Early History of Berea Chapter No. 134 R. A. M. (1872-1947)
On the evening of April 9, 1872 (Tuesday), the following companions met at the Hall of Berea Lodge, No.382, F. & A. M., in the new temple, on the third floor of the newly erected brick block, for the purpose of organizing Berea Chapter, R.A.M., under a dispensation granted to these Companions by Chas. C. Kiefer, Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of the State of Ohio, and dated at Dayton, Ohio, on the 28th day of March, A.D. 1872, and of A.R.A.M. 2402; Companions Robert W. Henry, Wm. L. Stearns, Edward Christian, David R. Watson, Wm. W. Noble, Samuel Hittel, Levi E. Meacham, Theo. M. Towl, Samuel Mower, F. R. Van Tyne. The dispensation as copied in the record book shows as members in addition to the above, Gershom M. Barber and Aaron Schuyler. But not Samuel Mower, who is shown as being present at this first meeting only but evidently did not sign the petition for dispensation.
The dispensation was read by F. R. Van Tyne. In it, the Grand High Priest nominated, constituted and appointed Companions F. R. Tyne to be the first High Priest, R. W. Henry the first King, and W. L. Stearns the first Scribe of said Chapter. The warrant was returnable at the-next regular meeting of the Grand Chapter; together with the By-Laws and a report of the proceedings.
The officers named in the dispensation then appointed the following officers:
A. Schuyler, Treasurer
A Chapter of Royal Arch Masons was then opened in solemn form and on a motion a Code of By-Laws was then adopted. The By-Laws provided that the Stated Convocations shall be held on the first and third Mondays of each month at 7:30 P.M. from the first of April to the thirtieth of September, and at 7 P.M. from the first of October to the thirty-first of March. Officers to be elected annually at the second Stated Convocation in December. The fees for the degrees were $30.00, divided as follows: Mark Master, $15.00, M.E.M., $8.00, and the R.AM., degree $7.00. The annual dues were $3.00 payable on or before the last Stated Convocation in July. The complete By-Laws were printed In a booklet in 1873. On motion adopted, Companions Van Tyne, Christian and Stearns were appointed as a committee to procure the necessary tools and fixtures for the conferring of the degrees. Chapter was then closed in solemn form.
At the regular Convocation on April 15, 1872, petitions for the degrees were received from Brothers S. G. Cochran, N. D. Meacham, C. W. Stems, C. Nokes, and F. S. Henry, all members of Berea Lodge No. 382, F. & A. M., and From Brother W. P. Gardner, a Mark Master, made in Samaritan Chapter, No. 50, R.A.M., of Coshocton, Ohio. On motion, Companions S. Hittel, W. L. Stearns and D. R. Watson were appointed a committee to report as to the qualifications this Chapter would require of candidates in their habits of temperance.
On May 6, 1872, the committee reported, "That after diligent enquiry we fail to find any laws or edicts of the Grand Chapter in reference to the same but we are of the decided opinion that when the intemperance is such as to produce a loss of reason; it is our duty, in order to keep our institution inviolate and free from public exposure, to refuse the application unless there is good reason to believe that a reform can be produced by admitting the candidate to our order."
At a Stated convocation held on June 3, 1872, $135.00 having at that time being received in fees for the degrees, the Chapter by motion ordered a warrant drawn on the treasurer for $13.50 to pay for a bill of goods bought of D. Caldwell, and another warrant drawn for $102.00 to pay a loan which had no doubt been made to pay the Charter fee, etc.. The Charter fee at that time was $90.00.
On September 2, 1872, the committee reported the purchase of a Ledger and record-book from Kennedy & Noble, for $9.65. The High Priest was appointed as a committee to attend to the business of this Chapter at the Grand Chapter and a warrant was drawn for $18.00 to pay the Grand Lodge dues.
At a special convocation held on November 11, 1872, the Charter having been granted by the Grand Chapter, Companion C. A. Woodward as M.E.G.H.P., assisted by Companion George Adams, as Deputy High Priest, Companion George Berry as Grand Secretary, and Companion Samuel Mower as Grand Chaplain, then constituted Berea Chapter, No. 134, under the Charter, and installed the officers in due form.
