FREEMASONRY IN VERMONT
From New England Craftsman, Vol. V, No. 6, February 1910, Page 153:
A Glimpse at the Beginning
VERMONT has 104 Masonic Lodges with a total membership of 12,652. Of the five lodges concerned in forming the Grand Lodge only two appear in the list of lodges published in the proceedings of 1909.
The first lodge established in Vermont was "Vermont Lodge," chartered by Massachusetts Grand Lodge, November 8, 1781, and was first located in the town of Springfield, it was later located at Charlestown for a while but removed to Windsor in 1795.
The second lodge was "North Star Lodge." This lodge was also chartered by Massachusetts Grand Lodge. It was located in the town of Manchester. Its charter was granted January 19, 1785.
The third lodge was chartered by Sir John Johnson, Past Grand Master of the Province of Quebec, under the date of May 5th, 1791, and was named "Dorchester Lodge." It was located at Vergennes.
The fourth lodge was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Connecticut. It was named "Temple Lodge" and located in the town of Bennington. Its charter was issued May 18th, 1793.
The fifth lodge was "Union Lodge," located at Middlebury. This lodge was also chartered by the Grand Lodge of Connecticut. The date of its charter was May 16th, 1794.
Samuel Barratt was Grand Master of Massachusetts when the charter was issued to Vermont Lodge (Note: this is in error; Webb was Grand Master on both occasions) and Joseph Webb when the second lodge was chartered. Other distinguished men associated with these at that time were: Paul Revere, John Warren, Perez Morton, M. M. Hays, William Scollay and others who left their impress on the history of the community as well as on Freemasonry.
Occasional mention of the Vermont lodges are found in the records of Massachusetts Grand Lodge.
It is interesting to note that the first Master of "Vermont Lodge" bore the same family name as the Grand Master, the first being Col. John Barratt and the Grand Master, Samuel Barratt. It is possible that there may have been a relationship other than that of Masonic brotherhood. Col. Barratt presented the petition for the charter in person but withdrew while the grand lodge was considering the subject. The records say further, "Expences of the Evening Paid by Bro. Barratt."
An allusion is made to Vermont Lodge in the record of December 24, 1782, as follows: "The Grand Master Also presented a Return of the Master and Wardens of Vermont Lodge and a copy of his letter to them respecting their holding the Lodge out of their Limits which was read." This subject is referred to later.
The vote to grant a charter for "North Star" lodge was immediately followed by the following: "Voted, That when any Charter or Dispensation is granted, a Paragraph shall be inserted that it ceases to be a Regular Lodge if neglected to be Represented more than one Year." This is followed by a Note, "Bro. Noah Smith, the Bearer of the Petition pd— for bill of the Evening 3 pounds 19."
Dec. s8, 1785, both of the Vermont lodges are named with several others that a committee should write "for their Respective Ballances due to the Grand Lodge" and "the Time Marked against their Names to be allowed for Compliance." The delinquency of the several lodges was excused at the meeting" 1st Friday of March. 1786, in "Consideration of the Inclemency of the Seasone, &c: and the impractibility of Returns being made at the appointed time."
June 2, 1786, "North Star" was credited with payment of 3 pounds and 12 shillings.
A letter with Return from "Vermont Lodge" was reported in Grand Lodge on the first Friday in September, 1786.
Friday, February 22, 1788. The meeting of the Grand Lodge was held at the "Bunch of Grapes." Vermont Lodge is mentioned as follows: "On Petition from Brother Moore and other Members of Vermont Lodge, No. 17. Voted, That, Part of the Prayer of said Petition, which Requests and Alteration in their Charter, could not consistently with Propriety be granted."
Then follow two votes from which we learn that the petition of Vermont Lodge was to have their unlawful occupation of the town of Charlestown in the Stale of New Hampshire legalized.
The votes are as follows:
- "Voted, That the Petition for a New Charter for a Lodge to be held, in the Town of Charlestown in the State of New Hampshire he Granted, and said Charter is Granted accordingly."
- "Voted, That the Grand Lodge so far Comply with that Part of the Petition, requesting this Grand Lodge to legalize their proceedings in the Town of Charlestown (in which place it appears the said Lodge (Vermont Lodge), has. Contrary to the Letter of the Charter, which was given for holding in Springfield, State of Vermont, ever since the Erection thereof Assembled) As to acknowledge and Receive such Masons, as have been made by them, to he free and Accepted Masons."
