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.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Establishment of the First Mason Lodge in the Town of Pelham

The Historic Pelham Blog has included articles before about the founding of the Winyah Lodge No. 866 F. & A. M.on November 1, 1908.  See, e.g.:

Mon., Jan. 19, 2015:  More on the Early History of the Mason Lodge of Pelham: Winyah Lodge No. 866 F. & A. M.

Wed., Jul. 09, 2014:  Record of the Celebration of the Silver Anniversary of the Mason Lodge of Pelham: Winyah Lodge No. 866 F. & A. M.

Mon., May 30, 2005:  Early History of the Winyah Lodge U.D. of Pelham, New York

Wed., Mar. 08, 2006:  The 1939 Celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Masonic Temple in Pelham, NY.

Winyah Lodge No. 866 F. & A. M. was not the first Masonic Lodge established in the little Town of Pelham.  The first such lodge was Pelham Lodge No. 712, F. & A. M. established on City Island in the Town of Pelham in mid-July, 1871.  

On July 20, 1871, The Statesman of Yonkers published a brief notice that "a few evenings since" a group of local Masonic officials including R. W. Stephen S. Marshal (District Deputy Grand Marshal) and George E. C. Seaman (Grand Marshal) installed a group of officers of the new Pelham Lodge including:

John O. Fordham (Master)
James Hyatt (Senior Warden) 
Stephen D. Leviness (Junior Warden)

Source:  CITY ISLAND -- MASONIC, The Statesman [Yonkers, NY], Jul. 20, 1871, Vol. XVI, No. 805, p. 1, col. 4.

This installation was, of course, a formality.  The Lodge had been organized by Pelham citizens the previous year and had been fairly active before the formal installation of its Master, Senior Warden and Junior Warden.

Pelham Lodge No. 712, F. & A. M. remains active to this day.  It provides an early history as follows:

"A group of City Island Masons on or about 1870 decided to form their own lodge. Thereafter, Grand Lodge sent them a dispensation and Pelham Lodge was born. The charter members were: D.W:. Billar, Jerome Bell, John Bowman, Wm. F. Billar, Oswald Bergan, David Carll, John O. Fordham, James Hyatt, Benjamin Hegeman, Stephen D. Leviness, Frederick Price, Charles H. Stringham, and A.B. Wood. 

The first meeting, attended by 12 members and 1 visitor, was held on Saturday, February 4, 1871 with John O. Fordham as Master. By-laws were drafted and it was voted to meet every Tuesday night. A dispensation cost of $80.00 was paid and Pelham Lodge became part of the Ninth Masonic District. The lodge rooms were over a carpenter shop south of where the Island Pub is now located, in a building owned by a Mr. Baxter who later became a Brother. Rent was $100.00 a year without heat and the cost of coal was $6.00 per ton. 

At the fifth meeting on February 28, 1871, By-laws were adopted, and at the eighth meeting, Pelham held its first Master Mason's Degree, at which 3 candidates were raised. The first application to be received was that of Edward L. Wooden, age 25, teacher at City Island's one-room, one-teacher schoolhouse. 

During Pelham's first year, 13 Brothers were raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason, making a total of 31 members, 2 Fellowcrafts, and 3 Entered Apprentices. W:. Bro. John O. Fordham was re-elected Master for another year on December 19, 1871. The second Worshipful Master of Pelham Lodge was S. D. Levenap, elected December 24, 1872. Elections were held for the offices of Worshipful Master, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Senior Deacon, Junior Deacon, Secretary, and Treasurer."

The detailed history of this first Pelham Masonic Lodge makes fascinating reading.  You may visit it here:  About The Bronx Masonic District:  Pelham Lodge #712 (visited Feb. 18, 2018).

Logo of Pelham Lodge No. 712, F. & A. M.  Note the Nineteenth
Century Sailing Ship and the Lighthouse Evoking the Maritime
History of City Island.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

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