STEPHENSON LODGE No. 135 A.F.&A.M.
1868–1875 The Founding Years
Stephenson Lodge was organized in 1868 by a group of Masonic brethren in the Village of Lapidum, Harford County, Maryland. These brethren were members of three local lodges: Mount Ararat No. 44, Bel Air, thirteen miles southwest; Harmony No. 53, Port Deposit, across the Susquehanna River; and Susquehanna No. 130, Havre de Grace. According to the Minutes of the Lodge, the founding fathers were William H. Paul, Richard I. Jackson and William B. Stephenson from Mt. Ararat; J. C. Kelley, Asel Tollinger and Robert M. Gilmore from Harmony Lodge; William W. Virdin, James R. Smith, Conrad Baker and William O. Hughes from Susquehanna Lodge.
It is believed that these men were supporters of the South during the Civil War and were up set with their Lodges being over run with Union men. For this reason, they wished to create a new pro-South Lodge. These kindred members held six meetings Under Dispensation from the Grand Lodge. On the first meeting of April the 8th, three petitions were received from William T. Makinson, W. Stump Forward and David E. Wilson. A week later, April 15th, Messrs. Makinson and Forward were initiated as Entered Apprentices and passed to the degree of Fellowcraft the following week. A committee was also formed to draft the By-Laws for the new Lodge. On the fourth meeting, April 29th, these two brethren were raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. On May 6th, the By-Laws Committee read the proposed By-Laws which were voted on and approved. The Treasurer was then ordered to pay fifty dollars to the Grand Lodge of Maryland for the Charter and other necessary dues and expenses. The sixth and final meeting held under dispensation was on May 19th in which Mr. Wilson was initiated as an Entered Apprentice.
The newly formed Lodge met in a room that was rented for fifty dollars a year from Brother Virdin located on his farm along the right side of the lane leading into what is now known as the Bonnie Watts Riding Academy in Lapidum. The first stated communication of Stephenson Lodge was on May 20, 1868, in which Brother William W. Virdin, who was installed as Worshipful Master at the Semi-annual Communication of the Grand Lodge earlier in the month, installed his officers. The Investigating Committee on a petition for the degrees of Masonry reported favorably; however, a ballot was spread and he was duly rejected.
On a motion of Worshipful Master, it was resolved that, owing to the pleasure of the Grand Lecturer, J. W. Bower, Jr., the case of Brother David E. Wilson, who had received his Entered Apprentice Degree the evening before, be one of emergency. The motion was carried unanimously whereupon a ballot was held and he was duly elected to receive the Fellowcraft Degree. During the next few months, regalia, furniture, rug and the seal were purchased for the Lodge room. A Bible that was loaned by the Junior Warden, Conrad Baker, was replaced in September with a newly purchased one, which is now in the showcase in the Lodge. A special committee held meetings with the Trustees of Lapidum Methodist Church to ascertain if a Lodge room could be built onto the church building. However, the cost of eight hundred dollars was not feasible at that time, and the idea was discarded. On February 16, 1870, a resolution was written and adopted that five Trustees, W.W. Virdin, Jr., James R. Smith, Conrad Baker, William C. Wilson and William B. Stephenson, be appointed to investigate the building of a hall in conjunction with the School Commissioners of Harford County. The duties of these Trustees were to have sole control and care of the hall in trust, to sell stocks and pay each stockholder at the rate of six percent, to make their By-Laws, to keep books, and to make semi-annual statements to the Lodge of these affairs.
