Every candidate is a stranger to Freemasonry and Freemasonry is a stranger to him. It is not merely a Lodge that he joins, but a great Fraternity - with over 45,900 members and more than 291 Lodges in his own state, with 1.3 million members and more than 11,000 Lodges in this country, with other thousands of Lodges and tens of thousands of members throughout the world, with a history stretching back over many centuries, an intricate system of laws, a large number of purposes, ideals and Obligations, a set of rights, privileges, and duties, a set of Landmarks to be preserved, the whole carrying on of a program of activities of a great variety of kinds.
HISTORY OF TARPON LODGE No. 112
In the spring of 1889, when Tarpon Springs was just a settlement, a small but enthusiastic group of Master Masons petitioned The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, F. & A. M. of Florida for a dispensation to start a Lodge. The authorization was dated April 8, 1889 as Tarpon Lodge, U. D. (under dispensation). And was signed by Henry W. Long, Most Worshipful Grand Master, and De Witt C. Dawkins, Right Worshipful Grand Secretary.
The founding fathers (petitioners) were: James C. Craver, C. R. C. Smith, H. D. Webster, George A. Vannever, Judah Harlow, Wilbur F. DeGolier, Clarence B. Thornton, W. A. Cobb, Albert Sweetser, Joseph Patten, and Walton Whitehurst.
The first meeting under dispensation was held April 11, 1889 in Webster Hall (about 141 East Tarpon Ave.) with George A. Vannever as Worshipful Master, James C. Craver Senior Warden. Wilbur F. DeGolier as Junior Warden and Albert A. Sweetser as Secretary. It was decided that Stated Communications be held on the Saturdays on or before the full moon. It is said this was done to enable members to travel on foot, horseback and in horsedrawn vehicles to and from meetings by the light of the full moon, there being no street lights at that time.
The Lodge worked diligently under dispensation and at the next (sixtieth) Annual Grand Communication of The Grand Lodge, a petition was presented, by the following brothers, praying that a charter be granted: James C. Craver, H. D. L. Webster, Judah Harlow, C. B. Thornton, Albert A. Sweetser, Walton Whitehurst, John M. Craver, C. R. C. Smith, J. B. Bartholemew, George A. Vannever, Wilbur F. DeGolier, W. A. Cobb, Joseph Patten, James M. Vinson, Ernest L. DeLong, John R. Sawyer, J. S. Little.
The petition was acted upon favorably and a charter was granted on January 21, 1890, designating us as Tarpon Lodge No. 112, Free and Accepted Masons with George A. Vannever, Worshipful Master; James C. Craver, Senior Warden, and Wilbur F. DeGolier, Junior Warden. Thus the earnest endeavors of the brethren in those early days was fulfilled.
The first Stated Communication was held in Webster Hall on February 1, 1890 and a Special Communication on February 11th for the installation of officers by Brother B. McMullen, Acting District Deputy Grand Master. The following is a complete list of the first officers of this legally constituted Lodge:
George A. Vannever, Worshipful Master
James C. Craver, Senior Warden
Wilbur F. DeGolier, Junior Warden
Judah Harlow, Treasurer
Albert A. Sweetser, Secretary
Ernest L. DeLong, Senior Deacon
John M. Craver, Junior Deacon
W. A. Cobb,Tyler