Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Lodge of the International Organisation of Good Templars Opened in Pelhamville in 1885

Periodically, citizens of the Town of Pelham have caught the temperance or total abstinence bug.  I have written before of the pre-Prohibition dry movement in Pelham. For examples, see

Fri., May 23, 2014:  How Dry I Am -- Early Prohibition Efforts Succeed in Pelham in 1896.

Thu., Feb. 07, 2008:  Village Elections in Pelham in 1900 - New York Athletic Club Members Campaign Against the Prohibition Ticket in Pelham Manor

Thu., Aug. 11, 2005:  How Dry I Am: Pelham Goes Dry in the 1890s and Travers Island Is At the Center of a Storm.

Pelham experienced another such temperance period in 1885.  That year, citizens of Pelhamville established a lodge of the "International Organisation of Good Templars."  

1868 Membership Certificate for a Member of the International
Organisation of Good Templars.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

The International Organisation of Good Templars began in the 19th century as a fraternal organization in support of temperance or total abstinence.  It emerged after temperance groups seceded from a lose group of local temperance organizations near Utica, New York in the 1850s.  The organization was patterned on freemasonry and used "similar ritual and regalia."  See "International Organisation of Good Templars" in WIKIPEDIA - The Free Encyclopedia (visited Jan. 14, 2018).  Unlike many such organizations of that day, the Good Templars admitted both men and women.  

On March 20, 1885, a local newspaper announced that the citizens of the little settlement of Pelhamville had organized a Lodge of Good Templars.  The newspaper noted that the group had selected its officers and listed them as follows:

E. H. Gurney -- W. C. T.
J. Sherwood -- R. H. S.
Alice Lyon -- L. H. S.
Isaac C. Hill -- W. R. S.
E. T. Bryson -- A. R. S.
Geo W. Van Pelt, Jr. -- F. S.
J. Hill -- W. F. E.
Richard Bryson -- W. C.
O. Logan -- W. D. M.
Marion Pearson -- W. M.
M. E. Engle -- W. I. G.

On Tuesday, August 11, 1885, the new Lodge hosted a regular quarterly session of the Westchester County Lodge of Good Templars.  The meeting was held in the local chapel of the Church of the Covenant, Congregational in Pelhamville.

Undated Real Photo Post Card (RPP) Showing the Chapel of the
Templars Hosted the County Lodge of Good Templars on August 11,
1885.  Source: eBay Auction Listing for the Post Card.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

During the evening, there was a public installation of officers of the new Pelhamville Lodge.  After that public installation there was "an entertainment of music, recitations, readings, etc."

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the Pelhamville Lodge is the fact that the record is utterly devoid of any additional history of the group.  To date, no records, newspaper references, or any other material related to the group has been located.  It is as if the organization never took off.  Only time, and further research, will tell.

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The Lodge of Good Templars has been organized in Pelhamville with the following officers.  --  W. C. T., E. H. Gurney; R. H. S., J. Sherwood; L. H. S., Alice Lyon; W. R. S., I. C. Hill; A. R. S., E. T. Bryson; F. S., Geo W. Van Pelt, Jr.; W. F. E., J. Hill; W. C., Richard Bryson; W. D. M., O. Logan; W. M., Marion Pearson; W. I. G., M. E. Engle. . . ."

Source:  PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Mar. 20, 1885, Vol. XVI, No. 809, p. 3, col. 4.


A regular quarterly session of the County Lodge of Good Templars was held in the chapel at Pelhamville, on Tuesday of this week.  The attendance of delegates was quite flattering, about sixty representatives being present.  The afternoon was occupied with the usual business of such sessions; reports of committees, discussions, etc, after which refreshments were served to the visitors.  In the evening there was a public installation of officers of the Pelhamville Lodge, followed by an entertainment of music, recitations, readings, etc. . . ."

Source:  PELHAMVILLE, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 14, 1885, Vol. XVI, No. 830, p. 3, col. 3.

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