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History of Belpre, Washington Co., Ohio
By C. E. Dickinson, D. D.
Formerly Pastor of Congregational Church
Author of the History of First Congregational Church
Marietta, Ohio
Published for the Author by
Globe Printing & Binding Company
Parkersburg, West Virginia


Page 202

Early Masonic Lodge - Belpre Lodge 609 - Odd Fellows. - Colored Odd Fellows - Knights of Pythias - Little Hocking Grange


For the following interesting account of the origin of this
Fraternity among the pioneers we are indebted
to Charles L. McNeal, Esq.

Farmers Lodge F. & A. M., No. 20, Belpre, Ohio.

     THE first meeting according to the old records was held January 23rd, 1812 and a part of the minutes are as follows:
     The following brethren of Free and Accepted Masons met at the home of Brother HaskellBros. Nathaniel Cushing, Samuel Nash, Oliver Rice, Jonathan Haskell, Robert Bradford, William Leebody, Perley Howe, Cyrus Ames, John Bennett, Ira W. Pier, and Daniel Loring.  The brethren of the Ancient Craft present, taking into consideration the benefits to be derived by the institution of Free Masonry, and calling to mind the advanced age to which many of the brethren present have arrived, the inconvenience and expense attending their meeting with their brethren of American Union Lodge of Marietta of which Lodge several of the brethren present are members, and believing it to be their duty to contribute as much as is in their power toward advancing the benefits accruing from the institution, came to a unanimous resolution of addressing a letter to the most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of Ohio, on the subject, and on motion being adopted, Bros. Cushing, Rice, Nash, Loring and Bennett were chosen a committee for the purpose.  Having attended to the business of their appointment, on the 30th of January they draughted and signed a letter to the Most Worshipful Brother Cass in which they communicated the desire of the brethren of Belpre of congregating together and of being authorized to work as a regular Lodge at that place.  At the same time inquiring for information of the most worshipful,

[Pg. 203]
     To which letter the brethren of Belpre received a polite and friendly answer from their brother the Most Worshipful Grand Master bearing date of February 14, 1812.  In consequence of which the brethren met at brother Haskells; those present were bros. Cushing, Nash, Rice, Haskell, Bradford, Leebody, Bennett, Ames, Pier and LoringBrother Cushing being called to the chair and Brother Loring chosen Secretary, on motion the letter from the Most Worshipful was read. At the same meeting, with the full and entire approval of the brethren present, they came to the unanimous resolution of petitioning for a dispensation whereby they might legally congregate as a regular Lodge.  On motion being seconded came a choice of a Worshipful Master, Senior and Junior Wardens.  On examination brother Nathaniel Cushing was duly elected the Worshipful Master, brother Samuel Nash Senior Warden, and brother Oliver Rice Junior Warden.  On motion being seconded it was agreed that a petition be draughted, signed and forwarded to the Most Worshipful Grand Master, praying that a dispensation might be issued authorizing the brethren of Belpre to congregate together as a regular Lodge.  The petition being draughted and signed by a sufficient number of Master Masons and the names of the Worshipful Master and Wardens elected inserted, it was forwarded to the Most Worshipful Grand Master by Senior Warden, who on his return (the brethren of Belpre having met at Brother Plaskells) presented the brethren with a dispensation from the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Lodge of Ohio, authorizing the brethren of the Ancient Craft residing in Belpre to congregate as a regular Lodge and granting to them the right and privileges thereunto appertaining, they having promised a strict adherance to the principles of Masonry as well as a strict obedience to the regulations of the Grand Lodge.
     The Lodge so established of Ancient York Masons to be held in the township of Belpre and to be denominated Farmers Lodge No. 20 and appointing brother Nathaniel Cushing to be the first Master, brother Samuel Nash the first Senior Warden and brother Oliver Rice the first Junior Warden, which dispensation continues in force until the next meeting of the Grand Lodge of the State of Ohio, dated the 7th day of March the year of redemption 1812 and of Masonry 5812 and signed Lewis Cass.

[Pg. 204]
     This dispensation in the original form has been preserved through all the years and is now the property of Belpre Lodge No. 609.
     This Ancient Lodge composed of a few staunch men met at regular intervals and arranged their by-laws of twenty-one articles by which their meetings were conducted until May, 1816 when the last minutes, now in possession of Lodge No. 609, were recorded.
     We rather deplore the fact to-day that in order to have a company of men get together there must be “eats” but in the older days the interest of men must have been reached through their stomachs for almost every meeting when a bill was ordered paid the following items were always included, House Room, firewood, candles, from eight to twenty-three suppers at 12 1-2 cents each, and from one to two quarts of brandy.
     Quite a lot of petitions, notes, and communications are still being kept in the archives of Belpre Lodge, but some of the last records must have been lost for many of the papers bear a later date than 1816.
     In September 1821 a communication was received from the Grand Lodge as follows.
     To all whom it may concern, I, John Snow, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, have appointed brother George Dana agent for the Grand Lodge to collect all dues by note or otherwise which are due the late Farmers Lodge and hold the same subject to the order of the Grand Lodge.

