time capsule


A Guide to the Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27, A.F. & A.M. Collection, 1847-1905.

SC# 4052

Compiled by:
Julia Merkel and Tracy Harter, December 2006

broadside title


Descriptive Summary

Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University           

Title: Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27, A.F. & A.M. Collection, 1847-1905.

Collection No.: SC# 4052

Creator: Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27 A.F. & A.M.

Extent:  Consists of thirteen folders within one flat box [17”x10½” x1¾”]


The collection consists of photocopies [and digital images] of materials removed from the cornerstone of Rockingham Union Lodge No.27 located at 114 South Main Street, Harrisonburg, on November 28th 2006. 

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions:



Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions:



The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk. (library-special@jmu.edu).

Preferred Citation:



Rockingham Union Lodge No.27 A.F. & A.M. Collection, 1847-1905, SC #4052, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.

Acquisition Information:

Gift of Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27 A.F. & A.M., December 2006.

Other Formats Available:



Oversized Items are available digitally.

Biographical/Historical Information

Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27 was charted on October 29, 1789.  Many original lodge members had had Masonic roots in England, Ireland, and Scotland prior to the establishment of a Grand Lodge in the New World.  In 1777, delegates from several lodges in Virginia met to discuss establishing a Grand Lodge in the United States.  As a result, the Grand Lodge of Virginia thus became the first Grand Lodge of Masonry in North America.

The first meeting place was reputedly at the residence of William Cravens, although there is some question as to whether Cravens ever actually owned a home in Harrisonburg.  Some time after Cravens’ death in 1793, there was talk of constructing a Masonic Temple.  In 1795 a building committee was appointed to take charge of this task.  A lot was purchased at the corner of Federal Alley and East Market Street and constructed soon thereafter.  The first meeting at the new Masonic Temple, also known as Mason’s Hall, was held on July 14, 1796.

By 1860, membership had grown enough to warrant a new temple.  In February of that year, an agreement was made to exchange lots with D.H. Gambill, who owned property across East Market Street known as the “Old Stone Church,” with the stipulation that the Lodge would occupy the upper floors of their original building for twelve months.  However, the Lodge had the opportunity to purchase a lot from Thomas Yancey a few days later at the corner of South Main and Water Street for $600.  The “Old Stone Church” property was advertised for sale, and sold in 1865 to J.R. Jones for $800.  On July 4, 1860, a ceremony documenting the laying of the new cornerstone was held, and several items were sealed within it.  On April 6, 1861, the new building was dedicated and available for use.

On Dec 5, 1892, with expansion in mind, the Lodge purchased the lot across the street, occupied by the Revere Hotel.  Membership continued to grow, so by 1903 plans were made to demolish the hotel and construct a new temple on the hotel site, the cost of which was $18,000.  The cornerstone from the old temple was opened and the contents removed.  On September 5, 1905, during a ceremony for the laying of the new cornerstone, more items were added to the original collection and sealed. On Dec. 27, 1906, the new temple at 114 South Main Street was ready to occupy.

On October 28, 2006, the cornerstone of Rockingham Union Lodge #27 was opened during renovations of the century-old building.  A public banquet was held on December 4, 2006, during which the cornerstone’s contents were displayed. Graciously, the Lodge gave permission to allow the contents to be photocopied [and scanned] for research use.  As of December 2006, the Lodge had not yet determined whether the original contents will be returned to the cornerstone after renovations are complete.

Scope and Content

The Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27 A.F. & A.M. Collection consists of photocopies of items removed from an 8”x10”x6”copper plated box in the cornerstone of the Masonic Temple at 114 S. Main Street in Harrisonburg, Virginia on November 28, 2006.  The collection is housed in thirteen folders within an oversized flat box and is arranged in four series:  Documents, Pamphlets and Small Publications, Ephemera, and Oversized Items.

Documents includes photocopies of handwritten or typed lists of items to have been included in the cornerstone in 1860 and 1905, as well as a program, speech, and lists of officers, Lodge members, and members of the Ladies Masonic Association.

Pamphlets and Small Publications contains photocopies of printed by-laws of Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27 and the Royal Arch Chapter No. 6, addresses, and programs pertaining to the Lodge’s centennial in 1889, the laying of the cornerstone of the Lodge in 1905 as well as for the cornerstone of the Rockingham County Court House in 1896.

Ephemera contains photocopies of items that Lodge members deemed interesting to include in the cornerstone:  coins and currency, blank membership forms, a calendar, and other items of interest.

Oversized Items [see digital images] primarily consists of several pieced photocopies of newspapers from 1860, 1905, and 1906, some of which are quite rare.  The issues of the Virginia Citizen, Valley Democrat, Spirit of the Valley, and Harrisonburg Free Press may be the only extant issues for those dates.  The September 6, 1905 editions of the Harrisonburg Daily News were found on top of the copper box in the cornerstone, as the box was sealed on September 5th. The series also includes pieced photocopies of a remarkable 20”x37” broadside advertising the laying of the 1860 cornerstone.

The cornerstone also contained seven publications that were retained by Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27 and not photocopied.  A list of those publications is at the end of the contents list.


The collection is arranged and described at the item level.  The Documents and Pamphlets and Small Publications series are arranged alphabetically in subfolders within their respective folders.  Ephemera are arranged alphabetically within one folder.  Oversized Items are arranged alphabetically within separate folders.


