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A Look Back: Free Masons in Springville

11-30-Look-Back

By Jolene Hawkins

Looking back to the fraternity organization that we had in Springville and you will see Free and Accepted Mason is one of the oldest that existed. People began living around here in 1807 and we can see where there was a request for a Lodge as early as 1822.

 

On June 8, 1822, Comfrot Knapp was installed as their first Worshipful Master, Ira Hall as Senior Warden and Archibald Griffith as Junior Warden — Griffith School was named after him — in Concord Lodge #346.

 

By 1873, the lodge needed a larger place to hold their meetings, and an agreement was entered into with brethren Shuttleworth and Chaffee to purchase part of a brick building now known as the “Masonic Hall” at the time the building was being constructed.

 

Some of the members that belong and served in the Springville F&A Mason Lodge #351 were Bertrand Chaffee, who died at Springville on Oct. 3, 1916. He served as Master of Springville Lodge.

 

Chaffee was a product of the farm, born and reared on the place which his grandfather settled in 1819. He received his education at the Springville Academy and at the age of 16 went out into the business world.

 

Glenn S. “Pop” Warner, whose mighty contributions are evident whenever a football game is played, mentored the Carlisle Indians from 1897 to 1915 and later coached at Pittsburgh, Stanford and Temple, coaching the fabulous Jim Thorpe at Carlisle and Ernie Nevers at Stanford.

 

Warner also originated two of the offensive football formations that have helped revolutionize football, changing it from a roughhouse battle into a game of science and deception. They are the Double Wingback and Single Wingback formations. He was initiated in Springville Lodge #351 and in 1910 became a member of Live Oak Lodge #61 in Oakland, Cali.

 

Ira Woodward Smith was born in Concord on Oct. 12, 1871. His education was obtained in the public schools and at Griffith Institute. On reaching years of maturity, he decided upoп the legal profession and prosecuted his studies with Edwin A. Scott, a lawyer of Springville. He was admitted to the bar of New York at Rochester in Feb 1896.

 

After his admission, Smith spent two years in association with Mr. Scott, his former preceptor, then started in practice for himself. He conducted a successful general practice until 1906 when he admitted as a partner William E. Bensley, the firm being Smith & Bensley.

 

Smith had an intimate knowledge of the law and won recognition as one of the sterling members of the Erie County bar. He served four years as justice of the peace and 11 years as village clerk of Springville. In 1904, he was elected supervisor and held that office continuously for several years.

 

John B. Wadsworth was 10 years old when his parents moved to Springville in 1833. He was one of our town folks that genuinely traveled the world. In 1842, he was in Vicksburg with his brother, helping to run a general store. His health began to fail so he went by sea to California and on to South America where he worked in the mines. He thrived with this work and his health improved significantly.

 

Wadsworth next resided in San Francisco, then Oregon and then Washington, where he was engaged in furnishing supplies for the Army during the Civil War. In 1869, he went to Europe, traveling around to places that we may only dream of. He visited either on business or for recreation almost every part of the United States and Canada.

 

John returned home toward the end of his life. He was a great lover of masonry, and before his death provided $3,000 for the erection of a Knight Templar monument on the family lot in Maplewood Cemetery. The Wadsworth monument occupies the highest point in the cemetery, standing 31.6 feet above the ground, manufactured by Rose & Lautz of Buffalo. There was a large ceremony conducted by the Masons and on that day there were at least 5,000 people were present.

 

So many other members of the Masons, S.W. Buffum, P. Herbold, J.P. Myers, F.P. Spaulding, G.G. Stanbro, W.H. Warner, George Hawkins, Charles Pingrey, Frank Prior, Charles Shuttleworth Harlan Spaulding and the list just goes on and on with men from our area that were actively involved in the Mason and the community.

 

The information for this article was found in the local newspapers, as well as books and files that we have at the Lucy Bensley Center. You can read more about the monument and the men who were Masons by coming to the center, located at 23 N. Buffalo St. in Springville on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Email us at lucybensleycenter@gmail.com or call us at 592-0094.

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