"North Star Lodge" is mentioned in Grand Lodge records, June 4th, 1789. "The Petition of North Star Lodge presented at the quarterly Communication in June, 1788, was taken up and the G. Sec'y directed to write to them, requesting their Compliance with the Rules and Regulations of the Gd Lodge, previous to the prayer of then-Petition being Granted." We have no knowledge of what was referred to in their petition.
Dec. 8, 1790, Vermont Lodge was in debl to the Grand Lodge 3 pounds and North Star Lodge 4 pounds and 10 shillings.
No further reference to Vermont lodge is made in the records of Massachusetts Grand Lodge.
On the 10th of March, 1792. Massachusetts and St. John's Grand Lodges were united under the name of the Grand Lodge of Most Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
In the Grand Lodge record of December 12. 1793, the following mention is made of North Star Lodge. "The committee to whom was referred the petition of North Star Lodge, State of Vermont, report, that the balance due the Massachusetts Grand Lodge was ten pounds four shillings, which was commuted to four pounds ten shillings, that, that sum. together with the clues since the coalition be the amount of the account against said Lodge, and be transmitted to them: which was accepted accordingly."
No reference is found in the records of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts to the severance of the connection of Vermont and North Star lodges for the purpose of taking part in the formation of the Grand Lodge of Vermont.
We have not followed the history of these two lodges after the Grand Lodge of Vermont was established except to note that on Jan'y 10, 1849, Vermont Lodge and North Star Lodge with several others were declared extinct by the Grand Lodge of Vermont. This condition was no doubt the result of the Anti-Masonic influences which had been operating several years in the New England States.
Freemasonry in Vermont suffered greatly during the period of its persecution. The trouble was so great and the results so disastrous that we wonder at the survival of the institution. Nothing else in the history of the Grand Lodge can compare with the extent of its influence. The historian of the Grand Lodge of Vermont made it the principal topic of his address at the observance of the Centennial of the Grand Lodge in 1901; giving in considerable detail the measures suggested in Grand Lodge for meeting the trouble. Attempts were made to dissolve the Grand Lodge and absolve its members from allegiance. In 1831 the Grand Lodge convened with but seven lodges represented. A committee was appointed to examine and consider the communications received from the lodges and (report the views of the Grand Lodge at that session. "This committee reported a series of resolutions embodying the sentiment of that Grand Lodge, setting forth the design, object and purpose of the institution of Masonry, denying the right to connect Masonry with politics or sectarianism of any Sort, as being a gross innovation upon the principles which all good Masons acknowledge and practice, and recommending the Brethren to adhere to the cause in which they had so long been identified; forgiving all those whose fidelity had been shaken by the Popular commotion, and to judge with candor the motives by which they had been governed.
The report closes with these eloquent and earnest words: "If Freemasonry falls, her monument will not crumble, nor her epitaph fade. It is erected upon the everlasting hills it is firmly planted in the deepest valleys. The widow's prayer of joy, the orphan's tear of gratitude as they ascend, like the dew before the solar influence, bear with them its eulogy and its praise. So long as there remains a fragment of the temples of antiquity; so long as one stone of the edifices it has consecrated shall rest upon another; so long as brotherly love, relief and truth obtain among men, so long will its mausoleum endure. The waves of popular prejudice may beat against it, the shout of popular clamor may be thrown back in echoes from its base, the winds and weathers of time may press upon it, but still it will endure; glory will encircle it. honor will be yielded to it, and veneration will be felt for the hallowed recollections it quickens into action; and hereafter when he casts his eyes over the galaxy of social institutions among men the philanthropist will involuntarily associate with his subject that other and celestial galaxy, and- realize as now. from the fiat that has effected the one, so then from the economy that controlled the other, that he will soon have to mourn for a lost Pleiades which can never more be visible in the moral constellation."
"The next session was held at Burlington, in January, 1836, and although several of the Lodges sent in their usual returns, none were represented. Instructions were given the District Deputies to receive the charters and records of Lodges desirous of surrendering the same under the resolution of 1833-4, and also from such Lodges as had forfeited their charters. The report of the Committee on Finance showed the Grand Lodge to be indebted to the Grand Secretary in the sum of $33.32. Grand ()fficers were chosen, and to relieve the several Lodges that had remained steadfast in their allegiance to the Grand Lodge and the institution of Masonry from the expense and inconvenience of attending the Grand Communications, the Grand Master, Grand Treasurer and Grand Secretary, with such other of the Grand Lodge's Officers as might see fit to attend, were authorized at the next stated Grand Communication in January, 1837, to adjourn said Lodge to the second Wednesday of January, 1838, and thereafter biennially."
