Pickaway Lodge No. 23
Celebrating 200 years!
First and Third Wed of the Month
Jan-Jun/Sep-Dec@ 7:30 PM
113 1/2 South Court Street
Circleville, OH 43113
Chartered January 3rd, 1815
Many of its earliest members were natives of the New England States, particularly Connecticut, Vermont and Rhode Island. Several others had immigrated to the Ohio Country through the gateways at Wheeling, Marietta and Portsmouth at the mouth of the Scioto River as they were coming from Pennsylvania and Virginia. It must be remembered that the Commonwealth of Virginia was only 90 miles from Circleville and Pickaway County prior to the year 1863.In 1812, Masonic Brethren met together in a session with but one object in mind. From this session came a petition to the Grand Lodge of Masons in Annual Communication at Chillicothe bearing signatures of several Masons praying to be erected into a Lodge in the Town of Circleville in Pickaway County and to be called Pickaway Lodge No.___. The petition was handed in and read, whereupon it was referred to Brothers E. B. Merwin, Rial McArthur and Josiah Dillion, to make a report thereon.
The section of By-Laws provided that each member be subject to a twenty-five cent fine for neglect of his attendance on regular nights unless excused sufficient.
Upon the invitation of the Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Masons were asked to assist in laying the corner-stone of the church edifice in this town (Circleville) on the Twelfth of May 1832.
On April 6, 1875, at a meeting of the Masonic Temple Association consisting of Brothers Samuel W. Courtright, S. A. Moore, John H. Borate, Nelson J. Turney, William E. Bolin, Samuel H. Evans and W. F. Hurst, after examining all bids submitted for the erection of the Masonic Temple, the contract was awarded to the Vorys Brothers Co., of Lancaster, Ohio, the low bidder, for $18,599.00.
Pickaway Lodge, No. 23, F. & A. M. The first lodge instituted in Pickaway County was Pickaway Lodge, No. 23, F. & A. M., at Circleville, its organization dating from about the third year of the county, and ante-dating the incorporation of the town of Circleville by about two years. Unfortunately some of the earliest records of the lodge were lost in moving from one building to another, and it is necessary to depend upon the records of the Grand Lodge of Ohio for information as to the organization of the lodge in Circleville.
From the proceedings of the Grand Lodge in session at Chillicothe, Grand Master Lewis Cass presiding, it is learned that on Monday, January 4, 1813, “a petition from a number of Master Masons residing in the county of Pickaway, praying to be erected into a lodge in the town of Circleville, in said county, to be called Pickaway Lodge, No. was handed in and ‘read, whereupon it was referred to Brothers Merwin, McArthur and Dillon, to make a report,” and that on Tuesday, January 5th, this committee reported’ as follows :
The committee to whom was referred the petition of sundry brethren of Circleville and vicinity, have taken into consideration the same, and are of the opinion that the prayer of the petitioners ought to be granted. They would recommend that a dispensation be issued accordingly.
(Signed.) E. B. MERWIN, Chairman.
The report was agreed to, and a dispensation issued in accordance therewith; and soon
thereafter a lodge was organized to be known as Pickaway Lodge, No. . and officers were chosen as follows : Ralph Osborn, W. M.; Peter Parcels, S. W. ; James Renick, J. W. ; Jonathan Renick, treasurer ; Richard Douglas, secretary; James Russell, S. D. ; Ira W. Pier, J. D.; Abel Renick, tyler.
At the annual meeting of the Grand Lodge, held’ at Chillicothe, in January, 1814, the following Master Masons were returned in addition to those named above, as follows : William Renick, William Seymour, James Denny and George Brown ; and the following Fellow Crafts,’ viz.: William Florence, Johnston Hunter, James Bell and James R. Hulse. The first communication was held by Pickaway Lodge on Feburary 6, 1813, and the first member initiated was James Bell, on June 8, 1813.
At the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Ohio at Chillicothe, Grand’ Master Henry Brush presiding, January 2, 1815, it was agreed upon motion of Ralph Osborn, of Pickaway Lodge, to grant a charter in lieu of the dispensation which was surrendered; and on the following day, January 3, 1815, Pickaway Lodge, No. 23, Free and Accepted Masons, was duly chartered by Henry Brush, G. M.; Jacob Burnett, D. G. M., pro tem.; Edward Tupper, S. G. W.; Levin Belt, J. G. W.; David Kinkead, G. T.; and Robert Kercheval, G. S. The charter members were designated as follows : Ralph Osborn, Peter Parcels, James Renick, James Denny, Jonathan Renick, James Russell, James Bell and James Keller.
