Abraham H. Howland Jr. Lodge,
A.F. & A.M
Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth
Abraham H. Howland Jr. Lodge is dedicated to fellowship and service to the community. The members of the lodge continue to aspire towards the fullfilment of their Masonic virtues through their actions in charity and brotherhood every day.
History of Abraham H. Howland Jr. Lodge, A.F. & A.M.
In 1914, a number of local masons who had been considering the need for another lodge in New Bedford decided it was time to take definite action in proposing its formation. Star-in-the-East and Eureka Lodges had grown to the extent that the group felt there was room in the city for the proposed new lodge.
At the suggestion of Bro. Zacheus C. Dunham, a member of the Star-in-the-East Lodge, a meeting was called of those interested in the movement. After a full discussion and careful consideration of the petition for a Dispensation for a new Lodge, it was voted to bring the proposal before the city's two lodges. As expected, there was strong opposition, but the petitioners finally convinced both bodies that the formation of a new Lodge was warranted for a number of well founded reasons. With assurance that the petitioners understood fully the financial and administrative requirements, responsibilities and problems involved in the operation of such an organization, Star-in-the-East and Eureka Lodges agreed to approve the action.
Following approval, a meeting of the petitioners was held and application for a Dispensation for a new Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons was made to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
At a quarterly communication of Grand Lodge, held in March 1915, a Dispensation was granted.
On June 8, 1915 a meeting was held in the old Masonic Hall (quarters prior to present Masonic Temple). The meeting was called to order by District Deputy Grand Master George B. Luther for organization Under Dispensation (U.D.) granted by M.W. Melvin Maynard Johnson, Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts.
In addition to D.D.G.M. George B. Luther of the Thirtieth Masonic District, the following brethren were present:
Front Row: Seth J. Besse, Zac. C. Dunham, Elton S. Wilde, Wm. Stitt, H.A. Linfield, Channing Wilde, L.C. Bauldry, H.I. Wordell. Back Row: Geo. H Nye, A.W. Milliken, John L. Weeks, Wm H. Wagner, Richmond Wood, Richard Knowles, Wm. F. Kern, Jr.
Abraham H. Howland Jr.
Wor. Master, Eureka Lodge, 1869-70-71
Dist. Dep. Grand Master, 1872-73-74
Grand Master, 1884-85-86
A tribute to M.W. Abraham Hathaway Howland Jr. Prepared by: R.W. James Taylor Watson P.J.G.W.
Abraham H. Howland Jr. came from hardy stock, the first Howland having come over on the Mayflower. Abraham's father was in whaling, a ship owner, one of the first to refine petroleum, a Massachusetts legislator -- three years, the first Mayor of New Bedford -- four terms, and a Mason.
Abraham H. Howland Jr. was born in the city of New Bedford on May 29, 1840. He served that city with distinction as Mayor 1875-1876. He was a Director of the utility company, several banks, and participated in civic groups.
His Masonic career was exceptonally honorable, for he was held in high esteem and affection by his associates. He received the symbolic degrees in Eureka Lodge, New Bedford, starting in line as Senior Deacon, and served as Master 1869-1871. He also served as High Priest of Adoniram Royal Arch Chapter and as Commander of Sutton Comandery #16. In additiona, he was an Honorary Member of the Supreme Council of Sovereign Grand Inspectors of the Thirty-Third and last degree of the Acient Jurstiction of the United States of America, having previously received the degrees in the various bodies in the state under its juristiction. He served in the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts as District Deputy Grand Master in 1872-1874, as Senior Grand Warden in 1876, as Deputy Grand Master in 1878-1880, and as Grand Master 1884-1886. (It is interesting to note that he had competition for that office; total votes cast were 671, with Abraham H. Howland Jr. receiving 483 and his opponent 188.) At 43 years of age he was one of the youngest ever elected to that office in this jurstiction.
