Freemasonry in Maine 1762 - 1945

Author:  Ralph J. Pollard

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The Civil War. Administrations of Josiah H. Drummond (1860-1862); William P. Preble (1863-1865); Timothy J. Murray (1866-1868), and John H. Lynde (1869-1871).


There is something truly providential in the way in which the Grand Lodge of Maine has enjoyed the continuous leadership of really great men and Masons. In the early years, Most Worshipful Simon Greenleaf was the acknowledged authority on all things Masonic. His wisdom guided the Grand Lodge in the days of its infancy. When he left the State to begin his long and brilliant career as Law Professor in Harvard University, his mantle fell upon the shoulders of Most Worshipful Robert P. Dunlap, who gave the Craft distinguished leadership for nearly thirty years. Now, Dunlap was gone, but a new star was rising. Most Worshipful Josiah H. Drummond, destined to become one of the best known and most honored figures in Masonic history, was elected Grand Master in 1860.

His first task was to bring to a successful conclusion the long argument with the Grand Lodge of England over jurisdictional rights along our eastern frontier. In his correspondence with the Earl of Zetland, he demonstrated a command of the English language, a knowledge of Masonic law, and a facility for argument which won the immediate respect of the Masonic world.

In 1860, he laid the cornerstone of the Biddeford City Building with Masonic rites. In the same year, the Grand Lodge adopted a resolution calling for the preparation of Lodge histories. A Committee on Masonic History in Maine was appointed which, during the next few years, did much toward collecting such histories and thus preserving invaluable historical material for the Craft in future years. The most active member of this committee was Right Worshipful Joseph Covell, who was indefatigible in advancing this work.

In 1860, the Grand Lodge adopted the custom of exchanging Representatives with our sister Grand Lodges. This system is now a fixture of modern Masonic organization.

An important decision in Masonic law was made by the Grand Lodge in 1861. Anderson's Constitutions of 1723 prescribed that no man shall serve as Master without having first served as a Warden. Many brethren regarded this as an unchangeable landmark. Others held it to be a mere regulation, repealable by the Grand Lodge at its pleasure. After much argument, the Grand Lodge of Maine decided in favor of the latter view. Since that time, it has not been an absolute prerequisite to election as Master that a brother have first served as a Warden.

Again, Maine changed her attitude in regard to a General Grand Lodge. A resolution offered by Brother Pearl endorsing the National Masonic Congress was, on motion of Deputy Grand Master Preble, indefinitely postponed. This was doubtless a severe blow to Brother Pearl, who had so long been the leading advocate of such an organization.

It was in the administration of Most Worshipful Brother Drummond that the awful storm of fratracidal strife broke over the United States. The Civil War is the great central tragedy of American history. Yet it demonstrated, as nothing else could have done, the surprising strength of Masonic brotherhood. While political, religious, and even family ties were burst asunder, the Masonic tie remained unbroken. Almost alone among American institutions, Freemasonry survived the disruptive forces of secession. While the war lasted, the teachings of Freemasonry ameliorated the horrors of war on the battlefield and in the prison pen. When the war was over, it was Freemasonry which first stretched out the hand of fellowship and sought to draw the severed sections back together.

Numberless stories are told of how the gentle touch of Masonry softened the rigors of war. Some of these came close home to the brethren of Maine. The son of a prominent Maine Mason was carried, mortally wounded, into the city of Charleston. There, he made himself known to a distinguished physician, who was also a Mason, and who had known the boy's father in happier days. The good South Carolina brother tenderly cared for the young Yankee, soothed his last hours, and gave his body a Christian burial. Under flag of truce, the sad news was carried through the lines to the boy's bereaved parents.

Two members of Alna Lodge, No. 43, of Damariscotta, were captured at the Battle of Bull Run, and were sent to a Prisoner of War Camp near New Orleans. Here, they, together with other Masons among their fellow prisoners, were found by Grand Master John Q. A. Fellows, who supplied them with clothing, medical attendance, and every needful comfort in their hour of extremity. This truly Masonic conduct on the part of Brother Fellows not only won for him the gratitude of the Grand Lodges to which the prisoners belonged, but also elicited official resolutions of commendation from the neutral Grand Lodge of Ireland. Brother Fellows also managed to send word through the lines telling the families of these prisoners that the boys were alive, well, and in the hands of brothers.

