A HISTORY of BUXTON LODGE #ll5
ANCIENT FREE & ACCEPTED MASONS -
The information contained in this history has been taken from the seperate histories of the Lodge prepared over the years by Brethren appointed to that task. I am indebted to them for making this a much simpler task than it otherwise would have been.
1863 -1871 R.W. Charles E. Weld and Bro. James Meserve
1871 -1891 Wor. Cyril P.Harmon and R.W. Charles E. Weld
1892 -1910 Wor. Cyril P. Harmon
1910 -1969 Wor. George Ellis Harmon
1970 -1979 R.W. Arthur H Gannett Sr.
Early in the year 1863, a few Master Masons residing at, and in the vicinity of West Buxton village in the ttowns of Buxton and Hollis, the most of them having taken their degrees at, and members of Standisht Lodge # 70 in Standish, became desirous that a new Lodge should be established at said village and took the necessary steps for that purpose. A petition was submitted at the Annual Communication of Grand Lodge held on the first Tuesday in May, 1863 and a dispensation was duly granted by the Grand Master on the 18th day of March A.D. 1863 for the formation of a new Lodge to be called Moderation Lodge, to be located in the town of Hollis.
Bro. Samuel Hill, formerly of Standish #70
Bro. John C. Bean, formerly of Standish #70
Bro. Ivory P. Higgins, formerly of Standish #70
Bro. H. Willard Briant, formerly of Standish #70
Bro. Emerson Smith, formerly of Adoniram #27
Bro. Daniel A, Maddox, formerly of Adoniram #27
Bro. Oliver Tracy, unknown
Bro. Benjamin H. Harmon, unknown
Bro. William Butler, Orient in Thomaston
Bro. William P.Hobson, unaffiliated
Bro. Peter Hill, unaffiliated.
The first meeting of Moderation Lodge was held on March 30 at the Masonic Hall in West Buxton village in the town of Hollis ( a more specific location is not mentioned in the early records.) rf't's'r,\~. ' Present at this meeting and elected to office were:
W.M. Benjamin H. Harmon S.D. Oliver Tracy
S.W. Samuel Hill J.D. Daniel A Maddox (not installed)
J.W. Ivory P. Higgins Tyler John C. Bean
Treas. Emerson Smith
Sec'y William Butler
These Officers were ceremoniously installed in their offices on August 11, 1863 by the Most Worshipful Grand Master, William P. Preble.
On the meeting of March 30th, five applications for degrees were read and referred to a Committee of Inquiry. A code of By -Laws was adopted which was subsequently approved by Grand Lodge. Four of these applicants were accepted at the April 27th meeting. ( one rejected.) The four were: William Briant, Abel G. Smith, Cyril P. Harmon and Charles E, Weld who became the first Masons raised in Moderation Lodge.
I have noticed that during the early years of the Lodge that it vas very common for an applicant to be rejected. By virtue of Masonic law, the reason cannot be stated in the records, but it would be interesting to know just why so many were denied membership. Were they really unqualified by moral, physical, or legal reason to become Masons or were personal grievances vented in the ballot box? In the year 1891 no degree work was perforned by the Lodge. The only two applicants having been rejected.
On July 27th of that year a committee reported that the Lodge had indebtedness of $150.00, Chiefly from the expense of repairing the lodge room and providing the necessary furniture for the same.
January 10, 1867. A question of removing the Lodge to across the river in the same village but in the town of Buxton arose. The Masonic Hall in Hollis proving to inadequate for the needs of the Lodge. On April 1st it was voted to remove to a hall procurred within the town of Buxton, pending on the approval of Grand Lodge and consent of Standish Lodge #70, both of which were obtained.
The Lodge obtained it's first lease at it's present location from A,K.P. Lord in 1867, for 10 years at a rate of $75,00 per year, and the new hall was dedicated on November 18, 1867 by the Most Worshipful Grand Master Murray.
On September 6, 1868 the Lodge attended the funeral of charter member and first Junior Warden of the Lodge, Bro. Ivory P. Higgins. Bro. Higgins was buried with Masonic honors and was described as "an earnest and consistant Mason, and a worty man".
On the 12th day of March, 1870, tragedy struck the Lodge. Two worthy and esteemed members, P.M. Oliver Tracy and Bro John Sawyer were suddenly killed while riding in a carriage near the track of the P. S. & P. Railroad in Saco, by coming in contact with a passing train.
During this eieht year period the Lodge took in 83 members.
The year 1872 saw the appointment of Wor. Bro. Charles E. Weld as District Deputy Grand Master. The first of seven members of the Lodge to serve in that capacity.
On February 7, 1873 the Lodge buried Bro. Joseph Garland. Bro. Garland was a member of the original Buxton Lodge which was active from 1826 to 1832 and later removed to Biddeford.
