Charles H. Orr became a Free Mason in 1839 from the Friendship Lodge in Hagerstown
MD. In 1842 he demitted from the Friendship Lodge and founded the first Masonic
Lodge in Hancock MD. He would name the lodge Tonoloway Lodge #86, after the Tonoloway
River that flows through part of the town. He would serve for the first two years,
as the Worshipful Master. However, after the two years as Master, he would move to
Baltimore MD and helped in the resurrection of the Washington Lodge #3. After Mr.
Orr’s departure, the lodge would only survive until 1849, when it would cease to
This of course is not the end of our story. On November 22, 1876, a new lodge
would be chartered. It would be named after the Grand Lecturer of The Maryland
Grand Lodge, James W. Bowers. It would become the 173 rd lodge to be chartered
in the State of Maryland. The lodge only had ten members at the time it was chartered
and located in the Hancock General Store, which was on the South side of Main Street.
Most people would be surprised to learn that James W. Bowers was not the original
Masonic Lodge in Hancock. They would further find it interesting that the person
the lodge is named after was never a member of the lodge. However, this is just part
of the historic story of what would become James W. Bowers Lodge #173.