The following work was taken from the Argus Lodge Centennial booklet,
by A. W. Hoke, Lodge Historian, in June of 1985.He deserves our gratitude for preserving our heritage.
THE HISTORY OF ARGUS LODGE
The minutes of Allen Lodge No. 276, Columbiana, show that on February 12, 1886, a petition was received from ten Master Masons who requested the consent of that Lodge to establish a Masonic Lodge in the Village of Canfield. At their next meeting on March 19, the Lodge voted to give its consent.
A similar petition was made to Perry Lodge No.185, Salem; Mahoning Lodge No.394, Niles; Hillman Lodge No.481, Youngstown and Western Star Lodge No.21, also of Youngstown.
It must be assumed that these Lodges had given their consent because the first stated meeting of Argus Lodge was held at the residence of the Reverend Bro. C. L. Morrison at 40 East Main Street in Canfield on April 20, 1886.
The records indicate that a dispensation was granted by Grand Master S. Stacker Williams on April 13, 1886. Thus, no time was lost in getting this project underway.
At this time Bro. James L. Truesdale was appointed Worshipful Master; Bro. Chester L. Morrison, Senior Warden; and Bro. SiSimon S. Macklin, Junior Warden.
These three and seven others were present at the first stated meeting. It is interesting to know just who these men were.
Our first Master, W. Bro. James L. Truesdale, was a Past Master of Leetonia Lodge No.401. He was the station agent and telegraph operator of both the Pennsylvania and the Erie Railroads at Leetonia.
The Rev. Bro. Chester L. Morrison was pastor of the Christian Church and a member of Mahoning Lodge No.394.
Bro. Simon S. Macklin was a carpenter and a member of Allen Lodge No.276.
Bro. J. R. Johnson was an attorney and previously Probate Judge of Mahoning County. He was a member of Allen Lodge No.276.
Bro. Ensign N. Brown, also an attorney, was a member of Manhattan Lodge No.62, in New York City.
Bro. Manley A. Pierce was a hired man and worked on the farm of Prior T. Jones, the father of our beloved Past Master James B. Jones. Bro. Pierce was a member of Western Phoenix Lodge No.296.
Bro. Socrotes S. Baird was a farmer living on Route 62 and a first cousin of Bro. Jerome Hull. Bro. Baird was a member of Western Star Lodge No.21.
The Rev. Bro. John S. Whitman was the pastor of the old Congregational Church located where the Methodist Church now stands. He was a member of William Lodge, in Massachusetts.
Bro. I. A. Knapp ran the livery stable connected with the old American House, a hotel on East Main Street. He was a member of Golden Rule Lodge No.331.
The last was Bro. Henry Newrnan, a traveling merchant, selling his wares from a wagon in and about Mahoning County, and making his home in Canfield. His home lodge was Charity No.30, in Washington, Indiana.
These, then, were our Masonic ancestors. Two ministers, two lawyers, two farmers, a carpenter, a railroader, a livery stable operator, and a pioneer traveling salesman.
Another lodge, Western Star No. 21, had been in existence in Canfield previous to the establishment of Argus Lodge. It was instituted in 1813 and chartered in 1816, with Major General Elijah Wadsworth as its first Master. His sword was presented to Argus and is now on display in our library.
Western Star moved to Youngstown in 1852. This left Canfield without a Masonic Lodge until Argus was constituted in 1886. Just who proposed the name Argus we do not know. Apparently one of the members was familiar with Greek mythology. According to Webster, Argus was a giant with a hundred eyes, some of which were always awake. Hence, Argus means one very vigilant, a watchful guardian.
In May 1886, Argus Lodge was installed in its new home on the third floor of a brick building on South Broad and West Main Streets. The building, renting for $6.25 per month, was originally built in 1869 by William Schmirk, a local banker, and shortly thereafter sold to Dr. Jackson Truesdale. It was necessary only to partition off a cloakroom and a preparation room at the west end of the hall to make the room suitable for lodge work.
At first, the lodge was lighted by candles. Soon after, however, three hanging oil lamps were purchased for illumination. Unfortunately, these newest lighting fixtures must have been defective for we read in the minutes of a later meeting that three tin cups had to be purchased and suspended beneath the lamps to catch the dripping oil.
