Freemasonry in Maine 1762 - 1945

Author:  Ralph J. Pollard

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CHAPTER VII. Administrations of John T. Paine (1845-1846); Alexander H. Putney (1847-1848); Joseph C. Stevens (1849-1850); John C. Humphreys (1851-1852); Freeman Bradford (1853); Timothy Chase (1854); John Miller (1855); Jabez True (1856); Robert P. Dunlap (1857); and Hiram Chase (1858-1859).

 

The period from 1845 to 1860 may well be regarded as the reconstruction era for the Craft in Maine. The first problem, of course, was the revival of dormant Lodges. Some of these came to life of their own accord and with surprising vigor. Delegates from Kennebec Lodge, No. 5, of Hallowell, and Solar Lodge, No. 14, of Bath, both of which had lost their Charters during the depression years, showed up at the Annual Communication in 1844. Upon petition, the Grand Lodge promptly restored their charters, since which time both Lodges have gone forward to a long career of uninterrupted prosperity. In many cases, however, it required the hardest kind of work to get Lodges started again. Some of the old members had died, others had moved away. In some communities, there were not enough Masons left to open a Lodge. Some charters had been lost, others had been burned. One brother moved to Illinois, taking the Charter of a Maine Lodge with him. District Deputy Grand Masters were active in contacting former members of defunct Lodges, in persuading them to start work again, and in giving them assistance during their early activities. The Grand Lodge encouraged them by remitting their dues. In some cases, where it proved impossible for a Lodge to function in its old location, permission was granted for its removal to a neighboring village where it took root and flourished. Among the many who labored faithfully at this time, particular mention must be made of Past Grand Master Reuel Washburn, who served as District Deputy of his District and as Master of his Lodge. Each year saw more Lodges reactivated. By 1860, only five lodges, Hancock, No. 4, Pythagorean, No. 11, Morning Star, No. 41, Rural, No. 53, and King Hiram, No. 57, were still sleeping.

To encourage attendance at its Annual Communications, the Grand Lodge, in 1847, adopted the policy of paying the expenses of one delegate from each Lodge. To finance this program, a per capita tax of one-eighth of a dollar was levied.

In these years, there was a tremendous volume of work. The first returns of the subordinate Lodges were published in 1848. They showed the Lodges to have been uniformly small. The largest Lodge in the state, Ancient Landmark, No. 17, had only ninety-one members. The smallest Lodge returned only nine members. In 1849, the returns show a total of only 994 Masons in the State, yet there were 228 candidates initiated in the year past. From then on 300, 500, 700 candidates a year were common. By 1860, the membership had increased to 4,319. Many who received the degrees never became members of Maine Lodges. The California gold rush was on and many young men, embarking upon that adventure, became Masons before leaving home. Most prominent of the " forty-niners " was Past Grand Master Alexander H. Putney. Today, probably, few Maine Masons realize that Maine ever attempted to exercise Masonic authority in California. Yet, in May, 1850, our Grand Master issued a dispensation to Most Worshipful Brother Putney and six others for a new Lodge in Calavero County, Upper California,' to be called Ophir Lodge. This dispensation, however, could not be used, a Grand Lodge having been formed in California before the dispensation arrived there. The great inrush of new members occasioned some alarm to thoughtful Masons. More than one Grand Master felt it necessary to warn the Lodges to exercise the greatest care in the admission of members, and to remember that quality rather than quantity was desirable.

Much attention was given to the ritualistic work, which had very naturally become rusty during the long period of inactivity. In 1851, a committee was appointed " for the purpose of agreeing upon what shall be considered the true mode of work and lectures in the several Lodges in this State." This committee, consisting of Brothers Freeman Bradford, John Miller and Percival Clementine, exemplified the work and lectures agreed upon before special Communications of the Grand Lodge, which, after full discussion, adopted Correct Work for Maine. Several brethren served in the office of Grand Lecturer during these years, among them being Brothers John Miller of Warren, S. B. Dockman of Warren, G. W. Chase of Brunswick, and T. J. Murray of Saco. Brother Miller was one of the best known and best loved Masons in the history of our Grand Lodge. He was everywhere affectionately known as " Father Miller." He served for many years as District Deputy Grand Master,' was Grand Master in 1855, and then went back to work as District Deputy Grand Master again. But it is as a teacher of the work that he is best remembered. District Conventions for instruction in the work were first authorized in 1856. In 1857, the Grand Lodge began having some subordinate Lodge put on the work of a degree at each Grand Lodge session. Webb's Monitor was adopted as standard for Maine.