                                                                                                              JOHN SNOW

September 1, 1821.
     This paper was prepared by brother Charles L. McNeal, Worshipful Master of Belpre Lodge No. 609, F. & A. M., February, 1914.
     It does not seem to be known how long this Lodge continued active.
     The working tools, charts and aprons used by them have been preserved and are in the rooms of the present Lodge.  For many years the members of this fraternity

[Pg. 205]
residing in Belpre held their membership in Lodges in Parkersburg or elsewhere.
     Belpre Masons received a dispensation to form and open a Lodge in Belpre from M. W. Grand Master, Harry S. Kissell of the Grand Lodge of Ohio under the name of Belpre Lodge 609.


     The following eighteen Master Masons signed the petion for this Dispensation.

J. W. Cady
Lee Cady
B. L. VanWinkle
F. J. Dressell
David Oliver
Sandy Shafer
F. D. Masters
B. J. Patton
W. F. Wood
Will W. Watson
Bruce G. Luzader
F. O. Balderson
A. J. Wigner
S. A. Gailbraith
J. A. Burnfield
Fred A. Lang
C. L. McNeal
W. J. Wharton

     The members were active from the beginning and when the charter was received, October 11th, 1911 they had raised seventeen Master Masons. Dr. B. L. VanWinkle was the first W. Master. F. O. Balderson the first Senior Warden, C. L. McNeal the first Junior Warden.  This Lodge has continued active and embraces in its membership many leading men of the community.


     Belpre Lodge of Independent Order of Odd Fellows, No. 619 was instituted August 10, 1875, by Joseph Lowell, Grand Master.  There were seven charter members, viz: John Brown, David Oliver, J. R. King, B. W. Compton, John B. Badger, A. F. Downer, and A. T. Shahan.
     At the first meeting, John F. King, and I. H. Henderson were admitted by card and George Dunbarger, L. M. Cunningham, Joseph Richards and I. B. Kinkead were initiated. The following is a list of first officers:
     John Brown, N. G.
     David Oliver, V. G.
     J. R. King, Sec.
     B. W. Compton, Permanent Sec.

[Pg. 206]
     A. V. Downer, Treas.
     I. H. Henderson, Warden
     James King, Conductor
     John F. King, Inside Guardian
     I. B. Kinkead, Right Supporter to N. G.
     C. B. Ames, Left Supperter to N. G.
     Joseph Richards, R. S. V. G.
     John G. Waterman, L. S. V. G.
     A. T. Shahan, R. S. S.
     L. M. Cunningham, L. S. S.

     The first meetings of the Lodge were held in Brownings Building on Main Street just north of the Railroad.  In 1880 they removed to their spacious building on the corner of Main Street and Blennerhassett Avenue which they have since occupied.  This Lodge has continued prosperous making considerable additions each year.  The present membership is seventy-eight. Each year they invite a pastor of one of the village churches to preach for them a special sermon at which time they are present in a body.
     They also have a department for the ladies known as Daughters of Rebeckah which is well sustained and includes some of the leading ladies of the community.


     Star of Belpre No. 1910 Grand United Order of Odd Fellows (colored) was organized in 187— by the Naomi Lodge of Parkersburg, West Va. with 31 charter members.  The first officers were:
     H. G. Miller
, N. G.
     R. W. Whiteman
, Permanent Sec.
     David Tucker
, Noble Father.  
     George Williams
, Elective Sec.
     J. W. Scott,
     Robert Williams
, Chaplain.
     Harmon Boggs
, P. N. G.


     Belpre Tent No. 541 Knights of the Maccabees was instituted by A. W. Shinn, D. G. C of McConnelsville, O.  January 8th, 1906 with the following Officers:

[Pg. 207]
     W. E. Cox, Sir Knight, P. C.
     M. I. Keltum, Sir Knight, Com.
     S. S. Ford, Sir Knight,
     Lieut. Com. Dr. J. V. Athey, R. K.
     C. G. Dixon, Chaplain.
     Isaac Taylor, Sergt.
     B. L. VanWinkle, Sir Knight, Physician.
     George Northrop, Sir Knight, M. at A.
     Pearl Northrop, Sir Knight, 1st M. of G.
     A. L. Allen, Sir Knight, 2nd M. of G.
     Scott Charter, Sir Knight, Sent.
     C. M. Hutchison, Sir Knight, Picket.

