F. & A.M.

April 27th, 2009


Free Masonry has always occupied an important place in Watsontown and Watsontown Lodge No. 401, Free and Accepted Masons is one of the town’s oldest institutions. On the first of September 1867 a number of brethren of the Free and Accepted Ancient York Masons made application to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania to grant them a charter for a new Lodge that would be located at Watsontown. Originally it was to be called Freeland Lodge in honor of the Revolutionary fort that had been located just four miles away, but it was finally decided to call it the Watsontown Lodge. The application for the Charter was signed by Joseph Hollopeter and William Dunn of Muncy Lodge No. 299; George Burns of Sunbury Lodge No. 22; and Robert H. McCormick, Jacob M. Follmer, John D. Gosh, Amos Anderson, John Seibert, Franklin McWilliams, John N. Oyster, James W. Muffly, John D. Watson, John R. Seiler, Jacob P. Starr, Andrew Jackson Darrah, Joshua Cole, and John Stitzel of Milton Lodge No. 256. The Lodge was constituted by the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania on January 16, 1868, and assigned the number “401”. The first meeting was held in the hall at the Foresman House (now the Mansion House). After the constitution of the Lodge was adopted and the officers were installed, the Grand Master delivered a lecture on Free Masonry at St. Bartholomew’s Union Church (present site of the First Lutheran Church). The lecture was very largely attended by the townspeople and visitors, and afterwards Reverend King, on behalf of the ladies of Watsontown, presented the Lodge with a beautiful copy of the Holy Bible. The first officers of the Lodge named in the warrant of authority were Joseph Hollopeter, Worshipful Master; Jacob M. Follmer, Senior Warden; and John D. Gosh, Junior Warden. George Burns was elected treasurer and Robert H. McCormick, secretary. The Worshipful Master then appointed the following to fill the other offices as follows: James W. Muffly, Senior Deacon; Franklin McWilliams, Junior Deacon; John Stitzel, Senior Master of Ceremonies; John R. Seiler, Junior Master of Ceremonies; Isaac Messinger of Milton Lodge, Pursuivant; Rev. T.C. Billheimer, Chaplain; and Cyrus F. Bowers, Tyler. The first regular meeting of the Lodge met on February 5, 1868, at the Foresman House. Eighteen petitions addressed to the Lodge were received and at the next stated meeting Robert G. Seiler, Rev. Henry Mosser, Rev. T.C. Billheimer and Jacob H. Wagner were introduced and received the first degree in Free Masonry with Rev. Henry Mosser closing the Entered Apprentice Masons Lodge with prayer. The first group to ever be raised to Master Masons at Lodge 401 was on May 13, 1868, and included Jacob H. Wagner, Rev. T.C. Billheimer, Robert G. Seiler, and William M. Wagner. Meetings were set for every lunar month upon the Wednesday evening of or immediately preceding every full moon. During these early years meetings started anywhere from 6:00 to 8:00 and lasted several times as late as 12:00 midnight.

The Masonic Lodge continued to meet at the Foresman House until it was decided on September 15, 1868, to move to the S.M. Miller Building on the southeast corner of Main and Fourth Street (site of the present Borough Hall) as soon as construction would be completed in 1869. The whole of the third floor was specially prepared for Masonic use and was appointed and fitted for Masonic purposes making it one of the most comfortable and complete Masonic homes in this section of the state.

On May 19, 1880, Watsontown Lodge contributed $25 to the Milton Lodge and offered them the use of the Watsontown Lodge room following the destruction of their Lodge room in the Great Milton Fire which on May 14, 1880, destroyed most of Milton. The following year the Watsontown Lodge was draped in Mourning for a period of three months following the death of fellow Brother President James A. Garfield who had died on September 19, 1881, after being shot three months before by a crazed office seeker. The Masonic Lodge at Watsontown participated in the laying of the cornerstone of the new Eighth Street School on May 27, 1882, with the following brethren participating: Edward L. Matchin, Wm. Field Shay, John F. McClure, Phineas Leiser, Leslie Dougherty, James B. Oakes, George Burns, Lorenzo Everett, Andrew Tenbrook, Frederick A. Reen, Robert H. McCormick, Samuel B. Morgan, W.I. Wilson, Eli Welsh, and Joseph Hollopeter. With twenty-six brethren present they processed to the new building and there performed the ceremony according to the ancient usages and customs of the fraternity. On January 22, 1902, it was moved and approved to contribute towards the Soldiers Monument at the Watsontown Cemetery which was being erected by the Grand Army of the Republic.

On April 25, 1903, the question of moving the Lodge from the Miller building to the Adams building was acted upon and on November 25, 1903, it was decided in favor of moving to the new Adams building. On February 24, 1904, the trustees were instructed to move the Lodge property to the third floor of the new hall in the Adams building before the next meeting in March and that they were to sell the stove and any other property that would not be needed in the new Lodge rooms. The first meeting at the Adams building was held on March 30, 1904. Brother Lewis N. Frymire who was a member of Lodge 144 circulated a subscription amongst the members of Lodge 401 for the purpose of placing a memorial window in the Baptist Church at Watsontown during recent remodeling and the Lodge would pay the remaining balance as of March 7, 1906. On September 21, 1920, a change to the by-laws was proposed that Article I, Section 1 be amended by striking out the words “Tuesday on or before fullmoon” and inserting in lieu the words “first Tuesday of each month”. This was adopted on October 26, 1920. On October 4, 1921, the trustees were authorized to negotiate with the owners of the brick building located on the southeast corner of Main and Fifth Streets (present site of the Laundromat) to purchase the building as a Lodge Hall, if possible, at a sum not to exceed $4000. For some unknown reason the trustees were instructed to drop all negotiations the following month.