After several meetings with the County Commissioners, Brother Virdin, who was on both committees, reported that a lot had been surveyed, the foundation laid off, and the contract signed with the County Commissioners for the construction of the new building. The bottom floor was used for the school and the upper room was used for the Lodge. The Committee procured a cornerstone, and Brother Virdin wrote a history of the Lodge, which, with other historical records, was placed within the cornerstone. A Concert and Festival Committee reported a receipt of one hundred sixty-four dollars from a June concert held in the new building, with which a new carpet and wallpaper were purchased. The new building’s dedication on November 10th, 1870, was attended by the Officers of the Grand Lodge. Aid from Stephenson Lodge during these years went to the Shenandoah Iron Works Lodge, Virginia, for damages from flooding; to the sufferers of the “Chicago Fire” in 1871; to the Laurel Wreath Lodge, No. 149, destroyed by fire; to the Winyah Lodge, No. 40, South Carolina, for rebuilding after the Civil War; and to the Masonic Relief of Memphis, Tennessee, due to the ravages of Yellow Fever there. The Lodge records show that it paid for the funeral expenses of several departed brethren and widows. From 1868 to 1875, the Lodge seemed to enjoy a period of prosperity. Approximately twenty meetings a year were held with fair attendance, and membership went from nine to thirty-four. Although their finances were average, they managed to meet their obligations without hardship.
1876–1897 The Difficult Years
This period of time was not lucrative for Stephenson Lodge. Meetings dropped to an average of three per year, and 1878 held only one meeting. The membership stayed the same, but finances were meager. Members were constantly being urged to pay their back dues so the Lodge could meet its bills. April 30, 1877, the Standing Committee on Delinquent Members submitted that further indulgence should be granted to all except for two who should be suspended.
1878’s only meeting required that the Secretary notify the members of their indebtedness to the Lodge and request payment of dues. If members were unable to submit their dues in full, any part thereof would be acceptable since the Lodge was three payments in arrears in Grand Lodge dues. The next year, 1879,a special meeting was held to consider the finances of the Lodge. A committee was appointed to examine the financial condition of each member who had failed to pay dues.
January, 1881 – “Whereas, it appears from the books of the Lodge that there is an excess of outstanding dues above liabilities, therefore, be it resolved, that each member be taxed, pro-rated as to his indebtedness, at the rate of fifty per cent reduction, and that the Secretary is ordered to furnish every member with a statement of his dues and a copy of this resolution. It is further resolved, that any member who fails to appear at the Stated Meeting of February 1881, or does not pay the amount assessed on or before that time, he or they will be treated as delinquents and will be suspended for nonpayment of dues.” As a result of the above resolution, on April 18 th, an amendment to Article XIII of the By-Laws, which provided for the reduction of annual dues to four dollars. No degree work was done from 1875 to 1880. For four years, 1879, ’80, ’81 and ’82, the Officers remained the same. February 16, 1884, a special meeting was called for attending the funeral services of William B. Stephenson, who passed away at the age of 82.
During the year of 1888, attendance seemed to improve and one meeting had 21 members present (the previous year’s membership totaled 24). On September 16th, 1890, the Lodge was invited by the Trustees of the Darlington Academy to lay the cornerstone for the new schoolhouse to be erected on the site of the building that was built in 1841. After a luncheon prepared by their wives, they proceeded to the site and laid the cornerstone. This building is now the home of Stephenson Lodge No. 135, A.F. & A.M.
November 16, 1890, had the largest attendance to date of 31 members, was a special meeting to pay last tributes to Brother Charles P. Kincaid, Senior Warden. February 10th, 1892, Brother Past Master William Virdin, Jr. was presented with a Past Master Jewel by the Worshipful Master, George A. Smith, on behalf of the Lodge. A Special meeting was held on May 17th, 1893 , to honor and attend the funeral of Brother George R. Stephenson, who passed away at the young age of 39, being a Master Mason only one and a half months.
In 1894, a letter was received from a Lodge of Relief asking for a contribution to aid in placing two aged Masons in a home for the aged. The Secretary was ordered to reply, regretting our total inability to make a contribution, as our treasury was completely exhausted. An amendment to the By-laws changing the meetings from the first and third Wednesdays of each month, to the first and third Thursdays, was unanimously adopted. Protests went to Aberdeen Lodge over the initiation of E. A. Baldwin, who was in our jurisdiction.
