The Masonic Service Center at Jephtha Lodge

By W:. Ronald J. Seifried, DSA

The month of November has one day set aside to honor all the military veterans who have served the United States Armed Forces. November 11th was chosen for Veterans Day to mark the end of World War I, which was on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Originally named Armistice Day, major U.S. veteran organizations petitioned to rename it Veterans Day in 1954.

Recreation Room at the Bethpage Lodge No. 975 Masonic Service Center in Farmingdale.

It’s no secret Freemasons support those who serve in the military. Many Masons were veterans themselves, and the fraternity had its strongest membership growth in the postwar years, including the Civil War, World War I, World War II and the Korean War. The Masonic Service Association dates to the First World War, when Masons and the federal government were looking to combine their efforts in the support for American troops. The Masonic Service Association was created to be a conduit between the government and the 49 U.S. Grand Lodges operating at the time. The Association expanded into four separate sub-groups: Education, Disaster Relief, Media Relations, and VA Hospital Visitation.

A bearded, bespectacled older gentleman looked across the long procession of brave men, gazing admirably at how local towns were able to organize fire departments across the rural, pre-suburbia

Masonic community activities during World War II included the creation of a national network of U.S.O.- like service clubs by state grand lodges and the Masonic Service Association. During World War II, 90 Masonic Service Centers were formed to service the military throughout the U.S. In the State of New York, eleven Masonic Service Centers were active during the war, each supplying a place that provided meals, recreation, transportation, letter-writing material, and free long-distance phone calls for the servicemen.

The program was developed by Masonic Service Center director Carl H. Claudy and Missouri Past Grand Master, Senator Harry S. Truman.

Brother Truman was raised a Master Mason in 1909 in Belton Lodge, Missouri. He was a charter member of Grandview Lodge and served as its first Worshipful Master. In 1940, during his Senate reelection campaign, Truman was elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Missouri. Truman later stated that his election as Grand Master assured his victory in the general election, one further step
closer toward the Presidency. Active in several concordant bodies, including 33° Sovereign Grand Inspector General and an Honorary Member of the Supreme Council at the Supreme Council A.A.S.R. Southern Jurisdiction; member of the Shriners and the Royal Order of Jesters.

Raised as a Master Mason in 1908 in Lodge Harmony No. 17 in Washington D.C., Claudy later served as its Master in 1932 and was elected Grand Master of the District of Columbia in 1943. A prolific author on aviation and photography, Claudy authored over 350 Masonic Talk Bulletins, over a dozen Masonic books
and was the associate editor of the Masonic Service Association magazine, The Master Mason for several years.

But it was the future President who became the national spokesperson of Freemasonry’s support of the war effort, quietly sending out the Masonic signal of distress to all brothers in the nations time of need.

In one radio address early in the war, Brother Truman stated “In the last war, we had 49 Grand Lodges trying to do the work of one. In unity there is strength. This time when our boys come marching home victorious, none will look askance and say where was Freemasonry in this hour of need? Approximately 10% of the boys in the service are Freemasons. Another 15% are close kin of Freemasons. Through the Association, Freemasonry is meeting the challenge of their great need. At this very moment in foxholes and on shipboard, beneath the sea and in the air, countless hands are being clasped in fraternal recognition as brothers find one another in the darkness as well as in the daylight. And countless fathers bravely wishing Godspeed to their departing sons are saying ‘Boy, when your hour of darkness and loneliness come, find a Freemason, and tell him you are the son of a Freemason, and you will find a friend.’ “

“And through our great Association the flower of Freemasonry is being made to bloom in the rocky soil of war’s desolation. And the fruits of Freemasonry are being shared by every boy and girl who wears the uniform. There’s nothing for sale in Masonic service centers. Neither mineral nor metal is the price of Freemasonry service to our boys, and yet our centers are supported without fanfare or public appeal because in our heart glows the great light of charity; unostentatious, but sincere. Each of us giving generously because we have seen the light and heard the cry of the widow’s son.”

The Masonic Service Centers were open to all service members, no matter if they were Freemasons or related to a brother. The Centers were not used as a recruitment center for prospective members, but a place where recreation and community events would help the soldiers keep their minds off the war and enjoy some fellowship. The volunteer hosts and hostesses at the Service Centers would also write thousands of letters to Masonic brothers overseas, offering words of encouragement and support.

Only two Masonic Service Centers were on Long Island for military servicemen: Bethpage No. 975 in Farmingdale and Jephtha No. 494 in Huntington. The Bethpage lodge was co-sponsored with the Bethpage O.E.S. No. 651, and for the duration of the war, thousands of servicemen were entertained with coffee, cake, books, and games by the Farmingdale Service Organization (F.S.O.). All the items were donated to the Service Center and the Bethpage
brothers received letters of gratitude from the deployed servicemen for many years.

