Dover, NJ

The founders of Acacia Lodge, No. 20 F & AM were stalwart and enterprising men, proud descendants of the hardy souls who settled in the New World, fought in the Revolution and survived that epochal struggle for Independence.  These men were greatly responsible for the settlement and growth of this part of Morris and Sussex Counties, coming from all walks of life, as farmers, miners, iron workers and various other types of industry.  The principal business at that time seemed to be the manufacturing of charcoal, mining iron ore and operating forges throughout this section of the State.  We find in the history of Dover and the surrounding territory that iron forges were found on nearly every stream, of any size in this area.  These prominent men became affiliated with the following lodges in this district:  Euclid Lodge #46 in Berkshire Valley, Harmony Lodge #8 in Newton and Cincinnati Lodge #3 in Morristown.  Euclid Lodge, incidentally, was the beginning of Acacia Lodge No. 20 F & AM.

The Grand Lodge of New Jersey granted the charter for Euclid Lodge on November 11, 1825 with Worshipful Brother John Sherman as its first Worshipful Master.  The lodge met at the home and tavern of Brother Joseph Dickerson in the Berkshire Valley Inn on the Tuesday evening of each month on or before the full moon.  They met here until 1841, when a fire destroyed the tavern and most of the lodge records and furnishings were lost.  The following year this lodge ceased to work and its charter was stricken from the Rolls of Lodges of New Jersey.

Eight years later on April 5, 1850, it is recorded that the Grand Lodge of New Jersey with Worshipful Brother Edwards Stewart as Grand Master, met in Rockaway, N. J. and set to work a new lodge, tentatively named Rockaway Lodge.  On December 23, 1850, Most Worshipful Grand Master Edward Stewart installed the first regularly elected officers for the ensuing year as follows with Brother Charles McFarlan, Worshipful Master.  Grand Master Edward Stewart, granted a charter for the lodge to be known as Rockaway Lodge #20, F & AM, with the warrant dated January 8, 1851.

Between January 1852 and February 1853, meetings were held alternately in Rockaway and in Dover.  After February 1853, the lodge met only in Dover.  At the Emergent Communication of the Grand Lodge, held in May 1859, permission was granted to change the name to ACACIA LODGE, No. 20, F & AM.

At a regular communication of the lodge held on November 28, 1860, a motion was made to move the lodge to the Village of Boonton.  This was referred to a special committee of investigation and that committee was to report to the lodge at a future date.  After continued discussions were heard at following meetings, the members of the lodge who resided in the territory of Dover as of February 6, 1861 voted down this matter.  On December 11, 1861, a petition was received from the brethren residing in Boonton, asking Acacia Lodge to petition the Grand Lodge to allow the brethren of Boonton to establish their own lodge in that village.  The Grand Lodge granted this request on January 22, 1862.  Arcana Lodge No. 60 F & AM of Boonton was formed on that date.

Acacia Lodge was very charitable, and while not large in membership, it had many calls for assistance, not only from its own members, but also from other lodges throughout the country.  Needless to say, the records show that it responded readily, with goodly sums of money on various occasions.

Other fraternal organizations have been formed from Acacia, all having their roots starting with Masonry in some form or another such as:  Triangle Chapter, No 50; Royal Arch Masons; Pearl Chapter Order of Easter Star No, 79; Craftsman’s Club of Acacia Lodge; and, Eureka Chapter Order of DeMolay, North Star Lodge #255 in Wharton and Jephthah Lodge #233 in Rockaway.  Today, Pearl Chapter, Royal Arch Masons and Tall Cedars of Lebanon all call Acacia Lodge #20 home, with a DeMolay Chapter ready to return this fall.

On February 16, 1955, Acacia Lodge moved from its old lodge hall on the third floor over White’s Drug Store at the corner of Blackwell and Warren Streets, Dover to its new Masonic Temple on Thompson Avenue in Dover. The Most Worshipful Grand Master Alfred Rowe, laid the cornerstone on April 2, 1955 and said “we feel that while it has been a hard struggle for all who have trod the paths of Masonry in Acacia Lodge since its beginning, we feel that as a whole, the lodge has been fortunate to have had excellent leadership and have completed a job that is well done.  We hope that we can be of greater service to humanity in the years to come”.

Strong leadership has continued at Acacia and today the lodge remains very active and involved in community projects and fund raising.  Acacia Lodge is the oldest organization in the Dover and boasts a membership of approximately 275 Brethren.  Over our 150 years, Acacia Lodge #20 has had 115 Past Masters and one Past Grand Master, MW Edward M. Searing, elected in 1915.  Later this year, North Star Lodge #255 will return home to Acacia Lodge and merge after a 75-year separation.  Masonry is alive and well at Acacia Lodge #20 and ready to serve the community and the Grand Lodge of New Jersey for many more years to come.