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EDWARD G. AVERY 1828-1896


  • MM 1860, Orphan's Hope
  • Charter Member 1868, WM 1868-1870, Delta
  • DDGM, Plymouth 16, 1871-1874, 1880]
  • Grand Standard Bearer 1877
  • Junior Grand Warden 1877 (elected June 1877)


From 50th Anniversary History of Delta Lodge, June 1919, Page 1919-124:

Edward Avery was born in Marblehead, Mass., March 12, 1828, the son of Gen. Samuel and Mary (Candler) Avery. After pursuing his studies in his native town and at the classical school of Mr. Brooks in Boston, he chose the profession of law and studied in the office of P. W. Choate, Esq., in Boston and also at the Harvard Law School. He was admitted to the bar in April, 1849, and began the practice of his profession at Barre, Mass. In 1850 he removed to Boston and opened a law office with George M. Hobbs as partner. The laws of bankruptcy and insolvency received his early attention and secured for him an extensive practice and a leading position at the bar, which he maintained until the time of his decease. In 1852 he married Susan Caroline Stetson, daughter of Caleb Stetson, and took up his residence in Braintree in 1853. He was a member of the lower branch of the legislature from Braintree in 1866 and of the State Senate in 1867. In the latter year he was a candidate for both the House of Representatives and State Senate and was elected to both branches, defeating the famous "Citizen" Hobart for the Senate, and took his seat in that body. He was a member of several state and national conventions of his party, was a candidate for Secretary of the State and was several times candidate for the National Congress. He was the first Master of the Lodge and held that position for the years 1868, 1869, and 1879—was District Deputy Grand Master for the Sixteenth Masonic District in 1871, 1872, 1873, 1874, and again in 1880 and in June, 1877, was elected Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge, being the only member of Delta Lodge who has been honored with a permanent membership in the Grand Lodge. He died at his residence in Boston December 29, 1896, and was buried from Emmanuel church December 31. The services were in charge of the M.W. Grand Lodge with M.W. Charles C. Hutchinson officiating with the assistance of Reverend Brother Edward A. Horton, and the offices of the church were performed by Reverends Leighton Parks and William Hyde. Delta Lodge held a special communication which convened at the Masonic Temple in Boston for the purpose of attending the funeral. So passed away one whom I have no hesitation in denominating the "Father of Delta Lodge," for it was owing to his initiative, power of attracting others to himself, and constructive ability that Delta Lodge came into being and then through his generosity and influence that the Lodge attained its high standing in its earlier years. Up to the present time he is the greatest figure in the history of the Lodge and although none of us know what the future may produce it would seem as though he might remain so for all time.


From Proceedings, 1897-260 In Grand Master's Address:

EDWARD AVERY, son of Gen. Samuel and Mary A. W. (Candler) Avery, was born in Marblehead, Mass., March 12, 1828. His early studies were pursued in the schools of his native town and later in the classical school of Mr. Brooks in Boston. Choosing the profession of law, he studied in the office of F. W. Choate, Esq., in Boston, and also at the Harvard Law School. Bro. Avery was admitted to the bar in April, 1849, and began the practice of his profession at Barre, Mass. He remained there until the winter of 1850-51 when he removed to Boston, and, with George M. Hobbs as a partner, opened a law office. The laws of bankruptcy and insolvency received his _ early and studious attention, and secured for him an extensive practice and a leading position at the bar, which he maintained until the time of his decease. Bro. Avery was a member of the lower branch of the Legislature in 1866 and of the State Senate in 1867. In the latter year he was also elected to the House from Braintree — thus being chosen a member of both branches of the Legislature at one and the same time." He took his seat in the Senate. He was a member of several State and National Conventions of his party, was a candidate for Secretary of the State, and was several times a candidate for the National Congress. For many years he was one of the most prominent leaders of those who sympathized with him iu State and national politics.

Bro. Avery was a charter member of Delta Lodge, of Weymouth; District Deputy Grand Master of District No. 16 in 1871, 1872, 1873 and 1874, and in June, 1877, was elected Junior Grand Warden to complete the unexpired term of R.W. Charles J. Danforth, deceased. R.W. Bro. Edward Avery died at his residence in Boston, Dec. 29, 1896.