The second Service Center on Long Island was only eleven miles away in Huntington Village, where Jephtha No. 494 entertained 6,447 servicemen.

W:. Dana Tuthill

First proposed by Junior Past Master W:. Dana J. Tuthill at the October 27, 1942, Stated Communication, he spoke “of the boys in the Armed Service and their recreation while on a pass on furlough while in Huntington.” Tuthill proposed the second-floor recreation room could be used for the local servicemen. A motion was made and seconded the room was to be used by the men in the armed services, the Temple be properly posted, and to have hostesses and members of the lodge to supervise. On Saturday, November 7, 1942, the Jephtha Lodge Recreation Room was first open to the servicemen, with hours set for reading between 9AM-11AM and recreation from 2PM-11PM.

Within two weeks, the local Service Center was becoming very popular, with up to 200 servicemen spending time at the lodge on a weekly basis. The Trustees realized the 37-year-old lodge building needed some touching up and got to work cleaning the walls, painting the tiled ceiling, installing wainscotting (still in the recreation room today), removing old pictures and even donating a stuffed deer head to the local Elks Lodge. The Trustees spent $500, which is the equivalent of $8,400 in 2021, a tidy sum for a rural, all-volunteer organization dependent on donations.

By February 1943, two new Army-Navy Schools were setup near Huntington, and the local servicemen needed places to go during their downtime. More volunteers were needed to maintain the now, very active lodge building. By the spring of 1943, the local hostesses approached the Trustees for permission to have a “tea dance” on Sunday afternoons. The Service Center hostesses offered to pay fifty cents each to raise funds for one dance with each serviceman. The Jephtha brothers were opposed to the plan as presented and offered to cover all financial obligations for any dance for the servicemen.

Tuthill reported over 300 sailors and soldiers visited the building during June 1943, leading to the need of a portable lunch counter, which was followed by a donation of an ice box by Brother Raymond Brush.

Final page of the Jephtha Lodge Masonic Service Center register,
October 3, 1945

Preserved in the Jephtha archives is a visitors’ register, signed by thousands of servicemen between September 1943 and October 1945. Each signature carries a story of the brave sailors and soldiers who defended our great nation
during World War II. The servicemen were not just local Long Islanders, but others who travelled a great distance to be entertained at Jephtha Lodge during some well-deserved R&R. Cities of Phoenix, San Francisco and Cleveland were
represented, as well as the small towns of Metcalf, Illinois and Ellensburg, Washington.

The fraternal bonds between these once strangers became much stronger during their time in the service, which is briefly captured in the final entry of the register from the “Northport U.S.O. Commandos,” survivors of the campaigns in Africa and Sicily.

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Applause for out outgoing GLSO Matthew Dinizio


We’d be remiss if we did not acknowledge The R:.W:. Matt Dinizio, GLSO for the Suffolk Masonic District for his leadership and innovation in Masonic Educations for the District.

He was very forward thinking and his classes, like the Masters Chair, Road to the East and Masonic Development course were well attended and very well received.

Making the courses more digital so that the members could reference the material from a computer instead of carrying around a large 3 ring binder, was a long to coming and R:.W:. Dinizio got the District there in no time flat.


For all his accomplishments he is also deserving of a great deal of thanks and applause for his work in the district.

P.S. you can’t image how hard it is to get a good picture of this Brother. He is either hidden in the back or not in pictures he should be in…

The Suffolk District Team 2021-2023

As all things go the last 20 or so months past, times were different. Grand Lodge elections and installations took place this past weekend in Utica, Masonic Care Campus.

The M:.W:. Richard J. Kessler was installed as the Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York and

R:.W:. Steven A. Rubin elected and installed as the Deputy Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York.

First it’s with much appreciation and pride that we say thank you to M:.W:. William Sardone, Past Grand Master of Masons. All other Grand Lodge officers, elected and appointed who stayed at their post through most difficult times.


The Suffolk Masonic District Team for the ensuing 2 years.

R:.W:. Jeffery G. Santorello, District Deputy Grand Master of the Suffolk District, representing the M:.W:. Richard J. Kessler, Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York.


The R:.W:. Robert J. Licata, Grand Sward Bearer, of the State of New York, Grand Lodge Staff officer for the Suffolk Masonic District.

V:.W:. William De Benedetto, Assistant Grand Lecturer, Suffolk Masonic District

V:.W:. Bruce A. T. Siska, Assistant Grand Lecturer, Suffolk Masonic District

V:.W:. Gilbert C. Kruse, Assistant Grand Lecturer, Suffolk Masonic District

The next two years have a very bright outlook indeed. All of the above officers are “worthy and well qualified” and above all have a deep love of the Craft and their Brothers.