     The tent now has a membership of sixty-five.  Only three charter members now hold membership here.  Present officers are:
     F. R. Wigner, Sir Knight, P. C.
     C. C. Miller, Sir Knight, Com.
     D. M. Brookhart, Sir Knight, Lieut. Com.
     C. K. Brookhart, Sir Knight, R. K.
     J. G. Bennett, Sir Knight, Chaplain.
     B. L. VanWinkle, Sir Knight, Physician.
     Clyde Hawk, Sir Knight, Sergt.
     B. F. Tonkins, Sir Knight, M. at A.
     G. H. Williams, Sir Knight, 1st M. of G.
     C. L. Christopher, Sir Knight, 2nd M. of G.
     E. L. Wigner, Sir Knight, Sentinel.

     The members carry a total of $49,000 life insurance.  There is also a sick and accident feature of the organization which pays eight dollars a week.  Most of the members carry this .


     Blennerhassett Lodge of Knights of Pythias was instituted July 8th, 1889 and was one of the first fraternal organizations in Belpre.  The first officers and members were as follows:
     F. P. Ames
, C. C.
     D. R. Rood
, V. C.
     J. F. Steele
, Prelate.
     C. B. Ballard
, M. at A.
     L. H. Brown
, K. R. and S.
     D. M. Alderman
, M. of E.

[Pg. 208]
     W. L. McMorris, M. of F.
     F. L. Simpson, I. G.
     Millard Hamilton, O. G.
     P. S. Cole, P. C.

     Members: - F. J. Dressell, W. C. Lockwood, A. T. Stone, H. G. Stone, G. W. Gandee, J. W. Cady, 0. L. Davis, G. M. O’Neal, W. J. Wharton, H. S. Curtis, H. T. Curtis, Will M. Coe, T. C. McTaggart, J. C. Malster, Frank Bosworth.
     This lodge has prospered from the beginning and has been a benefit to its members of the twenty-five charter members, twenty-two are now living and ten are still members of the lodge.  Others have been transferred to other lodges. 
     There are also persons in Belpre who belong to several other organizations in Parkersburg.  It would seem to a layman that fraternal organizations are divided into about as many sects as our churches, but as we observe that persons often belong to several organizations we conclude that their objects are somewhat different and assume that they all aim to confer benefits on their fellow men.


     The Little Hocking Grange, No. 873, was organized May 1, 1874, and since that time has exerted a very important influence in the community.  It has been decidedly helpful, not only in out door life but also in the homes, it has been a center of charitable work.  During the European War its hall has been opened as a work room for the Red Cross and for other war work meetings.  Its present membership is about fifty and the official list for 1918 is as follows:

     Master, C. D, Robinson.
     Overseer, S. B. Oakes.
     Lecturer, A. S. Phelps.
     Steward, E. T. McPherson.
     Assistant Steward, W. R. Woodburn.
     Lady Assistant Steward, Mrs. Julia Woodburn.
     Chaplain, B. S. Cunningham.
     Treasurer, C. W. Oakes.
     Secretary, J. R. Cole.

Mrs. William Armstrong

Mrs. Susan W. Dickinson

[Pg. 209]

Gatekeeper, J. R. Giddings.
Pomona, Grace Robinson.
Ceres, Mrs. McPherson.
Flora, Edith Watson.
Organist, Elizabeth Oakes.
Legislative Committee, F. P. Ames, (deceased).
Business Agent, J. R. Cole.

     The regular printed program for the year 1918 embraces an extensive list of practical subjects to be considered at the meetings, which are held twice each month. Those for two meetings in November may be given as samples.

November 9.
Heating the home with a view of saving fuel L. E. Wells
Do you think it wise to make an effort to keep boys and girls on the farm?---------------------
     ------------------------- Mrs. Oakes, Mrs. Lewis, Mrs. Stone.
What a boy should be taught ---- S. F. Stone, G. K. Thorp
Getting ready for winter in the Poultry Yard
------------------------------------------------------Mrs. Coggshall

November 23rd.
My Duty to my Community ---------------- Roll Call
The Value of a farm Workshop ---------------------------------
---------------------- Eugene Brewster, J. R. Giddings
The True Standard of Success --------------------Lena Brewster
House work in Winter ------------------------- Mrs. Wells, Mrs. Cole
Top Dressing Winter Wheat H. N. Curtis, J. G. Coggshall

     The treatment of practical subjects like these by intelligent men and women must be a continual uplift to the intellectual and social as well as agricultural condition of the community.  We hope the Little Hocking Grange may continue and increase its good work.





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