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Part II: Early 20th Century

North Bend Lodge became invested with a more lively and buoyant spirit at the turn of the century. It was not going to hide its light under a bushel. It was the stated meeting of December 20, 1893 and we are going to send out notices to Columbia, Snow, Monitor, Cheviot and Lawrenceburg Lodge #4 that we would have a special meeting on January 17, 1894, and what would we do? We would walk up the hill to the Cleves Methodist Church where our newly elected officers would be installed; and then we would right down again to the Miami Township Hall and have a big blowout managed by Henry L. Rittenhouse, Senior Steward, who was responsible for many affairs of this nature given by North Bend Lodge at this period. Afterward we returned to the Lodge and closed in due form.

Life was moving so fast we were breathless, running so rapidly just to stand still. The Masonic Library Association of Cincinnati (stated, May, 1901) communicated with us. John S. Conner (February, 1902) was appointed as delegate to the Masonic Employment Bureau. A historical committee (April, 1903) was designated to collect historical information pertaining to the Lodge. The writer wonders where they put it. The ecology of the Lodge was giving the Trustees trouble. They were instructed to provide drainage for the Lodge’s waste water. Our current Trustees are probably having the same difficulty, only the leaks are just a little different.

To be sure we lacked the advantages of the “boob tube” and Henry Rittenhouse’s horse was still tethered hard by Dr. Grossman’s drug store, but no grass was going to grow under high buttoned shoes. We were visiting Harrison not by shank’s mare or even the old gray mare. It wouldn’t do to have those shoes stained with horse manure (let alone the odor), but we were going by extra or special car. There were certainly other marvels. One night some brethren from Monitor Lodge brought a lantern to assist with the lectures. Dr. Grossman’s homeopathic pills had attained such local favor and he was busy treating the phthisic and selling anti-kink compound that he needed a complete mid-week vacation and sought to change the day of stated meetings from Wednesday to Tuesday.

When we moved into our “new home” where we are located now, since we must keep up with the times, nothing would do but golden oak furniture on which had been lavished the artistry of the jig saw period. The last remnant is in the chair which still graces the East. Now how about the old furnishings? We couldn’t want such old stuff. It might have come over the mountains from the east and down the river by boat. Burn it up? Never! We will just sell it all for $3.00. we are really thrifty, but the Lodge had $97.00 and the Trustees were instructed to invest this for its benefit. Just watch and see what will become of this money. Great oaks from little acorns grow.

North Bend Lodge pushed deeper into the twentieth century pointed in the same direction as it had been urged from the very beginning of this period. The Grand Lodge of Ohio was assisted by financial guarantee when it celebrated its one hundredth birthday in Cincinnati (July, 1908). Use of the Lodge room by the Eastern Star was considered (August, 1908). Later a motion was made granting “said Chapter” the privilege of using the Lodge room if it is organized, and a dispensation from the Grand Master authorizing the use of the room was obtained (September 9, 1908). The Past Masters Association communicated with the Lodge (June, 1909). The District Lecturer (special inspection, May 14, 1910) recommended that proper forms be procured for application and demit. North Bend Lodge was becoming cast in a definite mold, and now had assumed practically all the aspects by which we know it today. Even the subject of a new Lodge room was kept alive (April 20, 1910).

The Trustees, on a motion (June 3, 1914), were instructed to negotiate with Cynthia Matson and others for a lot of suitable proportions on the corner of Miami avenue and Howell Street in Cleves (where the Municipal Building of Cleves now stands). The brethren saved this bit by bit. They were not miserly, but just had to be careful. Two years previously the brethren had even refused a resolution increasing the dues from $3.00 to $4.00, the additional dollar to go into the building fund.

The Grand Lodge Report of 1912 showed eighty-four members in good standing. The statistical reports and setting forth of the names of members in the minutes now seems an established practice with Charles T. Young as Secretary. Other formalities were introduced in that the Past Master Degree was indicated to have been conferred on Peter B. Keller (1915) and Harry C. Dick (1916).

Cleves Chapter Order of Eastern Star now comes to our attention. It was noted that they attended St. John’s Day services at the Cleves Presbyterian Church on June 23, 1912, where the Rev. Mr. Falk, a Mason, delivered an excellent talk. North Bend Lodge, during the summer of 1912, was invited to attend their 4th anniversary celebration which invitation was accepted. The Lodge expressed its approval of the Eastern Star placing a piano in its hall, and our present organ is also their gift [removed ??? -DBB]. When North Bend Lodge celebrated its 50th year (October 14, 1914), the sisters were called upon to furnish the lunch at a reasonable compensation. How the brothers went about this is difficult to determine, but at this point in our history the women must not even have started to travel; nevertheless, they had verily become the true hewers of wood and bearers of burdens.

