History of Ezekiel Bates Lodge

Brother Secretary Benjamin King submitted this history in 1895 for the Silver (25th) Anniversary of the lodge

A History of Masonry, A. F. & A. M. in Attleboro

To the Officers and Members of Ezekiel Bates Lodge, A. F. & A. M.

Ezekiel Bates Lodge, Attleboro, Mass., Chartered April 9th, 5870. Thus reads the Seal of this Lodge, the official stamp of our organization. It is not clear whether this date, October 16th, can be called the proper date on which to celebrate the Silver Anniversary of this Lodge or not. It occurred to the minds of some of the members that the Year 1895 completed the twenty-fifth year of our existence. And as the Charter granted bore the date of April 9th, and the Lodge was not constituted until September, which is near our annual meeting, it was suggested and finally decided to hold some sort of meeting that would in some measure fittingly recognize the occasion, and at the same time institute a precedent that should be continued forever hereafter, viz., an effort to make the annual meeting a time to be look forward to, when every member would be expected to be present, act on the yearly reports, elect officers, and give the Lodge a good send-off for the new year.

And this evening, as the result of these foregoing thoughts and acts whereby the Lodge through its Committee have been able to in a measure carry out its plans, we are assembled here to consult as to the best plans for the coming year, become acquainted one with the other and socially set together around the table and feast upon the good things set before us. It was suggested that it might be a good plan to prepare a historical paper concerning Masonry in Attleboro to be read at the Annual Meeting. Said suggestion was considered wise and work was begun (which was work indeed) with the following results.

The History of Freemasonry in Attleboro dates back to the year 1812 when Bristol (now located in North Attleboro), the Mother Lodge, moved here from Norton, Mass. But let us go back still further, June 26, 1797, in the Town of Norton, Bristol Lodge was organized and held its first meeting, there being nine (9) members and one visitor present. The record does not say where they met but the record of July 19th, the same year, says the lodge was opened at Samuel Fay’s house, which together with a section in the By-Laws under which they worked that reads “That the Lodge shall meet at such a place as the majority of the members present think fit” on the evening of the first Monday of every month; “if there is an equal division as to the place, the Master shall decide;” (it) looks very much as if they met around among the members in their different homes.

Some of the By-Laws under which our fathers worked seem peculiar, some of which are as follows. The By-Laws fixed the membership at forty, no more could be added except by vote. Concerning the meetings, it says “and that each member shall appear decently dressed each night.” Another, “No liquor shall be brought into the Lodge Room except by order of the Worshipful Master.” And another, “No member of visitor shall do any fighting or quarreling or use and profane or opprobrious language during the Lodge meeting or within thirty minutes after closing; in case of a disobeyment of the rule, the member shall be called up by name and publicly reprimanded by the Master; for second offence, he or they shall be expelled.”

The Annual Meeting and Election of Officers was held the first Monday in June. The Stewards were required to hand in at the Annual Meeting an Inventory of Utensils and Furniture which, if accepted, was handed over to the new Stewards. Notices of Meeting were either given out from one meeting to another or they were delivered by the Tyler at the Master’s order. “Any member proposing a candidate shall be held responsible for the fee, and if he (the candidate) fails to take the degree after a clear ballot, the member shall pay five dollars for the Lodge Chest.” “On ballot being clear, candidate shall take first degree, and the second when the Master thinks him deserving, and must be examined before taking the Third, and if raised at a special meeting, the candidate must pay the fee and expense of meeting, and I am informed by older ones that most of the raisings occurred on special meetings and the candidate had to settle. Fees: First, $10.00; Second, $3.00; Third, $4.00 and expenses. So much for the By-Laws.

On the 14th of December, 1797, the record says that the Lodge was opened in Taunton and received a petition. They seemed to have a very large jurisdiction. Petitions were received from Taunton, Walpole. Rehoboth and other places. It is very interesting to look through the old records and trace the doings of our early Brethren. It has been the privilege of the writer (through the kindness of W. Bro. E. P. Price, Cashier, Attleborough National Bank, in whose vaults the old records are kept) to look them over although for lack of time in rather a hurried manner. They (the members) were apparently free and easy-going in their methods but careful as to the spirit of the Institution. Nothing of great importance occurred while the Lodge was in Norton (except that one time they granted a Charter to petitioners from Rehoboth to hold a Lodge in that Town.) The Lodge (Bristol) was constituted June 20th, 5798 by Josiah Bartlett, Grand Master. At a meeting held March 6th, 1800, it was voted “No refreshments to be brought in in the future except wine and spirit.” The writer has been led to wonder what they were in the habit of having previous to this vote.

