History of Freemasonry in Bay County

The American Tyler-Keystone, Vol 4, Issue 59, 1891


I mail you to-day the morning Tribune, giving a report of the laying of the corner-stone for our Masonic Temple. The day was bright and cheering, only a little warm. The street display was the most noted of any every seen on the streets of Bay City. St. Bernard No. 16, of Saginaw, came down with about 100 swords, Bay City No. 26, turned out about the same number, and Genesee Valley No. 15, of Flint, gave a good account of itself with 40 swords. Alpenawas expected but failed to show up. Saginaw, Caro, Grayling and Blanchard Chapters, with their banners and bright collars and aprons added very much to the display. These with about 500 Master Masons, all marching to the step of inspiring music of three bands, made a Masonic turn out that is rarely seen in any city of Michigan outside of the city of Detroit, perhaps, we should say. The ceremonies were well and satisfactorally conducted by Grand Master Look, and the address of “Our Hugh” was a master piece of eloquence, full of neat and useful information, holding the attention of the vast assemblage to the end. In the deposit in the corner stone The American Tyler was not forgotten. Taking it all in all, the occasion for which the Masonic fraternity of Bay City, have been preparing passed off with the most complete success.

Our Saginaw friends and brothers have earned our gratitude by the generous and hearty display of their good will, in the grand turn out they made upon the streets of Bay City, on June 24th, 1891, and they will not be forgotten, when they ask us to come up and help them lay the corner stone for their Temple.

S. L. A.

Bay City, June 25th, 1891.

At The Temple.

On arriving at the temple the officers of the grand lodge and invited guests were escorted to the platform, which was also occupied by a large number of ladies.

The personnel of the grand lodge was as follows:

Grand master, John Q. Look, of Lowell;  Deputy grand master, W. H. Sanford, of Detroit;  grand senior warden, W. S. Linton, of Saginaw;  grand junior ward, W. O. Cliff, of Bay City;  grand treasurer, Temple Emery, of Bay City;  grand secretary, Wm. P. Innes, of Grand Rapids;  grand chaplin, Rev. R. S. Roblin, of Bay City;  grand senior deacon, Robert Watson, of Bay City;  grand junior deacon, J. E. Hawkins, of Bay City;  grand stewards, C. N. Webster, of West Bay City;  W. E. Braddock, of Bay City;  grand tyler, C. C. Stewart, of Bay City;  grand marshal, John J. Carton, of Flint.


List of Articles Deposited by the Members of the Fraternity.

In the corner stone was deposited a box containing the following articles:

A history of the beginning and growth of the Masonry in Bay county, Michigan, which also includes a history of all the masonic organizations, with the present officers of each body.

Copies of the by-laws of

Bay City Lodge, 129;  Portsmouth Lodge, 190;  Wenona Lodge, 250;  Joppa Lodge, 135;  Blanchard Chapter, 59;  Bay City Commandry, 26;  Bay County Masonic Mutual Benefit Association;  Bay City Council No. 53,  R. and S. M.;  a directory of all the Masonic bodies of Bay county.

Nine pieces United States coin, as follows: One dollar, quarter dollar, 20 cent piece; 10 cent piece; 5 cent piece; 3 cent piece and 1 cent piece.

Two pieces coin engraved with name of donor. Also three pieces copper engraved with name of donor, and name and number of lodge to which he belongs.

A photograph of the perspective of the masonic temple.

One $10 bill, Confederate states of America.

A copy of the Bay City Tribune, and 2 copy of the Bay City Times-Press.

A description and plan of the temple building, and proposed masonic fair.

The American Tyler.

Order of the eminent commander of Bay City commandry for laying corner stone.

Order of eminent commander of St. Bernard commandry to participate in laying corner stone.

Copy of the ceremony used by the M. W. Grand Master John Q. Look of the grand lodge of free and accepted masons of the State of Michigan, in laying the corner stone.

A list of all articles deposited in the stone.

A copy of the “Itinary” of the pilgrimage to Europe in July, 1891.


At the conclusion of the laying of the corner stone Rev. S. H. Roblin stepped in front of the Grand Master Look and presented him with a beautiful silver trowel, the gift of the Masonic Temple association. Mr. Roblin prefaced the presentation with a brief speech, stating that the gift was commemorative of the ceremonies just concluded and was intended as a slight token of the esteem in which Mr. Look is held by the fraternity of Bay City.

Mr. Look was taken completely by surprise, but in a few well chosen words thanked the donors for their beautiful gift, assuring them that he would ever cherish it as a pleasant reminder of the Bay City Masonic Temple association and its members.

