Freemasonry in Maine 1762 - 1945

Author:  Ralph J. Pollard

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CHAPTER IV. Organization of the Grand Lodge of Maine.

(1820)

When the former Massachusetts District of Maine was admitted to the Union as a sovereign State, it became inevitable that a new Grand Lodge be formed, under the acknowledged principles of Masonic law.

The initiative in this matter was taken by Portland Lodge, which addressed a circular letter to the several Lodges in Maine, calling a convention to meet in Portland on October 14, 1819.

On that date, delegates from all the Lodges except Eastern Lodge at Eastport assembled in Masons' Hall, and organized by electing Right Worshipful Simon Greenleaf as President of the Convention and Worshipful John P. Boyd as Secretary. This Convention adopted a dutiful and respectful memorial addressed to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and appointed a committee to present the same. Eastern Lodge later subscribed to the actions of the Convention.

The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts received the Memorial in the most fraternal manner, gave its full approbation and authority to the formation of the new Grand Lodge, donated all moneys in the hands of the District Deputy Grand Masters, and appropriated the sum of one thousand dollars as a nucleus for the Charity Fund of the new organization.

On June 1, 1820, the delegates of twenty-four Lodges assembled at Masons' Hall in Portland, and proceeded to organize the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Maine. The Honorable William King, Governor of the State, was elected Grand Master of Masons, and a committee was appointed to notify him of his election.

The next evening, the Governor, accompanied by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, both of whom were Masons, attended in person and assumed the chair. He addressed the Grand Lodge, accepting the office of Grand Master and appointing Right Worshipful Simon Greenleaf as his Deputy Grand Master.

The initial organization of the Grand Lodge was completed by the election and appointment of the following Grand Officers:

Senior Grand Warden, William Swan of Portland.

Junior Grand Warden, Nathaniel Coffin of Wiscasset.

Grand Treasurer, Joseph M. Gerrish of Portland.

Recording Grand Secretary, William Lord of Portland.

Cor. Grand Secretary, Robert P. Dunlap of Brunswick.

Grand Chaplain, Rev. Gideon W. Olney of Gardiner.

Grand Marshal, Joseph E. Foxcroft of New Gloucester.

Grand Sword Bearer, George Thacher, Jr. of Saco.

Senior Grand Deacon, Henry W. Fuller of Augusta.

Junior Grand Deacon, Josiah Calef of Saco.

Grand Steward, William Torry of Bath.

Grand Steward, Jesse Robinson of Hallowell.

Grand Steward, Eleazer Wyer of Portland.

Grand Steward, Nelson Racklyft of Portland.

Grand Pursuivant, Seth Clark of Portland.

Grand Tyler, William Stevens of Portland.

On June 16, 1820, the Grand Lodge of Maine was legally incorporated by the State.

At an adjourned communication of the Grand Lodge held on June 23, 1820, the petition of Gideon W. Olney and others for a new Lodge to be established at Gardiner, by name of Hermon Lodge, was granted. To Hermon Lodge, therefore, goes the honor of being the first Lodge to take a charter under the Grand Lodge of Maine.

On Saint John the Baptist's Day, June 24, 1820, the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Maine was solemnly consecrated and its officers were installed in ample form.

It was a matter of regret to the brethren that the officers of our Mother Grand Lodge of Massachusetts were unable to be present. However, the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of New Hampshire was in attendance, presided over by Grand Master Joshua Darling. At twelve o'clock a procession of some three hundred of the Fraternity escorted the two Grand Lodges to the Meeting House of the Second Religious Society and Parish, where the solemn exercises took place. The Grand Master of New Hampshire was in the chair. The introductory prayer was offered by the Reverend President of Bowdoin College. The Oration of the day was delivered by Brother John H. Sheppard, of Lincoln Lodge at Wiscasset. The prayer of consecration was made by the acting Grand Chaplain. The Grand Master and other officers were duly installed. By command of Grand Master Darling, the Grand Marshal of New Hampshire proclaimed the Grand Lodge of Maine to be duly constituted and consecrated, and its officers installed in ample and ancient form. The services were then closed with a benediction, pronounced by the officiating Grand Chaplain of New Hampshire.

Thus the Grand Lodge of Maine took her place among the sovereign Grand Lodges of the World. From beginning to end, the proceedings of the Maine brethren were marked by the utmost dignity and decorum and were conducted in the strictest conformity to the acknowledged principles of Masonic law. The moving spirit in the movement was Right Worshipful Simon Greenleaf, the famous jurist, author of " Greenleaf on Evidence," later Professor of Law in Harvard University. Brother Greenleaf well deserves to be considered the father of the Grand Lodge of Maine. He was a Past Master of Cumberland Lodge at New Gloccester and a Past District Deputy Grand Master of the Ninth Masonic District under the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. His wisdom guided the brethren in their deliberations and acts and established a precedent for future generations. The conduct of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts also deserves the highest praise. The Maine Lodges were treated in the most maternal manner and with unprecedented liberality. Although by the political separation of the States, the filial tie which bound the Maine Lodges to their Mother Grand Lodge was severed, the fraternal bond between the two Grand Lodges as equal members of the universal Masonic Fraternity was strengthened and made secure for all time to come.

 

STATE OF MAINE.

Seal on the incorporation act

In the year of our Lord one thousand

eight hundred and twenty.

 

AN ACT TO INCORPORATE THE MASTER,

WARDENS AND MEMBERS OF

THE GRAND LODGE OF MAINE.

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in Legist lature assembled, That William King, Simon Greenleaf, William Swan, Nathaniel Coffin, their associates and successors, be, and they hereby are incorporated into a body politic, by the name of the Master, Wardens and Members of the Grand Lodge of Maine; with power to sue and be sued; to have a common seal, and to change the same; to make any by-laws for the management of their affairs, not repugnant to the-laws of this state, nor to ancient masonic usages; to take and hold, for charitable and benevolent uses, any real estate to the value of twenty thousand dollars, and any personal estate to the value of sixty thousands dollars; and to give and grant, or bargain and sell the same; and with all the privileges usually granted to other societies instituted for purposes of charity and beneficence.

Sec. 2. Be it further enacted, That the first meeting of said corporation shall be holden at such time and place, and be notified in such manner, as the majority of the persons herein named may direct.

Sec. 3. Be it further enacted, That the powers granted by this act may be enlarged, restrained or repealed, at the pleasure of the Legislature.

In the House of Representatives, June 15, 1820.

This bill having had three several readings, passed to be enacted.

BENJ. AMES, Speaker.

In Senate, June 16, 1820. This bill having had two several readings, passed to be enacted.

JOHN CHANDLER, President.

June 16, 1820.—Approved:                                                    WILLIAM KING.

Copy from original:

Attest:                                         Ashur Ware, Secretary of State.

 

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