History of Laurel Wreath Lodge No. 149
I. EARLIEST DAYS
Laurel Wreath Lodge was formed under a dispensation from Most Worshipful Grand Master John Coates on May 21, 1869 and formally chartered in the same year on November 15. The birth of the Lodge preceded by only five months the incorporation of the Town of Laurel on April 4, 1870. Since that time both institutions have been intimately associated, through participation of our Masonic brethren, in a broad range of community affairs.
There were nine men involved in founding of the Lodge, from whom provisional officers were selected on May 21, as follows: Robert Cooper McGinn, Worshipful Master, Alexander Sharpe, Senior Warden, Thomas Davis Bond, Junior Warden, C.C. Casey, Secretary, John D. Latchford, Treasurer, Robert V. Bond, Senior Deacon, William Clark, Jr., Junior Deacon, and Bruce Small, Tyler. The Ninth original participation member was Brother George Keith. Named as a committee to draw up bylaws were Brothers McGinn, T.D. Bond, C.C. Casey and R.V. Bond, with initiation fee set at $30.00 and a committee to procure necessary jewels and furniture consisting of Brothers Sharped, Latchford and Small. Worshipful Master McKinley then exemplified a part of the Master Mason Degree.
Background information on the nine founders as obtained from available records is as follows:
Robert Cooper McGinn was born in Cork, Ireland, moved to America in his childhood, settled in Baltimore where he became a school teacher. He was raised in Mystic Circle Lodge #109 and later became a charter member of Mt. Moriah Lodge #116 of which he served as secretary. His persistence deserves chief credit for success in obtaining the dispensation to organize Laurel Wreath Lodge.
Thomas Davis Bond was a son Albin D. Bond of High Ridge in Howard County which was part of the Snowden family Birmingham Manor tract. Thomas ran an insurance and real estate business in Washington, D.C. where he was a member of Lafayette Lodge #19.
Robert V. Bond, brother of Thomas was a molder, likely having worked in the foundries at Laurel and had been a member of Washington Centennial Lodge #14 in Washington, D.C.
Alexander Sharpe was a United States Marshall and a brother-in-law of President U.S. Grant.
John D Latchford originally a member of Concordia Lodge #13 and subsequently of Corinthian Lodge #93 in Baltimore demitted to become a charter member of Laurel Wreath Lodge. He was operator of a large farm at Muirkirk in the Contee area and also likely of some iron ore mining.
William G. Clark, Jr. was born November 28, 1832. After taking part in the founding of Laurel Wreath Lodges he moved to Morristown Pennsylvania six months later. He died in 1908. Brother Clark was made a life member on March 3, 1902.
Bruce Small came into Laurel Wreath Lodge on a demit from Lafayette Lodge #19 in Washington, D.C. and was our first Tyler and subsequently served as Junior Warden in 1876.
C.C. Casey served as Secretary until June 11, 1869 which marked his last entry in the Lodge minutes.
George Keith served as Secretary Pro Tem, to record the last meeting he is shown as attending on July 9, 1869. No other information remains thereafter except a notation on September 2, 1879 of a gift of $25.00 to his widow.
At our Lodge's second meeting on May 29, 1869, a gift from Lafayette Lodge #19 in Washington, D.C. was presented consisting of 20 linen and two lambskin aprons, a Tyler's sword, three slippers, a Bible, a 24 inch gauge, altar square and compasses and a square, level and plumb set. Petitions were received on that date from James Curley aa merchant tailor, Henry McEwing a blacksmith, Johm Cronmiller a physicians, Robert Pilson a manufacturer, William Latchford a clerk, Dewilton Snowden a physician and Thomas N. Young a clerk.
The first conferral of the Entered Apprentice Degree occurred on June 11, 1869 on Candidates Dewilton Snowden, Robert Pilson and John W. Whiteside. These three were followed on June 18 by John Cronmiller, William Latchford and James Curley and on June 25 by Thomas N. Young. Moving quickly, the early Lodge seemed not to mind working weekly and into July. These seven were given their EA proficiency examination and received their Fellowcraft Degree at successive meetings on July second and ninth. Being proficient in the Fellowcraft Degree on July 23rd, they received the Master Mason Degree on July 30th. In fact on the preceding night July 29th three candidates were given their First Degree - a truly whirlwind performance.
Work continued through August 1869 and in September Laurel Wreath Lodge received first ministerial candidate, the Reverend Dr. James A. Young who completed his Degrees that November. During that time on October 1, 1869 the report of the committee on bylaws was adopted and on November 12, annual dues were set at five dollars.
On December 3, 1869 Brother James Bowers of Arcana Lodge #110, Grand Lecturer, visited Laurel Wreath Lodge and presented its charter dated November 15 1869 which he read to the assembled brothern. He then consecrated the new Lodge and proceeded to install interim officers. Then On December 17th the following were elected and appointed for the first six months of 1870: Worshipful Master R.C. McGinn, Senior Warden Thomas D. Bond, Junior Warden John Cronmiller, Secretary Thomas N. Young, Treasurer John D. Latchford, Senior Deacon John W. Whiteside, Junior Deacon William Latchford, and Tyler Charles G. Sheldon. On January 8, 1870 Robert Pilson and James Curley were added as Stewards. Also on that same date demits from other Lodges were recieved from R.C. McGinn, Thomas D. Bond, John D. Latchford, Robert V. Bond, William G. Clark, Bruce Small and Charles S. Duvall who with those brothers raised to the degree of Master Mason (Dewilton Snowden, John W. Whiteside, John Cronmiller, Robert Pilson, William Latchford, James Curley, Thomas N. Young, George W. Waters, Charles G. Sheldon, Young, George W. Waters, Charles G. Sheldon, Reverend James A. Young, Luther Brashears and Mason D. McKnew) became the first official roster of the newly chartered Laurel Wreath Lodge #149.