Christmas Day, 1895, Stephenson Lodge held the election of officers for 1896, which turned out to be the same officers as 1895. August 11th, 1897, first meeting of the year and installation of officers. Resolutions were drafted on the death of Brother Past Master William W. Virdin, Jr., who passed away on June 20th. A discussion was held on the matter of moving the Lodge from Lapidum to Darlington. The secretary was ordered to communicate with the Grand Master, and to ask for dispensation papers to move. On October 6th, 1897, the last meeting in Lapidum, committees were appointed to move the Lodge by the next meeting, and to dispose of the old building. The Lodge Hall was closed and at a later date was sold to the Board of Education for one hundred dollars.
1898–1923 The Early Darlington Years
On December 8th, 1897, Stephenson Lodge held its first meeting in the village of Darlington in a building rented from Brother Edwin A. Baldwin for the sum of fifty dollars a year. The building is now known as the “Fletcher Hopkins Building” or the “Darlington Beauty Shop.” Expenses for moving the Lodge from Lapidum to Darlington were fifty-seven dollars and ninety-eight cents. The Lodge seal was purchased on May 4 th, 1898, and read Darlington in place of Lapidum. A motion was made on March 22nd, 1899, to formulate a budgetary plan, which would reduce the Lodge expenses, and a committee was formed for that purpose. At the next meeting, the committee reported that Brother Baldwin had agreed to reduce the yearly rent to forty dollars a year. The committee was then requested by the Lodge to ask if Brother Baldwin would further lower the rent to thirty-six dollars, which he acknowledged by December 13th.
Elections were also held that evening for the officers of 1900. This was the first time in the history of the Lodge that there was competition for the office of Worshipful Master, and the ballot was cast three times. The treasury balance on January 10th, 1900, was one dollar and seventy-seven cents. The Lodge ordered the Secretary to pay eighteen dollars for the next six months rent when funds were available.
Christmas Day election
of officers occurred in 1901.
In 1902, Mt. Ararat denied permission for the Lodge to accept a petition from a man in their jurisdiction. On August 13th of that year, Brother Harry Silver presented the Lodge with a bill of two dollars that had been outstanding for two years The Lodge had prospered Masonically for the first five years in Darlington. They had held eleven meetings a year with small attendance, conferring ten degrees per year.
The years between 1903 and 1912 were very lean, and meetings dropped severely, with only two being held in 1904. A committee was formed on September 30 th, 1903, to locate the stockholders of the original Lapidum Lodge building. In December, it was moved and seconded to pay those stockholders sixty-nine cents a share for their stock, being the original purchase price of the shares.
The first meeting of 1904 was held in June with all of the officers being pro-tem except the Tyler. In 1905, the Lodge held a minstrel troop show in the Darlington Town Hall, showing a net profit of nineteen dollars and sixty-four cents. However, on November 18, 1908, a discussion was held as to whether or not Stephenson Lodge should be closed. Members agreed they would attempt to attend all future meetings, and the Secretary was to inform each member of all stated meetings. A committee was formed to contact Brother Baldwin and see if the rent could be further reduced. After a report of the financial condition of the Lodge and the amount of dues in arrears, the Secretary was ordered to contact those owing over fifteen dollars to appear before the Lodge on December 16th or be suspended. It was agreed that after January 1st, the Lodge would hold its meetings only once a month on a Wednesday evening on or before each full moon. In December, the committee on rents reported that Brother Baldwin had agreed to reduce the rent to twenty-eight dollars a year. In exchange for this agreement, Brother Baldwin was exempted from paying dues.
