Bristol Commandery Knights Templar #29
1870 – 2013
Mansfield ~ North Attleborough ~ Attleboro
Bristol Commandery ~ Knights Templar #29
To all whom it may concern ~ Greetings
Whereas, a petition of sundry Knights Templars residing in or near the Town of Mansfield, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, praying that a Dispensation may be granted them to open and hold a Commandery of Knights Templar and Council of the Appendant Orders in said town, and whereas the same has been duly recommended, as required by the regulations of our Grand Commandery.
Now, know ye, that I, Benjamin Dean, Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, by virtue of the power in me vested, do grant this Dispensation to: S.S. Ginnodo ~ Wm. H. Thomas ~ Wm. B. Crocker~ John R. Maintien ~ F. J. Sawyer ~ John L. Lynch ~ Charles E. Smith ~ Eliphlet Smith ~ Charles Downs ~ Thomas Schofield ~ D. B. Whittier ~ Wm. Graves ~ H. F. Day ~ D. H. Smith ~ O. S. Thayer ~ Frank S. Draper ~ and Charles H. Sawyer. The petitioners aforesaid, and to their associates, and empower them to open and hold a Commandery of Knights Templar and Councils of the Appendant Orders at the place aforesaid, to be called and distinguished by the name of Bristol Commandery, and to confer the Orders of Knight of the Red Cross: 2, Knight Templar; 3, Knight of Malta, upon such person or persons, possessing the requisite qualifications, as them may deem proper.
And I do by these presents appoint Sir Charles E. Smith to be Eminent Commander, Sir D. B. Whittier to be Generalissimo, Sir D. H. Smith to be Captain General; with continuance to them of the said power and privileges until the next Annual Assembly of our Grand Commandery in October A.O. 1870, and no longer.
Provided, nevertheless, that the said Officers and members of the said Commandery, pay due respect to our Grand Commandery, and to the Constitution and Edicts thereof, and in no way to remove the Ancient Landmarks of the Order; otherwise, this Dispensation, and all things therein contained, to be void and of no effect.
Given under my hand and the seal of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templars and Appendant Orders of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, this twenty-eighth day of May in the year of our Lord, One thousand eight hundred and Seventy,
Benjamin Dean ~ Grand Commander
Attest: A. F. Chapman ~ Grand Recorder
First Permanent Home of Bristol Commandery ~ 1871
Lovell Building ~ North Main Street ~ Mansfield, MA
A History of Bristol Commandery ~ No. 29
Organization under Dispensation ~ Mansfield, Massachusetts
Prior to 1869 the fraternal organizations of Knights Templar were known locally as “Encampments” and the State overseeing bodies were known as “Grand Encampments”. The reason for the title changes to “Commandery” and “Grand Commandery” after 1869 is not particularly clear, but most likely is tied to several major internal organizational changes at the national level.
Bristol Commandery was organized in the latter part of 1870 under Dispensation after the establishment of Commanderies, and was not subject to the former title of Encampment. It is noted that the rank of “Number 29” is not posted on the Dispensation, Charter, or any organizational Record. The first mention of Bristol Commandery No. 29” was in the minutes of June 7, 1895, but no explanation as to what prompted the change is posted. The best explanation is that they were numbered by order of seniority of the several State Charters. By numbering them, the same name of the local Commandery could be used in each Grand Jurisdiction with less of a change of duplication. Thus the name “Bristol” could be used in other states, without the Number 29 attached. But verification of this could not be established.
Receiving a Dispensation to organize in October of 1870, Bristol Commandery sought a rental agreement with Saint James Lodge of Mansfield who met at Temperance Hall located at South Main Street and Webb Place. But in January of 1871 the Masonic fraternity moved to the newly constructed Lovell Block at 4 North Main Street, Mansfield, and an association that would last until 1876.
The Organizational Meeting took place on Friday, November 18, 1870 with Bristol Commandery being opened “without form” by the Officers appointed by the Grand Commandery. Sir Knight Charles E. Smith, Commander ~ Sir Knight Daniel B. Whittier, Generalissimo ~ and Sir Knight Daniel Henry Smith, Captain-General. Here the first lines of Officers were appointed without ceremony.
Prelate Samuel Ginnodo Sword Bearer Henry F. Day
Senior Warden Freeman J. Sawyer Warder William H. Thomas
Junior Warden John R. Maintien Third Guard John L. Lynch
Treasurer William Graves Second Guard O. S. Thayer
Recorder Eliphalet Smith First Guard Thomas Schofield
Standard Bearer William B. Crocker Sentinel Charles H. Sawyer
At this first meeting the “Fees for the Orders” were established at thirty dollars, and it was generally agreed that candidates would “stand proposed for at least fourteen days”. It was also favorably voted that Bristol Commandery would hold its meetings on the Friday evenings “on or after the Full Moon”.
A Special Assembly was held on Friday evening, December 9, 1870 when a Council of the Order of the Red Cross was opened in due form. The Master of Finance, Sir William Graves proposed the first slate of candidates for our new Commandery. They were Companions: William N. Hamblet ~ Henry N. Paine ~ James M. Mayhew ~ Doliver S. Spaulding and Edward P. Paine. An addition eleven Companions were recommended for membership at this Special Assembly. All were referred to different investigating committees. The work of the Order of the Red Cross was exemplified before closing without form.
Another Special assembly was opened on Friday evening, December 23, 1870 and all sixteen candidates were elected to receive the Commandery Orders. It was also voted that the top three Officers and the Prelate be a Committee “to procure all the working tools and paraphernalia required for working the several Orders; also to prepare a Code of By-Laws”. In January the Warder, Sir William H. Thomas was added to that Committee.
Also that evening in December, all sixteen elected Companions became the first class of candidates for Bristol Commandery being Created and Dubbed Knights of the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross in due and ancient form. It is interesting to note that the “arrangement of Orders” at that time in our history was the Order of the Red Cross ~ Order of the Temple ~ and then Knights of Malta of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem”, or as we now it, the Order of Malta. It was not until Friday evening; March 22, 1872 that Bristol Commandery would first confer this final Order upon a class of fifty-three candidates.
January 1871 brought operational changes to both Bristol Commandery and St. James Lodge with the move to Mansfield’s new Lovell Building located at 4 Main Street. Soon Bristol Commandery entered into a five-year contract by which St. James Lodge would provide a meeting place “including lights and fuel” for a fee of one hundred and fifty dollars per year.
With an ever-increasing influx of new candidates, Bristol Commandery became very active in the conferring of the first two Orders, establishing operational procedures, and procuring the necessary regalia endorsed by its several Committees. A “Committee on Caps” chaired by Sir William E. Smith recommended the “Bell Crown” style cap for the Order of the Red Cross. Another Committee worked to procure “Crockery and articles necessary for Banqueting”, and yet another worked on the adoption of the “Dark Regalia without an Apron” uniform that led to our adoption of the “United States Grand Encampment Regulations on Regalia” on May 5, 1871.
On that same evening, May 5th, Sir Samuel S. Ginnodo was appointed to chair a Committee to procure a “suitable Seal and Press” for our official documents. Sir Knights R.H. Trested ~ William B. Crocker and John B. Maintien were appointed as a Committee to design and procure a new “Bristol Commandery Banner”, and it was voted to change the Stated Assemblies to “the Friday Evening on or before the full of the moon”.
At the Special Assembly of May 24, 1871, Bristol Commandery received its first visiting Grand Commandery Officer, Eminent Sir Nicholas Van Slyck ~ Eminent Grand Generalissimo, who witnessed the work of the Order of the Red Cross on one candidate that evening.
Bristol Commandery continued its labors through the summer of 1871, working candidates at several Stated and Special Assemblies. On August 25th it received an invitation from Monumental Commandery No. 3 of Baltimore, MD to partake of their hospitality at the Triennial Convention to be held in their City that September. It was voted that the invitation be accepted and “placed on file”.
At the Stated Assembly of September 22, 1871 it was voted that the “Council Officers” be constituted a Committee to approached the Right Eminent Grand Commander for the arrangements to procurement of a Charter for Bristol Commandery and Install of a new line of Officers.
On Wednesday evening, October 11th, a Special Assembly of Bristol Commandery was opened without form within the Masonic Hall of Mansfield. The purpose of the Assembly was to respond to a communication from the Right Eminent Grand Commander, ordering that Bristol Commandery, together with all other Commanderies of this Grand Jurisdiction, provide an escort for the Most Worshipful Grand Master on the occasion of “laying the Cornerstone of the United States Post Office and Sub-Treasury in the City of Boston on Monday, October 16, 1871”. It was voted to invited the North Attleboro Cornet Band to join in those ceremonies and that the Sir Knights be ordered to appear at Agricultural Hall on Saturday Evening, October 14th for rehearsal and “Drill” for this event.
Order to Appear
Office of the Grand Commander
Boston, Massachusetts ~ October 4, 1871
To all the subordinate Commanderies within our jurisdiction:
Whereas: ~ Most Worshipful William Sewall Gardner, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, has accepted an invitation to lay, with Masonic ceremonies, the Corner Stone of the new Post Office, in the City of Boston, on the 16th instant, in the presence of the President of the United States and Officers of his cabinet, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the Mayor of the City of Boston, and has requested of me a Templar Escort, which request appears to me a fit and proper one to be granted. ~
It is hereby ordered, That our several Commanderies assemble on Monday, the 16th day of October instant, in full Templar costume, on the Tremont Street Mall of Boston Common at Ten o’clock in the forenoon, and report to E. Sir Charles Adams Stott, Grand Captain General, who will have command of the lines.
It is further ordered, That Boston Commandery be detailed as Body Guard to the Grand Lodge, and report to M. W. M. S. W. Gardner, Grand Master, at the hour aforesaid.
Benjamin Dean ~ Grand Commander
Attest: Alfred F. Chapman ~ Grand Recorder
The dedication was a gala event for this architecturally beautiful building on Devonshire Street in Boston (between Water and Milk Streets), which also housed the U.S. District Court.
The fruits of their labors came to reality on Friday evening, October 20, 1871, when a Special Assembly of Knights Templar was opened without form and the members awaited upon the Grand Commandery Officers. A roster of fifteen Officers and thirty-eight Sir Knights were present.
Eminent Sir Charles E. Powers, Grand Senior Warden, announced that the Grand Commandery Officers were in waiting to be received. A Committee chaired by Sir Samuel G. Ginnodo was dispatched for their reception and escorted the Right Eminent Grand Commander, Sir Benjamin Dean into the Asylum accompanied by the following Grand Officers.
Em. Sir Nicholas Van Slyck Grand Generalissimo
Em. Sir Charles A. Stott Grand Captain General
Em. Sir Charles E. Powers Grand Senior Warden
Em. Sir Horace Daniels Grand Junior Warden
Em. Sir Alfred F. Chapman Grand Recorder
Em. Sir William Parkman Grand Prelate
Em. Sir Stafford W. Razee Grand Warder
Em. Sir Seranus Bowen Grand Sentinel
The Right Eminent Grand Commander proceeded with the ceremony of Constitution and after presenting the Charter, directed the Grand Warder to give the proclamation.
Bristol Commandery Charter
From The East
Grand Commandery of Massachusetts
And Rhode Island
R.E. Benjamin Dean ~ Grand Commander
To all Knights Templars throughout the World.
Whereas ~ a Petition has been presented to us, signed by
Charles E. Smith William B. Crocker William Graves
Daniel B. Whittier John B. Maintien Henry F. Day
Daniel H. Smith Freeman J. Sawyer Oscar B. Thayer
Samuel S. Ginnodo John Q. Lynch Frank S. Draper
William H. Thomas Charles Downs Charles H. Sawyer
Eliphalet Smith Thomas Schofield
Knights Templars residing in and near the Town of Mansfield in the County of Bristol and State of Massachusetts, praying that a Charter may be granted to them, authorizing and empowering them to open and hold a Commandery of Knights Templars in said town; and whereas the said Petition was, on the twenty-sixth day of May, A.D. One Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy-One, duly submitted to, and considered by, our said Grand Commandery, in Open Session; and it appearing that the Rules and Regulations in such case made and provided has been fully complied with, an order was passed authorizing the prayer of the petitioners be granted.
Now Know Ye, that we, the Grand Commandery of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, reposing special confidence and trust in the fidelity, zeal, and Masonic skill of the petitioners aforesaid, and for the purpose of diffusing the benefits of the Order, and promoting the happiness of its members, do by these Presents, constitute and establish the said petitioners in a Commandery Knights Templars and the Appendant Orders by the name of
With full and adequate powers to confer the several Degrees of Knights of the Red Cross,
Knights Templar, and Knights of Malta, upon such person or persons, possessing the requisite qualifications, as they may think proper.
And we do hereby appoint Sir Charles Eugene Smith to be first Eminent Commander. Sir Daniel Bartlett Whittier to be first Generalissimo, and Sir Daniel Henry Smith to be first Captain General of said Commandery. And We hereby declare that the said Commandery shall take rank and precedence in the Grand Commandery and elsewhere from the date of the Dispensation, to wit May twenty-eighth, A.D. One Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy. Therefore, we hereby recognize the said Brethren as Officers and Members of said Commandery with continuance of the foresaid powers and privileges to them and their successors forever.
Provided nevertheless that the said Officers and Members, and their successors in said Commandery, pay due respect to our Grand Commandery of aforesaid, and to the Constitution and Edicts thereof, and in no way remove the Ancient Land Marks of our Order. Otherwise, this Charter, and all things herein contained, to be void, and of no effect.
Given at the City of Boston in the State of Massachusetts, this twentieth day of October in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy One, and of our Order Seven Hundred and Fifty Three.
By order of the Grand Commandery of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Benjamin Dean Grand Commander
William S. Shurtleff Deputy Grand Commander
Nicholas Van Slyck Grand Generalissimo
Charles Adams Stott Grand Captain General
Alfred F. Chapman Grand Recorder
Now legally constituted, the Right Eminent Grand Commander, assisted by the Grand Captain General, installed the first slate of Officers for the newly Chartered Bristol Commandery.
Sir Charles Eugene Smith Eminent Commander
Sir Daniel B. Whittier Generalissimo
Sir Daniel Henry Smith Captain General
Sir Samuel S. Ginnodo Prelate
Sir Allen F. Belcher Senior Warden
Sir John B. Maintien Junior Warden
Sir William Graves Treasurer
Sir Eliphalet Smith Recorder
Sir Henry F. Day Sword Bearer
Sir William B. Crocker Standard Bearer
Sir William H. Thomas Warder
Sir John Q. Lynch Third Guard
Sir Thomas Schofield First Guard
Sir Charles A. Blake Sentinel
After an interesting and appropriate address by the Right Eminent Grand Commander, the Grand Officers retired from the Asylum escorted by the Officers of Bristol Commandery to the Banquet Hall were one hour of hospitality as spent. This seems to have been the proper protocol of that era. The Officers of Bristol Commandery then returned to the Asylum where the Commandery was closed without form. Thus concluded a productive year under Dispensation.
