Cherry Valley, Otsego, NY
Freemasonry and the Fire Department
By Holice and Debbie

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On June 19, 1806, a warrant was granted to a lodge to be located in this village, under the name of Trinity lodge, No. 139, F. and A. M. Among the members of that lodge, and for some time its master was Dr. Joseph White, a distinguished physician inthis section of the country. He was the first man initiated in Otsego lodge, at Cooperstown, in 1795. He was State senator from 1796 to 1799, and the first judge of Otsego County from 1800 to 1823. Associated with him were Elijah and Lester Holt, and Abraham Roseboom, men of worth and honor. This lodge continued working until about 1814 or 1815, when it surrendered its charter for want of a convenient place in which to hold its meetings.

Two, or three years after the extinction of this lodge, another warrant, instituting Cherry Valley lodge, No. 276, F. amd A. M., was issued, bearing date Feb. 6, 1817, and naming as officers Peter Mayher, W. M., Levi Beardsley, S. W.; Stephen Mather, J. W.

Soon after this a chapter of Royal Arch Masons was instituted under the name of Cherry Valley chapter, No. 74. There was also a flourishing encampment of Knights Templar located here. To this lodge belonged many of the most prominent citizens of the place. Among these, Dr. Delos White, a son of Dr. Joseph White, above mentioned. He was an eminent physician, and for many years at the head of his profession in central New York; Alvin Stewart, an eminent lawyer, and a candidate for governor of the State in 1842; William Campbell, surveyor-general of the State, 1835-38, and regent of the university from 1833 to 1845; Levi Beardsley, State senator, 1830 to 1838' Joseph Clyde, member of the constitutional convention of 1821, and member of assembly in 1828; George Clyde, a magistrate in this town for twenty-two years in succession; James Brackett, surrogate of Otsego County, 1841-1845. This lodge also numbered among its members many others of private worth and local repute.

Masonry lay dormant from 1828 to 1854, when the present lodge was organized. The date o the dispensation instituting Cherry Valley lodge, No. 334, F. and A. M., is lost, and the minutes of the first meeting are not be found. The names of the petitioners inserted in it, as given from the memory of members, are Jonathon Hall, W. M.; David Woodburn, S. W.; Benjamin Davis, J. W.; Jabex D. Hammond, Amasa Belknap, Hiram Flint, Edwin Judd, William Paddock, William T. Thompson, Elijah Thompson, Barnard Duffin.

George C. Clyde was the first person initiated Feb. 20, 1854. The date of the warrant is June 28, 1854, and the names of officers inserted are Jonathon Hall, W. M.; David Woodburn, S. W.; Benjamin David, J. W.

The first election was held Dec. 18, 1854, when the following officers were elected: Jonathon Hall, W. M.; Geo. C. Clyde, S. W.; Wm. H. Baldwin, j. W.; Hiram Flint, Treasurer; David Woodburn, Secretary; Edwin Judd, S. D.; Byron W. Gray, J. D. The following is a list of Master, Wardens, and Secretaries since its organization:

Masters.--Jonathon Hall, Edwin Judd, Lyman W. Bates, James Young, John L. Sawyer, DeWitt C. Bates, E. Hetherington, Hiram Weller.

Senior Wardens,--George C. Clyde, Edwin Judd, Amasa Belknap, Wm. H. Baldwin, James Young, John L. Sawyer, DeWitt C. Bates, A. R. Sherman, James D. Clyde, John E. Hetherington, John W. Davis, Fen. J. Wilson, James Braik.

Jun or Wardens.--Wm. H. Baldwin, Hiram Flint, Benjamin David, Lyman W. Bates, S. W. Beardsley, Joseph W. Davis, A. R. Sherman, George Merritt, John E. Hetherington, Thomas Brien, Wm. R. Robbins, Geo. Clark, Isaac La Homadue, Frank Houghtaling, Hiram Weller, Walter Furmin.

