Garfield Masonic Lodge 569Making Good Men Better
History of the Lodge
The following are excerpts from “The History of Garfield Lodge No. 569” written by George L. Pokos in 1970.
Marcus Towle – Master Builder
George H. Hammond was born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts and eventually migrated to Detroit, Michigan in 1864 where he operated a furniture factory for a number of years. This business was destroyed by fire and he consequently tried his luck in the meat business, opening a market in Detroit which he eventually expanded to include a wholesale department and a slaughterhouse. It was at this time he made the acquaintance of Marcus Towle, who was destined to play such an important role in the planning and development of the city of Hammond and who was to be the first Master of Garfield Lodge in 1883.
Marcus Towle served Garfield as its first Master in 1883 and in 1884. Under him, and according to the most reliable and authentic records available, the first stated meeting of the new lodge, U.D., was convened for the transaction of business on Friday evening, January 8, 1883. Article No. 1 of the original By-Laws stated that, “The stated meetings for the lodge shall be held on Friday, once in two weeks.” It is interesting to note that Friday is, even today, the designated time for the lodge’s stated and called meetings.
The incorporation of the town took place in 1883, the same year that Garfield Lodge launched its journey into the Masonic annals of our State. After operating in that year Under Dispensation it received its charter, signed by the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Bruce Carr the following year in 1884, said charter being dated May 24, 1884.
Not only did he serve as the Master of his lodge that year but was elected as Hammond’s first mayor at the same time. He surrounded himself with those men in whom he could, without question, place his trust. William Verrill, Fritz Miller, and Louis Hohman were appointed as Trustees, Carrol Towle, as Fire Chief, William Bridge as City Engineer and William Gostlin represented the Second Ward as its councilman. All were members of the new lodge within one year after the first council meeting.
It is sad to note that the records of the new lodge, encompassing the first five years of its existence, were lost due to a fire, causing all information covering that span of Masonic activity to be clouded to some degree. However some of its first statistics can be gleaned from the Treasurer’s reports of those first few years.
The first year’s report shows the following data:
Garfield’s First Line of Officers
Worshipful Master ……….. Marcus M. Towle
Senior Warden ………………Hiram Hall
Junior Warden ……………….Fred Mott
Treasurer ………………………Alfred Smith
Secretary ………………..…….Omar Stoddard
Senior Deacon ………………William Gostlin
Junior Deacon …………….…John Keller
Senior Steward …………..…John Grabert
Junior Steward ………………William Verrill
Tyler ……………………………. David Nason
All in all, the first seventeen years of Garfield’s existence were spent in a quiet, gradual manner. Membership grew at a very slow rate and everyone knew each other by his first name. Meetings were held in a warm and friendly atmosphere and, as these men were practically neighbors, the by-play was informal, to say the least. There were a few misunderstandings between them but none so serious as to cause disruption of its basic workings and overall harmony in its fellowship. The registration books of the period show that most of the membership was active and deeply interested in the welfare of the young lodge. The attendance figures would amaze those present-day brethren who place great emphasis upon percentages per se. Judged by this standard, the early Garfield Lodge was a huge success. It was not uncommon to see thirty to forty of the membership present at most of the meetings. This same enthusiasm was to carry over into the ‘nineties, a period during which the struggling young lodge was to take its first steps toward greater goals it was to achieve in the coming century.
PGM Charles F. Marlowe, 33° was Grand Master of Free & Accepted Masons of the State of Indiana in the year 2009-10, and was the Worshipful Master of Garfield Lodge in the year 1996.