Welcome to Oxford No. 122!

For many years, there was a general belief among members of Oxford Lodge 396 (The original name and number "Tuscarora Lodge No. 122" was restored to the Oxford brethren by the Grand Lodge in 1933) that a Masonic Lodge was organized in Oxford as early as 1835. One of the chief exponents of that belief was General Beverly S. Royster, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina, who possibly contributed more in historical research in the interest of Masonry in Oxford than any other member of local Masonic lodges had ever done before him. On June 15, 1925, Brother Royster read to the Lodge, a twelve page paper on the subject: "A Brief History of Tuscarora Lodge No. 122".

There is no documentary or other authentic evidence available to confirm the belief that a Masonic Lodge was organized in Oxford prior to 1848. The first minute book of the early Masonic Lodge of Oxford dates back to August 6, 1849. Having no earlier records for examination, one would naturally conclude by certain excepts from the first minute book, that a lodge was working here possibly as early as 1835.

In the first minute book, the Secretary was instructed to communicate with a Brother Best and request him render a full and particular account of the affairs of the old dormant Masonic Lodge on the evening of Saturday, the 21st of September, 1849. On motion the account of W.M. Young against the dormant lodge in the amount of $15.75 was ordered paid.

These excerpts from the minutes of the Lodge show conclusively that the lodge organized in 1849 was an outgrowth of another lodge which had existed for an undetermined period of time and had become dormant. If a Masonic lodge was active in Oxford as early in 1835, it must have derived its authority from some source other than the Grand Lodge of North Carolina; otherwise, such a lodge would have been listed in the annual proceedings of the Grand Lodge from the date of dispensation was granted.

It is significant that no Masonic lodge at Oxford is mentioned in the proceedings of the Grand Lodge until 1849. In 1933, a batch of Masonic papers bearing the bearing the date 1848 were found intermixed with old books and trash in the ante-room of the lodge. These lodge papers had apparently been untouched since the lodge moved into its new quarters in 1902. The rubbish of the ante-room harbored the secret of the "Dormant Lodge", a secret which had been lost to those who tried to trace Masonry to its beginnings in Oxford.

Before discussing the first Masonic lodge in Oxford in a comprehensive manner, it is necessary to sketch briefly the history of another lodge. One in which Oxford Masonry doubtless was conceived.

Hiram Lodge No. 24 of Williamsboro, North Carolina was chartered by the Grand Lodge of North Carolina on December 17, 1783. After a period of almost thirty-four years, it surrendered its charter on December 6, 1827. The immediate reason for the surrender of the charter will possibly never be known but a brief history of the town will give a clue.

Williamsboro is a small village twelve miles northeast of Oxford. The village was originally in

Granville County, but with the formation of Vance County on March 5, 1881; Williamsboro was then situated in Vance County. The importance of Williamsboro came principally from the fact that quite a number of wealthy and influential men possessed large estates within a few miles of the town. One cause for the decline of Williamsboro was the closing os a widely known academy there and the fact that in 1811, Oxford was selected as the "County Town" for Granville County. Many of the important estates dwindled and Williamsboro passed almost into oblivion. Hiram Lodge No. 24 suffered the same fate as the town which supported her.

The first Masonic lodge known to have existed in Oxford was organized on April 1, 1848. That lodge, recorded in the minutes as Granville Lodge No. 24, worked under dispensation granted on March 27, 1848 by William F. Collins, Grand Master. In absence of the Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master Dr. Clement H. Jordan, was present to constitute the lodge. With Dr. Jordan presiding, the lodge was opened. No record was made of the method used in the selection of officers, but it appears that all officers were appointed.

Before continuing the story of the Lodge, it is necessary to show the relationship between Hiram Lodge No. 24 and the local lodge.

It has already been noted that the new lodge was known as Granville Lodge No. 24. By 1848, the number of chartered lodges under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina had exceeded one hundred. This means, therefore, that the number 24 could not have been given to a new lodge organized as late as 1848. It was customary that lodges working under dispensation under the Grand Lodge of North Carolina have never been assigned numbers until such lodges received charters. If this is true, the lodge constituted in 1848 was not entitled to any number at that time.