About this time the members voted to purchase a desk for the storage of the aprons, six spittoons, a carpet sweeper, and three dozen hand fans to keep the members comfortable. The early members obligated themselves personally to pay for the furniture and equipment of the lodge.
By November 1886, Argus had elected 13 new members and on November 12, M. W. Bro. W. S. Mathews, Past Grand Master, presented Argus with its charter and dedicated the lodge.
There were many applications for membership in the early days, and we note with interest that the visitors were often invited to participate in the exemplification of the degree work.
While the membership had increased to 54 by 1883, the minutes show that not another petition for Masonic degrees was received until April, 1896. During this period of stagnation many of its members became despondent. Fearing that Canfield was not large enough to support a Masonic Lodge, some of the members petitioned for dissolution, while others petitioned to move to Youngstown. The petitions were defeated. But there was no ritualistic work except an occasional practice session. In the winter, and again at harvest time, meetings were not held because a quorum was lacking. Nontheless, the organization, such as it was, remained.
When the first member passed on to his eternal rest, and a Masonic service was requested, consternation struck the ranks of the officers for no provisions had been made for this eventuality. Subsequent records of the minutes reveal that provisions for this special service were arranged without delay.
Some time later, the officers of the International Order of Odd Fellows, having no meeting place, petitioned Argus Lodge to share its quarters. This request was transmitted to the Grand Master. In due time, M. W. Bro. S. S. Williams issued a dispensation permitting the I.0.0.F. to occupy the quarters jointly with Argus. The rent was set by Argus at $1.00 per meeting. Several times thereafter, the two groups met jointly for social affairs.
Detailed minutes reveal the seriousness with which the early members took their Masonic obligations. Evidence of their assistance took many forms: there was money given to widows, money was loaned to those who had suffered temporary reverses, bills were paid for food and lodging and even for nursing care.
Bro. Ira M. Twiss, who later became Tyler of the lodge, was the proprietor of the American House. His place must have been quite a rendezvous for Masons for it was there that they came after meetings, and for banquets after inspection, and it was here where some of the unmarried brethren came to stay when they were ill. Because Bro. Twiss, on several occasions, had presented bills to the lodge for lodging and nursing care for members.
In June, 1899, the 23 members who composed the total membership, took up a collection for the relief of those affected by the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, flood and sent $60.00 through Masonic channels.
The Masonic highlight of the lodge’s existence came in May, 1899 when it experienced its first inspection. In those days the inspecting officer was known as the District Lecturer. The secretary’s minutes show that Past Master C. F. Clapp, of Old Erie Lodge No. 3, Warren, Inspector for the First Masonic District, and W. Bro. James L. Truesdale, Past Master of Leetonia Lodge No.401 and Argus Lodge No.545, Inspector for the Sixth District, were present in lodge at that meeting.
Forty brethren attended lodge to witness the inspection in the Master Mason degree. After lodge was closed, they all crossed the street to the American House, where, as the minutes state, “A bountiful provision was made for their entertainment.” This repass, according to the bill submitted by Bro. Twiss, cost the lodge the sum of $21.75. (The total dues collected for the year was only $69.00).
In 1910, the walls of the lodge room were repapered and the floor recarpeted. The carpet was a gift from Mrs. Elizabeth Hollis, affectionately known as Grandma Hollis, whose favorite pastime was smoking a clay pipe.
About this time, Western Star Lodge No.21 moved into new quarters and generously donated their old lodge furniture to Argus. This furniture was solid black walnut and, with the exception of two or three items, is still in use. To us this furniture is priceless not only because of its age and functional value but also for its sentimental value.
In 1911, the building was modernized with electricity and natural gas. Thereafter, illumination was furnished by incandescent bulbs and the rooms were heated by gas stoves. Also during this year cooking utensils and dishes were purchased so lunches could be prepared on the premises after the meetings.
After the death of Dr. Jackson Truesdale the building was sold to Dr. Campbell, then to the Farmers Bank, and then to the Village of Canfield. The Village was to be our landlord until we vacated the building on December 23, 1938. Over the years the rent went up from $75.00 to $150.00 a year, so inflation was rearing its ugly head even then.