Without any reason given, at a meeting held December 5th, 1811, agreeable to a petition, voted “To move the Lodge to Attleboro, East Precinct,” the Grand Lodge having amended the Charter and given permission so to do. Mathias Richardson, Junior, was Worshipful Master. And at the same, it was voted to increase membership to 80. The last meeting held in Norton was on January 23rd, 1812, at which time the Master called the next meeting to meet in the Franklin School House, Attleboro East Precinct (which site, I believe, is now the front yard of the Second Congregational Church, to right as you approach the main entrance), Thursday next preceding the full moon at one o’clock P.M., which appears from the records to have been a special meeting for the purpose of receiving a petition, fee $15.00, K. Daggett, Secretary.

February 27th, 1812, a committee consisting of Jobel Ingraham and Amos Sweet were chosen to see about a lot and to build a hall. There is no record of this committee, but December 16th, same year, at a regular meeting, it was voted to have a committee for drawing up plans for a hall. William Fisher and Noah Claflin were appointed on this committee and at the next regular meeting, this committee was discharged and another committee consisting of the same men with the Master was chosen with full power to “act as agents for the Lodge and build a building such as they think best.” Nothing further in the record is heard from them. February 11th, 1813, chose another committee to arrange with Benjamin Balkum to build them a suitable hall and let (it to) them for five hundred dollars for fourteen years.

March 5th, 1813, Samuel Carpenter, father of S. F. Carpenter, was proposed as a candidate, fee $15.00, a raise from $10.00. He was initiated March 11th, crafter April 15th, fee $3.00, and raised May 13th at 2 o’clock, P.M., which appears to have been a special meeting. At the next annual meeting, he was appointed Tyler, served one year and appears next as Treasurer in 1818 and 1819, and at various other times up to 1830. Nothing more appears of him as the record book from 1832 to 1871 can up to this time not be found.

At a meeting held August 13th, 1829, voted: “That Elihu Daggett personally present a petition to the Grand Lodge to have erased from the Charter the clause East Precinct, no reasons given. March 14th, 1830, Willard Blackinton in the chair, a communication was received from the Grand Lodge complying with the above request, giving the Lodge the privilege of “meeting as their best interests require.” May 6, 1830, voted to move to Farnum’s Hall. It is supposed by many that this vote was the action by which the Lodge was moved to its present location, North Attleboro. Nothing appeared in the records to explain why they moved but it is natural to suppose that as North Attleboro was then the most important part of the Town, they expected to gain in members by the change. It is impossible to further pursue the Lodge’s action because of the missing link before referred to.

We know, however, that early in the Thirties the great anti-masonic move swept the country and that the Charter of Bristol Lodge was returned to the Grand Lodge, where it lay for many years and Masonry took a long rest as it appeared on the surface. The next we hear of Bristol Lodge comes in the form of the restoration of the Charter to eight brethren, December 13th, 1854 – Willard Robinson, S. O. Draper, Willard Blackinton, Rufus P. Barrows, Ephrium Deon, Daniel Babcock, Noah Claflin and Edward Richardson. For some reason it was not taken up; or if it was, it was returned to the Grand Lodge without being used until September 14, 1859, when the Grand Lodge again restored it to the same Brethren.

Willard Blackinton having been the W. M. at the time of the surrender of the Charter, at its restoration he was appointed the first Master. At the reorganization and from that time to the present, Bristol Lodge has gone on its way doing good work and gaining in members and influence. It will soon be time to celebrate its Centennial Anniversary, when we shall probably have a more detailed history of that Lodge.

Up to the year 1868, Attleboro Precinct, as it was then called, had grown to be an important part of the Town, having gradually increased in numbers and in the business line was of much importance and many of the citizens desiring to unite themselves with the Fraternity, worked their way Northward until quite a number were members of Bristol Lodge. About this time (1868) a few zealous members of Bristol Lodge, North Attleboro, began to interest themselves in a movement looking towards the formation of a Masonic Lodge in the East part of the town. Among the first movers in the matter was our well-known Brother, A. R. Crosby, who then occupied a small one-story building situated on the north side of Park Street, where Briggs Block now stands, known at the time as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, wherein he followed his daily round of business. In the attic of said building, whose only approach was by a ladder, through a scuttle, night after night, the business of the day over, at first two or three and as the interest increased several others, met and studied up the work and laid the foundations of the Lodge that was so soon to follow.