Synopsis of “Organization Under Dispensation”
12 Stated Assemblies ~ 12 Special Assemblies
53 Candidates for the Order of the Red Cross and Order of the Temple
The Mansfield Years ~ 1871 – 1876
Bristol Commandery continued to flourish with a flood of candidates, but not all Companions advanced to Knighthood. Some, for whatever reason, where rejected. Still the desire for Knighthood continued, and on March 22, 1872, sixteen months after the organizational meeting, fifty-three Knights completed their York Rite journey with their reception as Knights of Malta of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Then, the final Chivalric Order in the York Rite of Freemasonry.
On Friday evening, December 22, 1871, the First Annual Assembly was held. Besides the usual business, the election and installation of new Officers took place, officiated by the Right Eminent Grand Commander who was received at this Assembly. The minutes gave no hint of any required Reports that are currently presented at such meetings.
On the evening of Saturday, June 8, 1872, a Special Assembly was called at the Masonic Hall in Mansfield to act upon an invitation of Bristol Lodge F & A.M. to participate with them in the celebration of their 75th Anniversary on Friday, June 14th, also to take part in the ceremonies attending the “laying of the Corner Stone of Grace Methodist Protestant Episcopal Church” by the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. However, the Grand Commandery proceedings list the Church as “Grace Episcopal of North Attleboro”.
On a motion of Sir William Thomas, it was voted to accept the invitation and appear in full regalia. The Eminent Commander ordered the Sir Knights to assemble at the Agricultural Hall in Attleborough on Tuesday evening, June 11th, for Drill. A proper Grand Commandery Dispensation was granted for this event.
Bristol Commandery’s “First One-Day Class” was conducted on Monday evening, September 9, 1872 at Mansfield. Companion Charles E. Fisher was Created and Dubbed a Knight of the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross and Knight of the Valiant and Magnanimous Order of the Temple. Then he and four other candidates were “Created and Dubbed a Knight of Malta of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem”; all on a single evening.
Not all events of our Commandery were joyful ones. Death performed its first infiltration of our ranks early in October of 1872 with the passing of our Warder, Sir William H. Thomas. At the Special Assembly of October 25, 1872, an In Memoriam and Resolution was posted upon our Records.
The Sir Knight William H. Thomas Resolution
In obedience to the mysterious purposes of Divine Providence, death has
removed from our midst a beloved Brother and Sir Knight
William H. Thomas
That while we humbly acknowledge the right of Him to do as he pleases with
his own, we deeply deplore the death of one, whose usefulness was acknowledged by all,
and whose many virtues, rendered his life an example, worth of imitation.
That by the death of Sir Knight Thomas, the Commandery has lost a valued
Member, a devoted friend, and an earnest worker for the best interest of the order of
That as a body we extend our truest sympathy to the family of Sir Knight
Thomas in their great bereavement.
That the Commandery forward a copy of these Resolutions to the family of
Samuel S. Ginnodo ~ John L. Kendall ~ Eliphalet Smith
At the May 9, 1873 Stated Assembly of Bristol Commandery, a petition was received on behalf of eighteen Sir Knights asking permission to form a Commandery of Knights Templar at Stoughton, Massachusetts to be named Mount Lebanon Commandery. The request was unanimously approved, but no record of its formation could be found in the Grand Proceedings through 1878.
The first Public Installation of Bristol Officers occurred by Dispensation at the Town Hall of Foxborough on Friday evening, January 30, 1874. The Right Eminent Grand Commander was publically received and preformed the Ceremony of Installation in public form. After closing, the Sir Knights and their ladies partook of a delicious banquet and enjoyed a fine evening of entertainment by the Adelphi Quartello of Boston.
The first mention of the presentation of a Past Commander’s Jewel, are in the minutes of January 8, 1875, and was presented to Sir Robert L. Kendall, Past Commander. No cost of production is expressed.
History and the Records give no hint as to why there seems to be some underlying rumblings of discontent early in 1875 within the Commandery ranks. The first hint came at the March 19, 1875 Assembly when Sir Charles E. Smith ~ P.C. presented the plans for a “Masonic Hall at North Attleborough”. No Official action was taken as he only presented “suggestions as to any alterations in the plan which might be desirable”.
By the following June 18th a formal proposal was presented on the subject of “removal to North Attleborough”. A Committee of five Sir Knights (Samuel S. Ginnodo ~ Jacob Silloway, Jr. ~ John L. Kendall ~ Edward P. Paine ~ George F. Seaver) was appointed to investigate the proposal and report their findings. The Committee made a “Divided Report” at the July 16th Assembly that produced a 36 to 28 vote favoring the Commandery to remain in Mansfield.
The issue was again brought to a vote at the November 20, 1875 Special Assembly with the locations of Attleborough and Taunton being added to the mix. Three separate ballots were conducted with the following results.
- Removal to North Attleborough 32 For ~ 33 Against
- Removal to Attleborough 36 For ~ 31 Against
- Removal to Taunton 9 For ~ 31 Against
The issue was once again postponed until the next Stated Assembly.
The “next Stated Assembly” was the Fifth Annual Assembly held on Friday evening, December 10, 1875 with fifteen Officers and eighty Sir Knights present. On a motion of Sir Thomas G. Sandland, it was voted to remove Bristol Commandery to North Attleborough. The vote was 39 Sir Knight in favor of the removal, and 32 against. A favorable vote was also received to notify the Grand Commandery of the results of this motion.
At the Stated Assembly of January 7, 1876, it was voted to apply to the Grand Commandery for a Dispensation to Work in North Attleborough, with 20 Sir Knights voting in the affirmative, and 14 in the negative.
As an interesting and historical footnote, the records show that on Friday, May 29, 1874 a bill was ordered to be paid for the “Ascension Scene”. This is believed to be the original glass plates that where used in the work of the Order of the Temple. Today that ritual is projected by slide films in an electric slide projector. But, in the days before electricity, projection was accomplished by the use of oil lamps, and by the mid 1870’s those glass plates, called Lantern Slides, were projected by the “Limelight Method” of burning oxygen and hydrogen on a pellet of lime that produced a greater light. It did provide better illumination, but was far more dangerous to use. The lantern is presently on display at the Museum of Ezekiel Bates Lodge.
The North Attleborough Years
Completing the move from Mansfield, a Special Assembly of Bristol Commandery was opened within the Asylum of Bristol Lodge at the Howard Building ~ 31 North Washington Street, in the “North Village” of Attleborough on Friday evening, February 11, 1876. A Council of Knights of the Red Cross was opened with 15 Officers and 11 other Sir Knights present. The Recorder read the following communication from the Grand Commander.
Grand Commandery of Knights Templar And the Appendant Orders of Massachusetts and Rhode Island
Office of the Grand Commander
To All Valiant and Magnanimous Knights Templars:
Be it Known, that I, Henry W. Rugg, Grand Commander, by virtue of the high power and authority in me vested, do hereby authorize and empower our trusty and well beloved Brethren and Sir Knights, composing Bristol Commandery of Knights Templars and the Appendant Orders, now located in Mansfield, Massachusetts, to open and hold their Regular and Special Assemblies in that part of the Town of Attleborough called North Attleborough, as prayed for in a vote passed at a Regular Assembly of said Commandery, and duly certified to me under its seal.
This Dispensation is granted for the purpose of enabling said Commandery to assemble in more commodious apartments, and is in no wise intended to increase the territorial jurisdiction granted and maintained by the Charter of Bristol Commandery.
It is further ordered that this Dispensation will remain in force until the Semi-Annual Assembly of our Grand Commandery, Affixed, this Second day of February, A.D. 1876, A.O. 758.
Henry W. Rugg ~ Grand Commander
Attest Alfred F. Chapman ~ Grand Recorder
The evening concluded with our first candidate at this new Asylum, Companion John E. Totten, being Created and Dubbed a Knight of the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross.
But tragedy would strike on the evening on February 27, 1877 with a devastating fire at the Temple. Bristol Commandery had met just four nights before, but now it was time to seek other quarters. Across the street on the corner of North Washington and Church Streets, Aurora Lodge of Odd Fellows opened their doors to the Masonic fraternity and offered us a temporary home until we could rebuild. A Council of Knights of the Red Cross first assembly in Odd Fellows Hall on Friday evening, March 22, 1877. This Commandery would hold only three Stated Assemblies there before returning to the Masonic Apartments on Friday evening, September 21st of that same year.
The First recorded Commandery escort for a Masonic Funeral Service, occurred on Wednesday morning, November 7, 1877 at the request of St. Alban’s Lodge of Foxborough. Bristol Commandery opened within their apartments at 9:30 AM for the purpose of attending the funeral of Sir Knight Emery Seach and providing an escort.
At the order of the Eminent Commander, the Sir Knights were formed “in line” and preceded to the residence of the decease. There the remains were taken in charge and conveyed in procession to the Bethany Congregational Church where the service was conducted.
At the conclusion of the service and a “final farewell”, our Sir Knight was once again taken in procession and conveyed to the Rockhill Cemetery and there buried in due form according to the ancient usage of Freemasonry. Members of the Foxborough Brass Band provided musical services.
The Sir Knights and Brethren then escorted the mourners to the residence of the bereaved family, and then returned to the Lodge were St. Alban’s Lodge provided a bountiful collation.
The Special Assembly of March 18, 1878 was the first time Bristol Commandery failed to assemble due to the lack of a quorum. No reason was stated in the Minutes. Other similar occurrences of this nature have been recorded over the years, but for the most part they have been weather related.
It is interesting to note some procedural customs of this period in our history. In the beginning there was no “Inspection and Review” as we know it today. The “Inspection” of a Commandery was conducted as “an Official Visit” similar to those events in other Masonic bodies, usually by the “Grand Lecturer”. But on special occasions another Grand Officer, including the Grand Commander, could conduct the work. The Installation of new Officers usually took place at the same time.
Another custom of the times was when a Commandery would ask for “release of Jurisdiction” of a candidate living in another jurisdiction, the requesting Commandery would pay the Commandery granting the release, one-half of the fees normally paid by the granting Commandery. It was a moneymaker without doing the work. It must have been a short-lived event as there is no mention of it in the Minutes after 1883.
As a historical note, the last “ Assembly” of Bristol Commandery was held on Saturday evening, September 20, 1879. The First Stated Conclave was held on the following Friday evening, September 26, 1879. No record could be found as to what prompted the change of title.
At the Stated Conclave of November 4, 1881, Special Order No. 3 from the Eminent Grand Commander, Sir Knight William H. Kent, was read and ordered to be spread upon the records in regards to the assassination of our President, Brother, and Frater, Sir James A. Garfield.
Grand Commandery of Knights Templar
Appendant Orders of Massachusetts and Rhode Island
Office of the Right Eminent Grand Commander
Special Order No. 3 Boston ~ October 1, 1881
T0 the Grand Officers, Commanderies of Knights Templar of our jurisdiction ~
Sir James A. Garfield
President of the United States died on the 19th day of September 1881.
Struck by the hand of an assassin on the 2nd day of July, 1881, with a brave and cheerful spirit he struggled for life with the tears, the prayers, and the symphony of nearly the whole civilized world in his behalf.
A good man has fallen. Distinguished as a Statesman and solider, he had but entered upon the discharge of the highest trust that could be confided to him by the people; ~ and while both in the forum and the field he had served his country well, the nation was looking for nobler things in his future.
But the wise Providence that shapes our lives decreed his death. It is fitting that we, as Knight Templars, place upon record Masonic tribute to the virtues of our eminent frater, and our sympathy with his family in their time of sore distress.
It is further ordered, that in respect to the memory of Sir James A. Garfield, your Banners and the swords of your Officers be draped in mourning for a period of forty days from the reception of this Order.
It is further ordered that this Order be read at the head of each Subordinate Commandery at the Regular Conclave succeeding its reception, and that the whole of this Order be spread upon your Records.
For reasons unknown, Bristol Commandery failed to assemble during the months of June ~ July ~ August ~ and September of 1882, as no records exist. But according to the Minutes of Bristol Lodge, the Sir Knights of Bristol Commandery provided an escort for Bristol Lodge and Most Worshipful Samuel Crocker Lawrence and other Grand Lodge Officers on Monday, September 18, 1882 for the ceremonies of “laying the corner stone of the First Universalist Church of North Attleborough”. The Reception Committee meet the Grand Suite at the Old Colony Railroad Depot located off Broadway in the Village of North Attleborough and escorted them to the Lodge located on North Washington Street opposite Church Street. Following the Grand Master’s reception, the Grand Suite, Officers of Bristol Lodge, and other brethren marched to the site of the ceremonies under escort by Bristol Commandery. At the Church the procession opened to the left and right, and uncovering, allowed the Grand Master and Suite to pass through the lines to the platform. The rest of the Craft then surrounded the cornerstone forming a “hollow square”.
At the completion of the ceremony, the procession returned to the Lodge under escort and closed in ample form. Bristol Lodge then hosted an elaborate collation in the banquet hall.
The first mention of an “Inspection” was in the Grand Commander’s General Order No. 1 read at the Conclave of November 24, 1882. The Order outlined the assignments for the “Official Visitation and Inspection” of each Commandery for that year. But it is doubtful that the “Inspection” was anything like the present day ceremony, as the Order gave no specific instructions. As an interesting side note, it appears that it was the custom of Bristol Commandery in those days to host an elaborate Banquet with entertainment after the “Official Visit”. Generally it was held at the “Wamsutta Hotel and Opera House” located on the corner of Washington and Elm Streets in the center of North Attleborough.
At the April 4, 1884 meeting, Council of Knights of the Red Cross, the “Master of Dispatch” (Recorder) was directed to change the Seal of Bristol Commandery by replacing the word “Mansfield” with the word “Attleboro”. No entry could be found that it was ever done. But the seal was later modified with the insert of “North Attleborough” as it is presently represented due to the pending separation that created the “Town of North Attleborough” in 1887. The seal modification may have occurred as a result of the June 11, 1886 vote to change our Banner to read “North Attleborough” in the place of “Mansfield”, although there is no specific mention of it in the Records. A new Banner displaying “Attleboro, MA” would be purchased after the Commandery moved to Attleboro in 1905.
Prior to May of 1884, it was the usual custom of Bristol Commandery not to suspend a Sir Knight for non-payment of dues, but rather remove his privilege to vote. But over time it became an increasing problem to collect the proper revenue. Thus it was voted on May 9th of that year to suspend any Sir Knight who was two years or more in arrears. However, the issued reached a boiling point in the Fall of 1895 when the Eminent Commander, Sir Alfred R. Crosby, appointed a committee to investigate and report on the growing problem of “non-payment of Bristol Commandery dues”. On November 1, 1895, the Committee reported that of the 174 members of this Commandery, only 81 had a current dues card. Sixty-three members were one-year arrears in dues. The remaining thirty Sir Knights were between two and five years in arrears of Commandery dues. The situation would eventually be remedied through payments, suspensions, and remittances.
