Freemasonry in Maine 1762 - 1945

Author:  Ralph J. Pollard

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CHAPTER V. Administrations of William King (1820-1821); Simon Greenleaf (1822-1823); William Swan (1824-1825); Charles Fox (1826-1827); Samuel Fessenden (1828-1829).

 

The first decade in the history of the new Grand Lodge was a period of quiet prosperity. The early years were extremely busy. Following the Massachusetts custom, quarterly communications were held. Special communications were also called to take care of the volume of business incidental to starting the new Grand Lodge. The State was divided into six Districts, District Deputy Grand Masters were appointed, and ceremonies prescribed for their formal reception by the Lodges. This initiated the system which has made Maine one of the best administered, inspected, and disciplined jurisdictions in the Country. A seal for the Grand Lodge was adopted. Diplomas were printed, both for candidates and for Past Masters. A Code of By-laws was prepared by a committee consisting of Simon Greenleaf, Robert P. Dunlap, George Thacher, Jr., Samuel Little, and Joel Miller, and was adopted by the Grand Lodge. Organization of the Board of Trustees of the Charity Fund was completed, and arrangements were made for systematic additions to the Fund.

In 1823, the Grand Secretary was ordered to number the Lodges according to seniority. Since that time, Maine Lodges have carried both names and numbers.

During these years, Masonry spread rapidly throughout the State. Up to 1830, charters were voted to the following lodges:

Hermon Lodge, No. 32, Gardiner June 23, 1820
Waterville Lodge, No. 33, Waterville June 27, 1820
Somerset Lodge, No. 34, Norridgewock (now Skowhegan) January 11, 1821
Bethlehem Lodge, No. 35, Augusta July 12, 1821
Casco Lodge, No. 36, Yarmouth October 11. 1821
Washington Lodge, No. 37, Lubec January 10, 1822
Harmony Lodge, No. 38, Gorham January 10 1822
Penobscot Lodge, No. 39, Garland ( now Dexter) January 10 1822
Lygonia Lodge, No. 40, Surry (now Ellsworth) April 11, 1822
Morning Star Lodge, No. 41, Litchfield July 11, 1822
Freedom Lodge, No. 42, Parsonfield (now Limerick) January 11, 1823
Alna Lodge, No. 43, Alna (now Damariscotta) January 11, 1823
Piscataquis Lodge, No. 44, Sebec (now Milo) October 9, 1823
Central Lodge, No. 45, China April 8, 1824
Saint Croix Lodge, No. 46, Calais April 8, 1824
Buxton Lodge (now Dunlap). No. 47, Buxton (now Biddeford) January 13, 1826  
Lafayette Lodge, No. 48, Readfield January 13. 1826
Meridian Splendor Lodge, No. 49, Newport July 13, 1826
Aurora Lodge, No. 50, Thomaston (now Rockland) July 13, 1826
Saint John's Lodge, No. 51, South Berwick January 11. 1827
Mosaic Lodge, No. 52, Sangerville (now Dover-Foxcroft) April 12 1827
Rural Lodge, No. 53, Sidney April 12 1827
Vassalboro Lodge, No. 54, Vassalboro (now North Vassalboro) April 12, 1827
Fraternal Lodge, No.55, Shapleigh (now Alfred) January 11. 1828
Mount Moriah Lodge, No. 56, Denmark January 11 1828
King Hiram Lodge, No. 57, Dixfield April 10, 1828
Unity Lodge, No. 58, Unity (now Thorndike) April 10, 1828

At this time several lodges, with membership about equally divided between two towns, adopted the expedient of holding their meetings for one year in one town and for the next year in the other. Thus, St. George Lodge, No. 16, alternated between Waldoboro and Warren, Somerset Lodge, No. 34, between Norridgewock and Milburn, and Alna Lodge, No. 43, between Alna and Newcastle.

The formation of a General Grand Lodge for the United States was first suggested at a convention of Army Lodges held during the Revolution, and General Washington was named as a proper candidate for the office of General Grand Master. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania sponsored the movement, but Massachusetts regarded it as inexpedient, and the project was dropped. In 1822, a Masonic Convention, meeting in Washington, D. C, revived the idea, which was referred to the several Grand Lodges. After a full discussion, the Grand Lodge of Maine unanimously adopted the following resolution:

'' Resolved, That the establishment of a General Grand Lodge of the United States and the calling of a Masonic Convention for the purpose of organizing the same as proposed, is neither necessary nor expedient." The next year the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia took up the matter and addressed a communication thereon to our Grand Lodge. A committee consisting of Simon Greenleaf, William Swan, and Samuel Fessenden, considered the matter at length, and not only reported adversely on the project but advised the Grand Lodge, " remove not the ancient landmarks which our fathers have set."

At the Annual Communication in 1824, there were forty-four Lodges on the roll, with 1,586 active members. Two hundred and twenty candidates had been received during the year past.

In 1824, the Grand Lodge of Maine joined with New Hampshire in advocating the erection of a suitable monument over the tomb of Worshipful Brother George Washington. A committee was appointed to correspond with other Grand Lodges, and the sum of one thousand dollars was pledged to the project.

In 1825, our illustrious brother, Major General the Marquis de La Fayette, visited the State of Maine. An address was presented to him by a committee from our Grand Lodge, to which the General made an affectionate and fraternal reply.

In 1823, a committee was appointed to consider whether a person who is conscientiously scrupulous against taking an oath, can be admitted to the benefits of Masonry by solemn affirmation. The next year this committee, headed by Right Worshipful Charles Fox, reported in favor of allowing the substitution of the word " affirm " for the word " swear," all other parts and penalties of the obligation remaining unaltered, and this report was accepted by the Grand Lodge. The import of this resolution was misunderstood by several of our sister Grand Lodges. The Grand Lodges of Pennsylvania and Missouri addressed strong protests to the Grand Lodge of Maine. These were answered by a committee headed by Most Worshipful Simon Greenleaf, which ably defended the Grand Lodge of Maine from the charge of having violated the Ancient Landmarks.

Much attention was paid to securing uniformity in the ritualistic work. In 1826, Brother Samuel Kidder was recommended to the Lodges as a Lecturer wlll skilled in the work and lectures of the Order. In 1828, a more elaborate program was adopted. The State was divided into three lecture districts and a Grand Lecturer was appointed for each. These lecturers were to devote at least three days to the instruction of each Lodge. Their expenses and a per diem of $1.50 were to be paid by Grand Lodge. Brothers John Miller, of Warren, Daniel Wardsworth, of Hallowell, and George L. Darling, of Gorham, were appointed to this office.

In 1828, Belfast Lodge, No. 24, surrendered its charter. Immediately, certain former members of the old Lodge petitioned the Grand Lodge for a restoration of the charter, under the new name of Phoenix Lodge. This petition was granted.

Throughout this period, Brother William Lord served as Grand Secretary and Brother Joseph M. Garish as Grand Treasurer. Each year Brother Gerrish turned back his official salary to the Grand Lodge for the purposes of charity.

The Grand Lodge of Maine completed its first decade of existence with fifty-nine Lodges on its register, divided into seven districts, and with a Charity Fund of $5,110.00.

 

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