The new lodge had the usual vicissitudes of a new organization, and perhaps the trials and inconveniences were greater than would be experienced at this, the day of strenuous civilization and unlimited invention; but the faith and the enthusiasm of the brethren were of the kind that surmount all obstacles, and Pickaway Lodge has never faltered, from 1813 to the present time, in carrying out the grand principles of Masonry.
The first communications were held in a log house, the first structure erected within the, limits of .Circleville, which is referred to at another place in this work, as having been the first Court House in the young county seat. After the streets were laid out around it, it stood on the southwest corner of High and Scioto streets, and is known to many people as the “Williamson House.” It was recently torn down to make room for a modern dwelling, and the view of it shown in this work was made shortly prior to its destruction. After the Court House had been removed to the center of the circle (now the intersection of Court and Main streets), Pickaway Lodge also moved and occupied rooms in that building.
On July 7, 1824, at a regular communication, Brother Henry Sage presiding, the following resolution was adopted :
Resolved, That it is expedient to appropriate the funds of the lodge to the building of a lodge room, in connection with a school house, if sufficient funds can be raised to complete a building for that purpose.
Brothers Andrew Huston, G. W. Doane, F. Kinnear, James Bell and William Leiby were appointed as a soliciting committee and were so successful that at a special communication, a week later, a building committee was appointed, consisting of Brothers Huston; Bell, Webb, Kinnear and Wolfley. The upper story of the building, which was erected in accordance with the action detailed above; was dedicated to lodge purposes by the Grand Lodge of the State on Friday, June 24, 1825, and was thus occupied and used for 20 years. The lower story of the building was used as an academy. It stood on the north side of Watt street near Pickaway on the site of a residence recently owned by the late Peter Bartholomew. The total cost of the new home of the lodge was $505.97 1/4, the room costing $440.73 1/2, and the furnishing $65.23 3/4.
On February 24, 1845, a committee consisting of Joseph G. Doddridge, J. A. Roof and Henry N. Hedges, Jr., was appointed to negotiate with Edson B. Olds, for the purchase from him of the third floor of the building occupied by the stores of Lyman N. Olds, William Triplett and Sage & Duncan (the same rooms as are now occupied by the exchange of the Citizens’ Telephone Company). On Tuesday evening, March 4th, Mr. Olds offered to sell the property desired for $1,500; and at the regular communication on March 19th the lodge instructed the committee to accept the offer and the contract was concluded March 24th, and a contract let on June 18th, to Gephart & Hartz, for $112, to put the rooms in suitable condition for lodge purposes, under the supervision of a committee consisting of Brothers William B. Thrall, Henry Sage and G. C. Gephart. On Friday, August 22, 1845, the new hall was dedicated by the Grand Lodge of Ohio, Grand Master William B. Thrall presiding. After the dedication ceremony, an oration was delivered by William B. Hubbard (grand high priest of the Grand Chapter of Ohio) at the English Lutheran Church on West Franklin street. This lodge room was used for Masonic purposes for over 30 years, until the present imposing Masonic Temple was built in 1875-76.
A joint stock company was formed and was incorporated February 23, 1874, under the name of “The Masonic Temple Association of Circleville, Ohio.” The incorporators were Samuel W. Courtright, Samuel B. Evans, William E. Bolin, Charles F. Krimmel, John H. Bortz and William Fletcher Hurst.
The lodge had purchased the King property (opposite the present Masonic Temple) but disposed of it after purchasing from John Henry and wife, for $6,000, on February 21, 1874, the lot which they now occupy, the deed being made April 1, 1874. The lot is 46 feet front on Court street by 150 feet deep, and one of the most eligible and desirable building sites in the city.
The capital stock of the association was 20,000, divided into shares of $10 each. The lodge subscribed $6,00o, and in payment for 600 shares of stock transferred to the association the lot upon which the Temple stands. The remainder of the stock was subscribed by members of the lodge, a reduction to $18,000 being made.
The corner-stone was laid Thursday afternoon, July 29, 1875, with the customary exercises, but with little display. There was a procession composed of the fraternity of this city and representatives from Lithopolis Lodge. In the absence of Brother Mills Gardner, of Washington Court House, grand master of Ohio, Brother Samuel W. Courtright, acting by proxy, conducted the services. The ceremony was witnessed by a large assemblage. Wittich’s Band furnished inspiring music.
