On December 31, 1916 (New Year’s Eve yet) thirty-one Sir Knights met to discuss forming a Commandery in Lakewood. Failing to obtain the consent of other Commanderies the matter was dropped, but not forgotten.
In May 1919 under the guidance of Past Eminent Sir James J. Hinslea the effort was renewed with new vigor. Meetings were held during the summer months, and a petition signed by fifty-three Sir Knights was submitted to the Grand Commandery. On October 9, 1919, a Dispensation for the formation of a Commandery in Lakewood was granted. It should be noted that during the 1919 - 1920 era the Town of Lakewood was experiencing quite rapid growth which was reflected in the growth of Masonry.
A preliminary meeting of the signatories of the petition was held of October 29, 1919, and a full slate of officers was appointed with James J. Hinslea Eminent Commander. A number of committees were appointed including Paraphernalia, Finance, Uniform, and Welfare.
The first stated meeting took place on November 19, 1919. As an indication of the local interest in Commandery, the petitions of 95 Companions were received and on motion referred to several investigating committees. The Paraphernalia Committee reported that the cost to acquire the necessities would be $3,000 with $1,000 of that for the stage. The Uniform Committee recommended that the uniform include a tailor made coat and a factory made cape. The second stated meeting on December 3 was a lengthy one as the investigating committees reported favorably upon 86 Companions and the candidates were separately balloted.
Regular meetings, both Stated and Special, were held during the first months of the new year. The Sir Knights found it necessary to open the meeting at 3:30 in the afternoon in order to introduce, create and constitute as many as twenty-six Companions of the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross. A regular Stated or Special meeting would then be opened that evening at 7:30 pm. In addition to creating new members, other committees were at work to obtain Robes and Scenery for the stage; all in all, a very busy time for all.
The new Commandery was receiving support from other Masonic bodies. On December 17, $200 contributions were received from Gaston G. Allen Lodge #629 and Cunningham Chapter #187 R.A.M. On January 7, a $400 contribution was received from Lakewood Lodge #601. On January 14 Forest City Commandery #40 presented to Holy Grail a beautiful set of silver goblets.
The outside world did intrude on the positive Masonic activity when it was learned on February 4, 1920, that Companion Hugh M. Wright and his wife had died of the Flu leaving two young children. It was moved and approved to return to the estate the funds he had paid to the Commandery.
On February 25, 1920, with 29 nine Sir Knights present and meeting at 3:30 in the afternoon, seventeen “Companions were introduced and created and constituted Companions of the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross.” Continuing, “a Priory of Knights of Malta was opened and those in waiting were constituted Knights of St. Paul of the Mediterranean Pass, and made Knights Hospitalier of St. John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta.”
In March the Commandery accepted an invitation to attend the Easter Services at the Old Stone Church in Cleveland in company with the Cleveland Commanderies. On April 4 eighty two Sir Knights were present. On April 21 the Commandery experienced its first Inspection. There were 140 members and visitors present. The Inspecting Officer was Right Eminent Sir Knight Nelson William, Past Grand Commander. In July the Commandery was invited to join with other Commanderies in forming an escort to the Officers of the Grand Lodge at the ceremony of laying the cornerstone of the new Masonic Temple being erected at 3615 Euclid Avenue; and was pleased to participate. In August a gift of one hundred dollars was received from Lincoln Chapter, Order of Eastern Star. Said gift was immediately employed to purchase the Flag of Our Country for display in the East.
In anticipation of the seventy-eighth Conclave to be held in Cincinnati in September, the Band Committee was allotted one thousand dollars to secure a band; and the Entertainment Chairman was advanced five hundred dollars. Eighty two Sir Knights and their ladies attended the Conclave traveling to Cincinnati by special train. On September 16 the Commandery received its Charter. The Commandery completed its first year of operation with one hundred forty members and an average attendance of forty.
In December the Ceremony of Constitution of Holy Grail Commandery was held by the entire Grand Officers and attended by some two hundred members and visitors. Further in December, during a Stated Meeting, a Recess of thirty minutes was taken for drill. In January at a Special Meeting at 3:30 and with sixty five Sir Knights present, the usual degree work was carried out; and following the work a banquet was served to the Sir Knights and their ladies with the evening devoted to entertainment and dancing.
During the next few years of our Commandery the Sir Knights continued to invest in and grow the Commandery. Metal lockers were obtained for all members and installed in the “Armory” which inspired a visitor to exclaim, “The Armory is the most up-to-date we have ever seen.” Alas, with the changing times the lockers are gone; and the top floor is now used for storage. Coats and capes were obtained, and in the June 1922 annual report it was recorded that all 382 members were provided with uniforms. Those uniforms were covered by a $10,000 insurance policy. The Commandery met in 38 conclaves that year and opened in Full Form eight times.
In October, to celebrate the third anniversary of the Commandery, a festive dinner was held with the Sir Knights and their Ladies. On Christmas Day at noon an observance at the Temple was attended by 86. In February of the next year the Commandery accepted an invitation from Lakewood Congregational Church to celebrate St. John’s Day with them. Continuing in the religious theme, it was agreed to conduct Easter Service at the Temple; and, in fact, 150 Sir Knights and 250 family members gathered in the Asylum for what was reported as “a very successful day.”
During the year the Commandery conducted funerals for four Sir Knights. It is interesting to note that in the early 1920’s life span was much shorter than now; the average age of those four was 47.
The Commandery was invited to attend the Grand Conclave of the State of New York in Buffalo that June and enthusiastically accepted, immediately reserving 75 staterooms on the steamship to Buffalo. One evening 175 were present to watch a degree team from Oriental Commandery open a Priory of Knights of Malta in Full Form and constitute a Companion a Knight of St. Paul of the Mediterranean Pass and be made a Knight Hospitaler of St. John. During the year a piano was obtained for the Lodge Room with Commandery paying its share. The year closed with growth to 428 members. Dues were $10.00, and the fee for the Order was $50.00.
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