History of Nicholson Lodge
|The Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free
and Accepted Masons is the oldest, largest and most widely distributed
fraternal order in the world today. Some
of the historians trace it back to the building of King Solomon’s Temple
in the Tenth Century, B.C.E., when, it is said, the workmen were Masons
and that Masonry comprised the original trade union for the protection of
the workmen who by use of signs were able to establish their respective
stages of proficiency in their Crafts.
This theory, however, has never been proven.
Other Masonic historians trace the origin of the Craft to the age
of Osiris and Isis in
|Brother Benjamin Franklin was Provincial Grand
Master of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in 1734 and 1749.
He published a reprint of Anderson’s Constitutions of the Free Masons
in 1734. These copies of
|General Sullivan’s army encamped at
|Brother Nathan Bacon, an early settler in
Nicholson, was born in
|After the railroad was built through Nicholson,
the village grew rapidly and many families came here to settle
permanently. Some of the men
were affiliated with Warren Lodge No. 240; Temple Lodge No. 248; Salem
Lodge No. 330; Great Bend Lodge No. 338; Hyde Park Lodge No. 339;
Factoryville Lodge No. 341; and several came here from
|On Wednesday April 7, 1869, a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons (Ancient York Rite) was duly constituted in Nicholson, and the new Lodge rooms were dedicated. This bought together in one Lodge all of the Masons then living in Nicholson. The Grand Officers at that first meeting were:|
Right Worshipful Brother John H. Dusenbury Acting Grand Master
Right Worshipful Brother John Wilson Acting Deputy Grand Master
Right Worshipful Brother George N. Brown Acting Senior Grand Warden
Right Worshipful Brother L. H. Whittleny Acting Junior Grand Warden
Right Worshipful Brother Nathan P. Wilcox Acting Grand Secretary
Right Worshipful Brother George W. Walker Acting Grand Treasurer
Right Worshipful Brother Wright Broadbent Acting Grand Junior Deacon
Right Worshipful Brother Silas W. Harding Acting Grand Senior Deacon
Right Worshipful Brother Silas G. Lewis Acting Grand Pursuivant
Right Worshipful Brother J. G. Reas Acting Senior Grand Master of Ceremonies
Right Worshipful Brother Orin L. Hallstead Acting Junior Grand Master of Ceremonies
Right Worshipful Brother Reverend William F. Arms Acting Grand Chaplain
|The following were the charter member of Nicholson Lodge No. 438: Brothers Alanson Belcher Walker, Edward Elias Bloomfield, Henry P. Hallstead, Nathan Pendleton Wilcox, George Washington Walker, William Bloomfield, Frank B. Williams, William Frederick Arms, Irving Wesley Billings, Silas G. Lewis, James Edward Howe, Holloway Lord Stephens, Davis G. Black, and Wickliff Condit Williams|
The following officers of Nicholson Lodge were
Brother Alanson B. Walker Worshipful Master
Brother Edward E. Bloomfield Senior Warden
Brother Henry P. Hallstead Junior Warden
Brother Nathan P. Wilcox Secretary
Brother George W. Walker Treasurer
During the first year, the following officers were appointed:
Brother Reverend William F. Arms Chaplain
Brother Silas Wheat Harding Senior Deacon
Brother Russell Daniel Newton Junior Deacon
Brother Eli Nathan Bacon Senior Master of Ceremonies
Brother Irving Wesley Billings Junior Master of Ceremonies
Brother Eben Nichols
Brother Eli Leroy Bacon
The first Trustees were Brother Wickliff C. Williams,
A. B. Walker and James E. Howe. Their
first duty was to secure a lease for the Masonic hall and to put adequate
insurance on the lodge furnishings. On
motion of Brother J. E. Howe, the regular meetings of this Lodge (were) to
be held on Wednesday Evening on or before the each full moon.
A committee of three was appointed to prepare By-Laws: Brothers
Davis G. Black, Nathan P. Wilcox and James E. Howe.
These By-Laws were to be submitted to Grand Lodge for approval, and
after approval, to be printed. Brother
James E. Howe has left his own account of his Masonic Life.