The Masons of Columbia, South Carolina, sought out their Northern brothers in the prisons where they lay captive; supplied them with money, clothes, and comforts; and even obtained their temporary release from prison in order that they might join in attending Masonic meetings.

Grand Master David Ramsay of South Carolina sent out an encyclidal letter to the Lodges under his obedience, in which he outlined the correct Masonic attitude in time of war. Copies of this letter reached Maine, were published by the Grand Lodge, and were much appreciated by the Maine brethren. Years after the War was over, framed copies of this letter could be found on the walls of many Maine Lodge rooms.

The first effect of the Civil War upon Maine Masonry was a tremendous increase in the number of candidates. Young men about to enter the service, or home on short furloughs from the Front, were anxious to receive the degrees. Grand Master Drummond was rather liberal in granting the dispensations required to make this possible. He apologized for this liberality in these words: " In times like these when a young man has responded to the call of his country, and before he leaves home, desires to enroll himself among us, I have been perhaps too easily led to believe that he possesses the qualifications to make a good Mason. It is true, every patriot may not make a good Mason, but it is equally true that every good Mason is a patriot." Grand Master Preble was less liberal in granting such dispensations, and the Grand Lodge adopted a Standing Regulation charging a five dollar fee for all special dispensations, but the tide of candidates rolled on in an undiminished flood. In the year 1862-1863, there were 1,054 initations; in 1863-1864, 1,995; and in 1864-1865, 1,741.

In the early days of the War, a great camp was established at Augusta. Under the then existing law, the neighboring Lodges had a perfect right to accept candidates from among the soldiers stationed at this camp. The result was not altogether happy. In several cases, men were admited into the Fraternity who could not possibly have survived the scrutiny of a ballot in the Lodges in their home communities.

Certain brethren in the 9th and 13th Maine Regiments applied for dispensations to hold Military Lodges within the said Regiments.

Such Lodges were common in the British Army, had played a leading part in spreading Masonry in the American Colonies, and had done good work during the Revolution. However, after giving the matter due consideration, Grand Master Drummond declined to grant the requested dispensations. He based his refusal upon the impossibility of such Lodges conducting proper inquiries into the characters of candidates, and upon the danger of such Lodges, even inadvertently, violating the jurisdictional rights of some sister Grand Lodge by accepting material not properly belonging to Maine. The Grand Lodge later refused two additional requests of this nature. The sorry record of Army Lodges in the Civil War amply justified this conservative attitude.

Masons are charged to be true to their government and just to their country. Maine Masons gave loyal support to the Union throughout the War. Past Grand Master Jabez True served in the Army from 1861 to 1863. Past Grand Master Joseph C. Stevens, who had received a professional military education at West Point, was active in organizing and training the Militia, rendered valuable service to the Government, and was commissioned Major General by the State. Brother Horace H. Burbank, later to be Grand Master, served as a Captain in the 27th Maine Infantry, and was taken prisoner at the Battle of the Crater. Brother Augustus B. Farnham, also to achieve the highest rank in Masonry, was an officer of the famous 2nd Maine, was repeatedly promoted, becoming Chief of Staff of the 3rd Division and Inspector General. He was wounded at the Battle of Five Forks and carried the bullet to the day of his death. Samuel L. Miller, later Junior Grand Warden, served throughout the War and was commissioned on the Field for valor. He was later Department Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. Past Grand Master Stevens, mentioned above, had five sons in the Service, all of whom distinguished themselves at the Front. The four sons of Past Grand Master Hezekiah Williams took opposite sides. Two served in the Union army, the other two were officers of Confederate Cavalry.

The following is culled at random from the list of "Brethren Deceased " reported in 1864:

Rising Virtue Lodge — Scollay D. Baker, killed at Fort Wagner.

Waterville Lodge — Captain C. W. Billings, died at Gettysburg.

Alna Lodge — Captain S. C. Whitehouse, killed at Gettysburg.

Alna Lodge — E. K. Hall, died in the Army at New Orleans.

Aurora Lodge — Major General Hiram G. Berry, killed at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Aurora Lodge — John D. Currier, at Warrenton, Virginia, a member of 1st Maine Cavalry.

Mount Moriah Lodge — Thomas F. Storer, at Franklin, Louisiana, a member of Comp. G, 30th Maine Regiment. Buried in Masonic Cemetary at Franklin with Masonic rites.