By now the building was indeed showing the ravages of time. But the lodge had only 141 members and small funds. A new home was out of the question. So again it was paint up, clean up, and make do with what was present.
From 1925 to 1929, membership consistently declined. In the five-year period between 1929 and 1934, only 28 members were raised.
The idea of a Strawberry Festival was conceived in 1932. Because of its success, this affair was to become an annual event. Each year an effort was made to attract a larger attendance than the preceding year.
Peak attendance at this event was reached in June, 1948. That night there were 577 in lodge. Perhaps we should qualify that statement. They were in the building, the lodge room couldn’t have held them! Thirty-five different lodges were represented, eight states, Scotland, England and the Philippines. Never again was the attendance of that memorable night matched.
The members had a burning desire for a new home, and they explored every avenue in this direction. Much assistance came from R. W. Bro. Harry S. Manchester and his brother, W. Bro. Robert A. Manchester, then Mayor of Canfield. Past Master Aaron Weisner, a Canfield merchant, offered to provide the ground if money could be found to place a building on it. The original plans were to provide a storeroom for W. Bro. Weisner on the ground level and a lodge room above.
However, Argus did not have the finances to go through with this type of project. The United States Government, at this time, was spending money through W. P. A. and C. W. A. to provide public works and public buildings, thus offering employment for those in need. This became the route which was eventually followed.
Solely, through the efforts of the Manchester brothers, the W. P A. finally agreed to finance the erection of a municipal building in Canfield. It was to be occupied by the village of Canfield, Argus Lodge and Post No. 177 of the American Legion.
It would require many pages to record the gymnastics involved preceding the date of December 15, 1935, when W. Bro. Aaron Weisner was to turn the first shovel full of earth.
On Wednesday, May 13, 1936, M. W. Bro. Elmer R. Am, Grand Master of Masons in Ohio, laid the cornerstone of the Canfield Memorial Building. It is interesting at this point to read from the notes of R. W. Bro. Manchester. He relates as follows:
“From the laying of the cornerstone on the 13th of May, until the hall was ready to dedicate, was a period of despair and jubilation, a period of scheming, planning and begging.
The committee had the job of securing such money as was necessary for the materials for the interior completion of the lodge, for each tenant was responsible for the completion of his own quarters. This meant large quantities of lumber, sand, cement, plaster, paint, and so on.”
R. W. Bro. Manchester continues:
“I can recall finding electrical supplies classified as surplus on another job. Nowhere could we get a gift of railing for the lodge room. But I did get a gift of slag from the mill, which was sold to the members, and the money then used to buy rods from the same mill, to be fabricated into the railing for the stairways and balcony.”
Bro. John Blaemire and W. Bro. William McMaster, with help, fabricated the railing and installed it at a cost of $6.25. Of this amount, $4.80 was for welding supplies and $1.45 for lunch.
The members were grateful to Western Star Lodge and the Youngstown Temple Company for their contributions of $1,000 each to our building fund. This together with the meager funds on hand paid for the heating units, doors, plumbing, hardware and carpet.
The final meeting in the old lodge headquarters was held on December 23, 1938. R. W. Bro. Manchester, who was then the District Lecturer, conducted the closing ceremony and the members present moved the furniture to the new lodge room.
This extraordinary room was the brainchild of R. W. Bro. Manchester. Early in 1937, in a conversation with Bro. Ralph Ellis, a gifted artist and member of Western Star Lodge, R. W. Bro. Manchester outlined the designs and symbols he desired drawn upon the walls. Bro. Ellis enthusiastically agreed to incorporate them in murals around the room.
The mural in the East depicted the Trial of the Iron Monger before King Solomon. Many of the characters in the mural bore the resemblance of members of the lodge who had given their time and talents to the craft. The other walls depicted the Tyler’s Gate, the Sun in the South, the Sword, the Pot of Incense, the Naked Heart, and King Solomon’s Temple with a path that, because of the optical illusion, seemed to lead to the Temple, no matter from which angle it was viewed.