Please wish them all the best in their coming endeavors and give them all the support that the Suffolk District always has.

A big thank you to the immediate Past DDGM R:.W:. Kevin G. McCauley

Brothers it’s been an interesting and troubling last 2 years to say the least. Accepting the position of DDGM is no light decision and I am certain that had R:.W:. Kevin McCauley known what was to come during his tenure, he would have still taken the position without hesitation.

As we all know the District and Grand Lodge asked all current Grand Lodge and District Officers to remain at their posts until a Grand Lodge session could be convened safely to allow the election, appointment and investiture of all the officers be completed safely and properly.

All the Officers of the Suffolk Masonic District said yes to stay without any hesitation. R:.W:. McCauley lead the Suffolk District through unprecedented times, at least in our lifetimes. I am also equally sure he will be both glad and sad when he is finally succeeded by (at the time of this post release) R:.W:. Jeff Santorello, the incoming DDGM for the Suffolk Masonic District.

I would think we as a District owe R:.W:. McCauley a big round of applause and our deepest appreciation for his leadership and perseverance throughout the last 3 years. So please join in sending R:.W:. Kevin McCauley our thanks and appreciation on a job well done and for his fortitude during these times.

We all wish R:.W:. McCauley the best in all future endeavors and in life. Please leave your congrats and well wishes in the comments below.


The Descendant Lodges Of Jephtha No. 494

By W:. Ronald J. Seifried, DSA

Despite Long Island Freemasonry tracing its roots to Huntington Lodge No. 26 A. & Y.M. (1796-1818), there are no direct connections to it with Jephtha No. 494 F. & A.M. The challenges of traveling to a lodge in the late 18th and early 19th centuries through local, rural terrain prevented many of the 30 known brothers from attending lodge meetings. By 1806 all meetings ceased at Long Island’s first Masonic lodge, Huntington Lodge No. 26, and its charter was finally surrendered to the Grand Lodge of New York in 1818.

Forty-one years after Huntington Lodge No. 26 disbanded, seven charter members of Jephtha Lodge started laying the foundation for a new Huntington lodge in late 1859. Most were members of lodges meeting in New York City, including Joppa Lodge No. 201, Charter Oak Lodge No. 249 and Lexington Lodge No. 310. Only Charles Albert Floyd, Jephtha’s first Secretary, was from a Long Island lodge, Suffolk No. 401 in Port Jefferson. He was the son of John Floyd, a member from Huntington’s original Lodge No. 26 and a charter member of Suffolk Lodge No. 60 (1796).

In the mid-19th century, the geographical area comprising the present Nassau County was under the jurisdiction of Morton Lodge No. 63 in Hempstead, and the area of what is now western Suffolk County was under the jurisdiction of Jephtha No. 494 in Huntington. Because of these jurisdictional restrictions, any proposed, new Masonic lodge seeking dispensation had to petition the closest lodge for permission to form in a nearby town or to accept applications for membership.

Travel to and from a lodge was accomplished either by foot or using horses. In the History of Long Island by Peter Ross (1902), travel was depicted as follows: “Two members who lived on the north side of the Island, perhaps twenty miles from Hempstead, reached the Lodge by what is called the ride and tie method. That is, they both started together early in the morning, one riding the single horse on the farm, and the other walking. The rider proceeded to a place agreed upon where he tied the horse and took up his journey on foot. When the first walker reached the horse, he mounted and after passing his walking companion tied the horse again at another place of agreement. So, the journey was made to the Lodge, and the return on the following day was a repetition of the same.”

It would not be until the 1860’s, when Freemasonry was regaining popularity among men, that lodges started popping up on Long Island. The decades of the prolonged anti-Masonic period a few years earlier took its toll on the fraternity, with all lodges on Long Island shutting down for more than twenty years. In 1865, the American Civil War was ending and many returning veterans desired continuing fellowship in their hometowns. Freemasonry was the perfect organization for this post-war era.

In the following decades, brothers from Jephtha Lodge in Huntington set out to form three lodges in distant townships, becoming charter members of lodges that still meet today.

Glen Cove No. 580

The former home of Glen Cove No. 580 founder Edgar E. Duryea. The lodge purchased the home in 1909 and met here 1913-1973

At the January 9, 1865, Stated Communication, Jephtha brothers Edgar E. Duryea, Stephen B. Craft and James E. Benham and several other brothers from different lodges, formally requested a dispensation to form a lodge in Glen Cove. A series of jurisdictional objections from Morton Lodge No. 63 in Hempstead delayed Glen Cove No. 580 from obtaining its charter until March 1866.