Why then was the number 24 assigned to this lodge under dispensation. The number was not assigned but was beyond doubt assumed by the lodge. It may be that the charter members of the first lodge, knowing that the lodge at Williamsboro had surrendered its charter in 1827, decided to borrow that number temporarily. Probably members of Hiram Lodge No. 24 moved to Oxford, the County Seat, and had found other Master Masons interested in forming a new lodge.

It is not known where the first local Masonic lodge held its first meetings. The lodge which followed held its first meeting over the store of Elfelt and Brothers.

Granville Lodge No. 24 (?) was very active. During 1848, the number of members increased from nine to twenty. With the evident interest displayed, it is unusual that the lodge was not chartered at the next meeting of the Grand Lodge. For some unknown reason, it obviously ceased to work before the Grand Lodge convened in December, thus it appears that the first local Masonic lodge became dormant within eight months after its organization.

The next Masonic lodge to be organized in Oxford derived its authority through dispensation, this time granted by Deputy Grand Master, Dr. Clement H. Jordan. This lodge, holding its first meeting on August 6, 1849; was known as Oxford Lodge No.

On this date, the lodge was opened with Brother E.D. Reade presiding and Brothers R.W. Lassister and B.C. Cooke serving as Wardens. The lodge was consecrated and officers installed.

During the first four months, membership was increased from twelve to twenty-nine.

Thirty-seven meetings of the Lodge were held, fourteen of them in the month of September alone. Beginning in September of 1849, meetings were held above the store of D.A. Paschall, rent being paid at the rate of seventy-five dollars per year.

After working for a period of almost four months, the Lodge was represented at the annual communication of the grand Lodge, at which time it became a chartered lodge, designated as Tuscarora Lodge No. 122. The lodge held fifty-four meetings during the first twelve months of its existence.

The year 1851 was marked by the raising of William A. Philpott, who later served the Lodge as Master for nine years. It was he who guided the Lodge through the period of the Civil War. Brother Philpott, incidentally, received all three degrees at same meeting on April 7, 1851.

Following 1854, interest in the Lodge began to decline. Various methods were employed to bring about a revival of interest. Educational lectures were presented at each meeting which became popular, but the revival of interest was only temporary.

From 1861 to 1863, the minutes showed the lodge almost inactive. Interest began to increase in 1863, but only three candidates were raised. The War rush of 1864, however, exceeded anything the Lodge has ever seen in degree work. During that year, forty-five candidates were raised. The War rush, sentiment no doubt entering he ballot box, caused the Lodge no end of trouble in years to come and ultimately led to the surrender of the charter.

During 1864, along with the election of many unworthy members, the Lodge conferred the Degrees upon one of the most distinguished Masons of the State, John H. Mills. On July 4, 1864; the petition of Brother Mills was received and balloted on. He was evidently initiated at the same meeting of his election, but no mention is made of it in the minutes. After being passed on July 22 and Raised on July 30, he gave his full support to the Lodge.

On November 7, 1864, he was elected as Senior Warden and on December 12, he was elected Lodge Librarian. On November 4, 1867, he was granted a Dimit by the Lodge. After returning to Oxford as Superintendent of the Orphan’s Home, he did not re-affiliate with the local Lodge but often attended as a visitor.

During the Civil War, sixty members of the local Masonic Lodge saw service in the Confederate Army.

The present Court House in Oxford was built in 1838; therefore, the Old Court House, later to become the Masonic Lodge building purchased by the lodge through the sale of stock, had been in use for several years before it was converted into a lodge hall.

The old Court House was a frame structure of ample size for a lodge hall. In 1850, this building was purchased, probably from Granville County, at an undetermined cost. It was moved to the corner of Main and Spring Streets, the present location of the Oxford Baptist Church. The Lodge

preceded to sell sufficient shares of stock at twenty-five dollars per share to raise one thousand dollars.

Members of the Lodge did not care to subscribe for all of the stock; at least they were slow in making payments, and on November 7, 1850; it was ordered that remaining shares of stock not paid for be sold to Oxford Chapter.

It appears that the Lodge was holding its meetings in the new quarters by 1851. The lower portion of the building was under constant repair, being frequently remodeled to fit the needs of prospective tenants. At various times, the lower floor was used as offices and rooming quarters. At one time, John H. Mills rented the entire lower floor and used it for the publication of the "Orphan’s Friend".