From the first Convocation on April 9, 1872, to November 11, 1872, the Chapter, while under dispensation held 22 regular and special convocations. These twelve Companions were exalted: N. D. Meacham, Jno. C. Nokes, F. S. Henry, C. W. Stearns, Geo. H. Wadsworth, W. P. Gardner, Samuel G. Cochran, Alex Sandyson, Jos. Gibson, O. D. Stone, M. A. Sprague and R. S. Wellington. The above named twelve Companions, together with the twelve who signed the petition for a dispensation, are the Charter members of the Chapter, but the names of these latter twelve do not appear on the Charter.
At the Stated Convocation on November 18, 1872, Companions Van Tyne, Christian, and Stems were appointed a committee to procure a Mark Book, Codes and such things as they deemed necessary. This committee was also instructed to contract with Berea Lodge No. 382, For rental of the hall.
On January 6, 1873, Companion Jno, A. Rettig, Past Grand scribe, installed the officers who had been elected on December 16, 1872.
On February 3, 1873, a motion prevailed to pay the Berea Lodge, No. 382, $54.00 for rental from April 9, 1872, to January 1, 1873. Contract was made for the rental at $60.00 a year.
On February 17, 1873, a motion prevailed that Companion Theo. A. Towl be granted a demit with sufficient money to reinstate him in his former Chapter. Evidently Companion Towl was borrowed to help get Berea Chapter organized.
On December 15, 1873, an order was drawn on the Treasurer to G. E. Brown for furniture (evidently for a chair for the King and Scribe) in the amount of $24.45 and by vote, Companion Robert Henry was made an honorary member of the Chapter.
On January 18, 1875, Companions C. W. Sterns, G. H. Wadsworth and W. W. Noble were appointed a committee to procure a loan for the purpose of procuring robes for the officers of the Chapter and ascertain the cost of a suitable wardrobe for the same. On motion, the Secretary was instructed to purchase six manuals.
The annual return for the fiscal year ending July 31, 1876, showed 32 members in good standing.
At the Convocation on December 16, 1878, it was reported that Berea Lodge, No. 382, F. & A. M., had agreed to reduce the rental to $25.00 a year (and use of furniture).
On January 20, 1879, an amendment to the by-laws was adopted which made the regular convocation of the Chapter the first and third Wednesdays of the month.
On February 16, 1880, an amendment to the by-laws was adopted, to change the annual dues from $3.00 to $1.50. Also an amendment was adopted to change the meeting nights to the third Wednesday of the month, but they continued to hold such regular meetings as were held on Mondays.
On December 16, 1885, Companions Van Tyne and A. H. Pomeroy were appointed a committee to purchase robes, jewels, etc., at a cost not to exceed $150.00, and also a wardrobe for the same. The Chapter at this time had in its treasury $245.18. And on January 20, 1886, this committee reported that they had purchased robes, jewels, swords, etc., for $150.00 and a wardrobe for $20.00.
On January 20, 1886, the officers of the Chapter were installed in due and ancient form in the presence of a large number of Master Masons and their families.
On March 17, 1886, Companions Van Tyne and Sterns were appointed to act with a similar committee from Berea Lodge, No. 382, and secure a set of Middle Chamber Pillars, Arch, Etc. at a cost not to exceed $26.00 as the chapter's share. And on April 21, 1886, this committee reported that an Arch had been purchased. And the trustees were instructed to have the Chapter property insured for $200.00.
On∑December 21, 1887, an Amendment was adopted making the by-laws read that the fees for the Mark Master were $10.00, the M.E.M. $10.00, and the R.A.M. degree $10.00. Stated Convocations to be held the first and third Wednesdays of the month.
On December 8, 1888, three Brothers were exalted, but the next exaltations were not until May 17, 1899, and from December 19, 1888, to December 7, 1898, the Chapter only held eleven (11) Convocations.
At a Stated Convocation held on May 17, 1899, a team from Webb Chapter, No. 14, of Cleveland, conferred the Royal Arch degree on E. S. Loomis, Wm. A. Chatham, E. A. Spellman and R. H. Darby, these being the first exaltations since December 8, 1888. The Chapter paid the Ladiesí Aid Society $19.50 for the dinner and paid the Cleveland-Berea Electric Railway Co. $15.00 for a chartered car to transport the Webb Chapter Team.
On December 18, 1901, the report of the finance committee showed $174.26 in the Treasures hands, with liabilities of $31.00.
At a Stated Meeting held on March 19, 1902, ten members of Berea Chapter were present, together with O. B. Hannan, Grand King, and Gibson H. Robertson, Past Grand High Priest. This was both an instruction and pep meeting, Companions Hannan and Robertson making extended remarks relative to the life and work of a Chapter and its conduct.
