HISTORY OF WEST CHESTER LODGE NO. 322
FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS
1858 to Present
The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker; as well as the judge, the banker, the policeman, and the ice man have all been members of Masonic Lodge No. 322 in West Chester. As one looks through the annals of our great history it is plain to see that good men from all walks of life, religions, and political philosophies have come together in peace and harmony in the interest of becoming better men and of making our community a better place. We share a common belief in the value of character, truth, knowledge, morality, charity and brotherhood. For a Mason, any day that we can contribute to the happiness of others is a good day.
Although the year 2008 marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of West Chester Lodge No. 322, F. & A. M., our beginning may be traced by history and tradition to the early days of our independence as a Nation and possibly beyond. Historical evidence and old Lodge documentation would indicate that our lineage may be traced back to Lodge No. 50, the first Lodge to meet in West Chester, then through Lodge No. 8 in Valley Forge and finally to Lodge No. 2 in Philadelphia. Among the names of the members of West Chester Lodge No. 332, and those of the old extinct Lodges that precede our warrant in 1858, are those who were instrumental in the development of Chester County, our Commonwealth and our Nation.

Our story begins on June 23, 1766, at an extra meeting of Lodge No. 2, A. Y. M., in Philadelphia when three persons, two of whom were from Chester County, applied for initiation into the Masonic Fraternity, “whereby they might then be qualified co hold a Lodge in their own neighborhood.” Their petition was highly recommended by the R. W. Grand Master and, after unanimous consent of the membership, the Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft degrees were conferred upon Patrick Anderson, Myrick Davis, and Joseph Richardson. The next day, June 24, 1766, a Grand Lodge was opened in ample form and the three petitioners were made Master Masons in the presence of the Right Worshipful Grand Master, after which a warrant was granted them bearing the number 8. This warrant granted them the right to hold a Lodge at some place in the northeastern part of Chester County, or within five miles thereof, the location being in the vicinity of Valley Forge. Brother Patrick Anderson was named in the warrant as Master, Myrick Davis as Senior Warden and Joseph Richardson as Junior Warden.
Brother Patrick Anderson was educated in Philadelphia, and taught school for some years, but subsequently moved to his father’s farm located two miles from Valley Forge. Among his many accomplishments he was a Captain during the French and Indian War, was named one of the Committee of Observation for Chester County in State organization, was commissioned a Captain in a musketry battalion, and was also a Major in Anthony Wayne’s regiment of Chester County minute men. Major Anderson was in the battles of Long Island, Brandy­wine, Germantown and many other engagements. After his retirement from military service in 1778 he was elected to the General Assembly from Chester County and served in that body until 1780.

Lodge No. 8 was the first country Lodge warranted in Pennsylvania and from the outbreak of the Revolution was a patriotic Lodge. It appears that most, if not all, of the candidates for admission to this Lodge, and the visitors, had at some time been connected with the American army. Little is known of the early history of this Lodge; however, the Lodge was an active one who had upon its rolls many who took an active part in the Revolutionary struggle, as well as Masonic affairs. During 1777 and 1778 the Brethren of Lodge No. 8 became scattered and it became difficult to hold regular meetings. Control of various parts of Chester County changed hands between the Continental Army and the British, depending on who held the ground at any given time during the war.

