Freemasonry in Maine 1762 - 1945

Author:  Ralph J. Pollard

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Administrations of David Cargill (1872-1874); Albert Moore (1875-1876); Edward P. Burnham (1877-1878); Charles I. Collamore (1879-1880); Marquis F. King (1881-1882); William R. G. Estes (1883-1884); Fessenden I. Day (1885-1886); Frank E. Sleeper (1887-1888); Albro E. Chase (1889-1890); Henry R. Taylor (1891-1892); and Horace H. Burbank (1893-1894).

The course of history is like that of a river. It begins with a tiny stream, then grows in volume. Now it rushes through some rocky gorge, white with foaming rapids. Now it spreads out and flows, almost motionless, between grassy, gentle banks. So with the history of Masonry in Maine. It began as a tiny brooklet when the old Lodge at Falmouth alone gave Masonic light in the vast Province of Maine. It became a river when the Grand Lodge was formed in 1820. It forced its way past the cruel rocks of the anti-Masonic era. It flowed swift and strong during the stirring days of the Civil War. Now it had arrived at its quiet reaches.

The period from 1872 to 1895 was, in general, one of quiet progress and moderate prosperity. The great numerical gains of the war and post-war periods were over. For a few years there was a small but steady increase. Then the Craft began to feel the results of the great industrial depression, following the financial panic of 1873. Candidates became less numerous. Many brethren took dimits, and withdrew from the active affairs of the Fraternity. Many others failed to pay their dues, and were, in consequence, suspended from membership in their Lodges. Non-affiliation became the crying evil of the day. The Grand Lodge returns showed a decrease in membership in 1879, but business picked up, and a small increase was again shown in 1883. Thereafter, gains were small but steady.

Throughout this period Rockland was, unquestionably, the leading Masonic community in the State. Aurora Lodge, No. 50, was, for years, the largest Lodge in Maine, with a membership of over 400. At times, Rockland Lodge, No. 79, stood in second place. Other Masonic bodies in Rockland were equally active and prosperous.

Some Lodges fell by the wayside. Mount Hope, No. 59, Meduncook, No. 120, and Ionic, No. 136, surrendered their charters. Trojan, No. 134, was consolidated with Star in the West, No. 85, and Reuel Washburn, No. 181, was consolidated with Oriental Star, No. 21. The Charter of Relief, No. 108, was revoked.

At the same time new Lodges were added to the list. The following were chartered during the period covered by this chapter:

Parian Lodge, No. 160, Corinna May 9, 1872
Carrabassett Lodge, No. 161, Canaan May 9, 1872
Arion Lodge, No. 162, Lyman May 9, 1872
Pleasant River Lodge, No. 163, Brownville May 9, 1872
Webster Lodge, No. 164, Sabattus May 9, 1872
Molunkus Lodge, No. 165, Sherman Mills May 9, 1872
Neguemkeag Lodge, No. 166, Vassalboro May 9, 1872
Whitney Lodge, No. 167, Canton May 9, 1872
Composite Lodge, No. 168, LaGrange May 8, 1873
Shepherd's River Lodge, No. 169, Brownfield May 8, 1873
Caribou Lodge, No. 170, Caribou May 8, 1873
Naskeag Lodge, No. 171, Brooklin May 8, 1873
Pine Tree Lodge, No. 172, Mattawarnkeag May 7, 1874
Pleiades Lodge, No. 173, Millbridge May 7, 1874
Lynde Lodge, No. 174, Hermon May 7, 1874
Baskahegan Lodge, No. 175, Danforth May 20, 1875
Palestine Lodge, No. 176, Biddeford May 6, 1875
Rising Star Lodge, No. 177, Penobscot May 4, 1876
Ancient Brothers' Lodge, No. 178, Auburn May 4, 1876
Yorkshire Lodge, No. 179, North Berwick May 4, 1876
Hiram Lodge, No. 180, Cape Elizabeth (now South Portland) May 4, 1876
Reuel Washburn Lodge, No. 181, Livermore Falls May 3, 1877
Granite Lodge, No. 182, West Paris May 8, 1879
Deering Lodge, No. 183, Deering (now Portland) May 8, 1879
Naval Lodge, No. 184, Kittery May 6, 1880
Bar Harbor Lodge, No. 185, Bar Harbor May 2, 1882
Warren Phillips Lodge, No. 186, Cumberland Mills May 3, 1883
Ira Berry Lodge, No. 187, Bluehill <sic> May 8, 1884
Jonesport Lodge, No. 188, Jonesport May 8, 1884
Knox Lodge, No. 189, South Thomaston May 7, 1885
Springvale Lodge, No. 190, Springvale May 6, 1886
Davis Lodge, No. 191, Strong May 6,1886
Winter Harbor Lodge, No. 192, Winter Harbor May 3, 1888
Washburn Lodge, No. 193, Washburn May 3, 1888
Euclid Lodge, No. 194, Madison May 9, 1889
Reliance Lodge, No. 195, Stonington May 8, 1890
Bay View Lodge, No. 196, East Boothbay May 8, 1890
Aroostook Lodge, No. 197, Mars Hill May 7, 1891
Saint Aspinquid Lodge, No. 198, York May 4, 1893
Bingham Lodge, No. 199, Bingham May 4, 1893


