Our History 1863 -
Pioneer Lodge, Somerset, Mass., was originally an offspring from Mount Hope Lodge, Fall River, Mass., and they may justly claim us as one of their children, but how well we merit their esteem and protection I will not attempt to say. The original petitioners to form Pioneer Lodge, were sixteen in number — Brothers Charles A. Holmes, J. S. Porter, N. S. Davis, Cyrus D. Hunt, George W. Bond, William W. Moore, John A. Sayles, John W. Conroy, Ildefonse Swasey, Seth W. Wheaton, Thomas Crowley, Baylis Davis, Jr., Frederick Winslow, Seth W. Brown, George B. Norris, and Edward Thomas.
Several preliminary meetings were held at the homes of different Brethren, as a result of which a petition for a Dispensation was drawn up and signed by the Brethren above named. The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge saw fit to approve that petition and accordingly on the 23rd day of March, 1863, Pioneer Lodge was organized in what was known as "Central Hall," located at that time on Main Street.
The Lodge Officers named in the Dispensation were as follows:
- Worshipful Master: Charles A. Holmes
- Senior Warden: J. S. Porter
- Junior Warden: Nathan S. Davis
The Lodge was further organized by the Worshipful Master making the following appointments:
- Senior Deacon: Cyrus D. Hunt
- Junior Deacon : George W. Bond
- Treasurer: William W. Moore
- Secretary: John A. Sayles
- Senior Steward: John W. Conroy
- Junior Steward: Ildefonse Swasey
At the first meeting little was done except to organize and hear reports from the various Committees appointed at the preliminary meetings. The by-laws then adopted provided that the regular meetings were to be held on the Monday before the Full of the Moon in each month.
At the first Regular Communication ten petitions for Masonic degrees were presented — a very respectable number for a country town, but it must be borne in mind that the Institution of Pioneer Lodge, though a new movement, had been anticipated would come into being, so that it is probable that at least some of the men who made these petitions withheld application until Pioneer Lodge was actually organized.
The Lodge continued to prosper until the end of the year in which the Dispensation was made returnable to the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, by which time I find that there had been received a total of forty-six petitions which had been disposed as follows: Thirty-eight had been elected, three rejected and five were pending action of the Lodge because the year of Dispensation had ended and, under the Constitution of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, they could not be acted on until after Pioneer Lodge had been consecrated as a regular Lodge.
On the 9th of February, 1864, the year of probation having nearly expired, a Special Communication was held for the election of members to apply for a Charter. Those elected at that time were as follows:
- Charles A. Holmes
- Baylis Davis, Jr.
- Seth Wheaton
- John S. Porter
- John A. Sayles
- George W. Bond
- Nathan S. Davis
- Cyrus D. Hunt
- Ildefonse Swasey
- William W. Moore
- Edward Thomas
- Frederick Winslow
- Thomas Crowley
- George B. Norris
The final meeting under Dispensation was held February 29, 1864, from which time until March 21, 1864, the Lodge held no meetings, the explanation of which seems to be that during the year of the Lodge working under Dispensation, Lodge meetings had been held in the homes of various Brethren and yet during that year of probation, and evidently in anticipation of being Chartered and consecrated as a regular Lodge, arrangements had been made for securing a hall as a Lodge-room for Masonic purposes because I find that during the year of the Lodge working under Dispensation arrangements were entered into with Bro. William P. Hood whereby a building was erected on Main Street and fitted up in a beautiful and adequate manner for Masonic purposes. That Hall was later destroyed by fire, but was rebuilt. That Hall was evidently ready for occupancy someone in February, 1864, because I find from the records that the Lodge voted not to hold any meetings in the new Hall before its consecration and dedication, which ceremonies were conducted on the evening of March 21st, 1864, by M. W. William Parkman, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, accompanied by the rest of the Grand Lodge Officers, at which time the officers elected to serve Pioneer Lodge during the ensuing year were installed in the presence of a large audience — the latter ceremony being performed in public and being held in the Baptist Church of this town of Somerset in order to better accommodate the large number of persons which were expected to be present. The Officers of Pioneer Lodge then installed were as follows:
- Worshipful Master: Wor. E. G. Paul
- Senior Warden: N. S. Davis
- Junior Warden: Edwin Stowell