AUDUBON-PARKSIDE LODGE #218 HISTORY
Compiled by RW Raymond C. Thorne PGT
Chapter 1 -- 1920
In the post-World War I boom, Camden County--and especially the City of Camden--
were places of rapid growth. Local firms such as RCA Victor, Campbell’s Soup, and
New York Shipbuilding Corp. were expanding major employers. Also, men recently
discharged from the military were finding that suburban New Jersey was a good place to
settle down and raise a family.
This increase in the local population was reflected in the growth of the various area
lodges. In late 1919 Charles A. Williams, Worshipful Master of Trimble Lodge #117,
saw that lodge’s rolls expand to over one thousand. A membership of this size, and still
increasing, put an operating strain on the lodge and its officers.
Because of this enormous size and the problems it created, the possibility of creating a
new lodge in Camden was explored. Meanwhile, in the Borough of Audubon, Masons
from various lodges in several jurisdictions were coming to the conclusion that a lodge in
that community was viable. The first official actions forming both those lodges came
during February, 1920.
On the first of that month, a Sunday, the first meeting of the Master Masons Association
of Audubon was called to order in Schnitzler’s Hall, at the corner of Pine Street and East
Atlantic Avenue, in Audubon. Fourteen Masons living in town met with RW Frank C.
Sayers, District Deputy of the 18th Masonic District, and MW Wilber R. Coles, Grand
The purpose of the Association, which was chaired by William D. Hopkins, PM of
Trimble, was to form a lodge in Audubon. The following Wednesday, despite a blizzard,
the Association again met with 27 in attendance. The petition for chartering a lodge was
read and signed. The elected officers for the proposed lodge were selected and dues were
established at $5 per year. In subsequent meetings that month Schnitzler’s Hall was
secured as the proposed lodge’s meeting place, the rest of the line was appointed and
lodge meeting nights were established as the first and third Fridays of every month.
Schnitzler’s Hall was a logical place for a meeting place. Built in 1895 by Charles
Schnitzler--who would become the first mayor of the Borough of Audubon and a member
of Audubon Lodge--the hall was, among other things, the first home of Audubon’s first
fire company, the first meeting place of Audubon Methodist Church outside the home of
James (Pop) Caskey (who would also become Mayor of Audubon and a lodge member),
and the borough’s first movie theater.
Years later, Harry Mund, who was raised in Schnitzler’s Hall, recalled one problem with
the meeting place: it was across the street from railroad tracks and whenever a train went
by the noise was such that the meeting had to stop until the train passed.
On Sunday February 15, thirty-nine members of Trimble who all lived in the Parkside
section of Camden met in a Red Room of Camden Masonic Temple with four members
of Trimble, WM Arthur P. Johnson, SW William G. Hinderer, and two Past Masters, WB
Williams and RW Sayers. The plans for the new lodge were well developed. WB
Williams was convinced to become the new lodge’s charter Worshipful Master.
The Camden Masonic Temple had been the center of Masonic activity in Camden County
since it opened in September, 1913 (WB Hopkins was Worshipful Master of Trimble at
the time). The temple was home to four Masonic lodges, three York Rite bodies, the four
bodies of the Scottish Rite Valley of Camden, plus several Eastern Star Chapters and
Amaranth Courts. Lodges would meet in the Blue Room, the other organizations would
meet in one of two Red Rooms.
A second Royal Arch Chapter would be chartered the day before Parkside. Universal
Lodge #216 would be chartered three days after Parkside. By the end of the decade two
more lodges would be chartered, plus a DeMolay Chapter, Rainbow Assembly, and
several more Eastern Star chapters. This center of Masonic activity would give Parkside a
natural base of support of all its endeavors for several
On February 20, after a regular communication of Trimble, the intended Parkside charter
members meeting with the top three officers and four PM’s of Trimble signed the petition
for a new lodge. SW Hinderer chose the name Parkside. RW Sayers put up the $50
petition fee. The group decided the new lodge would meet the first and fourth Thursdays
of every month, except July and August, and that dues would be $5.
In the following two months or so the intended members of Parkside Lodge performed
the three Masonic Degrees to the satisfaction of Trimble Lodge. Since the proposed
charter members were all members of the same lodge, presumably the intended officers
performed their work during one or more communications of Trimble.
At an emergent communication of Haddon Heights Lodge #191 on March 4, the intended
officers of Audubon exemplified the Masonic ritual to the satisfaction of those present.
Haddon Heights then presented the proto Audubon Lodge with an altar Bible, which the
lodge still has although no longer in use.
Present for the ritual presentations of both intended lodges were RW Sayers and MW
Josiah W. Ewan, PGM, who were satisfied that both groups had met the requirements to
be chartered as Masonic lodges.
In Trenton, as part of Grand Lodge’s Annual Communication, April 20, the Grand Lodge
Committee on Dispensations and Warrants reported that six new lodges were to be
chartered, among them three in Camden County: Universal #216, Parkside #217 and
Audubon #218. While there is nothing recorded, it was probably by design rather than
coincidence that Parkside’s number would be exactly one hundred above that of its
On May 20, 1920, after a banquet in the Logan Memorial Presbyterian Church, the first
emergent communication of the new Grand Lodge year was opened by MW Cooper H.