A new Constitution for the Grand Lodge was adopted in 1848. By its provisions the Deputy Grand Master became an elective officer. Up to this time, Maine had followed the old custom obtaining in England and in Massachusetts and had allowed the Grand Master to name his own Deputy.

In the olden days, all Lodge business was transacted in a Lodge opened on the first degree. Custom had changed, and, in 1851, the Grand Lodge construed the new Constitution as requiring that all ballotings for candidates and for membership should be had in a Master Mason's Lodge.

The question of a General Grand Lodge for the United States was again agitated. At the Baltimore Convention in September, 1847, a Constitution for a Supreme Grand Lodge of the United States was adopted and submitted to the several Grand Lodges. It will be remembered that Maine had, in Simon Greenleaf's time, regarded the formation of such an organization as unnecessary and inexpedient. But now, new leaders were at the helm. In 1848, the following was adopted:

"Resolved, That this Grand Lodge ratifies and approves the Constitution for a Supreme Grand Lodge reported by the convention holden at Baltimore, Maryland, on the 23rd day of September, 1847."

The proposition failed, but, in the course of the next few years, was repeatedly revived under the name of a National Masonic Federation or a National Masonic Congress. Maine became known as a steady advocate and supporter of the idea, principally through the work of Reverend Brother Cyril Pearl, Grand Chaplain and chairman of the Committee on Foreign Correspondence. Brother Pearl pushed the cause of a General Grand Lodge with missionary enthusiasm, and, for many years, carried his Grand Lodge along with him. It was not until the time of Josiah H. Drummond that his leadership on this matter was broken.

In the early days, the Report on Foreign Correspondence had been presented by the Corresponding Grand Secretary. Later, it was placed in the hands of a special committee. These early reports were extremely brief. Correspondence Reports, after the modern manner, were initiated by Brother Cyril Pearl, first appointed to the Committee in 1847. He was an easy writer and made of the Correspondence Reports a forum in which were discussed all the important Masonic questions of the day. As the years passed, his reports increased in length and in brilliance. He discussed at length the unhappy troubles which agitated the Grand Lodge of New York, the War of Rites in Louisiana, and the events incident to the formation of an independent Grand Lodge in Canada. Questions of Masonic law were also discussed. One chestnut, first argued by Cyril Pearl, still agitates the brains of Correspondence Committees. This is the so-called question of physical perfection. The perfectionists hold that the Ancient Charges require absolute physical perfection in a candidate. Maine has always taken the common-sense view, that if a candidate is physically capable of receiving and imparting the work of the degrees, he is eligible therefor.

Brother Pearl also reported interesting Masonic news of the day. He tells of a Maine sea captain, wrecked at sea, rescued by a British ship, carried into the port of Halifax, and there succored by liberal contributions from all the Masonic Lodges in the city.

The Grand Lodge Library, now such a source of pride to the Grand Lodge of Maine, was first established in 1850.

The Grand Lodge of Maine found itself involved in difficulties along its eastern border. Eastern Lodge, No. 7, of Eastport, complained that Hibernia Lodge, No. 318, at Saint Andrews, New Brunswick (under the jurisdiction of Ireland) had, in 1848, initiated a candidate previously rejected by Eastern Lodge. No satisfaction being obtainable from Hibernia Lodge, complaint was eventually made to the Grand Lodge of Ireland. A little later, a more serious difficulty arose. Union Lodge, No. 866, located at Milltown, New Brunswick (under the Grand Lodge of England), insisted upon initiating candidates resident in Calais, in the territorial jurisdiction of Saint Croix Lodge, No. 46. Remonstrance to the Provincial Grand Master of New Brunswick proving unavailing, our Grand Masters entered into a lengthy correspondence with the Earl of Zetland, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England. It soon developed that the American doctrine of territorial jurisdiction was totally unrecognized by the British Grand Lodges. The Earl of Zetland refused us the slightest satisfaction and adopted a rather unfraternal tone in his correspondence with our Grand Masters. In desperation, the Grand Lodge of Maine finally placed the members of Union Lodge, No. 866, under the ban of non-recognition, in which action she was sustained by every American Grand Lodge. Union Lodge surrendered its Charter and ceased to exist. This happy result did not come about until the year 1861.

