History of Lodge No. 665
Some twenty Masons residing in Ephrata in 1910 sought to weld closer their bonds in the Fraternity and establish a lodge in Ephrata. Thus, we celebrate a century of Masonic progress in Ephrata Lodge No. 665. As we do. We pay tribute to those organizers, warrant officers and members who laid the foundations for our labors and to those brethren who built upon that foundation for now ten decades. Many do not realize, however, that there were Masonic interests and activities in Ephrata as early as 1799, more than a century before the formation of Lodge No. 665. In fact, there existed a Masonic Lodge at Ephrata in 1800, when Lodge 46 moved here until its warrant was vacated the first time in 1806. Lancaster Lodge No. 43 (celebrating its 250th anniversary this year) was the only older Masonic Lodge in Lancaster County.
The Move of Lodge 46 to Ephrata
On December 2, 1799, Permission to move Lodge No. 46 from Churchtown to Ephrata was refused by the Grand Lodge. Permission was granted, however, on June 2, 1800. Lodge 46 held its meetings in a house east of the present Bethany United Church of Christ. That location now would be 144 East Main Street, which later became the long time residence of Past Master William Bixler. The warrant of Lodge No. 46 was vacated on April 7, 1806, but reinstated the following September. Six years later, on October 5, 1812, Lodge No. 46 was reported to Grand Lodge as “having been irregularly removed to New Holland.” Proper removal was granted and confirmed on November 16 of the same year. Labor in New Holland was short. The Lodge petitioned Grand Lodge on June 24, 1813, to sanction a move back to Ephrata. The petition was granted and the Lodge returned to Ephrata. Minutes of the Grand Lodge show that Lodge No. 46 was moved to Lititz on April 24, 1825, but that move was not reported to the Grand Lodge until September 4, 1826. The warrant for Lodge No. 46 was vacated on February 6, 1837. So it happened that there was Masonic labor in Ephrata beginning in 1800, 100 years prior to the constitution of Ephrata Lodge No. 665. Much of the 19th Century was a declining era for all fraternities and Masonry suffered some setbacks. By the 20th Century, however, it had started new advances leading to the mid-century successes. The birth of Ephrata Lodge was part of the new success.
Area Masons Form Nucleus for Ephrata Lodge
In 1910 there were about 20 Masons in Ephrata who were members of lodges in Lancaster, Berks and Montgomery counties. They, together with Masons from surrounding communities such as Akron, Denver, Millway, Rothsville and Schoeneck, formed the nucleus of what would become Ephrata Lodge No. 665. On February 28, 1910, a meeting was held at the Hotel Cocalico to discuss the advisability of constituting a Masonic lodge in Ephrata. A committee comprising Brothers Walter W. Moyer, Harry H. Singer and Joseph T. Evans was appointed “… to call on all Masonic brethren in Ephrata and vicinity seeking their views relative to the forming of a lodge here.” Less than two months later, on April 7, the committee called a meeting of those previously contacted and urged concrete action be taken. Brother John W. Lansinger, District Deputy Grand Master, was present at the meeting and advised the brethren of the procedures for obtaining a warrant. On May 16, 1910, a temporary organization was affected and Brother Walter W. Moyer was elected Worshipful Master; Brother Harry H. Singer, Senior Warden’ Brother Joseph T. Evans, Junior Warden, and Brother Frank E. Engle, Secretary. On motion, the brethren were directed to procure their withdrawal cards from their various lodges so that the application for a warrant could be made to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania at the June meeting. It was decided unanimously “that the name shall become Ephrata Lodge.”According to a report of a meeting on June 3, 1910, “Brothers Walter W. Moyer, Harry H. Singer, Joseph T. Evans, Jacob B. Eshelman and Frank E. Engle, as a committee, attended Grand Lodge in reference to procuring a warrant for the new lodge.” It was granted. Lodge files contain a receipt from Grand Lodge dated June 2, 1910 for the “Warrant for Ephrata Lodge No. 665— $200.00.”
Ephrata Lodge is Constituted
Ephrata Lodge No. 665 was constituted at a special communication of Grand Lodge held in Ephrata at 2 P.m. on September 9, 1910, in a lodge hall at the corner of West Main and Church Streets. Right Worshipful Grand Master George W. Guthrie and his Grand Lodge Officers installed the Officers of the new Ephrata Lodge with 103 Masons present.
Ephrata’s First Lodge Hall Leased, Furnished
For six years the lodge hall at West Main and Church Streets was leased from Brother Levi Y. Eitnier. However, during the necessary remodeling, meetings were held in Stine’s Hall, which was later the Eagle Hotel.. A September 13, 1910 receipt from Brother Eitnier, who operated a furniture store in the building, details the purchase of the lodge furnishings, nearly all of which are still in use in various parts of the Lodge hall to this day. A copy of the receipt is on display in the exhibit cases in the outer lobby of the second floor. Another time tested acquisition is the safe purchased from the H. Stiffel Company in 1911 for $65.00 which stands in the Examining Room. At the time of the constitution, during the early days of the Lodge’s labors and throughout the history of the lodge, numerous gifts of furnishings, tools, etc., were presented to the Lodge. The first recorded was a unique and treasured gavel presented by Brother Elmer L. Billingfelt, a resident of Adamstown and a member of Isaac Hiester Lodge No. 660. Reading. It remains on display among the Lodge’s memorabilia. The head of the gavel was made of stone taken from the quarries of King Solomon under the city of Jerusalem- the same site from which the stone was taken for the Temple constructed by King Solomon. The handle was made of olive wood taken from the Mount of Olives. Ephrata, along with brother lodges in Lancaster County, joined in the construction of a Lancaster County building on the Masonic Homes grounds at Elizabethtown. This Lodge adopted its resolution, as did the other lodges in the county, for the several lodges to transfer collectively $15,430 in 1915, when Brother Harry R. Mohler was Worshipful Master. Our Lodge also adopted a resolution that year that an additional $20,000 should be raised by the same lodges for increasing the same fund.
Ephrata Lodge No. 665 Information
Ephrata Lodge No.665 Meets at Masonic Hall, 29 – 31 West Main Street, Ephrata, PA 17522
Web Address: www.ephratalodge665.org
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