Wisconsin Grand Master William R. Smith, Grand Lodge Free & Accepted Masons of Wisconsin, issued a dispensation to Dr. Mason C. Darling, George Beech, Arnold Friedman, W. Perry, George Ruggles, S.J. Lush, James Myers, and John Reeve to form a Lodge in Fond du Lac.
The Petitioners were vouched for as Master Masons by the Oshkosh Lodge. The first meeting was held in Dr. Mason C. Darling’s office on September 28, 1849. The lodge was originally known as “Fond du Lac Lodge” but a petition was submitted to the Grand Master on December 7, 1849 to change the name to “Fountain Lodge”. This new name would reflect the numerous springs and fountains found in Fond du Lac. When the Grand Lodge granted the Charter (written entirely in script) on December 15, 1849, the Lodge name read “Fountain Lodge # 26”.
Mason Darling was the first Master, and G.H. Beck and Arnold Friedman were the Wardens. Darling occupied the Senior Wardens chair when the Grand Lodge was organized in Madison on December 18, 1843. He was a member of Madison Lodge No. 5 prior to becoming a member of Fountain Lodge and served as Grand Lodge Officer several times.
Fountain Lodge’s regular meetings initially met in the Odd Fellows Hall. In 1862, the lodge met at Darling Hall on the northwest corner of 1st and Main Streets.
Fountain Lodge approved a petition to organize a second Lodge in Fond du Lac in July 1862. Grand Master Alvin Alden issued a dispensation to form Fond du Lac Lodge the following month. The Grand Lodge granted a charter to Fond du Lac Lodge No. 140 on June 10, 1863. A.H. Boardman was the first Master, and Thomas Weeks and James Perry were the Wardens.
LODGES 26 & 140
The Lodge moved to an upper floor of the First National Bank Building on the Northwest corner of Main St and Forest Avenue in 1873. It then moved to the second floor of a building at the southeast corner of of 3rd and Main in 1889, where electric lights were installed in 1892.
The Lodge constructed a Masonic building in 1906 on the northwest corner of Marr and Sheboygan Streets. The cornerstone ceremony was on May 23rd 1906, and the dedication was on March 20, 1907. Past Master Nathan Giffin served as Grand Master in 1898.
Grand Master John Wentworth issued a dispensation to Oakfield Lodge at Oakfield, Fond du Lac County in February 1866. The Grand Lodge granted a Charter to Oakfield Lodge No. 158 on June 13, 1866. Seth Picket was the Master, and Henry Covell and N. Filbry were the Wardens.
In 1897, Grand Master Nathan Giffin dedicated Oakfield’s new temple known as the FraternalBuilding. Erected jointly by the Masons and the Odd Fellows, it housed separate halls and ante rooms. The first floor was rented for mercantile business and the Post Office.
Oakfield Lodge consolidated with Fountain Lodge 26 on November 9, 1971.
With the thought that “divided we fall—united we prosper”, Fountain Lodge No. 26 and Fond du Lac Lodge No. 140 merged on June 2nd, 1995 to form Fond du Lac Lodge No. 26.
The last Master of Fountain Lodge #26 was John L. Zeller, and the last Master of Fond du Lac Lodge #140 was John H. Hughes. John Hughes was the first Master of the newly formed Fond du Lac Lodge No. 26
For many years the Fond du Lac lodges met in their MasonicTemple on Marr and Sheboygan Streets along with the other Masonic organizations. In 1967, the Masons, Knight of Columbus, B’nai B’rith, and Greek Orthodox organizations initiated the first local Brotherhood Banquet. The affair, to which ladies were invited, was host alternatively by the Masons and the Knights of Columbus and continued until the late 1980’s.
