On Dec. 16, 1903, after word from O.J. Speery, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, in regard to the chartering of Peerless Lodge, a Lodge of Master Masons was duly organized in a lodge room located over the T.H. Brown Store, at 201 East Main St., in Crooksville. And, in accordance with its petition to form a lodge, Brother S.B. Eveland was constituted Worshipfull Master; Brother Guy Crooks, Senior Warden; and Brother E.J. Dozer, Junior Warden.
The lodge was named Peerless, meaning: without equal, unrivaled. The lodge was the 591st Masonic Lodge to be chartered in Ohio. Their first lodge dues were $2 per year. Currently, they are $50 per year.From 1903-20, Peerless Lodge struggled and built their early membership. Some early members included: E.U. Tatman, W.H. French, C.A. Deavers, S.B. Eveland, L.W. McFarland, J.E. Boring, Guy E. Crooks, S.H. Brown, Albert Aichele, C.W. Hammond, M.R. Cooper, William Burgeoon, David Bradshaw, J.J. Hull, E.J. Dozer and E.E. Brannon.
These members, from Doric Lodge 172 of Deavertown helped establish Peerless Lodge in Crooksville.
The growth of pottery manufacturing and the expansion of coal mining was part of our early history. These industries have declined, but the coal dust and pottery dust is still remembered. The old Interban to Zanesville is gone, but the coal tipples and the shop whistles still linger in our memories.
The first work of Peerless Lodge was started on Jan. 20, 1904. During the year the following men were initiated, and listed as charter members: H.O. Brown, J.E. Taylor, L.D. Stoneburner, T.N. Winters, E.L. Taylor, G.S. Driggs, Ed Vanatta, A.E. Smith, H.C. Bowers, S.L. Pitcock, G.W. Tritt, Z.W. Burley, H.S. Neff, W.H. Tritt, Thomas Opie, R.B. Ray, L.W. Spronger, B.W. Martin, J.W. Quillen, and H.T. Stotler. Many of these Sir Names are still recognizable today.
Brief History of The Lodge
On May 16,1923, the lodge voted to donate $100 dollars to the Soldiers and Sailors memorial, which was erected at Crooksville Cemetery; Brother Charles E. Denman, became a York Rite Cross of Honor member, the only known member of Peerless Lodge to gain this honor.
In 1970, Brother Reverend Lewis B. Mathews, was crowned a 33rd Degree Mason in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of North America. He was the first Brother from Peerless Lodge to receive this honor. Since then, the following have also been crowned a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason: Brother Theodore T. Coleman,(1984); Brother Edward Barringer,(1990); and, Brother Delmar E. Newlon, (199). During 1989, plans were put into motion to remodel the first floor of the Lodge into a dining hall. This was completed during 1993. In 2004, Peerless Lodge held its 100th year. Also in 2004, Peerless Lodge almost lost its charter, due to finances and lack of work to keep the Lodge open.
In 2005-06, Peerless struggles to get back on its feet. In 2005, Peerless Lodge started their monthly breakfasts on the first Saturday of every month, from 7 to 10 a.m. The members were not sure how well it would do, as they only profited $35 from their first breakfast. Their monthly breakfasts have since become a success with the public.
The Lodge comes back
On June 16, 2007, MWB Michael Himes and other Grand Lodge officers, were in Crooksville for a Cornerstone ceremony at the Village’s new Municipal building. This was WB Mike Wintgens project. Since 2007, Peerless Lodge has shown much progress. Some of their activities and projects include: Erecting a Football Memorial outside of the football field, at Village Park; coffee mug sales, initiated by Brother Earl Mason Saunders; Memory Wall, tile sales, at the Lodge; Football and Basketball Players of the Week; sponsor breakfasts for Crooksville High School sports teams; sponsors Boy Scouts and Baseball Teams; Peerless Lodge also provides a yearly Scholarship at Crooksville High School.
In 2008, Peerless Lodge started their Secret Santa Fund, by selling candy bars to raise funds. In 2008, they served eight families; in 2009 they served 22 families, and provided Christmas presents to over 50 children. In 2009, they added a Christmas concert at the Crooksville High School commons, to help fund their Secret Santa Fund. On Oct. 17, 2009, at the Bicentennial Communication of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, held in Toledo, WM Mike Wintgens accepted “The Reach for Excellence Award”, on behalf of the lodge. This award was presented by Grand Master Charles Murphy. There were only 25 of these awards presented; one for each masonic district in Ohio, and Peerless received the award for the 13th district. Chosen from among 17 Masonic Lodges.
In February 2011, at their regular stated meeting, Peerless Lodge votes to have a fireworks display for July 3 at Village Park. The fireworks were set off at Dr. Brad and Lisa Wilson’s property on Watt Hill. Peerless Lodge donates to Masonic Charities, which includes the Ohio Masonic Home. They also contribute to the Special Olympics. In 2012, Peerless Lodge donated over $12,000 to non-Masonic cCharities.
Peerless Lodge continues to enjoy membership growth, and has 14 candidates who plan to become Master Masons, during the Grand Master’s One Day Class, on Saturday, May 11, at the Valley of Cambridge, in Cambridge. Peerless Lodge looks forward to the future, and building its membership.
The lodge holds its regular monthly meetings on the first Wednesday of every month. Social time begins at 7 p.m., and meetings begin at 7:30 p.m.