On March 1, 1871, at a meeting of Rising Sun Lodge No. 39, Nashua, permission was granted to Edward Parker and others to organize a Lodge of the Eastern Star and to use the Lodge Room, which was then in the Nutt Block. No further records are available until sometime in 1920 when…
History of Pilgrim Chapter
Twenty-two members belonging to a Chapter of the Eastern Star in Lowell, Massachusetts, congregated on the sidewalk outside the Library, after the theatre train, and discussed starting a Chapter in Nashua.
On October 22, 1920, at the home of Brother Fred Putnam, a group of members met for the purpose of talking over the prospects of forming a Chapter of the Eastern Star in Nashua. Brother Harry Ingham was elected Chairman and Sister Mabel Ingham, clerk. There were 16 members present at this meeting.
On December 4, 1920, 36 members met again for the purpose of choosing a name for the Chapter. The following names were offered: The George W. Currier, Gate City, Merrimac, Bethlehem, Palestine, Acacia, Rose, Pilgrim, Hawthorne, Beulah and Bethel. After two ballots, Pilgrim was declared the name chosen.
It was decided that the fees for membership would be $5.00; fees for affiliation for demits of dates less than one year and one day would be $1.00; demits of more than one year $3.00, with annual dues of $3.00.
They then balloted on the officers, and Sister Mabel Ingham was declared Worthy Matron; Brother Harry Ingham, Worthy Patron; and Sister M. Mabel Runnells, Associate Matron. Brother Harry Ingham stated a suggestion from a Grand Officer that a husband and wife should not be chosen for the two highest offices, and he withdrew his name. Brother Fred Putnam was then elected as Worthy Patron.
Pilgrim Chapter was instituted December 17, 1920, by the Worthy Grand Patron, Harry F. Colburn of Goffstown. He was assisted by Florence T. Davis, Worthy Grand Matron of Warner; Esther E. Harris, Grand Marshal of Warner; and Ina G. Brown of Manchester as Acting Grand Secretary. Thirty-three persons became Charter Members that evening.
At the first meeting after the institution, 143 petitions were read for membership.
On February 18, 1921, there were 129 candidates in all. Ruth Chapter No. 16 of Manchester did the work, which had to be done in four different classes during the afternoon and evening. During the first part of 1921, many special meetings were held for the purpose of initiation. In addition to the 33 Charter Members, 314 members were taken in during that year.
The Chapter was Constituted by the Worthy Grand Matron, Sister E. Maude Ferguson, assisted by Sister Helen F. Fleer, Grand Marshal, on October 28, 1921, in a very impressive ceremony, at which time the Officers were elected and installed.
Pilgrim Chapter’s first Worthy Grand Matron was Sister M. Mabel Runnells, in the year 1926-27. She was assisted by Sister Mabel L. Ingham, first Worthy Matron of Pilgrim Chapter, as Grand Marshal. Her Grand Chapter Session was held in Nashua on September 14, 1927, in the High School Auditorium on Spring Street.
It wasn’t until 1929 that the Grand Constitution allowed the election of an Association Patron.
It was in these early years that a group of sisters banded together to form the “Pilgrim Sisters.” This group was very active for approximately 20 years and was instrumental in the earning of the monies needed to meet the Chapter expenses.
The Past Matrons and Past Patrons Association was formed in December of 1930.
In 1932, Brother George E. Danforth, P.P., became the first Worthy Grand Patron from Pilgrim Chapter.
The Chapter was asked cosponsor a Rainbow Assembly in the year 1929, but did not vote to do so until 1935. In February of 1936, Nashua Assembly No. 9 was instituted with 59 girls. The first Mother Advisor was Sister Hazel M. Truax, P.M.
It is interesting to note, from reading the minutes of the meetings, that Schools of Instruction were held in February instead of in the fall, as is done now.
Also, a dispensation had to be obtained from the.Grand Matron in order to open the meetings on Daylight Savings Time.
During the World War II, the Chapter did its share by the purchase of War Bonds, and many of the Sisters acted as hostesses at the Service Centers.
In the year 1945, the Grand Chapter Session was held in Laconia, N.H., with only 50 in attendance. Due to the War Emergency, all balloting for Grand Chapter Officers was done in the subordinate Chapter meetings.
At the 25th Anniversary of the Chapter in 1946, there were three Charter Members present. Also, this was the year the sending out of monthly bulletins was started.
In 1948, it was decided to purchase and present 25 year pins, and Sister Helen B. Fleer, P.G.M., who had assisted in the Constituting of the Chapter back in 1921, gave out 82 at the Official Visitation.