Bulluck, Steven C.  Revolutionary Brotherhood:  Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840.  Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

"Masonic Temple Formally Opened." Harrisonburg Daily News.1906 December 28.

Mellott, Jeff.  “Building on a Rock:  Masons Keep Temple, Tenets Firmly Grounded.” Daily News Record (Harrisonburg).  2006 November 29. pp. A1, A5.

“Rockingham Union Masonic Lodge Celebrates Anniversary, 1789-1989.”  Published as supplement to 1989 October 27 issue of Harrisonburg Daily News Record.   Carrier Library Special Collections.

Rutyna, Richard and Peter Stewart.  The History of Freemasonry in Virginia.  Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1998.

Wilton, J.  Historical Sketch of Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27, A.F. & A.M., Harrisonburg, Virginia.  October 1889.

Contents List

Documents                                                                                                                  Folder 1

“List of Articles deposited in this Corner Stone of Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27…”

          7/4/1860  [Including typed transcript]

“List of Articles Deposited in the Corner Stone of Masonic Temple” 9/5/1905

“List of names of Ladies who composed the Ladies Masonic Association…”7/4/1860

“List of Officers and members of Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27.” [n.d.]

“Masonic Oration, at the Laying of the Corner Stone of the Masonic Temple.” 7/4/1860

“Officers and Members of Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27…” 9/5/1905

 “Programme for September 5, 1905 at laying of Corner Stone to Masonic Temple”

Pamphlets and Small Publications                                                                             Folder 2

Address of Judge John Paul, delivered at the Laying of the Corner Stone of the Rockingham

         County Court House... 10/15/1896

By-Laws for the Government of the Rockingham Union Lodge, No. 27… (Harrisonburg:

          J.H. Wartmann & Bros., 1847)

By-Laws of Rockingham Union Lodge, No. 27... (Harrisonburg: Register Steam Job Print, 1889)

By-Laws of Rockingham Royal Arch Chapter, No. 6. 1879

By-Laws of Rockingham Royal Arch Chapter, No. 6 [n.d.]

Ceremonies and Program for Laying the Corner Stone of Temple of Rockingham Union


Historical Sketch of Rockingham Union Lodge, No. 27…10/29/1889

The History and Principles of Free Masonry.  An Address Delivered before Valley Royal

          Arch School…7/9/1905

Prize List. Rockingham Horse and Colt Show Association. August 15-17, 1905

Programme of the Laying of the Corner Stone of the Rockingham County Court House…

          by Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27, A.F. & A.M. 10/15/1896

Record of the Valley Royal Arch School of Instruction.  7/13/1904

Ephemera                                                                                                                  Folder 3

Calendar, “Harrisonburg 1905”           

Coins and Currency [photocopied; coins enlarged; details listed below]

          Coins:       1853 one dollar gold coin

                             1857 silver half-dime

                             1858 silver half-dollar

                             1858 flying eagle one cent piece

                             1858 silver three cent piece

                             1859 silver quarter dollar 

                             1860 silver dime 

                             1861 gold-plated one cent piece

                             1899 copper one cent piece

                             1900 French copper 10 centime piece, on fob of Thomas L. Williamson

                             1902 five cent piece

                              Undated three cent piece

          Confederate Currency:  $100, $50, $20, $5 (1863), 5$ (1864), $10

First National Bank of Harrisonburg Condensed Report to the Comptroller, 8/25/1905

Membership forms [blank, listed below]:

          Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27, A.F. and A.M. [ca. 1905]

          Rockingham Royal Arch Chapter, No. 6 R.A.M. [ca. 1890]

Newspaper clipping used to wrap coins [n.d.]

Newspaper clipping re laying of cornerstone, ca. 1905

Tickets [listed below]:

          Ladies’ Masonic Dinner Ticket [n.d.]

          The Kavanaugh, 9/5/1905

Rockingham Royal Arch Chapter No. 6, Public Installation of Officers Elect, 7/25/1904

Oversized Items [see digital images]

Broadside:  Grand Masonic, Military, and Civic Celebration! ... 7/4/1860                Folder 4

Harrisonburg Daily News:                 

        8/28/1905                                                                                                 Folder 5

        9/5/1905                                                                                                   Folder 6

        9/6/1905                                                                                                   Folder 7

Harrisonburg Free Press, 8/31/1905                                                                    Folder 8

Rockingham Register, 9/5/1905                                                                          Folder 9

Rockingham Register and Advertiser, 6/29/1860                                                  Folder 10

Spirit of the Valley, 9/1/1905                                                                              Folder 11

Valley Democrat, 6/29/1860                                                                               Folder 12

Virginia Citizen, 6/29/1860                                                                                 Folder 13

List of Publications [not included in photocopied collection]

The Daily Scripture Expositor... (New York: American Tract Society, 1840)

The Holy Bible... (New York: American Bible Society, 1858)

Proceedings of the 127th Grand Annual Communication of the Most Worshipful

          Grand Lodge of Virginia... (Richmond: Wm. Ellis Jones, 1905)

 Proceedings of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Virgnia.  (Petersburg:

           Frank A. Owen, 1904)

Proceedings of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Virginia. (Petersburg:

           Frank A. Owen, 1904)

Proceedings of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Virginia... (Richmond:  James E.

           Goode, 1859)

 Proceedings of an Occasional Grand Lodge of Va.... (Richmond: Chas. H. Wynne, 1859)