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MASONIC LODGE DATES BACK TO EARLIEST DAYS OF CITY
Thursday, June 14, 1979


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PIX #1 - Cornerstone laying of the Masonic Temple in 1913. The building at the left, still standing, is now the location of Bud's Bakery.

PIX #2 - The Foster Block which once stood at the southwest corner of Main and Tiffin streets is the Masonic Lodge first met in 1856.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Earlier this year, L. Glen Marshall, a 330 Mason and a member of Fostoria Lodge, researched the records of the Lodge and reported his findings about this Fostoria institution which is now 123 years old. Marshall's report was printed in a booklet from which excerpts were taken for this story, plus other historical data and photos dug out by your editor. Thank you Glen.

This is the first of two installments about the local Masonic Lodge.

The Masonic Temple at 113 E. Tiffin St., is a building which has been familiar to Fostorians for many years...construction having been started in 1913; the cornerstone layed May 26 of that year. But history of the Masonic Lodge in Fostoria goes back much earlier.

It was in 1855, shortly after Rome and Risdon officially joined to become Fostoria that a group of men of that time made application to the Grand Lodge of Ohio for a charter. The application was signed by Robert C. Caples, James Lewis, Robert Welsh, Andrew Wiseman, C.B. Ferris, Albert L. Blackman, James L. Mickey, Nathan Taylor, John W. Griffiths, John L. Walding, Wesley Bradford, H.P. Staley, Amos Mohler.

Of those who petitioned for the charter, some were already Masons, probably having become affiliated before migrating to this area. Consequently, while awaiting the charter they proceeded to make Samual Dale a Mason, he being the first to become a member of the new Lodge, even before being chartered.

PIONEER MASONS

Robert C. Caples, one of the petitioners, was born in New Philiadelphia, Ohio in 1815, coming to Seneca County in 1832 with his parents. Later he studied medicine under Dr. Marcus Dana, in Risdon, and still later graduated from the Geneva Medical College, Geneva, N.Y. Caples Street in Fostoria was named for him. The family home was on Sandusky Street where the Nazarene Church is now; in fact part of the home is still part of the church structure.

James L. Mickey, another petitioner, was the son of Jeremiah Mickey, one of the first settlers in Risdon. Jeremiah established the first hotel in Risdon which James operated after his father died. Descendents of the Mickey family were prominent in early Fostoria history, having been farmers, land owners and in the drug store business. One of the last descendents was Don Mickey who operated a drug store and also operated the Mickey Tearoom at South Main Street.

In August 1856, Charles W. Foster, for whom Fostoria was named was initiated in to the lodge. Later his son Charles, who became Governor of Ohio and Secretary of the U.S. Treasury also became a Mason.

CHARTERED 1856

The charter for Fostoria Lodge No. 288 was granted on Oct. 23, 1856...123 years ago, with Harry R. Staley being named as Worshipful Master, Robert C. Caples as senior warden and James L. Lewis as junior warden.

The first meeting place of the new Masonic Lodge was part of the third floor of the Foster Block at corner of Main and tiffin streets. The building as it looked then is shown by one of the accompanying illustrations.

When the new Lodge held their first election on November 10, 1856, R.C. Caples became the Worshipful Master.

The first business action of the Lodge, according to the old minutes, was to appoint a committee to "furnish" it, and the first expenditure was for oil candles. Then followed purchase of a stove, stove pipe, carpet and 24 chairs at $1.50 each.

Wood for the stove cost $1 per cord and boys were paid 10 cents per cord for carrying it to the third floor room which rented for $81.25 per year.

The county was embroiled in the Civil War in the early 1860's so candidates were initialted and became members without delay. And examinations were waived because they were being called to service.

EARLY LODGE ACTIVITIES

Charity was uppermost in the minds of Masons then. Funds were often voted for the "relief" of a brother or widow, for a cord of wood or $1 per night for a brother to sit with and care for a sick brother.

Funerals were also an important part of the Lodge work. The members would convene at the Temple, open Lodge, and then in a horse drawn carriage, paid for by the Lodge, the officers would ride and the brethern walk in a procession to the home of the deceased, where the funeral would be held, then to the church for the religious ceremony, then to the cemetery for burial and return to the Lodge room. In 1875 the Lodge moved to rooms upstairs in the Mickey Block located on Main, between Center and Tiffin streets where it remained for 30 years.

MOURNED GARFIELD'S DEATH

In 1878, when Ohioan James Garfield was elected President of the United States and later assassinated, a resolution was sent to his family by the local Lodge: "Fostoria Lodge No. 288, deeply deplores the dastardly and murderous assault made upon our beloved Brother, which resulted in his death, causing a great calamity upon the people of the nation".

In March of 1873 there was the first talk of building a "Masonic Hall" and by 1901 the subject was still alive, but by then a committee consisting of S.L. Ghaster, A. Merganthaler, H.E. Tremaine, Dr. C.E. Davis, Dr. George L. Hoege and William Fitzsimmons was appointed to explore the possibilities. There must have been many problems and consideration to overcome to arrive at a conclusion which would be satisfactory to recommend to the Lodge for a new building to serve the Lodge for the years ahead.

The Masonic Temple as it stands today on East Tiffin Street was the answer for the Lodge's needs. It cost $30,000...a small sum compared with today's building costs.

It was not until 1913, that any action was taken to erect the building. Prior to that the following trustees were named to be in charge of the project: D.P. McCarthy, president; E.K. Cunningham, vice-president; Herbert Ash, secretary; S.L. Ghaster, treasurer; George L. Hoege, A.E. Merganthaler, W.E. Mowery, Dewey St. John, J.J. Overton.

NEW TEMPLE STARTED

The new building was started in May of 1913, and the cornerstone laying work took place on May 26, 1913. Seven hundred and fifty Masons came from out of town to assist the 250 Fostoria members in the ceremonies. Five thousand persons witnessed the event. The Fostoria Lodge officers at that time were, C.F. Cribbs, worshipful master; H.H. Hale, senior warden; O.T. Shutt, junior warden; Dewey St. John, secretary.

The casket in the cornerstone contained the Holy Bible, American Flag, information about the Fostoria Lodge; also information about Fostoria at that period in time; also photos of the town and copies of the two newspapers.

Although the new Temple was ready for some use by May 5, 1914, the building was not dedicated until Oct. 23, 1927, which was the Seventy Fifth Anniversary of the Lodge.

In 1956, Job's Daughters, an organization for girls was given permission to use the Lodge rooms; and then in 1960 the Lodge sponsored a chapter of De Molay for young men and gave permission to use the Lodge rooms.

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