A Short biography appears on Page 1919-124.




Ladies and Brethren :

Just before the breaking out of the anti-Masouic excitement, which swept over the length and breadth of our country, Orphan's Hope Lodge was chartered. The record of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts contains the simple statement that, at a Quarterly Communication held March 9, 1825, a petition of nine Brothers was received and referred, asking for the establishment of a Lodge in Weymouth. At the next Quarterly Communication, held June 8, 1825, the record shows that the petition was granted, and the Charter was duly issued, bearing date June 9, 1825. From this it appears that the present system of issuing a dispensation to petitioning Brethren at the discretion of the Most Worshipful Grand Master was not then required, but the application was made directly to the Grand Lodge. The petition 1 have been unable to find. It was probably destroyed, with many other valuable Masonic documents, at the time of the burning of the Grand Lodge building in 1864. The Brothers named as members in the Charter are John Edson, Ezra W. Sampson, Samuel B. White, Levi Bates, Samuel Vinton, Solomon Ayer, Judah Loring, John Dalrymple, David Welsh. Two of these Brothers, Ayer and Vinton, do not appear to have signed the By Laws, and probably never actively participated in the work of the Lodge. It is deeply to be regretted that the first book of records of the Lodge cannot be found.

When, or by whom, the Lodge was constituted, I am unable to say ; for, while the records of the Grand Lodge contain accounts of the constitution of other Lodges in 1825, no mention is made of Orphan's Hope. Fortunately, however, the original By-Laws—the little book which I hold in my hand—has been preserved, and from this I learn that a regular Communication of the Lodge-was held June 28, 1825, at which the By-Laws were adopted.

The first name signed to these By-Laws, other than the Charter members, is that of Laban Pratt, Jr., followed by Abraham Thayer, Randall Richards, and the respected Chaplain of the Lodge, Alvah Raymond; and I infer from certain figures in the margin that these Brethren were the four first admitted to the Lodge. After them come Timothy Gordon, Josiah Bent, Jr., Richard II Allen, Samuel Norris, Josiah Hayward, Allen Edson, Albert Hersey, Appollos Randall, Lovell Bicknell, Silas Canterbury and Caleb Stetson. Brother Stetson, who was made a Mason in 1827, was probably the last member admitted prior to the surrender of the Charter in 1830.

These By-Laws contain some curious and interesting matter, showing the crude condition of the Craft and the economy they practised. The title of the Master was Right Worshipful. The annual meeting was held on the Tuesday occurring on or before the full moon next before the twenty-fourth of June. The seven first officers were elected by ballot, and all vacancies occurring by death or resignation were filled in the same way. The officers were to be installed at the pleasure of the Lodge. Art. 3 provided that when the members became scattered, or enough to fill the first seven offices neglected to attend for six months, the Charter, records, jewels, furniture and funds were to be turned over to the Grand Lodge. Any member about to leave town might, at his own request, be suspended until he returned, and then resume his connection with the Lodge. Article 5 provided for discipline. The offences were, disclosing the private transactions of the Lodge, and giving information of applications or rejections—a wholesome provision which should be indelibly impressed on the memory of every Mason. With tender solicitude for the Brethren, the first offence called only for a reprimand ; the second offence, expulsion of a member; if not, he was debarred from visiting the Lodge. No refreshments were allowed, except by vote of the Lodge. Candidates for the degrees were voted for, and if accepted were entitled to receive the first degree. The second was to be conferred on the recommendation of the Right Worshipful Master ; the third, only by vote of the Lodge, which was to be unanimous. Special meetings called for the accommodation of a candidate were to be paid for by him, unless the expense was remitted by vote. The fee for membership was three dollars. Quarterly dues were twenty-five cents, and any member paying eight dollars could commute his quarterly dues for life. Quarterly dues were to be applied to refreshments and nothing else. Candidates for the degrees were to pay five dollars on making application, and ten dollars on taking the first degree. The Tyler was the only salaried officer, and he received fifty cents a night.