The trowel is about three inches long, and appropriately engraved. On the back is the inscription: “Presented to Right Worshipful  John Q. Look, grand master of masons for Michigan, by the masonic Temple association of Bay City, commemorating the laying of the corner stone, June 24, 1891.


of the beginning and growth of Masonry in that part of the Saginaw valley, now included in the county of Bay.


Early in the year 1860, a few members of the order residing in the village of Bay City, containing at that time a population of about 700, having a great love for the institution of Masonry, and a desire to more closely unite the scattered few residing in this locality, and to establish a lodge, to the end that members of the fraternity might be more closely drawn together in social and brotherly intercourse, and also to extend a knowledge of the principles of the order to those about them whom they might deem worthy and well qualified, petitioned the Grand Master of the State, Worshipful Brother W. L. Greenly, for a dispensation empowering them to work, and to make Masons according to the Ancient usages and customs of the fraternity. This petition was signed by

Wm. R. McCormickWm. A. BryceNathan B. BradleyJas. J. McCormickJohn F. CottrellClark MoulthropJacob H. Little and  Henry M. Bradley

as charter members. A dispensation was granted in September of the same year, appointing William R. McCormick as first Worshipful MasterWilliam A. Bryce first senior warden and Nathan B. Bradley as first junior warden. In pursuance of this dispensation a meeting was held on the evening of October 16, 1860. Those present at this first communication were,

Wm. R. McCormick, worshipful master;  Wm. A. Bryce, senior ward;  Nathan B. Bradley, junior warden;  John F. Cottrell, secretary pro tem;  Geo. C. Fray, pro tem senior deacon;  John Hargrave, junior deacon pro tem;  C. D. Fisher, pro tem.

Members present  Jas. J. McCormick.

Visiting members,  Geo. Gray, Frontier Lodge, No. 8 of Trenton, Michigan;  Thos. Hargrave, St. Andrew’s Lodge, No. 31, Canada;  C. D. Fisher, Farmersville Lodge, No. 181, New York.

They continued work under this dispensation until April, 1861. On January 11, 1861, at a session of the Grand Lodge held in the city of Detroit, a charter was granted under the name of Bay City Lodge, No. 129, and at a communication held April 3, 1861, the first officers under the charter were duly elected and installed by Past Master Wm. J. Bartaw, of Saginaw, as follows:

Wm. S. Bryce, W. M.;  N. B. Bradley, S. W.;  Jacob H. Little, J. W.;  James McCormick, treasurer;  John F. Cottrell, secretary;  Geo. C. Fray, S. D.;  H. M. Bradley, J. D.;  Chas. Smith, tyler.

The first meeting of this lodge were held in a two-story frame building on the east side of Water street on ground now occupied by the Fraser house. The lodge occupied rooms in this building until June, 1861, when it was moved to a two-story frame building on the west side of Water street between Fourth and Fifth streets, and known as Birney Hall. Here the lodge remained until 1864, was removed across the street into a two-story framed building occupied on the ground by the First National bank of Bay City, then just organized by Chauncey F. Gibson and others. In the fall of 1866 they removed to the Averill block on Center avenue. In 1868 Bro. Jas. J. McCormick built a four-story brick building on the east side of Water street, a little north of the foot of Center avenue, and on the fourth floor arranged what was at that time very commodious rooms for the lodge and chapter, and better adopted for the use of those bodies. Here they remained until 1878 when more convenient rooms were provided on Center avenue in the Eddy block, But the quarters, there have become inadequate for the needs of the growing bodies this temple is being erected which will, it is believed, afford ample room for many years to come.

This first lodge in Bay county continued to prosper and in due time three other lodges have became honorable offshoots of this parent lodge, and who aggregate membership is at this time something more than 700.

The present officers are:

Geo. Annand, W. M.,

Isaac A. Gilbert, S. W.;

Eugene Fifield, J. W.;

Allen S. Stewart, Treas.;

Alex. Sutherland, Sec’y;

Robt. S. Watson, S. D.;

Robt. V. Mundy, J. D.;

Austin Smith, Tyler;

Rev. J. S. Glidden, chaplain;

Fred M. Van Campen,

Daniel C. Rogers, stewards;

Wm. S. Penny, organist.

The present membership is 274.


In the year 1865 application was made for a dispensation to form a lodge in the village of Portsmouth, now comprised in the Sixth and Seventh wards of Bay City. This application was signed by

Wm. R. McCormickWm. SouthworthElisha G. AllenChas. G. SouthworthAshel C. Braddock and  Geo. Lewis.

