ST. JOHN'S, HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT
Location: Hartford, Connecticut
Chartered By: Jeremy Gridley
Charter Date: 03/21/1762 unknown, but present at 04/1762 meeting of Grand Lodge
Precedence Date: 03/21/1762
Current Status: Now Wyllys-St. John #4, under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut since 1795.
From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXI, No. 5, March 1862, Page 188; celebration of Centennial Anniversary; excerpts from historical address
The first charier, which is lost or mislaid, was dated 1762. The first Master of a Lodge in Hartford was John Fownley. There was but little work done during the year, the first record being under date of January 19th, 1763. At that time the Lodge met at Hezekiah Colyers, and Rt. W. John Fownley then read his deputation from Jeremy Gridley, of Boston, the Grand Master in America. After reading this, he appointed as Senior Warden, Wm. Joseph; Junior Warden, Samuel Olcott; Treasurer, George Caldwell; Abraham Beach, Secretary. The Lodge numbered 21 members at its organization. Its meetings were not held often or regular. The original members are believed to have been reputable and influential citizens of Hartford. Fownley, the First Master, was an Englishman, and his sympathies being with his native land in the war which broke out a few years later, he obtained permission to return to England and did so. Wm. Jepson, the Senior Warden, was a book and drug seller. Abraham Beach, the Secretary, was a jeweller. George Caldwell, appointed Treasurer, appears not to have acted, and Wm. Ellery was chosen to his place. Mr. Ellery lived on Dutch Point, where a street now bears his name. He was the first Postmaster of Hartford, and he received his appointment from Benjamin Franklin, the first Postmaster General of the United States. Samuel Flagg was the host of the old "Flagg Tavern." Among those who frequently visited the Lodge we find the name of Israel Putnam. Among the Masters of the Lodge may be named Thomas K. Brace; S. G. Goodrich, of "Peter Parley" fame; Col. James Ward; Dennison Morgan, and Henry Perkins. Among the members are the names of John Chenevard, Oliver Wolcott, a signer of the Declaration; Joel Barlow, the early poet of Connecticut, and Samuel Tudor. The Bible which still lies upon the altar of the Lodge has this inscription:
"This Book belongs to the Lodge of True and Accepted Masons at Hartford. Ex dono Fratris.
Andrew Thompson, July 28th, 1763."
The Lodge held its meetings, first, at Hezekiah Colyer's until June, 1763. From that time until February 22d, 1769, at the sign of the Black Horse, where the United States Hotel now stands. From that, to Flagg's Tavern, where the Universalist Church is located. In 1783 at Bull's Tavern, located on Main street at the point now occupied by the beginning of Asylum Street. Thence to the Morgan Coffee House, afterwards called the Exchange Hotel. Thence to Olmsted's Hall on Main, corner of Pratt; thence for a few irregular meetings, over Franklin Market; thence to Denslow's Hall, in the old Connecticut Hotel building; then returned to Olmsted's Hall, and finally took possession of the present Hall in Sisson's building. The work of the Lodge has not always prospered. In the days of the revolution it was altogether suspended. From 1769 to 1779 it has left no record whatever. There have been more than 800 members, of whom about 300 are now living.