At the Annual Communication of Grand Lodge on May 6, 1874, on petition from Moderation Lodge, the name of Moderation Lodge was changed to Buxton Lodge, No account is recorded in the history of this period about why the members of the Lodge requested the change of names.
In 1879 the Lodge voted to exempt all members seventy years or older from all Lodge dues, This was amended in 1926 to all members who had 50 years or more membership.
It's noted in the history of this period that on March 4th, 18 the Lodge as a body was unable to attend the funeral of Dro. Jotham Smith, oweing to the inclemency of the weather and the distance from the Lodge. ( Some five miles. )
In 1886 the Lodge purchased it's first organ and 1890 records the first reading of Grand Lodge reports in the minutes. During this time period 90 new members were admitted to the Lodge.
During this period of the Lodge's history we find that the members considered the installation of electric lights in the hall for the first time. Wor Dro. Frank H, Hargraves is appointed as D.D.G.M. in 1892. A committee is appointed to look into the purchase of the building in which the hall is situated, though no mention is made of this in subsequent records of this time period. Only 15 new members are admitted during this 10 year period.
According to the early by-laws of the Lodge, the meetings were held on the Monday eve on or before the full of the moon each month. On December 21, 1903, the following communication was received from the Grand Master: " I notice that your election comes in January, Monday eve on or before the full moon. I presume you are aware there will be no such date in January."
In 1903 the possibility of forming an Order of the Eastern Star ( O,E.S, ) Chapter is brought up for consideration. An application was received in 1907 from a man who had lost his right hand. Which was returned. ( See Drummond Digest, p,322)
1907 also saw the death of charter member, Daniel A. Maddox. There were 32 new members admitted in tnis time period.
March 18, 1911, it was reported that the arrangements for the formation of an O.E,S. Chapter were nearly complete. At the October 10th, 1911 meeting Bro, Charles Locke requested that some of the Brothers be allowed to organize a new Lodge at Hollis Center. The following month the Lodge voted not to recommend the petition.
At the January 1, 1912 meeting of the Lodge a vote of thanks was given Bro. John Berryman for his service as Treasurer for the past 30 years. The following is an account from the records of the Lodge for February 26, 1912:
"Attending communications was rugged business in 1912, before the days of tractor driven snow plows, One Brother relates reporting for his E.A. Degree on this date. He drove over 5 miles with a horse and pung. A snow storm struck early in the evening and going to his horse, he found his pung piled high with snow, He scooped out a place to sit, hooked up his horse, wrapped himself in a blanket and headed home. Half way home the mare stopped and refused to keep going until the Brother cleared away the snow which had packed in around her bridle so she could not see to keep to the road, Two other Brothers had the misfortune to over -turn in a snow drift, their horse ran away and they were oblighed to wade through the snow, burdened with blankets and sleigh cushions, until they caught up with the horse which someone stopped a mile or more ahead."
The formation of an O.E.S, Chapter seems to have brought one additional problem. The minutes of the May 27, 1912 meeting mention the appointment or a committee to consider the matter of water closet.
The matter of celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Lodge was discussed in 1913, but no action was taken, Attendence and activities of the Lodge were at a low point in 1913. even some of the officers were lax in their attendance.
In 1914 Wor Bro. Oscar D.Rand was appointed as D.D.G.M. unfortunately, R.W. Bro. Rand died on April 14, 1915 while in office, "at a great loss to the Lodge and the community." Wor Bro. Fred B. Rand was appointed to fill the remainder of this term and to a subsequent term of his own.
It is recorded that the Lodge furnished care and medical assistance to a Bro. Joseph H. Murphy until his death in 1916. it was not uncommon in the earlier years for the Lodge to provide financial aid to members and the families of deceased members. The records show where the Lodge voted to pay widows of deceased members monthly amounts to help sustain them in their need. These amounts most often between $10 and $20 per month.
On February 3, 1917 Wor Bro. Cyril P. Harmon read his final Secretaries report, after serving in that capacity for 24 years.
In February, 1919 the Lodge voted to exempt from dues each member of the Lodge who had served in the Armed Services during the war, and that their names be entered on the records as Life Members. Apparently the members had second thoughts about this action because this vote was rescinded in April of that same year.
During this period 49 members were admitted.
In 1920, for the first time the Annual Meeting was held in December. The Trustees of the Lodge were directed to execute a five year lease for the Masonic Hall with Bro. Frank H. Hargraves at $100.00 per year.
During this time period it appears that several properties were left to the Lodge by deceased Brethren or their families, as there is a vote to instruct the Worshipful Master to consult legal advice regarding, the sale of these properties.
This was also a very busy period for the Lodge. 83 members were take in during this period.