The Records of the Commandery also afford some interesting tidbits about those first years and the Transition of Change, both within the Craft and society. On March 27, 1885 it was voted to pay one-half of the expense to “introduce water into the Masonic Hall.” The Annual Conclave of December 26, 1884 was the first time that the “Annual Report of the Treasurer” was spread upon the Records. The “Annual Report of the Recorder” did not appear until the following year on December 18, 1885. Even the “Resolution” on the passing of a Sir Knight changed in September of 1886 with the lengthy Resolution being replaced with “a page set aside to his memory”. This first “Page set aside” was to the memory of Sir Knight W.S. Mason who died on July 4, 1886. A similar page on November 25, 1887 is for our first Eminent Commander, S.K. Charles Eugene Smith.
The winds of social change occurred once again in 1887. Until then North Attleborough was a part of Attleborough. The residents of the “Village of East Attleborough” (now Attleboro Center) chose to secede, and had the higher population and the votes to keep the name of Attleborough. When re-incorporating as a City in 1914, they chose to officially alter the name becoming the “City of Attleboro”. North Attleborough, the original settlement, kept the original spelling, but lost the distinction of being Attleborough, and its founding date of 1694 was also appropriated by Attleboro.
Bristol Commandery took but little notice of its new abode as the title of its residence had changed, but its location had not. Now legally stationed at North Attleborough, the Sir Knights continued the business of expanding its ranks.
In July to 1889, an invitation was received from the Grand Encampment of the U.S.A. through the Grand Commandery Office to join in a pilgrimage to the Triennial Conclave to be held at Washington D.C. the following October. With much delight thirty-nine Bristol Knights made the journey and joined in the line of march. In the process of financing the project, enough money was left over to purchase a Head Stone for the grave of our first Eminent Commander, Sir Charles Eugene Smith.
During this early history of our development, the Commanderies under went many changes in policies and equipment. One such change was the use of “Shoulder-Straps” by the senior Officers. By a General Order posted on December 10, 1889, their use was over-ruled by the Statues of the Grand Encampment, but were replaced by the use of “Sleeve-Decals” to be worn by the Officers from the rank of Captain-General and above.
Another operational change was the growth in popularity of the Templar Burial Service in lieu of the traditional Masonic Service. The first recorded event of this nature was on Sunday, March 22, 1891 when Em. Owen Bates Bestor opened a Commandery of Knights Templar in the North Attleborough Masonic Temple at 8:30 AM for the purpose of traveling to Providence, RI to perform this service at the request of the family of Sir Albert J. Smith. There they were meet by a delegation from Calvary Commandery #13 and escorted to their Asylum.
At 1:00 PM twenty-five Sir Knights of Calvary Commandery escorted the Bristol Knights to the Pointe Street residence of the departed frater who escorted the body to the gravesite and preformed the Knightly Service. At the conclusion of the service the Bristol Knights returned to North Attleborough and closed the Commandery.
A special event occurred at the Conclave of Friday evening, January 23, 1891. A Commandery of Knights Templar was opened in the usual form, and after the Annual business the Asylum was opened to thirty-five Brothers of Bristol Lodge to witness the Installation of Officers and the presentation of the First set of Past Commander Jewels to the seven living Past Commanders of Bristol Commandery. The jewels were presented in order of seniority to Eminent Daniel Henry Smith ~ Thomas G. Sandland ~ Arthur E. Codding ~ Peter Nerney ~Edward C. Martin ~ James A. Codding and Theodore B. Hazzard. The total cost for the seven jewels was $399.00. Thus began a long tradition of presenting “a badge of distinction” for many years of dedicated service upon reaching the Office of Commander.
Also that same year, for whatever reason, the Recorder’s minutes of November 13, 1891, and before, listed the meeting place as being held in “Masonic Hall”; but at the December 11, 1891 meeting, and thereafter, they were recorded as “In Freemasons’ Hall”. This practice continued for many years.
Another practice of the times was the “Annual Pilgrimage” to other Commanderies, which is believed to be the forerunner of fraternal visits between Commanderies. They seemed to be a popular event of the times as evident by their attendance. In addition to the fifteen line Officers, often the visiting Sir Knights in full uniform would number more than fifty.
The “Social events of the Year” for 1894 occurred on June 16th when Bristol Commandery provided a Commandery escort of fifty-nine Sir Knights for the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts on the occasion of laying the cornerstone for the Richards Memorial Library of North Attleborough. Also on Christmas Day when Bristol Commandery conducted it first Christmas Toast.
What would be come known as the Annual Christmas Observance was born at the Triennial Conclave of 1892 held at Denver, Colorado under the title of “The Christmas Toast and Response”. It was inaugurated by Sir Stephen Berry of Portland, Maine who was appointed “Chairman of the Committee ad vitam” (for Life). The ceremony originally was performed at noon on Christmas Day on the continental East Coast, and at the same time in each time zone across the country with the West Coast performing at 9:00 A.M. The Knights would assembly in the Asylum one hour before the Official time of the Observance. The Triangle was in place with twelve goblets upon it with another goblet at the Commander’s station. Glasses would be provided for all other Sir Knights and invited guests.
During the wait for the Official Hour, the Sir Knights would sing Christmas carols and the Prelate would read the “old, Old Story”. At exactly five minutes before the Official Hour, twelve Sir Knights would gather around the Triangle, and the goblets and glasses were prepared. The last two minutes was a time of silent reflection. On the first stroke of the hour, the toasts begin. First, “To the Grand Master” and then the reading of his response. The remaining toasts where given in similar manner “To the Grand Commander” then to “All Knight Templars” ~ “To all Knights Templar who have shed their blood in defense of liberty and Christianity” (this response was with bowed head and silence). Then, “ To the Grand Master of Masons” ~ “To the Grand High Priest” ~ and finally, “In Memory of the dead this calendar year”. (The Knights at the Triangle would then drop to their right knee, all other Sir Knights would bow their heads, and all would softly sing “Nearer, My God to Thee”). Following the Benediction, the Sir Knights were dismissed and Seasonal Hospitality would continue.
The Records of Bristol Commandery does not show this ceremony being preformed until
Christmas Day of 1894 as directed by General Order No. 3 issued by the Grand Commander, Sir Samuel C. Lawrence. The Order was in response of a directive of the Grand Encampment of the United States of America who proposed a “toast to our Most Eminent Grand Master, Hugh McCurdy: the head of American Templar Masonry”.
On Tuesday, December 25th, 1894 (Christmas Day) about sixty Officers, fraters, and invited guests assembled before noon time within the Asylum of Bristol Commandery for the purpose of “showing their loyalty” to the Grand Encampment and to join with other Encampments in a toast to our Most Eminent Grand Commander. Eminent Elton I. Franklin of Bristol Commandery was the Master of Ceremonies for this event and Past Commander; Eminent Theodore B. Hazzard read the Grand Master’s response. After the ceremonies were over, all enjoyed “an hour or two in social intercourse and greetings”. Thus was the humble beginning of a valued tradition, with some modification, which is still observed and preformed today as the Annual Christmas Observance.
With limited travel and mobility this time of the year, the Commander would appoint a Sir Knight of a nearby town (Mansfield, Foxborough, or Taunton) to oversee a similar ceremony to take place at the same time in the chosen Town, and that Sir Knight would report at the next Conclave the result of that ceremony. The event was usually rotated each year between the Towns. This practice continued until the late 1930’s.
The Annual Christmas Observance continued to be held on Christmas day until 1959 when it was held on Sunday afternoon, December 20th (the Sunday closest to Christmas) as ordered by Eminent Sir Donald F. Freberg. It continued to be held on a Sunday afternoon or Friday evening in December until 1989 when the Commander, Eminent Sir Markeith E. Host, held it at the December Stated Conclave inviting the ladies and masonic guests to attend. This policy continued until Bristol Commandery merged with Holy Sepulchre #8 of Pawtucket, R.I. in 2013.
The next landmark event was the 1895 Triennial Conclave held at Boston, Massachusetts. Agreeable to Order No. 1 of the Eminent Commander, the Sir Knights assembled at Armory Hall of Attleborough at 1:00 P.M. on August 26th to prepare for the event. After a short drill, Sir Knight George H. Sykes, Generalissimo, was placed in charge of the lines, and after a short parade, the Commandery, with Band, proceeded to the North Attleborough Asylum by means of electric cars.
The Eminent Commander than declared Bristol Commandery open for the purpose of attending the 26th Triennial Conclave in Boston from August 27th through August 30th. At 3:00 P.M. the lines were again formed, and after a Street Parade in North Attleborough, they preceded “One Hundred Strong”, by rail to their Headquarters at the Claremont Park in Boston.
On Tuesday, August 27th, eighty Sir Knights of Bristol Commandery participated in the Grand Parade of this Triennial being reviewed by the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Edwin B. Holms, and the Most Eminent Grand Master of the Grand Encampment, S.K. Hugh McCurdy, as well as His Excellency Frederic T. Greenhalge, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as they “passed in review” at Columbus Square. They also “passed in review” for Right Eminent Samuel C. Lawrence, Grand Commander of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and His Honor, Sir Edwin W. Curtis, Mayor of the City of Boston at Adams Square.
On August 29th, the Eminent Commander declared the Commandery closed and the “Headquarters abandoned” and all preceded to their homes as best suited their convenience. The “Pilgrimage” was declared to be a full and complete success.
Sadly on September 7, 1895, less than two weeks after the Grand Conclave concluded, this Masonic Temple caught fire and had to be torn down.
The Grand Masonic Temple was rebuilt on the same site at 186 Tremont Street with the cornerstone being laid on June 8, 1898 and the Temple was dedicated on December 27, 1899.
According to the Minutes, the First Grand Officer from Bristol Commandery was our Prelate, Sir Knight Arthur E. Codding, P.C. who on November 29, 1895 was installed as Grand Lecturer for our Grand Commandery by Right Eminent Eugene H. Richards, who was received to install him at this Stated Conclave.
At 8:00 P.M. on Thursday evening, December 19, 1895, a Special Conclave was opened in the Armory of Bristol Commandery. The Commandery then marched into the Asylum where the Ladies had assembled for their presentation of a “beautiful American Flag and Commandery Guidons”. The Asylum was so full of ladies that it was impossible for the Officers to “take their stations”. The Commander, Senior and Junior Wardens were escorted to the East and greeted by Miss Gertrude Franklin, who on behalf of the “Ladies of Bristol Commandery” presented the Flag and Guidons. Miss Franklin noted in her speech that Bristol Commandery’s appearance at the 26th Triennial in Boston was without an American Flag or the two Guidons and it was her pleasure to present them on behalf of the ladies assembled. The Eminent Commander thanked the ladies for this “gift” and thanked all who promoted this effort.
The Guidon is a pennant that narrows to a point or fork (called a “swallowtail”) at the free end and is generally used as a military Standard of a light regiment. Our Guidon takes the form of the “Swallowtail” and like the Beauseant, is black on the top half, and white on the bottom measuring 18 inches from top to bottom, and 24 inches in length. It is completely trimmed by a gold fringe. Across the black field printed in gold color was “Bristol Commandery. Across the white field, also printed in gold color, was “Attleboro, Mass.” Centered between the black and white fields was a “blood red passions cross” with the letters “K” and “T” on opposite sides of the cross. It is not certain when the Commandery stopped using these pennants, perhaps when the membership began to shrink reducing the size of the Divisions.
At the completion of the dedication, the Commandery was closed without form and all retired to the Banquet Hall for a grand collation. The “Club of Providence” with vocal and instrumental music as well as pleasant readings and recitals entertained the Sir Knights and ladies. The attendance was report to be “around 350”.
By Now the “Annual Christmas Day Toast” had grown to such great popularity that it had to be held at the same hour in three different locations. One at the North Attleborough Asylum at Bristol Lodge; and two others in the towns of Mansfield and Foxborough. Both Towns having Masonic apartments was probably the meeting places. But who conducted the ceremonies outside the Asylum, is not recorded. Perhaps the Generalissimo and Captain General presided in the other Towns, but that is not recorded. What is recorded is that the Recorder noted in his minutes that there were seventy-five in attendance at the North Attleborough Asylum. One could only imagine how many attended the other ceremonies.
On Saturday, July 25, 1896 the Sir Knights performed a Templar Funeral Service for Sir Knight Charles Alexander Blake who was a member of the first class of candidates to be Knighted in Bristol Commandery during March of 1871 and the first member of that class to depart. Soon after his knighting, Sir Knight Blake was installed as Sentinel, a post he held, except in 1875, until his death. Burial was at the Plainville Cemetery.
On January 15, 1897, S.K. George H. Sykes was installed as Eminent Commander for the first of his two-year term, which seemed to be the norm during this period in our history. He did not get to complete his term at the Head of the Commandery for on July 29, 1898, as a Captain in Company I ~ 5th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia he was “ordered to the front” to serve in the Spanish-American War. Upon his departure from South Framingham, members of Bristol Commandery gave him a token of their esteem in the form of a (Pocket) watch complete with chain and Commandery charm. The Generalissimo, S.K Leo A. Heilborn completed the balance of S.K. Sykes’ term.
At the Annual Conclave of December 16, 1898, a lengthy letter was read from S.K. Sykes, now stationed at Greenville, S.C thanking all who assist him during this period of his absence. He would return to the ranks of Bristol Commandery on April 21, 1899 and remain active in the affairs of the Commandery, often filling in as Recorder Pro Tem or wherever else he could service.
At this same Conclave of April 21, 1899, it was voted to approve a By-Law change submitted the month before that required all Sir Knights of Bristol Commandery to replace their “Red Sword belts” with those of “Black enameled leather”.
The “New Century” of 1900 came with little recognition by the Sir Knights as no special event was noted in the minutes. However, Bristol Commandery was very active in accepting a flood of candidates for the Orders and providing many Templar Funeral Services for it’s aging troops. Many of these Funeral services required travel outside the immediate Attleboro area and supported by train travel and other Commanderies who assisted in the escorts and social hospitality of these events. It was not unusual to have excess of forty Sir Knights attending these often “grave side ceremonies”.
The unusual event for 1900 was the absence of a Stated Conclave in December and no mention of the Annual Christmas Toast” as it is not recorded or was there any mention as to why they where not held. The Annual business and vote to suspend the December Conclave took place at the November 2nd Conclave without explanation.
Bristol Commandery “paused in Prayer” on September 14, 1901 with the assassination of our “President and Sir Knight William McKinley” of Canton Commandery # 38 of Canton (Ohio) at Buffalo, N.Y. being shot on September 6th. A page was set aside to him memory.
Sweeping changes to Templary in Massachusetts occurred on November 20, 1901 with General Order No. 2 by Grand Commander, George E. Hilton. The Order mandated the establishment of a Life Membership Fund for every Commandery in Massachusetts; together with a three member Board of Trustees overseeing it and reporting its activity at each Annual Meeting. One member would be replaced each year by election. The Order also mandated that one-tenth of all candidate’s fees would be put into this fund.