In 1930 the Hall Association was formed, and they began the process of purchasing the Ed Fisher building located at 209 – 213 Main Street for the use of the Masonic bodies. The building itself was to cost $12,000, but with the number of renovations that needed to be completed before the Lodge could move in would bring the total cost to approximately $42,000. The Fisher Building is two stories, extending across the entire lot and is fifty-six feet deep. The walls are solid brick, and the cross beams are as sound as the day they were put into the building. The location of the building is ideal as it is situated in the center of town. Original plans for altering the new Masonic home were to add a third story for Lodge use and create a community hall for the purpose of providing community banquets, card parties, and other entertainments.

In 2007 a new building committee was organized and plans for building a new lodge hall on twenty acres of land just outside of Watsontown were finalized. The cost of the building will be approximately $450,000.00.

Worshipful Masters
Joseph Hollopeter1868Wm. ELmer Metzger1919Charles L. O\'Conner1970
Jacob M. Follmer1869Franklin E. Kear1920Gerald L. Hall1971
Isaac N. Messinger1870James F. Fisher1921N. Roland Confer1972
Oscar Foust1871Wm. Marsh Lantz1922Wilmer E. Hall1973
Isaac Vincent1872Guy L. Young1923Paul E. Kilgus1974
William M. Wagner1873John Billhime1924Robert L. Zettlemoyer1975
Jacob H. Wagner1874J. Hiestand Harnish1925James G. Miller1976
Samuel G.M. Hollopeter1875Fred W. Rombach1926Thomas J. McClintock1977
Fred H. Knight1876Robert N. Sheffer1927Marne E. Fetter1978
Jacob P. Starr1877G. Elroy Beagle1928James C. Young1979
James M. Rhoads1878Myron Mausteller1929Donald E. Weaver1980
James B. Oaks1879Harry M. Grittner1930Charles R. Burrows, Jr.1981
Harry F. Algert1880Kenneth L. Preisler1931Donald W. Houser1982
William Field Shay1881William H. Beisel1932James W. Delany1983
Edward L. Matchin1882William C. Gauger1933Frederick G. Ripka1984
John F. McClure1883Paul S. Grittner1934David W. Page1985
Phineas Leiser1884Ralph E. Cromis1935Michael L. Kessel1986
Robert Buck1885Vance I. Iddings1936Richard E. Brittain, Sr.1987
Austin Stull1886Paul R. Seibert1937James E. Deitrick1988
Jacob M. Major1887J. Nyce Patterson1938Gary E. Truckenmiller1989
Jacob M. Major1888C. Richard Klapp1939Robert K. Fry1990
Lorenzo Everitt1889James F. Smith1940Dennis K. Birdsall1991
Lorenzo Everitt1890Alvin R. Oakes1941William L. Bryan1992
William A. Nicely1891Roy W. Moltz1942Bela R. Suranyi1993
Orlando F. Benson1892Edward N. Billman1943James W. Kurtz1994
Fuller S. Derr1893Roy A. Reynolds1944George E. Meck1995
Joseph C. Gibson1894Paul C. Klapp1945Donald O. Erdley, Jr.1996
Edgar L. Housel1895Thomas W. Evans1946Larry E. Maynard1997
Thomas B. Shannon1896Chester G. Hall1947Bruce A. Musser1998
Ward O. Welsh1897Howard H. Cary1948Mark S. Reasner1999
Albert O. Mullen1898Donald R. Buck1949Scott L. Shrawder2000
Harry L. Rinehart1899Carl Z. Stevens1950Roger L. Mills2001
Edward B. Truckenmiller1900George Boughter, Jr.1951David C. Wallize2002
H. Richard Hummel1901Guy L. Young, Jr.1952Patrick N. Maynard2003
Charles D. Berger1902George C. Smith1953William W. Groom2004
Harry W. Armstrong1903Earl W. Reynolds1954Larry E. Sholly, Jr.2005
Frank E. Truckenmiller1904Ralph Middleton1955Larry L. Roup2006
Walter F. Renck1905George A. Frederick1956Robert Zettlemoyer, III2007
Elmer B. Derr1906Kenneth M. Yerg1957John H. Noble, Jr.2008
Harry R. Slifer1907F. Dale Oakes1958Thomas E. Ryder2009
David L. Bly1908Herbert E. Barr19592010
Harry R. Kuhns1909Daniel O. Fausnaught19602011
John A. McFarland1910W. Herbert Yerg19612012
Lee Dentler1911Paul C. Cronrath19622013
William C. Wagner1912George H. Deitrick19632014
John H.C. Manifold1913James G. Yost19642015
Jay F. Weik1914Richard Middleton19652016
Earl W. Trick1915William F. Deitrick19662017
Fred H. Housel1916James C. Young19672018
Samuel C. Klapp1917Henry E. Bower, Jr.19682019
David F. Barr1918Marlin L. Plymette19692020

Last Modified: 12.27.22

One Response

  1. bob Shaffner Says:

    I would like to participate in the next offering of the Mosonic Henry Fireman 22 Rifle. Could you please advise me.
    Bob Shaffner

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