Early History of
Clifton Lodge #664
Preliminary Period of Organization
In the winter of 1919-1920, Lakewood Lodge No. 601 and Gaston G. Allen Lodge No. 629 F. & A. M. were swamped with petitions by candidates for the degrees. Often it took an applicant 15-18 months to complete his degree work, and all the officers were tired out with the many special meetings called in an attempt to get back to schedule.
Rt. Wor. Bro. James B. Ruhl, later Grand Master but at that time the District Lecturer of the 22nd Masonic District of Ohio, felt that there was urgent need for a third Lodge in Lakewood and, after discussing it with the officers of the two Lodges and finding them in accord, had a meeting called on Sunday afternoon, March 21, 1920, in the Lodge Room to see what the sentiment would be among the brethren present.
Some 25 or 30 gathered at the appointed time; and Wor. Bro. William Bayne, a Past Master of Lakewood Lodge No. 601, was elected temporary chairman. After expressing his own opinion that there was need for a third Lodge, he called on Rt. Wor. Bro. Ruhl, who urged the necessity of taking some of the burden off the two existing Lodges as well as making it possible for a candidate to receive his work within a reasonable time. All present having declared themselves to be in favor of the proposed action, it was decided to run advertisements in the Cleveland and Lakewood papers, calling attention to non-affiliate Masons to a meeting to be held Sunday afternoon, April 11th, at Lakewood Temple to consider the organization of a new Lodge.
As as result of this publicity, about 60 were present on that date when Rt. Wor. Bro. Ruhl called the meeting to order. Wor. Bro. Bayne was elected permanent chairman, and Bro. F. Eugene Wabel elected Secretary.
The minutes of this meeting show that Wor. Bros. Lewis Rumage, Henry J. Pleasance and Henry J. Weidenthal, Past Masters of Lakewood Lodge No. 601; Wor. Bro. James H. Sterling, Past Master of Gaston G. Allen Lodge No. 629; and Bro. Herman Thiessen, Senior Warden of Lakewood Lodge No. 601, were present and pledged their aid and support to the organization of another Lodge in Lakewood Temple. They also record the fact that Bros. Harvey D. Snyder of Iris Lodge No. 229, B .J. Drummond of Nebraska, S. R. Snow of Illinois, W. R. Stuart of New York, and Mark G. Snow of Massachusetts expressed their intention of joining the proposed Lodge. It was voted to hold another meeting in two weeks, and everyone present was urged to try in the meantime to interest other unaffiliated Masons to join the proposed new Lodge.
At this third meeting, held April 25th, the first definite steps to effect the organization of a new Lodge were made. Over 50 stood up when those present were asked to rise if they would join the proposed Lodge. As this was considered a sufficient number to ensure its success, it was then moved, seconded and carried that a new Lodge be organized. Wor. Bro. Bayne was then elected Worshipful Master; Bro. William A. Edwards, a member of Allen Lodge, as Senior Warden; and Bro. Bernard J. Drummond, of Nebraska No. 1, as Junior Warden. It was then voted to make the affiliation fee $10.00. Next came the selection of a name, and after several were proposed, a written ballot showed a majority favored Clifton. Wor. Bro. Bayne then announced the appointment of a Committee on By-Laws consisting of Bros. Harvey R. Snyder, William R. Stuart, and Walter D. Kring, and instructed them to report at the next meeting to be held on May 16th.
On that date the proposed By-Laws were read by Bro. Snyder and, with some slight changes suggested by those present, were adopted by a unanimous vote. A total of 44 then paid the affiliation fee of $10.00.
The next meeting was held on Sunday, June 6th. The minutes show that Wor. Bro. Bayne appointed Bros. Alonzo F. Allen, Samuel P. Fetzer and J. Edward Townsend as Trustees; Sam W. Reed and Edward H. Williams as an Entertainment Committee; and Jesse W. Moyer as Historian. An additional 34 paid their fee on this occasion making a total of 78 sure members for the new Lodge.
The sixth and final organization meeting was called to order on Sunday, June 20th. The By-Laws adopted on May 16th were amended to provide for a stated meeting on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month, instead on only one stated on the 2nd Saturday as originally planned. The Secretary was then authorized to draw a check for $100.00 payable to the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Ohio and to request a Dispensation to be granted Clifton Lodge.
On July 4, 1920, a delegation consisting of Wor. Bro. Bayne and Bros. Theodore F. Humphreys, Harvey R. Snyder, William A. Edwards and F. Eugene Wabel went to the summer home of the then Most Worshipful Grand Master, Matthew Smith, at Willoughby, Ohio, where he signed and presented to them a Dispensation for the newest Lodge in Ohio.