It was voted by the membership of Fond du Lac Lodge No. 26 that the old Masonic Temple be sold and build a new multi-purpose facility that would better serve the Lodge and community. On June 20th, 1995, the Joint Board of Trustees purchased 1.5 acres from the city of Fond du Lac at the SE corner of North Seymour and West Arndt Streets for the new Masonic Center. The sale of the Masonic Temple on Sheboygan Street to the Fond du Lac Arts Council was closed on August 1st, 1995. The Arts Council pledged to retain the historical architecture and ambiance of the building and thus were the unanimous choice as new owners. During this time, Lodge meetings were held at the Covenant United Methodist Church.
On August 5th, 1995, the services of the architectural firm of J.P. Storrs Company were retained to design the new Masonic Center. Ground-breaking ceremonies were held on September 13th, 1995. The Joint Board of Trustees, accepted the proposal of Cardinal Construction to build the new Masonic Center. A building committee was appointed. Final plans were submitted to the State for their approval on February 15th, 1996, and were approved on February 23rd, 1996. Construction began on April 22nd, 1996. The cornerstone ceremony was held on May 4th, 1996. Grand Master Beecher Daniels’ name is inscribed on the cornerstone, and he and many Masonic dignitaries were in attendance.
The building was ready for occupancy on September 1st, 1996. Many Masonic brothers contributed to the completion of the building using their special talents. A plaque hangs in the Center’s entrance lobby commemorating the monetary and physical talent contributions of the Brothers. Dedication of the Masonic Center was held on November 17th, 1996.
FIRST MINUTE BOOK
(Transcribed from Fountain Lodge No. 26 “One Hundredth Anniversary” – September 17, 1949.)
First Minute Book of Fond du Lac Lodge F. & A. M.A.D. 1849
WHEREAS a petition has been presented to me by sundry brethren of our ancient and honorable order of Free and Accepted Masons , to wit: Brothers, Mason C. Darling – Geo. H. Beck – Arnold Friedman – N. Perry – Geo. D. Ruggles – J. S. Lusk – James Myers and John C. Reeves, residing in the village of Fond du Lac in the state of Wisconsin and praying to be congregated and described a regular Lodge, and promising to make obedient conformity to the ancient usage and land marks of the Fraternity, and the constitution and by-laws and edicts of the Grand Lodge of the State of Wisconsin and its constituted officers.
AND WHEREAS, the said petitioners are duly and properly vouched for as Master Masons, in good and regular standing by “Fox River Lodge” Oshkosh under our jurisdiction together with a recommendation from said Lodge, that the prayer of the Petitioners be granted.
NOW THEREFORE, I, Wm. R. Smith, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin, reposing full confidence in the recommendation aforesaid and in the Masonic Integrity and skill and fidelity of the petitioners aforesaid do by virtue of the power and authority in me vested, hereby grant unto our beloved brethren aforesaid, these, my letters of dispensation, herein and hereby authorizing and empowering our beloved brethren aforesaid to meet and open a Lodge in the said village of Fond du Lac, in the county of Fond du Lac aforesaid and under the name and style of “Fond du Lac Lodge” after the manner of Free and Accepted Masons, according to the ancient customs and in conformity with our constitution and regulations of our Grand Lodge and not otherwise. And I do appoint Brother Mason C. Darling to be the First Master, Brother Geo. H. Beck to be the First Senior Warden and Brother Arnold Friedman to be First Junior Warden of said Lodge, with power to convene and open said Lodge at such time as the Master aforesaid shall deem proper, and do authorize the Brethren aforesaid and their associates to appoint or elect other subordinate officers, to prescribe and enact for themselves By-Laws and to do all other things which Lodges under dispensation may of right do. And I do hereby enjoin upon the Master and Wardens aforewarned that they in all things conform to the ancient landmarks, that they cause a true and exact record of their proceedings to be kept and at the next annual Grand Communication of our Grand Lodge, that they bring up this dispensation, a faithful transcript of their work and proceedings, a copy of their by-laws, and a full ist of their members.
This dispensation to continue in full force until the next annual communication of our Grand Lodge, unless sooner for good cause revoked by the Grand Master and no longer.