John Edson was the first Master. He was born in Bridgewater, but at the time of his election he lived in Braintree, and was connected with the Cotton Gin Co., which carried on business on the site now occupied by the Boston Flax Mills. He was Master but one year, and was succeeded by Ezra W. Sampson, a lawyer, then havirtg his office in Braintree, occupying the little building now standing on the corner of the Turnpike and Commercial Street. He removed to Dcdham when he became Clerk of the Courts, and, after a long and honorable career, died beloved and lamented by all who knew him. He was Master from 1826 to 1830.

The first officers of the Lodge were John Edson, R. W. M. ; Ezra W. Sampson, S. W.; Levi B. White, J. W.; Timothy Gordon, Sec'y; David Welsh, Tr. The Senior Warden became R. W. M. in 1826 ; Levi B. White, S. W.; Judah Loring, J. W.; and they continued in office until 1830. Alvah Raymond became Treasurer in 1826, and continued in that office until 1830. Timothy Gordon-was Secretary from the formation of the Lodge until 1830. There have been but two Secretaries since Brother Charles N. Pratt filled the office, from 1856 until the installation of the present incumbent in 1874. The Treasurers of the Lodge have been, David Welsh, Alvah Raymond, James Torrey.

If we could carry our minds back for fifty years, shutting out the gradual changes which have taken place in every department of life, we might be able to picture to ourselves the original Lodge-room and its surroundings. I have no doubt that a Mason of to-day would be somewhat startled and chagrined at being taken into the old Lodge- room. It was an upper room in the brick building now occupied by the Cowing family at Weymouth Landing. The remainder of the building was used for a dwelling-house. The furniture of the Lodge was plain and simple, its dimensions small. The sacred altar was there, simple as that used by the Brethren in olden times when they assembled under the starry-decked canopy arranged by the Groat Architect. The Great Light, the foundation of our Craft, was there; the room was dimly lighted by candles or oil lamps ; the regalia and jewels were plain. Indeed, there was nothing in the room to attract or delight the eye ; but when the Lodge was assembled, when those Brethren gathered together, there was in that little room that which might well delight the heart. There was the spirit of truth, the holy light of charity, the essence of sturdy faith and undying devotion to principle, the mellow rays of fraternal love; and these diffused through the room a brilliancy equal to that which gilded Sinai, and a sense of peace and rest which brought comfort and consolation to the Brethren.

But this quiet enjoyment was not permitted for a long time. In 1826, about a year after the Lodge was formed, in the little village of Batavia, New York, a spark was lighted that soon convulsed the entire country. One William Morgan, a dissolute and unprincipled fellow, who had been admitted, some years before, a member of the Craft, taking offence at the omission of his name as a Charter member of a Chapter organized in Batavia, and not being able to gain admittance by vote of the Body, from being, as he had before pretended, a warm and zealous friend of the Institution, became its determined foe, and resolved to make a revelation of Masonic secrets. In this resolve he was aided by one Miller, who had been admitted a Fellow-Craft, and by several others who anticipated as a result of their treachery the realization of immense wealth. An idea of the magnificence and value of the scheme may be obtained from the fact that the fifth day of August, 1826, Morgan's three associates placed him under a bond of five hundred thousand dollars to ensure the payment of one-fourth of the proceeds of their undertaking.

"At first," says an intelligent and apparently careful and unbiased writer, "Morgan's scheme was regarded by all alike as a thing of little consequence." But an unfortunate discussion of the subject occurred in the two village newspapers, which attracted attention to it, and was followed by a proposition to suppress the issuing of the proposed work by force. The considerate portion of the Masonic Fraternity took but little interest in the matter, and supposed it would soon blow over; but a few over-zealous and inconsiderate individual Masons concerted a scheme for suppressing the work, and actually assembled for the avowed purpose of breaking into Miller's office and seizing the manuscript, but dispersed without making the attempt. Two nights after this an attempt was made to burn Miller's office. This was at the time charged on Miller, and a reward for the discovery of the offender was offered by some of the Fraternity. These events occured early in 1826, and were followed by Morgan's arrest for larceny, and finally for debt. On the morning after his arrest, one Lawson called and paid the debt and procured his discharge. He was taken to a carriage waiting at the door of the jail, and driven to Rochester. From this time his fate was involved in mystery. By some it was asserted that he was taken to Fort Niagara, where he was kept a prisoner under a man by the name of Giddens, who was himself a recusant Mason. What became of him it is impossible to say. Giddens, however, gives an account of a plan for his murder by drowning, in which he, Giddens, figures as the principal actor. On the strength of this statement it was popularly believed at that time that Morgan was drowned, and of course his death was attributed to the Free Masons.

