Review by Brother Richard T. Mason
An Abbreviated View of Lodge No. 43 History from 1785 to 1960. To begin this journey, it must be known that there was a predecessor to Lodge No. 43. This was Lodge No. 9, which was warranted in 1766. In 1785, the Master Brother Stephen Chambers surrendered its warrant to the Grand Lodge due to its members being active in the revolution.
The Beginning in the 1780’s
After the war, Captain Stephen Chambers made his way back to Lancaster and, along with two other Past Masters. With other members of the craft met, it was decided to petition the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania for a warrant. The Warrant was granted on April 21st, 1785, and on September 14th, 1785, the original members met and Lodge No. 43 was constituted. Captain Stephen Chambers became the Worshipful Master of the newly constituted lodge. During the 1786 Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania Quarterly Communication it was unanimously resolved that it is improper for the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania to remain any longer under the authority of any foreign Grand Lodge. In addition, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania was closed forever September 25th, 1786. The same day the new Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania was formed and all lodges belonging to the now closed Provincial Grand Lodge would now be members of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. In 1787, the new warrant, verifying the original warrant, for Lodge No. 43, was received by the Grand Lodge. The original warrant was transferred to Grand Lodge to be kept in the archives. In 1788, the Initiation fee of 6 Pounds was reduced to 3 Pounds. In addition, the lodge monthly dues were reduced from One Quarter of a Dalton to One Shilling and Three Pence.
It was also resolved that St. John’s Day – December 27th — will be the appointed day for the election of officers. Note: Prior elections were held every 6 months for officers.
During the early 1790’s the Lodge meetings were not well attended. Old loose minutes were destroyed after being compared to the book. Fines were imposed on members absent unless a reasonable excuse can be made. The membership of the lodge stood at 41. All were listed by name.
The Lodge was opened and business conducted in the first degree. The reason we opened in the entered apprentice degree – it is felt but not known for sure – is that many masons never went past the entered apprentice degree in the earlier days of masonry. Therefore, the lodge was opened and business conducted in the entered apprentice degree. All non-fellow craft or master masons were excused prior to and readmitted after a fellow craft or master mason lodge was opened to conduct the degree work of each. Old loose minutes were destroyed after being compared to the book.
At the meeting held on October 10th, 1792, three visitors to the lodge were examined. One was found to be clandestine and refused admission. In 1794, the lodge membership stood at 41.
During the late 1790’s collecting dues was a problem. Brothers not able to pay dues were to give notes payable to the lodge for installment payments. In 1796, Lodge No. 43 was waiting for the Borough of Lancaster to allow the lodge to erect a lodge room over the market house. The first black Ball was cast during balloting in 1797. Also that year, the Borough of Lancaster allowed us to build our lodge over the market house. The borough would provide pillars and arches for the superstructure. In 1799, there was not much reported in the lodge minutes.