The condition of the Lodges at this time can best be determined by reading the reports of the District Deputy Grand Masters. These reports, printed in full in the Grand Lodge Proceedings, were documents of unusual human interest. They show the old time Deputy to have been one of a sturdy breed. One Deputy drove sixty-four miles, round trip, to make one of his inspections. Another drove 32 miles with the temperature at twenty-five degrees below zero. It took another five hours to drive twelve miles through drifting snow in a blinding storm. He arrived in Phillips with both ears frozen. One Deputy was delayed on his rounds by an epidemic of " horse distemper." Another found the sleighing poor with the snow going off too fast. But, in spite of Winter's snow and Springtime mud, these faithful servants of the Grand Lodge carried out their duties, and few indeed of the Lodges went unvisited.

Then, as now, they found some of the Lodges enthusiastic and flourishing, while others were indifferent and languishing. Some of the Lodges prided themselves upon the accuracy of their ritualistic work. Others were so poor that the Deputy was obliged to report them to Grand Lodge as being incapable of working a degree. But the average of all the Lodges was very good. Particular credit was given to the Secretaries. It was an age of beautiful penmanship and almost every Deputy found occasion to praise the Secretaries of some of his Lodges. For instance, speaking of Portland Lodge, No. 1, one Deputy writes, " The records, which are under the supervision of Brother Convers O. Leach, are models of perfection, and I doubt if they are excelled by those of any Secretary in this State."

We are reminded that, at this time Maine was essentially a seafaring and lumbering State. Such Lodges as Island, No. 89, of Islesboro, and Anchor, No. 158, of South Bristol, often found it difficult to round up a quorum because all their members were away at sea. At the same time, such Lodges as Pioneer, No. 72, at Ashland, and Molunkus, No. 165, at Sherman Mills, were in the same situation because their members were away working in the woods. The annual lists of " Brethren Deceased " are full of such quotations as " lost at sea," " washed overboard," " died from exposure in an open boat," " sailed from port and never heard of again," " killed by a falling tree," and " crushed by a log rolling on him."

Dues at this time were very low, averaging from one to three dollars per year. Some Lodges, however, charged much less, at least two, (Plymouth and Star in the West) only collecting twenty-five cents annually. How they existed nobody knows.

Times were changing, and Masonic customs were changing with them. Of course, the fundamentals of Masonry were unchanged. They were what they had been in 1762, and what they are today. The Landmarks were revered. The time honored phraseology of the ritual was unchanged. Many Lodges still kept up the good old custom of " passing the lectures " between the members. But in lesser things change had been busy.

Long before the Civil War, intoxicating liquors had been banished from the tables at refreshment. For years after this change, all refreshments were generally dispensed with, and the social feature of Masonry was somewhat neglected. Now, however, the good old custom of the brethren eating together was revived. Gone were the stately feasts of earlier days. Their place was taken by simpler viands, crackers and cheese from the village store, coffee and doughnuts, baked beans from the good wife's oven, or steaming hot clam chowder. About 1875, we begin to notice mention of osyter stew as a favored dish. On big occasions, the help of the ladies was invoked and chicken dinners, with all the fixings, made the tables groan. Some Lodges devoloped a great reputation for hospitality. In the Bangor District, it was the custom for the brethren to visit Hampden at least once a year for a " big time " and a " big feed " with Mystic Lodge.