Every Lodge, and the entire body of Masons in the vicinity, denied any connection either with the disturbances or the disappearance of Morgan; and a careful review of all the evidence extant on the subject will satisfy any candid inquirer that, although some of the Brethren were indiscreet and unwise in their talk and conduct, no Mason then in good fellowship with the Craft was guilty of any overt act or violation of law.

But a free citizen of the United States had been subjected to various persecutions, arrested, unlawfully imprisoned, and finally spirited away, no one knew whither, and evidence was produced tending to show his final murder. All these acts were such gross violations of the people's sense of right, justice and personal liberty, that every mind was shocked and justly alarmed. Large rewards were offered for the discovery of Morgan, alive or dead, and for the arrest of those who were in any way instrumental in his abduction. These rewards were augmented by additional sums offered by Masonic Bodies. The mystery remained unsolved, and naturally made a deep impression on the minds of the people in the neighborhood, and prepared them to lend willing ears to any calumny that unscrupulous or ambitious men saw fit to indulge in, and appealing to some of the best feelings of our nature, to become willing instruments of proscription and persecution.

On the seventh of October, 1827, about thirteen months after Morgan's disappearance, the body of a man was found on the banks of the river, about 40 miles from Fort Niagara. It was at once supposed to be Morgan's. A coroner's inquest was called, and persons who were well acquainted with Morgan were called, and after full examination failed to identify it, and swore it did not resemble Morgan in the least; but that which remained more conclusive than any other fact was, that the pockets of the clothing found on the body were filled with religious tracts, and no one who had known Morgan ever knew him to indulge in any reading of that kind. The jury pronounced it the body of some person unknown, and it was accordingly buried. Shortly after, it was disinterred, and a second inquest held. Mrs. Morgan was called upon, and said it was the body of her husband. A couple of teeth extracted from Morgan's mouth were made to fit into two vacant places in the jaw of the body; the hair, which, when the body was first found, was said by all who saw it to differ in color from Morgan's, was now so colored as to be very like his. The body was some inches longer than Morgan's when living, but that was deemed of no consequence ; another jury pronounced it to be the body of Morgan. It was taken to Batavia, a grand procession was formed, an oration delivered, and it was buried in state. A short time afterwards, news came from Canada that one Timothy Monro had been missing since the September before the body was found; and, from the description of the body buried at Batavia, and from the contents of the pockets of the clothing found on it, his widow and children believed itto be that of Monro, and upon its being disinterred a second time, it was conclusively proven so to be, was finally taken to Canada and buried.

But the excitement had spread, and, like everything in this country, from the reading of the Bible to the hanging of the murderer, got into politics. Anti-Masonic Conventions were held all over the land. The pulpit fulminated its anathemas. The rostrum resounded with denunciations. The forum hurled its logic, and Masons were persecuted for their opinions as the Christians were of old. They were excommunicated from the Church, driven from the witness stand, excluded from serving on juries, declared to be unworthy of public trust, pointed nt as murderers of Morgan, stigmatized as assassins, and excluded from social recognition. It spread all over the country, and the little Lodge at Weymouth, with its twenty members, meeting in the upper chamber of a quiet dwelling-house, as the disciples of our blessed Lord did, soon felt the force of the storm.