Prickett, Grand Master. No doubt the banquet sight, which had to be large enough to
accommodate the large attendance, was secured through the aid of Rev. George Kane,
Charter Chaplain and pastor of Logan Memorial.
Grand Lodge marched as a body to Schnitzler’s Hall in a procession led by RW William
B. Mackey, Grand Marshal, a Past Master of Collingswood Lodge #210 and future Grand
Master. In the procession was RW Frank C. Sayrs, Junior Grand Warden, RW William
H. Witte, District Deputy of the 18th Masonic District, four other DD’s of New Jersey
and one from Pennsylvania, two PGM’s, three PDD’s, 32 visiting Worshipful Masters
and Past Masters (including six from Trimble and WB Charles A. Williams of Parkside).
Audubon Lodge #218 was chartered, and 54 dimitted Masons from lodges in the
jurisdictions of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, as well as from
the 18th District lodges of Camden, Ionic, Trimble, and Haddon Heights now had a
center for Masonry in their town of residence.
Audubon’s Charter Master was William D, Hopkins. Wilbert Davis, the Charter
Treasurer, served in that capacity for 24 years. The Charter Secretary, Harry B. Beckley,
wore the crossed quills for 25 years. Charter Tyler John B. Lingerfield was 52 when he
was first placed outside the outer door and he stayed there for 26 years, stepping down
only four months before his death in March, 1946.
The first regular communication of Audubon was held May 21, 1920, at which time 21
petitions for initiation were read, including those of three future Worshipful Masters.
On Friday, June 4, 1920, Grand Lodge met again in emergent communication, opening in
a Red Room of Camden Masonic Temple. Besides Grand Master Prickett and the elected
line (including RW Sayers) and most of the appointed line (including RW Mackey) were
12 current or past District Deputies (including RW Witte), 51 present or past Masters
from New Jersey and Pennsylvania (including the WM and 15 PM’s from Trimble, plus
WB William D. Hopkins--who was missing his own meeting).
Grand Lodge proceeded to the much larger Blue Room, where Parkside Lodge #217 was
chartered. The forty dimitted members of Trimble who became the charter members of
Parkside would henceforth be known and hailed as “The Forty Thieves.” Trimble
presented Parkside with an altar Bible, which our lodge still has although no longer in
use. The speaker of the evening was RW Henry Snowden Haines, Grand Instructor.
Parkside’s Charter Master was Charles A. Williams. The Charter Treasurer, Samuel S.
Joslin, handled the lodge’s funds for 22 years. But the champion of charter officers for
either lodge was Mortimer L. Nottebrock, who was installed Tyler of Parkside on June 4,
1920, and still retained that post when he died December 23, 1955. Thus it was that
Audubon Lodge, which met on Fridays, was constituted on a Thursday, and Parkside
Lodge, which met on Thursdays, was constituted on a Friday. Both lodges had a Charter
Master who was a Past Master of Trimble Lodge and a dedicated core of charter
members who would help lead their respective lodge into its third or even fourth decade.
At Parkside’s first regular communication, June 24, 1920, 15 petitions for initiation and
two for affiliation were read. Three days later Parkside lost its first member, George W.
Reese. His son, Jacob C. Reese, was the Charter Junior Warden and would become
Worshipful Master in 1922. Audubon met throughout the summer, both in regular and
emergent communications (by the end of the year there were more of the latter than of the
former), conferring degrees and searching for a suitable site for a Masonic Temple.
The first person raised in Audubon was a courtesy raising for a Philippine lodge. By
dispensation, the candidate was entered with four others at a regular communication July
16 and on an emergent held July 20 was crafted with four others, then raised that same
night with the officers of Trimble doing the work.
At Audubon’s regular communication on August 20 the purchase of the northeast corner
of the White Horse Pike and Pine Street was authorized. Two months later a permanent
board of three trustees was appointed to hold all real estate in the name of the lodge. Also
at that communication was the raising of a class of five, including future Worshipful
Masters Luther Krout and John Zanger. The first lodge member raised by Audubon
Lodge was Thomas B. Smith. Three years later to the day Brother Smith’s mortal remains
would be laid to rest with due Masonic services.
With the arrival of fall, Parkside started conferring degrees. Their first conferral of the
Master Mason Degree was October 13, on a visit to Collingswood Lodge #210. The
officers of Trimble, as they had in Audubon, conferred the first Master Mason Degree in
Parkside when, on November 4, they raised Thomas W. Reader, the son of Charter
Member Addison Reader. Parkside started a tradition that lasted for many years by
having a Ladies Night on Thanksgiving. Since Thanksgiving back then usually fell on the
fourth Thursday of November, which was Parkside’s regular meeting night, the lodge
would usually hold a short business meeting before the festivities. Three hundred or more
would attend these galas. Obviously, members and wives from other lodges were also
Audubon’s first Annual was an emergent in Haddon Heights on December 22, and
Parkside’s first Annual was a regular communication the following day. Attending both
Annuals was Grand Master Prickett. It is interesting to note that after each first Annual
Communication was closed--well after 10:30 at night--came the banquet. Audubon hired
an entertainer and Parkside dined to live music. Both lodges had started their first growth
spurt. Parkside added 11 members by the end of 1920 and Audubon had raised 34.