He stated that he was made a Mason in 1830 in a Lodge which was
|The place of the organization of Nicholson Lodge and subsequent meetings were the building owned presently by Mr. Winton R. Stephens on Main Street, Nicholson, then owned by Capt. I. W. Billings, and built by him soon after he returned from the Civil War. The Lodge rooms occupied the entire third floor of this building. Capt. Billings prepared the rooms, furnished the heat and the lights for one hundred dollars per year. There were four large kerosene lamps. One for each station and the Secretary; and candles at the altar and at other points, to light the Lodge room. The altar was made by Brother Frank B. Williams, the pedestals and the desks were made by members of the Lodge, and the Windsor bow-back chairs at each station and around the perimeter of the room were made in the Nicholson chair factory. A number of these chairs still exist today in homes in town. Veterans of the Civil War loaned their swords; Brother A. B. Walker furnished the regalia, I. W. Billings supplied canvass, cushions, “drawers”, rods, pitchers and tumblers; and the Lodge bought a number of spittoons. The first special meeting for conferring of degrees was ordered for September 18, 1869. Brother C. F. Knapp, District Deputy Grand Master of the Thirteenth District “assisted this Lodge with his kindly advice”.|
The first official act of the newly constituted Lodge was to assist in the dedication of the First Presbyterian Church, Nicholson, on Tuesday April 20, 1869. Rev. William F. Arms was pastor of the Church and a number of the Masons were members. Several Masonic emblems are part of the lovely stained glass windows in this Church, now over a century old.
Brother Russell D. Newton was admitted to this Lodge on
Brother Russell D. Newton was admitted to this Lodge on
|Brother A. B. Walker was a merchant in Nicholson and was
twice elected to the House of Representatives in
|In 1874, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows organized
Lodge No. 857 in Nicholson. It
was organized in the Masonic Lodge rooms in the building of Mr. Winton R.
|In 1889, Brother Reverend Henry H. Wilbur, a member of this
Lodge, raised in Lodge, $118.75 for the relief of the sufferers of the
Johnstown flood, which took the lives of some Nicholson people.
Many times during its century of existence, Nicholson Lodge made
generous contributions toward sickness and burial expenses of members,
toward the relief of the widows and orphans of members.
Dues were often remitted when members were in adversity or in
advanced age. Pictures to be
hung in class rooms were given to the
|In January 1902, the Lodge rooms in the Birge building were lighted with electricity for the first time. Brother Moses Shields Jr. used electricity in his stone mill. He generated his own power and offered to sell electricity to the people of Nicholson. The electricity was turned on for town use at sundown and was to be turned off at at night when the generators were idled. The Masons soon complained that the lights went off before the Lodge meetings were over. A committee waited upon Brother Shields and he arranged to keep the generators running on Lodge nights until the meetings were over. A page was run from the Lodge Hall to the mill to inform the operators that the generators could be shut off. Some women in town were accused of burning an electric light just to know what time the Lodge closed, then would allow their husbands only a certain number of minutes to reach home. Late arriving husbands were confronted with the fury of a woman.|
|When the Lodge was fifty years old, there was only one of the thirty-two men who had joined the Lodge the first year who was still active in the Lodge and that was Brother Leroy Bacon who was honored guest at the event. In the wake of this high point in the history of the Lodge, there was consternation in June 1921, when by order of the R. W. Grand Master of Pennsylvania, Brother John S. Sell, all Master Masons were asked to withdraw from all “co-sex” organizations. Reluctantly the Masons signed the renunciation cards and asked for demits from the local Order of the Eastern Star and Rebeckahs. Soon the Lodge returned to normalcy.|
|Nicholson Lodge has many men who were dedicated to
Freemasonry in general and to Lodge No. 438 in particular.
Brother Joseph Edson Harding was Treasurer of this Lodge for thirty
years. Brother Meriam A.
Werkheiser was Secretary of the Lodge from
|Brother George C. Bartholomay of
|On November 1, 1930 Nicholson Lodge began to meet on the
first Saturday of the month, and after more than sixty years, the By-Laws
decreed that the Lodge would cease to be a “Moon Lodge”.
Brother Harry Simpson Stephens was appointed in 1931 to attend the
two hundredth anniversary celebration of Freemasonry in
|The sixty-ninth anniversary of the founding of the
Nicholson Lodge was noted with a banquet in the Odd Fellows Hall on
Master Masons of Nicholson Lodge No. 438 who have received fifty year pins and are now deceased were:
Brother Past Master Charles Harry Conrad honored
In its century of history, four hundred forty-three men have been members of this Lodge; one hundred twenty-nine of these are still actively identified with Nicholson Lodge No. 438, Free and Accepted Masons. Brother Rev. Garford F. Williams
Originally written by Brother Rev. Garford F.
Williams to commemorate the centennial celebration of Nicholson Lodge on