Our first Stated Meeting was held on Saturday, July 10th, 1920, with 61 members and 50 visitors present according to the register. Rt. Wor. Bro. James B. Ruhl, Grand Marshal, officially presented the Dispensation. Wor. Bro. Bayne then called on Bro. Humphreys to read it to the brethren, and Clifton Lodge, U. D. began its existence. The following appointments were then made by the Master: Treasurer, John W. Mackay; Secretary, F. Eugene Wabel; Senior Deacon, Frank H. Snyder; Junior Deacon, Harvey R. Snyder; Senior Steward, Theodore F. Humphreys; Junior Steward, Edward H. Williams; Marshal, Samuel O. Champion; Tyler Pro Tem, Henry J. Pleasance (a member of Lakewood Lodge); Chaplain, Walter D. Kring. Next, the By-Laws were read, one by one, and adopted in their entirety. The Secretary then read 76 petitions from candidates which were received and referred to committees.
Wor. Bro. McMaugh then presented the new Lodge a copy of the Great Light of Masonry in behalf of the brethren of Gaston G. Allen Lodge No. 629, which gift was accepted by Wor. Bro. Bayne for Clifton Lodge, U. D. with words of deep appreciation for this tangible evidence of good will by one of its sponsors.
On Monday, July 26th, 1920, the first special meeting was opened at 9:00 A.M. in the Entered Apprentice degree. Wor. Bro. J. H. Sterling, a Past Master of Gaston G. Allen Lodge No. 629, presided in the East on the first candidate, George A. Bentley. A total of 25 candidates received their Entered Apprentice degree at this meeting. Then a reception and entertainment for the members of Lakewood Lodge No. 601, Gaston G. Allen Lodge No. 629 and Cunningham Chapter No. 187 R. A. M. followed in the evening. According to the register, 65 members and 450 visitors filled the Lodge Room on this occasion.
To Bro. Ralph E. Sapp goes the honor of being the first candidate to receive the Fellowcraft degree (on August 19, 1920). On September 4th, Lodge was opened at 1:00 P.M. and the officers of Lakewood Lodge No. 601 were invited to fill the stations, after which they conferred the Master Mason degree on Bros. George A. Bentley, Ralph E. Sapp and Fred W. Long in that order. A week later, the officers of Gaston G. Allen Lodge No. 629 filled the chairs and raised five additional candidates. From then on, the officers of Clifton and the brethren conferred all the degrees, assisted by many visiting brethren from various Cleveland Lodges. Most of the 106 members with which we started had demitted from out of Ohio or if from an Ohio Lodge were not active workers, and as the new officers had not yet mastered all three degree rituals, our brother Lodges thus demonstrated on these two occasions active support of the new Lodge.
From then until October 9th, the officers and brethren were busy receiving petitions, investigating candidates, conferring degrees and examining candidates on their lectures. On that date, the District Inspector, Rt. Wor. Bro. Ruhl, again visited us and witnessed the conferring of the Master Mason degree on Bro. Jesse E. Rawson by our officers. At the conclusion he complimented them on their splendid work and stated that he would gladly recommend Clifton Lodge, U. D. be given a charter. In that short period of three months, 152 petitions had been received, most of the petitioners investigated and balloted upon and 73 Entered Apprentice, 55 Fellowcraft and 54 Master Mason degrees conferred at 12 special and 6 stated meetings.
The Secretary's report shows receipts during this period of $7,957.55 and expenditures of $4,106.12, leaving a balance of $3,851.43; an outstanding record and one probably never eclipsed in Ohio by any new Lodge over such a short period.
Wor. Bro. Cunningham, Master of Lakewood Lodge No. 601, then presented a set of officers' jewels as a gift from his Lodge, after which Lincoln Chapter No. 309, O. E. S., gave Clifton a very fine set of officers' aprons. Wor. Bro. Bayne accepted these gifts for the Lodge and again expressed our appreciation of these tangible expressions of friendship by fellow organizations meeting in the Lakewood Masonic Temple.
At Grand Lodge, held October 22nd and 23rd, we were voted a Charter and assigned the number 664 and became a constituent part of Ohio Masonry.
The origin of Clifton Lodge's name is uncertain, although it is believed to be geographic (e.g., Clifton Boulevard, Clifton Park). For the record, and under the assumption that the name is, in fact, of geographic origin, it might be worthwhile to add here an account of how the name Clifton became associated with these Lakewood landmarks. John M. West had a 700 acre farm in the West Park area. His daughter, Frances, married Christopher C. Southern whose home stood at the site now occupied by St. Peter's Church at the corner of Detroit Avenue and West Clifton. They had a son named Clifton who died as an infant and for whom both the Boulevard and Park were named. Incidentally, the West in West Clifton has nothing to do with geography; it is the surname of young Clifton Southern's maternal grandfather, John M. West. This information is taken from Butler, Margaret Manor, West Clifton, Romance in Lakewood Streets (Feather, Cleveland, 1962).
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