In July of 1779 Col. John Bull, then Master of Lodge No. 8, presented an application in Philadelphia setting forth “the inconvenience they labor under” due to the late and present difficulties of the times, which, in fact, had prevented them from meeting for a considerable time. After due consideration it was unanimously agreed that Lodge No. 8 be again revived and that the Grand Secretary, pro tempore, signify the same to Col. Bull.
Col john Bull a naive of Providence Township, Montgomery County, was a miller by trade. He was one of the twelve members .from Philadelphia County in the Provincial Convention of 1775, also of the Convention that framed the Constitution of the State in 1776. He was confirmed a Justice of the Peace in 1778. Tradition states that Brother Bull is the Brother who nominated General Washington as General Grand Master of the United States, in the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania on January 13, 1780.
Also of note, records indicate the existence, during the period of rhe Revolutionary War, of a Pennsylvania Lodge #19, which was a military Lodge working under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. This lodge was associated with the artillery of the “Pennsylvania Line” of rhe Continental Army. The indications are that this lodge met as occasion demanded from the Carolinas to New England as the army moved from campaign to campaign. It is believed that several frequent visitors of Lodge No. 8, who were from this area and later become charter members of Lodge No. 50, were members of, or at least associated with, this old military Lodge.
Lodge No.8 continued to meet throughout the l 780’s at a variety of locations including Valley Forge, “Peter Holstein’s” at the Swedesford below Norristown, Hannah Thomp­son’s Inn above Norristown, the James Page residence, and, at least once, at the Court House in Norristown. On June 15, 1784 the Lodge was opened in due form and proceeded to the installation of officers, after which the following petition was read:
“To, the Worshipful Master of Lodge No. 8. The Petition of the Subscribers Members of Different Warranted lodges Respectfully Sheweth That your Petitioners finding it Inconvenient to attend the Particular Lodges to which they Belong are Desirous to become members of Lodge No. 8 if a Dispensation can be obtained from the Right Worshipful the Grand Lodge to Hold said Lodge No. 8 in Chester County in the Townships of Tredyffrin & East Whitehead to meet successively in Philada. & Chester Counties. June 15, I 784. “Signed: John Jarvis, No.2; ]no. Bartholomew, No.3; john Christie, No. 29; john Webster, No.19; john Smith, No.3; Ezekiel Howell, N York Traveling lodge; Caleb North, No.29; and Alex’r McCaraker, No.3.

This petition was approved and ordered chat they be admitted upon their producing Certificates from the Lodges of which they are members. On March 25, 1788 an extra meeting of Lodge No. 8 was held in Norristown when a petition for membership was received from Chester County resident John Hannum. Brother Hannum was Enteredon March 25, 1788, Passed on December 24, 1788, and Raised on December 25, 1788. If you are wondering why you sometimes see members accepted and Entered on the same date and then receive two degrees in two days, remember that travel in those days was extremely difficult compared to today and required a great deal of time and effort.
Col. john Hannum, Esq. was a prominent citizen of Chester County. He was present at the Battle of Brandywine and with Wayne on the night of the Paoli Massacre. After the war he served as Register of Wills and Recorder of Deeds of Chester County. He died February 7, 1799.
The last representation of the old Colonial Lodge was at the communication held August 16, 1 790. Why Lodge No. 8 closed its labors cannot be told, as no record has been found. However, the members living within the bounds of Chester County were unwilling to be without a Lodge for long.

