Fidelity Lodge 173 History
History of Fidelity Lodge No. 173 AF and AM, Nickelsville
By Omer C. Addington, Past Master
In the small village of Nickelsville, Virginia in Scott County, a group of men who had been boyhood friends and classmates became Masons. Some of them had left Nickelsville to seek employment in other counties of the state and in other states, and while away from Nickelsville had been raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason.
After they returned to Nickelsville they found it was quite a distance for hem to attend lodge in 1894. The nearest lodges were Stuart--nine miles, Catlett--fourteen miles, and Fort Blackmore--sixteen miles. So the Brethren living in Nickelsville and nearby began to discuss among themselves the need for a lodge in Nickelsville for their convenience and the betterment of the craft. The Brethren decided to apply for a charter to the Grand Lodge of Virginia. They discussed among themselves as to what name they should give the lodge. Different names were suggested. The name Fidelity was chosen because of friendship and an implication of strict and continuous faithfulness to an obligation, trust and duty.
A dispensation was granted to Fidelity Lodge August 6, 1894, and given the No. 173 by the Grand Lodge. The dispensation was signed by Most Worshipful C.F. Mann Page. The Grand Master appointed W.W. Bond Worshipful Master. He was known to the community as Uncle Bee Bond. Brother Bond served as Master from 1894 to 1897. Brother Bond had four sons and all of them served as Master of Fidelity Lodge nine times. This was not continuous but intermittently from 1902 to 1938. Milton F. Porter was appointed Senior Warden. Brother Porter was a Baptist minister. Edward Johnson was appointed Junior Warden. Nothing is known about Brother Johnson, but he must have been an outstanding citizen. We wish the names of the other charter members of the Fidelity Lodge had been recorded in the minutes for posterity. All we know about them is their remains repose in the cemeteries in and around the vicinity of Nickelsville. They are awaiting their final raising in the general resurrection. The first communication of Fidelity Lodge was holden at the Baptist church, Nickelsville, Virginia on the 18th day of August A.L. 5894, A.D., 1894.
At the September communication, Brother W.B. Jackson made the motion that the regular fee for initiation be ten dollars ($10.00), for passing $5.00 and raising $5.00, motion carried.
R.L. Hartsock received the first degree in Masonry to be conferred in Fidelity Lodge on the 15th day of September, 1894, and was passed to the degree of Fellowcraft on November 10, 1894. If he was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason it is not reported in the minutes.
The Charter for Fidelity Lodge was granted December 5, 1895. On January 18, 1896, Right Worshipful C.W. Colby and Brother C.C. Prunor, representatives of the Grand Lodge of Virginia being present with a commission to constitute said lodge were presented and saluted. After which the station officers vacated their stations and the lodge was duly constituted and set to work under its charter. The charter was signed by Most Worshipful J.P. Fitzgerald, Grand Master. The first by-laws for Fidelity Lodge were drafted in 1896 by W.B. Jackson, W.F.C. Blackwell and J.F. McConnell.
Two members of Fidelity Lodge deceased in 1896, C.P. Redwine on February 15, 1896, P.L. Hartsock on December 7, 1896. Brother Redwine was a Master Mason for only one hundred and nineteen days. A called communication of Fidelity Lodge was holden at the home of Brother G.C. Hartsock on the 8th day of December, 1896. A Master Mason Lodge was opened in due and ancient form, and preparations were made for the burial of Brother P.L. Hartsock. The lodge then proceeded to the residence of the deceased. The burial service was conducted and Brethren then returned to the lodge hall. The following motions were adopted: That members of the lodge should wear the usual badge or mourning and the lodge be draped for mourning.
On August 21st, the meeting time was changed from daytime to night time. Secretary to notify the secretary of the Grand Lodge. The meeting on June 18, 1898, was ordered that the time of holding our regular meetings be changed from the third Saturday night to the Saturday on or before the full moon of each month at 6 o'clock P.M. The secretary was ordered to notify the Grand Lodge secretary of the change. The meetings had been held in the afternoon at 2 o'clock P.M.
The first Masonic funeral paid for by the lodge was for Brother J.J. Welch. N.B. Wood made the coffin at a cost of $6.50. Nathan Dougherty was paid $4.95 for burial clothes. J.P. Lay was paid $3.70 for trimmings and etc. Brother M.F. Porter was paid $1.00 to hold the funeral. For a total of $16.15. It is not recorded when Brother Welch died. He was present at the June Meeting. Those bills were ordered paid at the stated meeting November 11, 1899. Brother Welch was a doctor.
The first meeting that the lodge held in the Masonic Hall was April 18, 1897. Mr. C.W. Bond was introduced and initiated an entered apprentice. he paid the $10.00 initiation fee in lumber for the lodge.
Three Brethren were raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason, H.S. Bond, A.R. Kilgore and G.W. Culbertson. Brother Bond and Brother Kilgore satisfied the $5.00 fee in work and painting on the Masonic Hall. Brother Culbertson paid his fee in money.
The lodge borrowed $75.00 from Brother J.F. McConnell to pay for the dispensation to be repaid out of the lodge funds. Loan was made in 1895.
The first rejection of a brother to receive the Master Mason's degree was Brother J.M. Darter on June 15, 1895. At the July meeting the ballot was circulated to test the moral fitness of the Brother that was rejected at the June meeting. The ballot resulted in his favor. Brother Darter was killed by a train on December 16, 1896 in Alabama. His body was returned to Nickelsville for burial.
Five brothers were raised to the sublime degree the first year.
The first Masonic picnic was held in September, 1904. Home-made ice cream and cake was served. Each member was asked to furnish one gallon of sweet milk and two cakes.
At a called meeting on April 29, 1905, motion was made and carried for Brother W.W. Bond to teach a Masonic school at the expense of the lodge. Brother Bond agreed to teach ten Saturdays, beginning at 11:00 A.M. and closing at 6:00 P.M. for the sum of $10.00. Fidelity Lodge was once in the 47th Masonic District. The building fund for the new lodge hall was begun in 1947.
Lodge was held in the Nickelsville High School and the Methodist church while the old lodge hall was being torn down and the new one being built. The first meeting in the new lodge hall was held on January 21, 1950. Jack W. Odle was Worshipful Master. Brother Odle called the lodge to order and then called the oldest member present to the official position to open the lodge. Brother Samuel H. Bond who more than 50 years ago had the privilege of opening the lodge in the present new hall. At this meeting a motion was made and a second that a picture of the previous Masters of the lodge be secured and hung in the lobby. A picture of the Second Worshipful Master W.B. Jackson cannot be found.
(Editor's note: This article was written by Worshipful Brother Addington in 1995 during the 100th anniversary of the chartering of Fidelity Lodge 173. It is reprinted here just as it was published by Brother Addington.)