Freemasonry in Maine 1762 - 1945

Author:  Ralph J. Pollard

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Picture of William KingWilliam King, First Grand Master

William King, the first Grand Master, was born in Scarboro, very near the present Dunstan's Corner, in 1768, afterwards moving to Bath, where he lived the last fifty years of his life, engaged in a most successful mercantile business. At an early period of his life he became a member of the General Court of Massachusetts, and in that capacity distinguished himself by his efforts in behalf of religious freedom, and of securing to original settlers upon wild lands the benefits of their improvements. For more than seven years William King was a leading worker to bring about the separation of Maine from Massachusetts. He was one of the convention held in 1819 at which the Constitution of the State of Maine was framed. After the separation he was elected the first Governor of the new State, receiving 21,083 votes of the 22,014 cast the first election. He served as Governor only one year, declining a re-election, to become one of the Commissioners for the adjustment of Spanish claims. He also held many other offices of public trust in the community including that of Collector of the Port of Bath. Most Worshipful Brother King was as interested in the formation of a new Grand Lodge of Masons for Maine as he was for the separation of the District of Maine to become an independent State; was one of the petitioners to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts as a Past Master of Solar Lodge of Bath, for the formation of a Grand Lodge for Maine, and when the meeting for organization was held, though state matters prevented his attendance, he was unanimously selected as the first Grand Master, and a committee sent to notify him of his election. He returned word that he would accept the office and would be present at an adjourned meeting the following night for installation.

Picture of Simon Greenleaf, Second Grand MasterSimon Greenleaf, Second Grand Master

Simon Greenleaf was born in Newburyport, Mass., December 5, 1783, and was educated at the Academy in that town. He came to New Gloucester, Maine, and studied law with Judge Whitman, and was admitted to the bar in Portland, in 1805. He commenced practice in Standish, then moved to Gray, and afterwards to Portland, about 1811. He was the first Reporter of Decisions of the Supreme Court in this State, and the nine volumes published by him attest his ability, accuracy and fidelity. He published a Treatise on Evidence, in three volumes, which at once became, and has ever since remained, a standard work upon that important subject. In 1833, he was appointed Law Professor in Harvard University, and removed to Cambridge. He performed the duties of that position with signal ability for fifteen years and then resigned, and afterward lived a retired life. He died in Cambridge, in 1853. Brother Greenleaf was made a Mason in Cumberland Lodge, at New Gloucester, in 1804, and at the following election was made Secretary. He was elected Master in 1808, and served three years, then declined a unanimous re-election as he was about to move to Portland. He afterward demitted and affiliated with Portland Lodge. In 1817 and 1818, he was District Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, for the Portland District, and performed the duties of the office with great ability and zeal. He was the leading spirit in the formation of the Grand Lodge of Maine — in fact, is justly entitled to be called the father of the movement. Upon its organization, he was selected Senior Grand Warden, was afterwards Deputy Grand Master, and in 1822 and 1823, was Most Worshipful Grand Master.

Picture of William Swan, third Grand MasterWilliam Swan, Third Grand Master

William Swan was a native of Massachusetts and came to Portland in 1795, a lad of thirteen years, to engage in a mercantile career. Integrity of dealing and close attention to business won for him prominence in the community, and financial success. He was closely associated with Governor King and those interested in the separation of Maine from Massachusetts in 1820, and served as Representative in the Maine Legislature during the years 1827, 1828 and 1829. Brother Swan was initiated in Portland Lodge, No. 1, June 4, 1804, and was elected Worshipful Master in 1814. He was elected the third Grand Master of the Grand Lodge in 1824, and re-elected in 1825. He was the fifth Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Maine in 1833, holding over during 1834 and 1835, when no session of the Grand Chapter were held. He died in Portland, September 18, 1853.

Picture of Charles Fox, 4th Grand MasterCharles Fox, Fourth Grand Master

Most Worshipful Brother Charles Fox, the fourth Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Maine, was born on May 2, 1782, and died July 27, 1846. On account of the loss of the early records very little can be found of the life duties of this brother. It is known, however, that he was the first Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Maine, serving that body as presiding officer in 1821 and 1822, and was again called to the chair in 1844. For forty years he was an importer of West India goods. He was president of a local bank, and represented Portland in the Legislature from 1827 to 1831. He was Grand Secretary one year and died July 27, 1845, while still holding that office.

 

 

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