Installations were generally public and were attended in force by the ladies of the community. In fact, there was a general tendency toward mixing women with Masonry, which would have shocked the brethren of an earlier day. Many Lodge rooms were decorated and furnished by the help of the wives and daughters of the members.

The Lodges no longer met in taverns or public houses. Most of them either owned or rented very comfortable quarters of their own. Occasionally, a Lodge could be found located in a peculiar place. One such Lodge held its meetings in a dwelling-house, another in a loft over a sawmill. But most of the Lodge rooms were fully as good as they are today. Candles had long since given way to kerosene lamps as the ordinary mode of lighting. About 1890, we notice the first mention of halls being lighted by electricity.

Many of the Lodges suffered severe losses by fire. In almost every instance this resulted in the erection of bigger and better buildings. The Grand Lodge was kept busy dedicating the new halls. Among these, particular mention must be made of the hall of Moses Webster Lodge at Vinalhaven, valued at $11,000; the new Rockland Temple, dedicated in 1873; the Dexter Hall, dedicated in 1876; and the Augusta Temple, dedicated in 1895. At the time of its erection, the last named was the finest Masonic edifice in Maine and one of the best in all New England. At the dedication of the Kennebunk Hall, the Grand Lodge got caught in a record snowstorm, and was forced to spend the entire night, snowbound, in the Town Hall.

An interesting event took place in 1876, when, by special dispensation, Penobscot Lodge, No. 39, Mount Kineo Lodge, No. 109, Doric Lodge, No. 149, and Cambridge Lodge, No. 157, repaired to Greenville on Moosehead Lake and there placed a stone on the grave of Brother Louis Annance, chief of the Saint Francis Tribe of Indians, and a Mason for over forty years.

On January 8, 1883, His Excellency, Governor Frederick Robie, was raised in Harmony Lodge, No. 38, at Gorham. In the same year, the District Deputy of the Tenth District reported the case of Brother A. J. Dunton, a Past Master of Lincoln Lodge, No. 3, who walked sixteen miles to be present at a meeting of his Lodge.

Portland Lodge, No. 1, celebrated its 125th Anniversary in 1887. In 1892, Lincoln Lodge, No. 3, observed its centennial, with the Grand Lodge in attendance.

Much important Grand Lodge legislation was enacted at this time. A proposition was introduced in Grand Lodge looking to the establishment of a Masonic Home in Maine. After due consideration, the Grand Lodge decided, in 1877, that the establishment of such a home was inexpedient in this jurisdiction. This established the Maine tradition of avoiding the dangers of institutionalism in the administration of its charity.

The need for a standard Monitor of the Maine Work and a Digest of Maine Masonic Law had been long felt. In 1877, Most Worshipful Josiah H. Drummond produced such a work, " The Maine Masonic Textbook," which was adopted by the Grand Lodge.

In 1879, legislation was passed limiting the terms of the Grand Wardens to a single year. As these officers became Permanent Members of the Grand Lodge, the effect of this legislation was to increase the strength of the permanent membership.

Gift enterprises, " fairs," and similar questionable means of raising money were officially condemned in 1883. In the same year, a Standing Regulation was adopted prohibiting the buying, selling, or circulating of any printed cypher or ritual of Symbolic Masonry.

Masonic Balls, so called, were prohibited in 1885.

As always in the history of our Grand Lodge, much attention was paid to the correct teaching of the ritualistic work. Following the removal of Most Worshipful Timothy J. Murray from the State, the important office of Grand Lecturer was shared by Worshipful Brother George E. Raymond and Most Worshipful Frank E. Sleeper. Conventions for teaching the work, after the modern manner, were authorized in 1888.