The number of those interested increased to the extent that more spacious quarters were made necessary, and a suite of rooms was hired in the house owned by Daniel K. Adams, corner of Bank and Peck Street. The interest remained unabated and soon after the removal to the new quarters, it was voted that application be made to the Grand Lodge for a dispensation to form a Lodge and work the degrees, and through the influence of our late townsman, friend and Brother, Ezekiel Bates, whose name we bear, a member of St. Andrew’s Lodge, Boston, the dispensation was granted, the Lodge formed, and Bro. Daniel H. Smith was appointed to be its first Master, together with the following Officers:-

  • A. P. Crosby, Senior Warden
  • Geo. F. Bicknell, Jun. Warden
  • James H. Sturdy, Treasurer
  • John M. Daggett, Secretary
  • Charles E. Bliss, Chaplain
  • John W. Luther, Marshal
  • Edwin M. Crandall, Sen. Deacon
  • Edward C. Martin, Jun. Deacon
  • John Baxter, Sen. Steward
  • Thomas S. Nye, Jun. Steward
  • Orville Balcom, Sentinel
  • W. W. Smith, Tyler

In the meantime, arrangements were being made for more commodious quarters. The building now known as Dean’s Block, Park Street, was in process of erection and arrangements were made with Mr. Dean to extend his plans by adding one story, thereby making a hall for our accommodation. The hall was completed and furnished in due time and Ezekiel Bates Lodge moved into its new and finely furnished quarters.

The following year a charter was granted, bearing date of April 9th, 1870, and in September of the same year, the Lodge was regularly constituted and the hall dedicated by Rt. W. Charles Whitlock Moore, assisted by R. W. P. G. M. William Parkman, R. W., Charles H. Titus, and sever other eminent Masons, agreeably to a request of our late Brother Ezekiel Bates, who died just before that notable even occurred; and Ezekiel Bates Lodge set out on its Masonic mission with twenty-four (24) charter members, as follows:

  • Daniel H. Smith
  • Alfred R. Crosby
  • George F. Bicknell
  • James H. Sturdy
  • John M. Daggett
  • Charles E. Bliss
  • Edward Corbett
  • Nathan A. Chatterton
  • John Baxter
  • John W. Luther
  • Thomas S. Nye
  • Alfred Chatterton
  • Charles S. Cummings
  • Edwin L. Crandall
  • Charles H. Wetherell
  • Benjamin J. Angell
  • John C. Cummings
  • Orville Balcom
  • Daniel H. Capron
  • William F. Reed
  • Avery Forbes
  • Oscar S. Thayer
  • Emory A. Perrin
  • Walter W. Smith

From the beginning, the Lodge grew in numbers and influence. The first man made a Mason in the Lodge is well known to most of us, the busy man across the way, our respectable friend and Brother, Richard Crawford, who is still a member with us. His application bears date of April 13, 1870. Bro. K. B. Bullock made application the same date but Bro. Crawford was first initiated.

At the expiration of a five years’ lease, the question of procuring a still larger hall was considered and it became evident that a change would be made as soon as a proper place could be procured, which began to appear at an early day in the form of a brick block that was then in contemplation by our Bro. James H. Sturdy. In process of time the building was erected, a fine hall with all its appointments and elegantly furnished, and again Ezekiel Bates moved into its new quarters, which they occupy at this time.

By reason of furnishing the new hall and payment of the tax levied by the Grand Lodge on the subordinates to pay for the Temple in Boston, which the Lodge finally paid in a lump sum, hiring the money with which to do the same, Ezekiel Bates Lodge finally found itself heavily in debt. The Lodge moved into its present quarters, and held its first meeting July 5th 1876, and while the new and elegant surroundings for a time brought a renewed interest, yet in a short time evidences of a decline of interest soon became apparent, and for some time matters dragged along in an unsatisfactory manner.

In the winter of 1882, it was evident that something must be done to revive the lagging interest and change the current (state) of affairs or ruin might come. Several of the members of the Lodge called a quiet meeting for conference, the result of which was the proposal that the Lodge hold a big Fair. The proposition was accepted and at the next regular meeting of the Lodge, the matter was presented and after a full discussion it was voted to hold a Fair. A large committee was chosen to whom was intrusted the entire management of the affair, and “On to Victory” was the cry. One of our members, Bro. J. M. Bates, just at this time was completing his new Watch Case Factory, three stories with basement, 200 x 35 ft., and with his consent it was decided to christen the building by holding an immense Fair, occupying the entire floor space. Electricity was introduced for the first time in the town as the method of lighting the building at the time of the fair (put in as an advertisement by Boston parties). The plans were well laid, much hard work done, and on the evenings of April 17, 18, 19, 1883, was held the largest and most successful Fair ever known in this vicinity. A complete success from A to Z; everybody came from most everywhere and over six thousand dollars ($6,000) was taken in.