After Lodge No. 8 had virtually disbanded, in the year 1789 a number of the Brethren living in Chester County, and who had been companions in arms during the War for Independence. made application for a new Warrant. Their petition was presumed at the Quarterly Communication, December 6, 1790, and, upon the prayer of their petition being granted, Lodge No. 50 was born.
A facsimile copy of the original petition for Warrannt No. 50 can be found in Volume II, “Old Masonic Lodges of Pennsylvania” by Jullius F Sachse, Litt.D., between pages 296 and 297. The warrant was made out in the names of John Smith, Worshipful Master; John Bartholomew, Senior Warden; and John Christie, Junior Warden. The original petition was signed by John Smith, John Bartholomew, John Christie, Dr. John Davis, -Persifer Frazer, Cromwell Pearce, Arthur Rice, and John Davis (2). Ezekial Howell, Joseph Mc­Clellan, Thomas Cummins, and Thomas Ross were also considered to be charter members, however their signatures are not on the original petition. “All were men well known and of much influence in the area.”
Bro. john Smith, originally a member of Lodge No. 3, joined Lodge No. 8, June 15, 1784. Bro. Smith was a Past Master and served rJS rm officer in the infantry during the Revolution.
Bro. john Bartholomew was a native of the great Chester Valley, born I 7 48. His farm was in East Whiteland Township. He served as Major of the Chester County regiment of the Flying Camp in I 775, and afterward attained the rank of Colonel and Brigadier General of militia. He was also a justice of the peace and one o_f the leading members of the Great Valley Baptist Church. He died January 24, 1814, in the sixty-sixth year of his age.
Bro. Christie was a farmer member of Lodge No. 29 and affiliated with Lodge No. 8 on June 15, 1784. He was a Captain of the 5’h Battalion of the Pennsylvania Line where he served until the end of the war. He later transferred to the 3rd Pennsylvania and served until 1783.
Bro. Cromwell Pierce, a veteran of the French and Indian War, was born in Oreland in 1732, and raised on the farm which was the scene of the Paoli Massacre, September 1777. He was commissioned Lieutenant in the Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot under Gen. Forbes, and built a fart at Shamokin, Pa. In the patriot army he was appointed Major, May 6, 1777, and on May 20, 1779, Colonel of the Fifth Battalion of Chester County Militia. He died August 4, 1794, and is buried in the family row in the yard at St. Peter’s Great Valley Episcopal Church.
Bro. John Davis (2) was a Native of Tredyffrin, and a son-in-law of john S .. Morton, one of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. He died near Paoli, July 1 O, 1827, aged 74 years, and was buried in the ground of the Great Valley Presbyterian Church.
Lodge No. 50 was considered the virtual successor to the old Provincial Lodge No. 8, whose original place of meeting was warranted to be within a radius of five miles of Valley Forge. Erected at The “Sign of the White Horse” in East Whiteland, Chester County, a landmark on the old Lancaster road-according to the old distance tables, Lodge No. 50 was 26 miles, l quarter and 18 perches-west of the Court House at Second and Market Streets, in Philadelphia. from which, at that period, all distances were reckoned.

The first candidate, who was entered, passed and raised, within the portals of Lodge No. 50, was Bro. Charles Dilworth, Afarch 12, 1791. Charles Dilworth was the tavern keeper at Dil­worthtown, Birmingham Township, Chester County, and in 1791 was the high sheriff of Chester County.
From 1790 until 1806 the Lodge met on the second Saturday of each month, except July and August, in the tavern known as the “Sign of the ‘v{1hite Horse” when, with the “new Lancaster Road” (Lincoln Highway) bypassing their place of meeting and with the county sear being recently moved to West Chester, they requested permission of the Grand Lodge to move their meeting place to West Chester. Permission was granted on January 5, 1807 and the Lodge met for many years in a room over the Prothonotary’s Office in a building on the southeast corner of the present Court House yard.
After becoming the first Lodge to meet in the Borough of West Chester, Lodge No. 50 apparently prospered, since in 1827 the lot on the southeast corner of High and Market Streets was purchased for the purpose of building a temple. At this time, however, came the rapid rise of the anti-Masonic movement throughout the country and apparently Lodge #50 felt its effects in membership and reduced finances, and in 1829 the lot was sold. Continuing to decline, the Lodge disposed of its railroad stock in 1835, paid $200.00 to the Chester County Cabinet of Natural Sciences for the purchase of a “set of Chemical and Philosophical Apparatus” and suspended operations for two years.
On January 18, 1838, the Lodge surrendered its charter to the Grand Lodge with 14 members in good standing. thus ending the direct descendant of the old military Lodge No. 8 of Valley Forge.

After two decades without a duly constituted Lodge, the Masonic brethren of West Chester petitioned the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and, on March 1, 1858, West Chester Lodge received its warrant made out in the names of John P. Jefferis, Worshipful Master; Abraham Baily, Senior Warden; and Joseph Dowdall, Junior Warden. The charter members were the above three officers together with Thomas H. B. Jacobs, Amos Speakman. Benjamin Hickman, Alexander Holton, and Isaac Trimble. Of these, Brothers Dowdall, Jacobs, Hickman, and Trimble had been members of old Lodge No. 50.