A dispensation was granted by the most worshipful master of the State, S. C. Coffinberry, appointing Bro. Wm. R. McCormick as first worshipful master; <=”” b=””>as first senior warden; and Wm. H. Southworth as first junior warden.

On January 10, 1867, a dispensation was granted to the lodge, to be known as Portsmouth Lodge, No. 190. On January 15, 1867, the first regular communication was held under the charter and the following officers were elected:

George Lewis, W. M.;  Charles Stevens, S. W.;  W. H. Southworth, J. W;  Charles G. Southworth, treasurer;  A. S. Shaler, Secretary;  S. E. McLain, S. D.;  S. E. Williams, J. D;  S. W. Watrous and J. J. Parmalee, stewards;  George Thorp, tyler.

The present officers are:

Will E. Braddock, W. M.;

James Scott, J. W.;

Delos U. Morton, J. W.;

Frank Stover, treasure;

W. W. Chapman, secretary;

James Miller, S. D.;

Eugene I. Dickinson, J. D.;

A. C. Hodgins and

Elmer E. Dodge, stewards;

Samuel Catlin, tyler.

The present membership is 133. The lodge rooms are in the Astor House blockon Harrison street.


In the year 1868 application was made for dispensation to form a lodge in the village of Wenona, now the growing and prosperous city of West Bay City. This application was signed by

Neil MathesonH. BunnellH. B. BakerC. P. BlackI. E. RandallG. A. AllenC. E. RootJ. H. BlakesleyWm. MootsN. Clark.

A dispensation was granted by the most worshipful grand master of the State, S. C. Coffinbury, November 12, 1868, and appointed Brother

Neil Matheson as first worshipful master,  H. Bunnell as first senior ward and  C. P. Black as first junior warden.

On January 15, 1869, a charge was granted to be known as Wenona Lodge, No. 250. The principle officers elected under the charter were:

Neil Matheson, W. M.;  Hiram Bunnell, S. W.;  C. R. Black, J. W.

The present officers are:

C. N. Webster, W. M.;  H. C. Thompson, S. W.;  Augustus Babo, J. W.;  E. H. Vedder, trers.;  Jas. A. Scott, Sec.;  E. L. Mather, S. D.;  Chas. Anderson, J. D.;  Geo. Girchard, Tyler.

The present lodge room is in the three story brick Mosher block, on the northwest corner of Midland and Linn streets.

The present membership is 157.


On the 15th of February, 1873, application was made for a dispensation by

Nathan B. BradleyRichard J. CarneyJno. B. JudsonAlbert H. Van EttenOscar F. HametChas. E. BeersHarmon A. ChamberlainAlfonso CummingsJohn DrakeFrank CrandellEd WoodHarry P. MerrillGeo. C. FrayHenry S. RaymondJob F. StreetC. F. GibsonHenry H. NorringtonLucien S. ComanJ. B. NewtonA. B. WellsThos. Cranage jr.,  L. A. BarberDaniel A. MarshallR. P. GustinI. W. Morley and  S. C. Chatham.

A dispensation was granted by Most Worshipful Grand Master Hugh McCurdy and attested by the Grand Secretary Foster Pratt, appointing Bro

Frank Carndall first master,  John S. Judson, first senior ward and  Albert H. Van Etten first junior warden.

The officers so appointed commenced work under the dispensation and continued work until January 29, 1874, when a charter was granted to be known as Joppa Lodge No. 315.

The first officers elected under the charter were:

Frank Crandell, M. W.;  A. H. Van Etten, S. W.;  Chas. F. Gibson, J. W.;  Oscar F. Hamet, Treas.;  Ira W. Morley, Sec’y.;  J. B. McRoberts, S. D.;  A. Cummings, J. D.;  Castle Baker, Tyler.

The present officers are:

Benj. J. Watson, W. M.;  Rollin Rose, S. W.;  W. O. Cliff, J. W.;  Louis Goeschel, treas.;  Edgar M. Sharp, sec’y.;  W. O. Cliff, S. D.;  Henry H. Smith, J. D.;  Austin Smith, tyler.

The place of meeting is with Bay City Lodge in Masonic Hall, in the Eddy block, on Center avenue.


In the month of September, 1867, a preliminary meeting was held at Masonic hall in the Averill block, on Center avenue, by several members of the Royal Arch for the purpose of forming a chapter of Royal Arch Masons. A dispensation was granted by the most excellent grand high priest, John P. Fisk, empowering the said companions to confer the several degrees as laid down in the ritual of R. A. Masons, and Oct. 3 of the same year this dispensation was present by the grand visitor and lecturer, Comp. Stillman Blanchard, in honor of whom this chapter was named. This dispensation appointed N. B. BradleyJohn S. Judson and Jas. McCormick as the three first officers. These, with the other companions chosen, were duly installed as follows:

N. B. Bradley, H. P.;  John S. Judson, K;  James J. McCormick, S;  C. P. Nash, C of H;  Richard J. Carney, P S;  Edwin Wood, R A C;  Geo. H. Doughty, G M 3d V;  Geo. Lewis, G M 2d V;  B. F. Partridge, G M 1st V;  Harvey J. Clark, treas.;  Thomas Watkins, sec.;  Job F. Street, sent.