On March 16, 1904, there was paid to Berea Lodge No. 382, $15.00 covering one-third of the cost of a newly purchased optical lantern.
At the Stated Conclave held on July 20,1904, the M.E.G.H.P., Owen B. Hannan, Past G.H.P. Gibson H. Robertson were present and were introduced. In conferring the R.A. degree, Companion Hannan assumed the chair of King, and Companion Robertson, the chair of Scribe.
The Chapter paid out on May 3, 1905, $16.00 for 100 Chapter pennies and dies for making same.
The Secretary's salary was fixed at $10.00 per year on January 5, 1906.
On December 20, 1905, an amendment to the by-laws, changing the nights of the regular Convocation to the first and third Fridays instead of Wednesdays, was taken from the table and by vote adopted. This amendment was first read on November 16, 1904.
On April 5, 1907, E. Christian was paid $5.75 for a silk hat for the E.H.P..
On July 31, 1908 there were 46 members in good standing.
On January 1, 1909, a public installation of officers elect was held, and the Chapter room was well filled with ladies and friends of the Chapter members.
During the calendar years 1907 and 1908, 36 regular and special Convocations were held and H.P. H.B. Kirkland was present and presided at all of them.
On May 21, 1909, by motion, $236.33 was ordered paid to Berea Lodge, No. 382, as one-third of the expense of repairing the Lodge rooms.
At the regular Convocation on November 5, 1909, Companions F. F. Mushrush and A. C. Bagnall were present and asked for consent of Berea Chapter to the granting of a dispensation to form a chapter at Lakewood, Ohio by motion, consent was granted on November 19, 1909.
On July 31, 1909, Berea Chapter had 54 Members in good standing.
On March 7, 1913, the Chapter was inspected by G.H.P. Thomas H. Islitt in the M.E.M. degree, 24 members of Berea Chapter being present.
On April 18, 1913, the Chapter Contributed $25.00 to the fund for flood relief in southern Ohio (Dayton Relief Commission).
On June 5, 1914, the papers for Berea Chapter's consent of a new Chapter in Cleveland to be known as Robert Wallace Chapter, were read and on June 19,1914, consent was voted.
On November 20, 1914, the Chapter ordered $33.32 paid for banners for the veils and a Mark Book.
On September 15, 1916, a motion prevailed that the Chapter pay its proportion of the cost of a new gas range for the kitchen.
On March 18, 1917, the District Inspector, Irving Stafford, was present and inspected the Chapter work in the R.A. degree. Forty-one members and seven visitors were present.
On September 19, 1919, the dues were fixed at $2.00 per year, and the fee for affiliation at $3.00.
On January 16, 1919, at a regular Convocation, the Chapter not having met since October 4, 1918, on account of an order of the local Board of Health (due to the Influenza epidemic), the Secretary was instructed to request a dispensation to hold an election of officers.
On April 4, 1919, $70.00 was ordered paid to David Gilchrist as one-third of the cost of a new floor in the dining room.
On December 19, 1919, the Chapter voted permission for the issue of a dispensation for the establishment of a Chapter at West Park, Ohio, and to be named West Park Chapter. When the Charter was granted to West Park Chapter in October of 1920, fifteen members of Berea Chapter who had signed the petition for the dispensation were automatically demitted to West Park Chapter, No. 214.
On November 20,1920, a motion was carried that the Chapter assume one-third of the $1000.00 pledged by Berea Lodge, No. 382, to the Berea Community Hospital Fund and this was paid by the chapter in two installments. Motion also carried that the Secretary be paid a minimum of $50.00 per year for his services.
At a special meeting on March 24, 1921, a team from the newly chartered West Park Chapter, No. 214, took the chairs and exemplified the M.E.M. degree for 23 members of Berea Chapter, (Ninety-five members and visitors were present and the dinner, with ice cream, cost the Chapter $54.50.)
On June 3, 1921, 29 Brothers were exalted to the R.A. degree.
On October 21, 1921, an amendment to the by-laws was adopted, fixing the fees for the degrees as follows: $10.00 for the M.M., 00 for the P.M., $10.00 for M.E.M., and $20.00 For the R.A.M., $5.00 for affiliation and $2.00 for the annual dues.
On January 29, 1922, the Chapter by motion agreed to pay one-third of the cost of a new carpet for the Lodge room and on March 3, 1922, agreed to pay one-third of the cost of a new carpet for the rostrum. Chapter's share for the Lodge room, $248.58 and for the rostrum $23.50.