One by one, the founding fathers of the Grand Lodge were passing away. Most Worshipful Charles Fox died in 1845, while holding the office of Grand Secretary. In 1853, the Grand Master announced the death of Honorable William King, first Grand Master of this Grand Lodge. Most Worshipful Simon Greenleaf and Most Worshipful William Swan passed away in the same year. Shortly before his death, Brother Greenleaf wrote a letter to Most Worshipful Robert P. Dunlap in which he stated, " You are already aware that during the War of the Revolution, there was a Lodge of Freemasons in the main Army called Washington Lodge, of which my father, the late Captain Moses Greenleaf, of the eleventh Massachusetts regiment, was Master. I have often heard him mention the visits of the Commander-in-Chief to this Lodge, and the high gratification they afforded to the officers and members -- especially, as he came without ceremony, as a private brother. It has occurred to me that the records of this Lodge may still be in existence and that, if so, they ought to be recovered and deposited for safekeeping in the achives of the craft. Permit me, therefore, to invite your attention to this subject, as I know of no member of the fraternity whose position affords equal facilities for the accomplishment of this desirable object."

In 1859, Most Worshipful Brother Dunlap, himself, passed over to the other shore and joined the great majority. Of all Maine Masons up to his time, he had achieved the highest honors and the widest recognition. He had served as Governor of Maine and as a Member of the National Congress. He had served as Grand Master in 1830, 1831 and 1857. He had also served as presiding officer of the Grand Chapter, the Grand Council, and the Order of High Priesthood. For nine years, he had been at the head of the General Grand Chapter of the United States. At his funeral, his Commandery acted as escort, his Chapter marched in the procession immediately in front of his Lodge, and members of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite, in which he was an officer, accompanied the Grand Lodge. The former Buxton Lodge, No. 47, of Biddeford, now bears the name of this distinguished statesman and Mason.

During the period covered by this chapter, many new Lodges were chartered, as the craft spread throughout the State. A list of these Lodges with their date of charter follows:

Mount Hope, No. 59, Hope May 4, 1848
Star in the East, No. 60, Old Town May 5, 1848
King Solomon's, No. 61, Waldoboro May 4, 1849
King David's, No 62, Lincolnville January 13, 1850
Richmond, No 63, Richmond May 10, 1850
Pacific, No. 64, Exeter May 12, 1851
Mystic, No. 65, Hampden May 12, 1851
Mechanics, No. 66, Orono May 12, 1851
Blue Mountain, No. 67, Phillips May 10, 1852
Mariners, No. 68, Searsport May 10, 1853
Howard, No 69, Winterport May 6, 1853
Steep Falls, No. 70 (now Standish) May 10, 1853
Rising Sun, No. 71, Orland May 10, 1853
Pioneer, No. 72, Plantation II (now Ashland) May 5, 1854
Tyrian, No. 73, Mechanic Falls May 10, 1853
Bristol, No. 71, Bristol May 5, 1854
Plymouth, No. 75, Plymouth May 5, 1854
Arundel, No. 76, Kennebunkport June 26, 1854
Tremont, No. 77, Southwest Harbor May 3, 1856
Crescent, No. 78, Pembroke July 10, 1854
Rockland, No. 79, Rockland May 4, 1855
Keystone, No. 60, Solon May 4, 1855
Atlantic, No. 81, Portland May 3.1855
Saint Paul's, No. 82, Rockport May 2, 1856
Saint Andrew's, No. 83, Bangor May 3, 1856
Eureka, No. 84, Tenant's Harbor May 2, 1856
Star in the West, No. 85, Unity May 24, 1856
Temple, No. 86, Westbrook May 5, 1856
Benevolent, No. 87, Carmel May 7, 1857
Narraguagus, No. 88, Cherryfield May 28.1857
Island, No. 89, Islesboro November 5, 1857
Hiram Abiff, No. 90, West Appleton May 5, 1858
Harwood, No. 91, Machias October 15, 1858
Siloam, No. 92, Fairfield January 1, 1859
Horeb, No. 93, Lincoln May 5, 1859
Paris, No. 94, South Paris May 5, 1859
Pond (now Corinthian), No. 95, Hartland May 5, 1859
Monument, No. 96, Houlton May 5, 1859

Dispensations for special Lodges of Instruction in Portland, Bangor, and Gardiner were also issued.