Although its charter is dated March 1, 1858, West Chester Lodge No. 322 was not constituted until July 20, 1858 at which time officers of Grand Lodge came to West Chester for the purpose. The ceremonies were conducted by Right Worshipful D. D. Grand Master Jno. Larkin acting as Grand Master, possibly due to the death of Right Worshipful Grand Master John K. Mitchell in April of that year.
The first place of meeting was on the third floor of the building at 37 West Gay Street. At that rime, the building adjoined the yard of the White Hall Hotel to the West. and the entrance to the Lodge room was through this yard, to the rear of the building, where the members groped their way over obstructions and through darkness t’o their primitive quarters.
According to the minutes of the stared meeting held March 28, 1859, the regalias of Judge Isaac Darlington, Thomas Sweeney, and Olaf Stromburg, members of old Lodge #50 and that of General I. D. Barnard were presented to the Lodge and framed. It is believed that three of these old aprons are the ones that are now displayed on the second floor of the Lodge building.
Bro. Isaac Darlington was born near West Chester on December 13, 1781 and attended Friends School at Birmingham, Pennsylvania. He practiced law in West Chester, was a member of the PA House of Representatives from 1807-1809, and, in 1814 and 1815, was a Lieutenant and Adjutant of the Second Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. He was elected as a Federalist to the Fifteenth Congress of the US. House (1 Representatives in 1816, but declined to be a candidate for re-nomination in 1818. In 1820 he became presiding judge of the judicial district comprising Chester and Delaware counties, where he served as Judge from 1821 until his death in 1839 at the age (15 7 years.
Bro. Isaac D. Barnard of West Chester served with “bravery and distinction” in the War of 1812 and was promoted from Captain to Major for meritorious service. He was a practicing attorney for many years and, after leaving the army, served as District Attorney, State Senator, and Secretary of the Commonwealth. He served as a Major-General of the Militia and was elected to the United States Senate in 1827, where he served until 1831 when he resigned due to ill health. He died in February, 1834.
After two years at this location, and after considerable difficulty with the landlord concerning ventilation, the Lodge moved. in 1860, to rooms over the office of the newspaper, “The Village Record” at 15 North Church Street. Eight years later, the Lodge moved again, this time to rooms over the Post Office, in the Farmers Bank Building. which stood on the present sire of the Farmers and Mechanics building at High and Market Streets.
In 1888, Futhey and Cope, in their History of Chester County, reported that “the Lodge is in flourishing condition and among her 89 members are enrolled many of our influential citizens.” At a Stated Meeting on February 3, 1908 a committee, consisting of John Thorp, Worshipful Master; Mahon Smith, Senior Warden; Frank Freeman, Junior Warden; William W Heed, Secretary; and George McFarland, Treasurer, was appointed to look into having a 50th Anniversary Celebration. At the Stated Meeting in March of 1908, Curtis Hannum, Plummer E. Jefferis, James Koing, and Harry S. Johnson were appointed to the committee by the Worshipful ,\faster.

FARMERS BANK BUILDING
Located at High and Market Streets
Meeting Room ofWest Chester Lodge No. 322
1868 to 1908
In April of 1908, after 40 years in the Farmers Bank Building. the Lodge moved to quarters in the Everhart Building on the northwest corner of Market and Church Streets where the brethren met and conducted Masonic business for the next 18 years. Sunday evening, December 6, 1908, the brethren assembled at the Lodge Room and proceeded, in a body, to the Oliver Baptist Church where a sermon was preached by Rev. Brother Charles H. Shaw. The sermon was an “eloquent and appropriate incident” to the commemoration services in the celebration of the 50’h Anniversary of the Lodge. The next evening, at the Stated Meeting held December 7, 1908, there were 124 members and 40 visitors in attendance at the Lodge.
On August 1, 1925, by order of then Worshipful Master John H. Speer, Jr., William W. Heed, Secretary, notified the members of an important special meeting to be held on Wednesday evening, August 12, 19 25 at G:30 P.M. Standard Time, for the purpose of taking definite action on the recommendations of the Building Committee on a proposed Masonic Building.