On February 16, 1923, the Chapter was inspected in the M.M. degree by Companion George A. Peabody, District Inspector.
On December 19, 1924, a motion was carried that the Chapter pay $25.00 to Berea Lodge, No. 382, towards the purchase of an addressograph machine.
On May 21, 1926, the Chapter by-laws were amended by making the annual dues $3.00.
The Grand Chapter of 1925, amended their by-laws, making the Chapter year end on May 31 of each year.
On May 3, 1929, the M.E.M. degree was conferred on two candidates of Berea Chapter No. 134, and two from Rising Sun Chapter, No. 190, by the Cuyahoga County Past High Priest Association. Seventy-two Visitors were present from Rising Sun and other Cleveland Chapters. Lunch at the Varsity Inn cost $53.00.
On October 17, 1930, the Chapter paid Berea Lodge, No. 382, $25.00 toward the cost of bookcases in the Secretary's room. And on November 21, 1930, the Chapter donated $25.00 to the Berea Community Fund.
On November 3, 1933, an amendment was made to the by-laws reducing the fees for the Chapter degrees from $40.00 to $25.00.
At a special Convocation held on November 30, 1934, with nearly one-hundred members and visitors present, the officers for the ensuing year were installed by Paul G. Lutz, Grand King, with Ex. Comp. Willard T. Francis, Grand Marshal; Irving Stafford, Grand Treasurer.
At a special held on January 23, 1935, M.E.G.H.P. Roscoe Walcutt was present and addressed the Chapter. He was accompanied by E. Comp. Paul G. Lutz, Grand King.
At a special held on June 18, 1935, the M.E.M. degree was conferred by the Past High Priest association of the 18th District. Paul G. Lutz, Grand King, and Willard T. Francis, Deputy G.H.P., District Inspector, were present.
On December 2, 1938, a motion prevailed that each living P.H.P. be presented a P.H.P. Jewel (those having received one being excepted) at a cost not to exceed $15.00.
On October 39, 1939, an amendment to the by-laws was adopted fixing the fees for the degrees at $15.00 and the fee for affiliation at $3.00.
On December 15, 1939, an amendment to the by-laws was adopted fixing the first Stated Convocation in June of each year as the time for the election of Chapter officers (to comply with the Grand Chapter Code). And a resolution was adopted making Ill Brother Louis C. Wright, 33 Degree, an Honorary member of the Chapter.
On October 4, 1940, Companion Jno. W. Knox presented to the Chapter framed specimens of parts of the Holy bible, taken from original printed books, over 100 years old.
On May 18, 1946, the G.H.P. approved the change in our Chapter by-laws making the annual dues $4.00.
From its formation in 1872 until 1903, Berea Chapter had a precarious existence----never having had a membership in good standing of over 32 and in the report for 1903, had an all time low of only 20 members. Had it not been for the visit of Past G.H.P. Gibson Robinson on March 19, 1902, the Charter would no doubt have been taken up by the grand Chapter. This was the beginning of an enthusiasm which brought the membership up to a high of 148 in 1926, but sorry to record, it then went into a decline until the year 1939, when again started to started to increase and has advanced steadily to our present membership of 158.
On December 7, 1898, officers were elected and installed for the year 1899. Companion A.H. Perry, who had served as Secretary for six years previous, was elected H.P. and J.J. Bartlett was elected Secretary, but Companion Perry acted as both H.P. and Secretary for all the year 1899. In the year 1900, Companion Perry again served as Secretary and in 1903 served up until 1936, the year of his death, for a total of 42 years as Secretary of Berea Chapter.
F.R. Van Tyne served six years consecutively as H.P. and ten years as Secretary, of which eight years were consecutive.
M.A. Sprague served the Chapter fifteen years as King, eleven of which were connective.
Robert H. Ware has served the Chapter twelve consecutive years as Secretary,
In addition to the twelve Royal Arch Masons who petitioned for a dispensation, 331 members of Berea Chapter received the Royal Arch degree in Berea Chapter, and 21 were received on demit (up to June 31, 1947).
Berea Chapter claims to be the first Berea Masonic organization taking positive steps towards the formation of a Masonic Temple Fund. They set aside a substantial amount in 1939 and the fund is annually increased.
--This history was taken from the program on the seventy-fifth anniversary of Berea Chapter No. 134 R.A.M. Friday, October 31, 1947.
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