The Lodge prospered greatly from 1912 through 1924. Meetings were held regularly, attendance was up, and the conferring of degree work improved. In 1914, the brethren attended Harmony’ Lodge No. 53’s Hundredth Anniversary Celebration. A doctor and a minister were both raised on the same evening in June 1916, and in 1917, fifty dollars was invested in a U.S. 3 1/2% “Liberty Loan Bond.” The Lodge celebrated its Fiftieth Anniversary on May 22nd, 1918. Later that year, a special communication was held for the purpose of burying Brother John H. Spencer with Masonic Honors. However, due to an epidemic of influenza, the Harford Health Department had rejected any public gatherings and the meeting was cancelled. The brethren did act as pallbearers at the funeral service. A Special Meeting was called in 1923 for the purpose of honoring the memory of departed brother, “Warren G. Harding, President of the United States.”
1924–1944 The Great Depression and WWII
The Darlington Masonic Hall Association was formed in February 1924 for the purpose of buying the Scarborough property (the Romay Apartments) to be used as a Temple for the Lodge. Although one hundred and twenty-five dollars was then loaned to the Association, the purchase date and price of the property is not known. A bill of twenty-seven dollars and fifty cents was paid for two dozen aprons in June.
Stephenson Lodge moved from the E. A. Baldwin Building to the Scarborough Building in 1925. At this time, the Lodge consisted of fifty members. However, due to low attendance at the March 17th meeting, it was decided to close early and share the evening with the Lodge at Mt. Ararat.
In 1926, a resolution was voted on and approved to change the meetings from one Tuesday a month to the first and third Thursdays of each month. Carpet that had been purchased in 1868 for eleven dollars and fifteen cents was restored at a cost of forty-two dollars.
The time of the Conowingo Dam construction, 1927 and 1928, was one of tremendous growth for the Lodge. In 1927, it grew from fifty-three to seventy-eight members. Twenty-nine meetings were held, and ninety-three degrees were conferred. In 1928, thirty meetings were held, and eighty-two degrees were conferred. The membership rose to one hundred six. More degrees were conferred during these two years than in the next twenty years. On March 1st, a protest was made by two brethren from Brunswick Lodge against an Entered Apprentice of Stephenson Lodge. An Entered Apprentice Lodge was opened and all brethren were asked to retire except the officers, the Entered Apprentice involved and complainants. The Brunswick Lodge brethren entered a vigorous protest as well as a letter from that Lodge as to the Entered Apprentice’s advancement in masonry. The Entered Apprentice was asked if he would like to continue the discussion or would he be willing to retire and accept the Lodge’s ruling, which he did.
Twenty-five dollars was donated to the PTA of Darlington in May of 1928 to help pay for water and lights which were being installed in the school.
The Lodge’s 1929 semi-annual report to the Grand Lodge showed membership to be one hundred nine members, seven being ministers. A discussion was held in November concerning the formation of an Eastern Star Lodge in Darlington. In 1930, one hundred dollars was donated to the Masonic Homes Fund to be applied towards the purchase of a cow for the farm. The Lodge rescinded this decision at the next meeting, giving fifty dollars to the Masonic Homes Fund and fifty dollars to the Masonic Homes Farm for the purchase of sheep. A portrait of George Washington was presented to the Lodge in 1932 by Congressman William P. Cole. During the Great Depression Years, 1933 through 1935, the Lodge, like our country, took a great loss. The membership dwindled to seventy-three primarily because of nonpayment of dues. The finances were so poor that even the Honorary Life Members and Ministers were requested to pay the Grand Lodge assessments. In June of 1933, a motion was made to raise the dues from six dollars to eight dollars, but was defeated. By November, the Treasury contained insufficient funds with which to pay Grand Lodge assessments.
Bonnie Blink opened on May 1st, 1934, and eleven guests were admitted, including four married couples. One of the couples admitted, Brother and Mrs. Phillip M. Spencer, was sponsored by Stephenson Lodge. On June 20th, 1935, Mt. Ararat Lodge was the guest for the evening and provided Stephenson Lodge with entertainment in the form of instrumental music in the Grange Hall. In 1937, it was noted that no Past Masters of Stephenson Lodge were members of the Past Master Association. There was also an interesting discussion concerning the various schools of the County. The consensus of the members present was that discipline was not as strict as in days gone by, and the child was the loser by this condition. From 1938 to 1944, the average membership was ninety members. Meetings were held regularly. On October 21st, 1938, the Harford County Past Masters Association was organized. That year, Brother A. P. Post volunteered to lend the Lodge a fireproof safe for the storage of records. In 1939, a vote was taken and approved to buy dishes and silverware for the Lodge. Brother Swift introduced the idea of acquiring the Darlington Academy building for Lodge purposes, and a committee was appointed to inquire into an option for one thousand dollars.
