Fraternal Societies in Willshire, 1904

For the past several weeks I have been posting personal items, items of interest, and various advertisements from the 5 May 1904 edition of the Willshire Herald. Those items give us a glimpse of the past—what Willshire was like just after the turn of the century. I am nearing the end of information I can gather from that newspaper but there are still a few items that I have not covered.

Willshire had several fraternal societies in 1904, and evidence of one of them is still visible to this day.

Below is an 1886 map of Willshire. Although it was printed 18 years before this 1904 newspaper, it is a nice map showing the streets and a few of the businesses and churches. It gives you an idea of where some of these meetings were being held.

1886 Map of Willshire, Ohio.

Today, notices of some Willshire church and society meetings in 1904.

The Willshire Herald, 5 May 1904.

The ME Church was on the corner of Simpson and Hogan.

ME Church
Regular Services every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Sunday School at 9:30 a.m.
Prayer Meeting Thursday evening. Everyone invited.
Rev. J.B. Gottschall, Pastor

Willshire Lodge, F. & A.M.
Regular meetings first and third Wednesday of each month. Hall in the Cornell Block on Wolcott Street.
Visitors cordially welcomed.
James Chilcote, W.M.
D.O. Thorp, Sec.

This society was the “Free and Accepted Masons.” Secretary D.O. Thorp was a painter and wallpaper hanger and his ad was mentioned in the paper before.

Bethlehem Chapter, O.E.S.
Regular Meetings second & fourth Wednesday of each month at Masonic hall. Visitors cordially invited.
Mrs. Lulu Thomas, W.M.
Mrs. Idora Chilcote, Secy.

“Order of the Eastern Star,” is a Freemason organization and the largest fraternal lodge to which men and women can both belong, according to Wikipedia. Idora Chilcote and James Chilcote [W.M.–Worshipful Master of the Masons, shown above] may be related since both are in branches of the Masons.

Willshire Lodge, I.O.O.F.
Regular meetings every Friday evening in hall over Clothing store. Visiting Brothers cordially invited.
August Brown, N.G.
O.T. Salleys, Recording Secretary

 “Independent Order of Odd Fellows,” a non-political and non-sectarian fraternal society, according to Wikipedia. It evolved from the Order of Odd Fellows, which was founded in England in the 1700s. Their motto is Friendship, Love, and Truth and the first letters of this motto (FLT) are often inscribed in a three-link chain on a deceased member’s tombstone. Sometimes they use only the three chain links, without the letters, on a tombstone to indicate their membership.

Chas. A. Knott Lodge No. 542, K. of P.
Meets every Tuesday evening. All Pythian Knights cordially invited to visit us.
John Wechter, C.C.
Wm. G. Hoffer, K. of R. and S.

The Order of “Knights of Pythias,” a secret fraternal benefit society. The symbol of this society is still visible on the west face of the building, above Willshire Home Furnishings. It is a triangle with “1907, FCB.” The FCB stands for their motto–Friendship, Charity, Benevolence. [Note that Wm. G. Hoffer was also the publisher of the Willshire Herald.] The Pythian Sister’s is K. of P. female auxiliary.

Knights of Pythias emblem, Willshire, Ohio.

Knights of Pythias emblem above Willshire Home Furnishings.

Willshire Central Star Lodge, C.M.A.-O.T.N.
Meet every Thursday evening, in W.R.C. hall. All visiting members invited.
F.C. Myers, Pres.
C.E. Wechter, Sec’y

I am not sure what these letters stand for or what this society was, although I see that John Wechter was C.C. [could be Castle Chancellor?] of the Knights of Pythias and C.E. Wechter was Secretary in the C.M.A.-O.T.N. There could be a connection between the two Wechters and the latter society could have been a branch of the Pythian Sisters. Not sure, just speculation. Local Pythian Sister units are called Temples and there is a “T” in the letters.

This, on this same page of the newspaper:

Hon. C.B. Hoke, the Happy Hooligan of Van Wert county Pythians, has a large sized boom for election as Grand Outer Guard at the Grand Lodge meeting in Cleveland next month. Hoke is not only one of the most enthusiastic of Pythians, but he is also one of the most deserving. The Grand Lodge will bring honor on itself by elevating Mr. Hoke to the position for which the Fifth district Knights in convention assembled nominated him by unanimous consent. 

These societies were very popular at that time and their symbols and insignia were often placed on the tombstones of their deceased members. There were many such lodges and societies in the area and I have seen many of their symbols in Woodlawn Cemetery in Ohio City and in Woodland Union Cemetery in Van Wert. It is interesting to note how many different societies there were in an area by their tombstone insignia.  

Example of I.O.O.F. (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) insignia, Woodlawn Cemetery, Ohio City.



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    • Janet Goodwin James on April 11, 2019 at 9:42 pm
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    I have a wonderful picture of willshire society ladies in their formals at one of their Pythian meetings. Will look for it. They walked down the street altogether up the stairs between Louie Arnold’s john deer dealership and Cleo Painter’s grocery.

    1. That sounds like a wonderful photo! I would love to see it if you find it. Thanks for writing!

    • Lois Mohr Schmucker on February 7, 2020 at 5:09 pm
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    I have my Dad’s ( Doyl Mohr, of Scott Ohio) commandery sword. He was a member of the Van Wert Masons, Knights Templar commandary, etc. His sword is engraved with the name James W. Chilcote. I noticed that in your paper article that there was a James Chilcote, who was the head of the Masons In 1908.. Did the Willshire Masonic group join with the Van Wert group?

    1. I do not know, but it sounds like there was some connection between the groups. What a nice family heirloom you have. Thanks for writing!

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