Secret Societies of Brookville
By Christie Syphrit
Five of the secret societies in Brookville, PA were the Masonic Order, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows or I.O. of O.F., the Knights of Pythias, the Patriotic Sons of America, and the Patrons of Husbandry. Each consisted of smaller divisions spread throughout the county. There have been other orders in the county from time to time, but their record has died with them. Some of them are: a lodge of the Sons of Malta, and one of the Improved Order of Red Men. The Sons of Malta were short lived but the Improved Order of Red Men was kept up for several years until it surrendered its charter in 1877.
The Masonry in Jefferson County had two divisions, the F. and A. Masons and the Royal Arch Masons or R.A. Masons. The F. and A. Masons had two lodges, the Hobah Lodge No. 276, in Brookville and the John W. Jenks Lodge No. 534, in Punxsutawney. The Royal Arch Masons had a Jefferson Chapter in Brookville. The Hobah Lodge was chartered on September 5, 1852. The first officers were James L. Gillis, David S. Deering, Evans R. Brady, and I.G. Gordon. The lodge moved several times, starting with the upper story of the First American House which was burnt down. In 1887, the entire membership of the lodge since its organization was 273 people, 35 which are deceased. 103 resigned, 39 suspended, and three expelled. The current membership in 1887 was 93. The John W. Jenks Lodge of the F. and A. Masons was instituted March 9, 1875 by William B. Meredith. The number of members in 1887 is 42. The Jefferson Chapter of the Royal Arch Chapter of Pennsylvania. There have been 59 members admitted, seven of which died, five suspended and seven resigned, leaving 40 members in 1887.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows had six lodges, the Brookville Lodge No. 217; the Laurel Lodge No. 672, in Punxsutawney; the Cicerone Lodge No. 897, in Brockway; the Summerville Lodge No. 793; the Amor Lodge No. 608, in Marchand, Indiana County; and the Corsica Lodge No. 813. The Brookville Lodge was instituted March 16, 1847. This lodge was burnt out and surrendered its charter September 12, 1856. It was reorganized December 14, 1869, with a membership of 19. In 1887 there were 115 members. Since there organization, it has paid out for the relief of brothers, their widows and orphans, the sum of $2,670. The present assets in 1887 are $4,679.62. The Laurel Lodge was instituted January July 27, 1869. By 1887 there have been 177 members admitted since its institution. It had a membership of 88 in 1887. The total assets of this lodge were $6,842.03. The Cicerone Lodge was instituted January 6, 1875. In 1887 there were 128 members admitted since their organization, 94 of which were at that time in good standing, and having current assets worth up to $14,725.53 in receipts, disbursements, real estate investments and treasury. The Summerville Lodge was instituted March 25, 1887. This new lodge started out with a membership of 45, has an excellent hall, and is out of debt. The Amor Lodge was instituted September 2, 1867. This lodge is prosperous with 33 members in good standing and is out of debt with a surplus of $150 to $200. The Corsica Lodge was instituted October 25, 1872. In 1887 in had 157 admitted, 77 still present at that time. It had a total assets of $2,367.57 and $1,150.50 paid out for relief.
The Knights of Pythias has four lodges and one division. It was first instituted in New York, and had a membership of 200,000 in 1887. Its instituted "to protect the principles of knighthood" and "to champion humanity." Its lodges are the Valiant Lodge No. 461, in Reynoldsville; the Brookville Lodge No. 477; the Charity Lodge No. 488, in Brockwayville; and the Mountain Cliff Lodge No. 393, in Beechtree, Jefferson County. Its division is the Keystone Division No. 10, Uniform Rank Knights of Pythias. The Valiant Lodge was instituted November 29, 1879. In 1887 there were 77 members and 76 people suspended for nonpayment of dues. The Brookville Lodge was instituted November 39, 1881. In 1887 they have dad 131 members since institution, of whom two have died, three withdrawn, and 32 suspended for non-payment of dues, leaving membership at 94. There was over $1,00 in the treasury at that time. The Charity Lodge was instituted March 16, 1883 with 70 members and no deaths. The Mountain Cliff Lodge was instituted April 8, 1873. It originated in Barclay, Bradford County, but moved to Jefferson County after owing to the mines situated in Barclay became exhausted. It was transferred April 7, 1886. It had in 1887 a membership of 110, only losing eight people to death since institution. It has $700 worth of lodge furnishings and $1,041 in its funds. The Keystone Division was organized October 10, 1882. The division had a membership of 32 in 1887.
The Patriotic Sons of America was first organized in Philadelphia in 1846. Its primary objective is to build up an order based upon patriotism, education, charity, and fraternity, and amiss most particularly to dedicate its members on the principles of out government, to use honorable means to defend and perpetuate the institutions of out county. Two of its Washington Camps, No. 268 and No. 131, were in Reynoldsville and Brockwayville. Camp No. 268 was instituted in Reynoldsville on May 9, 1883. That camp had, in 1887, a membership of 41 and had $275.25 in its treasury. It met every Thursday night. Camp No. 131 was instituted in Brockwayville on March 4, 1887 with 30 charter members. It held meetings every Tuesday evening.
The first organization of farmers in the association known as Patrons of Husbandry was affected in Washington, D.C., December 4, 1867 by a few men interested in agriculture, and at that time, connected with the Department of Agriculture. Its first grange, known as the Potomac Grange No. 1 was in Washington, D.C. It has several other granges spread throughout the United States, 23 of which are mentioned: Porter Grange No. 252, Brookville, PA; Elder Grange No. 503, Oliver Township; Ridge Grange No. 516, Perry Township; Beaver Grange NO. 521, Beaver Township; Mahoning Grange No. 587; McCalmmont Grange No. 590, McCalmont Township; Union Grange No. 609, Pine Creek Township; Corsica Grange No. 640; Rose Grange No. 653; Pleasant Hill Grange No. 656; Sigel Grange No. 666; Sugar Hill Grange No. 707; O.S. Cary Grange No. 693, Brockwayville; Mill Grange No. 712; Richardsville No. 729; Darling Grange No. 768; Green Valley No. 770; Howe No. 777; Jefferson Grange No. 778, Polk Township.
The first grange, Porter, was organized May 12, 1874 and had 77 members in 1883. The second year, Elder was organized March 16, 1875 with 30 members. The Ridge Grange was organized March 24, 1875, with 19 charter members and 60 initiates. The Mahoning Grange was organized in 1875 with 36 charter members and had initiated 34 members. The McCalmont Grange was organized August 25, 1875 with 33 charter members and has since lost its grip and fallen away. The Union Grange was organized October 20, 1875 with 30 charter members and they soon became one of the wealthiest and most prosperous granges in the county. The Corsica Grange was organized January 6, 1876 with 22 charter members and 42 initiates but quietly expired in 1884. The Rose Grange was organized January 27, 1876 on the farm of Joseph Thrush. It started with 29 charter members and then reached 41. The pleasant Hill Grange was organized February 24, 1876 with 38 members. It later surrendered its charter to be reorganized several years later under a new name Sugar Hill Grange was organized June 2, and had 32 members. The Troy, Warsaw, Fidelity, and Prudence Granges existed for a short time and surrendered their charters. The O.S. Cary Grange was organized April 8, 1876 with 30 charter members. The Genn Valley Grange was organized March 31, 1883 with 17 members. In 1887, there were 21 additional members added. The Howe Grange was organized February 26, 1884 with 16 members. The Jefferson Grange was organized February 27, with 16 members.
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