GoodSamaritan1

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GOOD SAMARITAN LODGE

Location: Reading

Chartered By: Benjamin Russell

Charter Date: 06/10/1816 III-44

Precedence Date: 06/10/1816

Current Status: unknown; charter vacated sometime around 1840. A petition to restore was voted upon 03/14/1855 (page V-562), but the lodge did not work under it.

NOTES


REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS

  • Petition for Charter: 1816
  • Petition for Restoration: 1855

HISTORY

NOTES IN GRAND MASTER HEARD'S ADDRESS, DECEMBER 1857

From Original Proceedings, Page 1857-36:

It has been officially communicated to me that at a special meeting of Good Samaritan Lodge, Reading, held on the 24th of September last, it was voted to deposit its Charter and book of records with the, Grand Lodge for safe keeping. The reason given for the act is, that Brethren, not members of Good Samaritan Lodge, who were active in procuring said Charter and records from where they were placed, with said Grand Lodge, and had been for years, for safety, have failed themselves to become members of said Lodge. The Master states that the remaining members of Good Samaritan Lodge are too few in number and too aged to sustain a creditable working Lodge. R. W. Bro. North, D. G. M. of the Third District, received the Charter and records and has deposited them with the Grand Treasurer. The dues of this Lodge to the Grand Lodge have been regularly paid until the present year."

NOTE ON OLD BUILDING, SEPTEMBER 1911

From New England Craftsman, Vol. VI, No. 12, September 1911, Page 407:

Bro. Dr. J. K. Frothingham, Boston, who is a member of Lodges No. 0 and No. 1,005, Scotland, has kindly mailed the following interesting item:—

During the anti-Masonic agitation of the years 1826 to 1830 in America, Good Samaritan Lodge, A. F. and A. M., of Reading, chartered in 1798, was obliged to hold its meetings in secret. The members chose for that purpose an old house, which still stands surrounded by stately elms. The Lodge finally decided to relinquish its charter about the year 1830. It was not until 1870 that the idea of forming another Lodge took definite shape, when the present flourishing Good Samaritan Lodge of Reading was founded. The old mansion together with the adjoining farm lands, has recently been purchased, and the new proprietor in the process of clearing out the building has found in an attic quite a lot of regalia and other property which was obviously Masonic. These have been carefully preserved, together with an old canteen and a musket, in a cabinet built into the wall of the sitting room, in which every article of furniture is at least 100 years old.

NOTES IN 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF GOOD SAMARITAN LODGE, NOVEMBER 1920

From Proceedings, Page 1920-366:

The town {Reading} was divided in 1812. Four years afterward a Charter was granted to Jacob Goodwin, Daniel Flint, and others for a Lodge here, Mount Moriah approving and relinquishing jurisdiction; and the original Good Samaritan Lodge, the second Lodge accredited to Reading in the Grand Lodge record, was instituted June 10, 1816.

Jacob Goodwin I do not know. The Goodwin name is reputable in the town. Daniel Flint, from the North Parish, was one of our foremost citizens, Selectman for thirteen different years, and Representative in the General Court for twelve years — eleven of them consecutive — an office which he held when the Lodge was Constituted. Of its membership or its meetings little is known. The degrees as now worked require more elaborate paraphernalia than was used or would have been available then. But the spirit of Masonry, that spirit which is superior to all ritual or ceremony, however ancient or impressive, was no doubt the same then as now. From the beginning here, as elsewhere, it has attracted men of high standing in the community, leaders in civic affairs, so that Masonry in spirit, if not through the unbroken succession of Masonic, organization, has a respectable antiquity here.

And then came the exciting events and temporary upheaval following the supposed violent death of Morgan in 1826. Morgan's so-called revelations, whatever their importance, never created the storm which followed his disappearance. Comparatively few read them and, as I said a moment ago, Masonry does not rest merely upon ritual or ceremony, nor can it be overthrown by any disclosures such as were put forth in Morgan's name. But the furor worked up over his unexplained disappearance, carefully blown into flame by shrewd and scheming politicians, was a different matter. Parties divided on the issue of Masonry and Anti-Masonry, and somebody's corpse, never proved to be Morgan's, taken out of the Niagara River, was immediately given the Morgan label, in the hope, as Thurlow Weed said, in that immortal phrase ever since used as a symbol of political chicanery, that "it would prove a good enough Morgan until after election."

Reading in the early days took its politics, like its religion, very seriously. When Anti-Masonry became a paramount political to say nothing of a religious issue, Reading could by no means keep out of the fire. And Masonry was branded not only as a civic evil, but a religious evil also. The devil, always lurking just behind the veil to the dwellers in old Reading, was now clearly seen sequestered within the portals of the local Masonic Lodge. Families were divided on the question. A man's fidelity to his church, his standing with his neighbors, his common honesty—these were all tried by the one question, was he or was he not a Mason?

Men saw red, when there was only white or at most pale blue before them. Their very sincerity intensified their prejudices. They wasted a good deal of ingenuity, that might have been better employed, in trying to circumvent the most innocent Masonic operations, which the Masons were equally ingenious in attempting to conceal.

Parson Sanborn, the long-time leader of the flock, stern theologian of the strict Calvinistic School, whose teachings had so impressed the parish in his thirty years' ministry, that, as I was once told, the people of the town could not in a century get out of their mouths the taste of the food he had fed to them, came from his nine years' retirement to give, in 1829, a powerful Anti-Masonic address, still preserved in print, though I doubt if any of you have ever seen it.

Of course, Mr. Sanborn, whose sincerity, whose fidelity to his church, cannot be questioned, had no real experience with Masonry to justify his opinions. But that was the case with many who attacked it at the time, although aided by others who were so wrought upon that they abandoned affiliation with the Order. More than three thousand Lodges surrendered their Charters between 1827 and 1830.

Good Samaritan Lodge (the first) appears in the list of Lodges for the last time in 1840. It was no doubt moribund for some time before that. One at least of its members, Esquire John Weston, one of Reading's strong men, held tenaciously to his Masonic principles, in spite of the criticisms of his neighbors. But the Lodge died and made no sign. Its Charter has disappeared. It was never returned into the Grand Lodge, and no record appears of its formal relinquishment.

Sometime, perhaps, it may be found in some collection of old papers or in some old attic where it may have slept all these years. It is probably not a very striking document upon its face, and would attract little attention from one unacquainted with its history. But it would have a distinct interest for us.

OTHER

  • 1818 (Objection regarding charter of a lodge in Andover, III-184)
  • 1823 (Petition regarding remission of dues, III-457; rejected, III-461)

DISTRICTS

1816: District 1 (Boston and Vicinity)

1821: District 9

1835: District 3


LINKS

Massachusetts Lodges