This chapter at that time was composed of 13 Members and at this time it has a membership of 325.

At this convocation the following petitions were received.

W. H. SouthworthFrank CrandellOscar F. HametHenry H. NorringtonLucien S. ComanE. J. AllenHerschel H. HatchL. D. BrewsterThomas CarneyF. A. Meyers and  Wm. Daglish.

On the 8th of January,1868, a charter was granted to Blanchard chapter No. 59, and the first officers elected were:

John S. Judson, H P;  Geo. H. Doughty, K;  Jas. J. McCormick, S;  Edwin Wood, D of H;  Richard J. Carney, P S;  Harvey J. Clark, R A C;  Job F Street, G M 3d V;  Geo. Lewis, G M 2d V;  Wm. H. Barse; G M 1st V;  Nathan B. Bradley, treas.;  Thomas W. Watkins, sec.

The present officers are:

Henry Gilbert, H P;  A. A. Knoppel, K;  Gro. Annand, S;  Benj. Watson, C of H;  I. A. Gilbert, P S;  C. N. Webster, R A C;  Chas. H. Coons, G M 3d V;  Frank H. Stover, G M 2d V;  Homer E. Buck, G M 1st V;  L. Goeshel, treas.;  Alex Sutherland, sec.;  Austin Smith, tyler;  John TosselFrank P. YoungGeo. E. S. Williams, Stewards

The chapter has since the last annual meeting exalted twenty one had six elected and on the way.


In November, 1883, for the purpose of forming a council of Royal and Select Masters, the following companions went to Saginaw and received degrees in Saginaw Council, No. 20,

Fred E. Hoyt, T M, of that council presiding;  E. M. SharpGriffin LewisJohn W. CupitJohn HughesGeo. W. Palmer and  A. I. Stewart.

These members with

Charles F. GibsonWm. H. BarseJohn C. NotinghamChas. S. Wells and  James A. Wells

petitioned for a dispensation, which was granted by the Most Illustrious Grand Master George H. Green and attented by the grand secretary, Garry B. Noble. The first officers under the dispensation were

Charles F. Gibson, T I M;  E. M. Sharp, D M;  A. L. Stewart, P C of W.

On January 15, 1884, a charter was granted under the name of Bay City Council, No. 53. The first officers selected under the charter were:

Charles F. Gibson, T I M;  Edgar M. Sharp, D M;  Allen L. Stewart, P C of W;  Charles H. Pomeroy, treas.;  Isaac A. Gilbert, recorder;  George W. Palmer, captain of guard;  Alex Sutherland, steward;  Giffin Lewis and John Hughes, guards;  C. S. Wells, sentinel.

The present officers are:

Charles J. Bousfield, T I M;  Eugene Fifield, D M;  John King, P C of W;  A. I. Stewart, treas.;  Alex Sutherland, rec.;  Frank Stover, C. of guard;  W. Coleman, Co of C;  F. A. Peak, steward;  Austin Smith, sentinel.

The present membership is 172.

Transactions of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, 1861.



Wm. A. Bryce, W. M.,  George C Fray, S. W.  W. R. McCormick, J. W.,  John S. Judson, Secretary,  Thomas W. Watkins, Treasurer,  Nathan B. Bradley, S. D.,  Thomas Carney, jr., J. D.,  Charles D. Fisher, Tiler.


Jocob H. LittleJohn F. CottrellJames J. McCormickHenry M. BradleyCharles SmithClark MoulthropCharles M. AverillGeorge LewisAngus MillerCharles E. Lewis (E.A.),  Frederick E. Bardley (E.A),  Henry W. Jennison, k  Henry S. RaymondCharles A. MerrillA. G. SinclairWilliam H. SouthworthRobert H. WeidemannJohn McEwanGeorge R. AlvordBenajmin F. PartridgeHamilton BurnettJames NicholsCurtis Munger,

BAY CITY LODGE, No. 129 F. A. M.

Dates its nativity from the month of October, 1860, when a dispensation was granted by the late Col. H. S. Roberts, then Grand Master of the State of Michigan, to William R. McCormick as W. M., and Wm. A. Bryce and N. B. Bradley as Wardens, with power to organize a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in this city.