Further, the Order mandated that the “reception of petitions or balloting” at a Special Conclave is hereafter prohibited, that “all opening ceremonies must be in full form”, and that “only one candidate or exemplar” could be used in the work of an Official Visitation.
Receiving the Order at the December 20th Conclave, Bristol Commandery responded quickly with three Trustees being elected at the February 21, 1902 Conclave together with the proper By-Law changes which were approved by the Grand Commandery on May 22, 1902. Thus began the traditions we observe today.
Another time honored tradition of Templary, the Easter Sunrise Service, may have it roots in Massachusetts with General Order No. 5 being issued by the Grand Commander, S.K. George E. Hilton in March of 1902. On Easter Sunday, (March 30, 1902) seventy-three Sir Knights from Bristol Commandery, in full uniform, attended the divine worship service of Bethany Church of Foxborough at 11:00 A.M. on Easter morning. After the church service a turkey dinner was served at the Foxborough Masonic Temple. The Sir Knights then returned to North Attleborough by 2:00 PM by means of electric or steam driven cars.
Grand Commandery of Knights Templar
Appendant Orders of Massachusetts and Rhode Island
Office of the Right Eminent Grand Commander
General Order No. 5 Series 1901 – 1902
To all Sir Knights within the jurisdiction of this Grand Commandery
It having become the custom with many of the Commanderies to attend, in uniform, religious services on Easter Sunday, I hereby grant this my dispensation, authorizing the several Commanderies within this jurisdiction to parade in full Templar uniform, with Banners, but without music, on Easter Sunday, March 30, 1902 for the purpose of attending Easter Services.
This Order will be read at the head of each Commandery at the first Conclave after its reception and spread upon the Records.
Witness my hand and the Seal of this Grand Commandery of Knights Templar and the Appendant Orders of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, this thirteenth of March. A.O. 784 ~ A.D. 1902.
George E. Hilton ~ Grand Commander
B.W. Rowell ~ Grand Recorder
Another special night occurred on Tuesday evening, February 3, 1902 when about 250 Sir Knights and ladies assembled at the Foxborough Masonic Temple to honor our oldest member, Sir Knight Carmi Richmond on the occasion of his 90th birthday. After cordial greetings were exchanged, the members of Bristol Commandery presented him with a large Maltese Cross composed of ninety silver half dollars. A festive banquet followed and the evening concluded with an address by Reverend E. A. Horton, Grand Chaplain for the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
Sir Knight Carmi Richmond died on March 31, 1905 at the age of 93 years ~ 1 month and 28 days. Bristol Commandery acted as escort for St. Alban’s Lodge of Foxborough who preformed the Masonic Funeral Service.
Acting under a Special Dispensation, sixty-three Sir Knights of Bristol Commandery assembled in the Attleboro Masonic Temple at 7:30 A.M. on Wednesday, June 24, 1903. With the twenty-five-piece North Attleboro Brass Band as escort, a line was formed under the direction of S.K. George H. Sykes and after a short parade; special electric cars were taken to the Brockton Fairgrounds to attend the First Annual Field Day hosted by the South Shore Knights Templar Association.
A line was formed at 11:00 A.M. consisting of 635 Sir Knights representing the Commanderies of St. Omer (Boston) ~ Washington (Newport) ~ Old Colony (Abington) ~ Sutton (New Bedford) Godfrey de Bouillon (Fall River) ~ South Shore (Weymouth) ~ Bay State (Brockton) and Bristol (North Attleborough). Also in the line of march were six marching bands with a total of 153 members making a total of 788 in the line of march.
The parade however was cut a bit short due to the inclemency of the weather, and changes had to be made to program of the day after the 12:30 dinner. The afternoon entertainment was a vaudeville show in a nearby hall, and after much sociability, the “parade of electric cars” departed at 6:00 P.M. arriving back at Attleboro at 8:00 P.M. In spite of the weather, all had an enjoyable day.
The following year this event was hosted by Sutton Commandery in New Bedford with the same Commanderies participating, but was called “St. John’s Celebration”, it being held on June 24th.
The Annual Christmas Observance of 1903 was the first time it was held in a single location at the North Attleborough Masonic Temple at noon instead of holding separate Observances at North Attleborough, Mansfield and Foxborough at the same hour has have been done in the past. There were 125 Sir Knights in attendance.
At the Stated Conclave of January 29, 1904, discussion began to seek “more convenient quarters” for the Commandery. A committee of five Sir Knights was assigned to investigate the possibilities.
The Committee reported on March 11, 1904 recommending a move to “ a new building now under construction” in Attleboro Center. On their motion a vote of 64 in favor and 50 opposing the move was received. Because of the construction being under way, the first meeting was not held there until October 13, 1905. But at 1:00 P.M on Friday, July 15, 1904, a Special Communication of Ezekiel Bates Lodge was held to receive Most Worshipful Baalis Sanford and the Grand Lodge line of Officers to dedicate the cornerstone of the office building that would become the new home of the Masonic Craft in the Attleboro area.
By a Grand Dispensation of the Grand Commander, S.K. Freeman C. Hersey, and invitation of Reverend Ralph E. Connor of the North Attleboro Universalist Church, sixty-five Sir Knights of Bristol Commandery attended in full regalia the Easter Worship Service on Sunday morning, April 3, 1905.
The Church located on the corner of North Washington and Church Streets of North Attleborough was not only convenient, but a favorite of the Sir Knights as they often attended this church as a Commandery, having a long and cordial relationship with the congregation and the ministry.
At the 353rd Conclave on Friday, September 23, 1904, a communication was received from Grand Commandery inquiring if Bristol Commandery was agreeable to change its Annual Business Meeting to be held between September 1st and October 10th of each year. An informal vote was taken with a unanimous favorable vote. As a result, a Committee was appointed to review and change our By-Laws, which were posted and approved at the Stated Conclave of November 18, 1904. This policy remains in effect until Bristol Commandery’s closing days. Also approved was a costume change permitting the use of “Buff Norway Military Gauntlets with a passion cross on the back of the cuff”.
On May 24, 1905 the Grand Commandery of Massachusetts and Rhode Island celebrated its Centennial Anniversary. At 8:45 P.M. the line was formed with seventy-three Sir Knights in formation together with the Attleboro Band who marched to the Attleboro train station to take the 9:29 A.M train to Boston, which arrived at 10:20 A.M.
Upon arrival at Boston, the Commandery took its position in the line of march on Marlborough Street (Third Division) and stepped off at 11:00 A.M. parading through the streets of Boston. The column was reviewed on Tremont Street by the Right Eminent Grand Commander, S.K. Dana J. Flanders, and ended its march at the former Hotel Bellevue of 21 Beacon Street where a delicious dinner was served. Today the Hotel Bellevue is a private residence, but in its day was an elegant jewel of Beacon Hill aristocratic society. The return to Attleboro was by train.
At the June 16, 1905 Conclave it was voted that upon the move to Attleboro, the safe and other properties shared with Bristol Lodge would become the property of Bristol Lodge, and that a “Dispensation to re-locate” be requested of the Grand Commandery. Also, that the Trustees be empowered to “lease and fix-up” the new quarters for Bristol Commandery. According to the Annual Report of that year, that lease was an annual expense of $350.00.
The Attleboro Years ~ 1905 ~ 2013
The Bronson Building ~ 8 North Main Street ~ Attleboro ~ 1905 – 1930
The 364th Conclave of Friday the Thirteenth, October 1905, was the first Stated Conclave of Bristol Commandery to be held in the new quarters at Attleboro. The Asylum was located on the fifth floor of the newly constructed Bronson Building, which set kiddie corner to the “first Masonic Lodge of Attleborough” on the Park Street side of the intersection of North and South Main Streets at Park and County Streets. The streets were “extra wide” to accommodate the Trolley Line tracks which, in addition to bicycles, was the major mode of transportation of the times. Automobiles were a fashionable trait of the elite.
The five-story brick building was well constructed and bore a more modern appeal in design than the surrounding architecture. The top floor had seven large “arched windows” facing Park Street, and five facing North Main and County Streets.
At this first Attleboro meeting, there were 65 Sir Knights present, but only 16 in uniform. The Trustees reported that they had placed in the Armory forty double lockers; each fitted to hold the regalia of two Sir Knights. It was voted to charge fifty cents per year for the use of each half locker. By the April 5, 1908 Conclave a Committee had to be formed to procure more lockers.
Moving into the modern age, on November 2, 1906 it was voted that Bristol Commandery would share the $33.00 expense with Ezekiel Bate Lodge and King Hiram Royal Arch Chapter to install a phone in the hallway of the Temple.
This was also an “era of travel” for the Sir Knights for they continued to attend the Annual St. John’s Day each June 24th. In 1906 fifty-five Sir Knights of Bristol Commandery paraded with six other Commanderies of this Grand Jurisdiction, an attendance that remained stable through the mid nineteen-fifties.
From July 5 – 10, 1907, the Sir Knights of Bristol Commandery attended the Triennial in Saratoga, N.Y. traveling by train to Boston and then on to Montreal, Canada. From there they crossed Lake Champlain and Lake George to Troy, N.Y., and then to Saratoga, N.Y. for a full day of parading and the events of the Grand Conclave. They would return to Attleboro via the four and three-quarter mile Hooasac Railroad Tunnel near North Adams that proceeds through Western Massachusetts and is an extension of Vermont’s Green Mountains.
It is interesting to note that in the Commandery Minutes any reference to a local Masonic Lodge before October 1907 was referred to as “F. & A.M.”. Thereafter it was recorded as “A.F. & A.M.”. The change in designation seems to relate to the revisions in the Constitution of the Grand Lodge over the years, and the changing attitudes of “social acceptance” of the fraternity.
During the early 1900’s the Commandery seemed to be a “social magnet” for members of the Masonic fraternity. It was not unusually to have an attendance of close to 200 Sir Knights at Commandery events, like the then titled “Official Inspection” which was still in the form of an Official visit and not like the “Inspection and Reviews” we know today. Many times this event in particular was held with an elegant banquet complete with an orchestra, quartet, or other form of entertainment. Other popular activities were parades, Triennials, the annual Easter church service, Christmas Observance, and summer “Field Days” which included great “day trip” travels throughout New England to places like Newport and Nantucket Beach complete with side tours, harbor cruises, and other social interactions.
At the 412th Stated Conclave of June 3, 1910, sweeping changes in the operation of the Commandery were made with a “complete overhaul” of the By-Laws. These adjustments were due to the changing times and growth of the Grand Commandery and Grand Encampment. At that time the Bristol membership stood at 290 Sir Knights.
By 1911 the “Annual Field Day” held on June 24th of each year, now called “St John’s Day”, caught the attention of Grand Commandery who this year decided to host the event in Boston. Bristol Commandery voted not to participate. Instead, an invitation was extended to Holy Sepulchre #8 of Pawtucket to join the Sir Knights of Bristol Commandery for our own celebration.
Securing a Dispensation, the Sir Knights assembled at the Asylum at 8 North Main Street at 8:30 A.M on the morning of June 24th and marched to the train station to receive the Sir Knights of Holy Sepulchre who arrived on the 9:30 A.M train. From there the lines reformed and included a “Platoon of Police” lead by Chief Charles E. Wilbur ~ the Fairmans First Light Infantry Band and the Apellis Band of Pawtucket, together with the Sir Knights of Bristol and Holy Sepulchre Commanderies.
The parade route proceeded from Union Street following Capron ~ South Main ~ and East Streets. Returning to Union Street, the parade proceeded to Park Street, turned right onto Bank Street and then left onto Sanford Street. The journey concluded at North Main and Park Streets in Monument Square. Today this area is called Fiske Square.
From there they took special electric cars to Talaquega Park, a recreational area of the times located just off “Briggs Corner” where Route 118 (Park Street) intersects with Oakhill Avenue near the Rehoboth town line. There sport events, band concerts, vaudeville shows, and a casino in addition to swimming in Talaquega Lake entertained the Sir Knights. At 1:30 P.M dinner was served to three hundred and sixty-six participates and the balance of the afternoon was enjoyed by all before returning to the Asylum at 5:30 P.M by electric cars or trolley.
Today Talaquega Park, its lake (created by damming up the stream that flowed from “Attleboro Springs”) beach and Casino are just a memory. Once a beautiful Park and recreational area, it is now the site of the abandoned “Tuberculosis Hospital” and grounds. History and progress has all but forgotten this Attleboro treasure.
A Special Conclave was called on Friday evening, March 16, 1912 for the Consecration of a New Banner for Bristol Commandery. All fifty-six Officers and members in attendance were in full uniform.
Eminent Commander, S.K. Charles L. Barrows then invited the ladies and other guests, which brought the attendance close to two hundred. Right Eminent Sir Lafayette G. Blair, Grand Commander and Suite were cordially received.
At 8:00 P.M. the lines were formed under the direction of the Captain General, Sir William A. Spicer and the Organist, Sir Knight Edward G. Hall, gave a recital. The Order of Service followed with a violin solo and then the Generalissimo, Sir Knight Alfred B. Hodges, presented the Banner with the Weber Quartette singing “Onward Christian Soldiers”. The Prelate, Eminent Sir Enos D. Williams, gave a “Responsive Service” and the Grand Prelate, Eminent Sir and Reverend R. Perry Bush preformed the “Consecration of the Banner”. The Weber Quartette concluded the consecration with a song entitled, “Brightly Gleams Our Banner”.
Following the Consecration, the Grand Commander gave an extensive address and the Grand Prelate gave an impressive historical outline of Templarism. The Proclamation given, Bristol
Commandery was closed and all assembled in the Banquet Hall for refreshments and dancing.
For the 1912 St. John’s Day it was again voted not to participate in the usual manner with the other Commanderies, but to strike off on our own. Early on the morning of June 24th, the Sir Knights and ladies assembled at Masonic Hall and decorated thirty-eight automobiles with the Beauseant and American flags. The procession of decorated vehicles then paraded from Attleboro to Narragansett via Pawtucket ~ Providence ~ Apponaug (a neighborhood of Warwick) and East Greenwich.
The day was spent touring and enjoying the seaside, with an afternoon lunch served to the 146 participates at the fashionable Mathewson Hotel close to the surf. By 5:00 P.M all were homeward bound.
In the early months of 1913, Bristol Commandery received several requests from area churches inviting them to attend their Easter Worship Service. Since the Commandery’s move to Attleboro they traditionally attended the Pilgrim Church (After 1918: All-Saints Episcopal Church) located at North Main and Peck Streets. But in view of so many requests, the Commander decided to attend the Murray Universalist Church on March 30th, the Sunday after Easter. The Church was then located in the center at South Main Street and County Streets (today it is the Mullaney Twins municipal parking lot). The Reverend Fred Atkins’s sermon was entitled “The Spirit of the Modern Templar” especially prepared for the occasion.