On August 20, 1925 the Daily Local News carried the following news item:
“in the purchase of a handsome business building in the center of the borough Thursday, West Chester Lodge of Masons obtained the beginning of a fine temple which will be fitted up .fin- lodge purposes with the exception of two business rooms on the.first floor. The budding was built by Jay H. and C. Rodney Jefferis .and the price paid was $66,736. ”
On April 5, 1926, at the first stated meeting of the Lodge in the new building, the members may have noticed that in the new surroundings were the old Masters’ and Wardens’ chairs, now serving the deacons. Also, the old benches where used in the cloak room and Secretary’s room. It was on this occasion that Past Master I. N. Earl Wynn presented a history of the Lodge which, together with a previous history prepared by Brothers A. Wanger, C. H. Hannum, and Henry C. Baldwin and reported in the minutes of.Tune 2, 1881, was largely a basis for the Lodge history set forth in the 100th Anniversary booklet. After signing in on meeting nights today, we perhaps don our aprons without noticing the fact that the apron box is resting upon the old altar. In 1947 the altar you see today was made and presented by Past Master John H. Speer, Jr., in memory of those members who served in World War I and II. The throne in the East is a memorial to Past Master Plum­mer E. Jefferis, and was presented by his sons, Jay H. Jefferis and Past Master C. Rodney Jefferis (1914). Bro. Plummer E. Jefferis served West Chester Lodge No. 322 as Worshipful Master in 1893 and also as the Burgess of West Chester from 1909 to 1913.

Brother David Jones, P.M., a member of Phoenix Lodge No.130 of Philadelphia, who acted as Senior Warden Pro Tern at the first stated meeting on July 27, 1858, and who presented his petition for membership at that meeting. presented the original Bible which, today, is resting inside the glass display case beneath the sign-in desk located in the ante room. He later served as Worshipful Master of Lodge No.322 in 1887 and 1888.

It is interesting to note that in the years prior to our Centennial in 1958, West Chester Lodge No. 322 had 93 Worshipful Masters. Seven of them served twice including: John P. Jefferis, James Givin, Joseph S. Evans, Walter Hibbard, Jr., Charles Fairlamb, David Jones, and Francis C. Hooton. During the same period, only 10 members served as Secretary of the Lodge. More impressive is the fact that William􀂒􀂓 Heed, P.M. (1877), served as Secretary of the Lodge for over 43 years, from 1884 to 1927, a remarkable display of dedication and accomplishment.
When Bro. William H. Heed died on October 26, 1927, he was the oldest living member of the Lodge and also, the oldest living Past Master. He was entered in 1866, served as Worship­ful Master in 1877, and as Secretary from 1884 until his death in 1927. During his 43 years and ten months as Secretary, he only missed two meetings due to reasons beyond his control. He was very active in the community and served as Secretary of the Fame Fire Company in the early years. Seventy-five members attended his burial at the Oaklands Cemetery.

On Saturday, April 12, 1958 a special meeting of West Chester Lodge No. 322 was held for the purpose of observing our 1ooth Anniversary. A Master Masons Lodge was opened at 4:00 P.M. by Bro. Edward T. Fraim, Worshipful Master; Robert Parke, Jr., Senior Warden; William R. Wilson, Jr., Junior Warden; J. McKnight Williams, Acting Treasurer; J. Clement Cooper, Secretary; and the other officers in their respective places.

