Annawon Lodge History;  The early days

Written by Dave Mason  
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 
A brief history of Annawon lodge


Most of this article is adapted from the booklet published in 1973 on Annawon’s 100th anniversary...
In the mid 1800s,
West Haven was a small village of a few hundred inhabitants, then as now, a suburb of the much larger city of New Haven.

Residing in West Haven at that time were less than fifty men know to be Masons hailing from various lodges.  These brothers were obliged to travel, by foot or horseback, to Adelphi Lodge (then in Fair Haven) or Olive Branch (then in Westville) or elsewhere.

One can imagine that these brothers discussed the viability of forming a local lodge during these long and arduous trips. Eventually a petition to the Grand Lodge of New Haven was made.  Notable members of the petitioning group included Brother Joseph W. Andrews, for whom the Joseph Andrews Chapter #46 of Royal Arch Masons was later named,  and Jarvis Kelsey, who became Annawon Lodge's first Worshipful Master.  Also among the petitioners was Brother Dr. John M. Aimes, who suggested the name Annawon for the lodge. There was much discussion, Brother Aimes persisted, and the name was accepted.  Another signer was  the beloved Brother Nelson S. Wilmont, veteran of the Civil War, who lost an arm in the Battle of Fredicksburg.  In relating his experience, Brother Nelson told that he was wounded in battle and lay helpless.  With all hope was gone he gave the Mason’s grand hailing sign of distress, which some unknown brother recognized, then rescued and nursed him until he recovered.

In due time the Grand Master  granted a dispensation to the newly conferred lodge.  A room known as Thompson Hall was secured, it was a second story over a grocery store, then located on the corner of Main Street and Campbell Ave.   Although it was very small, it answered the purpose, at least for a while.  The dispensation having been granted, officers were chosen and a communication  called, and on Monday evening March 24, 1873 Annawon Lodge #115  was opened on the Master Mason degree and had it’s first stated communication.

Worshipful Master Topping of Hiram Lodge No. 1 in New Haven, along with other brethren, opened the Lodge.  Past Grand Master Eli S. Quintard, representing the Grand Lodge, presented the dispensation to Master Elect Jarvis E. Kelsey who took his seat in the East.  James McAlpine, Senior Warden Elect and Joseph Andrews, Junior Warden Elect,  took their stations. Worshipful Master Kelsey then appointed Fredric Bishop  Senior Deacon, Senior Warden McAlpine appointed Henry C. Thomas Junior Deacon, and Junior Warden Andrews appointed Edgar Beebe and Henry A. Thompson  Stewards.  The business of the evening included receiving the petition of Cyrus W. Tuttle, who was elected, and became the first brother to become a Mason at Annawon Lodge.  He was the first brother to sign the roll of membership in Annawon Lodge,  which every brother since has signed.  Brother Tuttle went on to serve as Master of Annawon Lodge #115 in 1899 and 1903.

From early records it is evident that the lodge held weekly meetings.  In November of 1880 the by-laws were amended to provide for meeting on the second and fourth Mondays - as we do to this day.  The records of the lodge show that fees of $20.00 were collected with a candidate's application, and $20.00 at the Entered Apprentice degree.  No fee was required for the Fellowcraft or Master Mason degree, apparently they preferred to get the full price at the early stages - it must be remembered that $40.00 was quite a lot of money at that time!

The first lodge room was small and inadequate for the lodge's purpose.  A committee was appointed on March 4th of 1873 to secure a new lodge room.

In a  report dated April 24, 1874 stated that a lodge room in a new brick building on the corner of Main Street and Campbell Avenue could be secured for $200.00 rent per year, and that the estimated cost to furnish the lodge would be $550.00.  When the hall was eventually secured the cost to furnish the new lodge was $1,008.68.  At that point subscriptions had raised the sum of $451.00.  As you can see our ancestors had the same frailties of spending more than the raised as we presently have.  However, notes were given for the balance of the money and the amount was paid in full.  The lodge, quartered in it's new home remained there for 38 years.