On Friday evening, April 11, 1913, Bristol Commandery conducted its first “Ladies Night” at the Masonic Temple. At 6:30 P.M a Grand Procession of 250 Sir Knights and ladies paraded in formation from the Asylum to the Banquet Hall where all enjoyed a fine dinner. At 7:45 P.M they returned to the Asylum for entertainment by “The Imperial Male Quartette of Worcester”. Dancing took place in the “Upper Hall” from 10:00 P.M until midnight. The event was such a success that a second Ladies Night took place the following February and continued for many years.
Throughout the Minutes of Bristol Commandery there are frequent references to the production of “Badges”. They were generally produced for and worn at special events such as the several Triennial Conclaves, Field Days, or visitations. They came in many sizes and shapes and generally had a ribbon attached marked to denote a particular event.
At the Stated Conclave of April 4, 1913 it was voted that a Committee be appointed to submit a suitable design for a “permanent Badge” that would be the “Official Badge of Bristol Commandery” to be worn by the Sir Knights for all events. That Committee was composed of the Council Officers: Eminent Sir Alfred B. Hodges ~ Sir Knights William A. Spier and William P. Orr. At the Stated Conclave of April 3, 1914 they submitted this design that was favorably approved.
The Badge of Bristol Commandery is an enameled metal “coat of arms” suspended from a metal enameled bar bearing “Bristol 29” in metal characters. Above a quartered crest is a wreath is an equestrian Knight doing battle with a dragon.
The first quarter of the crest is for “The Commonwealth of Massachusetts” and is represented by a star and armored arm welding a sword, which symbolizes that “with a sword, she seeks a quite peace under liberty”. The second and third quarters are for the “Knights Templar” denoting the Beauseant and Red Cross. The fourth quarter is a representation of the “Coat of Arms” for the City of Bristol, England.
Few of these medals remain today as they have vanished with the lapse of time. Those that remain are proudly wore on the uniforms of our Officers.
During this period in our history the Annual Ladies Night became an increasingly popular event, especially with the ladies. The event was usually held at the Masonic Hall with an elaborate banquet, a delightful program of entertainment, followed by dancing to a live band.
A printed program provided a strict schedule of the style of dance for each musical set. The “social rule” was that everyone did the same dance during the individual musical sets. The event usual continued into the wee hours of the morning and judging from the attendance, was greatly enjoyed by all.
An invitation was accepted by Bristol Commandery to provide an escort for the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts at the Lying of the Cornerstone of the new North Attleborough Post Office located at 30 South Washington Street on Saturday, May 27, 1916. Fred I. Gorton, Worshipful Master of Bristol Lodge, extended the invitation on behalf of the Grand Lodge.
At 2:30 P.M. on Saturday, May 27, 1916, Eminent Sir Knight Enos D. Williams convened a Special Conclave of Bristol Commandery within the Attleboro Asylum for the purpose of providing the escort. Sixty-six Sir Knights then proceeded to North Attleborough by trolley and automobiles.
At 4:30 P.M. the procession was formed on Church Street led by the Palestine Temple Band of Providence, R.I. Marching to the site, the cornerstone was laid under the direction of Most Worshipful Melvin Maynard Johnson, assisted by the Grand Lodge Officers.
The ceremony concluded, the procession reformed and paraded to Red Man’s Hall located on Church Street behind the Universalist Church, where a fine banquet was served. The program of the day completed, the Eminent Commander and Sir Knights returned to the asylum and closed Bristol Commandery at 8:30 P.M.
Some interesting financial footnotes for 1917 are the notification on March 2nd from the “contracted tailor” in Providence, Rhode Island that the cost of the Commandery Coat would be increased from $12.00 to $15.00. Also a special request from the Grand Encampment of the United States of America on October 5th that a “One Dollar assessment” would be added to the Sir Knights’ annual dues to create a special emergency “War Relief Fund” in support of our nation during World War I.
When Templary came to America it followed the English organizational style. That is the Orders were arranged as: Illustrious Order of the Red Cross ~ Order of the Temple ~ and Order of Malta. Much controversy arose over this issue and in 1864 a report to the Grand Commandery of Massachusetts and Rhode Island concluded that the Order of Malta was an APPENANT ORDER to the Order of the Temple, an Honorary Order so to speak, and that it did not conflict with the Constitution of the Grand Encampment. Thus the individual State Grand Bodies could address this matter as it pleases. Thus the “arrangement of Orders” remained the same in this Grand Jurisdiction and the controversy continued for many years in all Grand Commandery Jurisdictions.
But the winds of change came to Massachusetts and Bristol Commandery early in 1917. The Illustrious Order was the Red Cross was conferred upon a class of candidates on Friday evening, December 1, 1916. But on Friday evening, January 5, 1917, the Order of Malta was conferred upon legible candidates within a smaller apartment adjacent to the Asylum, before they were knighted in the Asylum receiving the Order of the Temple that same evening. It was a long evening, beginning at 7:00 P.M. and ending around 11:00 P.M. No Official notice or explanation for the change was recorded in the Commandery Minutes and the transcript of the Grand Commandery has apparently been forever lost.
Another sweeping change was the “Annual Inspection” of March 1, 1918 which, for the first time was overseen by a newly created Grand Officer, called the “Inspector-Instructor”, and was represented by Right Eminent Sir Frederick J. Dana who was present for the 4:30 PM opening. Previously the “Grand Lecturer” attended to this task. The Grand Officer received that evening was our own S.K. Clarence M. Dunbar, Grand Captain of the Guard, assisted by our own Eminent Sir George H. Sykes, Deputy Grand Warder, also a Past Commander of Bristol Commandery.
Ritualistic and title changes to the “Annual Visit” (now called an Inspection) occurred as a result of General Order No. 2 of 1917-1918 were the Inspector-Instructor was appointed for one year to thoroughly inspect the work of the Commanderies and report on the ritual, floor work, military appearance and military movements of each subordinate Commandery. As this form of inspection was entirely new, and Bristol Commandery being only the second Commandery in the Commonwealth to perform it this year, the respectable “mark” of 71.2% was well received. The present day system of a single plus or minus number as a mark was not incorporated until the inspection of April 23, 1920 when Bristol Commandery received an eight minus. The minutes bore no mention of a “pass in review” as being part of this change to an “Inspection” instead of an “Official Visit”; but it may have been added latter.
At the Installation of Officers held on Friday evening, October 4, 1918 Eminent Sir Ralph F. Gibbs, the retiring Commander, presented Bristol Commandery with a silk service flag bearing twelve stars, one for each Sir Knight of Bristol Commandery who was at that time servicing our country. The “Honor Roll” consisted of Sir Knights: John F. Allen ~ William H. Allen ~ Edmund G Flint, Jr. ~ Thaddeus Fredericks ~ Clifford E. Guild ~ Clarence M. Gurney ~ George A. Livingston, Jr. ~ Clifford Macomber ~ William K. Mitchell ~ A. Mills Stewart ~ George E. Withington, Jr. and Charles R. Williams.
The Last Charter Member, Sir Knight William B. Crocker died on December 6, 1918 at the age of eighty.
Another Special Conclave opened within the Attleboro Asylum on Thursday morning, May 27, 1920 at 8:30 A.M for the purpose of participating in a Grand Parade at Providence honoring the visit of Most Eminent Grand Master of Masons of the United States of America, Sir Joseph Kyle Orr. Sir Knights of the forty-eight Commanderies in this Grand Jurisdiction, by Grand Dispensation, participated. The Semi-Annual Conclave of our Grand Commandery would be held the next day at Providence, Rhode Island.
The Sir Knights of Bristol Commandery, escorted by the twenty-piece Hayward’s Attleboro Band paraded to the Attleboro train station where they boarded special railroad cars reserved for them on the 9:02 A.M. train to Providence. There they meet with members of the General Committee on Gaspee Street to await further orders.
At 11:15 A.M. with perfect, but warm, weather conditions the procession estimated to number about 7,500 Sir Knights stepped off. Bristol Commandery numbering about 125 entered the line of march around 12:15 P.M. and finished by passing the Review Stand at Exchange Place around 1:45 P.M. At the end of the parade the Sir Knights enjoyed a delicious banquet prepared for the event, after which, several of the Sir Knights returned to their home at their leisure. The Eminent Commander and several of the Officers, together with their ladies, remained in Providence to attend a fine dinner, Reception and Ball held in honor of Sir Knight Orr and his Lady.
The 50th Anniversary Celebration of Bristol Commandery took place on Thursday, June 24, 1920, “St. John’s Day”, with the Commandery being opened by the Eminent Commander, Sir Knight Howard E. White, at 9:30 A.M. and closed at 9:45 A.M.
The Sir Knights and ladies, numbering about 220, proceeded by automobile to the Pomham Club in East Providence, Rhode Island (near Riverside, RI) arriving around 11:00A.M at which time a fine buffet luncheon was served.
After the luncheon many of those present were entertained by “on grounds” amusements, which include pool, billiards, bowling and the like before repairing to the lawn were other sports and contests were enjoyed. The Nava Grotto Band of Attleboro provided the music for this event that added a great measure of life to its success.
At 2:00 P.M, the contests concluded, all repaired to the banquet hall were a fine dinner was served during which music was furnished by an orchestra and vocal selections by a lady singer of several selections which were both popular and familiar.
The banquet concluded, all were invited to the second floor ballroom for dancing until about 6:00 P.M at which hour caused the end of a perfect day of celebration.
This unfortunely was the last such event of this nature for Bristol Commandery. The following year it was voted not to participate in the celebration of “St. John’s Day” when a committee reported; “owing to the several conditions, it was not advisable to participate this year”. Nor was there any account in the records of participation thereafter. However, in 1924 it was voted to provide an escort for Bristol Lodge A.F. & A.M. on Sunday, June 22nd to Grace Church of North Attleborough for Divine worship, it being the Sunday closest to June 24th, the day honoring St. John the Baptist.
In the Fall of 1921 the Grand Commandery introduced more changes. The per capita charge was raised from twenty-five to fifty cents per Sir Knight, (by 1923 it would be raised to $1.50). DeMolay Commandery conducted the first exemplification of the Order of the Temple at the Grand Conclave of October 24th. Also that year the Annual Christmas Observance was not held on Christmas Day as usual, but was held on Monday, December 26th as the holiday fell on a Sunday. The following year it was observed on Christmas Day as usual, but held on the Monday after Christmas in those years that the Holiday fell on a Sunday.
The first mention of an Inspection and Review, are in the Minutes of the March 3, 1922 Special Conclave when the Eminent Commander, James E. Totten, invited all Past Commanders of Bristol Commandery to be present at this Conclave. Escorted by the Generalissimo, each was introduced to the Commander in Knightly form. After their introduction, “the lines were formed for Inspection and Review and the Past Commanders, accompanied by the Eminent Commander, inspected the troops, after which the lines passed in review”. This may have been a “dress rehearsal” for the actual Inspection and Review by the Grand Commandery Officers that followed the same form and occurred on Friday evening, March 31, 1922.
At a Special Conclave held on June 16, 1922, the Past Commanders of Bristol Commandery presented a beautiful Massachusetts State Flag to the Second Division for their work in the Order of the Temple being conferred that evening.
On Friday, November 7, 1924 the Recorder, Sir Knight William W. Josselyn, submitted a request that he be permitted to receive the sum of Ninety Dollars from S.K. Albert L. Knight for the purchase of Life Membership in Bristol Commandery. The request was unanimously approved thus establishing the “Life Membership Fund”. Also on February 6, 1925 the Eminent Commander, Sir A. Vernon Wilson authorized “A List of Members” to be published for the first time.
At the Conclave of June 5, 1925 a motion was made and supported that Bristol Commandery should petition the Grand Commandery for “exclusive jurisdiction” of the chivalric affairs in the City of Taunton. The vote failed, 6 for and 16 against.
At 7:30 A.M. on the morning of June 24, 1925, a Special Conclave was opened for the purpose of responding to an invitation of Worcester County Commandery No.5 for us to attend their 100th Anniversary celebration. The Bristol Knights marched to the Attleboro Railroad station being lead by the Jewelry City Band of Attleboro where they boarded a special train reserved for them.
Arriving in Worcester at 10 A.M. they were meet by a Worcester Commandery representative who escorted them to the Willard Hotel to refresh and then to gather at the Worcester Asylum. There they took their position within the Fifth Division and with the band, paraded to Lincoln Square were they dispersed at 1:15 P.M.
The afternoon was spent enjoying the variety of entertainment at the Worcester Fairgrounds before boarding the 6:00 P.M train back to Attleboro. The Conclave was closed at 8:15 P.M after an enjoyable day.
Bristol Commandery was indeed honored to have one of our own, Eminent Sir Clarence Martin Dunbar, advance to the Office of Right Eminent Grand Commander of our Grand Commandery in 1925. At the 656th Stated Conclave held on November 6, 1925 a Grand Reception was held in his honor. The Commandery opened for business at 5:00 P.M and by 6:30 P.M joined the ladies and guest to a fabulous feast in the Banquet Hall served by the ladies of Hope Chapter, O.E.S. There were approximately 100 Sir Knights and 100 ladies present for the event.
At 8:00 P.M Eminent Sir George H. Lykes, Grand Warder was presented and was pleased to announce that Right Eminent Clarence M. Dunbar, Grand Commander was in waiting to be received.
A Committee of all Past Commanders present escorted the Grand Commander and Suite into the Asylum where they were cordially greeted. Briefly presiding, the Grand Commander relinquished the Head of the Commandery to the Eminent Commander, Sir Knight George A. Knowles.
Both the Grand Commander and Grand Warder were escorted to the Head of the Commandery were, on behalf of Bristol Commandery Eminent Sir Lykes present our Grand Commander with a beautiful Grand Commander’s Chapeau, Belt, and Grand Commander’s Sword, that he might perform his official duties attired in the regalia befitting his honorable station. Right Eminent Sir Dunbar was notably affected by this expression of friendship and good will, and voiced his sincere appreciation.
An informal reception then took place and concluded with entertainment, which included a Violinist and Whistler, Scotch Humorist, and Pianist. As the Grand Commander was known to be a musician of considerable ability, the Committee took it upon themselves to prepare a surprise, which was not listed in the program. By request, the Right Eminent Grand Commander rendered two concert solos for the opening number that was very pleasingly enjoyed.
The Commandery was closed at 10:30 P.M. and all repaired to the banquet hall were dancing was enjoyed until 1:00 A.M. A Grand Reception indeed to honor one of our own Sir Knights.
At the Stated Conclave of June 3, 1927, a communication was read from Grand Commandery stating that it was unanimously voted at the last Semi-Annual Grand Conclave to adopt the “Regulation for Identification Cards” (Dues Cards) as suggested in the report of the Committee on the Revision of the Constitution.
A Special Conclave opened, by Dispensation, at 1:30 P.M. on Saturday, June 25, 1927 for the purpose of acting as an escort for Bristol Lodge at the ceremonies of laying the Cornerstone of a new Bristol Masonic Temple to be built at 46 South Washington Street in the Town of North Attleborough.