I can do no better, in describing this part of its history, than to repeat the language of our late lamented W. Brother Lovell Bicknell. From this description it will be seen that he was one of the liveliest Masons made in the Lodge. He says:

"In 1825,1 applied to a Lodge, and was accepted and made a member. I remember that it was in a room in the upper part of the building. It was right in the heat of the anti-Masonic excitement. We were all watched as we went in and when we came out. Well, we stayed in that room for a time, and then moved into a hall in a schoolhouse [in N. Weymouth]. There was an ante-room where we packed away our trappings. "They broke in, sot the building on fire, stole the jewels, the Bible and everything else, stuffed the lock full of oakum, so that we could not get in, and subjected us to all manner of persecution.

"At last this excitement became so violent that we surrendered our Charter, and I took what there was left of our trappings to my house. 'Now,' said I, 'you may come here to get them, but you will have to walk over my body. Come, if you dare!"

They didn't come, and the property remained there until we revived our Charter." Another Brother, standing firm to his obligation, had his business broken up, for no one would deal with him; was watched, tormented to that degree that in 1829 he removed with his family to Boston, which he says was the best move he ever made. The Lodge was removed from Weymouth Landing to North Weymouth in 1827 or 1828, and the Charter was surrendered in 1830.

The anti-Masonic excitement raged until 1835 or '6, and was, like all such excitements with our New England minds, most violent and bitter with us. Weymouth, like most of the towns in Norfolk County, had its full share of bigots. They refused to elect a most worthy man on the school committee because he was a Mason, and petitions were circulated to purge the jury list of this town of all Masons.

It was during this period that the celebrated Declaration of Masons was made, preceded in 1830 by the laying of the cornerstone of the Temple on Temple Place, by the Grand Lodge, with a public procession and regular Masonic ceremony. For a vivid description of the events of that memorable day, I refer you to the remarks of our lamented R. W. Bro. Charles W. Moore, at the feast of St. John, Dec. 27, 1871, published with the Grand Lodge proceedings of that year, pp. 420 to 425.

The firmness and character of our Brethren affected the public mind, and the excitement in this vicinity gradually subsided, but for twenty years our Fraternity was under a ban.

At length it revived. The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church, and the persecutions of Masons attracted the attention of thinking men, and gathered into the Brotherhood many of the strongest and purest minds about us. On the tenth day of September, 1856, the Grand Lodge records show that a petition was received for the restoration of the Charter of Orphan's Hope Lodge. The names of the petitioners appear on the principal list annexed to the By-Laws of the Lodge. This petition was gotten up as the result of a meeting of Brethren held Aug. 6, 1856, at which seventeen Brothers were present. Of these the greater number had been made in other Lodges, subsequent to the surrender of the Charter, and were not therefore added to the list of petitioners. From that time forward the history of the Lodge is carefully written in the records, and it would be a work of supererogation to rehearse it.

The Lodge was born in the hour of trial, but founded on the eternal principles of justice, equality and fraternity; and, having for its aim and object that large and universal charity which recognizes God's hand in the form of every human being, it has lived through that period, and now enjoys with its offspring, Delta Lodge, that quiet peace and prosperity that only those whose aims are just and righteous can experience.

Our founders were men of science and practical skill, and their work was to educate the people of the world to a realization of the benefits and beauties of the builder's Art. But when they had accomplished this great work their labors were not finished. The operative labor of the Craft ceased altogether in 1717, but the world was then in need of just such an institution as ours, for the amelioration, civilization and moral advancement of mankind. It needs it now; and so long as we adhere to our tenets, so long as we obey the moral law, so long as we live as Masons are taught to live, so long will the world need us and so long shall we endure.

But of all nations in the world, Masonry should commend itself to ours; for every Lodge of Masons may be said to be a true type of a Republic, teaching that morality, that responsibilty to each other and that respect for the rights of others, that entire equality, that respect for law and obedience to delegated authority, upon which the stability of a Republican form of government so largely depends.

The following letters were read on this pleasant occasion, and will prove interesting to our readers:

Randolph, 12 Nov., 1875.

