Byron Masons celebrate 160 years

BYRON – In the spring of 1858, 160 years ago, seven Master Masons living in the Byron area met and organized, and petitioned the Grand Lodge of Illinois for the authority to meet under dispensation pending the granting of a charter.

The request was granted and Byron Lodge held its first meeting under the Grand Lodge dispensation on March 25, 1858. The officers of the Lodge included Master Charles F. Wertz, Senior Warden Charles F. Lewis and Junior Warden Edmond Connor. Wertz appointed Anning O. Campbell as Senior Deacon and Treasurer, Eleazer Lockwood as secretary, and George Wertz as tyler. Lewis then appointed J. Goodwell as Junior Deacon.

Byron Lodge #274 was formally constituted Oct. 21, 1858. Right Worthy Deputy Grand Master E.H. Baker performed the ceremony and installed the Lodge officers: Master Charles F. Wertz, Senior Warden Charles F. Lewis, Junior Warden (pro tem) Nelson H. York, Treasurer Anning O. Campbell, Secretary J.P. Martin, Senior Deacon Royal Putnam, Junior Deacon Julius P. Smith, Stewards Dudley Wood and Solomon Dwight, and Tyler George Wertz. The first regular election of officers occurred Dec. 16, 1858 with all elective officers retained. They were installed Jan. 13, 1859 with the help of Samuel Davis Lodge #96 of Rockford and Past Grand Orator D.C. McNeil.

The Lodge would meet on Thursday, "on or before each full moon," and dues were all set at $1 per year. Local residents who figured prominently in the business and political life of Byron appeared on the growing membership list of the lodge.

Byron has changed greatly since 1858. Horses have been replaced by automobiles and passenger trains have been replaced by airplanes as modes of transportation, the school building that held both the elementary and high school students has been replaced by a multi-building educational campus, the agricultural landscape has been replaced by housing developments and a nuclear power plant, the independent merchants of a self-sufficient community have been replaced by chain stores. Through all the changes in Byron over the past 160 years, there has been one constant – Freemasonry.

Byron Lodge #274 celebrates its 160th anniversary in 2018 making it the oldest continuous organization in Byron. Freemasonry in Illinois has a long-standing tradition of serving their communities with various acts of beneficence. Masons throughout the state continue this tradition through a network of charitable programs, with a primary focus advancing the welfare of others, particularly children and senior citizens. In continuing this tradition, Freemasons not only serve their communities by setting a good example as citizens, but also improve the lives of future generations and care for the elderly. Freemasonry is kindness in the home, honesty in business, courtesy in society, fairness in work, pity and concern for the unfortunate, resistance toward evil, help for the weak, forgiveness for the penitent, love for one another and, above all, reverence and love for God. Freemasonry is many things but, most of all Freemasonry is a way of life ...

The 161st slate of officers for Byron Lodge #274 was installed during an open installation ceremony Sunday, Oct. 14 at the Lodge Hall, 4771 Ashelford Drive, Byron. The 2019 officers of Byron Lodge #274 include elected officers Master Josiah Henson, Senior Warden Corbin Anderson, Junior Warden David Mayer, Treasurer Thomas Felker, Secretary Ronald Beem, and appointed officers Senior Deacon Richard Hoovler, Junior Deacon Sean Hosseini, Chaplain Noah Hansen, Senior Steward Michael Girten, Junior Steward Keith Rundle, Marshal Edgar Dye and Tyler Michael Thomas.

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