During World War II, twelve of the Lodge’s members were in the Armed Forces. Five days after the installation of the 1940 officers, a special communication was held for the purpose of attending the funeral of Brother Alfred P. Post, Senior Warden. A special dispensation was granted for the purpose of electing a new Senior Warden, and Brother Charles H. Meade was elected. His vacancy of the Junior Warden station was filled by Brother James E. Hummer. Also in that year, a father and two sons, Lawrence, Sr., Lawrence, Jr. and Theodore Morris, were raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on the same evening. Because of the crowd, the Lodge journeyed to Mt. Ararat Lodge to confer the degrees. The Grand Master John H. Hessey and seven members of the Grand Lodge conferred the degrees. According to the Maryland Masonic History, this was the only instance where a father and two sons were raised the same evening. On October 3rd, 1940, Brother Charles A. Chandlee was absent from the meeting due to illness. This was only the second time he had missed a meeting in thirty-four years. A committee was formed in 1941 to investigate the possibility of selling the present Lodge building and purchasing another property. In 1942, Brother Edwin Shelling gave an interesting talk on the war situation. A discussion was held on the possibility of not having the annual Ladies Night Banquet, and having the brethren buy Defense Bonds with the ticket money instead. However, it was decided to hold the Ladies Night Banquet, which was on April 15th, at Dublin School at a cost of ninety cents per plate. It was moved and seconded to remit the 1944 dues for the brethren in the Armed Services. A committee was also appointed to investigate the possibility of purchasing the Darlington School building. Grand Lodge dues that year were seventy-five cents for members, initiations were thirteen dollars and fifty cents, and Masonic Home assessments were one dollar.
1945–1969 The Growth Years
The years from 1945 through 1969 were good ones with an average of twenty meetings per year and twelve degrees conferred. The membership totaled one hundred twenty-seven.
The entire evening of October 17th, 1945, was devoted to a discussion of whether or not to purchase the Darlington School Building from the Harford County Board of Education. After the vote was taken, it was decided to proceed with the purchase if the price and cost of remodeling were not unreasonable. The property was auctioned off at the Courthouse steps in Bel Air, Maryland, on November 19th, and purchased for eighteen hundred dollars by the Trustees of the Lodge: Brothers Charles Swift, Earnest Hummer and Paul Lefever. The Trustees reported the acquisition at the meeting of November 21st. The Lodge’s finances were tied up in war bonds and could not be cashed in time for settlement, necessitating the purchase of a fifteen hundred dollar note from the First National Bank on March 20th, 1946. The Darlington School Building was deeded to the Lodge on July 29th, 1946.
The building was then remodeled for a cost of sixty-six hundred eighty-three dollars. At that time the Lodge had a balance in the Treasury and war bonds of seven thousand thirty-three dollars, the greatest amount that the Treasury has had in the history of the Lodge. April 17 th was the last meeting held in the Scarborough Building with the October 2nd meeting being held in the Darlington School Building.
By 1946, there were thirty-four thousand five hundred eighty-three Maryland Masons. The new Temple building was dedicated by Grand Master Harry L. Huether and the Grand Lodge Officers on June 4th, 1947. The 1948 Ladies Night Banquet was held in April, serving one hundred and sixty-five turkey dinners. The tickets were $2.00 each. Brother James R. Gallion was toastmaster, and a fine orchestra provided music for dancing. The Darlington Chapter No. 105, Order of the Eastern Star was Instituted on March 8th, 1948, and Constituted on December 14th, 1948.