In 1893, a special committee of eleven members was appointed to consider the official ritual of the Grand Lodge and determine the correct interpretation of the same. The function of this committee was not to make nor to change ritual, but to determine, after the most thorough investigation possible, what was the true work, used and taught by our fathers in Freemasonry. This committee, consisting of Brothers Horace H. Burbank, Josiah H. Drummond, Charles I. Collamore, Fessenden I. Day, Frank E. Sleeper, Albro E. Chase, Stephen Berry, Charles W. Crosby, Herbert Harris, Hugh R. Chaplin and Webster Hazelwood, presented its report in 1894. They had found the Maine work practically unchanged from the earliest days. A few minor differences had been reconciled, and the resulting Ritual was presented to the Grand Lodge. The work, thus carefully revised, was adopted by the Grand Lodge and is still the standard and official work in this jurisdiction.

Every year saw the usual run of disciplinary cases presented to the Grand Lodge for action. Most of these have nothing about them to cause them to be remembered. However, a couple of cases are worthy of mention. In 1875, a Worshipful Master was expelled for un-Masonic conduct during the Grand Lodge session. In 1879, one Calvin G. Hale, a member of Lebanon Lodge, No. 116, of Norridgewock, was indefinitely suspended from all the rights and privileges of Masonry for speaking disrespectfully of the Holy Bible.

The Grand Lodge participated in several important public celebrations and ceremonials. In 1879, some 3,500 brethren enjoyed a steamer ride on Casco Bay, followed by a mammoth clambake on one of the islands. In 1883, the Grand Lodge placed a monument on Munjoy Hill in memory of George Cleeves, the first white settler of Portland. This was a civic affair with the Mayor and the Governor in attendance. The cornerstone of the Portland Institute and Public Library was laid in 1887. This building was the gift of Brother James P. Baxter to the people of Portland. In 1889, the Grand Lodge laid the cornerstone of the Soldiers and Sailors monument in Portland. The same ceremony was performed for the Public Library in Augusta in 1894.

In 1875, Brother Samuel Felker bequeathed the sum of $5,000 to Keystone Lodge, No. 80, of Solon. Beginning in 1886, a free bed in the Maine General Hospital was placed at the disposal of the Grand Master through the generosity of Brother Edmund B. Mallett, Jr., of Freeport Lodge, No. 23.

Through all the years covered by this chapter, the Fraternity in Maine rejoiced in the leadership of Most Worshipful Josiah H. Drummond. Every year, Brother Drummond installed the incoming Grand Master in his office. As Chairman of the powerful Committee on Masonic Jurisprudence, he exerted a dominant influence upon the domestic legislation of the Grand Lodge. As Chairman of the equally powerful Committee on Foreign Correspondence, he conducted the foreign policy of our Grand Lodge. As writer of the Maine Correspondence Reports, he had earned an international reputation and had become the world's greatest authority on all matters of Masonic law and procedure.

As new Grand Lodges were formed throughout the world, they applied to the Grand Lodge of Maine for recognition. Some were legally formed, others were not. Upon Brother Drummond's recommendation, our Grand Lodge extended or withheld the requested recognition. When the Grand Lodge of Quebec was organized, the legality of its formation was contested by its mother Grand Lodge of Canada. Brother Drummond held the organization of the Grand Lodge of Quebec to have been in accordance with the principles of Masonic law. Accordingly, the Grand Lodge of Maine extended recognition. In this, she was followed by most of the American Grand Lodges. Some of the hottest arguments in the Correspondence Reports were over the merits of the so-called Quebec question.

In 1877, the Grand Orient of France struck out of its Constitution the declaration: ' The foundation of Freemasonry is a belief in the existence of God and the immortality of the Soul." For this, she was promptly disfellowshipped by the leading Grand Lodges of the World. On Brother Drummond's recommendation, our Grand Lodge, in 1878, adopted the following: " Resolved, That the Grand Orient of France, by amending its Constitution in such a manner that atheists may be admitted as Masons, has ceased to be a Masonic body; and all Masonic intercourse with it, its subordinate Lodges, or the members of its obedience, is hereby forbidden."