Rising Sun Lodge — Lieut. James B. McKinley, killed at the Battle of Rappahannock Station.

Monument Lodge — Mark Neville, shot in the Battle of Middleburg.

Dispensations for Military Lodges had been refused, but Grand Master Drummond granted permission to all Maine Masons in the Service to meet for mutual instruction, rehearse the lectures, exemplify the work, and conduct Masonic funerals. Many instances of such funerals conducted at the Front are reported.

In 1862, the Grand Lodge voted that one-half the amount distributed from the Charity Fund be appropriated for the benefit of sick and wounded Masons serving in Maine regiments.

The Grand Master of Maryland suggested that the various Grand Lodges co-operate in the support of a Masonic Chaplain for work in Army hospitals and camps. Grand Master Drummond immediately pledged the Fraternity in Maine to the support of this work, and the Grand Lodge approved his action.

Maine Masons loyally supported their Government throughout the War, but they never forgot the tie which bound them to their brethren in the Seceded States. Grand Secretary Ira Berry managed to send the Maine Proceedings through the lines to the Southern Grand Lodges, through the courtesy of Right Worshipful Samuel M. Todd, Grand Secretary of Louisiana, and the co-operation of the Army Provost-Marshal at New Orleans.

Meanwhile, in war as in peace, the ordinary life of the Grand Lodge and its subordinates went on. Officers were elected and installed, new lodges established, new halls dedicated, erring brothers punished, questions on Masonic law answered, and worthy members interred with Masonic rites. At the request of the Maine Historical Society, Grand Master Drummond laid a stone in the wall of Fort Popham, commemorating the first settlement in New England. A monument to the memory of Past Grand Master Robert P. Dunlap was erected by the Masonic Fraternity in Maine over his grave at Brunswick.

On June 24, 1862, the centennial of Masonry in Maine was observed in Portland. The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was in attendance. Some 2,500 Masons, escorted by 500 uniformed Knights Templar, marched in procession to the City Hall where the exercises were held. Music was furnished by the Band of the 17th United States Infantry, stationed at Fort Preble. Addresses were delivered by Grand Master Josiah H. Drummond, Worshipful Moses Dodge, Master of Portland Lodge, Reverend Brother E. C. Bolles, Grand Chaplain, and Right Worshipful John H. Sheppard, of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, who had already addressed the brethren of Maine on so many important occasions. Most Worshipful William D. Coolidge, Grand Master of Massachusetts, also spoke. This was probably the largest Masonic gathering yet held in Maine, and the largest detachment of Knights Templar to parade in New England.

Charter Oak Lodge, at Effingham, New Hampshire, insisted upon initiating candidates resident in Maine, despite the positive enactments of its own Grand Lodge against the practice. As a result, Grand Master Preble was obliged to issue an edict placing Charter Oak Lodge under the ban of non-recognition. When the offenses ceased, the edict was withdrawn.

At last the War was over. The Grand Lodge of Maine was prompt to extend the hand of fellowship to the Southern Grand Lodges. A memorial was received from the Masonic brethren in Columbia, South Carolina. Their city had been burned on the night of its occupation by Sherman's victorious Army, and the property of the Masonic bodies as well as of the individual members had been utterly destroyed. Our Committee on Finance recommended that $200.00 be appropriated for the benefit of the Columbia brethren. Brother Burbank of Freedom Lodge rose in his place and, in seconding the motion, bore witness to the assistance which the brethren of Columbia rendered to himself and other Masons while prisoners of war. The appropriation was carried.

About this time, some of the winters were very severe. Right Worshipful Joseph Pollard, District Deputy Grand Master of the Twelfth District, was snowbound for eight days while on his way to make one of his official visitations. His district was one of the most difficult in the State, with the Lodges located on an average of sixty-five miles apart.

A revised Constitution was adopted by the Grand Lodge in 1865. One of its provisions prescribed a single ballot for the three degrees, while another fixed the minimum fee at $20.00. Clergymen were still admitted free.

The death of Reverend Brother Cyril Pearl also occurred in 1865. He had completed seventeen years of service as writer of the Maine Correspondence Reports. His place on this important committee was filled by the appointment of Most Worshipful Josiah H. Drummond, who thus began a service destined to continue for thirty-five years.