In 1930 it was voted that the Lodge become an incorporated body and that the name of the corporation be Buxton Lodge F.& A.M. This was changed in 1931 to The Buxton Masonic Building Association. In 1931 it was voted that Bro. Sumner O. Haley attend to the writing of the Lodge history. No further mention of this appears in the records, although some remember that Bro. Haley read a paper at a later date. It's fate remains a mystery.
Also in that year, the Lodge entered into an agreement with the widow of Bro. John Fellows, whereby she conveyed her real estate to the Lodge and in return she was to be allowed to occupy the house for the remainder of her natural life and receive $20 monthly until her demise. The Lodge had been assisting Mrs. Fellows for several years before this action was taken. She died in November, 1932.
In 1933 the Annual Meeting of the Lodge was held on December 25th after an attempt to change the date was denied by Grand Lodge, A small attendance noted.
In 1934 Wor. Bro. Frederick H. Davis received a Past Master's Jewel from the Lodge. The first Past Master to be so honored. This practice continues in the Lodge today.
On April 23rd of that same year. R.W. Bro. Frank Hargraves bequested a $100 gift to the Lodge which was used to purchase a carpet and two pillars for use in the F.C. Degree. That same year it was voted that he Lodge should charge 25¢ for it's strawberry supper in June.
1936 was the year of the flood on the Saco River,many of the Brethren were actively engaged in flood control and relief work and the Lodge dining hall was used to furnish refreshments for the workers and the needy.
In the remainder of this time period we see the raising of the Lodge dues from $2.00 to $2.50 and the installation of a sink and fittings in the kitchen. 24 admitted in this period.
During this period of the Lodge's history the Lodge considered changing it's meeting night, but did not do so. New regalia was purchased for the Officers and an Honor Roll was aquired for the World War II veterans.
A comittee was formed to consider establishing a Lodge Charity Fund and to increase the annual dues to meet the expenses of such a fund. A Lodge Charity Fund was established, but the latter proposal was defeated.
Wor. Bro. Oliver E. Earle retired as Secretary of the Lodge in 1946 after serving 23 years in that office.
64 new member admitted in this period.
At the January 30, 1950 meeting it was reported by Wor. Bro. George A. Elwell that Bro. Hobart Hargraves had set a price of $6,500 on the Masonic Building. On May 29th of that year the Lodge voted to purchase the building for a sum not to exceed that amount. The vote: favorable -35, against -5. blank -2. On June 26th the Building Committee reported Bro. Hargraves would sell the building for $6.250. The $250 difference, to be considered a gift to the Lodge
In 1951 a framed Masonic diplomia dated: 1864, Moderation Lodge, in the name of Bro, Thomas H. Berry, was presented to the Lodge by Bro. Forest Jose.
In 1953 Wor. Bro. George A. Elwell was appointed D.D.G .M. of the 18th District, The Lodge voted to change the stated meeting night to the first Monday of each month. The subject had arisen many times in the preceeding years, but apparently the Brethren were content with the way it was prior to this time.
During 1954 the Lodge erected a sign on the outside of the building, "that the place might be known, should occasion require it."
In 1955, 1957 and in 1959 the Lodge hosted Masonic District meetings, with the Most Worshipful Grand Master in attendance on the first occasions.
Wor·, Bro. Pliny A. Crockett vas recognized as the oldest living Past Master of the Lodge on Past Master's Night on June 6, 1955. Having served as Master of the Lodge in 1915. 40 years prior.
In November of 1957, 25 Officers and members of Buxton Lodge traveled by bus to Fidelity Lodge in Melrose, Mass. and worked the M.M. Degree on their own candidate. In May of 1958 the Officers and members of Fidelity Lodge returned the visit and conferred the M.M. Degree on their candidate.
Twice during the year 1958, proposals were made to increase the membership dues and fees for the degrees and each time the proposals were defeated. Also, a proposal for the Lodge to loan the Building Association $1,500 for operating expenses was defeated, although the Lodge was carrying a cash balance in excess of $3,000 at the time.
On February 2, 1959 it was announced that the oldest living Past Master, Wor, Bro. Oliver E. Earle would hold an open house on the occasion of his 50th wedding anniversary and the 50th anniversary of his becoming a Mason, Both occuring on the same day. 12 Lodge members attended the open house and Bro. Earle was presented with his 50 year veterans medal there.
At the May, 1959 meeting Wor. Bro. Frederic H. Davis read an article. from an old newspaper about a relative who was a Master Mason who was captured during the Civil War, and was about to be shot, but on seeing his Masonic pin, he was released by his captors.
During this period in addition to purchasing the Masonic Building, much work was done on the interior, including the installation of toilet facilities, renovation of the dining area and the preperation of the first floor for rental purposes. 59 new member were admitted in this period.
