Title: Grand Tyler of the Grand (Masonic) Lodge of Pennsylvania
Birthdate: March 28, 1817
Death Date: December 19, 1867
Plot Location: Circle of St. John
Well known among the Masonic lodges of Pennsylvania, William Bockius Schnider was born into a family with a long history of involvement in the most popular of the “secret fraternities.”
According to Dr. Glenys Waldman, librarian at the Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania, the first Masonic record of William was in 1838 at the age of 21. He became an apprentice bricklayer in March of that year. He quickly rose in rank, obtaining the Fellow Craft degree and then Master Mason that same year.
The local fraternal organization is called a lodge, and at the state level there is a Grand Lodge, with officers being elected every year. William won the office of Senior Warden in his local lodge in 1840. Then he rose to the highest office, Worshipful Master, in 1841.
By this time he was married and would eventually have nine children.
He was also a member of Jerusalem Holy Royal Arch Chapter No. 3, of which he became High Priest in 1843. He gained membership in Knights Templar, St. John’s Commandery No. 4 in 1848, and the Scottish Rite in 1857.
His family had a long history with the Masons at the state level. His grandfather was the first Grand Tyler of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. After 21 years, his father Charles was elected to the same post, and reelected 17 more times until his death in 1844. William was then elected each year for 23 years.
He died in 1867 of a heart disease called pericarditis. His oldest son, Charles, was appointed Grand Tyler and remained for six years until his death in 1873. That means the Schnider family held the title for 68 years.
William’s body was originally buried in Monument Cemetery but it was relocated here two years later. Many individual lodges in Pennsylvania helped raise $6500 to commission this monument It stands 35 feet tall, including the Masonic symbol, the square and compass, at the top. The Corinthian column and triangular base are made of Italian marble.
The dedication ceremony was held on June 24, 1871, St. John’s Day. Masons celebrate the feast of John the Baptist that day, which some traditions hold to be his date of birth.
The Masonic emblems are on one side of the triangular base, the altar and Bible on another side. On the third side is a bust of William Schnider, which has been slightly damaged. An inscription for his son, Charles, was added after he died and was buried there in 1873.
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