STAR IN THE EAST 
 Masonic Lodge
AF&AM

Lodge History

Though Star in the East is the oldest existing Masonic lodge in New Bedford, it was not the first one organized here. Washington Remembered Lodge was organized in Bedford Village in 1803, but in 1814 it surrendered its charter and jewels to the Grand Lodge.

The history of this original lodge provides some interesting side-lights on the life of the town at the beginning of the nineteenth century. In those days, when Union Street was called Main Street, when Water Street extended only from School to Elm, and was in the west side of the village, the population of Bedford, exclusive of the wealthy merchants and ship owners, and the mechanics who worked for them, was a seafaring one. From the fact that those forming Washington Remembered Lodge became Masons somewhere outside of New Bedford, and that their names seldom appear on the records of any New England lodge, it is inferred that they received Masonic degrees in the foreign countries in which they traveled.

On November 27, 1802, nine Masons met at the office of Thomas Hammond, the only lawyer in the village, and signed a petition for a lodge, to be named "Washington Remembered Lodge," and named William Ross first Master. No response was received from the Grand Lodge for several months, during which time, however, the Masons met at various places to "brighten themselves" and incidentally to obtain more names for their petition.

On June 8, 1803 they met at the public house of John Gwrrish, where they formed an organization, with John Spooner as secretary, and Joseph Maxfield as treasurer. William Ross explained that some informality in the petition had caused a delay, but that a charter was expected soon.

A committee, appointed at this time to select a place for meeting, found that a room over Captain Jeremiah Mayhew's store on Front street, could be obtained for three years with no charge except the cost of fum ishing it. This was done, and the first meeting in the new quarters took place September 6, 1803.

At the next meeting, one week later, the charter arrived and the officers of the lodge were elected. The usual routine of meetings began, and on September 3, 1805, the Constitution of the Lodge took place, with public ceremonies at the Meeting House. Clergy and civil and military offieers were present and the procession was preceded by a band. The sermon was delivered by Rev. Holt, who had succeeded Rev. William H. H. Chealey, a charter member of the lodge and its first senior warden, in the pastorate of the church where the ceremony took place.

After the ceremonies of Constitution, says the records of the lodge, "The Brethren proceeded to Brother Gerrish's and partook of an excellent dinner for which he was paid $22.75, although he attempted to collect more."

In February, 1810, the lodge moved to new quarters, above the store of Gamaliel Bryant, which stood on Union Street, just east of Water. The meetings continued without anything of special interest, the records being mainly a chronicle of visitors and action on candidates, which were numerous for that day.

The War of 1812 seems to have exerted a disastrous influence on Washington Remembered Lodge. Meetings continued regular but candidates became less frequent, the last being elected in December, 1813. During the next year only three petitions were presented. The last meeting took place October 1, 1811, but, to quote the record, "not having many members present, closed without doing any business."

The last entry in the record book, dated Oct. 5. 1816, is a receipt signed by James Bliss, District Deputy Grand Master, in which he states that Jonathan Allen, the treasurer of Washington Remembered Lodge, had delivered to him, to be deposited in the Grand Lodge, the charter, by-laws, seal, and jewels of eight officers.

Lieutenant William Ross, the first Master of the Lodge, was stationed at Bedford during the Revolution, and after the war he conducted a public house on the corner of Union and First Streets until his death in 1809. The records of the Lodge passed into the hands of his daughter. Mrs. T. M-Martin, of Haverhill. In 1856 she gave them to G. M. Chase, who placed them in the hands of the Grand Lodge.

The records indicate a sort of military method of dealing with attendance of members. Any prolonged or unexplained absence from meetings caused an inquiry and might lead to discipline. Frequently members who expected to be absent were granted "leave of absence." The frequency of these indicates that the members were mostly mariners, and indeed, a surprisingly large number of them were referred to as "Captain."

During its existence the Lodge enrolled 3 total of 121 members, about one-third from Bedford, one-third from Fairhaven, and one-third from the surrounding towns. Of these only five became members of Star In the Fast Lodge, James Coggeshall, Samuel Stall, Reuben Swift, Joseph Tripp, and John Thornton. It is remarkable how completely the members of the lodge dispersed in the next 20 years. The first New Bedford directory, published in 1836, contained the names of only seven.

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Lodge Room at Time of Centennial Anniversary

Star in the East Lodge

During the nine years after the surrender of the charter of Washington Remembered Lodge, New Bedford showed a remarkable development. Business of all kinds prospered, Whaling grew rapidly, and became highly profitable. Men laid the foundations of those fortunes for which the town was famous. The population increased, with the maritime element still dominant. The inducements which had led to the founding of Washington Remembered Lodge in 1802, again appeared in 1823.

Oddly enough, the inspiration came not from the members of the old Washington Remembered Lodge, but from a younger generation, though many members of the older lodge were still living in the vicinity. Five of them joined Star in the Fast, but they never held office, nor took an active part in lodge affairs. Frequently, however, members of the older lodge appeared as visitors.

In the summer of 1823 the Masons of New Bedford again took steps to form a lodge, and as on the previous occasion, under the leadership of a lawyer. Timothy G. Coffin was a native of Nantucket, and a member of Union Lodge of that town. After admission to the Bar, he settled in New Bedford, where he was a famous figure for forty years, described by another attorney as "royally gifted, dominant, and often domineering Coffin."

Thirty-five Masons, six of whom lived in Fairhaven, met June 17, 1823, at the home of Mr. Coffin, at the corner of Purchase and High streets, which, though remodeled, still stands. Among them was Rev. Edward T. Taylor, known through the world for his ministry to sailors. They signed a petition asking that a lodge be formed in New Bedford, to be named Star in the East Lodge. At this meeting, also, it was voted to obtain a convenient place for meetings.

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Home of Timothy G. Coffin,
Purchase and High Streets

Meeting of original petitioners for a charter
for Star in the East Lodge

The following September they met in the Town Hall, the room over the old Central Police Station, which was torn down in 1917 to make room for the new station. At that time several proposals to build were rejected as inexpedient, and it was decided to continue to use the Town Hall. Consent was requested and received from the two nearest Lodges, King David of Taunton and Social Harmony of Middlcboro. Five years later, when Social Harmony Lodge wished to move to Wareham, Star in the East returned this courtesy.

A dispensation was obtained from the Grand Lodge of which John Dixwell was then Grand Master, October 17, 1823, and the first meeting under its authority was held November 3. On December 10 the Grand Lodge issued, to twenty-one brethren, the formal charter establishing Star in the East Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, signed by John Dixwell, G. M., Elijah Crane, S. G. W., Samuel Thaxter, J. G. W., and Thomas Power, Grand Secretary.

The twenty-one men to whom the charter was issued were, Timothy I. Dyre, Anthony D. Richmond. George Randall, Asa Wood, Alden Stoddard, Jonathan Buttrick, Oliver Swain, Charles Coggeshall, Thomas Cole, Zacheus Cushman, Samuel Stall, Eastland Babcock, Timothy G. Coffin, Reuben Swift, Joseph C. Melchor. James Maddix, Samuel James, James Moores, Mendall Ellis, Sylvanus Ames and Edward T. Taylor.

The Constitution of the Lodge took place on May 27, 1824. On Wednesday, May 26, at five in the morning, some of the officers of the Grand Lodge might have been seen at the inn of the Indian Queen, in Bromfield Lane, Boston, whence the New Bedford stage set out every day, arriving here, with the help of Providence and dry roads, early the same afternoon.

The report of the committee on arrange ments contains some interesting sidelights. Brother Thomas Cole was running the old Gerrish tavern, where the constitution banquet of Washington Remembered Lodge had been held, and would have furnished the dinner but his rooms were too small for the number of persons expected. The dinner, therefore, was served at the Eagle Hotel, run by Colonel Nelson, at the corner of Union and Fourth streets.

The committee were perplexed as to who invite outside the Fraternity, as they stated it was customary to do. It was finally settled that complimentary invitations be sent to the Selectmen, to John Hawes, Collector of the Port, to the Clergymen, including Holmes, Dewey, Hawes, and Gould, to the physicians, including Doctors Reed, Spooner, Whittridge, and Phinney, and to the Ex-Representatives to the General Court.

May 27 the brethren assembled at the Town Hall. There were present, Timothy I. Dyre, Master, A. D. Richmond and George Randall. Wardens, eight other offieers, thirty-eight other members of the Lodge, and forty-five visiting brethren. The officers of the Grand Lodge were then properly received, and a procession was formed, and marched to the meeting-house of Rev. Dewey.

Rev. Dewey offered prayer, and Rev. Paul Dean, Chaplain of the Grand Lodge, delivered an address. The Lodge was then formally constituted and its officers installed. "The ceremony," says the Mercury of the following week, "was perhaps one of the most interesting spectacles the citizens of this place have witnessed for many years. The meeting house was crowded to overflowing, and many were unahle to gain admittance." It adds that after the ceremony the Lodge and its guests "went to the hotel of Colonel Nathaniel Nelson, to an ample dinner."

