On November 11, 1895 William Wallace Johnson was installed as Master of King Hiram's Lodge. He was the son of Past Master Joseph P. Johnson, joining the Lodge shortly after his fathers death in 1891. One of his first acts was to appoint Moses N. Gifford, chairman of a committee of seven members of the Lodge to complete arrangements for the Lodge's one hundredth anniversary celebration.
From the minutes of the Lodge:
"December 2, 1895
A report of the Anniversary committee is received. The celebration is scheduled for March 25, 1896. A banquet is to be held with tickets being available to all Masons desiring them. An oration is to be delivered preceding a concert by the Temple Quartet in the evening at Town Hall. A dance is to follow. Members vote that a history of the Lodge should be published and that William Johnson is to prepare and deliver it."
On December 12, 1895, the one hundredth anniversary of the signing of the charter of King Hiram's Lodge, the Lodge met at a Special Communication in the Lodge room with twelve officers and ten members present. This was a relatively low key event as, due to the inability of the officers of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts to be present, it had already been decided to hold a significantly larger event in March of the following year. During a two and one half hour meeting remarks were made by those members present and the following resolutions, offered by Wor. James A. Small, were by a rising vote adopted by the membership of King Hiram's Lodge;
Whereas, on the twelfth day of December 1795 a dispensation was granted to sundry persons to form themselves into an organization to be known as King Hiram's Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, with authority from the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Massachusetts to perform all legitimate acts in conformity with Masonic usages, therefore
Resolved, that we the present members of the said King Hiram's Lodge this twelfth day of December 1895, desire to place upon record our appreciation of the noble work our brothers of one hundred years ago, as well as all others who have guided and defended our noble craft down through the century.
Resolved, that we pledge our best efforts individually and collectively to perpetuate the good name of King Hiram's Lodge to the end, that the close of the second century of her existence may show a record still grand and glorious in the cause of human rights and brotherhood.
During the next three months preparations and arrangements accelerated with a number of Special Communications held in the Lodge. Benjamin Allstrum Higgins and Leslie Atherton Spinney became Master Masons, a bronze commemorative medal was cast, under a dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and invitations and a circular letter were distributed to Lodge members and masons throughout, what was then, the 28'th Masonic District.
The Lodge also bade farewell and paid their last respects to three members who died suddenly, Capt. Nathan Persons, Capt. Benjamin Hatch Atkins and Capt. William Matheson. All three were highly regarded master mariners, active in Provincetown's whaling industry and West Indies trade. Nathan Persons commanded the Mary E. Simmons in 1866, Atkins, the Valentine Doane and the Olive Clark and Matheson owned the Jessie Matheson and Mary Matheson as well as Matheson's wharf.
At 2:30 P.M. on Wednesday, March 25, 1896 King Hiram's Lodge opened on a Special Communication with twelve officers and one hundred sixty members and brothers from the 28'th Masonic District. Wor. William W. Johnson appointed Past Masters Moses N. Gifford, Hezekiah P. Hughes and Lewis H. Baker a committee to receive M.W. Edwin B. Holmes, Grand Master of Masons of Massachusetts and his suite which was composed of twenty two Grand Lodge officers.
Following introductions and an exchange of remarks the Grand Lodge officers and guests were conducted in a procession to the Provincetown Town Hall where the anniversary exercises were to be held. This celebration was not limited only to the Lodge members and their guests, the Boston Traveler and the Boston Globe newspapers had entire pages printed in the following days edition covering the days events in Provincetown. Complete with artists renderings of the Lodge building, which had been handsomely decorated with red, white and blue bunting for the occasion and Lodge officers, William Johnson, William Young, and Irving Rosenthal it noted that most businesses in Provincetown had closed that day in observance of the event. The anniversary coverage even overshadowed Madam Sarah Bernhardt's opening at the Tremont Theatre in Boston.
The order of exercises at Town Hall were interspersed with selections provided by the Amphion Orchestra of Provincetown. An oration was delivered by the Rev. Bro. William Rider with a poem written for the occasion and delivered by Rev. Bro. R. Perry Bush of Gloucester, a lineal descendant of Past Master Godfrey Ryder, and the donor of the land where the Town Hall now stood. The opening exercises also included addresses of welcome by Wor. William Johnson and the Grand Master.
Excerpts of an address given by Wor. William W. Johnson, Master of King Hiram's Lodge at the Centennial Celebration of King Hiram's Lodge, March 26, 1896.
"The Charter of King Hiram's Lodge was signed on the twelfth day of December, 1795, and from that time we justly date the birth of our Lodge. Time in its ceaseless course has rounded out more than a full century since a little company of good men and true received from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts a Charter empowering them to convene as a Masonic Lodge in the town of Provincetown. Their meeting was without doubt unnoticed even by their neighbors and friends, and it is probable that the most sanguine of our Brethren little realized how well they were building, and upon the foundation then deeply and firmly laid would arise an institution whose life of one hundred years, spent in deeds of charity, benevolence and love, we, their successors, should meet to celebrate; a temple which would withstand the malice, hatred, and feverish excitement of those ignorant of the rudiments of the principles upon which it was founded and upon which it was destined to stand unmoved.