Upon the granting of its charter by the Grand Lodge in session in 1861, William A. Bryce was regularly elected M=Master for two successive terms, and was succeeded by Hon. N. B. Bradley, who filled this responsible position for the three following terms. At the Annual Communication in 1866, the Rev. C. P. Nash was honored with the important trust of Worshipful Master and retained the same until March, 1868, when it was rendered vacant by his anticipated removal from the city, and R. J. Carney, the present Master, was elected to fill the vacancy.

The present officers are —

R. J. Carney, W. M.;  Geo. C. Fray, S. W.;  E. Wood, J. W.;  Henry H. Norrington, Sec.;  Guardis D. Edwards, Treas.;  F. Crandall, S. D.;  C. McDowell, J. D.;  F. A. Myers, Tyler;  Milo H. Foster and John S. Judson, Stewards.

Its Lodge Room is situated in the third story of the Averill Block, on Center street, recently occupied and handsomely furnished, its former place of meeting having become too small to accommodate the large accessions to its ranks, which now embraces 125 members in good and regular standing – a sufficient evidence of a prosperous condition.

Since its organization the following members have been called from their earthly labor:

H. W. JennsionGeo. B. AlvordChas. SmithW. A. BryceHial B. Rogers, and  Thomas W. Watkins.

The regular meetings are held on Wednesday evenings on or before the full of the moon each month, and meetings for work on Wednesday evenings of each week when a cordial invitation is extended to all visiting Brothers who may be sojourning in this locality.

Proceedings of the Freemasons of Michigan.

Twenty-Sixth Annual Assembly of the Grand Council of Royal & Select Masters of the State of Michigan.

January 14, 1884 – Masonic Temple, Detroit, MI

Address by M. I. Grand Master, George H. Greene

Page 11.

On the 12th of November, 1883, I received petition of Charles F. Gibson and ten other companions, Royal and Select Masters, all residents of Bay City, accompanied with their dimits and the required fee of twenty-five dollars, for a dispensation to empower them to assemble in the City of Bay City as a legal Council, “to discharge the duties of Masonry in a regular and constitutional manner, according to the original forms of the Order and the regulations of the Grand Council.” This petition was duly recommended by Saginaw Council, No. 20, the nearest Council. Bay City being a city of near or quite 25,000 inhabitants and no other Council nearer than East Saginaw, I deemed it for the best interests of the Order to grant their request, and on the 13th of November, 1883, I issued a dispensation to Companion Charles F. Gibson to be first T. I. M.; Companion Edgar M. Sharp first D. M., and Companion Allen L. Stewart first P. C. of W., with their associate companions, to assemble and work a Regular Council, designated as Bay City Council, No —.

I am informed by a recent letter from Companion Gibson that they are getting along finely; have exalted six companions, and have several petitions under consideration; that the officers have taken great pains to make themselves proficient in the work and that everything appears favorable to their good working Council. They will doubtless make return of their proceedings to this annual Assembly and ask for a charter, which I most heartily recommend be granted.

Page 22.

Charters and Dispensations.

The committee on Charters and Dispensations submitted the following report, which was adopted:

To the M. I. Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of the State of Michigan:

Your standing Committee on Charters and Dispensations, beg leave to submit the following report:

They have had before them the books and papers in the case of companions from Bay City, praying for a charter to open a Council in said city.

They find that a dispensation was granted by M. I. Grand Master Geo. H. Green, on 13th Nov., 1883, and that since which time the Council has pursued its labors in a legal and constitutional manner. By reference to the records, which are kept in a clean and accurate manner, we find that work has been done and many members been added to their numbers.

Your committee are satisfied that Cryptic Masonry will be much benefited by granting a charter to the companions, and would recommend that a charter be so issued, and that the Council be names and number as follows: Bay City Council, Number Fifty-three, (53) and that they be authorized to elect and install their officers at the first regular meeting after the adjournment of this Grand body.

Wm. P. InnesJosiah BrunoS. H. Norton,  Committee.

January 19, 1885, Masonic Temple, Detroit, MI


My official acts during the year have been as follows:

On January 30th, 1884, I received from Companions of Bay City Council, No. 53, R & S. M., a request to visit them and install their officers, they having been granted a charter at the last convocation of this Grand Council. On Tuesday, February 5th, I visited them, and with the assistance of Comp. H. H. Meeker, as Marshal, installed their officers. And then I say to that Companion Charles F. Gibson is at the helm, I think that is sufficient. The Masonic fraternity of the State know full well the Masonry does not suffer or die in his hands.