Right Worshipful Grand Master Sanford M. Chilcote, accompanied by seven Grand Lodge Officers, paid the Lodge an informal visitation on this special evening and were received with customary honors. Also in attendance were five District Deputy Grand Masters, including D.D. Andrew 0. Friedrich of the 5th Masonic District. Past Master Kenneth J. Pyle gave a very interesting report on the history of West Chester Lodge No. 322 from its Charter on March, l, 1858 to the present date. The Lodge closed in harmony at 5:25 PM.

On November 8, 2003 Bro. Charles E. Swope passed away after a long illness. Dr. Swope was known throughout Chester County and the Commonwealth for his commitment to improving our community, for his generosity in civic causes, and for his patriotism. Entered in January of 1965, he had been a member of our Lodge for 38 years and was 73 years of age at the time of his death.

Col. Charles E. Swope was born in West Chester June 16, 1930. He was Chairman, President and Chief Executive of the First Corporation and its wholly owned subsidiary, First National Bank of Chester County. He became the youngest President in the bank’s history at the age of 41, was an attorney, and attained the rank of Colonel in the United States Marine Corps. He was President of the West Chester University Board of Trustees for 10 years. He received the Outstanding Citizen Award of the Chamber of Greater West Chester and, he was named Outstanding Chief Executive Officer by the Chamber of Business and Industry in 1999. In 2002 the Chester County Council of Boy Scouts honored him with their first Distinguished Citizen Award and the State System of Higher Education gave him an award for Philanthropy. He was a member of the West Chester High School and the West Chester University Halls of Fame.

Consider that our predecessors, members of Lodge No.8 and Lodge No. 50, lived through and witnessed, not only this country’s struggle for independence, but the birth of a nation. Consider also that, since our inception in 1858, our Lodge members have survived the Civil War, World Wars I and II, several other wars, a great depression and dramatic changes in our community. Since 1858 we have witnessed the development of every modern convenience known to mankind today, including paved roads and modern transportation. And through it all, our Lodge has met in peace and harmony continually for 150 years. We believe that our 15oth Anniversary marks an accomplishment worthy of recognition in the highest regard.
The names of a few of our members, along with the names of some of the members of the Lodges that preceded our warrant in 1858, have been set forth in these pages as a matter of interest to our readers; however, the work of Freemasonry is not the work of the few, but of the many. For a true listing of the many brethren of West Chester Lodge who are involved in the interest of community service, one need only look among the rolls of our Lodge membership. There you will be sure to recognize the names of the men who help ring the bells for charity, who volunteer at the area hospitals, who assist at the Senior Center, who dress as clowns to entertain the young and the old, who transport children for medical treatment, who cheerfully participate in a variety of community projects and organizations, and who are leaders in their respective churches and synagogues.

It has been written that the Masonic Fraternity is the oldest, largest, and most widely known fraternal organization in the world with a United States membership of over 1.5 million . Furthermore it has been reported that Masons raise nearly 2 million dollars each day for charity. As the first 150 years of history and tradition at West Chester Lodge No. 322 come to a close, it is our hope and prayer that the ”Great Light of Freemasonry” is carried well into the future by those who follow on and that, in a short fifty years from now, the members of West Chester Lodge No. 322 will be celebrating ”Two Centuries” of continual Masonic service towards the benefit of mankind in general and to our community in particular.
The true secret of Freemasonry can be found in the work of making good men better. Let us be happy ourselves and always endeavor to contribute to the happiness of others. Let us promote the useful arts and by that means mark our superiority and distinction. Let us cultivate the moral virtues and improve in all that is good and amiable. Let the genius of Freemasonry preside over our conduct and let us preserve a nobleness and justness of understanding, politeness of manners, and evenness of temper. Remember always, that the solemn rights, of which you have been partakers, and your parts in them, are as binding on your consciences out of the Lodge as within it. They are links in that chain made in life, for eternity. Do good unto all.