Secretaries.--David Woodburn, George C. Clyde, Samuel G. Wilkie, William Hall, F. J. Wilson, Lyman W. Bates, John E. Hetherington, C. D. Breese, E. S. Waldron, James Hetherington, Walter Furmin, E. G. Thompson, H. H. Browne.

The present officers are: Hiram Well, W. M.; James Braik, S. W.; Walter Furmin, J. W.; James Waldradt, Treasurer; H. H. Browne, Secretary; Jacob T. Peaslee, S. D.; John Wright, J. D.; W. F. Tooke, Chaplain; H. H. Browne, Organist; Alec. Oliver, S. M. of C.; Norman Hone, J. M. of C.; J. D. Clyde, Marshall; J. K. Diell, Tyler; H. W. Best, George Merritt, J. L. Sawyer, Trustees. It has a membership of 98. This lodge is in a flourishing condition, and it meetings are well attended.

One of the warrant members of this lodge was the Hon. Jabex D. Hammond, L. L. D., author of the "Political History of the State of New York," member of congress from the Otsego district, in 1815-17, State senator, 1818-22, and first judge of Otsego County, 1838 to 1843. He also held other important positions under both the State and Federal governments. He died in October, 1855.

Benjamin Davis was a prominent member of this lodge. He was for many years a magistrate, and a member of assembly, from the first district of Otsego County, in 1848. He died March 25, 1860.

George C. Clyde was for many years secretary of this lodge. He was clerk of Otsego County, 1835-37; judge of Columbia county four years; and a member of the constitutional convention of 1846. He died Dec. 21, 1868.

Jonathon Hall was for many years Master of the old lodge and a Past-Master of the present lodge. About 1827 or 1828, he organized an independent company of militia, called the "Cherry Valley Volunteers." He was its captain for several years; a staunch business man and a good citizen.

One of the lieutenants of the company and afterwards its captain was Edwin Judd, a man greatly beloved and universally respected by all who knew him, and a man of a considerable local repute. He was Master of this lodge for many years, and was one of its most influential members. He was at one time a magistrate, for many years a trustee of the village, and seveal times president of the board. A strong temperance man, and one of the county commissioners of excise under the law of 1857. He died Nov. 28, 1873.

I. O. O. F.

This lodge was instituted May 26, 1847, with the following charter members: A. L. Swan, J. B. Wilkins, L. H. Robinson, Lafayette Clyde, and W. D. Davis. The first officers were as follows: Lafayette Clyde, N. G.; J. B. Wilkins, V. G.; W. D. Davis, Secretary; L. H. Robinson, Treasurer.

About fifty persons officiated in the capacity of Noble Grand since the organization of the lodge.

The present officers are as follows: Richard Davidson, N. G.; H. D. Elwell, V. G.; R. Wales, Treasurer; A. L. Swan, Recording Secretary' Chas. McLean, Corresponding Secretary. The lodge is now in a prosperous condition, and has a membership of 80.


Early in the history of the village a fire department was organized and apparatus procured. This organization continued some time, but was finally allowed to go down.


In accordance with a previous notice, a number of young men of this village met on Aug. 13, 1872, and adopted the following, which was signed by thirty-four of them:

"We, the undersigned, deem it essential that a well-organized fire department should exist in Cherry Valley; that in case of fire as efficient and organized effort can be brought t bear on the devouring element, thereby protecting the people and saving property, do hereby unite in a call to effect such organization."

This all resulted in the organization of the present fire department, which is called the Excelsior Fire and Hose Company. It has two fire engines and a sufficient quantity of hose; is well uniformed, and under excellent discipline. The present membership is thirty-eight. The following are the officers: Captain P. R. Wales, foreman; Edwin Judd, first assistant; Jesse Howe, second assistant; George Wales, foreman of hose; George Walton, assistant foreman of hose; Hubert Judd, secretary; henry S. Coates, treasurer. (The History of Otsego, NY, by Duane Hamilton Hurd, 1878)

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Transcribed by Holice B. Young

Copyright Debbie Axtman and Holice B. Young

December 23, 1999

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