In 1949, Brothers Clark and Little reported that they had appeared before the Harford County Board of Assessments to request the Lodge building assessments be reduced from thirty-one hundred to twenty-one hundred dollars.Annual dues were raised in 1951 from eight dollars to ten dollars, and the initiation fee from fifty dollars to seventy-five dollars. Chairs were purchased for the Secretary and Treasurer in 1953 for forty-eight dollars. Ninety-one tickets were sold for the 1956 Ladies Night Banquet at two dollars and twenty-five cents each. Later that year, the Eastern Star installed a small light over the Altar.
During this period, the Lodge donated to the Darlington Methodist Church parking lot fund, and Jewels and Collars for the officers were purchased. A tradition was begun in 1960 when Past Master Gilbert Smith presented the Worshipful Master with a Worshipful Master Lapel Pin at the installation of officers.
Bethel No. 55, International Order of Jobs Daughters was instituted in March of 1960 and Chartered in October. They were initially granted permission to use the Lodge room at no cost until such time as they could afford to donate to the Lodge for such use. The Lodge also donated forty dollars for the purchase of satin robes.
On February lst, 1961, Mrs. Margaret Lindell (Stephenson) was accepted into Bonnie Blink Masonic Home and reported there on February 6th.
In 1963, the Trustees checked into the possibility of purchasing the property next to the Lodge. However, a discussion was held in October where it was decided not to purchase it. Permission was granted to the Order of Eastern Star in 1965 to install drapes in the windows of the Lodge room. The roof was repaired. Dues were raised to fifteen dollars, and initiation fee to one hundred twenty-five dollars. Rent for the Eastern Star was raised to one hundred fifty dollars per year and the Jobs Daughters’ rent to fifty dollars. Mrs. Harriett Spencer was admitted to Bonnie Blink Masonic Home on November 3rd, 1966.
In 1967, Stephenson Lodge conferred sixteen degrees with eight of that number conferred as a courtesy for Mt. Ararat Lodge No. 44. Brother Berkley Seagle of Aberdeen Lodge No. 187 introduced two brethren from his Lodge who stood the examination of the catechism of the Third Degree. The Lodge attended Divine Services in June with Mt. Ararat Lodge at Mt. Zion Methodist Church in Fountain Green. On October 18th, 1967, Brother Rex Bishop, P.M. filled the Worshipful Master’s station for the conferring of the Master Mason Degree. The remainder of the chairs were filled with Past Masters from all the Lodges in Harford County. The three Grand Inspectors, Brothers Samuel W. Snyder, P.M., Austin N. Rowan, P.M. and James King, P.M., also took part as well as the Deputy Grand Lecturer, Samuel Grimsey, P.M. A new Lodge Seal was purchased in 1967. The Worshipful Master, Brother Donald Horton, introduced his brother, Billy M. Horton, who was Worshipful Master of Aberdeen Lodge No. 187, at the April 1968 meeting. The 100th Anniversary Banquet was held on May 25th at the Darlington Fire Hall with Brother M.W.G.M. W. Norman Penn as the guest speaker.
A letter was received from Harmony Lodge inviting the Lodge to the “Walter Todd, Sr. Night” which was to be held on Thursday, December 12th, 1968. Brother P.M. Walter Todd of Harmony Lodge was a frequent visitor to Stephenson Lodge and was acclaimed to be one of its brethren. Many of the members could remember his help in conferring the degrees, in particular the third degree. A new Bible was purchased for the Lodge in honor of the 100th Anniversary Year. All brethren who were members of the Lodge in the Anniversary Year were listed in the book, and penmanship was done by Brother Lester S. Dorney, Jr.
Brother P.M. Samuel W. Snyder was appointed Worshipful Junior Grand Deacon of the Grand Lodge.