On January 4, 1960 the Lodge voted Life Membership to Bro. George Marsh, who had served as Tyler of the Lodge for 21 years and was now unable to attend meetings. Bro. Marsh passed away on December 20, 1960. Grand Master, Leon W. Sanborn presided at the funeral services. In 1963 the Lodge accepted a framed picture of Bro. Marsh from Bro. Arthur H. Gannett Sr.
On November 16, 1963 the Lodge observed it's 100th Anniversary with members, their wives and families enjoying a fine turkey banquet at the Masonic Hall, followed by a reading of the history of the founding of the Lodge by Wor. Master Harold E. Harmon, At this meeting Bro. Hobort Hargraves presented the Lodge with the original lease issued to the Lodge by his grandfather, A,K.P. Lord in 1867.
1963 also saw the Lodge receive a Cedar of Lebanon gavel from Bro. William Catir, in memory of his late father, Bro. Salim Catir and the resignation of Bro. Lawrance C. Higgins as Treasurer after 20 years in that position.
In 1965 Wor. Bro. Arthur H. Gannett, Sr. was appointed D.D.G.M. of the 18th District. During the remainder of this period the Lodge installed new carpeting in the meeting room at a cost of $998, voted to allow no smoking on the third floor of the building ( this vote rescinded less than a year later), became a co-sponsor of Valley Chapter Order of DeMolay and hosted several Masonic Schools of Instruction.
On January 6, 1969 Wor. Bro. Frederick H. Davis, a 50 year member, presented the Lodge with his grandfather's Masonic diploma. Bro. Davis's grandfather was a charter member of Moderation Lodge.
46 new members admitted in this period.
This period of our Lodge history I recall with some clarity, having participated in much of it. In 1972 the Lodge purchased a slide projector and slides to use in the lectures of the Masonic Degrees, adding greatly to the education of the candidates and to the enjoyment of the Brethren on the sidelines. Also that year the Lodge saw the renovation of a small room on the third floor into a library. This library was greatly enriched by gifts from the widow of our late Bro.Frederick R. Davis, from R.W. Bro. George a Elwell and from Wor. and Mrs. Arlyn E. Barnard.
In 1973 the Lodge paid homage to former President and Masonic Brother, M.W. Harry S, Truman, Past Grand Master of the state of Missouri.
1975 saw the retirement from office of two of the lodge's most faithful members. Wor. Bro. Robert L, Foye retired as Treasurer after serving in that capacity for 11 years and R. W.Bro. Arthur H. Gannett Sr. retired as secretary after 9 years.
In 1976 the Lodge welcomed to its membership, Bro. Walter A. Schaafr a gentleman in his seventies who had imigrated to the United States from Germany prior to W.W. II and had long been desirous of becoming a Mason. Though Bro. Schaaf passed away just two short years later. no man ever was prouder of his Masonic membership.
The Lodge purchased a number of plush upholstered setees from Temple Lodge in Westbrook in 1977 to replace the old setees which had long been in use. Also in 1977, for the first time in it's history, the membership of the Lodge reached 200.
The year 1979 saw the Annual Meeting fall on January 1st. "what a way to interrupt the " bowl games." The Lodge received a new silk top hat from newly affiliated brother Ruel Taylor who hoped it vould be worn at every meeting. With a gift received from the widow of Wor. Bro. Frederick S. Davis the Lodge purchased new Alter Jewels and Deacon Staffs.
During the summer of 1979 many Brethren worked to renovate the Lodge"hall"room,
Installing a suspended ceiling painting the walls and woodwork and cleaning everything in sight. All the brethren seemed most pleased with the outcome.
1979 also saw the appointment of Wor. Bro. Barry W. Plummer as D.D.G.M. of the 18th District. There were many Brethren more qualified for this position, but none could have been more pleased to receive it. Of that !1m sure.
There were 34 members admitted in this period.
During its existance from 1863 -1979, 569 Brothers have received their Masonic Degrees in Buxton Lodge #115, A.F. & A.M.
Buxton Lodge continues to be one of the most active Lodges in the state, It's officers have always demonstrated great pride in their Lodge work. The senior officers setting a strong example for the junior officers to follow. And the members of the Lodge continue to show their approval with their regular attendance at the meetings. Buxton Lodge has continued to grow and prosper at a time when Masonry as a whole has been declining in membership. What greater tribute can be paid to it's officers and members.
In conclusion, I will say that to the best of knowledge the material and facts contained in the preceeding pages are an accurate history of the Masonic Lodges of Buxton - Hollis, Maine and I hope you've enjoyed hearing this brief hostory as much as I've enjoyed compiling it.
West Buxton, Maine
September 19, 1985
The preceeding history was written by,
R.W. Barry W. Plummer
P.M. Buxton Lodge #115 A.F.& A.M.