Look Back: Masonry part of Wood County’s foundation

Historical newspaper excerpts from the Wood County Historical Society

Drawing by J.H. Diss Debar/Photo provided Wood County’s 3rd courthouse (1817-1860), the first built on the present site, was used as a meeting place for the first Masonic Lodge and various churches for many years.

He was the first Mason

A monument has recently been dedicated at Townsend, Mass., to Henry Price, the founder of Masonry in the United States.

An inscription on the stone reads: Born in London about 1697; removed to Boston about 1723; appointed provincial grand master of New England in 1733, and in the same year a coronet in the Governor’s Guards with the rank of major; removed to Townsend about 1763, and died there May 20, 1780. His life was consistent with his duty as a Mason and a man.

An excerpt from the Parkersburg Daily State Journal

July 11, 1888



The Masonic brethren of Burning Springs have commenced business in earnest. The “Orchard House” building has lately been purchased by them, and converted into a Masonic Temple. A dispensation for a lodge has been obtained from the Grand Master, and an organization has been effected with the following officers:

Wm. W. Thomason, W.M.; John W. Huffman, S.W.; J.W. Ball, J.W.; D.A. Roberts, Treasurer; N.T. McConaughy, Sec.; A.T. Gay, S.D.; Wm. Bechtel, J.D.; James Woodring, Tyler.

The Parkersburg Gazette

April 2, 1871


Burning Springs Fraternity

The Masonic Fraternity commemorated St. John’s day on the 24th by holding a basket picnic. An address was delivered at 3 P.M., by Colonel Thomason, W.M. of the Burning Springs Lodge, which was very highly spoken of by those who heard it.

The Parkersburg State Journal

July 6, 1871


Masonry predates city’s charter

Masonry in Parkersburg dates back to 1818, when the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, granted a dispensation for a lodge of Masons in Parkersburg on May 1, 1818.

The Grand Lodge granted a charter under the name of Mount Olivet Lodge No.113, on Dec. 15, 1818, with Elias Gates as Worshipful Master, Oliver Phelps as Senior Warden and Alexander Creel as Junior Warden.

The first meeting of this lodge was held in a building on the west side of Ann Street between 2nd and 3rd streets; then in the Rose building on Market Street between 4th and 5th streets, and then later in a building on Juliana Street next to the Elks building.

The oldest living Mason in Parkersburg belongs to Mount Olivet Lodge No.3 and is Wilbur S. Stuart, 815 Lynn Street, who became a member of that Lodge March 27, 1876, and who has been a member for about 75 years. He was born June 6, 1854, and is now in his 98th year.

An excerpt from The Parkersburg News

Feb. 11, 1951


Note: Concerning the Masonic Lodge, local historian Alvaro F. Gibbons, in his book, “A Century’s Progress,” written for the 1899 Wood County Centennial celebration, when writing about the Courthouse that was built in 1817, chronicles that: “The first Masonic Lodge, instituted by Judge Summers as Grand Master of Virginia in 1819, held its meetings for years, by consent of the custodian.


Bob Enoch is president of the Wood County Historical Society. Would you like to help preserve our past for future generations? The society offers informative monthly meetings and an interesting, 20-page quarterly newsletter. Dues are just $15./year. Send to: WCHPS, P.O. Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.


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