Pictured on one of the panels was a small boat on the bow of which was lettered in gold the Hebrew characters of A-MEE-YOS-TAR-SHISH, meaning Navy of Tarshish and mentioned in the book of Kings. W. Bro. Weisner painted this wording.
Bro. Ellis spent two years on this project. On many weekends his wife came to the lodge to keep him company while he painted.
The next few years were a period of quiet growth. In 1952, some of the members again pressed for a lodge owned by Argus. An organization was formed called the Temple Company and stock was sold in it, but was disbanded in 1960.
This was the year Argus Lodge lost 106 members: seventy-five left to help form Meander Lodge No. 765 in North Jackson, 15 became charter members of Poland Lodge No.766, while 16 were lost through death and other causes.
In 1966, Argus purchased the ground on both sides of the Memorial Building to provide off street parking for its members, and to provide a buffer in the event these properties might be diverted to other usage. This proved to be a wise investment.
In 1967, W. Bro. Wallace R. Moore created new sets of slides illustrating the lecture in each of the three degrees. Previous to this, he had spent over a year in research to obtain an accurate picture of the events to be incorporated in them. Members of Argus played the characters in the slides by donning costumes of those periods portrayed in the Masonic ritual.
In October 1967, the Chairman of the Grand Lodge Ritual Committee viewed the completed slides and sincerely gave his wholehearted approval.
In 1969, W. Bro. Moore and Bros. Albert W. Hoke and Robert D. Cashon collaborated in designing perimeter lighting to illuminate the murals and in spotlighting to direct the attention of the members to the various phases of the ritualistic work. Members of the lodge installed the system. This lighting, together with coordinated music and sound effects, developed by W. Bro. Moore, gave profound beauty and added dimension to the ritualistic work.
The following year another forward step was taken with the purchase of 44 acres of land near the junction of State Route 11 and Route 62. The land is bisected by a small brook and 33 of the acres are densely wooded with majestic trees of many varieties.
A long cherished dream was finally to come true – – – land of our own to be converted into a recreation area for the enjoyment of the members and their families, and for a future Temple site, a place to put down roots and to establish ourselves. Much had been inherited from the past now it was to become our privilege to contribute to the future.
Fired by the enthusiasm and imagination of W. Bro. Moore, the brethren willingly set to work to create a veritable wonderland. Since most of the land is wooded, it was the intention of the Argus Park Commission to keep it as undisturbed as possible.
Several miles of nature trails were laid out. The first, the Entered Apprentice Path, winds through the woods, passing a replica of the North East Corner of the Building. Close by are the tools and instruments needed for its erection, and a stone tablet upon which are carved the names of the Fellowcrafts listed in the ritual.
The second, the Fellowcraft Pass, follows the gently rising contour of the ground up a winding stair of three, five and seven steps between two stately trees named Jachin and Boaz.
The third, the Masters Way, also winds through the forest, passing through a rock covered mound designated “The Cleft in the Rocks.”
All three of these projects were built by Bro. Alan D. Patterson who gave unstintingly of his time and talent toward their creation.
There is also a fourth trail, constructed by the brethren, called the Past Masters Trail. Upon posts, spaced 23 cubits apart, are stainless steel plates inscribed with the name and year of each Past Master.
Between the Masters Way and the Fellowcraft Pass is a glade wherein Bro. Robert Cashon constructed an outdoor chapel. He fashioned an altar in hand carved sandstone complete with an open Bible with square and compasses thereon. The three lesser lights are surmounted on carved sandstone pillars, and a carved sandstone bench, where the brethren may come to rest and meditate, is placed in front of the altar. The altar, lights and bench are enclosed by the letter “G” made of railroad ties. Hemlock pines were planted around this clearing to give some privacy. Sunlight filtering down through the surrounding trees gives this area an aura of indescribable beauty.
In the rear of the property is a cleared space of some five acres. Scooped out near its western end is a bowl-shaped amphitheatre, with gently rising curved slopes, providing a superlative view for hundreds of spectators. The bowl opens toward the south to a backdrop of towering trees, overshadowing clusters of dark pines. At the very center of the amphitheatre is a potato-shaped rock, flat-topped, and 16 feet in circumference which serves as an altar.
