Jephtha Lodge History
Masonic light first came to Huntington in 1793 as Huntington Lodge No. 26 A.Y.M. The warrant was dated on March 22, 1793 thus making it the second lodge to be formed on Long Island. On April 7, 1796 Huntington Lodge #26 A.Y.M Master David Richard Floyd Jones read a petition from Port Jefferson requesting their assistance in forming a Lodge there, with W:. Brother Moses Blachly, a Past Master of Huntington Lodge #26, to be the first Master. The request and assistance was enthusiastically given, and the new Lodge was named Suffolk Lodge. Brothers from Huntington Lodge #26, living in the Hempstead vicinity, petitioned Grand Lodge to form Morton Lodge in Hempstead because of the tedious journey to attend Lodge in Huntington. By 1806, meetings in Huntington Lodge No. 26 had ended, and the original warrant was forfeited on March 4, 1818.
Huntington was Masonically dark until late 1859, when a meeting took place at the house of Francis Olmstead in Northport, New York between William H. King, Jesse Carll, David Carll, John H. Jarvis, Phineas E. Sills and C.A. Floyd for the purpose of taking into consideration the feasibility of establishing a Lodge in the Village of Huntington. After some discussion, it was agreed that an application be made in due form to the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York for a dispensation to form a Lodge, to be known as Jephtha Lodge. Jephtha Lodge is named after a character in the Old Testament who served as one of the Judges in Israel for a period of six years (Judges 12:7) between the conquest of Canaan and the first king. Jephtha lived in Gilead and was a member of the Tribe of Manasseh.
The first officers and charter members of Jephtha Lodge as noted in the signed petition were:
William H. King of Jappa Lodge #201 as Master
Jesse Carll Charter Oak #249 as Senior Warden
John H. Jarvis of Lexington #310 as Junior Warden
David Carll of Charter Oak #249 as Senior Deacon
Jonas Higbie of Charter Oak #249 as Junior Deacon
Charles H. Floyd of Suffolk #401 as Secretary
Phineas B. Sills Jappa Lodge #201 as Treasurer
Having obtained the necessary dispensation by Grand Lodge, Jephtha Lodge No. 494 was chartered on January 25, 1860. Jephtha Lodge was convened for the first time on Saturday January 28, 1860, as a Lodge under Dispensation in a room over the store of J. Fleet at the corner of New and Main St. Huntington Village, where they met for five years. A committee was appointed to outfit the room properly for Masonic work and to procure the necessary jewels. Charter Oak Lodge # 249 was gracious in donating the necessary regalia for the Officers.
The first applications of membership were received, investigated and subsequently raised. Asa C. Thurber and Jehiel Grumman of Northport; Theodore S. Lawndes, John T. Bennett, Jonas Pearsall of Huntington, and John W. Dickerson of Centreport were the first brothers raised. In the early years the predominant professions of the Brothers were Seamen, Yeoman, Ship’s Carpenter’s, Captains and Sailmakers, for at the time Huntington was a busy seaport for ferries to New York and Connecticut, and for the shipping of produce. Many Brothers raised in the new Lodge, in later years, went on to form Alcyone Lodge No. 695 of Northport, Babylon Lodge No. 793 of Babylon, Matinnecock Lodge No. 806 of Oyster Bay and Glen Cove Lodge.
In June 1860, after receiving a Charter from Grand Lodge, the Dispensation expired and the Lodge became known as Jephtha Lodge No. 494. Our Most Worshipful Grand Master was John W. Simons, Deputy Grand Master Finlay M. King and Grand Secretary James M. Austin. A pubic dedication was held in June 1860 and from that day on Jephtha Lodge has prospered.
A Lodge Seal was procured in September 1860 and at the end of the first year, membership totaled 53 Brothers. Initiation fee was $15 and dues $3. In 1869, with initiative and foresight, the Lodge purchased a plot of land on New York Avenue for $1000, for the erection of a Temple in later years. In the interim the Lodge leased the property for $50 per year. By 1865, the Lodge moved to a room over O. S. Sammis on the NW corner of Main St. and New York Ave.
During the early years of the Lodge, the Worshipful Master paid all the bills by a motion being made for the Master to draw a warrant on the treasury for the necessary amount. The Lodge was always closed on Harmony and Peace. From its beginning in 1860, when a Brother left the Lodge for that House not made with hands eternal in the Heavens, the Lodge had a Special Communication. They assembled in the Lodge Room, opened the Lodge, then retired to accompany the remains of our deceased Brother to the church for religious service, then to the place of burial for a Masonic service, thereafter returning to the Lodge for closing.
After 25 years, the Lodge has 67 Brothers, with initiation fees of $25 and dues of $4. On October 14, 1897, the original Suffolk District (consisting of Queens, Nassau and Suffolk) was designated as two separate Masonic Districts of Nassau and Suffolk by Grand Master W:.M:. W.A. Sutherland. In 1899 Grand Lodge honored Jephtha Lodge for the first time by appointing R:.W:. Brother Douglas Conklin District Deputy Grand Master of the Nassau and Suffolk District.
After many dreams and schemed of the members, Jephtha finally concluded to erect its own temple. In the spring of 1904, W:.M:. Edgar P. Bunce appointed a building committee naming E.B. Hawkins, A.E. Lowndes, A.B. Gildersleeve, A.S. Pettit and Edward Holms. The committee worked with trustees Thomas Aitken, Joseph Irwin and Douglas Conklin in securing plans and estimates, the giving out of contracts and procuring the necessary funds.
On the afternoon of August 25, 1904, the cornerstone of the present building at 342-344 New York Ave was laid. By the direction of the Grand Master R:.W:. William L. Swan of Oyster Bay officiated. Seventy five members of Jephtha along with members of several Lodges were present at this important occasion. The regular Masonic service ended with the pouring of corn, wine and oil on the precious stone. The following documents were placed in a metal box encased in the cornerstone:
A gold tablet with the Ten Commandments
History of the 250th Anniversary of the Town of Huntington
A financial report of the town
A copy of the Alumni record of Huntington High School
A copy of George Washington’s letter as a Master Mason
A copy of the resolution adopted by Jephtha on the death of Abraham Lincoln
A badge of President Theodore Roosevelt
A list of the members of Jephtha Lodge
A copy of each newspaper: Long Islander, Bulletin and New York Herald
A copy of the disaster of the General Slocum
A lasting impression of Edison’s phonograph
History and membership of Jephtha’s Daughters Chapter #187
Names of the building committee, contractors and cards of local businessmen.