The Lodge continued to hold its meetings in the old building until the surrender of the charter. Incidentally, Oxford Lodge 396, chartered in 1885, held its meetings in the same building until 1892.

Fees for the Degrees remained constant from the organization of the Tuscarora Lodge in 1849 until the surrender of the charter in 1883 except for two years during the Civil War. Rates for degrees generally were: First Degree, $10.00; Second Degree, $8.00; Third Degree, $7.00. In 1849, dues were charged at a rate of six dollars per year. This was reduced tio three dollars per year in 1850 and remained constant until 1869.

Dues of the soldiers in the Confederacy were remitted for the time they served in the Army. During the War, almost no dues were paid by any members.

On December 7, 1850, the Treasurer was directed to send ten dollars to the Board of Directors of the National Monument at Washington, D.C. In 1854, the Lodge subscribed five hundred dollars toward support of St. John’s College.

On December 17, 1867, John Nichols attended the lodge in connection with the proposal to sell the St. John’s College property. The lodge pledged its support to prevent the sale and on December 19, Brother Nichols was again present and announced the property had been purchased by the Grand Lodge.

From the very beginning, the Lodge always played a very prominent part of the annual St. Johns Day Celebration in Oxford. Prior to the Civil War, Tuscarora Lodge contributed very liberally to distressed Masons and their families, but there was definitely no organization for dispensation of charity cases until 1867 when a Committee of Charity was established resulting in the levy of twenty-five cents upon each member to go for charity.

During 1871, the Lodge received many notices of expulsion of members across the state. At one meeting, notices of ten expulsions and eight suspensions were read from a single lodge. The Civil War rush was reacting in many lodges.

From 1875 to 1878, many charges were preferred against members of the Lodge. Absence of

control over membership ultimately led to Masonic indifference in Oxford. Finally, after dragging along for a few more years, Tuscarora Lodge No. 122 ceased to work in 1883, during the month of May.

Dispensation of Oxford Lodge No. ___ was issued on October 31, 1884. At the next communication of the Grand Lodge, a new lodge was chartered on January 14, 1885 as Oxford Lodge 396 and functioned actively and effectively. In 1937, the Grand Lodge granted authority for Oxford Lodge to resume the old number 122, and the name then became Oxford Lodge No. 122.

For many years (approximately fifty), the lodge rented meeting space of the third floor of the Odd Fellows Building on Williamsboro Street in downtown Oxford. Through the years, this location became undesirable as many elderly members would or could not climb the steps to the lodge room.

In 1953, Brother Roy L. Noblin, a prominent Oxford Physician and long time member of Adoniram Lodge No. 149 in northern Granville County, presented as a gift the Lodge with a deed to the present lodge property. This lot is located on West College Street, just a short distance across from the Oxford Orphanage campus. This generous gift was made in honor of his father, Brother Samuel Lee Noblin, who was a long time member of Adoniram Lodge No. 149.

On June 20, 1957, after an extensive building fund drive conducted by members of the Lodge, a ground breaking ceremony was held. The ceremony was presided over by Grand Master Charles A Harris of Person Lodge No. 113 in Roxboro, North Carolina.

The first official function held in the new temple was a Ladies Night Banquet on April 3, 1959 and the first Stated Communication in the new lodge room was held on April 6, 1959 with Worshipful Master Ermer Leon Moore presiding.

Since that time, Oxford Lodge No. 122 has continued to grow and thrive. Our lodge has managed to constantly rank among the top ten lodges in the Grand Jurisdiction of North Carolina in per capita contributions to the Oxford Orphanage and always generously supports the Masonic and Eastern Star Home in Greensboro, North Carolina.

During the 1970's and 1980's, the lodge membership has generally been in the neighborhood of 250.

Currently the initiation fee $175.00 and the annual dues are t$201.00.

Our Monthly Stated Communication is held on the first Monday of each Month at 7PM.

In addtion to Oxford Lodge No. 122, several other organizations also meet regularly in the Oxford Masonic Center. They include: the Oxford York Rite Bodies, Henry F. Grainger Lodge No. 412, Rainbow Girls, and Girl Scouts.

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