At 3:15 P.M. eighty-five Sir Knights formed the lines on Church Street and the procession moved south on North Washington Street and continued across to South Washington Street. At the site of the new Temple they remained at “parade rest” until the start of the ceremonies.
At 4:00 P.M the Officers of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts preformed the ceremonial ritual after which the procession moved to Red Man Hall on Church Street were the lines were dismissed and refreshments served within the hall. The Sir Knights then returned to the Attleboro Asylum and closed the Commandery at 6:15 P.M.
A Special Conclave of Bristol Commandery convened at 1:30 P.M on Saturday, October 26, 1929 to provide an escort for Most Worshipful Herbert W. Dean and the Grand Lodge Officers on the occasion of laying the Cornerstone of a new Masonic Temple for Ezekiel Bates Lodge at 71 North Main Street in Attleboro.
At 3:30 P.M. the lines were formed in due time with eighty-five Sir Knights in full Templar regalia, with banners and preceded by the Palestine Shrine Drum Corps of Providence, Rhode Island. The procession left the Masonic Temple at North Main and County Streets and proceeded across to South Main Street to Capron Street ~ Union Street ~ Park Street to North Main Street continuing one block to the site were the corner-stone was laid in accordance the landmarks of ancient craft masonry at 4:00 P.M. At the conclusion of the ceremonies, Bristol Commandery escorted the Grand Lodge Officers back to the Masonic Hall.
At the Stated Conclave of June 7, 1929 Bristol Commandery had authorized the donation of $2,400.00 to pay for two memorials in the new Temple; one in the Armory, and the other in the Commandery Locker Room.
At the Stated Conclave of November 7, 1930 a communication was read from Right Eminent Frederick L. Briggs, Grand Commander, whose Order established what was to become the Good Cheer Fund for the Christmas season. The Order directed that an envelope be mailed to every Sir Knight in the December notice requesting a donation of any size for the Commander to disperse “Good Cheer” to needy families in his area. In the first year the project raised $5,768.24 in chartable funds within this Grand Jurisdiction, and the project is still active in the present day.
The final Conclave held at the Bronson Building (Masonic Hall) was a short business meeting held on the evening of December 5, 1930 with eighteen Sir Knights present. No one was in uniform as the regalia had already been transferred to the new Asylum.
The first Conclave to be held at the new Asylum was on Thursday morning, Christmas Day ~ 1930 at 10:45 A.M with a Special Conclave being opened by Eminent Sir William H. Heckmann for the Annual Christmas Observance. He welcomed the Sir Knights and then invited the brethren waiting in an adjacent apartment to enter the Asylum where they were cordially greeted. Approximately one hundred attended.
Everyone enjoyed a fine musical program interlaced with scripture readings and greetings from sister Commanderies after which all repaired to the auditorium were they united in toasts to the Most Eminent Grand Master of the Grand Encampment and many other Masonic dignitaries, the Flag of our Country, a silent toast to our departed fraters, and then to all Sir Knights wherever dispersed. A time of sociability was enjoyed before the 12:30 PM closing.
On Friday evening, January 2, 1931 the 618th Stated Conclave was the “First Stated Conclave” to be held in the new quarters. After the usual business was completed, A Priory of Knights of Malta was opened and Companions David G. Hayes ~ Eric Gusto Olsson ~ Antoine Manuel Vieira and Irwin Warren Kingman were presented and installed Knights of Malta in short form. All but Knight Vieira were dubbed and created Knights of the Valiant and Magnanimous Order of the Temple on February 6th. Knight Vieira received the Order of the Temple at the Inspection and Review held in the new Asylum on March 6, 1931.
It was announced at the Stated Conclave of November 6, 1931 that the Grand Encampment had adopted a new Ritual for Knight Templar Funeral Services and encouraged each Commandery to purchase as many as might be needed.
It seemed to have been the custom during this time in our history to conduct the Official Inspection at two different Conclaves a month apart. At the first Conclave, the designated Grand Officer would visit and inspect the “paperwork” (Charter, Records, etc.). Today this is known as the “Dress Rehearsal”. The following month was the ritualistic work and was done much like today with a Grand Suite and Marking Officer (then called the Inspector-Instructor). In December of 1934 change was again made by having the “Dress Rehearsal” strictly with the Officers on a non-meeting night before the night of Inspection.
The general population of the early 1930’s becoming financially challenged, many requests for assistance or demits become more and more the norm. In an effort to curtail the lost of membership, the Grand Commandery directed that each Commandery should establish a “Hospitaller Committee” to assist the Recorder and Commander to collect dues in arrears, or offer assistance to struggling Sir Knights. However, those who failed to respond where suspended after several attempts to remedy the situation.
The current traditional event known as “The Annual Easter Sunrise Service” was incorporated by the Grand Encampment on Easter Sunday, April 20, 1930, and first took place at Arlington National Cemetery until it was later moved to the present-day location of the George Washington Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia. There is no record of participation by Bristol Commandery or this Grand Jurisdiction until 1942 when Right Eminent Arlan M. Spencer issued the call for participation by all subordinate Commanderies of this Grand Jurisdiction. Though not specifically noted, there are indications in the minutes that Bristol Commandery did participate.
At the February 2, 1934 Stated Conclave, communication was read from Right Eminent Grand Commander, Eminent Sir William L. Hamilton announcing that a medal to be known as the Thomas Smith Webb Medal was being prepared for future presentation to Sir Knights who have obtained forty years of continuous service as a Knight Templar from the date of his Knighting.
The first presentation of this Medal to Sir Knights of Bristol Commandery occurred at the 652nd Stated Conclave held on May 4, 1934. Eminent Sir John E. Ruiea, Grand Captain of the Guard kindly accepted an invitation to be present and assist in the presentation of these medals to our Sir Knights Henry C. Read ~ Charles E. Riley ~ George H. Lykes ~ David L. Smiley ~ Fred I. Gorton and John E. Tomedy. The Grand Captain of Guard, after which the lines were formed for expressions of congratulations, gave a short historical sketch of the life of Sir Knight Thomas Smith Webb. At the closing of the Commandery, all joined in the singing of “Auld Lang Sine”.
As a historical note, the Grand Commandery reorganized its award system around December of 1958 and introduced the “Long Service Award” for forty years of service. The first for Bristol Commandery was present on January 2, 1959 to Eminent Sir Benjamin Whittenmore Taylor. The “Thomas Smith Webb Medal” became a Grand Commandery Award for exemplary service similar to the Benjamin Hurd, Jr. Meritorious Service Award given by Grand Chapter or the Bake-Bayley Award given by the Grand Council.
On Sunday morning, June 3, 1934 a Special Conclave of Bristol Commandery opened within the Attleboro Asylum for the purpose of participating in the first “Knights Templar Day of Patriotism” held at Concord, Massachusetts. Two buses chartered from the Interstate Transit Corporation conveyed thirty-four Sir Knights to the event, making a “ Box Lunch Stop” at Lake Walden along the way. At Concord they where joined by six other Bristol Knights who met them there.
The lines were formed, and at 3:00 P.M sharp the procession consisting of about four thousand Sir Knights and five hundred musicians from across the Grand Jurisdiction marched from the playground to Main Street, to Monument Square, across the historical battlefield and over “Rudd Bridge”. The procession ended at the playground where it began, and a special program then took place. After a number of addresses, a twenty-one-gun salute, and a “Fly-Over” of a squadron of airplanes, the ceremony concluded around 5:45 P.M. The Sir Knights then returned to Attleboro closing the Commandery at 8:00 P.M. A “moving picture” film of the parade was shown to the Sir Knights of Bristol Commandery after the February 1, 1935 Conclave.
On Sunday, May 12, 1935, Bristol Commandery paraded in Providence, RI with other Commanderies of the jurisdiction in celebration of the 130th Anniversary of the Grand Commandery of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
At the Stated Conclave of April 7, 1939 the Eminent Commander reported that he had inquired as to the condition of our Treasurer, Sir Fred Hoyt Richards, who had suffered a heart attack earlier in the day. He died later that evening. The Committee appointed to draw up a “Resolution to his Memory” reported at the June 2nd Conclave. It read in part; “ Knighted June 14, 1901, he at once manifested his interest and proved his value. December 12, 1902 he was elected Treasurer, which office he continued to fill faithfully and efficiently til his death, April 7, 1939.” He served Bristol Commandery as Treasurer for thirty-six consecutive years and was a true and faithful follower of the Cross.
At the Stated Conclave of May 1, 1942, Eminent Commander, Sir Ellis R. Westcott (Sr.) announced the resignation of our organist, Sir Knight William B. Gamble who could not attend to his duties as he had taken “a defense position” with the war effort that was under way. He would return to his keyboard in 1946.
Also during this time of the “Second Great War”, Bristol together with the other Commanderies, through the Grand Commandery, made several donations to support a “Recreational Room” for our troops stationed at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod, and to remit the dues of any Bristol Knight in “the service of the United States of America”.
There was no record of a 75th Anniversary Celebration in 1945; but history was made at the 774th Stated Convocation held on September 6, 1946 when the Recorder dropped “the quill” and picked up the “typewriter”. What a relief for researchers! Also at this Conclave, in addition to the usual appointments, five Sir Knights were appointed as “District Representatives”; one each for the towns of Taunton ~ North Attleborough ~ Attleboro ~ Mansfield and Foxborough. It is not certain how long this new position remained in effect as the records are vague on the subject.
At the Stated Conclave of Friday, March 6, 1953 the widow of Eminent Sir Harold Oldham who died on January 1st presented twelve silver cups to Bristol Commandery. It was voted to have a case made for them and to have them suitably engraved. Each cup was about the size of an oversized shot glass and ideal for the work at the triangular table.
On Friday evening, November 13, 1953, the Eminent Commander, Sir Knight Edwin (Ted) Thomas opened a Special Conclave at 7:20 P.M. After stating the purpose of this meeting was to host a “York Rite Night”, the Commandery was closed in form.
Inviting the brethren into the Asylum, a Special Suite was received at 8:00 P.M that included, Right Eminent Frederic Kennedy, Past Grand Commander ~ Most Illustrious Eugene B. Hamilton, Grand Master of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters ~ and Most Excellent Alexander Campbell, Grand High Priest of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter, as well as other Masonic dignitaries. Each presented a brief explanation of their branch of the York Rite and the Commandery concluded the work with an irregular form of the Inspection and Review. Following the presentations a tasty collation was served.
At the 862nd Stated Conclave held on May 6, 1955, a gift of new slides for work in the Orders was received from Eminent Sir Florus Bowman of Bay State Commandery #38 stationed at Brockton, Massachusetts. Eminent Sir Eugene F. Mitchell announced that he would make a gift of a lantern for there use. It is believed to be the same stationary lantern in the 5th floor Asylum of the Attleboro Masonic Temple.
On Friday evening, March 2, 1956, Official Order Number 2 from Right Eminent Sir Mortimer W. Schroeder, Grand Commander, was read announcing the establishment of the Knights Templar Eye Foundation and a levy of one-dollar assessment per year on all Sir Knights. This was the result of a Resolution adopted at the 46th Triennial Conclave of the Grand Encampment held at New York City.
At the Stated Conclave of April 6, 1956 it was unanimously voted, with thanks, to accept the generous gift of 25 shares of the Gorham Manufacturing Company given by Eminent Sir Eugene F. Mitchell. The income of which, to be used to finance the initiation fee of Commandery candidates each year; they being members of Attleboro Council of Royal and Select Masters and some consideration given as to being Officer material. The investment was placed in care of the Trustees for safekeeping and was entitled: The Eugene F. Mitchell Candidate Fund.
The first Grand Exemplification of the complete Order of the Temple, including the full form opening and Inspection and Review, was conducted by Grand Commandery and hosted by Bay State #38 of Brockton on Saturday morning, January 12, 1957. The following year on Saturday, January 25, 1958 Bristol Commandery hosted the second exemplification.
At the Stated Conclave of May 5, 1961 it was proposed to organize a local Assembly of the Social Order of the Beauceant, a national woman’s organization associated with Knights Templar. The proposal was accepted, posted on the next notice to be voted upon. But the vote never happened as the issue was permanently postponed. Several Bristol Knights and their ladies were invited to Assembly No. 217 (S.O.O.B) at the Pawtucket Masonic Temple on Friday evening, May 4, 1962 to witness the Installation of Officers, but apparently it did not generate any interest to establish an Assembly in Attleboro.
On February 1, 1963 General Order No.3 from the Grand Commander established that hence fore all candidates for Knighthood must be a Super Excellent Master of a Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters. Over the years that followed this Order was either ignored or circumvented, for it was not until 1988 that the Grand York Rite Bodies united to establish this policy.
At the Stated Conclave of December 6, 1963 a Memorial Service was conducted for President John Fitzgerald Kennedy who was assassinated on November 22, 1963 at Dallas, Texas.
The first York Rite Festival in the Attleboros was held at Ezekiel Bates Lodge on Wednesday Evening, October 18, 1965. The ceremony was opened by a prayer offered by Eminent Sir Ellis R. Westcott as Excellent Prelate and the Commandery Guards acted as a committee to escort the heads of the York Rite bodies. The Guards then acted as an escort for the Knights of the York Cross of Honour who escorted the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons of Massachusetts into the Asylum. The head of each Grand Body gave an interesting talk about his branch of the York Rite family and the Generalissimo; Sir Knight Hubert E. J. Berry did an excellent job as Master of Ceremonies for the event. An enjoyable evening was had by all of the nearly 200 Masons who were in attendance.
Through the 1960’s Bristol Commandery continued to work several candidates and remain socially active hosting several Ladies Nights at local restaurants, provide escorts to worshipful services of masonic and affiliated organizations. On Saturday, June 4, 1966 eleven Sir Knights were in full regalia at the All-Masonic Night held at the Boston Garden which was sponsored by Aleppo Shrine were the Commandery proudly displayed their Colors and Banners.
On June 19, 1966, eight Sir Knights served as part of an escort for the 150th Anniversary Observance of the Grand Encampment Memorial Service at the gravesite of Thomas Smith Webb, one of the founding fathers of Grand Encampment. The Sir Knights paraded through the streets of Providence (RI) to the North Burial Grounds and then to the gravesite of Thomas Smith Webb where there preformed a very impressive ceremony that included a speech by Sir Knight Wilber M. Brucker, Most Eminent Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of the U.S.A. The laying of a wreath concluded the ceremony where the Bristol Commandery Colors and Standard were well displayed at the head of the procession.
At the Stated Conclave of October 6, 1967, Sir Knight Henry A. Turner presented Bristol Commandery with a check for $1,000.00 in memory of his departed wife, Susie, to establish the Susie Turner Memorial Fund for the charity works of this Commandery without using the principle. The Fund remained active for many years until the Trustees decided to roll all the funds of the Commandery into a single investment in the hope to reap greater interest in the investment market.