Does not the fact that Masonry has passed through the most trying ordeals, and come forth unscathed and victorious, prove that it is founded on principles as immovable as the everlasting hills; grand truths which lead man ever onward and upward. One hundred years of seed time and harvest, one hundred years of sunshine and storm have passed. What changes have been wrought in this vicinity and among its inhabitants! Our Brethren labored valiantly and well. They have gone to their reward , but their works still live, and we enjoy today the fruit of their labors, and generations of Masons yet unborn will rise up and call them blessed. The venerated charter which they received, and which has been handed down to us after a series of more than one hundred years, plainly show the effect of the effacing hand of time. It has passed through many vicissitudes. It has been in danger of loss, destruction and surrender, but it has been happily preserved from all these misfortunes, and today is carefully guarded and highly prized, not only as a most valuable momento of the past , but as the proper authority for the work of King Hiram's Lodge.
The Grand Master who affixed his signature to our Charter was Paul Revere, the close friend of Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Joseph Warren and James Otis. Paul Revere the "Eminent Patriot," who said to his friend:
"If the British march By land or sea from the town tonight, Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch Of the North church tower, as a signal-light,- One, if by land, and two, if by sea; And I on the opposite shore will be, Ready to ride and spread the alarm Through every Middlesex village and farm, For the country-folk to be up and to arm."
The Deputy Grand Master was William Scollay, a public spirited citizen of Boston, whose name is given to the square fronting Tremont Row. The Senior Grand Warden was Isaiah Thomas, who took an active part in the Revolution, and as an author and journalist did much to incite the people to resistance. The Junior Grand Warden was Joseph Laughton, who held a prominent position in the treasury department of our State. The Grand Secretary was Daniel Oliver, a prosperous merchant of Boston. They were men foremost in their day and generation, who were deeply interested in our Order, and identified with noble and unselfish achievements for the benefit of their fellow-men. These are the names which grace the charter of King Hiram's Lodge; names synonymous with honor, bravery, benevolence and patriotism; names which never die, but down through the years shine resplendent for their lives grandly lived.
On this narrow stretch of land, extending out into the way as if bidding defiance to old ocean, and proclaiming thus far thou shalt go and no father, are erected lighthouses. Their welcome rays across the vast waste of waters warn the storm-tossed mariner of hidden rocks and treacherous shoals, and point out the pathway to a safe anchorage.
Brethren do you see any parallel between the lesson of our town thus situated, thus protected, thus serving mankind, and the Institution to which we belong?
Masonry is built on principles sure and steadfast, whose influences for good extend far out into the sea of turmoil and strife, bid defiance to woe, misery and all things unholy. Its grand teaching, like beacon lights, dispel the darkness of our sordid, worldly ambitions, warn the traveler on life's ocean of perils which beset his course, and guide him to that peaceful harbor where the weary shall find rest.
Masonry is a lighthouse on the shores of time, save that its welcome rays penetrate everywhere, dispelling the darkness of sorrow and despair and diffusing the brightness of joy and hope. May King Hiram's Lodge in the century upon which it is about to enter, stand firm and true as a lighthouse on the shore, whose beams shall brighten the way of many a worthy Brother and encourage him to earnest endeavor and good living."
At 5:30 P.M. the Brethren, their ladies and invited guests were conducted to the Banquet Room in Town Hall where four hundred persons were served an elegant dinner prepared by T.D. Cook and Co. caterers of Boston. Wor. William Johnson introduced Past Master Artemus P. Hannum as Toastmaster of the evening who alluded to the good works accomplished by the Lodge in its first century in the community and expressed regret that the Lodge had been somewhat neglectful in its social responsibilities. He acknowledged the presence of the many ladies in the room adding that " By their gentility and charm they have added grace to the occasion," vowing that the Lodge would provide more occasions where they would be welcomed. Speeches were tendered by the several members of Grand Lodge in attendance with music provided by the Apollo Male Quartet of Boston. Dinner concluded with the entire assembly rising at the request of Past Master Artemus Hannum and singing "Auld Lang Syne."
The assembled guests adjourned to the audience room at Town Hall where a concert was given by the Apollo Male Quartet followed by a reception for the Grand Lodge officers where the Amphion Orchestra furnished the music.
In the Abstract of Proceedings of The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for March
25, 1896, R.W. Sereno D. Nickerson, Recording Grand Secretary concluded his report with
The pleasures of the day were prolonged with a concert by the Apollo Quartet, of Boston, and a dance which was protracted until the small hours of the morning and appeared to afford the greatest gratification not only to all the young people but also to the several of the staid and sedate Grand Officers.
The members of King Hiram's Lodge met the following day at 7:30 P.M. to close
The minutes of the meetings in the following months contain a sense of satisfaction with an enormously successful event and congratulations to those members who organized and assisted in planning it. Special mention was made of the services of Adam's Lodge of Wellfleet and Howard Lodge of So. Yarmouth. Also to the Ladies Sewing Society of the Centre Methodist Church and to the Ladies Sewing Society of the Church of the Redeemer. The event also saw the presentation to the Lodge of Past Master Waterman Crocker's Past Master's jewel and a dress apron and sash presented by the Lodge to him in 1848. Arrangements were also made to publish the Anniversary History book, prepared by William Johnson and to purchase souvenir buttons. These buttons have a picture of George Washington with King Hiram's Lodge written on it.
All the historical content in these pages researched and compiled by Wor. James J. Theriault, curator of King Hiram's Museum and lodge historian. Any comments concerning content may be sent to James J. Theriault, 541A Main Street, Hyannis, MA 02601
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