When Captain William Jessup slumped at his desk in the Hamilton County Court House (Ohio), in December of 1914, the merchants of Cleves were quick to seize upon the opportunity to bring public attention to their garish new auto trucks as well as their wares. They offered their use to the Lodge for taking its members to Maple Grove Cemetery for the masonic service. Almost a year later the Secretary was to observe that the brethren formed in double ranks and escorted the funeral procession to the M.E. Church where the funeral service from the Monitor was given for Simon Hearn. This apparently marked the end to the old way of funeral observance. The hearse drawn by horses, the brethren at its side in solemn gait were to be gone. Cora and Herbert Rittenhouse were to send a note of thanks to the Lodge for sympathy extended on the death of the uncle Henry Rittenhouse (1913). His horse was no longer to be tied at “Doc” Grossman’s and the good Doctor himself the same year (June, 1913) was to go the way of all flesh when his motor vehicle betrayed him while calling professionally up on Dog Trot. A new means of transportation had come to bring joy and tragedy, influence wages, employment and credit, even change moral and social attitudes with it a strong force toward breaking down masonic jurisdictional lines.

North Bend Lodge #346 continued to puruse its regular course as the nation entered the period of the first World War. Outside pressures which had to do with the conflict bore heavily upon its conduct. This was the war of slogans; the war to make the world safe for democracy; the war to end wars. Intense and unreasonable hatred of the enemy was built up. The cut off the hands of children. Our “boys” could do no wrong; the enemy was always atrocious. There was no room for any court martials such as some of our soldiers have had to face on their return from Viet Nam. Names of Germanic origin were changed. Grand Master Hazelbarger seemed to hold on to his, and the minutes generally indicate that North Bend Lodge kept its feet on the ground regardless of what the public did. Books and music of Teutonic origin were not to be enjoyed. They were burned. Our Eastern Star Chapter presented a service flag to the Lodge, each star in honor of a brother in the service. A per capita assessment was levied to assist in constructing a Masonic Building at Camp Sherman near Chillicothe, Ohio. A lunch was given for members leaving for the armed forces. North Bend Lodge voted to remit the dues of such members as were on military duty. There were flag raisings; the flag was to be raised, not torn down. The Lodge bought $600 worth of Liberty Bonds. The inflated prosperity created by the war at long last enabled the dues to be raised from $3.00 to $5.00 per year [with inflation, $5.00 in 1915 would have the same purchasing power as $123.00 in 2018 – DBB]. North Bend Lodge still with all the excitement occasioned by the war had time to give consideration to the centennial celebration of Columbia Lodge #44 and give it a silver square and compass.

Northing at this time could be more fitting than to have a Lodge named “Liberty” in our district. A printed petition for a dispensation for a Lodge called “Liberty” was received. North Bend Lodge #346 was written in by hand. It obviously was little known to the Lodges of inner Cincinnati. Many of the names on the petition were of Hebraic background. There was no hesitation; the very next stated meeting our Lodge approved the petition by a standing vote. We wonder what became of “Liberty”, although there is still a Liberty Lodge [#646; fate? -DBB], for out of that war came an even greater tyranny, especially to those of the Jewish faith.

Shortly the war was over and we entered the roaring twenties, the era of flaming youth and bathtub gin. Our society had not yet progressed to narcotics or some other variety of drugs. A politician, to be elected, regardless of how his breath smelt, had merely to inveigh against “demon rum”. A communication was read in North Bend Lodge inviting the Masonic Lodges of Hamilton, Kenton, Campbell and Boone Counties to attend a special masonic service by “Rev. Billy” Sunday at 12th and Plum St. in Cincinnati. The ordinary thought was that all you had to do to change public morality was to pass a law.

North Bend Lodge turned quickly, however, to its own internal affairs. The matter of writing a history of the Lodge was revived. A committee was appointed (May 4, 1923) and that was all. North Bend Lodge was given permission by Harry E. Englehardt, District Lecturer, to confer a Past Master Degree on December 9, 1922. A question concerning the time of the dedication of its temple was broached (July, 1925) since the records merely infer that it was dedicated (Jan. 30, 1900 and Feb. 14, 1900). Brothers G.W. Chambers,  Ezra Guard and D.W. Gwaltney testified to the best of their knowledge and belief that Brother Nelson Williams dedicated said Lodge on Feb. 9, 1900.

The vision of a new Lodge hall was ever present in the minds of the members of North Bend Lodge. We find them conferring with the directors of the Hamilton County National Bank in Cleves relative to such plans in May, 1928. Money had been accumulating in the building fund. It was not long however, until the Lodge was withdrawing money from this source (Sept. 14, 1932) to meet current expenses. Members were delinquent in their dues. An edict was read removing from suspension and reinstating all brethren who were suspended in February, 1933 for non-payment of dues (April 5, 1933).