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Town Hall, Second Street

Hall on second floor used as a Lodge room
from 1823 to 1825 by Star in the East Lodge

After the constitution, meetings were held regularly, and the records are in general uneventful accounts of incidents and routine business, which are of little interest to relate. We record, however, some of the more interesting incidents.

There were the usual proposals from outside organizations, and the Lodge declined to join in Fourth of July Parades.

After the Anti-Masonic Crusade, the English institution of Odd Fellowship gained sudden popularity in this country, and Acushnet Lodge was the first to be organized in New Bedford. In 1844 the Masons allowed them to hire their Lodge Room, but in 1855 a similar request was refused.

In 1847 the Sons of Temperance were informed that they could not be admitted because Masonic quarters could not be occupied by any persons not members.

The Trinitarian Church was sought for services June 24, 1848, but the church trustees declined the request on the grounds that they feared it would cause a dissatisfaction. In 1855, however, when Grace Church was undergoing repairs, the Parish held services in tlie Masonic rooms, and expressed cordial appreciation of the favor.

Some representatives of the Lodge were present at the laying of the corner stone of hunker Hill Monument, June 17, 1825, and in 1833 the Lodge raised $100 by subscription towards the completing of the monument.

In January, 1847, a public installation was held in Liberty Hall, conducted by the Grand Officers, to which 1000 tickets were issued.

In June, 1848, the Lodge was in the midst of an unusually prosperous period, and resolved to celebrate St. John's Day in style, at a cost of $600. The Town Crier was hired for fifty cents, and $1.50 was spent for dinners at the Parker House. William L. Gerrish, in his bill, called it the "grand jollification."

In 1858, several members took demits to form Eureka Lodge, on December 1, 1873, ten members from Fairhaven took demits to form Concordia, afterward renamed George H. Taber Lodge, in Fairhaven, and five years later ten more members, took demits and formed Noquochoke Lodge in Westport.

A block for the Washington Monument was sent by the Lodge in 1850.

A Masonic Library was started December 1, 1862.

Sixteen of the twenty charter members of Sutton Commandery had been members of Star in the East Lodge.

And so the record goes on, with details too numerous to mention in this brief history.

In view of the present proposal for a new Masonic Temple here, the various changes in the meeting place of the Lodge are interesting. While the Town Hall was central, it was not furnished in lodge room style, and this may account for a vote, in January. 1825, to consider where to move to. Two weeks later, however, it was decided that it would be inexpedient to move at that time.

William H. Allen, a member of the committee, was at that time building a three story brick block on the west side of Water street, at the head of Center—the building now occupied by Slocum and Kilburn. Mr. Allen had evidently suggested that he would finish a hall in the upper story for the use of the Lodge. In April the compensation of the Tyler was fixed at $1.50 a night "until our removal to the new hall, and then $1.00 a night."

In July, 1825, the Lodge engaged Mr. Allen's hall for six years, and arranged to furnish it. The last meeting in the Town Hall was held September 19, 1825, and the following week the Lodge met in the new hall. In the Mercury at this time there appears the notice that Star in the East Lodge would meet thereafter over the Merchant's Bank, which was then in the south part of the Allen block.

Years afterward, when the room was used as a tailor shop, the star sprinkled heavens, painted on the ceiling half of a century before by Samuel James, were still recognizable. During the next few years the records contain occasional obscure references to moving furniture from one hall to another but evidently any temporary change was followed by a return to the Allen hall.

The records do not furnish complete details, but in 1816 it was decided to obtain another hall, and the last meeting in the North Water Street building took place on Sept. 14, of that year. The next meeting November 2, was held in "New Masonic Hall," which was located on the northwest corner of Union and Purchase streets, on the third floor of a building owned by George Macombcr, who ran a grocery store downstairs. The cost of furnishing the new hall, $531, was taken up by the members, in scrip.

In 1859 some nuisance existed, and Mr. Macombcr was requested to abate it. This, apparently, he failed to do, for soon after there was a disposition to find another hall - William W. Crapo made a proposal, which was not accepted, to arrange a lodge room in China Hall, a brick block next north oi the Five Cents Savings Bank.

Mrs. Charles L. Wood owned a piece of property on the north side of Union street, between Pleasant and Purchase streets. upon which she proposed to erect a brick block and rent the third story to the Masonic Lodges. This building, erected in I860, forms the center section of the present Masonic building.

Mrs. Wood's proposition was accepted-a long lease taken and the hall furnished at a cost of $3651. The first meeting here, January 2, 1861, was a grand Masonic occasion, attended by 300 Masons. The Grand Master and other officers were on hand to install the officers of both Star in the East and Eureka Lodges. General William Sutton, for whom Sutton Commandery was named, presented a Bible, and later 130 members went to the Parker House for a banquet. Later that week there was a "Ladies' Night," for which 1000 tickets were issued and eagerly taken.

These facts show a decided change in the sentiment of New Bedford from the dark years around 1830, when the leading newspaper had complimented a group of prominent Masons who made a public renunciation of Eree Masonry. By 1861 it had ceased to be unpopular to belong to the institution, and a thousand persons were eager to visit the hall. More than that, one of the Wealthy families was ready to build a fine block in the center of the city, name it the Masonic Building, and rent the upper story to the Masons.

Mrs. Wood divided the property into a joint ownership of 250 shares, of which she retained 8(5 and sold 161 to about 10 persons, 25 of whom were Masons. The arrangement was such that, "for over 60 years here all the Masonic bodies have met satisfactorily and with convenience."

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Coles Tavern
Formerly known as Gerrish Tavern

The Morgan Excitement

The "Morgan Excitement," that curious wave of anti-Masonic sentiment which swept the country about 1828, was stronger and more determined in New Bedford than anywhere else in Southern New England, and for a time it seemed to threaten the life of Star in the East Lodge, which was still in its infancy. The violence of the movement here is attribuablc to the Quaker influence. Quakers controlled the banks, the schools, the social life, the business. Quaker merchants owned the ships, wharves, factories, and fine houses. And the strict Quaker creed so strongly condemned Eree Masonry that if a Quaker joined the order he was liable to be read out of meeting. This influence, then, strengthened the tide of anti-Masonic feeling that spread over the country after the publication of Mr. Morgan's book in western New York in 1826.

In 1826 Star in the East had about the usual number of candidates, but during the five years that followed only two applications were received. Then in 1833 eight candidates applied. They must have concluded that the worst of the storm had passed, but for the next six years they had no initiation, and it was during that period that the Lodge met its hardest battle.

In 1831 the matter entered into politics. Micah H. Ruggles of Fall River, and James L. Hodges, of Taunton, were candidates for Congress, the former on an anti-Masonic ticket. After eight elections in which no choice was made, Hodges was elected. New Bedford was overwhelmingly in favor of Ruggles.

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Allen Building
USed as Lodge Room from 1825 to 1846

The churches, too, felt this struggle. A Methodist minister, rumored to be a Mason, was assigned to New Bedford, and a certain faction threatened that if he came they would eject him from the pulpit The opposing faction promptly declared that if he were disturbed, they would see the necessary force was there to protect him. How this interesting situation ended Mr. Worth's historv does not say.

The Masons were not without their defenders. On December 31, 1831, one thousand Masons, It of whom were from New Bedford and 13 from Fairhaven, signed a public declaration saying that, "It has been frequently asserted, and published to the world, that in the several degrees of Free Masonry. . . the candidate on his initiation and subsequent advancement binds himself by oath to sustain his Masonic brethren in acts that are at variance with the fundamental principles of morality, and incompatible with his duty as a good and faithful citizen. We do," they went on, "most solemnly deny the existence of any such obligation. Every citizen who becomes a Mason is doubly bound to be true to his God, his country, and his fellow man." After lengthy explanations, the declaration concluded, "entertaining such sentiments as Masons, as citizens, as Christiana, and as moral men, we can neither renounce nor abandon it."

Andrew Jackson, a Mason, came into the presidency during the height of the excitement and, true to his nickname of "Old Hickory" remained a Mason in the face of all opposition.

The most staggering blow received by Star in the East Lodge was a public renunciation of Free Masonry, in the Mercury of October 30, 1834, signed by 25 prominent local Masons. Three of these men had signed under a misapprehension as to the tenor of the announcement, and were at once reinstated in the Lodge. Six other signers had never been members of Star in the East, and eight others had previously withdrawn in the regular manner. The public effect, however, should not be underestimated, for among the signers were two past masters, several prominent merchants, the principal of Friends Academy, and Judge Warren, the leading attorney in this part of the state.

The announcement declared that its signers believed the institution "to be of no further value to those connected to it." But all of them made, as a part of their withdrawal, the following testimony. "They at the same time feel it to be their duty to declare that so far as their own experience extends there is nothing in the character of the institution to justify the fears entertained with regard to it by a portion of the community." The very fact of their withdrawal makes this testimony of greater value. ' An editorial in the same issue of the Mercury expresses pleasure which is easily understood under the circumstances.

