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1921 was a good year for fraternities. The Springfield City Directory listed 135 fraternities and "secret societies" that year. There were 90 churches. Springfield was the center of a thriving and prosperous agricultural community and the home of many large industrial plants and foundries. Wittenberg was a respected college. Rotary and Kiwanis were the leading and energetic service clubs. Here was a strong American Legion, an active and progressive union presence, and the City was blessed with numbers of highly skilled artisans and mechanics. We had a thriving downtown commercial business center, a Chamber of Commerce with more than 600 members, and an active city market for farmers and food merchants.

The Masons were strong and well regarded. The four lodges and the three York Bodies, the Eastern Star, and other masonic groups used the fifth floor of the Bushnell Building, built in 1903, for their meetings and activities. The building later housed the Edward Wren Company.

In its first six months, Kissell Lodge, operating uder dispensation, with enthusiastic, capable and committed leadership raised 15 candidates to the Master Mason degree. All of them became equally dedicated to masonic activity which involved principally the education and energizing of new masons. Social life within the fraternity centered around the frequent dinners which made it possible to have degree work conferred during the late afternoons and also to give a degree in the evening. The brethren paid for their own meals which were prepared and served by the temple employees usually at the popular hour of 6:00 P.M.

Music was an important part of their evenings, particularly with the ritualistic work. Mark Snyder, an accomplished and professional musician who played the piano and organ well, provided his services to Kissell Lodge and frequently brought in small orchestras with highly competent musicians. The lodge also developed its own quartet of singers and also brought is soloists. Notice of lodge meetings were regularly published in the local newspaper. A uniformed and active craft assisted the officers in the degree work, and quickly developed with the officers a competency and enthusiasm which was to mark H. S. Kissell Lodge as an exemplary of excellent masonic work.

The Grand Master, John Flotrom, of Dayton visited the lodge a few days before the Grand Lodge convocation and expressed his distinct pleasure at the lodge's condition and performance. On October 19, 1921, the Grand Lodge of Ohio meeting in Cleveland approved the issuance of a charter for H. S. Kissell Lodge carrying the number, 674.

Back in Springfield, 80 happy brothers gathered for dinner and the consecration of the lodge and the presentation of the new charter. A past grand master, Charles J. Pretzman of Columbus presided and represented the Grand Master. On October 21st the lodge room was elaborately decorated to welcome the dignitaries, brothers and guests who were entertained by Mark Snyder's orchestra and the lodge's singing quartet.

P.G.M. Harry S. Kissell provided a bible to the lodge, which the lodge still possesses today. W.M. Hambright received a set of electric candle sticks in appreciation of his leadership. The new class of master masons affectionately presented a beautiful masonic emblem to the Senior Deacon, Attorney Homer C.Corry, for his instruction and guidance to the new members. Then followed the popular practice of enjoying good cigars and cigarettes to finish off the evening. Kissell Lodge was now a regular masonic lodge in good standing.

The Charter members of Kissell Lodge began 1922 with a burst of enthusiasm and indeed they did raise 26 candidates during those twelve months, a sizeable chore for a small lodge. They wanted to make of this new lodge a good example of correctness in conferring the three degrees which a "blue" lodge was empowered to confer. The three are called the Entered Apprentice, the Fellowcraft, and the Master Mason. The ritual to do these has been in place for several decades and was well designed to explain the lessons of the order and the meaning of the symbolism which pervades all of the degrees. There are in fact some thirty additional degrees in the masonic system which are conferred by other masonic bodies, principally known as being in the province of either the York Rite or the Scottish Rite branches.

To master the presentation of the ritual requires a rigid discipline of study and memorization and many hours of work. Of course as a student progresses in the process he is surprised to find that his mind becomes sharper and able to do things which a short time before he would have considered impossible. Both the candidates and the instructors learn to be more attentive in the art of listening, a skill that is often undervalued and under practiced in the modern world about us. Mastering these skills almost always lead to greater competency and success in the other areas of living and working. Some 80% of time in lodge will often be devoted to the work in the degrees.

Excellence is a theme that runs through all of masonry and measures the success of the lodge. The emphasis is on the quality of what transpires, and whatever lends itself to a performance of greater quality, formality, dignity, impressiveness, sensitivity, understanding, cordiality - all in good taste are sought and welcomed in the masonic environment.

For five years our lodge shared with the other masonic bodies the quarters on the fifth floor of the Bushnell Building (later Wrens) using the Fountain Avenue entrance. In 1924 we joined with the others in raising funds to lay the cornerstone for the present temple at 125 West High St. and in February, 1927 we moved into the beautiful building we now enjoy.

The lodge continued its steady growth and by 1927 had reached 186 members. The depression years of 1933-1935 caused hardship and unemployment to many and our members had to come to the assistance of brothers in distress. By 1940 the roster showed 199 in good standing. In spite of attrition caused by the manpower needs of the country, more men were attracted to the fraternity throughout the war years and reached a plateau of 340 in the early 1970's. A slow attrition set in and this trend is nation wide among most fraternal societies. Masons over almost three centuries have perceived these cycles and know that in time, with adverse times will come a renewed sense of need for each other which is the fundamental reason for fraternities to exist.

Long standing societies tend to develop many traditions. H.S.Kissell Lodge is no different; Craft club, family picnics, dances, Cincinnati Reds trips, fish frys, pancake breakfasts, bowling and hillbilly nights. Many of these activities continue today. Dinners were always a popular feature of masonic activities and marked spring or late winter inspections, November elections and installations. Most lodge meetings are brightened by the refreshments, usually at the end of the evening when the brothers can get to know each other better.

We are proud of our masonic brethren who continue to support the highest moral standards and promote a system of ethics because it is the right thing to do.