored. This property was purchased on May 10, 1917, from Abraham B. Steele, a member, and the Lodge immediately named a building committee with Past Master W.W. Helligas as chairman. Plans for the new Temple were prepared by Ross G. Sluyter, also a Past Master, and the contract was awarded to William Lyon and his son Roy, both members.
The first meeting was held April 22,1919. By this time, the number in membership increased to 350 nearly doubling since when the first new Temple was erected. The Temple had a good long fulfilled life until 1996 when the building was sold and Herkimer Lodge No. 423 moved to Ilion Masonic Temple where it now conducts their meetings.