Seventy-eight members still remained in the Lodge, enough to sustain it had it not been so injured by the prestige of the men who withdrew. In the following six years not a candidate received the degrees, and for two years and seven months, May 10, 1836 to December 17, 1838, no meetings were held, though the records of the two meetings on those dates are silent as to any disturbing events. The Grand Lodge records show that Star in the East was not represented during that time. At the second meeting every officer was a pro tem appointment. Among some old bills, however, is a clue whieh may explain the mystery.

William H. Allen, a charter member, owner of the then Masonic Hall, was one of those who had withdrawn, and in March, 1886, the Lodge received a peremptory demand from him that if his bill for back rent, amounting to $133, were not paid at once he would let the room to another tenant. The finances of the Lodge were considered at the April and May meetings, and evidently it was found impossible to pay the demand so they stored the furniture and discontinued meetings.

When the meetings were resumed it was in some other place which is not mentioned, and which seems to have proved unsatisfactory. In the meantime Mr. Allen had met with financial reverses and the North Water Street block passed into other hands. In 1840 it was arranged with the new owner to return to the old hall, where meetings were held until the move to the Macomber building in 1846.

In 1840 the storm clouds evidently began to break, for one man came forward and asked for admission, and was received. The Lodge made its first public appearance in many years, to attend the burial of a brother, and as they issued from the hall people looked strangely at the procession. The young had never seen the sight; some of the older generation must have recognized it with difficulty.

The Lodge was far from having recovered yet, however, for in 1845 there were but 40 besides the officers. In that year, however, a change seems to have come over the spirit of the Lodge. Twelve members went to Taunton and took the Capitular degrees, and at the next meeting, October 24, 1845, Adoniram Chapter was moved to New Bedford. Candidates began to appear again. The installation in January 1817, was made public, and held in Liberty Hall; 1000 tickets were distributed. No wonder that after 20 years of reverses they began to feel that the promised land was in sight, and decided to celebrate with a "grand jollification," June 24, 1848.

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Worshipful Frank H. Childs
Master, Star in the East Lodge
1923-1924
Presiding Master at Centennial Celebration

From that time to the present the Lodge has moved forward to its present strong-position, with a membership of over 700 with but one incident to threaten its progress. That incident, however brought upon itself by the Lodge, came very close to putting a sudden close to its career. This was the "Masonic Temple episode."

The Masonic Temple Episode

The Masonic Temple Building, known as the Winthrop House, standing on the corner of Tremont and Boylston streets in Boston, was totally destroyed by fire in April, 1864 and steps were at once taken to rebuild it. The Directors of the Corporation assured the Grand Lodge that the proposed Temple could be erected at a cost not to exceed $300,000. They received authority from the Grand Lodge to proceed with the building, and when the final cost of the structure was reckoned, it was found to exceed $450,000.

Severe criticism was expressed against the Directors, but as they had the vote of the Grand Lodge to support them, it devolved upon that body to finance the expense by temporary loans. After raising all that was possible on mortgages, the Grand Lodge borrowed the balance from individual Masons. It soon became apparent that the expected revenue was a disappointment, and that a fund must be accumulated to pay the loans at maturity, by compelling the 16,000 Masons of Massachusetts to contribute the required amount.

In March, 1867, the Grand Lodge decreed that each Mason should pay one dollar a year for 18 years, or else discharge the obligation at once by paying $10. It was asserted that, properly invested, this fund would be sufficient to pay off the debt.

This vote aroused violent opposition and deepened the resentment caused by the extravagant cost of the building. Soon after this, the Grand Lodge further proposed that each subordinate Lodge should guarantee the collection of the assessment, pay each annual installment to the Grand Lodge, and collect the money from its members as soon as it saw fit.

Loud and bitter protests were raised from all over the state at this, but Star in the East was the only Lodge that actually rebelled. Whenever the Master, James Taylor, proposed that the annual assessment should be paid, Henry Taber, 2nd, the Senior Warden, moved that the lodge send the part it had collected and no more, and Taber carried the majority with him. The question whether the Lodge was primarily responsible for the payment or was merely a collecting agent was a practical one with Star in the East, many of whose members were sailors, scattered throughout the seven seas.

On October 31, 1870, District Deputy Grand Master John A. Lee visited the Lodge and called for the unpaid assessment, which amounted to about $300. He was informed by the Master that the Lodge had refused to make the appropriation. This the Deputy at once reported to the Grand Master. At the next meeting of the Grand Lodge, December 11, 1870, the whole subject was explained and the Grand Master was given power to deal with Star in the East "in the most summary manner."

The Grand Master proclaimed the Charter of Star in the East cancelled and revoked, and an order was forwarded to the District Deputy to demand of the officers of the Lodge the charter, records and property, and to send them to Boston, all of which was done.

This action of the Grand Lodge would exert a powerful effect on the Masonic rights and privileges of the members, and it had a subduing influence on their rebelliousness. The opinion spread rapidly among the members that they would do wise to seek the restoration of the Lodge. It vas suggested by the Grand Master that if the members would sign a petition to this effect, something might be done for them.

Accordingly James Taylor obtained the signatures of all members excepting those at sea, and excepting also, Bartlett Allen, Charles D. Burtt, and Henry F. Palmer, who refused to sign. These three men were never reinstated. When this document was received, the Grand Master ordered John A. Lee, D. D. G. M., to call and open Star the East Lodge, and restore to it its charter and property, after deducting all claims and demands due the Grand Lodge. This was done January 23, 1871, the charter having been suspended for forty days.

Thirteen years later it was found that the fund collected had not been sufficient to pay the mortgage on the Temple, and a second assessment, equal in amount to the first, was made. Star in the East, profiting by its former experience, paid the sum, $3440, in full in 1880, and collected the amount in dues from the members over a series of years.

Fiftieth Anniversary

December 17, 1873, not long after the temporary loss of its charter, Star in the East Lodge celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. The program opened early in the evening in Pierian Hall, witli an address by Rev. Brother A. H. Quint. Rev. Bro. Quint's address was largely of an historical nature, and from it many of the facts included in this history have been used, to supplement those compiled by the late Henry Worth.

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Worshipful A. H. W. Carpenter
Master, Star in the East Lodge
1864-1866, 1873-1874
Presiding Master at the 50th Anniversary

George H. Taber, of Fairhaven, Past Master of Star in the East Lodge, presided at the meeting, and on the platform with him were Worshipful Master A. H. W. Carpenter, the following Past Masters of the Lodge: Timothy Ingraham, Isaac M. Richardson, Oliver Swain, Henry F. Thomas, and James Taylor, Past Master Abraham H. Howland, Jr., of Eureka Lodge, and Past Master George Marston of James Otis Lodge, Barnstable.

The exercises opened with a hymn sung by a quartet, consisting of William H. Wood, B. F. Jenney, Elisha B. Tinkham, and E. G. Morton, Jr. Mr. Tinkham is still alive, and is now to have the pleasure of taking part in the Hundredth Anniversary Celebration.

Rev. Bro. Quint's address was followed by a banquet in City Hall and a social festival in Masonic Hall, and Star in the East Lodge entered on the second half century of its life, a period unmarred by the trials and storms of its earlier existence. From that time the Lodge has grown and prospered until the Hundredth Anniversary.

125TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, DECEMBER 1948

From Proceedings, Page 1948-236:

By Brother Alexander K. Brown.

Star in the East Lodge is the oldest existing Masonic Lodge in New Bedford, although it was not the first one organized here.

In 1803, what is now known as New Bedford was named Bedford Village, with only a few short streets. The street now called Union was then known as Main, and Water Street extended only from School to Elm Street. At that time the population was very small and consisted mostly of mariners or seafaring men. Nine of these men decided to form a Masonic Lodge and applied for a Charter, which was granted September 3, 1805, under the name of Washington Remembered Lodge. This venture was doomed to failure from the start, and the War of 1812 had such a disastrous effect on the Lodge that the Charter and jewels were returned to the Grand Lodge October 5, 1816. Thus ended Washington Remembered Lodge.

During the nine years after the surrender of the Charter of Washington Remembered Lodge, New Bedford showed a remarkable development and all kinds of business prospered. Whaling grew rapidly and became a most profitable venture. Foundations were laid for those fortunes for which the town was famous, and the population increased with the business prosperity. Again, it was decided to form a Masonic Lodge, and strangely enough, the inspiration came not from members of the former Washington Remembered Lodge, but from a younger and newer group of men, although some of the members of the former Lodge were still living in the vicinity. In the summer of 1823, the Masons of New Bedford took steps to form a Lodge. Thirty-five Masons of New Bedford signed a petition asking that a Lodge be formed in New Bedford, to be called Star in the East Lodge. On December 10, 1823, the Grand Lodge issued a Charter and the first meeting of the Lodge was held in the Town Hall over the Police Station, which in 1917 was razed to make room for the present Police Station.

Timothy I. Dyer was installed as the first Master of the Lodge which was constituted May 27, 1824.