The “Old Fashioned Degree” was first exemplified in 1951, at a meecing of Ruth Chapter No. 16, Manchester, N.H., by a group of members of Pilgrim Chapter, under the direction of Sister Lois T. Wild, who was then Worthy Matron. The year 1954 saw this degree put on in our own Chapter for the first time. Not much more was done until 1956 when Sister Patricia W. Hills, who was then Worthy Matron, reactivated the group, which is now largely composed of Past Matrons and Past Patrons and is still active today. They have exemplified the degrees, as they were done 100 years ago, approximately three times each year, in many Chapters in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine.
At the close of 1952, Sister Ruth Foote retired after 25 years of faithful service as Treasurer.
Brother Robert E. Sudsbury, P.P., became our second Worthy Grand Patron in the year 1956-57.
The major source of income has been the catering of suppers for the various Masonic Bodies. This was started in 1956-57 and continues today. Because of the income derived from these suppers, Pilgrim Chapter’s dues remain extremely reasonable, and we have been able to do much for our sick and elderly members.
In 1961 Pilgrim Chapter hosted its first Grand Chapter Exchange Night, which was with the Grand Chapter of Massachusetts. There was on overflow crowd. Since then, the Chapter has hosted many Exchange Nights with the Sister Jurisdictions of Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. On these occasions, the degrees were exemplified by the Grand Officers of these jurisdictions.
Starting in the year 1964, when Sister Catherine B. Guyette, was Worthy Matron, our Chapter held large and profitable Fashion Shows in the Fall. This continued until 1972 when the downtown Nashua stores discontinued their participation in these endeavors.
Sister Patricia W. Hills, P.M., became our second Worthy Grand Matron in the year 1965-66. She was assisted by Sister Amy H. LaVoie, P.M., as Grand Marshal.
A new organ was purchased in the year 1967.
Fifty year pins were first presented in 1970 with Sister Lillian M. Douglas, P.M,. the only living Charter Member, being the only recipient.
In 1971, a dinner-dance was held at the Hudson Lions Club Hall in honor of the Chapter’s 50th Anniversary. Over 180 people were in attendance including our only living Charter Member, Sister Lillian M. Douglas, P.M., and six other 50-year members.
1974 saw our Sister Patricia W. Hills, P.G.M., elected as Grand Treasurer of the Grand Chapter of New Hampshire, a position which she held for ten years.
In 1980, it was voted by the Grand Chapter to synchronize the Grand Chapter year with the Subordinate Chapter year. This necessitated the month of Subordinate Chapter Installations to be changed from January to October.
Sister Martha N. Hamilton, P.M., became our third Worthy Grand Matron in the year 1983-84. She was assisted by Sister Phyllis S. Jennison, P.M., as Grand Marshal.
In 1984 our Chapter was again honored by the election of Sister Patricia W. Hills, P.G.M., as Grand Secretary of the Grand Chapter of New Hampshire. After serving ten years in this position, Sister Pat retired in September of 1995 having served 25 consecutive years as a Grand Officer; a most extraordinary achievement!
In 1986, a special session of the Grand Chapter had to be called due to the death of the Associate Grand Patron. Pilgrim Chapter was honored to be chosen as the Host Chapter for this one-day session, which was held in our Chapter Room on February 15th. At this Session, the Rev. Dwight V. Meader, P.P. of Alpha No. 47 of Alton, was elected and installed as the Associate Grand Patron. He was also deputized as Deputy Grand Patron. This was of much interest to our Chapter, inasmuch as Rev. Meader had resided in Hudson for many years prior to moving to Alton, and was very well known in our area.
Brother Frederick Duncan, P.P., of Salem No. 57 of Salem, became Worthy Grand Patron in 1987-88. Again, this was of special interest to us, as Brother Fred is a dual member in our Chapter.
Brother Richard I. Poole, Sr., P.P., became Pilgrim Chapter’s third Worthy Grand Patron in the year 1989-90.
During the years of 1992-93 and 1993-94, when Sister Susan I. Douglas was Worthy Matron, 18 new members were initiated and 8 other members affiliated. A grand total of 26, the largest group of new members in many years.
In 1994, 37 of our members received Rose Medallions from the General Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star. This special “Rose Award” was created by the General Grand Chapter to recognize Eastern Star members with outstanding community service.
1996 saw Sister Shirley J. Van Vliet become our first recipient of the Quimby-Spooner Service Award, which was established by the Grand Chapter of New Hampshire in 1995.
These past seventy five years have slipped into history. The facts presented here have touched only a few of the highlights. The making of seventy five years of history for Pilgrim Chapter has joined its members together in fraternal fellowship to accomplish the purposes of the Order. Pilgrim Chapter can be justly proud of its members and the record of accomplishments achieved and will strive to continue their good work in the years to come.