1894 - 1969
Before we begin with the history of Silentia Lodge No. 168, Free and Accepted Masons, it might be fitting to set the scene, so to speak, as to the historical background of the area surrounding Butler and the neighboring communities in which our early Masonic Brothers resided.
In the 1890’s, the principal means of mass transportation was the railroads, which made possible a link with distant cities, and on which many of our forefathers depended for their livelihood and well being.
The local mode of travel was by horseback, buggy, or stage along dirt roads which, oftentimes, were mere trails amid the surrounding hills leading from town to town, with several main thoroughfares such as the Newark-Pompton and Paterson-Hamburg Turnpikes winding thru the valleys connection the hamlets to the larger towns, the elements many times making them impassable.
The electric light, then known as the incandescent lamp, invented by Thomas A. Edison in 1879 was still in its infancy. The gasoline automobile patented by Charles E. Duryea in 1895 was thought by many to be nothing more than folly. The first successful airplane flight in 1903 was yet but a dream in the minds of Wilbur and Orville Wright.
In this era, a group of Masons gathered together in a quiet parlor and amid the smell of kerosene lamps and wood smoke, planted the seed that thru the ensuing years would germinate and affect the hearts of hundreds of men by improving their lives thru fraternal brotherhood, a respect for their flag and country, and an unfaltering faith in the love of God.
Without a doubt, there were many Free masons residing in Bloomingdale, Newfoundland, Riverdale, Pompton, Midvale and other villages surrounding Butler and belonging to various jurisdictions and lodges such as Arcana No. 60 in Boonton, Harmony No. 23 in Newton, Samaritan No. 98 in Deckertown, Caldwell No. 59 in Caldwell, Ivanhoe No. 88 and Paterson-Orange No. 43 in Paterson, and others which required traveling several miles which was as our early history states, a time consuming task.