For the first twenty-five years of the existence of Star in the East Lodge, the traveling was rather difficult; the road was long and thorny and the pathway rough and steep, with varied degrees of success and disappointments. However, the men behind this venture were men of courage and resourcefulness and held the torch still high and alive.

Among the many obstacles to be overcome was a hostile press, notably the Mercury, now extinct, a rabid anti-Masonic attitude on the part of the Quakers, better known as the Friends, who formed a large part of the population at that time. The Quakers were the men who controlled the wealth and chief business of that day. The most damaging blow of all was the Morgan episode for this anti-Masonic crusade seemed to be more pronounced in New Bedford than anywhere else in New England, and not the least of the difficulties that beset the new Lodge was in finding suitable quarters in which to hold their meetings.

In 1848, the Lodge had its most prosperous year up to that time, and for the first time celebrated St. John's Day at a cost of Six Hundred Dollars.

After many unsuccessful attempts to secure quarters suitable to hold its meetings, and of a more permanent nature than that which had existed up to that time, finally a proposition was made to the Lodge by a lady named Mrs. Wood to erect a brick structure on the northeast corner of Union and Pleasant Streets, the third floor of which she would gladly lease to the Masonic Lodge for meeting purposes. This offer was accepted, and on January 1, 1861, the Grand Master and his Suite were on hand to dedicate the new hall. At this time the officers of both Star in the East and Eureka Lodges were installed, followed by a banquet at the Parker House.

The new hall was furnished by the Lodge at a cost of $3,651.00.

In 1858 several members took dimits to form Eureka Lodge, and on December 1, 1873, ten members from Fairhaven took dimits to form Concordia Lodge, later re-named George H. Taber Lodge, honoring a Past Master of Star in the East Lodge. Five years later another group of men took dimits and formed Noquochoke Lodge of Westport, so that all three above named Lodges were off-shoots of Star in the East Lodge.

In 1864 difficulties were again encountered. The Masonic Temple in Boston was totally destroyed by fire and the directors of the corporation voted to rebuild the structure at once, at an estimated cost of $300,000. When the structure was completed, it was found to have cost $450,000. In order to meet this large deficit, the Grand Lodge voted to assess each member throughout the district one dollar per year for a total of thirteen years, each subordinate Lodge to be responsible for the collection of this assessment, pay each annual installment to the Grand Lodge and collect from its members as it saw fit. This action on the part of the Grand Lodge caused loud and bitter protests throughout the state. Star in the East Lodge actually rebelled and refused to collect the assessment. On October 31, 1870, the District Deputy Grand Master visited the Lodge and called for the unpaid assessment. On being informed by the Master that the Lodge refused to make the appropriation, the Deputy reported the matter to the Grand Master. At the following meeting of the Grand Lodge, the Charter was revoked and the Lodge suspended. The jewels, records and other property of the Lodge had to be returned to Boston, all of which was done. The suspension only lasted for a period of forty days — the edict had been heeded and agreement reached. Soon after its suspension, the Lodge celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, on December 17, 1873, with a banquet. There were several speakers and vocal music by a male quartet. Among the notables on the platform with the presiding Master, Wor. A. H. W. Carpenter, were George H. Taber, Past Master of Star in the East Lodge, and Abraham H. Howland, Jr., Past Master of Eureka Lodge, both of whom gave brief addresses.

Fifty years have elapsed — a new era has begun and the sails again set. The turbulent waters have dispersed themselves under the bridge, the sailing became smoother and the waters more placid, free from the trials and tribulations of an earlier past. Now the Lodge really began to expand and continued to do so without anything of great importance occurring until it reached its seventy-fifth birthday on December 10, 1898, at which time Henry N. West was the presiding Master. There is no evidence in the records of the Lodge having had any celebration on this special occasion. Regular and special communications continued to be held with a great influx of candidates, the officers often working two and sometimes three degrees in one afternoon. Everything seems to have gone along in a smooth and regular manner so that the Lodge continued to grow until it reached its one hundredth birthday, with a membership of 734.

The Centenary Anniversary Celebration was a gala event — an occasion never to be forgotten by those who were privileged to be present. It started with Divine Service at the Trinitarian Congregational Church, School and Purchase Streets, on Sunday afternoon, December 9, 1923. The members met at the Masonic Hall on Pleasant Street and marched to the church, where Rev. Brother Everett C. Herrick of Fall River gave the address. Rev. Brother Frederick Von-Der-Sump and Rev. Brother Charles S. Thurber of New Bedford also took part in the service. Wor. Brother James D. D. Comey presided at the organ, with the Scottish Rite Male Chorus of Fall River supplying the music.

On Monday evening, December 10, 1923, after reception of the Grand Officers, Most Worshipful Dudley Ferrell and his Suite, with approximately six hundred officers and members of Star in the East Lodge repaired to the State Armory on Pleasant and Sycamore Streets and there sat down to one of the most sumptuous and appetizing feasts that any man could wish for. This was an occasion when no one complained about the eats. Music throughout the evening was furnished by the New Bedford Masonic Band. Interesting and instructive addresses were given by the following: M. W. Dudley H. Ferrell, Grand Master; R. W. Frederick W. Hamilton, Grand Secretary; M. W. Melvin M. Johnson and M. W. Arthur D. Prince. Brother Charles H. Holliday had charge of the decorations which were, to say the least, unique. H. S. Seiler of Boston was the caterer. There were forty-four invited guests present, including the Grand Officers, plus the presiding Masters of the 30th Masonic District.

On Tuesday evening, December 11, 1923, the last and final act in a three day program terminated at the State Armory with a concert, entertainment and dance. Members were privileged to bring their families and two invited guests. After the entertainment, refreshments were served, followed by dancing which lasted until midnight, when all present retired to their homes in a happy mood with words of commendation on their lips for a job well done.

Wor. Frank H. Childs, who was the presiding Master, was also the general chairman of this great event. He was ably supported by several fine committees, all of whom had done a splendid job. It is worthy of note that although several of the Brothers serving on these committees have passed to the Great Beyond, many of them are still active and faithful workers in the Star in the East Lodge.

One hundred years have passed into history, and once again we hoist sails and with favorable winds sail into the first lap of a second century. Our ship is fully manned with a competent crew and with high hopes for the future as we learn that plans are in the making for the erection of a new Masonic Temple, we continue to sail along smoothly, and one day, looking out upon the horizon, we discover the outline of a building — the Temple is completed and ready for occupancy.

On April 11, 1927, Most Worshipful Frank L. Simpson, Grand Master, with his Suite, arrived in New Bedford to perform the dedication ceremonies for the new temple. Star in the East Lodge officers, by virtue of seniority, occupied the chairs and assisted the Grand Officers in the dedication ceremonies which were witnessed by the other Lodges in the District and many out-of-town visitors. Wor. Walter F. Slocum was the presiding Master on this notable occasion. Following the dedication, the Lodge had two especially prosperous years. In the fall of 1929, progress in the Lodge was greatly retarded by rather severe economic conditions and the ten years that followed were severely lean. Candidates were few and far between. Many of our members were forced to dimit and many others were unable to meet their dues — consequently there was a large decrease in membership.

But history has a way of repeating itself. As in the early years of Star in the East Lodge when whaling was the principal industry, today we find fishing taking a prominent place among our industries, and with great promise for its future. Many of these hardy sons of the sea, who make fishing their livelihood, have sought and obtained membership in Star in the East Lodge. During the years of World War II, a large number of young men serving in the Armed Forces of our country were admitted into membership in the Lodge so that the years from 1939 up to this time have been fruitful, and we are justly proud, not so much at the quantity, but as to the quality of our latest acquisitions. The Lodge membership at this time numbers 584.

The backbone of any Masonic Lodge is its Past Masters, and Star in the East Lodge has been most fortunate in this respect. These men have always proved to be a most loyal and faithful group, with the interest of their Lodge and Masonry at heart. They are ever ready and willing to co-operate when occasion requires and are a fine example and great source of encouragement to the younger officers. This fine spirit of brotherhood not only exists among the Past Masters and Lodge officers, but is very evident throughout the Lodge membership.

A word of praise is also due the Lodge officers for their faithfulness to duty and for the sincere and dignified manner in which their degree work is carried out. Work well performed on the part of the officers is certain to create a greater interest on the part of the members, resulting in better attended meetings.

During World War II nineteen of our young men were called to the colors and served through the war, and while some of these are still in service, we are glad to be able to state that those returned and those still in service are healthy and well. Star in the East Lodge has been greatly honored by having three of its outstanding Past Masters elevated to the rank of District Deputy Grand Master — Stephen H. Taylor, 1921 and 1922; Frank H. Childs, 1933 and 1934; L. Theodore Woolfenden, 1947 and 1948. It can be said in all truth that in each case the award has been well merited.

The ways of virtue are beautiful. Knowledge can only be attained by degrees, and through this means, we must seek it. Let us therefore, Brethren, apply ourselves with becoming zeal to the excellent principles inculcated in our order, and may brotherly love and affection ever prevail among us.