The amphitheatre was used for the first time on September 15, 1972, when the Entered Apprentice degree was conferred. The area, illuminated by torches supplied the background for the ritualistic work, creating an inspirational and thrilling experience within the lives of those present.
East of the amphitheatre is a large pavilion containing two washrooms, a combination kitchen and recreation room and a huge double fireplace to warm the kitchen on one side and to give pleasure and enjoyment to those using the picnic area on the open-air side. The fireplace holds a dominant place in the structure, weighing more than 50 tons and constructed entirely of brick salvaged from the Republic Steel coke ovens. The brick, donated by Bro. Samuel C Boak, was cleaned of the old mortar by Bro. Seth I. Wehr.
North of the pavilion, provisions were made along the wood line to park a number of trailers or recreation vehicles. Electrical hookups were installed under the direction of Bro. Norman T. Barnes with the materials paid for, or donated by, the brethren who hope to use the facilities.
All of this construction was the result of thousands of hours of labor, voluntarily given by members and friends of Argus. The rewards have been manyfold. Close working friendships were formed that never could have been established in any other manner.
Early in 1974, a proposal was advanced to provide a suitable playground and equip it with swings, slides, merry-go-round, etc., for younger children. Projects planned to supply the necessary funds, were a paper drive, spaghetti supper, chicken barbecue. Unfortunately, the bottom dropped out of the paper market and the returns from the combined projects left a shortage of $1,200.00.
At this point, Bro. George W. Stephenson, Jr., stepped into the breech and contributed the necessary amount. Bro. George claimed that since he had no children of his own, the joy of seeing other children having fun on the equipment was reward enough for him.
1975 was auspiciously opened by the burning of the mortgage on Argus Park. Present and assisting on this occasion were M. W. Bro. Royal C. Scofield immediate Grand Master of Masons in Ohio, and R. W. Bro. Clifford M. Powell, PDDGM and Honorary member of Argus. All through the winter months many brethren worked to fell the trees in the area destined to be the parking lot of the new Temple. In May, Bro. Lyle D. Gwin of Allen Lodge, Columbiana, moved in his heavy equipment and in six days moved over 3,500 cubic yards of earth to grade the new lot. Bro. Harold C. Wurster, Leetonia Lodge, brought his equipment to topple the trees that had to come out to provide a two-lane roadway through the inner woods to the recreational area.
In June, 1975, Argus Lodge held its first Master Mason outdoor meeting in the amphitheatre. Weeks of preparation went into the planning of this event. Out of the fertile mind of W. Bro. Moore special props and lighting effects were developed, costumes created and working tools designed in keeping with the outdoor setting. The star-studded sky provided a perfect backdrop for the most spectacular Master Mason degree ever presented.
In October, 1976, W. Bro. Moore was recognized for his contributions to Argus Park. This sterling brother was the spark that ignited most of the action relative to the purchase and development of the property. He had said, many times, that no one person should be singled out for his contributions to the park. That all that had been achieved was due to the combined efforts of many. However, a few of the members who worked closely with him would not accept his theory because they felt that his foresight and prodigious efforts for the advancement of the park should be recognized.
So, while W. Bro. Moore was away on vacation, the great stone, previously mentioned, that had been the original altar in the amphitheatre was moved to a place at the entrance to the woods just east of the pavilion. An aluminum plaque, suitably inscribed, was attached to the stone. It read:
ENTRANCE WALLACE R. MOORE TRAILS ARGUS PARK 1976
The presentation that night was a moving experience for all who attended. W. Bro. Moore had won a firm place in the hearts of his brothers and the presentation of this plaque was not a reward for his accomplishments, but an expression of heartfelt gratitude.
As it became apparent that the time was approaching when Argus Lodge would actually begin the construction of a new Temple, the problem of supplying heat for the structure was paramount among the members. This hurdle was overcome on December 7, 1976 with the signing of a gas lease with the Rowley-Brown Petroleum Corp., Columbus. The site of the well was immediately to the south of the playground. Trees were hurriedly felled and the ground cleared. The drilling actually started at 11:00 A.M., on March 9 and continued around the clock until 4:15 PM., March 15, when the bit had penetrated to the gas strata on Clinton Sandstone and we learned that we had made a good strike. Consequently, Argus Lodge not only has an ample supply of fuel for heating, but also enjoys the bonus of an income from the sale of gas and oil. Bro. Julius I. Herchik engineered a sausage sale and sold several hundred pounds. The proceeds were donated to the Temple Fund. This project was to be repeated a year later and the members purchased over a ton of sausage to make a meaningful contribution to the fund.