It is necessary to look at the history of our Grand Lodge to better understand the conditions when Most Worshipful Howland was installed. During the anti Masonic period 1826-1840, the number of lodges in Massachusetts declined from 107 to 52. The financial losses to Grand Lodge made it necessary to sell the Grand Lodge building in 1857. In 1859, the "Winthrup House" was purchased for a Grand Lodge. This building was totally conusmed by fire in 1864, resulting in a great financial loss. The ruins were removed and a new building constructed, using all the remaining funds of Grand Lodge and resulting ina huge mortgage. After this storm came the rainbow. The positive public relations during and after the Civil War of 1861-1865 resulted in many lodges being chartered and revenues increased. Never the less it look twenty years to pay off the debt. M.W. Howland inherited a debt free building in 1884, but with limited operating money. One of the prime objectives of his administration was to replace the Charity Fund established in 1811 that had grown to $50,000.00, but had been used to rebuild the Grand Lodge. It was his desire to set up this fund in such a way that it could only be used for charitable purposes. He accomplished this with an Act of Incorporation obtained from the Massachusetts General Court in 1884. The original limit of the fund was $1,000,000.00. This fund is known as the Masonic Education and Charity Fund, and under the control of eight Trustees the fund remains successful.
M.W. Howland also urged the adoption of the district system of exemplification of the work and lectures of our ritual, which aso continues today. He indicated displeasure with the printed abbreviation of the ritual and advocated instruction from mouth to ear.
In December at the close of his first year, he stated in his Annual Address, "I have devoted such time to social, unofficial intercourse with the brethren in their lodges, as opportunity has afforded me and my physical condition has permitted." He was unanimously elected for another year.
On February 21, 1885 he participated in the dedication of the new Masonic Hall, with 300 brethren present. They were primarily from Mt. Hope, King Philip, and Narrangansett lodges, and that evening 1100 sat down for dinner.
Throughout his stewardship in his high office, M.W. Howland often spoke of his activity being controlled by his physical condition. At some of the quarterly meeting, his address was omitted , but at other times he gave long informative and interesting addresses. He issued to his District Deputy Grand Masters in 1885, 28 warrants to convey his actions to lodges, such as healing of members, dedication of lodges, aying of corner stones etc., and required full reports on these activities.
At his second Annual Address, speaking of the Grand Architect of the Universe he said, "We thank him for the strength given us, by which we are enabled to discharge the duties incumbent upon us", and later in the address he said, "We know not how soon we shall reach the limit of our earthly opportunity and be summoned to that lodge whither many of our brethren have gone before us." At this Annual Meeting he was again unanimously elected to his third year in office
During his third year many repairs were made to the exterior, and many rooms redone in the interior of the Grand Lodge, made possible because of the prosperity of Masonry in Massachusetts. In his last Annual Address he said, "In this my last formal communication to you, brethren of the Grand Lodge, I conclude with some personal allusions, which abide very strongly in my mind, and demand utterance. When I accepted the office of Grand Master three years ago, it was with sincere misgivings and much fear. Ability, fitness and strength of body, all seemed to be wanting for the wisest and most successful administration of the affairs of this Grand Body. Three years have speedily passed, and my abilities as well as my physical strength have been taxed to their utmost capacity. My misgiving was not a false estimate; for how could I have borne the duties of this high office with even comparative success, had it not been for the kind Providence that has blessed me, and for the loyalty, devotion, wisdom, and activity of the brethren who have surrounded me."
After election and installation of officer, the newly installed Grand Master, M.W. Henry Endicott presented his predecessor with a Past Grand Master's jewel on behalf of Eureka Lodge. Beyond a doubt the three years as Grand Master took a greater toll than M.W. Abraham H. Howland Jr. realized, for he passed away on April 20, 1887, cause of death, meningitis.
Visiting the Rural Cemetary in the southwest section of New Bedford, one will find the Howland plot, defined by a low wall with sculptured stone. In the very center is a 15 foot high marble obelisk, the symbol of resurrection, with individual stones for each family member. On the marble stone of Abraham H. Howland Jr., the traditional symbol of square and compasses is not present, but the sprig of Acacia, the symbol of immortality, is created in bold relief on the top of his marker.
Abraham H. Howland Jr. Lodge voted on May 8, 1923 to make suitable arrangements for placing a floral piece on the grave of M.W. Abraham H. Howland Jr., on Memorial Day of each year. A note from Mary Tucker Howland was received later expressing her thanks to the Lodge for the floral tribute in memory of her brother. A standing order with a local florist for this annual memorial was in effect for over forty years and has since been renewed.