In testimony whereof I have herewith set my hand and caused the seal of the Grand Lodge to be hereunto affixed this 13th day of September, Anno Domini one thousand and eight hundred and forty nine, Anno L 5849
WM. R. Smith, Grand Master
Grand Lodge of Wisconsin
Attested: M. M. Cothran
Grand Secretary of Wisconsin
(Transcribed from Fountain Lodge No. 26 “One Hundredth Anniversary” – September 17, 1949.)
The first meeting of Fond du Lac Lodge was held in Mason C. Darling’s office on Friday, September 28, 1849.Mason C. Darling……………………………….W. Master
Geo. H. Beck …………………………………….S. Warden
Arnold Friedman………………………….……J. Warden
Geo. D. Ruggles……………………….…………Sec.
S. J. Lusk………………………………….……….Tiler
The dispensation of Grand Master Wm. R. Smith was read and a committee appointed to provide a suitable place to hold our meetings. A resolution fixing the fees for degrees was presented and adopted. vis: E. A. $10.00, F. C. $5.00, M. M. $5.00, to be paid before balloting for respective degrees. First applications for degrees were received from Eben W. Davis and John Bannister. The Senior Warden was instructed to invite Grand Lecturer to visit us for instructions at the next meeting on Thursday, October 4th.
At the October 26th meeting, committee on a meeting place reported that they had made arrangements with the Odd Fellows, for joint occupation of their hall on Thursdays and Fridays, or such other day as shall not interfere with Odd Fellow meetings, up to July next for sum of $22.50, which was accepted and adopted. Also committee on By-Laws, reported a modified Code and By-Laws of Milwaukee Lodge No. 3.,presented and approved, and on vote of Lodge adopted.
From October 26 to November 15, 1849, the Grand Lecturer was present at daily meetings giving instructions and conferring degrees.
At the November 16th meeting, the 2nd and 4th Fridays of each month were chosen as the regular meeting dates.
On December 7, 1849, a petition was sent to Grand Master for changing the name to “Fountain Lodge.”On February 28, 1850, installation was held for newly elected officers by Brother R. R. Bourne, Grand Lecturer.
CONTINUING FROM LAST MEETING IN THE FIRST MINUTE BOOK DATED JANUARY 6, 1852
On January 9, 1852, three petitions received, By-Laws suspended and ballets spread on petitions of Edward S. Bragg, David E. Wood, and A. W. Paine and found clear, were declared elected.
At a regular communication, June 20th, 1853, a resolution was presented by Brother Darling to have Grand Lodge constitution amended to make Watertown the place of the annual meeting instead of Janesville, and delegate from No. 26 be instructed to support this resolution at the next Grand Lodge Session.
On January 13, 1854, a full slate of Officers were elected, from Worshipful Master to Tiler, and after election proceeded to install immediately.
On October 10, 1856, a resolution was adopted relative to the death of John B. Macy, who was lost at the burning of the Lake Steamer “Niagara” on Lake Michigan, September 24, 1856. Resolution to be printed and copy sent to his family.
On October 9, 1857, Most Worshipful Grand Master Henry S. Baird, being present, was received with the usual Grand Honors, presided in the East and gave instruction on degree work.
On December 17, 1858, Brother W.H. Hiner, a Past Master on behalf of Royal Arch Masons, asked the privilege of meeting in the Lodge room, preliminary to organizing a chapter of Royal Arch Masons in Fond du Lac. On motion the request was granted.
On January 28, 1859, Grand Lecturer, M.L. Young, visited Lodge and presided. He directed that the wording of By-Laws be changed from “adjournment” to “call of the Worshipful Master” and by-laws accordingly corrected and adopted.
On December 6, 1861, at a special meeting of Fountain Lodge No. 26, the matter of gas being introduced into the building was brought before the Lodge and Committee appointed – consisting of Worshipful Master and Wardens, to investigate and report in one week.
On February 28, 1862, a new lodge room in Amory block was rented for 1 year at $100.00 per year with privilege of a five year lease, if found satisfactory.