Also, the officers sold paper bricks to help swell the fund and to keep enthusiasm among the members at a high level. Argus was now ready to take the final move. On October 13, 1977, the officers of the lodge met with the Grand Lodge Temple Committee in Cleveland and were given verbal approval for the plans as submitted. Later in the same month official approval was received from M. W. Bro. Jerry C. Razor, Grand Master
In November, 1977, the heating system serving tire lodge room broke down. Argus moved to temporary quarters in the IOOF building nearby, staying there for five weeks. It is interesting to remember that 90 years before, the Odd Fellows had used the Argus lodge room for their meetings.
Sunday, May 29, 1978, was an outstanding day that will live long in the memories of those who participated in the first function necessary in erecting a Temple, the surveying of the site and the locating of the stakes for the foundation of the building. W. Brothers Robert L. Morton,superintendent of construction, Moore and Fletcher led a large contingent of members in performing this task.
One week later ground was broken as Bro. Gwinn again brought in his heavy equipment and excavated the basement. This good brother, soon to be named an honorary member of Argus, was to give many hours of his time and furnish men and material for the final grading of the property.
The next 16 months were filled with constant activity. The footer was dug, foundation poured and the brick faced walls erected by Bro. William H. Thayer.
The work continued through the summer and fall, slowing down only when the weather dictated. When the walls were finally finished and the roof on, the brethren were ready to move indoors. Responsibility for each function was assumed by an individual or a group. Some of the brethrenpractically lived in the building until it was completed. Others gave all the time they could spare, to all it was a labor of love. The work was monitored constantly by Brother architect George Tanner Smith.
On September 9, 1979, our new temple was dedicated. Worshipful Master Russell W. Gillam, Jr. headed the procession to the northeast corner of the lodge, followed by officers of Argus Lodge, the Knight Templars of Salem and Youngstown, the Grand Lodge officers and the Scottish Rite Guards. After the Grand Marshal made his proclamation on the laying of the cornerstone, the Grand Chaplain asked the blessing of the Grand Architect on the proceedings. Most Worshipful Grand Master DanielF. Iceman then addressed the brethren and complimented them on the erection of the Temple.
Right Worshipful J. Russell Moore of Salem deposited a casket, filled with mementoes of the day, in the cavity prepared for it, and the Grand Master applied cement to the cornerstone, calling upon the following to lay on more cement: Trustees of Canfield Township, the Grand line, Argus Officers, building committee members, Brother Orville Slagle, R. W. Bro. Clifford Powell, and M. W. Bro. Royal C. Scofield. Then Bro. Thayer securely cemented the stone in place. Later in the day, more than 400 members and guests met together at a banquet to complete the festivities and one of the finest days in the history of Argus Lodge.
From this time forward work was to continue in the refinement of the property. Retaining walls were built, sidewalks laid, grass and shrubs planted, drainage lines installed, lighting added, and a security system installed.
Because the walls of the new lodge room were not suited for murals such as had graced the old, it was suggested by W. Bro. Wally Moore that we install the 24 emblems of Masonry, each mounted on royal blue velour, properly framed and mounted at intervals around the room. This was done, adding richness, warmth and significance to the beautiful lodge room.
This was to be W. Bro. Moore’s last gift of his extraordinary talent to Argus, In September, 1984, he passed away after a long illness. In compliance with his wishes, his ashes were placed at the foot of the stone marking the entrance to the Wallace R. Moore Trails in Argus Park. His love for his lodge was such that he wanted to be part of it for all time.
As we close this portion of the 100 – year history of Argus Lodge, we look to the future with serene confidence for continued growth in the brotherhood that binds us with such indissoluble ties as expressed in these lines from Longfellow:
From hand to hand the greeting flows,
From eye to eye the signals run,
From heart to heart the bright hope glows
The seekers of the light are one.