Blanchester Lodge No. 191
Chartered October 17th,1850
On October 15,1850, Luther Adams, Thomas Adams, James Hagen and sever other prominent citizens of Blanchester, Ohio were granted a Charter from the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio establishing Blanchester Lodge #191.
At the time, little could these Brethren have realized the scope and long-lasting effect of what they had set in motion. Over the course of the last 157 years, through the good times and those not so good, the seed of that little country Lodge has grown and survives to this day. The hard work and dedication of hundreds of Masons over the years has kept the tenets of Freemasonry alive and viable as they have been taught and passed down from generation to generation. Some distinguished members of Blanchester Lodge #191 who have figured prominently in this task include: Two U. S. Representatives, as Ohio State Senator, nine 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Masons, two Grand High Priests and RWB Normand Lynn Lewis, Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Ohio and a District Deputy Grand Master of the Eighth Masonic District. Now, as we celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Freemasonry in Ohio, the members of Blanchester Lodge #191 collectively stand with one foot firmly planted on the strong foundation laid be those who came before us, ready to step forward into a future of great challenges and opportunities.
Blanchester Lodge, No. 191, F. & A.M., was charted by the State Grand Lodge, in session at Cincinnati, October 15, 1850. The lodge first met in Samuel Baldwin’s old frame hall, which they occupied until the fall of 1864, when they leased the hall, now known as the Ross Hall, of R. Goodwin. Here they remained until 1871, when they moved to their own hall in Trickey’s Block on Broadway Street near the railroad. The lodge is in a prosperous condition with a good hall nicely furnished and about forty members.
Luther Adams, First Worshipful Master of Blanchester Lodge
On October 15, 1850, Blanchester Lodge #191 F. & A.M. received its charter from the Grand Lodge of Ohio, then meeting in Cincinnati. Many of us have read that note and read how Luther Adams along with Thomas Adams and James Hagen willing served to help found our Lodge. However, beyond his name, what do we really know about our founding Worshipful Master? The man who would serve nine years, entrusted with the care and operation of our Lodge.
To begin this story, we go back to 1817 and the town of Salem, Ohio located in Columbiana County. There, Luther Adams was born the third son and child to Thomas and Clarinda (Haight) Adams. Luther’s father, a farmer by trade came from New York to Ohio between 1815 and 1816 settling in the Northeast part of this state. In 1817 the family resided in the community of Salem, Columbiana County where the subject of this sketch was born. By 1830, the family had moved from its farm in Northeast Ohio and were living in the Edwardsville are of Warren County.
By 1850, Luther Adams was married to Ossie Strawn, a native of the State of Indiana. He and his wife were living in Salem Township, Warren County, where he is listed as a farmer, with two children, a daughters Emma, age 3 and Jane, age 2. When the census was completed on September 30th, 1850, just fifteen days prior to Grand Lodge, Adams was listed as owning nearly $1500 in real estate, holdings which were about average for the time in his area. Next door his father Thomas owned a slightly larger farm valued at $3000. Three houses away, his 27-year-old brother, John Haight Adams, a carpenter by trade owned a smaller property valued at $200.
By 1860, Luther Adams had served as Master for most of the decade, first sitting in the East for five consecutive years from 1850-1854, then again in 1856 and 1859. During this time, Luther would move his family from the farm and into the village of Blanchester, where they were residing in 1860. By this time his profession had changed to that of inventor. While no details exist of his inventions at this time, his work would eventually pay off.
Little is known about the next few years of his life; however, he would again serve as Master of the Lodge for both 1866 and 1867. Over the next two years life would change for the Adams family. On Nov. 1, 1869, their daughter Jane would pass away in Blanchester. Whether this serves as the catalyst for a change of location can be said for sure. What is known is that by the time of the census in July 1870 the family had moved to Mattoon, Coles County, Illinois were Luther was employed as a railroad laborer with no real estate and personal assets valued at $1000. Further tragedy would strike in August of 1872 when the Adams’ would lose their only son, Perry Adams, at age 17.
Despite the tragedy, Luther continued to work on his inventions. The time working as a railroad laborer may have provided him with the inspiration he needed for his greatest invention. In 1873, he would patent a railroad car brake, receiving Patent Number 144013. The patent on the new brake mechanism was even featured in the January 1874 edition of Scientific American where it was described as follows:
Improved Railway Car Brake. Luther Adams, Mattoon, Ill.— A friction disk or wheel having a notch Is the chief medium for bringing the brake mechanism into action. Tins disk is mounted on Journals in the bifurcated end of a plate which Is hinged to a cross bar or timber. A spring is attached to said plate and has a hole in its free end to receive a rod which forms the short arm of a bent lever. This last extends above the platform and Is pivoted thereto so as to be easily accessible. A spring also holds the disk out of contact with the axle. When it Is desired to apply the brakes, the lever Is operated to de- press the spring plate, and thus bring the disk to come in frictional contact with the axle, which causes It to revolve one half a revolution, or until the axle enters the groove or notch, when the disk will remain locked until the pressure on the spring Is relieved. This movement of the disk upon Its axis applies the brakes, since it winds up the chain, which is secured In a circumferential groove of said disk and extends back and connects with one end of a bar that is pivoted to the brake beam. By suitable mechanism, the action of the friction wheel is made automatic.
The key feature was that it made the brake mechanism automatic. While this invention was a vast improvement, George Westinghouse patented his first air brake in 1869. He had difficulty persuading railroad officials that air could stop a train, but the efficiency of his system convinced detractors, and, by 1880, the Westinghouse automatic air brake had been installed on 2,211 locomotives and 7,224 cars in the United States. It was also used on rail locomotives and cars in Europe and Australia. This when combined with efforts of railroad safety advocates who wanted a standardized brakes, couplings, and car designs. By 1893, the Safety Application Act required that all railways conducting interstate commerce must use automatic couplings and power braking systems due to the number of accidents in which brakemen were injured or killed. While Adams design was still in use on smaller railways, the new Westinghouse air brake became the standard.
Luther Adams would spend the rest of his life in Mattoon, Illinois, passing to the Great Celestial Lodge above on 7 July 1896.