From the 1865-1881 Proceedings of the M.W. Grand Lodge of West Virginia, Introduction:
In June, 1863, the State of West Virginia was formally recognized by the Government of the United States, as a separate and independent State. For nearly three years previous to this event, all communication between most of the Subordinate Lodges in West Virginia and the Grand Lodge of Virginia bad been suspended. During this time, many of these Lodges had ceased to work. The disturbed condition of affairs, growing out of the civil war, rendered it improper, and in some instances impossible for them to hold meetings. It became necessary in some cases to remove furniture, jewels, charters, &c. In some instances these were mislaid, lost or destroyed.
Gradually the tide of civil war was transferred to the extreme border; and large districts of the new State were restored to comparative tranquility. In these districts the brethren were anxious to resume their Masonic relations and labors. In several instances they found themselves unable to do so, without the aid of authority, to be obtained only from a Grand Lodge. The working Lodges themselves, began to realize very sensibly the want of the authority and discipline of such an organization.
Under the pressure of such circumstances, was discussed the organization of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia. Correspondence upon the subject was held with eminent brethren in other States. Their responses without exception, were in approval of the movement. It was encouraged, as eminently proper and necessary under the circumstances, and clearly in accordance with Masonic usage.
In response to a circular addressed by Fairmont Lodge No. 9, to the Lodges in West Virginia, a convention was held in Grafton, on the 28th day of December, 1863. This convention met daring a period of great excitement, occasioned by events of the war which prevented the attendance of delegates from some parts of the State. Although more than a constitutional number of Lodges were represented, it was thought best to adjourn the convention to meet in Fairmont, on the 22d day of February, 1864.
At the second convention, there was an increased attendance. A still larger representation of the working Lodges of the State was greatly desired, and it was again decided to postpone immediate organization. The convention adjourned to meet in Fairmont, on the 24th of June, 1864. Pursuant to order of adjournment, the convention again assembled on the 24th of June. Eight working Lodges were represented. An election for Grand officers was hold, and a day fixed for their installment. The convention then adjourned.
The Grand officers elect, before the time fixed for the installment had arrived, claimed that there was informality in the proceedings of the convention which elected them, rendering its action illegal. They therefore declined to be installed. Fairmont Lodge No. 9, then addressed the following circular to the Subordinate Lodges throughout the State:
"At a semi-monthly communication of Fairmont Lodge No. 9, of Free and Accepted Masons, begun and held at their hall in Fairmont, on Monday evening the 5th of December, A. L. 5864, A. D. 1864.
Upon motion made and seconded, tho following preamble and resolution were adopted, to-wit:
- Whereas, This Lodge is informed by its Committee of Correspondence — Brother Boyd — that after he had procured a proper person to install the Grand Officers elect of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia, he notified the G. M. and G. S. elect, of the time and place appointed for said installation, and requested the Grand Secretary to notify tho Lodges within tho bounds of said State to send proxies to the installation; and
- Whereas, the said Grand Master and Grand Secretary elect, have declined to act, from the fact, as they say, that the adjournment of the convention sine die, was irregular, and therefore tho whole proceeding of the body was null and void. And
- Whereas, this Lodge was the first to take action upon the organization of a Grand Lodge in West Virginia, and still believing that it is for the good of the Craft that a Grand Lodge be organized, therefore
- Resolved, That Brothers F. J. Fleming, C. A. Swearingen and J. N. Boyd, be, and they are hereby appointed a committee, to draft a suitable address to all the working Lodges within the bounds of this State, and to such brethren late of the Lodges not working, setting forth the necessity and propriety of organi zing a Grand Lodge in West Virginia, and inviting and urging them to appoint delegates to a Convention to be held at Fair mont on trie day of , 1865, and report to this Lodge at the earliest practicable time.
A Copy — Teste: C. A. Swearingen, Secretary.
Brethren :— In again inviting you to assemble in Convention for the purpose of organizing a Grand Lodge of the State of West Virginia, we feel that it is unnecessary for us to argue at length the right or expediency of Subordinate Lodges of this State to establish a Grand Lodge, as the very fact that we live under what is beyond all doubt a de facto State government, determines, according to the usages of the order, the legality of such a proceeding; and your own experience, since communication with the Grand Lodge of Virginia has been destroyed, must have convinced you of the necessity of a Grand Lodge.
We, therefore, respectfully and earnestly invite you to send regularly appointed delegates to a Convention to be held in Fairmont, on Wednesday evening, April 12th, 1865, for the purpose of electing the officers of a Grand Lodge. It is hoped that every working Lodge in the State will be represented. It is also hoped that brethren belonging to Lodges not active, will attend.
Brethren, please give the subject early attention in your Lodges, and let us meet and consummate the work before us, in the spirit of brotherly love and affection.
F. J. Fleming, W. M., C. A. Swearingen, Sec'y.
J. X. Boyd.
Fairmont, February 21st, 1865.