The expenses were comparatively small from the fact that a large percent of everything was given in to help, and as net result the entire debt was cleared up and twenty-six hundred dollars ($2,600) surplus which was placed in the hands of the Trustees for a permanent investment, neither principal or interest to be used except by special action (as per By-Law) and which up to this time has been making steady gain and amounts to the sum as reported by the Trustees this evening, a little over five thousand dollars ($5,000). From that time on (the payment of the debt) the Lodge has been in a prosperous condition and is a great credit to itself.

As before stated in this paper, the original membership at its organization was twenty-four (24) and there has been a steady and gradual growth by additions until the total amounts to one hundred eighty-five (185) losses by death, suspensions, dimitting and one expulsion amount to sixty-one (61), leaving us with a membership today of one hundred twenty-four (124), and one life member, Bro. Everett S. Horton, and four more in sight. Our oldest member is Joabert Sweet, seventy-seven (77) years; the youngest, Rufus Custis Reed, twenty-one (21) years. The oldest Mason is W. Bro. Nehemiah Hicks who was raised in Home Lodge #398, New York State in 1861, who is also sixty-five (65) years of age. We are all growing older – and twenty five years hence? – well, we will all be older.

The following named Brethren have served in the various elective offices as follows:

WORSHIPFUL MASTERS

  • Daniel H. Smith, from Organization to Dec. 1871
  • Alfred R. Crosby, from Dec. 1871 to Dec. 1873
  • George F. Bicknell, from Dec. 1873 to Dec. 1874
  • Edward L. Crandall, from Dec. 1874 to Dec. 1876
  • Charles E. Bliss, from Dec. 1876 to Dec. 1878
  • Herbert N. Mason, from Dec. 1878 to Jan. 1881
  • Benjamin P. King, from Jan. 1881 to Jan. 1883
  • William J. Thompson, from Jan. 1883 to Jan. 1885
  • Daniel H. Smith, from Jan. 1885 to Nov. 1886 (second time)
  • Edward C. Martin, from Nov. 1886 to Nov. 1888
  • Eugene R. Richardson, from Nov. 1888 to Nov. 1890
  • N. Justin Smith, from Nov. 1890 to Nov. 1892
  • Walter T. Mason, from Nov. 1892 to Nov. 1894
  • William L. Elliott, from Nov. 1894 to date

SENIOR WARDENS

  • Alfred R. Crosby, from Organization to Dec. 1871
  • George F. Bicknell, from 1871 to 1873
  • Edward L. Crandall, from 1873 to 1874
  • Charles E. Bliss, from 1874 to 1876
  • Herbert N. Mason, from 1876 to 1878
  • Benjamin P. King, from 1878 to 1881
  • William J. Thompson, from 1881 to 1883
  • David E. Makepeace, from 1883 to 1885
  • Benjamin P. King, from 1885 to 1886 (second time)
  • Edward C. Martin, Jan. to Nov. 1886
  • J. Lyman Sweet, Nov. 1886 to Nov. 1889
  • N. Justin Smith, Nov. 1889 to Nov. 1890
  • Walter T. Mason, Nov. 1890 to Nov. 1892
  • William L. Elliott, Nov. 1892 to Nov. 1894
  • Ezekiel Blake, Nov. 1894 to date.

SJUNIOR WARDENS

  • George F. Bicknell, from Organization to 1871
  • Edward L. Crandall, from 1871 to 1873
  • Charles E. Bliss, from 1873 to 1874
  • Herbert N. Mason, from 1874 to 1876
  • Benjamin P. King, from 1876 to 1878
  • William J. Thompson, from 1878 to Jan. 1881
  • David E. Makepeace, from 1881 to 1883
  • N. Justin Smith, from 1883 to 1885
  • Edward C. Martin, from 1885 to 1886
  • J. Lyman Sweet, Jan. 1886 to Nov. 1886
  • Clarence E. Richards, Jan. 1886 to Jan. 1887
  • Eugene E. Richardson, Jan. 1887 to Jan. 1888
  • Walter T. Mason, Jan. 1888 to Jan. 1890
  • William L. Elliott, Jan. 1890 to Jan. 1892
  • Jason L. Wells, Jan. 1892 to Jan. 1894
  • Orville P. Richardson, Jan. 1894 to date.