NOTES IN CENTENARY HISTORY OF EUREKA LODGE, JUNE 1958

From Proceedings, Page 1958-100:

In the summer of 1823, thirty-five New Bedford Masons signed a petition asking for a new Lodge to be known as Star-in-the-East Lodge. On the tenth day of December the Grand Lodge issued a Charter signed by John Dixwell as Grand Master. The first meeting was held in the Town Hall over the old Central Police Station on Second Street, which was torn down in 1917 to allow construction of the present building.

During its first twenty-five years, Star-in-the-East Lodge had a strenuous existence. It faced a hostile press and a strong anti-Masonic prejudice of the local Quakers who then formed a large and influential portion of the population. Quakers controlled the banks, the schools, the social life and the business. Quaker merchants owned the ships, the wharves, the factories and the fine homes. The strict Quaker creed so strongly condemned Masonry that any Quaker joining the Order was liable to be "read out of meeting."

A particularly unfortunate happening in those early days in Star-in-the-East Lodge was the public renunciation of Freemasonry by no less than twenty-five prominent members in the Morning Mercury of October 30, 1834. Three of the signers did so under a misapprehension of the nature of the announcement and were immediately reinstated in the Lodge. Eight signers had already demitted and six had never been members.

The effect on the public, however, should not be underestimated, for among the number were two Past Masters, several prominent merchants, the principal of Friends Academy and a judge in a local court. An interesting thing was the following significant admission in the declaration "they at the same time feel it to be their duty to declare that as far as their own experience extends, there is nothing in the character of the institution to justify the fears entertained with regard to it by a portion of the community." The fact of their withdrawal gives greater significance to the admission.

The most damaging blow of all was the so-called Morgan episode and the anti-Masonic crusade that followed in many parts of the country. However, the Masons of those days were men of courage and conviction and local Masonry survived its greatest test.

It must not be assumed that the Masons were not without staunch defenders in those days of controversy and misunderstanding. On December 31, 1831, fourteen hundred and seventy-nine Masons, forty-four of them from New Bedford and thirteen from Fairhaven, signed a public declaration saying "it has been frequently asserted and published to the world that in the several degrees in Freemasonry, the candidate, on his initiation and subsequent advancement, binds himself, by oath, to sustain his Masonic brethren in acts that are at variance with the fundamental principles of morality and incompatible with his duty as a good and faithful citizen." They further declared "we do most solemnly deny the existence of such an obligation. Every citizen, who becomes a Mason, is doubly bound to be true to his God, his country and his fellow man." They concluded "entertaining such sentiments as Masons, as citizens, as Christians and as moral men, we can neither renounce nor abandon it."

A strong influence during the height of this excitement was the fact that Andrew Jackson, who was President, was also the Grand Master of Masons in Tennessee, and remained a loyal Mason in the face of every criticism. He richly deserved the sobriquet of "Old Hickory."

It is interesting to note that those who petitioned for Star-in-the-East Lodge were not formerly members of Washington Remembered Lodge but a new group, apparently initiated elsewhere, even though several members of the older Lodge still lived in New Bedford, and often visited the newer Lodge.

150TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY, DECEMBER 1973

From Proceedings, Page 1973-290:

By Worshipful Percy Lord

(A detailed history of Star in the East Lodge for the earlier periods may be found in the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge for 1923 — pages 392-412 and for 1948 — pages 236-242.)

Star in the East Lodge is the oldest existing Lodge in New Bedford, although it was not the first Lodge organized here.

In 1803, New Bedford was Bedford Village, with only a few short streets. Union Street was then called Main Street, and Water Street extended only from School Street to Elm Street. At that time the population was small, and consisted of mariners and seafaring men. Nine of these men decided to form a Masonic Lodge, and applied for a charter, which was granted September 3, 1805 under the name of "Washington Remembered Lodge".

The Lodge did not prosper, and the War of 1812 had a disastrous effect on the Lodge, which culminated in the surrender of the charter and jewels, which were returned to Grand Lodge on October 5, 1816. The last entry in the record book, dated October 5, 1816, is a receipt signed by James Bliss, District Deputy Grand Master, in which he states that Jonothan Allen, Treasurer of Washington Remembered Lodge, had delivered to him, to be deposited in Grand Lodge, the charter, by-laws, seal and jewels of eight officers.

From the fact that those forming the premier Lodge became Masons somewhere outside of New Bedford, and that their names seldom appear in the records of any New England Lodge, it is inferred that they received Masonic degrees in the foreign countries to which they travelled. The records indicate a sort of military method of dealing with the attendance of members; any prolonged or unexplained absence caused an inquiry and might lead to discipline. Frequently, members who expected to be absent were granted a leave of absence, which would indicate that the members were mostly mariners; in fact, many were referred to as Captain. During its existence, the Lodge enrolled a total of 121 members.

In 1823, the inspiration for a new Lodge appeared, not from the members of the former Lodge, but from a younger generation, though many of the old Lodge were living in the vicinity. Five of them joined Star in the East Lodge, but never held office; however, members of the old Lodge appear as visitors.

In the summer of 1823, the Masons of New Bedford took steps to form a Lodge. Thirty-five Masons, of whom six lived in Fairhaven, signed a petition asking that a Lodge be formed in New Bedford, to be named "Star in the East Lodge". On December 10, 1823, the Grand Lodge issued a charter signed by the Grand Master, John Dixwell; Elija Crane, Senior Grand Warden, Samuel Thaxter, Junior Grand Warden; and countersigned by Thomas Power, Grand Secretary. This charter was issued to twenty-one brethren. Formal Constitution did not take place until May 27, 1824. Consent to granting of the charter had been received from King David Lodge in Taunton, and Social Harmony Lodge in Middleboro. Five years later, when Social Harmony wished to move to Wareham, Star in the East returned the courtesy. From 1825 to 1843, not a single Lodge was chartered in the state, but in 1824, Mount Hope Lodge in Fall River was organized with the consent of Star in the East.

In 1824, Star in the East was in the 4th District; in 1827, in the 13th District, in 1835, in the 7th District, 1868, the 14th District, 1883, the 26th District, and presently is in the 30th District. Some representatives of the Lodge were present at the laying of the corner stone at Bunker Hill Monument on June 17, 1825, and in 1833, the Lodge raised one hundred dollars by subscription toward the completion of the monument. In January 1847, a public installation was held in Liberty Hall, conducted by the Grand Officers, to which one thousand tickets were issued. In 1858, several members took demits to form Eureka Lodge. On December 1, 1873, ten members from Fairhaven took demits to form Concordia Lodge, later named George H. Taber Lodge, and five years later, ten members took demits to form Noquochoke Lodge. George H. Taber was a Past Master of Star in the East Lodge. A block for the Washington Monument was sent by the Lodge in 1850.

The Lodge met in several places over the years until 1860, when the Masonic Building at the corner of Union and Pleasant Streets was erected. This building is still called the Masonic Building and Masonic emblems are still evident on the facings. On April 11, 1927, Most Worshipful Grand Master Edward L. Simpson and the Grand Officers came to New Bedford, to perform the dedication for the new Masonic Temple at the corner of County and Union Streets. (1927 Mass. 88-90) Star in the East Lodge, by virtue of seniority, occupied the chairs, and assisted in the dedication ceremonies. The presiding Master was Walter F. Slocum.

The Morgan incident of 1828 raised havoc with Star in the East Lodge, inasmuch as feeling against Masonry in New Bedford was strong. The violence of that movement was attributable to the Quaker influence. The Quakers owned the banks, controlled the schools, the social life and business. Quaker merchants owned the ships, wharves, factories and fine houses. The Quaker creed so strongly condemned Masonry, that if a Quaker joined the Order, he was liable to be read out of the meeting.

The Lodge had another disturbing event in 1864, when the Masonic Temple Building at the corner of Tremont and Boylston Streets in Boston, and known as the Winthrop House, burned down. Steps were taken at once to rebuild it. From an estimated cost of $300,000 the cost spiralled to $450,000. which caused an assessment to be made on the 16,000 Masons. In March, 1867, the Grand Lodge decreed that each member would be assessed one dollar per year for thirteen years, each Lodge to guarantee the collection of the assessment. Loud and bitter protests were raised all over the state, but Star in the East was the only Lodge that actually rebelled, refusing to be as they said, a collection agency for the Grand Lodge. Matters came to a head at the Grand Lodge meeting on December 14, 1870, when the Grand Master proclaimed the charter of Star in the East cancelled and revoked. The charter, records, and property of the Lodge were picked up and sent to Boston.

Reflecting upon the atrocity of the crime, a James Taylor, who was Master from January 4, 1870 to January 1, 1872, collected the signatures of all but three, and those at sea, on a petition for restoration. When the document was received, the Grand Master ordered John E. Lee, District Deputy Grand Master, to call and open Star in the East Lodge, and restore its charter and property, after deducting all claims and demands due the Grand Lodge. This was done January 23, 1871, the charter having been suspended for forty days. Thirteen years later, the fund being collected not being sufficient to pay off the mortgage on the temple, a second assessment equal to the first was made. Star in the East profiting by its former experience, paid the sum in full, $3,440. and collected the amount in dues from the members over a series of years.