During the depression period of the 70's, the question of non-affiliation became the leading problem in American Masonry. It is estimated that fully one quarter of the Masons in the entire country were unaffiliated. Many Grand Lodges attempted to remedy this condition by the adoption of harsh legislation against non-affiliates. Drummond held such harsh legislation to be not only ineffective but contrary to the true principles of Masonry. In Maine, the only punishment for non-affiliation is the loss of the privileges of Lodge membership. The non-affiliate remains a Mason, still invested with the rights and privileges of Masonry, except such as result directly from Lodge membership.

Many felt that Masonry should compete with the various fraternal insurance organizations and benefit societies which were so popular at this time. Against this, Drummond stood like a rock. He held Masonic charity to be a thing unique, not to be bought nor sold. He resisted every effort to commercialize Masonry and won his fight. Most of the fraternal insurance organizations have long since passed out of existence. Masonry remains.

The Grand Lodge of Utah found itself involved in a battle with the evil force of Mormonism. Holding that Mormonism was contrary alike to the laws of God and the United States, the Grand Lodge of Utah denied Masonic membership to Mormons. In this stand, she was powerfully supported by Drummond and by resolutions of the Grand Lodge of Maine.

The Scottish Rite was torn by internal dissention. A suprious faction, known as Cerneauism, sowed discord in several jurisdictions and endangered the harmony of Craft Masonry. Certain Grand Lodges, in self-defense, were forced to assert their sovereignty and stamp out the offending schismatics. Some Masonic scholars held that a Scottish Rite dispute was no concern of Grand Lodge. Fortunately, Maine was never bothered by this question, but Drummond raised his voice in defense of the right of a Grand Lodge to take any action necessary for the good of Masonry.

Drummond's leadership brought tremendous prestige to the Grand Lodge of Maine. Our reputation was further enhanced by the splendid manner in which the official Proceedings of the Grand Lodge were edited and published. This was only one part of the work performed for the Grand Lodge by Right Worshipful Ira Berry, Grand Secretary from 1856 to 1891. Brother Berry was also responsible for the development of the Grand Lodge Library. This library made no attempt to equal the great libraries of Iowa and New York in the field of general Masonic literature, but its collection of official proceedings was unsurpassed. In 1891, a catalogue of the library was published, showing it to consist of 899 volumes.

When Right Worshipful Brother Berry died in 1891, he was succeeded by his son Stephen, who had for many years acted as his assistant. Grand Treasurer Moses Dodge died in 1879. William O. Fox was Grand Treasurer from 1880 to 1882. Frederick Fox served in this capacity from 1883 to 1894. Most Worshipful Marquis F. King became Grand Treasurer in the latter year.

In its seventy-fifth year, the Grand Lodge of Maine was in excellent condition. There were 192 chartered Lodges, with two under dispensation. Membership stood at 21,809. There had been 850 initiates during the year last past. The largest Lodge was Ancient Landmark, No. 17, with 412 members. Freedom Lodge, No. 42, and Lookout Lodge, No. 131, were tied for the honor of being the smallest Lodge, each with thirty-two members. The Charity Fund had grown to $26,093.

The Grand Lodge celebrated its Seventy-fifth Anniversary on May 8, 1895. Among those present on this occasion was Brother Convers E. Leach, our present Grand Secretary, then Junior Warden of Portland Lodge, No. 1. The following program was presented:

Prelude — Grand Organist

Historical Address — Most Worshipful Edward P. Burnham, Past Grand Master

Music — Masonic Quartet

Reminiscenses of Early Members — Most Worshipful Hiram Chase, Past Grand Master

Music — Masonic Quartet

Oration — Most Worshipful Josiah H. Drummond, Past Grand Master

Music — Masonic Quartet

Prayer — Reverend Brother John Pettingill

In concluding his oration, Most Worshipful Brother Drummond used these words: " Some of us have clasped hands in this Grand Lodge for almost a generation; this is the second anniversary in which we have participated; when the next shall come, we shall be but memories; you will have taken our places and another generation will fill yours; may you be able to say to them then, as we say to you now, ' As you love Masonry, whatever betide, come prosperity or come adversity, adhere with unflinching tenacity to the ancient usages of the Craft!' "


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