TREASURERS

  • James H. Sturdy, from Organization to 1873
  • John Baxter, from 1873 to 1878
  • Charles I. Cobb, from 1878 to 1881
  • Frederick G. Mason, from 1881 to date

SECRETARIES

  • John M. Daggett, from Organization to 1873
  • Eugene T. Pierce, from 1873 to 1874
  • Edward A. Hammond, from 1874 to 1875
  • Eugene T. Pierce, from 1875 to 1878 (second time)
  • Thomas P. Nye, from 1878 to 1881
  • Orville P. Richardson, 1881 to 1888
  • W. Benjamin P. King, 1888 to date

The longest continuous service by one member in office appears from the record to be Bro. Everett B. Horton, who has served on the Finance Committee since his first appointment by W. Bro. George F. Bicknell in 1873, twenty-two (22) years; next comes Bro. Frederick G. Mason, first elected 1881 as Treasurer, and has served in that office fourteen (14) years, re-elected the fifteenth time but positively declined to serve longer; next comes Bro. Orville P. Richardson, first elected Secretary 1880, serving eight (8) years, and W. Bro. Benjamin P. King, the present incumbent, first elected in 1888 and has served to date, being re-elected this year.

IN MEMORIAM

  • John Brewster, May 8, 1874
  • William J. Thomas, Dec. 10, 1877
  • Daniel H. Capron, Aug. 28, 1878
  • William P. Pearce, Nov. 21, 1878
  • Avery Forbes, Feb. 21, 1879
  • Edwin J. Horton, June 11, 1880
  • Rodolphus Bliss, Aug. 26, 1883
  • Enoch Dewhurst, May 4, 1884
  • Alfred Chatterton, Nov. 10, 1884
  • Josiah Bowlin, Apr. 20, 1885
  • William H. Hardin, Oct. 31, 1886
  • Warren S. Mason, Jul. 4, 1886
  • Benjamin J. Angell, Oct. 14, 1886
  • Gideon M. Horton, Dec. 16, 1886
  • Edwin L. Crandall, Mar. 6, 1887
  • George E. Whitman, Feb. 21, 1888
  • John H. Norris, June 25, 1889
  • William P. Knapp, Jr., Aug. 19, 1889
  • Charles H. Wilbur, Mar. 25, 1890
  • William H. Sargent, June 16, 1891
  • J. Francis Coupe, Nov. 2, 1891
  • Edward Corbett, June 9, 1893
  • Russell B. Nye, Oct. 12, 1893
  • Hugh Smith, Nov. 19, 1893
  • D. Edward Wilmarth, May 14, 1894
  • Charles H. Sturdy, May 11, 1895

Of the twenty-four (24) Charter members, Brothers

  • Edward Corbett
  • Alfred Chatterton
  • Edwin L. Crandall
  • Benjamin J. Angell
  • Daniel H. Capron
  • Avery Forbes

six (6) have died;

  • John M. Daggett
  • Nathan A. Chatterton
  • Emory A. Perrin

three (3) have dimitted;

  • Oscar S. Thayer
  • Charles S. Cummings
  • William F. Reed
  • Walter W. Smith
  • Orville Balcom

and five (5) suspended for non-payment of dues, leaving ten (10) still living and members with us.

The present officers, 1895, are:

  • W.M., William L. Elliott
  • S.W., Ezekiel Blake
  • J. W., Orville P. Richardson
  • Treas., Frederick C. Mason
  • Sec’y, W. Benjamin P. King
  • Chaplain, W. Walter T. Mason
  • Marshal, John C. Stanton
  • S. D., George H. Snell
  • J. D., Alfred M. Richards
  • S. S., Edward A. Hammond
  • J. S., George I. Simpson
  • I. Sent., Alvah C. Luther
  • Tyler, James Howarth
  • Trustees: James H. Sturdy, W. Daniel H. Smith, Everett B. Horton
  • Hall Committee, Rt. Wor. Alfred F. Crosby, W. N. Justin Smith, W. Walter T. Mason.

Lodge meeting, the third Wednesday evening in each month. Annual Communication, the Regular in October.

And now in closing, you will see that I have tried to trace in a hurried manner Masonic History in Attleboro, and I hope that I have not tired you with my effort.

As we, as a lodge, enter upon another quarter century of history making, let those of us who can so enter into the spirit of Masonry and its teachings that we may never forget that we are Brethren of one large family, and as far as we can may we by our lives and actions be able to advertise the good side of Masonry.

And now holding in remembrance the experience of the past enough to guide us to better effort in the future, with our trust in God, as we said it was in our first beginnings, may Ezekiel Bates Lodge prosper and move on to a glorious feature.

Long live Ezekiel Bates Lodge.

Respectfully submitted,

Benjamin P. King.

For more of our history, much has been compiled over the past 5 years by Right Worshipful Walter Hunt, The Grand Historian of Massachusetts.

To view our history please follow the link below:

Ezekiel Bates History Page

We are currently collecting information from our past and will be adding the links here