The fiftieth anniversary was a three day affair. The program in the Pierian Hall December 17, 1873 was presided over by George H. Taber, a Past Master of Star in the East Lodge. Among those present was Abraham H. Howland, Jr., Past Master of Eureka Lodge, and for whom the Lodge in this city is named. Sixteen of the Charter Members of Sutton Commandery had been members of Star in the East.

During 1826-1827, but 4 applied for degrees. From 1823-1833, 108 applied for degrees. From 1833-1873, 949 applied for degrees.

In October, 1918, because of an influenza epidemic, all Masonic meetings were postponed until furthur notice. The years immediately following World War I saw a great influx of candidates. For instance, the Lodge notice dated May 17, 1921 reads as follows:

Regular communication June 6, 1921 at 7:30 applications were to be read from 17 applicants. Balloting on 12.

  • May 23 - 6:30 P.M. - Entered Apprentice Degree to be followed by Fellowcraft Degree.
  • June 13 - 7:30 P.M. - Entered Apprentice Degree
  • June 20 - 7:30 P.M. - Fellowcraft Degree
  • June 27 - 6:30 P.M. - Fellowcraft Degree to be followed by Master Mason Degree

By contrast, from September, 1940 to September, 1941, no candidate was admitted. In 1923, the Lodge had 134 members, in 1948, 584, in 1964, 524, and presently in 1973, 410.

The Lodge notice for March, 1933 advises of Ladies Night — Entertainment, Refreshments, Dancing, tickets — 250. The notice for May 1973 advises Ladies Night Tickets — $6.50.

The Nineteen Thirties were hard years for the country, particularly so for the Lodges in New Bedford. In 1928, New Bedford was almost wholly a textile city and a six month strike of textile workers plus the crash of 1929, with the attendant depression years, decimated the ranks of Star in the East members, but the nineteen forties showed an encouraging resurgence of applicants.

On November 16, 1970, a Testimonial Dinner was held in honor of R.W. Fred S. Wordell, who celebrated his fiftieth year as Past Master of the Lodge. R. W. Brother Wordell was a 60 year member of the Lodge, 50 year Past Master, District Deputy Grand Master for the years 1963 and 1964, Secretary of the Lodge, a charter member of Quittacus Lodge, an honorary member of Noquochoke Lodge, and a holder of the Joseph Warren Distinguished Service Medal for distinguished service to Masonry.

On February 27, 1973, a reception was held in honor of R. W. Eliot F. Borden, in recognition of his having been elected and installed Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. With the Most Worshipful Grand Master and his Suite in attendance, R. W. Brother Borden was invested with the Henry Price Medal by the Grand Master, Most Worshipful Donald W. Vose. A perusal of the records would indicate that R.W. Brother Borden is the first member of Star in the East Lodge to be elected to Grand Office, and will therefore be the first member of the Lodge to become a permanent member of Grand Lodge.

Star in the East Lodge has been honored by the appointment of fourteen members as District Deputy Grand Master, the election of R.W. Brother Borden as Junior Grand Warden, and the appointment of Wor. Percy Lord as Grand Pursuivant. R. W. Brother Borden is the holder of the Henry Price Medal, and R. W. Fred S. Wordell and Wor. Percy Lord were invested with the Joseph Warren Distinguished Service Medal. Star in the East has weathered the vicissitudes and shared in the glories of our hundred and fifty years of Masonry. The period of the Morgan episode was a critical time for the Lodge, when only the stout of heart dared to be Masons; the loss of the charter boded ill for the Lodge; two World Wars and the years of the depression were all taken in stride. As the years have rolled by, the Lodge has celebrated its appropriate anniversaries with pomp and circumstances. We can undoubtedly be as optimistic for the future, as we are proud of the past, and perhaps we may borrow some words from Tennyson's poem and say: "For men may come, and men may go, but I go on forever." May the blessing of Heaven rest upon us and all regular Masons; May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue cement us!

HISTORICAL REVIEW, APRIL 1992

Star In The East Lodge is the oldest existing Lodge in the city of New Bedford. It is not the first Lodge organized here in the now City of New Bedford.

In 1803, New Bedford was Bedford Village, with only a few short streets. Union Street was then called Main Street, and Water Street extended only from School Street to Elm Street. At that time the population was small and consisted of mariners and seafaring men. Nine of these men decided to form a Masonic Lodge, and applied for a Charter, which was granted on September 3, 1805, under the name of "Washington Remembered Lodge".

That Lodge did not prosper, and the War of 1812 had a disastrous affect on the Lodge, which culminated in the surrender of the Charter and the Jewels, which were returned to Grand Lodge on October 5, 1816. The last entry in the record book, dated October 5, 1816, is a receipt signed by James Bliss, District Deputy Grand Master, in which he states that Jonothan Allen, Treasurer of Washington Remembered Lodge, had delivered to him, to be deposited in Grand Lodge, the Charter, By-Laws, Seal and Jewels of eight officers.

From the fact that those forming the premier Lodge became Masons somewhere outside of the New Bedford area, and that their names seldom appear in the records of any New Bedford or New England Lodge, it is concluded that they received their Masonic Degrees in the foreign countries to which they travelled.

The records indicate a sort of military method of dealing with the attendance of members; who for any prolonged or unexplained absence caused an inquiry and might lead to discipline of the member. Frequently, members who expected to be absent were granted a leave of absence, which would indicate that the members were mostly mariners; in fact many were referred to as Captain. During its existence, the Lodge enrolled a total of 121 members.

THE BIRTH OF STAR IN THE EAST LODGE

In 1823, the inspiration for a new Lodge appeared, not from the members of the former Lodge, but from a younger generation, though many of the members of the old Lodge were still living in the vicinity. Five of them joined Star In The East Lodge, but never held any office; however, members of the old Lodge appeared as visitors in the records of Star In The East Lodge.

In the summer of 1823, the Masons of New Bedford took steps to form a Lodge. Thirty-five Masons, of whom six lived in Fairhaven, signed a petition asking that a Lodge be formed in New Bedford to be named "Star In The East Lodge". On December 10, 1823, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts issued a charter signed by the then Grand Master, M. W. John Dixwell; Senior Grand Warden, R. W. Elijah Crane and Junior Grand Warden R. W. Samuel Thaxter and countersigned by Grand Secretary R. W. Thomas Power. This charter was issued to twenty-one Brethren. Formal constitution did not take place until May 27, 1824. Consent to granting of the charter had been received from King David Lodge, located in the city of Taunton, Massachusetts, and Social Harmony Lodge located in the town of Middleboro, Massachusetts.

Five years later, when Social Harmony Lodge wished to move to Wareham, Star In The East Lodge returned the courtesy. From 1825 to 1843, not a single Lodge was chartered in the state, but in 1824, Mount Hope Lodge in Fall River was organized with the consent of Star In The East Lodge.


In 1824, Star In The East Lodge was in the 4th Masonic District; in 1827, in the 13th Masonic District; in 1835, in the 7th Masonic District; in 1868, in the 14th Masonic District; in 1883, in the 26th Masonic District; and is now presently in the New Bedford 30th Masonic District.

Some representatives of the Lodge were present at the laying of the cornerstone at Bunker Hill Monument on June 17, 1825; and in 1833, the Lodge raised $100.00 dollars by subscription toward the completion of the monument. In January 1847, a public installation was held in Liberty Hall, conducted by the Grand Officers, to which one thousand tickets were issued.

In 1858 several members took demits to form Eureka Lodge. On December 1, 1873, ten members from Fairhaven took demits to form Concordia Lodge, which later became George H. Taber Lodge, and five years later, ten members took demits to form Noquochoke Lodge. George H. Taber was a Past Master of Star In The East Lodge.

Star In The East Lodge, in 1850, sent a block to be used in the building of Bunker Hill Monument.

The Lodge met in several places over the years until 1860, when the Masonic Building at the corner of Union and Pleasant streets was erected. This building is still called the Masonic Building and masonic emblems are still evident on the facings of this building. On April 11, 1927, Most Worshipful Grand Master Frank L. Simpson and the Grand Officers came to New Bedford to perform the dedication for the new Masonic Temple at the corner of County and Union Streets. Star In The East Lodge, by virtue of seniority, occupied the chairs, and assisted in the dedication ceremonies. The presiding master was Worshipful Walter F. Slocum.

The Morgan incident of 1826 raised havoc with Star In The East Lodge, inasmuch as feelings against Masonry in New Bedford were very strong. The violence of that movement was attributable to the Quaker influence. The Quakers owned the banks, controlled the schools, the social life and businesses. Quaker merchants owned the ships, wharves, factories and fine house. The Quaker creed so strongly condemned Masonry, that if a Quaker joined the Order, he was liable to be read out of the meeting.

