Freemasonry is the oldest and the largest fraternal order in the world. It is a universal brotherhood of men dedicated to serving God, family, fellowman and country.
The heritage of modern Freemasonry is derived from the organized guilds or unions of stone masons who constructed the beautiful cathedrals and other stately structures throughout Europe during the middle ages. The skills and architectural genius of these craftsmen and their commitment to the highest standards of moral and ethical values were universally applauded, and unlike other classes of people, they were allowed to travel freely from country to country. Thus, during this period, the word "Free" was prefixed to the word mason, and these craftsmen, and the generations of masons who followed, were referred to as Freemasons.
Until about the sixteenth century, masons were strictly an operative craft-stone masons and architects building those magnificent cathedrals and palaces, many of which still adorn the landscape of the European country side. Early in the seventeenth century, membership in these unions or operating lodges of stone masons began to decline, and probably to compensate for their loss in members, they began to admit certain men of prominence in society who were not craftsmen or stone masons. This class of members were initially considered patrons of the Fraternity, and over the years became known as "accepted masons." At the conclusion of the seventeenth century, a radical transformation had evolved; these accepted masons had become predominant, and the older lodges of Freemasons began to emphasize and teach moral philosophy rather than the technical and operative art of earlier centuries. Tools of the stone masons are still used in the Fraternity today, but only to symbolize moral virtue, not to build cathedrals.
Interestingly, Perham Lodge No. 157 A.F. & A.M. (Ancient Free and Accepted Masons) is the oldest fraternal organization in Perham. Founded in 1884, Lodge members are celebrating its 136th Anniversary this year. Here are some historical highlights from our Lodge archives beginning in 1883.
The first Lodge meeting was held in the hall above Chris Schroeder's store (now Pines Gift Shop) and was under dispensation from March 26, 1883 to February 29, 1884.
Committee for by-laws was formed on October 13, 1883 and these were adopted November 24, 1883 and approved December 8, 1883. This Lodge was duly constituted February 29, 1884.
March 8, 1884 - Frame for charter and a' Bible at $2.67 postage with total of $30.00
June 14, 1884 - Purchased Cemetery lot in village cemetery for $10.00 - Lots No. 2 and 3. The rent for hall at this time was $25.00 for 6 months from Chris Schroeder.
First mention of carpet in minutes of December 18, 1884, committee on this reported that "Sons of Herman" (a German Group) would pay half on conditions that if either party quit, the other would buy their share. This was in September 12, 1885 minutes with bill for laying carpet of $2.00 to Frost & Caughy.
On February 22, 1886, motion to purchase: 3 gavels, 2 pillars for Wardens, 4 rods for Deacons and Stewards. Voted and carried February 27, 1886. Members of the Lodge, when they petition for membership are never asked to join, but must join of their own free will and accord.
First mention of O.E.S. in the minutes of February 8, 1896.
On November 13, 1897, minutes report of building committee of rent of hall (present location) from Amos Marckel for $100.00 a year, heat and lights included. Moved into hall, December 30, 1897 with rent to start March 15, 1898.
February 12, 1898 purchased an Esty Chapel Organ for $42.24.
March 26, 1898 - after going to court, received settlement from "Odd Fellow Lodge" for rent due - $103.12 and $53.12 settlement.
Motion for change from gas to electric lights October 28, 1899, this was done December 9, 1899. Installing 14 drops and bill for one months service of $12.85.
On May 12, 1900 minutes stated that Cleopatra No. 124 and Lodge would share cost of janitor with Brother Koenitzer at $20.00 per year.
January 27, 1906 old jewels of Lodge framed in blue background. (is still hanging above piano at this date)
The 25th Anniversary was celebrated February 27, 1909. Frazee No. 241 presented Perham No. 157 with Silver Coffee Percolator at Banquet. (This is still in Lodge Hall today.)
January 13, 1906 voted to build a Masonic Home near the Twin Cities and this was carried.
January 22, 1906 a piano fund was reported in audit, given by Cleopatra Chapter No. 124 ($126.25). Perham Lodge No. 157 purchased a Behr piano on November 13, 1915, paying the amount of $200.79. (Using today)
March 11, 1916 purchased a wool flag (6' x 15') for the hall.
May 26, 1917, Brother Sam Friedman presented the Lodge with Seven Volume set - "Machkey's History of Free Masonary". They also purchased a section for bookcase at this time.
In minutes of October 12, 1918, Brother Koenitzer presented a bill for $70.00 for furniture. (Reupholstered 1977 and still using today)
Lodge celebrated their Diamond Jubilee May 1, 1959 with Grand Master Clyde E. Hegman and Staff present. Third degree was put on by the Scottish Rite Degree Team, Valley of Minneapolis, Orient of Minnesota. Anniversary dinner was served by Cleopatra No. 124 at 6:00 p.m. with Brother Sam Smith, Worshipful Master.
Pushed by Brother Ray J. Jones - Masonic picnics were held starting in 1950. These were held at Highway Park on Ottertail Lake with several area Lodges furnishing free pop, coffee and ice cream for all. Attendance was as high as 600. These family affairs were held for Masons, their families and friends. They ended in 1967 due to poor attendance.
Purchase of gas stove for kitchen March 25, 1964, followed by gas heaters for both rooms in April 8, 1964 and a gas furnace for hall in December 8, 1965 - Cost of stoves and meter were $40.00, $55.00 and $106.07, sharing cost with Cleopatra Chapter No. 124.
December 13, 1967 a new carpet was put in Lodge room and painting done in complete Lodge Hall. Carpet cost $970.34 and again cost shared with Star.
Complete rewiring done in April 1968 by Brother Larry Schultz and Don Olson, with help of several Brethren of the Lodge.
1968 and 1969 were years of improvement for the Lodge and the Eastern Star. Such as kitchen cabinets, hot water heater, change of water pipes with help of Brothers Gerlach, Larry Schultz, Ray Holten, Larry McKinley and several others (both ladies and men).
This was written by Brother Roger W. Jones through many hours of reading old minutes (some like his own real hard to'decipher). He hopes they are a fairly accurate account of what our brothers and sisters of the past and present have done to keep this organaization going for all these years.
1970 Brother Jack Sawyer's apron was presented to Lodge by his son, Brother Earl Sawyer for the Archives. O.E.S. purchased 5 tables for kitchen. Meeting night for Lodge changed from 2nd and 4th Wednesday to 2nd and 4th Tuesday.
1971 Float entered in Perham Centennial. Ross Downard, Turp Anderson, and Roger Jones rode on the float. Dues raised from $10 to $12.
1972 Floyd Warner received Fifty Year Pin. DeMolay Club formed under the Charter of Fergus Falls.
1973 Arthur Stromber received Fifty Year Pin.
1974 Dues raised from $12 to $25.
1976 Motion made and passed to increase amount of Essay Bonds from $25 to $50.
1977 Lodge furniture reupholstered District Representive, Brother Elmer Andersen presented J.A. (Turp) Anderson with his Fifty Year Pin.
1978 Brother Vivi F. Hoppenen received Fifty Year Pin.
1980 Motion made and passed to increase amount of Essay Bonds from $50 to $75.
1981 Dues raised from $25 to $29. November 24, 1981, received Traveling Plaque from Lake Park Lodge to be passed on to another Lodge within 30 days. It was passed on to Wadena Lodge December 14, 1981.
1982 John Peterson, Grand Master visited Lodge. Brother Charles Brown received Fifty Year Pin.
1983 Received $500 from Birak Shrine Club. Funds to be used for remodeling purposes.
1984 Kitchen was remodeled.