The first record of a Commandery “One Day Class” was reported to be at Reading Commandery No. 50 on Saturday, November 18, 1967 where the candidates received all three Orders on the same day. Bristol Commandery escorted four Companions to this event where they were knighted. These new Knights were: Howard Fisher Chilson ~ Robert Lingard Chilson ~ Alfred Day Hanson and Franklin Wheeler Palmer.
At the Stated Conclave of September 5, 1969, Eminent Sir Horace E. Darling (Commander) was pleased to present to Sir Knight Wesley Burton a Certificate of Merit from Grand Commandery and a plaque with a Sword Bearer’s Jewel from the Sir Knights of Bristol Commandery for twenty-five years of service as our Sword Bearer.
By 1970 “non-participation” had invaded our ranks with fewer Sir Knights willing to get involved in the government of the body even though the membership had rebuilt itself to 287. The “Membership Peak” was in 1925 reaching a total of 424 Sir Knights. But it rapidly fell during the Depression Years and did not start to rebuild until after the Second World War.
At the December 4, 1970 Conclave, the Eminent Commander, Sir Edwin E. Oldfield, appointed the 100th Anniversary Committee. The Committee was composed of Sir Knight Thomas R. Atherton as Chairman and assisted by Sir Knights Charles E. Rouleau ~ William Sanderson ~ Raymond A. Birman ~ Donald T. Brown and Earl C. Cook, Jr. However, there is no documentation or any mention in the Minutes that the event was ever held.
Also that month the Annual Christmas Observance scheduled for Sunday, December 20th was almost cancelled when the speaker was contacted that afternoon by the Commander and reported that he had forgotten about the event and had scheduled another church service. The Right Eminent Commander, Sir Elmer H. Palmer came to the rescue, and with the assistance of the Recorder gave the Christmas message. The same was true of the soloist who notified the Eminent Commander that he could not attend as he had a Sunday school program to conduct. As usual all worked out in the end and twenty-four Officers, Sir Knights, and guests celebrate the season in fine fashion.
The 1018th Stated Conclave for Friday, January 1, 1971 was cancelled for the lack of a quorum due to the severe snowstorm. By the following Conclave of February 5th it was necessary to appoint a committee to find a replacement for our Treasurer, Sir Knight George W. Eberhardt who had died on January 22, 1971. Sir Knight Leon N. Robinson was named to complete the unexpired term.
By 1974 “the well began to go dry” so to speak. With a big increase in rent to Ezekiel Bates Lodge, increases in the printing and postage costs, a per capita tax, slow payment of dues and not enough petitions being submitted, the Commandery fell on hard time and began requesting money from the Permanent Fund. At a later Conclave the proposal was soundly defeated.
At the Stated Conclave on November 1, 1974, an invitation was received from the Order of DeMolay of Massachusetts, to the public investiture ceremony of the Honorary DeMolay Legion of Honor” upon our Sir Knight Carl S. Jackson on Saturday, November 30,1974.
On Friday evening, April 4, 1975 the Recorder read a letter from the Grand Commander inviting the Sir Knights to the Bicentennial Service at Boston’s Old North Church on Saturday, April 19th honoring Sir Knight Robert Newman who signaled Sir Knight Paul Revere on the movements of the British which triggered events leading to the American Revolution. The Minutes bears no evidence that any Bristol Knight attended this historical event.
A Special Conclave was called on Saturday, February 5, 1977 for the Annual Inspection and Review. After a delicious pot roast dinner, the lines were formed at 7:55 P.M for the reception of the Inspecting Officer, our own Eminent Sir Donald F. Freberg, Division Commander of the Southwest Division. This was the first time in over fifty years that the Inspecting Officer was a Sir Knight of Bristol Commandery and the second time in 107 years. The mark was a 10-.
At the Inspection and Review of February 3, 1978, Eminent Sir Donald F. Freberg, Grand Sword Bearer, presented the Commander, Eminent Sir Charles E. Rouleau the L. Raymond Wyatt Jewel for being a “first line signer” on the petitions of three new Sir Knights. Also that evening, Eminent Sir Raymond A. Birman presented Bristol Commandery with a beautiful pair of silver Candle Snuffers to replace those that were borrowed and never returned. Eminent Sir William Sanderson offered to have them engraved.
The 1111th Stated Conclave of April 4, 1980 failed to open due to the lack of a quorum as some of the Officers and Sir Knights were attending the Annual Easter Sunrise Service in Washington D.C. A Special Conclave on Mother’s Day, Sunday, April 11th at 7:30 P.M attended to the pending business.
The second weekend of June 1980 was a busy time for Bristol Commandery as they had accepted invitations to march in the Gaspee Parade at Cranston, R.I on Saturday, June 14th and the 200th Anniversary Parade in Milford, Massachusetts on Sunday, June 15th.
On May 30, 1981 several Bristol Knights attended the Charter Ceremonies creating Cape Cod Commandery K.T. No. 54 at Centerville, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. This was the first new Commandery chartered in Massachusetts since June 21, 1924, a span of nearly 57 years.
At the Stated Conclave of March 4, 1983 permission was granted to all Sir Knights in this Grand Jurisdiction to wear the Massachusetts Grand Lodge 250th Anniversary Jewel on their Templar uniform for the duration of the celebration.
But it was specified that the display must be on the right breast, opposite the display of Commandery jewels worn on the left breast.
The bronze colored jewel bore the seal of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and was suspended from a purple ribbon having a bronze colored plate at the top which read: “250th Anniversary”.
Through the late 1980’s Bristol Commandery was still able to assemble for business, but with smaller numbers in attendance. The major activity outside the Stated Conclaves was the occasional request for a Commandery escort for church services or other Masonic bodies. On October 4, 1985 it was voted to remove the names of Departed Past Commanders from the back of the notice due to the lack of space for them. But it was also voted to publish the full list once a year to be inserted in one of the mailing of the notices. The Recorder, Eminent Sir Elbridge Everett Wood, announced that he had changed to procedure for the mailing of the notices from an addressograph system to mailing labels.
As an interesting footnote, there was no Grand Commandery Officer present at the Annual Christmas Observance of December 2, 1988, which for the first time was held on the evening of the Stated Conclave instead of the traditional Sunday. Also the traditional “red vodka punch” was replaced with “brown Hiram Walker Cider Mill Apple Schnapps” diluted in pure apple cider. It was so well received that the ceremony had to be stopped half way through to replenish the punch bowl with fruit punch and Seven-Up.
At the Stated Conclave of December 1, 1995, Eminent Sir Richard D. Carmichael announced that the duplicate Charter for Bristol Commandery was found in the archives and was in serious need of framing to preserve it. He took the liberty to have it framed and was displayed in the Northeast corner of the Asylum.
October 1996 was to be the 125th Anniversary of receiving the Charter of Bristol Commandery. But no formal ceremony was observed as Bristol Commandery struggled to fraternally survive.
Because of a shrinking membership and limited participation by the local Commanderies, the Grand Commandery attempted to organize a “Brigade System” late in 1996 whereby three Commanderies would unite to support each other, mainly for Inspections and other events, but would remain independent. Bristol Commandery was clustered with Sutton No. 16 and Cape Cod No. 54 and held the First “Brigade Inspection” in New Bedford on January 16, 1997 receiving a “Brigade Score” of 9. In October 2007 the system was changed from three Commanderies to two Commanderies working together.
After several years of talks of how to improve the attendance and participation of the York Rite bodies in the Attleboro area, a Committee was organized in June of 1998. Appointed were representatives of the several York Rite bodies meeting in the Attleboro Temple. Eminent Sir Bruce Allen Bayley was appointed Chairman and Eminent Sir Markeith Eugene Host as Secretary for the Committee. Representing King Hiram Royal Arch Chapter was Excellent Steaven Zumalt ~ Attleboro Council was represented by Very Illustrious Russell Edward Adams and Illustrious Roland Gerard Bourget ~ and Sir Knight Mowry Edward Tennant represented Bristol Commandery.
After laying the ground rules, having them approved by all the local and Grand York Rite Bodies, the first meeting of “The United York Rite of the Attleboros” was held at the Ezekiel Bates Lodge on the fourth Tuesday, November 23, 1999 at 7:00 P.M. The new organization functioned well for a while, but on August 23, 2000 King Hiram Royal Arch Chapter merged with Rabboni Royal Arch Chapter of North Attleborough, thus breaking the chain of unity. The last meeting of this “United York Rite” was held on Tuesday evening, October 24, 2000.
The “New Millennium” arrived without much Masonic notice or celebration. The three York Rite bodies were still meeting separately on the same evening of January 25, 2000. But these first York Rite meetings of the new century were cancelled due to the lack of a quorum caused by a major snowstorm that day. The High Priest, Excellent Steaven E. Zumalt ~ Illustrious Master, Illustrious Roland G. Bourget and the Eminent Commander, Sir Knight Russell E. Adams would extend their greetings in February.
It has been the custom of the York Rite to offer Life Membership without further expense to those who have obtained the age of 88 and have faithfully supported the Craft. But after January 2001 the Grand Commandery raised the age factor to 95 in search of more revenue. The Grand Royal Arch Chapter and Grand Council of Royal and Select Master Masons would retain the age of 88 as their benchmark.
On May 7, 2005 the Grand Commandery of Massachusetts and Rhode Island celebrated its “Bicentennial Anniversary” with a Devine Service at the “Old North Church” on Salem Street in the City of Boston. To assist with the expenses, Bristol Commandery donated $5.00 per member ($350.00) in support of this milestone event.
On Friday evening, September 12, 2008 the Last Commander of Bristol Commandery, S.K. Todd Oliver Galarneau, was installed for the first of his five terms and began a sincere effort to revive Bristol Commandery. A wide variety of programs inside and outside the Asylum were incorporated during his administration to stir new interest in Chivalric Masonry. Such programs included a “School of the Knight” by Right Eminent Past Grand Commander, Sir Knight Edwin Fielder teaching the proper presentation of the “Sword Manual”, and a York Rite presentation at the 16th District Lodge of Instruction dressed in High Priest costume complete with Commandery escort explaining of the rewards of York Rite membership to our Blue Lodge brethren.
On the social ledger, Eminent Sir Galarneau organized several interesting “Day Trips” on a summer afternoon, again to encourage an interest in Templary. The Sir Knights and guests travelled to such places as the Higgins Armory Museum of Worcester, the National Heritage Museum of Lexington, the Bunker Hill Monument and Museum in Charlestown, and the site of the Westford Knight Sword outlined in what is known as the “Sinclair Rock”. These adventures were both educational and refreshing.
The Conclave of March 5, 2010 was the last Conclave to be held on the traditional first Friday of the month. Attleboro Council of Royal and Select Master Masons had moved to the North Attleboro Masonic Temple to hold their Assemblies on the same evening as Rabboni Royal Arch Chapter. In hope of improving Commandery participation by eliminating the “Friday Night Conclaves”, a Dispensation was sought to move the Conclaves to the evenings of the fourth Tuesday with the first such Conclave being held on April 27, 2010. Bristol Commandery continued to meet on the fourth Tuesday until the merger with Holy Sepulchre Commandery No. 8 of Pawtucket, Rhode Island on Friday evening, September 20, 2013.
Perhaps the highlight of Eminent Sir Todd’s administration was the opportunity to Knight his father on the evening of May 25, 2010. Sir Knight Oliver Joseph Galarneau, Jr. would join the Bristol ranks as our first “Bugler” and offered his musical talents when called upon by the Commander. Such performances were at the Annual Christmas Observances, the rendition of “Taps” at Templar Funeral Services for our departed fraters, and a few other events that where public in nature.
At a Special Conclave held at Bristol Lodge on June 1, 2012 for the knighting of four candidates, Sir Knight “Ollie” performed with Sir Knight Stanley S. Locke, Grand Organist, during the Order of the Temple. It is believed to be the first time in the history of Bristol Commandery that a bugler and organist performed together during the presentation of work.
In the minutes of our Stated Conclave for October 26, 2010 the Recorder, Sir Knight Stephen Urban, Jr. recorded the congratulations extended by Bristol Commandery to our own Eminent Sir Glen Melvin Cunningham on his induction into the Grand Commandery line as Grand Captain of the Guard. The “Grand line” being a progressive line, he is well on his way to be a future Grand Commander.
On December 8, 2010 the Stated Conclave was changed and moved by Dispensation to the apartments of Bristol Lodge of North Attleborough for the Annual Christmas Observance. This being the regular meeting night of Rabboni Royal Arch Chapter, the Chapter opened at 7:00 P.M and quickly dispensed their business and then closed so Bristol Commandery could open in short form at 7:35 P.M and conduct their business.
At 8:00 P.M the Masonic brethren, ladies of the Order of the Eastern Star, and other guests were invited to join the Sir Knights for this annual event. The Grand Prelate, Eminent Sir Herbert J. Simpson offered the opening prayer and the North Attleboro High School Brass Choir provided musical support in the singing of the traditional Christmas carols between the several Scripture readings. The Grand Prelate offered the “Christmas Message” before the ceremonial toasts. The excellent attendance of 80 broke down to: 10 Officers ~ 8 Sir Knights ~ 13 York Rite Dignitaries ~ 42 Guests ~ and 7 in the Choir.
This event being a success it continued in the same format for our remaining years with equal popularity. The following year a “Mitten ~ Gloves ~ Hat ~ Scarf ~ Socks” Charity project was added to assist students of the local school systems so no child was in need of them during the winter season.
At the Stated Conclave of April 27, 2011 the Commander, Eminent Sir Todd O. Galarneau, appointed a committee consisting of Sir Knights John H. Nelson ~ Ronald J. Adams ~ Stephen Urban ~ Edward J. Resnick ~ Mowry E. Tennant ~ and Markeith E. Host to examine the By-Laws for the purpose of revision and change. Appointed, as Chairman, was Eminent Sir Glen M. Cunningham.
The Committee attended to their duties and on April 22, 2012 submitted a set of By-Laws that had been completely revised. The report was accepted and a unanimous vote of approval was received. They were at once submitted to the Grand Commandery for approval, but were not approved by the Committee on Jurisprudence until the Semi-Annual Conclave of April 12, 2013 meeting at Middletown, Rhode Island.
At the Stated Conclave of May 22, 2012 it was voted to purchase four new “flag carrying belts” and three “lightweight flag poles” for parades and ceremonies. They would become useful and appreciated, for in October of that year the Grand Commandery changed the ritual of the Inspection and Review procedure to a “15 Man Full Form Opening”. The new ritual was very impressive and greatly simplified.
At 7:15 P.M. on Wednesday, December 19, 2012, a Special Conclave of Bristol Commandery opened “in a room adjacent to the Asylum” while Ezekiel Bates Lodge opened in the main lodge room.
Changing to public form, the brethren, Eastern Star ladies, and guests were invited to witness this special night to honor our departed Brother ~ Companion ~ and Sir Knight, Roland Gerald Bourget.
Before his retirement to Florida a few years ago, our frater was most active in the several bodies of the Craft, especially the York Rite, which earned him the honor of K.Y.C.H. membership.