The Lodge had another disturbing event in 1864, when the Masonic Temple Building at the corner of Tremont and Boylston Street in Boston, and known as the Winthrop House burned down. Steps were taken at once to rebuild it. From an estimated cost of $300,000.00 the cost spiralled to $450,000.00 which caused an assessment to be made on the 16,000 Masons of Massachusetts.

In March 1867, the Grand Lodge decreed that each member would be assessed $1.00 per year for thirteen years, each Lodge to guarantee the collection of the assessment. Loud and bitter protest were raised all over the state, but Star In The East Lodge, was the only Lodge that actually rebelled, refusing to be as they said, "a collection agency for the Grand Lodge". Matters came to a head at the Grand Lodge meeting on December 14, 1870, when the Grand Master proclaimed the charter of Star In The East cancelled and revoked. The Charter, records and other property of the Lodge were picked up and sent to Grand Lodge.

Reflecting upon the atrocity of the crime, James Taylor who was Master from January 4, 1870 to January 1, 1872, collected the signatures of all but three, and those at sea, on a petition for restoration. When the document was received, the Grand Masterordered John E. Lee, District Deputy Grand Master, to call and open Star In The East Lodge, and restore its charter and property, after deducting all claims and demands due the Grand Lodge. This was done on January 23, 1871, the charter having been suspended for forty-five days. Thirteen years later, the fund being collected not being sufficient to pay off the mortgage on the temple, a second assessment equal to the first was made. Star In The East, profiting from its former experience, paid the sum in full, $3,440.00 and collected the amount in dues from the members over a series of years.

FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY

The Fiftieth Anniversary was a three day affair. The program in the Pierian Hall on December i7, 1873 was presided over by George H. Taber, a Past Master of Star In The East Lodge. Among those present was Abraham H. Howland, Jr., Past Master of Eureka Lodge, and for whom Abraham H. Howland, Jr. Lodge is named. Sixteen of the Charter Members of Sutton Commandery had been members of Star In The East Lodge.

During 1826 - 1827, only 4 candidates applied for the degrees. From 1823-1833, 108 had applied for the degrees. From 1833 - 1873, 949 had applied for the degrees.

In October 1918, because of an influenza epidemic, all Masonic meetings were postponed until further notice. The years immediately following World War I, saw a great influx of candidates into Masonry. For instance, the Lodge notice dated May 17, 1921 reads as follows:

Regular Communication of June 6, 1921 at 7:30

Applications were to be read from 17 applicants. Balloting on 12 candidates.

  • May 23 at 6:30 P.M.: Entered Apprentice Degree to be followed by Fellowcraft Degree.
  • June 20 - 7:30 P.M.: Fellowcraft Degree
  • June 27 - 7:30 P.M.: Fellowcraft Degree to be followed by the Master Mason Degree.

By contrast, from September 1940 to September 1941, no candidate was admitted into the Lodge. In 1923, the Lodge had 134 members, in 1948 had 584 members, in 1964 had 524 members and in 1973 had 410 members. The Lodge notice for March 1933, advises of Ladies Night - Entertainment, Refreshments, Dancing, Tickets - 25 cents. The notice for May 1973 advises a Ladies Night - tickets $6.50.

The nineteen thirties (1930's) were hard years for the country, particularly for the Lodges in New Bedford. In 1928, New Bedford was almost wholly a textile city, and a six month strike of textile workers plus the crash of 1929, with the attendant depression years, reduced the ranks of Star In The East Lodge; but the nineteen forties (1940's) showed an encouraging resurgence of applicants.

November 16, 1970, a Testimonial Dinner was held in honor of R.W. Fred S. Wordell, who celebrated his fiftieth year as a Past Master of the Lodge. R. W. Brother Wordell was a 60 year member of the Lodge, 50 year Past Master, District Deputy Grand Master for the years 1963-1964, Secretary of the Lodge, a Charter member of Quittacus Lodge, an honorary member of Noquochoke Lodge, and a holder of the Joseph Warren medal for distinguished service to Masonry.

On February 27, 1973, a reception was held in honor of R.W. Eliot F. Borden, in recognition of his having been elected and installed Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. With the Most Worshipful Grand Master and his suite in attendance, R.W. Brother Borden was invested with the Henry Price Medal by the Grand Master, M. W. Donald W. Vose. A perusal of the records would indicate that R.W. Brother Borden was the first member of Star In The East Lodge to be elected to Grand Lodge, and was therefore the first member of the Lodge to become a permanent member of Grand Lodge. Star In The East Lodge has been honored by having appointed sixteen members of this Lodge as the District Deputy Grand Master, the election of R.W. Brother Borden as Junior Grand Warden and holder of the Henry Price Medal, the appointment of Wor. Percy Lord as Grand Pursuivant and R. W. Fred S. Wordell and Wor. Percy Lord were also invested with the Joseph Warren Medal.

Star In The East Lodge has weathered the vicissitudes and shared in the glories of over 150 years of Masonry. The period of the Morgan incident was a critical time for the Lodge, when only the stout of heart dared to be Masons; the loss of the charter boded ill for the Lodge; two World Wars and the years of the depression were all taken in stride. As the years have rolled by, the Lodge has celebrated its appropriate anniversaries with pomp and circumstance. We can undoubtedly be as optimistic for the future, as we are proud of the past, and perhaps we may borrow some words from Tennyson's poem and say: "For men may come, and men may go, but 1 go on forever".

May the blessing of Heaven rest upon us and all regular Masons, May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue cement us! "SO MOTE IT BE."

The Above information was taken from the 150 year Anniversary of Star In The East Lodge of whom Wor. Percy Lord was the Lodge Historian, and has been updated on the number of District Deputy Grand Masters.

175TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORICAL REVIEW, OCTOBER 1998

From Proceedings, Page 1998-134:

Star in the East Lodge is the oldest existing Lodge in the City of New Bedford, although it was not the first lodge organized in New Bedford. In 1803, New Bedford was known as Bedford Village, with only a few short streets. Union Street was then called Main Street, and Water Street extended only from School Street to Elm Street. At that time the population was small and consisted of mariners and seafaring men. Nine of these men decided to form a Masonic Lodge and applied for a Charter, which was granted on September 3, 1805, under the name of "Washington Remembered Lodge".

That Lodge did not prosper, and the War of 1812 had a disastrous effect on the Lodge, culminating in the surrender of the Charter and the Jewels which were returned to Grand Lodge on October 5,1816. The last entry in the record book, dated October 5, 1816, is a receipt signed by James Bliss, District Deputy Grand Master, stating that Jonathan Allen, Treasurer of Washington Remembered Lodge, had delivered to him, to be deposited in Grand Lodge, the Charter, By-Laws, Seal and Jewels of eight officers. Thus ended Washington Remembered Lodge.

From the fact that those forming the premier Lodge became Masons somewhere outside of the New Bedford area, and that their names seldom appear in the records of any New Bedford or New England Lodge, it is concluded that they received their Masonic Degrees in the foreign countries to which they traveled.

The records indicate a sort of military method of dealing with the attendance of members, for any prolonged or unexplained absence caused an inquiry that might lead to discipline of the member. Frequently, members who expected to be absent were granted a leave of absence, which would indicate that the members were mostly mariners; in fact, many were referred to as Captain. During its existence, the Washington Remembered Lodge enrolled a total of 121 members.

THE BIRTH OF STAR IN THE EAST LODGE

During the nine years after the surrender of the charter of Washington Remembered Lodge, New Bedford showed a remarkable development, and all kinds of business prospered. Whaling grew rapidly and became a most profitable venture. Foundations were laid for those fortunes for which the town was famous and the population increased with the business prosperity. Again, it was decided to form a Masonic Lodge and, strangely enough, the inspiration came not from members of the former Washington Remembered Lodge, but from a younger and newer group of men, although some of the members of the former Lodge were still living in the vicinity.

In the summer of 1823, the Masons of New Bedford took steps to form a Lodge. Thirty-five masons, of whom six lived in Fairhaven, signed a petition asking that a Lodge be formed in New Bedford to be named "Star In The East Lodge". On December 10, 1823, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts issued a charter signed by the then Grand Master, M. W. John Dixwell.

In 1824, Star In The East Lodge was in the 4th Masonic District; in 1827, in the 13th Masonic District; in 1835, in the 7th Masonic District; in 1868, in the 14th Masonic District; in 1883, in the 26th Masonic District, and is now presently in the New Bedford 30th Masonic District. The first meeting of the Lodge was held in Town Hall over the Police Station which in 1917 was razed to make room for the present Police Station. Timothy I. Dyre was installed its first Master and the Lodge was constituted May 27, 1824.

For the first twenty-five years of existence of Star in the East Lodge, the traveling was rather difficult; the road was long and thorny and the pathway rough and steep with varied degrees of success and disappointments However, the men behind this venture were men of courage and resourcefulness and held the torch still high and alive.