Officers of the Grand Lodge were busy in consecrating these many new Lodges and in dedicating the many new Masonic Halls erected at this time.

Particular mention must be made of Pioneer Lodge, No. 72, at Plantation 11, on the Aroostook road. At the time of its formation, this Lodge was located oae hundred and thirty-two miles north of its nearest Masonic neighbor, in the very heart of the virgin wilderness. Needless to say, visits from the District Deputy were few and far between. Returns and remittances to the Grand Lodge were made by such uncertain mail facilities as then existed. On one occasion, these failed to arrive. It developed that the mails had been robbed at Mattawamkeag, the Lodge dues being among the loot.

At this time, more than three-fourths of the Lodges in the State held their meetings on the moon schedule, that is, on some specified day on or before the full of the moon. To us moderns, who seldom even think of the almanac, this custom is sometimes regarded as a nuisance, but, to our brethren of ninety years ago, it had a very real and practical value. It was much pleasanter and safer to drive to Lodge by horse and sleigh under the brilliant light of a winter moon than in the unfriendly and gloomy darkness. Some of the Lodges also met at hours which, to say the least, seem strange to us today. Oriental Lodge, No. 13, of Bridgton, met at 2.00 P. M. Oriental Star Lodge, No. 21, at Livermore, held its meetings at 1.00 P. M. The members of this Lodge were widely scattered. Only four lived within two miles of the Lodge room. Some members lived fifteen miles away. Yet attendance was very full. Despite the difficulties of travel, some Lodges held stated communications every week.

Grand Lodge participated in several important public functions. In 1845, Grand Master John T. Paine laid the cornerstone of King Chapel at Bowdoin College with Masonic rites. On July 4, 1846, the Grand Lodge participated in the ceremonies incident to breaking ground for the Portland-Montreal Railway. Saint John the Baptist's Day, 1849, was celebrated with unusual ceremony. The principal address was by Most Worshipful Benjamin B. French, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia. The banquet was served at the Great Pavillion on Munjoy Hill. In 1855, the cornerstone of the new Town Hall in Saco was laid by Most Worshipful Robert P. Dunlap. The new Masonic Hall in Portland was dedicated in ample form in 1855. By invitation of the Mayor, the cornerstones of public buildings erected in Portland for city and county purposes were laid by Grand Master Hiram Chase in 1858.

In the early years following the general resumption of work, it was voted that the fees for the three degrees should not be less than fifteen dollars. Clergymen were admitted free. It was also voted that the Grand Lodge fee of two dollars for each initiated candidate be reduced to one dollar. This experiment proved unsuccessful, and the two dollar rate was re-established. Charity was regularly disbursed by the Trustees of the Grand Lodge Charity Fund. Sometimes the amount to be paid was divided by districts and the District Deputy Grand Masters were made almoners for the same.

Henry H. Boody served as Grand Treasurer from 1844 to 1852, being succeeded by Moses Dodge. Charles B. Smith was Grand Secretary from 1846 to 1855. The next year, Ira Berry began his long service in that important post.

In the year 1860, the returns showed the Craft to be in a most prosperous condition. Ninety-one chartered Lodges were working with seven more under dispensation. There were four thousand, three hundred and nineteen members. Initiations for the past year totalled eight hundred and seventeen. The largest Lodge was Portland, No. 1, with one hundred and seventy-eight members. Ancient Landmark Lodge, No. 17, also of Portland, and Aurora Lodge, No. 50, of Rockland, were tied for second place with one hundred and forty-four members. The smallest Lodge was Northern Star, No. 28, of North Anson, which reported ten members. The Charity Fund amounted to five thousand eight hundred dollars.

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