"The District Deputies were requested to make inquiry in their respective Districts, and enroll the names of such Masons as continued steadfast and willing to adhere to the principles of Masonry, and that the list so obtained be transmitted to the Grand Secretary to be placed with the records in the archives of the Grand Lodge."
"In 1838-1840-1842 and 1844, the Grand Lodge Officers met and adjourned pursuant to the authority conferred by the vote of 1836. These were days of darkness and poverty for Masonry in Vermont, and of which we of this day can have but slight appreciation and understanding. But the sun of Masonry that had been so long enshrouded in the cloud of prejudice and ignorance was destined to break forth and shine with greater beauty and refulgence than ever before." The Two original lodges now on the list of Vermont Grand Lodge are Dorchester, at first No. 3 but now No. 1, and Union, at first No. 5 but now No. 2.
We have before us a brief history of Dorchester lodge which states that the following brethren were appointed by Sir John Johnson (who issued the Charter), as the first officers of the lodge: "His Excellency Gov. Thomas Chittenden, W. M.; William Brush, Esq., Senior Warden, and William Goodrich, Esq., Junior Warden, to form and open said Lodge, also a warrant from the Right Worshipful Master and Wardens warning the members of said Lodge to meet at the chamber of Col. Alex Brush in said Vergennes the 9th day of May, 1792."
"The first meeting was held on the above date. The Worshipful Master not being present the Senior Warden took the chair, and agreeable to sai<j warrant proceeded and formed said Lodge, and declared the same open on the first step in Masonry."
"The Grand Lodge of Vermont A. F. & A. M., was organized October 14, 1794, over three years after Dorchester Lodge was chartered by the Provincial Grand Lodge of the Province of Quebec."
"After the Grand Lodge of Vermont was organized it was necessary that all Lodges in this State should come under their jurisdiction, and all the Lodges that had been chartered before that date had to surrender their charters to the Grand Lodge, and receive new ones, and at the communication of Dorchester Lodge, October 5, 1795. it was, "voted unanimously that the charter of this Lodge be sent by the representative of this Lodge, or by their proxy, to the Grand Lodge to get the same endorsed, expressive of the recognition of the power and authority of the Grand Lodge, and to deliver the same, and obtain a new charter, agree able to the constitution of the Grand Lodge." The charter was delivered to the Grand Lodge, October 13, 1795. The present charter of Dorchester Lodge is dated October 12, 1798.
From New England Craftsman, Vol. XXXIII, No. 5, January 1938, Page 102:
The first Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in Vermont received its charter from the St. Andrews' Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, dated November 10, 1781. By the chapter the lodge was located at Springfield under the name of Vermont Lodge, No. 17. In this year thirty-five towns east of the Connecticut River were admitted as a part of the State of Vermont, and in October the same year a session of the Vermont Legislature was held at Charlestown. It was probably on account of this extension of the jurisdiction of Vermont over these towns of New Hampshire that the first meetings of the lodge were held in Charlestown. The officers were elected December 18, 1781, and Col. John Barrett, of Springfield, became the master and held the office for some years. This union of New Hampshire towns with Vermont was soon dissolved, and in 1788 a new lodge was chartered and located at Charlestown, and Vermont Lodge was moved to Springfield and became Vermont Lodge, No. 1.
In 1795, it was moved to Windsor, where it was held until 1831, when, owing to the anti-Masonic movement, it suspended.
October 8, 1811, St. John's Lodge, No. 31, was instituted in Springfield, and the first meeting was held in Leonard Walker's Hall on Parker Hill, October 21, 1811, when James Underwood was chosen master.
In 1832, meetings were suspended until May 7, 1853, when a meeting was held in the hall in the Tontine Building, and Rev. Robinson Smiley became master.
This lodge was reorganized February 3, 1857, under a new charter, James Lovcll being the first master of the new lodge. The number was then changed to 41.
Vermont Lodges chartered by Massachusetts Independent Grand Lodge