Among the many obstacles to be overcome was a hostile press, notably The Mercury, now extinct, and a rabid anti-Masonic attitude on the part of the Quakers better known as the Friends, who formed a large part of the population at that time. The Quakers, were the men who controlled the wealth and chief businesses of that day. The most damaging blow of all was the Morgan episode. This anti-Masonic crusade seemed to be more pronounced in New Bedford than anywhere else in New England; and not the least of their difficulties was finding suitable quarters in which to hold their meetings. In 1848, the Lodge had its most prosperous year, up to that time, and for the first time celebrated St. John's Day at a cost of 600 Dollars ($600.00).

After many unsuccessful attempts to secure quarters suitable to hold its meeting and of a more permanent nature than that which had existed up to that time, finally a proposition was made to the Lodge by a lady named Mrs. Wood to erect a brick structure on the northeast corner of Union and Pleasant Streets, the third floor of which she would gladly lease to the Masonic Lodge for meeting purposes. This offer was accepted and on January 1, 1861, the Grand Master and his suite were on hand to dedicate the new hall. At this time the Officers of both Star in the East and Eureka Lodges were installed followed by a banquet at the Parker House. The new hall was furnished by the Lodge at a cost of $3,651.00.

In 1858, several members took demits to form Eureka Lodge. On December 1, 1873, ten members from Fairhaven took demits to form Concordia Lodge, which later became George H. Taber Lodge, and five years later, ten members took demits to form Noquochoke Lodge of Westport. George H. Taber was a past master of Star In the East Lodge. In 1850, Star In The East Lodge sent a block to be used in the building of Washington Monument.

The Lodge had another disturbing event in 1864, when the Masonic Temple Building at the corner of Tremont and Boylston Street in Boston, known as the Winthrop House burned down. Steps were taken at once t rebuild it. From an estimated cost of $300,000.00 the cost spiraled to $450,000.00 which caused an assessment to be made on the 16,000 Masons of Massachusetts. In March 1867, the Grand Lodge decreed that each member would be assessed $1.00 per year for thirteen years, each Lodge to guarantee the collection of the assessment. Loud and bitter protest was raised all over t state, but Star in the East Lodge actually rebelled and refused to collect the assessment. On October 31, 1870, the DDGM visited the Lodge and called the unpaid assessment. On being informed by the Master that the Lodge had refused to make the appropriation, the Deputy reported to the Grand Master. At the following meeting of the Grand Lodge the charter was revoked and the Lodge suspended. The Jewels, Records and other property of the Lodge had to be returned to Boston, all of which was done. The suspension only lasted for a period of 40 days. The edict was heeded and agreement reached.

FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY

Soon after its suspension the Lodge celebrated its Fiftieth Anniversary on December 17, 1873, with a banquet. There were several speakers and vocal music by a male quartet. Among the notables on the platform with the Presiding Master, A. H. W. Carpenter, were George H. Taber, past Master of Star in the East Lodge, and Abraham H. Howland, Jr., past Master of Eureka Lodge, both of whom gave brief addresses.

A new era began. The Lodge began to expand and continued to do so without anything of great importance occurring until it reached its 75th birthday on December 10, 1898, at which time, Henry A. West was the Presiding Master. There is no evidence that the Lodge had any celebration on this special occasion. Regular and special communications continued to be held with a great influx of candidates, the Officers often working two and sometimes three degrees in one afternoon.

Everything went along smoothly and the Lodge continued to grow until it reached its 100th birthday with a membership of 734.

ONE HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY

The Centenary Anniversary Celebration was a gala event, an occasion never to be forgotten by those who were privileged to be present. It started with Divine Service at the Trinitarian Congregational Church, School and Purchase Streets, on Sunday afternoon, December 9,1923. The members met at the Masonic Hall on Pleasant Street and marched to the church. Rev. Brother Everett C. Herrick of Fall River gave the address, Rev. Brother Frederick Von-Der-Sump and the Rev. Brother Charles S. Thurber of New Bedford also taking part in the service. Wor. Brother James D. Comey presided at the organ, with the Scottish Rite Male Chorus of Fall River supplying the music.

On Monday evening, December 10, 1923, after reception of the Grand Officers, Most Worshipful Dudley Ferrell and his suite, approximately 600 Officers and members of Star in the East Lodge repaired to the State Armory on Pleasant and Sycamore Streets and there sat down to a sumptuous and appetizing feast. Music for the evening was furnished by the New Bedford Masonic Band. Interesting and instructive addresses were given by the following: Most Wor. Dudley H. Ferrell, G. M., R. Wor. Frederick W. Hamilton, Most Wor. Melvin W. Johnson and Most Wor. Arthur D. Prince. There were 44 invited guests present, including the Grand Officers plus the presiding Masters of the 30th Masonic District.

On Tuesday evening, December 11, 1923, the last and final act in a three day program concluded at the State Armory with concert entertainment and a dance. Members were privileged to bring their families and two invited guests. After the entertainment, refreshments were served followed by dancing which lasted until midnight.

Plans were made to construct a new Masonic Temple at the corner of Union and County Streets. On April 11, 1927, Most Worshipful G. M. Frank L. Simpson arrived in New Bedford with his suite of officers to perform the dedication ceremonies. Star in the East officers, by virtue of seniority, occupied the chairs and assisted the Grand Officers in the dedication ceremonies, which were witnessed by other Lodges in the district and by many out of town visitors. Wor. Walter F. Slocum was the Presiding Master on this notable occasion. Following the dedication the Lodge had two especially prosperous years.

In the fall of 1929, progress in the Lodge was greatly retarded by severe economic conditions and the ten years that followed were lean. Candidates were few and far between. Many of the members were forced to demit and many others were unable to meet their dues. Consequently, there was a large decrease in membership.

During the years of World War II, a large number of young men in the armed forces of our country were admitted into membership in the Lodge, so that the years from the late thirties to the year 1948 were fruitful and resulted in a membership of 584 for the 125th anniversary that year.

ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY

The program for the celebration included the reception of the Gran Master, Most Worshipful Roger Keith and his suite, and a fine catered mea was followed by professional entertainment and music. Worshipful Al Crook was Master and headed the celebration committee. The fifties and sixties were active and prosperous years for the Lodge, addition to fraternal exchange visits with other lodges in the New Bedford, Fall River, and Cape Cod and Marion areas, the Lodge enjoyed visits by degree teams from many of the local industrial plants such as Goodyear, Morse, and Revere, as well as teams from Kiwanis, Lions, New Bedford Police and Fire Departments, and Sears as members in their employ became our lodge brothers. The Lodge also exchanged visits with a lodge in Auburn, NY.

The late sixties were not as active and started a period of declining membership, and as we approached our 150th anniversary year of 1973, the total membership had declined to 410. In November of 1970, the Lodge had a testimonial to honor Rt. Wor. Fred S. Wordell on his 50th anniversary as a Past Master. A most distinguished mason and holder of the Joseph Warren medal, he was an inspiration to all who knew him. In February of 1973, the Lodge honored Rt. Wor. Eliot F. Borden with a testimonial in recognition of his election to Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge.

ONE HUNDRED FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY

December, 1973 was the 150th anniversary. A Vesper Church Service at Seamen's Bethel was conducted by Rev. Bro. Sydney Adams. A catered supper was followed by reception of Most Worshipful Donald W. Vose, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts. Musical selections, the history, and remarks by the Grand Master and other distinguished guests rounded out the celebration.

In 1986, members of the Lodge participated in the Bicentennial parade in Boston along with many other Massachusetts Masons. We cannot leave a history of the Lodge without giving recognition to Wor. Percy Lord, a holder of the Joseph Warren medal, who was a mainstay in Star in the East Lodge for decades. Star in the East Lodge has been honored by having sixteen members of this Lodge appointed as the District Deputy Grand Master, the election of R. W. Brother Borden, as Junior Grand Warden and holder of the Henry Price Medal, the appointment of Wor. Percy Lord as Grand Pursuivant.

Portions of this history are excerpted from previous historical sketches, primarily from that issued on the 125th anniversary in 1948 by Brother and later Worshipful Alexander K. Brown.

NOTES AT 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF QUITTACUS LODGE, JUNE 2008

From Proceedings, Page 2008-65, address of Rt. Wor. David R. Price, Sr.:

In the summer of 1823, thirty-five New Bedford Masons signed petitions asking for a new Lodge to be known as Star in the East Lodge.

During its first twenty-five years, Star in the East Lodge had a strenuous existence. It faced a hostile press and a strong anti-Masonic prejudice of the local Quakers who then formed a large and influential portion of the population.

A particularly unfortunate happening in those early days in Star in the East Lodge was the public renunciation of Freemasonry by no less than twenty-five prominent members in the Morning Mercury of October 30, 1834.

The most damaging blow of all was the so-called Morgan episode and the anti-Masonic crusade that followed in many parts of the country. However, the Masons of those days were men of courage and conviction and local Masonry survived its greatest test. A strong influence during the height of this excitement was the fact that Andrew Jackson, who was President, was also the Grand Master of Masons in Tennessee, and remained a loyal Mason in the face of every criticism. He richly earned and deserved the nickname of "Old Hickory".

Several members of the older Lodge still lived in New Bedford, and often visited the newer Lodge.


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