In 1969, the Lodge room ceiling was replaced and the upstairs painted. Also that year, the remaining mortgage on the Temple was paid off, clearing the Lodge of any debts. A portrait of William B. Stephenson, P.M. was presented to the Lodge by Brother Carl Stearn, P.M. Brother William Dubree made and presented the Officers’ Apron Cabinet on March 19th. It was decided to rent Dr. Phillips more office space on the first floor, but it was to be renovated at his expense.
1970–2000 The Present Years
The remaining mortgage of one thousand dollars was paid on March 18th, 1970, clearing the Lodge of any debts. On June 2nd, 1971, the Order of the Eastern Star had the pedestals of the Lodge laid with blue carpet. A portrait of P.M. William W. Virdin, Jr. was presented to the Lodge by Carl Stearn on October 6th. A beautiful plaque with the letter G, Square and Compasses on it, made and donated by Brother Danny Contestable, was presented to the Lodge by Brother P.M. Rex Leftridge on October 20th. It was installed above the Worshipful Master’s Chair in the East.
In 1972, the apron cabinet was made by Brother Wilmer Dubree and presented to the Lodge. Later that year, a new square and compasses was purchased by the Lodge. A fifty-dollar donation was given to the Harford Chapter of DeMolay in 1973 to help them with the cost of renting a meeting place. Mt. Ararat Lodge building in Bel Air was sold to Harford County. The building was subsequently torn down in order to build the new Courthouse extension.
Brother P.M. Carl Stearn was appointed in 1974 to write the history of Stephenson Lodge, which was to be completed for the United States’ Bicentennial. A new piano was donated to the Lodge in memory of Brother Thomas Reynolds. The outside of the Temple building was remodeled with the expenses and labor being a joint effort on the part of many of the brethren. A telephone was also installed in the lower hallway. Brother Carl Stearn reported on March 20th that the former Lodge building in Lapidum had burned down.
Brother P.M. Charles D. Miller was appointed Deputy Grand Lecturer of the Grand Lodge of Maryland in 1975.
In the United States’ Bicentennial Year, 1976, a beautiful showcase was made by Brother Dubree from cherry wood and glass donated by Brother P.M. Miller. Many historical items of Stephenson Lodge were placed on display in the showcase, which was installed in the Tyler’s Room.
A gift of two hundred dollars was given to Aberdeen Lodge No. 187 to help with expenses incurred as a result of the loss of their Lodge building by fire. Knowing the need for Masonic education, in 1977 the Lodge funded a project to start a library. The library now consists of over fifty books. The 1978 Ladies Night Dinner, which was held October 13th, was attended by one hundred fifty brethren, their wives and guests. The roast beef dinner cost $6.50.
In 1979, Brother William Koenig, the Most Grand Master, and his line officers visited the Lodge and conferred the Third Degree on Brother Hudson J. Clendaniels. The Lodge borrowed two thousand two hundred and fifty dollars for the purpose of remodeling the Temple. The brethren labored eight to ten Saturdays putting up aluminum siding, installing new windows and a completely new bathroom.
After the buffet dinner on February 20th, 1980, the evening was set aside to honor our Past Grand Inspector, Brother Austin N. Rowan of Esdraelon Lodge, who was presented with a plaque and made an Honorary Member of Stephenson Lodge. Brother P.M. Oscar Baldwin dedicated the mural in the refreshment room on November 4th, 1981, to Brother P.M. Willard Anderson, expressing his appreciation at being able to present it to the Lodge.
On May 19th, 1982, the Lodge conducted a special program honoring three brethren: A. Hugh Spencer, George O. Bradfield, and Thomas McNutt, members of the Lodge for a cumulative total of one hundred and fifty years. Another special program was devoted to the honoring of Brother P.M. Rex Bishop, PGI on March 7th, 1984 for his twenty-six years of faithful service as Secretary of the Lodge. Brother Rex was presented a Certificate of Appointment making him Secretary Emeritus.