On April 26, 1862, at a special meeting No. 26, Brother M.L. Young, Grand Lecturer was present and took the Masters chair in conferring Fellow Craft degree on Theo. Conklin. A vote of thanks was extended to Grand Lecturer Young for his visit to No. 26 and his valuable instructions.
On May 9, 1862, it was moved and seconded to indefinitely postpone all action on members in Military service.
On July 11, 1862, at a special meeting, a committee of members of No. 26 drew up a petition to the Grand Lodge of dispensation to organize a new Lodge in Fond du Lac.
July 25, 1862. Special Meeting. The Worshipful Master gave notice of a Special meeting to be held the following night, July 26, to grant demits to petitioners to form a new lodge.
July 26, 1862. Special Meeting. Demits would be granted as applications were received. A special train was chartered for the purpose of attending the funeral services of Brother Charles Brown at Janesville, Wisconsin.
On August 8, 1862, Demits were granted to Brothers A.H. Boardman, C.F. Kalk, G. McWilliams, G.W. Sawyer, J.S. Sherwood, Ed. Farnsworth, A.B. Taylor, H.A. Francis, J.S. Weeks, D.R. Comau, S.A. Deedley, John Petit, J.B. Perry, Geo. W. Jones, Dennis Ladd, and A.G. Ruggles, to form a new lodge in this city.
On December, 5, 1862, By-Laws amended, that annual elections of officers be held on 3rd regular meeting in December, that Senior and Junior Deacons, two Stewards and Tiler be appointed by newly elected Master prior to installation.
November 6, 1863. Mention of Fond du Lac Lodge No. 140 for first time. Also question of obtaining a musical instrument for the Lodge room, committee appointed.
October 7, 1864. N.C. Giffin was initiated an Entered Apprentice Mason. Brother Giffin was county Judge of Fond du Lac County for many years and active in Masonic Work.
October 14, 1864. Moved and seconded to buy a melodian for Lodge room from Brother Waterbury for $65.00.
November 4, 1864. Resolved to change by-laws to read, Fee for membership be $30.00 instead of $20.00 to take effect as of January 1, 1865. Fond du Lac Lodge No. 140 concurring.
April 19, 1865. Special meeting. Brethren form in procession to attend funeral service out of respect for our late President Abraham Lincoln.
March 16, 1866. Special meeting 1:30 PM to attend funeral service of M.C. Darling, a charter member and first Worshipful Master of No. 26.
May 18, 1866. Communication from Fond du Lac Commandery No. 5, that Sir Knight and Brother George McWilliams, donated a lot on Main St., of 20′ provided the other bodies, that is, Fountain No. 26, Fond du Lac No. 140 and Darling Chapter No. 20 and Fond du Lac Commandery No. 5, purchase 25 ft. additional for building site for Masonic Temple, for $1800.00. Accepted.
June 1, 1866. Resolved to raise dues to $2.50 per year, to take effect May 1, 1867.
December 27, 1866. Special meeting. Joint installation of Officers of No. 26 and No. 140. Installing officer was Most Worshipful Grand Master M.L. Young of the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin.
March 3, 1871. Master called for a special meeting for March 14, for practice. Note, this is the first time a special meeting was called for practice.
May 23, 1871. Special meeting. Brother S.H. Cheney was raised to a Master Mason. Brother Cheney was active in Masonic work in Fond du Lac for many years.
June 2, 1871. Secretary authorized to procure two dozen palm leaf fans for use in Lodge.
October 13, 1871. Special meeting. Communication from Grand Master, calling for aid for distressed Brothers in the Great Chicago Fire. Motion made and seconded to send $100.00 to Grand Master for that purpose.
August 15, 1873. Amendment to Article 1, of By-Laws adopted to change date of stated meetings, to 1st and 3rd Thursdays. This date of regular meetings is still in effect.
November 20, 1873. Committee appointed to act with a committee from 140 to arrange for a series of socials for winter season.
March 18, 1875. Communication from Kansas, relating to members suffering from ravages of grasshoppers and asking for relief. Moved to send $50.00 for that purpose.