On July 4, 1866, the City of Portland was swept by a devastating fire. The Masonic apartments perished in the flames. Most of the Grand Lodge property was saved through the personal exertions of Grand Master Timothy J. Murray. The safe, in which were contained the Treasurer's reports, proved unsafe, and these valuable papers were lost. In reporting this fact to the next Grand Lodge, Grand Treasurer Moses Dodge was very careful to name the manufacturers of the unsafe safe. Great numbers of people in Portland were destitute and suffering as a result of the fire. Grand Master Murray at once made one thousand dollars from the Grand Lodge funds available to the Citizen's Committee in charge of relief. Contributions for the aid of Masonic sufferers were solicited from the Maine brethren outside of Portland, and were freely given. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania sent a munificent gift of $1,000. The Grand Lodges of Ohio and Michigan and the Grand Commandery of New York also contributed to the relief of the Portland brethren.

Like a pheonix, Portland rose from the flames. The next year, Grand Master Murray laid the cornerstones of the new Custom House and Post Office.

The libraries of the Grand Chapter and Grand Commandery were merged with that of the Grand Lodge.

Maine Masonry was represented at the dedication of the new Masonic Temple in Boston in 1867, by nine of our Lodges, the Grand Commandery of Maine, and six of its subordinates.

In 1868, the charter of Hiram Abiff Lodge, No. 90, was revoked for gross un-Masonic conduct. This Lodge had presumed to elect and install an expelled Mason as its Master. When disciplined by Grand Lodge, it proved contumacious. Grand Master Murray felt obliged to arrest its charter. The Grand Lodge confirmed his action.

In 1869, a California Lodge demanded reinbursement for money paid out in charity in burying a Maine Mason. Our Grand Lodge's reply established our policy in this matter. Maine held that Masonic charity never constitutes a debt, that, as we were in the habit of dispensing charity freely to sojourners within our borders, without any thought of reimbursement, we could not recognize the right of any foreign Lodge to demand such reimbursement at our hands.

In 1870, on recommendation of Most Worshipful Brother Drummond, fraternal relations with the Grand Orient of France were suspended. This Grand Body had long shown a most un-fraternal attitude toward other Grand Lodges. Its immediate offense was the persistent recognition of clandestine Lodges within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana. Maine had earnestly and fraternally requested the Grand Orient to reconsider its attitude on this matter. Its failure to do so led to the punitive action by our Grand Lodge.

Beginning in 1867, the Fraternity in Maine had the benefit of a Masonic publication, " The Masonic Token," edited by Brother Stephen Berry. This little paper came out quarterly and filled a definite need in the life of the Fraternity for nearly fifty years.

The five old Lodges still dormant in 1860 had been re-activated and had gone back to work. New Lodges were rapidly formed. A list of Charters granted during this period follows:

