Lodge No. 43 – The “Mother” Lodge of the 1st Masonic District

By Nathaniel Gilchrist P.M., Lodge No. 43 Librarian

On June 26, 1953, at a Sunbury Lodge No. 22 Stated Meeting in Sunbury Pa., with representatives from Lodge No. 43, Lancaster in attendance, Past Master Walter R. Markley, then Historian of Lodge 43, presented a historical account of the “History of Early Freemasonry in Lancaster County and of Lodge No. 43 in Particular”. The following excerpts are taken from his 1953 published booklet referring to Lodge No. 43’s historical prominence at that time. In his presentation he referenced Lodge No. 43’s serving as the ”Mother” Lodge for all other Lodges at that time residing in the 1st Masonic District. The following is quoted from Brother Markley’s 1953 presentation…

Mother Lodge of Many Prominent Men

Lodge No. 43 has been the mother Lodge of many men prominent in national, state, and city affairs. It entered, passed, and raised one who was destined to be the only President of the United States from Pennsylvania, James Buchanan. James Buchanan was a Past Master of Lodge No. 43 and figured prominently in its history. He was the first District Grand Master of our District. His interest in Masonry was such that after returning from the presidency he continued his attendance at Lodge meetings, his last appearance having been May 16, 1865, only three years before his death in 1868.

Another President of the United States honored Lodge No. 43 with a visit when Willian Howard Taft was welcomed to a Lodge meeting on November 14, 1917.

One of Pennsylvania’s Most Important Masonic Lodges

No. 43 is honored by having eleven living daughters in Lancaster City and County, well spread throughout the County. All of the surviving descendants of Lodge 43 are in a thriving and prosperous condition, with interest in Masonry extremely high. The Lodges that succumbed were the toll taken as an aftermath of the anti-Masonic period, the year 1837 witnessing the demise of three.

As for old Lodge 43 it has now enjoyed a century of prosperity following the chequered and interesting history of its earlier years, and today with 790 members occupies a position for usefulness and importance second to none under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.

Note: the following bracketed references are added, and were not part of the original presentation.

Various County Lodges as Daughters

No. 104, Philanthropic which was constituted in 1805 and met at various times in Leacock township, Strasburg township, New Holland, Strasburg, Williamstown. On February 6, 1837, after an existence of 32 years the warrant of Philanthropic was vacated for delinquency

No. 116, Elizabethtown, subsequently Marietta, warranted 1810, and the warrant vacated also on February 6, 1837, for delinquency after 27 years of existence.

No. 156, warranted 1818 to be established at Chestnut Level, moved to Drumore Center, and in 1895 to Quarryville. [Washington Lodge now merged with Lodge 43]

No. 169, warranted 1819 for Columbia, warrant vacated also on February 6, 1837, for delinquency, 18 years.

No. 286, Columbia, warranted in 1853, giving Columbia a Masonic Lodge again after 16 years.

No. 398, Marietta, warranted in 1867. [now Ashara-Casiphia Lodge]

No. 417, warranted in 1868 for Colerain township, removed to Christiana in 1872.

No. 476, warranted in 1870 as the second Masonic Lodge for Lancaster City. [Lamberton Lodge now merged Millersville Lodge]

No. 496, warranted 1871 for Safe Harbor, removed to Millersville in 1899.

No. 551, Mount Joy, warranted 1877. [now Ashara-Casiphia Lodge]

No. 587, Manheim, warranted 1891.

No. 665, Ephrata, constituted 1910.

No. 682, Elizabethtown, constituted 1915. [Abraham C. Treichler Lodge]

No. 764, third and baby Lodge for Lancaster City, constituted 1949. Lancaster. [Andrew Hershey now merged with Lodge 43]

[Author’s Note: 70 years have passed since this presentation at a combined meeting of Sunbury Lodge No. 22 and Lodge No. 43. It is interesting to reflect on the changes that have occurred in District 1 with mergers of Lodges, and additions from other jurisdictions. It is also interesting to note that the Lodge 43 membership in 1953 was stated at 790 members. 70 years later, and after two mergers with Lodge 43, there are only a little over 600 members!

So Mote It Be!