On November 6th, 1985, a program was presented which honored Brother P.M. John R. Newcomb, Grand Inspector, Mt. Ararat Lodge, for his devoted service to the Masonic Fraternity and to Stephenson Lodge. He was presented with a Certificate making him an Honorary Member. Also, in November of that year, Brother P.M. Earnest Whitaker of Mt. Ararat Lodge was appointed Grand Inspector of Stephenson Lodge. In December, Brother Jerry R. Arnold presented the Lodge with a large painting of the Lodge’s history, which was hung in the waiting room outside the Lodge room. It was dedicated to Brother P.M. Carl A. Stearn.
A moment of silent prayer was offered for Brother P.M. John R. Newcomb who passed away on February 17th, 1986. On November 18 th, 1987, the Harford County Royal Arch Chapter No. 43 donated two thousand dollars to the Lodge for use in charity programs.
The Lodge took Heather Blakely, a victim of cerebral palsy and Carl Stearn’s granddaughter, as their adopted daughter in 1988. Following the catastrophe of Hurricane Hugo in 1989, it was decided that one dollar per Lodge member would be donated to help those stricken in South Carolina.
During the summer of 1989, a great deal of work was done to the Temple. A new carpet, door and emergency lights were installed, and the fire escape repaired. All labor and materials were donated. New aprons for the officers were purchased in 1990. A report was made by the Worshipful Master in October on the open house for the Darlington Apple Festival. He stated that a film featuring Masonry was shown to approximately sixty visitors. On November 21st, Worshipful Master Francis S. Paine presented the Lodge the” G rand Master’s Award,” which had been presented to him at the Grand Lodge annual communication.
A “Salute to Carl Stearn Night” was held on April 17th, 1991, where he was elected Secretary Emeritus of Stephenson Lodge in view of his long and faithful service. On June 5th, Brother P.M. Francis Paine emceed the commemoration of Brother P.M. Leonard C. Burkins, Jr.’s fiftieth Masonic birthday. At the conclusion of the program, the Grand Master presented Brother P.M. Burkins with his fifty-year service pin, and Brother Earnest Whitaker, Grand Inspector, presented him with his fifty year membership card. Grand Master John McWilliam Smith, Jr. was elected an honorary member of Stephenson Lodge on June 19th.
In October of 1991, the Lodge purchased one hundred fifty envelopes from the Stamp Club commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Lodge building which were to be mailed to each member as a keepsake. During the Darlington Apple Festival, the Stamp Club used the Lodge room to display its stamp collections.
On November 6th, the Worshipful Master Michael Tama announced that since Brother P.M. Robert R. Miller was unable to attend Lodge that evening due to illness, he invited the brethren to accompany him to Brother Miller’s home for the presentation of a plaque for exemplary service. Afterwards, many members spoke highly of Brother Miller and reminisced with him about Masonic events which had occurred in the past.
The 1992 Ladies Night was held at Darlington Fire Hall on February 11th and featured a turkey and ham dinner. The dinner was ten dollars a person. The Grand Master assumed the East on May 20th and presented Brother George O. Bradfield with a sixty year Masonic service pin. On October 7th, Brother P.M. Carl Stearn, chairman of the 125th Anniversary Committee, announced plans for a dinner to be held at the Bayou Restaurant in Havre de Grace on May 15th, 1993.
Early in 1993, the Lodge investigated the creation of a Holding Company. Stephenson Lodge celebrates its 125th anniversary on May 15th at the Bayou Restaurant with a menu of crab cakes or prime rib. The Master of Ceremonies is Brother P.M. Carl Stearn.
On January 5th , 2000, Stephenson Lodge held a covered dish installation dinner with spaghetti being supplied by the Worshipful Master-elect Dave Kraus.
Past Master Carl A. Stearn gathered photographs of as many Past Masters as possible and displayed them in a gallery in the Lodge.
As we look into the future, we know that Stephenson Lodge No. 135, AF. & AM. is in good shape for those who follow. May it always remain that way for a long time to come.