Duryea was the founder of the successful Glen Cove Starch Factory where many of the Glen Cove charter members were employed, and he was a member of the famous Civil War Duryea Zouaves. After Edgar Duryea’s death in 1900, the Glen Cove Lodge continued to meet at his home.

Alcyone Lodge No. 695

In 1867, there were approximately twenty master masons residing in the villages of Northport and Commack, most of whom hailed from Jephtha No. 494 in Huntington. Desirous of forming a lodge in Northport, the brothers organized a masonic club and began the preliminary work of organizing a lodge. The brothers wrote the bylaws, set a $25 initiation fee and $3 annual dues.  Officers for the proposed lodge were selected and several rehearsal meetings were held for the brothers to perfect the ritual and assure proficiency in the standard of the work, requirements for new masonic lodges.

Jesse Carll, charter member of Jephtha No. 494 and Alcyone No. 695.

When the brothers were confident that all the necessary requirements were in place, they proceeded to the next stage of creating a lodge. Brother William H. Sammis, past Junior and Senior Warden of Jephtha, was able to persuade the Huntington lodge to grant its consent on September 28, 1868. Originally called Northport Lodge, the petition sent to the Grand Lodge included 21 master masons, 17 of whom were members of Jephtha, including Jephtha’s charter member, Jesse Carll.

Later renamed Alcyone Lodge No. 695, the new Northport masons first met under dispensation on March 5, 1869, on the north side of Main Street in a building later occupied by the Long Island Express Company.  Brother William H. Sammis, having sat in both Warden chairs at Jephtha, was qualified and appointed the first Master of Alcyone. The charter for Alcyone was granted on June 23, 1869.

On October 22, 1869, a delegation of brethren from Jephtha entered the new lodge under the leadership of W:. William H. King, Past Master, and presented Alcyone with a set of officer’s jewels as a token of affection and good wishes for the future. These jewels are still in use today by the officers of Alcyone Lodge.

Matinecock No. 806

In 1888, several master masons from Jephtha No. 494 and Glen Cove No. 580 residing in Oyster Bay, met to possibly secure a jurisdictional dispensation to form a lodge in Oyster Bay. Jephtha Lodge approved the new lodge without a dissenting vote, but Glen Cove Lodge gave the Oyster Bay brothers a  difficult time. Glen Cove inserted a conditional clause in their dispensation that “the petitioners show their proficiency in the three degrees” that was required to be presented all in one day in Glen Cove.  On July 24, 1889 the proficiency was examined and approved, but a series of further delays caused by Glen Cove Lodge, prevented Matinecock Lodge No. 806 from receiving its charter until 1892.

The Matinecock lodge room in the Fleet Building, 1892. The second meeting space for the Oyster Bay lodge, one of the columns created by three charter members including Bro. Sidney B. Walters can be seen on the left.

Nineteen of the forty-two charter members of Matinecock were from Jephtha, including Matinecock’s first Treasurer, Seth Surdam, and Brother Amos M. Knapp, a druggist at Snouder’s Corner Drug Store and confidential messenger for Governor, and later President, Theodore Roosevelt when he resided in Oyster Bay. Snouder’s had the only telephone in Oyster Bay Village, and Brother Knapp was designated to be the trusted individual called to the phone whenever a message came in for Roosevelt which he brought to Roosevelt at Sagamore Hill.

The lodge room was originally very sparse at the first meetings in Oyster Bay. The Altar Bible, the same used for the Masonic degrees of Brother Theodore Roosevelt, was donated by W:. J.K. Oakley and Jephtha Brother William Jones Youngs.; The new columns were made, decorated, and presented to Matinecock Lodge by Brothers Sidney B. Walters of Jephtha, Abraham Fain of Glen Cove No. 580 and William H. Hubbs of Alcyone No. 695.

Fellowship did not end with the formation of these three, new lodges. Jephtha has continued to participate in numerous degrees, District Deputy meetings, fundraisers, picnics, anniversary celebrations and funerals with its Masonic heirs for the last 150 years, an lasting unwavering relationship that continues to this very day. Jephtha is proud to be part of the rich history of Freemasonry on Long Island and its part in helping spread Masonic fraternity to other towns.

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Welcome back to the Suffolk District Website

Well the Suffolk District Website took a short hiatus to recover and recoup after 8 long years in service to the District. Now it’s back and new and improved. Of course all things are never 100% from the start so if you find and error or need a correction, please just send a note to the webmaster and we’ll take care of it ASAP.

We hope you find the website easy to use and navigate and we have simplified it. There are some elements from the old site rolled in for recognition. You may still register for the site and add yourself to the mailing list (also new and improved).

Registration is open to members in good standing of any Lodge (verifiable through MORI or other app).