January 15, 1880. Harry C. Dittmar was elected to become a Mason. Note, Brother Dittmar served the different bodies as Tiler for many years, also filling offices in all the bodie.
May 4, 1882. Letter from the Grand Secretary that Grand Lodge Officers would be present on May 30, to lay corner stone of the new courthouse of Fond du Lac County.
June 7, 1883. Three lots purchased in Rienzi Cemetery for Masonic burials at a price of $130.00. Four bodies to share in the cost.
March 20, 1884. Petitions from W.O. Pritchard and A.H. Richardson read.
May 2, 1889. Moved and carried that trustees of this Lodge act in concert with the three other bodies in regard to a new Masonic Hall. Pending completion of the new building, meetings were held at temporary quarters at 3rd and Main Streets. The new building was dedicated December 4, 1889 by Grand Master Myron Reed, with principal speaker the Honorable Eugene S. Elliot, Past Grand Master of Wisconsin.
October 6, 1892. Moved and carried, authorizing trustees to act with trustees of other bodies relative to wiring for incandescent lights in Lodge rooms.
January 17, 1895. First mention of a Past Master Jewel, which was presented by Brother N.C. Griffin to B.F. Sweet, H.C. Dittmar and C.W. Smith. Past Masters of No. 26.
June 15, 1899. Committee appointed to solicit funds for relief of New Richmond Lodge for loss sustained by cyclone. Committee reported at next meeting that $50.00 had been collected and sent to Grand Secretary Laflin for this purpose.
December 27, 1899. After a lapse of nine years, Brother W.O. Pritchard was once again elected and installed Secretary of Lodge No. 26.
January 18, 1900. Communication from Neosho Lodge No. 108 asking for relief in rebuilding their Masonic house after being destroyed by fire.
October 6, 1904. Joint committees of all Masonic bodies to proceed with plans for erecting a New Masonic Temple.
July 6, 1905. By-Laws amended to read, that fee for admission and degrees be $50.00, $20.00 with petition and $10.00 with each degree. This to take effect September 1, 1905. Dues $2.50 per year.
July 6, 1905. The Farber Estate owned by the Lodge being sold for $1100.00. The Trustees voted to use the $1100.00 to purchase stock in the Masonic Temple Association.
1906. The following committee was appointed for building of Temple: Dr. L.A. Bishop, Chairman; Geo. W. Watson, Chas. H. Anderson, Jacob C. Fuhrman, Gaines A. Knapp, S.H. Cheney, Geo. B. Sweet, Harry C. Dittmar and Geo. A. Henry.
May 23, 1906. Special Communication. Laying cornerstone of New Masonic Temple. Ceremony performed by Most Worshipful Grand Master Jesse C. Bradley, assisted by Deputy Grand Master J.M. Percles, W.G.S.W., N.C. Griffin, W.G.J.W., and W.J. Cochrane, Grand Sec. W.W. Perry, Grand Marshal Geo. B. Sweet, and Asst. Grand Marshal C.H. Moore.
MASON C. DARLING
Facts about the distinguished founder of Lodge 26, Mason Cook Darling:
•Born in Amherst, Hampshire County, Mass., May 18, 1801.
•Taught school in the State of New York.
•Graduated from the Berkshire Medical College in 1824 and practiced medicine for thirteen years.
•Moved to Wisconsin in 1837 and was one of the original settlers at Fond du Lac.
•Member of the Territorial council in 1847 and 1848.
•Member of the Territorial legislative assembly 1840-1846.
•Upon the admission of Wisconsin as a State into the Union was elected as a Democrat to the Thirtieth Congress and served from June 9, 1848, to March 3, 1849.
•Was not a candidate for renomination in 1848.
•Elected the first mayor of Fond du Lac in 1852.
•Resumed the practice of medicine and was a dealer in real estate at Fond du Lac until 1864, when he moved to Chicago.
•Died in Chicago, Ill., March 12, 1866.
•Intermed in Rienzi Cemetery, Fond du Lac, WI.