Corinthian #57 in Orange


Warrant: 1/16/1861


Historical Sketch of the Origin of Corinthian #57

Worshipful Brother Robert Williams

As given in Lodge on February 21, 1946


Our Lodge does not go so very far back in history. It's early minutes show that the meetings were called on certain days of the month. Before the days of electric, or even gas lights, most lodges met on the night of the full moon. It was necessary then to consider the time of the month so the members might zigzag their way home by the light of the moon. I say zigzag because at that time many lodges were held in taverns and inns.


The first meeting that sent the ball rolling was called on the 21st day of July 1860 B.B. (Before Bingo). It was held at the office of E.D. Pierson at 50 Main Street, Orange. The names of those in attendance were Leander Williams, Edwin S. Whiting, George A. Merwin, Chauncey Williams, James P. Burton, James M. Ward, Horace Freeman, and Edward D. Pierson. They met to consider the question of forming a new Lodge, and "it was determined at this council of Infinite Wisdom that a Temple should be founded in Jerusalem" for the minutes read "it was moved and carried that it is expedient to form a new Lodge of

F. & A. M. in Orange in accordance with a petition to the Grand Master presented to the meeting..." Even before the petition had been presented, the Lodge had been named by the appellation it now bears, Corinthian.


We find that Andrew Britton was elected its first Master. Edward B. Whiting its first Sr. Warden, and Edward O. Pierson its first Jr. Warden. A committee of three was also appointed to present the petition to the then Grand Master Isaac Van Wagoner, who resided in Paterson. This committee was to wait on him in person, and ask that he grant a dispensation for the said Lodge, providing it be recommended by Union Lodge. It becomes apparent by the work accomplished by this first meeting that these men were men of energy and virility, a characteristic which has always marked the activity of this Lodge. They did not let the grass grow under their feet, (and in those days the grass grew all around and horse cars ran down Main Street. There was no rationing in those days, so they let the horses live.) A meeting was evidently called on the 24th of July, three days later, and for some unexplained reason it was not held. However, on August 8th, another meeting was held at the same place, and it was then decided that since Union Lodge at its last stated communication had laid over the petition presented to them for their recommendation, a new committee was to be appointed to wait on the Grand Master and ascertain his opinion and feeling in relation to the granting of a dispensation for the proposed new Lodge. This committee, at a meeting held on August 29th, reported that the M.W. Grand Master had received them sympathetically and had given every encouragement that he would grant the dispensation. It was also reported to this meeting that Union Lodge had unanimously recommended the petition, that a resolution was passed that the officers elect and all interested brethren should go the following day to present the petition to the Grand Master once more. The men were assessed $3.00 each (I guess they paid them in the dark so they didn't see what they were getting), presumably to meet any immediate expenses.

Now, I want you to notice these dates in 1860, for it shows the energy with which this matter proceeded. On the following Saturday, three days later, September 1st, another meeting was called at which it was reported that the dispensation had been granted. They now began to look around for a Masonic home (and incidentally may I here interject, we are still looking) and a committee was formed to ascertain whether Union Lodge room could be rented and on what terms. Presumably an agreeable arrangement was arrived at, since on September 24th a special communication was called by the Grand Master for the purpose of instituting Corinthian Lodge by dispensation. The Grand Master, eight officers, four brethren, and fifteen visiting brethren including four Past Masters were in attendance.

At a later meeting held on September 26th, the Lodge dues were fixed at 75 cents per quarter. The first petition for membership was received on October 7th and was signed by one named R. A. Terhune. After proceeding in the usual manner, this candidate received his first degree on November 28th, his second on December 21st. You will notice that only a little over three weeks elapsed between the two degrees which I presume was in order, not knowing when the rule governing the lapse of time between degrees went into effect. It is further interesting to note that he was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on January 12th, 1861, just twenty-two days later, while the Lodge was still under dispensation.


At a regular communication on 1 March 1861, by-laws were "taken up, read, and adopted". Read them HERE.


It is interesting to know that this lodge, so great in numbers, has grown out of such humble beginnings. Would those men who started this lodge not be amazed if they could walk into one of our third degrees, or could have seen the vast audiences that attended the minstrel shows so ably presented by Corinthian Craftsmens Club? It makes us pause to think how far-reaching any project that we may initiate may be.