Brothers:—I thank you for your cordial invitation to be present at the Semi-Centennial Anniversary Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, to be holden at the Town Hall at Weymouth, on Wednesday evening, Nov. 17th. It would afford me great pleasure to be present and participate with my Masonic Brethren on this interesting occasion. I fear, however, my state of health will not permit; the will is strong, but the flesh is weak. Though absent in body, I shall be present in spirit.

"How joyous, my friends, is the cordial greeting
Which gladdens the heart of a family meeting,
When Brothers assemble 'round friendship's old shrine,
And look at the present, and talk of Lang Syne."

The occasion brings forcibly to my mind reminiscences of the past — events relating to the Masonic Institution occurring fifty years ago, and the generation of Masons who have passed away. I am one of the few now living who were present at the birth and participated in the organization of your Lodge in 1825. Among your most attentive members at that time, I well remember Brothers Sampson, Edson, Thayer, White, Randall, and last, not least, Bicknell, whose body we recently laid away, and who was well known by you all, as a true, faithful and active Mason to the last. I venerate his memory as a young Mason, for his firm adherence to the Institution in its darkest days, for the resolute firmness manifested by him on all occasions in its defence. I venerate his old age and his grey hairs now moldering in the dust—blessed be his rest!

As an enthusiastic young Mason, I became quite interested in the success of the first Masonic organization in Weymouth. Its early efforts were attended with many discouragements ; it had hardly outgrown its swaddling clothes before the sirocco of anti-Masonry came sweeping across the horizon from West to East, and the welkin rang with the report that "Masonry had murdered Morgan." The public sentiment became so intensely excited against the Institution and its members, that the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in its wisdom refused to extend the Institution, and no more Charters were granted after 1825 for a period of twenty years ; so that the charter of Orphan's Hope Lodge and three others granted in 1825, are the last of the ante-Morgan Charters in the State?

Under such discouragements did your Lodge commence her Masonic life; the youngest Lodges were specially selected for persecution, and yours received its full share of attention, and to such an extent was it carried that it required the presence of the Brethren from neighboring Lodges to protect, your meetings from open violence. I well remember the zeal with which this service was rendered, and the weapons to be used if personal safety required. I remember, too, the unearthly howls, and hellish yells, and groans, that followed us as we left the hall.

I congratulate Orphan's Hope and Delta Lodges on this memorable occasion. The one at fifty years of age finds herself in vigorous health and prosperous in all her surroundings; the other, though but six years old, unlike her venerable mother, having passed safely through the ailments incident to childhood, not arrayed in retrospect of the past, cheerfully anticipates with generous pride the future.

Long life and prosperity to Orphan's Hope and Delta Lodges of F. and A. Masons, and to all and every one of their members, at present and in the future, is the earnest hope of your Masonic Brother,

Bradford L. Wales.

Bros. Z. L. Bicknell, Leavitt Bates, Wm. S. Wallace, Committee.
Boston, 14 Nov., 1875.

Bro. Z. L. Bicknell, Chairman of the Committee of Invitation for the Semi-Centennial Anniversary of the introduction of Masonry in Weymouth. I am obliged for your kind invitation to be present with you on the evening proposed. I was received as a member of Orphan's Hope Lodge in 1827, and, unless Dr. Gordon is alive, I know but one now living, except Judah Loring, who was then a member. The Morgan excitement soon came on: there was then at Weymouth Landing a Bet of men, who are now nearly all dead, who were very bitter towards any known Mason, and it required some courage to defend ourselves from insult and abuse. The meetings of our Brothers at the Landing were interrupted by hooting and unmanly conduct. I was so indignant that I chose to leave Weymouth in 1829 for Boston, where I was relieved from any interference in my business.

I have always deemed the Institution of Freemasonry a social and beneficial one, and well worthy the attention of all well-wishers of social progress and ties of friendship in the progress of human happiness. The condition of my health will not permit me to be present with you. Please present my regards for the continued prosperity of Orphan's Hope and Delta Lodges.

Yours in fraternal regard,

Caleb Stetson.

Letters were also received from R. W. Brother Enos Loring and W. Brother Royal Whiton, of Old Colony Lodge, Hingham, and Brother Cornelius Pratt, of North Weymouth.

Distinguished Brothers