Bethel Lodge, No. 97, Bethel May 5, 1860
Katahdin Lodge, No. 98, Patten May 3, 1860
Vernon Valley Lodge, No. 99, Mount Vernon May 3, 1860
Jefferson Lodge, No. 100, Bryant Pond May 3, 1860
Nezinscot Lodge, No. 101, Turner May 3, 1860
Marsh River, No. 102, Brooks May 9, 1861
Dresden Lodge, No. 103, Dresden Mills May 9, 1861
Dirigo Lodge, No. 104, Weeks Mills May 9, 1861
Ashlar Lodge, No. 105, Lewiston May 9, 1851<sic>
Tuscan Lodge, No. 106, Addison May 9, 1861
Day Spring Lodge, No. 107, West Newfield May 9, 1861
Relief Lodge, No. 108, Belgrade May 8, 1862
Mount Kineo Lodge, No. 109, Guilford May 8, 1862
Monmouth Lodge, No. 110, Monmouth May 8, 1862
Liberty Lodge, No. 111, Liberty May 8, 1862
Eastern Frontier Lodge, No. 112, Fort Fairfield May 7, 1863
Messalonskee Lodge, No. 113, Oakland May 7, 1863
Polar Star Lodge, No. 114, Bath May 7, 1863
Moderation (now Buxton), No. 115, West Buxton May 7, 1863
Lebanon Lodge, No. 116, Norridgewock May 7, 1863
Greenleaf Lodge, No. 117, Cornish May 4, 1864
Drummond Lodge, No. 118, North Parsonsfield May 4, 1864
Pownal Lodge, No. 119, Stockton May 4, 1864
Meduncook Lodge, No. 120, Friendship May 4, 1864
Acacia Lodge, No. 121, Durham May 3, 1865
Marine Lodge, No. 122, Deer Isle May 3, 1865
Franklin Lodge, No. 123, New Sharon May 3, 1865
Olive Branch Lodge, No. 124, Charleston May 3, 1865
Meridian Lodge, No. 125, Pittsfield May 3, 1865
Timothy Chase Lodge, No. 126, Belfast May 3, 1865
Presumpscot Lodge, No. 127, North Windham May 3, 1866
Eggemoggin Lodge, No. 128, Belfast May 3, 1866
Quantabacook Lodge, No. 129, Searsmont May 3, 1866
Trinity Lodge, No. 130, Presque Isle May 3, 1866
Lookout Lodge, No. 131, Cutler May 3, 1866
Mount Tir'em Lodge, No. 132, Waterford May 3, 1866
Asylum Lodge, No. 133, Wayne May 9, 1867
Trojan Lodge, No. 134, Troy May 9, 1867
Riverside Lodge, No. 135, Jefferson May 8, 1867
Ionic Lodge, No. 136, Gardiner May 9, 1867
Kenduskeag Lodge, No. 137, Kenduskeag May 8, 1867
Lewy's Island Lodge, No. 138, Princeton May 8,1867
Archon Lodge, No. 139, East Dixmont May 8, 1867
Mount Desert Lodge, No. 140, Mount Desert May 8, 1867
Augusta Lodge, No. 141, Augusta May 8, 1867
Ocean Lodge, No. 142, Wells May 7, 1868
Preble Lodge, No. 143, Sanford May 7, 1868
Seaside Lodge, No. 144, Boothbay Harbor May 7, 1868
Moses Webster Lodge, No. 145, Vinal Haven May 7, 1868
Sebasticook Lodge, No. 146, Clinton May 7, 1868
Evening Star Lodge, No. 147, Buckfield May 5, 1869
Forest Lodge, No. 148, Springfield May 5, 1869
Doric Lodge, No. 149, Monson May 5, 1869
Rabboni Lodge, No. 150, Lewiston May 5, 1869
Excelsior Lodge, No. 151, Northport May 5, 1869
Crooked River Lodge, No. 152, Bolster's Mills May 5, 1870
Delta Lodge, No. 153, Lovell May 4, 1870
Mystic Tie Lodge, No. 154, Weld May 4, 1870
Ancient York Lodge, No. 155, Lisbon Falls May 4, 1870
Wilton Lodge, No. 156, Wilton May 4, 1870
Cambridge Lodge, No. 157, Cambridge May 4, 1871
Anchor Lodge, No. 158, South Bristol May 4, 1871
Esoteric Lodge, No. 159, Ellsworth May 4, 1871


The fiftieth anniversary of the Grand Lodge of Maine passed without any formal celebration by the Grand Lodge. On June 28, 1870, the new Masonic Temple in Bangor was dedicated in ample form with 2,300 of the Fraternity present. The Oration, by Past Grand Master Drummond, paid attention to the anniversary by giving a very full history of the Grand Lodge for the fifty years past.

In its fiftieth year, the Grand Lodge of Maine had 154 lodges on its rolls, with a membership of 14,926. The largest Lodge was Aurora, No. 50, of Rockland, with 364 members. There were 1,130 initiates for the year. The Charity Fund amounted to $15,600.

In 1871, Most Worshipful Timothy J. Murray was again appointed Grand Lecturer.

Worshipful Brother John P. Boyd and Worshipful Brother Seth Clark, the last survivors of the original members of the Grand Lodge in 1820, passed away in 1871. This same year saw the death of Most Worshipful Abner B. Thompson, the strong man of the Grand Lodge in the days of its adversity. Grand Master John H. Lynde thus spoke of him in his address to the Grand Lodge: " His battle was never fought until the victory was won. He had no sympathy with error, no matter how pleasant its exterior, but was ever ready to espouse the cause of justice and truth, without regard to consequences to himself." General Thompson had been at the head of every Grand Masonic Body in Maine. He had held high military and civil office. His funeral was conducted by his warm personal friend, Past Grand Master Josiah H. Drummond. He was buried in Brunswick, in the same cemetery with Past Grand Master Humphreys and Dunlap.

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