On the evening of Tuesday, July 3, 1877, the fraternity took formal leave of their hall on Main street, and removed to their new and more commodious quarters. The members of the order assembled at the old hall at 7:30 o’clock and the exercises began with the opening ode. Brother J. T. Franklin then offered an appropriate prayer, and was followed by an eloquent farewell address by Brother Charles F. Krimmel. At the conclusion of these exercises, the members of the order bade final adieu to the old lodge room, around which clustered so many Masonic memories, formed a procession, headed by Wittich’s Band, and proceeded to the new hall, where the ceremonies were concluded. An excellent opening address was delivered by Brother Isaac N. Abernethy, and a concise and interesting historical address by Brother Judge Samuel W. Courtright. The exercises were interspersed with music.
The building was erected by Vorys Brothers, of Lancaster, Ohio, their bid of $i8.599 being accepted. The building committee having supervision of the work was made up of Brothers Nelson J. Turney, Samuel A. Moore and William E. Bolin, with J. T. Hatris, of Columbus, architect. The structure was originally 46 feet wide by 1 to feet long, and three stories high. It has been added to at the rear in recent years, until now it is. 150 feet long. The first story has been used since the completion of the building for mercantile business, the second story for offices and the third story for Masonic purposes. The lodge room is 43 feet wide, 60 feet long and 24 feet high. After the main hall and adjoining rooms had been magnificently carpeted and furnished, it was decided to have a formal public dedication, and the date for this ceremony was fixed for St. John’s Day, June 24, 1879, and a committee of arrangements was selected, consisting of Brothers Nelson J. Turney, John Boyer, Isaac N. Abernethy, Samuel Ward, Andrew R. Bolin and Samuel B. Evans. The committee and other members of the order worked unremittingly for the affair, and their efforts were crowned with abundant success. The city was lavishly decorated, the entire line of march, and a great part of the city away from the line of march being covered with flags and Masonic designs. The grand officers who were present and conducted the ceremonies were: William M. Cunningham, of Columbus, M.; John W. May, of New Holland, D. G. M.; B. F. Reese, of Columbus, S. G. W.; M. Watt, of Chillicothe, J. G. W.; Theodore P. Gordon, of Columbus, G. T.; G. H. Hampson, of Columbus, G. S.; J. T. Rose, of Springfield, G. C.; Smith M. Sullivan, of Dayton, G. O.; Joseph M. Stuart, G. M.; Allen B. Hughes, of Mt. Sterling, G. S. D.; Hugh Buckley, of Cleveland, G. J. D.; Jacob Randall, G. T.; W. A. Connelly, of Portsmouth, G. S. B.; C. H. Ostrander, of Cleveland, G. A. Jacob Theobald ; T. A. Jackson, of Columbus, G. S.
The ceremony of dedication being concluded, a procession was formed, comprising Ely, Miami, Athens, Cyprus, Chillicothe and Lancaster commanderies, and Lancaster, Dresden, New Lexington, Amity, Amanda, Aurora, Paramuthia, Scioto, Frankfort, Magnolia, Goodale, Greenfield, Bloominburg, Lockbourne, Sabina, Malta, Mount Sterling, New Holland, Lithopolis, Heber, Battin and Pickaway lodges. The crowd gathered on the streets to watch the parade was estimated at 7,000. The march extended to the Fair Grounds, where dinner was served to 1,500, after which the following program was rendered:
Cadet and Bauer’s Band
Rev. J. W. Swick
VOCAL MUSIC “SEARCH ME, O LORD”
Arion Quartette–Messrs. McCrae,
Oliver, and Melanchton and Edward Wittich
ADDRESS OF WELCOME
Andrew R. Bolin
ADDRESS-“FREE MASONRY AROUND THE WORLD”
Dr. Robert Morris, P. G. M., of Kentucky
VOCAL MUSIC- “I’LL THINK OF THEE”
There were 922 Masons in the parade, while the musicians, military escort, etc., added 100 more.
During the three decades that have elapsed since the building of the Temple, the same fraternal spirit has animated the brothers that stirred, in the old days, such men as Brothers Turney, Doane, Thrall, Denny, Webb, Franklin, Robbins, Huston, Sage, Gephart, Leiby, Kinnear, Hull and a host of others, and that same spirit is a guarantee that Pickaway Lodge is a permanent institution.
Brother William B. Thrall was honored for four successive years 1843, 1844, 1845, 1846–with the office of grand master of Ohio.
There are now upon the roll of the lodge 206 members. The present officers are as follows : Jonathan R. Florence, W. M.; Stuart R. Bolin, S. W.; Nelson Wolfley, J. W.; Germain Joseph, treasurer; William ,Vieth, secretary; Earnest L. Tolbert, S. D.; John N. Cook, J. D.; I. Lutz May, S. S.; David H. Lewis, J. S.; and Thomas R. Bell, tyler. The stated communications are held on the first and third Wednesdays of each month.