Ezekiel Bates Lodge and Hope Chapter No. 41 O.E.S. preformed their prescribed ritual, but what made the evening unique was the presentation of the Knight Templar Funeral Service that none present could remember when it was last performed.
The Commander, Eminent Sir Todd O. Galarneau, who was assisted by Eminent Sir Markeith Host as Prelate, preformed the impressive service. The Captain-General, Eminent Sir John H. Nelson took charge of the “Honor Guard” (escort) which consisted of Sir Knights from Bristol ~ Milford ~ and Holy Sepulchre Commanderies. At the conclusion of the ceremony, “Taps” could be heard from outside the Asylum, which was provided by Sir Knight Oliver Joseph Galarneau, Jr. After remarks of remembrance and the Benediction, the Honor Guard escorted the Sir Knights from the Asylum.
The final Inspection and Review for Bristol Commandery was held within the Attleboro Asylum on Tuesday evening, February 26, 2013. With the assistance of Bay State Commandery No. 38 and Holy Sepulchre Commandery No. 8, Bristol Commandery received a 9 plus. The Associate Recorder noted that, outside the line of nine Officers, there was not a single Bristol Knight present to stand and be counted. Also, the “visiting Sir Knights” who assisted in the Inspection, outnumbered the Bristol Knights almost two to one. It is this author’s opinion that this was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and triggered serious negotiations for a merger which had lain dormant for years.
At the following Conclave held on March 26, 2013 discussion began as to the future of Bristol Commandery. The Associated Recorder, Eminent Sir Markeith E. Host, had taken over the duties of our Recorder, Sir Knight Stephen Urban, Jr. who had retired to Florida. Sir Knight Host was directed to dispatch a letter to the general membership laying out our options. But there was no response to the correspondence and the April Conclave failed to assemble due to the lack of a quorum.
Nine Sir Knights were present to open the Stated Conclave of May 28, 2013. Upon the completion of business, the topic of a possible merger was discussed. The field was narrowed to three possible Commanderies that were worthy of consideration. They were: Holy Sepulchre No. 8 of Pawtucket, RI ~ Milford No. 11 of Milford , MA ~ and Bay State No. 38 of Brockton, Massachusetts. A Committee was appointed to investigate each of these Commanderies and report their findings at the next Stated Conclave when a vote will be taken. Appointed were; Eminent Sir Charles E. Rouleau ~ John H. Nelson ~ and Sir Knights Ronald J. Adams and Mowry E. Tennant.
During the business of the Stated Conclave of June 25, 2013, the Merger Committee submitted its report of the three Commanderies under consideration. The Eminent Commander then called the issue to a vote and introduced Right Eminent John Charles Sutterley, Past Grand Commander, who volunteered to act as the “Teller of the Vote”. The results of the written vote were announced as: Bay State 1 Vote ~ Milford 2 Votes ~ Holy Sepulchre 9 Votes. The Eminent Commander thanked the Committee for their work and requested that they remain together during the merger process. To the Committee the Eminent Commander added the Associate Recorder to record the transactions of the Committee meetings, and Sir Knight Glen M. Cunningham, Eminent Grand Junior Warden, to offer his expertise as an “overseer” for the Grand Commandery.
As a final piece of business, the Eminent Commander called Sir Knight Robert Kenneth Alves to be escorted to the head of the Commandery and there invested him with the “Last Diploma” issued by Bristol Commandery. Sir Knight Alves was knighted on May 29th at Worcester County Commandery No. 5 as a courtesy to Bristol Commandery and was deeply honored to be a Sir Knight.
Over the summer months the Committees worked out the details to reach an accord and transfer the property of Bristol Commandery to its new home with Holy Sepulchre Commandery No. 8 stationed at Jenks Lodge No. 24 ~ 50 Pleasant Street ~ Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
S.K. William R. Epp, Jr. ~ Eminent Commander of Holy Sepulchre Commandery
S.K. Kenneth G. Sallale ~ Eminent Grand Senior Warden
S.K. Todd O. Galarneau ~ Eminent Commander of Bristol Commandery
By September of 2013 the membership of Bristol Knights had shrunk to forty-nine. On September 20th the Official consolidation took place with the blessings of the Grand Commandery officiated by the Eminent Grand Senior Warden, S.K. Kenneth G. Sallale. The Right Eminent Grand Commander, S.K. Vincent Joseph Faraci could not be present as he was attending to his Official duties at the Grand Commandery Conclave of New York.
At 6:30 P.M of that evening, forty-eight Sir Knights and Ladies of the S.O.O.B. assembled in the banquet hall of Jenks Lodge No. 24, the home of Holy Sepulchre Commandery, for a delicious catered dinner of beef and fish with all the trimmings. Only ten Bristol Knights were in attendance.
- Todd Oliver Galarneau ~ Eminent Commander
- Glen Melvin Cunningham ~ Generalissimo
- Ronald John Adams ~ Treasurer
- Markeith Eugene Host ~ Recorder
- Edward Joseph Resnick ~ Senior Warden
- Edward Anton Dyer, Jr. ~ Prelate
- William Robert Epp, Jr. ~ Warder
- Oliver Joseph Galarneau, Sr. ~ Bugler
- Mowry Edward Tennant ~ Trustee
- Edward Anton Dyer, Sr. ~ Member
The Eminent Commander, S.K. William R. Epp, Jr, opened the Stated Conclave of Holy Sepulchre Commandery at 7:30 P.M. and conducted the usual business. At the conclusion of business, he received the Division Commander, S.K. Kenneth George Sallale ~ the Eminent Grand Senior Warden and Suite under escort. The Ceremonial Merger took place with the surrender of the Bristol Commandery No. 29 Charter by Eminent Sir Todd O. Galarneau to the Eminent Grand Senior Warden. The Recorder for Bristol Commandery, Sir Knight Markeith E. Host, P.C., surrendered the Official Seal of Bristol Commandery to the Grand Recorder, Sir Knight Robert Cary Corr; and the Records and other properties to the Recorder of Holy Sepulchre, Sir Knight Douglas Edward Connell, P.G.W. The ceremony completed, the Eminent Deputy Grand Warder, Sir Knight Carlton Hill, made the Official Proclamation.
Holy Sepulchre Commandery was then declared to be in “Public form” and the ladies and guests were invited to join the Sir Knights to witness the Installation of Officers. Sir Knight Robert James Allen, R.E.P.G.C, of Calvary Commandery No. 13, East Providence, R.I. served as Installing Commander, and Sir Knight John Charles Sutterly, R.E.P.G.C, of South Shore Commandery No. 15 of East Weymouth, MA served as Installing Prelate. Sir Knight Raymond E. Hassell, Past Commander of Calvary Commandery No. 13 served as Installing Warder.
Installed that evening were former Bristol Knights, Sir Knight Todd O. Galarneau (Past Commander) as Sword Bearer and Sir Knight Glen M. Cunningham, Eminent Grand Junior Warden, as Captain of the Guard. Assisting the Second Division, as National Color Guards were Sir Knights Edward Joseph Resnick and Edward Anton Dyer, Jr.
After the usual Masonic protocol, Holy Sepulchre Commandery No. 8 was closed in peace and harmony thus ending Bristol Commandery’s “One Hundred and Forty-Three Years of Chivalric Masonry”.
At the Annual Grand Conclave held at Milford, Massachusetts on Saturday, October 19, 2013, Sir Knight Todd Oliver Galarneau, P.C. accepted on behalf of Bristol Commandery K.T. No. 29, the “First” Trophy annually presented for an outstanding Inspection.
The plaque reads:
Sir Knight Warren Coleman Wilson
Right Eminent Past Grand Commander Honorary
Annual Memorial Award
For Outstanding Inspection
Sir Knight Vincent Joseph Faraci
Right Eminent Grand Commander 2012 ~ 2013
The trophy was presented to Holy Sepulchre Commandery No. 8 at their October 25th Conclave for display within the Temple.
Treasurers of Bristol Commandery
1870 ~ 1873 William Graves
1874 ~ 1875 Leonard M. Hodges
1875 ~ 1876 Arthur E. Codding
1876 ~ 1877 Charles E. Smith
1877 ~ 1887 Oscar M. Draper
1888 ~ 1902 Samuel E. Fisher
1903 ~ 1939 Fred Hoyt Richards
1940 ~ 1940 William E. Lingard
1941 ~ 1953 Fred Endler
1954 ~ 1956 Howard E. White
1957 ~ 1960 George H. Swanson
1961 ~ 1961 Donald F. Freberg
1962 ~ 1964 Richard F. Sargeant
1965 ~ 1970 Edwin H. Thomas
1971 ~ 1971 George W. Eberhardt
1972 ~ 1972 Edwin H. Thomas
1973 ~ 1983 Raymond A. Birman
1984 ~ 1996 Karl L. Friedland
1997 ~ 2000 John H. Nelson
2001 ~ 2007 Conrad A. Morel
2008 ~ 2009 John H. Nelson
2010 ~ 2013 Ronald J. Adams
Recorders of Bristol Commandery
1870 ~ 1873 Eliphalet Smith
1874 ~ 1874 Edward Paine
1875 ~ 1882 James A. Codding
1883 ~ 1886 Elton I. Franklin
1887 ~ 1889 Arthur T. Parker
1890 ~ 1890 C. E. Riley
1891 ~ 1892 E. A. Phillips
1893 ~ 1893 Charles E. Sandland
1894 ~ 1895 Joseph E. Pond
1896 ~ 1896 Owen B. Bestor
1897 ~ 1913 George H. Herrick
1914 ~ 1945 William W. Josselyn
1946 ~ 1956 Howard S. Newell
1957 ~ 1957 Edwin H. Thomas
1958 ~ 1961 George W. Eberhardt
1962 ~ 1964 Edwin H. Thomas
1965 ~ 1979 Donald F. Freberg
1980 ~ 1985 Thomas R. Atherton
1986 ~ 1989 E. Everett Wood
1990 ~ 1993 Markeith E. Host
1994 ~ 1995 John H. Nelson
1996 ~ 1997 Jeffrey D. Lundgren
1998 ~ 2000 David L. Thibeault
2001 ~2009 Robert E. Baker
2010 ~ 2013 Stephen Urban, Jr.
Bristol Commandery ~ Knights Templar No. 29
Attleboro ~ Massachusetts
|Todd O. Galarneau||2009-2013|
|Glen M. Cunningham||2008|
|John H. Nelson||2002-2007|
|Russell E. Adams||1998-2001|
|Bruce A. Bayley||1997|
|Richard D. Carmichael||1996|
|Jeffrey E. Lundgren||1995|
|Gerald R. Blanchard||1994|
|John H. Nelson||1993|
|Johnny D. Pass||1992|
|Roland G. Bourget||1991|
|William R. Epp, Jr.||1990|
|Markeith E. Host||1989|
|Herbert M. Tinkham||1988|
|Edwin H. Thomas||1987|
|Charles F. Jenks||1986|
|Emile J. Rouleau||1985|
|E. Everett Wood||1984|
|Frederick L. Spector||1983|
|George E. Oldmixon||1982|
|Karl L. Friedland||1981|
|Charles F. Jenks||1980|
|Lorne W. Higgins||1979|
|Charles E. Rouleau, Sr.||1978|
|Melvin D. Anderson||1977|
|Earl C. Cook, Jr.||1976|
|Charles E. Rouleau, Sr.||1975|
|Thomas R. Atherton||1973|
|Raymond A. Birman||1972|
|Edwin E. Oldfield||1971|
|Walter H. Hofemann||1970|
|Harold E. Darling||1969|
|Arnold Benjamin Shaw||1968|
|Hubert E. J. Berry||1967|
|L. Raymond Wyatt||1966|
|William H. Sargeant, Jr.||1965|
|George C. Hart||1964|
|John L. Butler||1963|
|Walter H. Hiller||1962|
|Ralph L. Hopkinson, Jr.||1961|
|Donald F. Freberg||1960|
|Herbert W. Annis||1959|
|Clifford E. Sherman||1958|
|Kenneth F. Woodward||1957|
|William J.W. Russell||1956|
|James W. Fish||1955|
|Edwin H. Thomas||1954|
|Eugene F. Mitchell||1953|
|Raymond W. Fales||1950|
|Walter E. McGinn||1948|
|Richard T. Bauer||1943|
|Ellis Royden Westcott, Sr.||1941-1942|
|David G. Hayes||1940|
|George A. Pettitt||1939|
|Chester C. Gilbert||1937|
|Howard S. Newell||1936|
|William A. Berndt, Jr.||1935|
|Robert W. Williams, Jr.||1934|
|Benjamin W. Taylor||1933|
|Harry E. Litchfield||1932|
|William H. Heckmann||1931|
|Carrol L. Besson||1930|
|William E. Lingard||1929|
|Adelbert M. Barden||1927|
|George A. Knowles||1926|
|A. Vernon Wilson||1925|
|Robert L. Cooke||1924|
|Lewis S. Chilson||1923|
|James E. Totten||1922|
|Carlos D. Freeman||1921|
|Howard B. White||1920|
|Fred I. Gorton||1919|
|Ralph F. Gibbs||1918|
|Joseph H. Williams||1917|
|Enos D. Williams||1916|
|William P. Orr||1915|
|William A. Spier||1914|
|Alfred B. Hodges||1913|
|Charles L. Barrows||1912|
|Winthrop F. Barden||1911|
|Harry B. Lewis||1910|
|Clarence Martin Dunbar||1909|
|Charles W. Bemis||1908|
|Charles H. Parker||1906-1907|
|Edwin P. Jewett||1904-1905|
|William S. Metcalf||1903|
|Henry H. Curtis||1901-1902|
|Leo A. Heilborn||1899-1900|
|George H. Sykes||1897-1898|
|Alfred R. Crosby||1895-1996|
|Elton I. Franklin||1893-1894|
|Owen Bates Bestor||1891-1892|
|Theodore B. Hazzard||1889-1890|
|James A. Codding||1887-1888|
|Edward C. Martin||1884-1886|
|Arthur E. Codding||1880-1882|
|Thomas G. Sandland||1878-1879|
|Jacob Siloway, Jr.||1877|
|Daniel Henry Smith||1875-1876|
|John Langdon Kendall||1874|
|Samuel S. Ginnodo||1873|
|Charles E. Smith||1870-1872|
Grand Proceedings Grand Encampment of Knights Templar ~ United States of America
Grand Proceeding of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Mass and RI
Minutes of Bristol Commandery K.T. # 29 ~ 1870 to 2013
The Richards Public Library of North Attleborough
The Minutes of Bristol Lodge A.F & A.M. ~ North Attleborough
The Minutes of Ezekiel Bates Lodge A.F & A.M. ~ Attleboro
Photographs and articles from the Internet
The Attleboro Sun Chronicle Newspaper
The 1870 Polk Directory
S.K. Markeith E. Host
1990 ~ 1993 Recorder
Grand Representative to Alaska