Most of the early history of Masonry in Sullivan County was excellently researched and compiled by Brothers of the Sullivan Masonic District. There are annotations to include Lodges not yet formed at the time of the creation of some of the original source work(s) materials. CopyRight and informal Bibliography are available and included.
When the writing of a Masonic history of lodges in this vicinity was first undertaken the mention of any facts other than those pertaining to the subject was not initially considered but in the course of our work many facts, of world-wide Masonic interest, affecting Sullivan County have been unearthed. Therefore: in assembling (and presenting) these facts it has been necessary to wander some from the most immediate subject; as it would seem that unless the reader has a knowledge of additional events which led up to certain incidents we have covered it would be impossible… to comprehend to the fullest extent… the manner of our craft’s operation during the past 200 or more years in Sullivan County.
Sullivan County is a section of the state which is rich in romance and Indian lore and it would be remiss of the author(s) if incidents leading up to the establishment of the County in 1809, were not touched upon briefly… Especially since there were Revolutionary War Masons who may have manned forts and blockhouses at Mamakating and Westbrookville in Sullivan County. These Masons, along with sturdy pioneers who had migrated westerly in quest of riches and the opportunities of establishing homes in Sullivan County’s fertile lands and virgin forests were among those who converted a wilderness into a place of habitation and made the first Lodge in Sullivan County: Sullivan Lodge 272 (1817-1835), possible.
The settlers who cleared the forests and made Sullivan County habitable were builders and men of vision, and Masons, according to historians who have recorded many of the deeds of the early pioneers. They were also men of character and determination whose high-wheeled wagons ferried across the Hudson from New England and from old New York towns to build new homes and breed a hardy people in these beautiful hills. One of the guiding spirits behind their success was the good which comes from the teachings of Masonry. Unfortunately, the activities of the Craft were held in strict secrecy in the early days and there is little to be found regarding the early lodges in the county. Masons in the early days are said to have continued the practice of operative Masonry despite the newer form of speculative Masonry which was governed by Grand Lodge. Like the early Masons of Sullivan County, they had found a new world far removed from the old — they had found time to mediate in the stillness of the wilderness, had toiled and fought for their homes, their loved ones and the very things which give life fullness and brings hope and encouragement. United they worked for fulfillment of their dreams. They had strengthened their unity through Masonic fellowship and for what they didn’t know about speculative they found in substitutes.
Each generation of men has found Masonry furnished something to its liking and the changing years seem to merely emphasize the fundamental virtues of the lodge. Freemasonry flourished in Sullivan County (…and in the USA…) because of the business and social climate of the times, until Anti-Masonic campaigns started in the 1730’s, were invigorated in the 1770’s, subsided slowly until the 1820’s and culminated in 1826 with the “Morgan Affair”. During these periods; there was much distrust in anyone who had anything to do with Freemasonry. We see the affects of these Anti-Masonic crusades on the documented history of the early Lodges of Sullivan County.
As to the individual life of any of the early lodges in Sullivan we know little for most of the minute books, etc., have disappeared, but, from what records we have we know that Monticello Lodge and its predecessors have made worthy contributions to the success of the fraternity and the growth of the county from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present day. Freemasonry has flourished, to what is now the largest fraternal organization or society in not only the United States; but the World as well.
Early Sullivan County History
Maurice and William Wurts, for whom Wurtsboro was named were the first to see the possibilities of the valley and their farseeing intelligence resulted in the opening of rich coal fields near Carbondale, Pa., and the construction of the Delaware and Hudson Canal through which many boatloads of Sullivan County produced tanning bark as well as Pennsylvania Coal was transported to the seaboard. Platt Pelton and a number of the early Masons earned a livelihood in the bark enterprise. Wurtsboro had begun to boom and the Indian stories about great riches which brought about a Dutch trading post in 1614 and a careful search for metals by the Delaware Swedes in 1638, had been thoroughly investigated many years before. (Their efforts did result in discovery of the Minisink mine and the “Lost Mine of the Mamakating” from which large quantities of lead were extracted, but long before the beginning of the nineteenth century when the Mamakating Valley had lost its popularity from the viewpoint of precious metals.) All this before “Modern” Free Masonry was born.
Masonry & Sullivan County: the Parallel TimeLines
Johnathan Belcher, (…who migrated from England and later became Colonial Governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire and then Colonial Governor of New Jersey…) was made a Mason in an English Lodge in 1704. This, however, was an operative lodge which existed before the formation of the first Grand Lodge of England. Therefore; modern speculative Freemasonry formerly dates back to at least 1704. While the first “official” Lodges in England were starting; the granting of colonial land tracts in Sullivan County, including the Minisink patent on August 20, 1708, did a great deal to attract the white man’s attention to colonial Sullivan County, and Masonry then began to shed its beneficent influence in the land of wilderness even before the narrow and dangerously winding trail over the Shawangunks was abandoned nearly one hundred years later… for the newly opened (1810) Newburgh and Cochecton turnpike.
Early records indicate another lodge was formed in a London tavern in 1717, which set up the first Constitution for the Free and Accepted Masons. The first Grand Lodge of England soon followed in 1725, and its beneficent influence had been realized by the brethren in America for more than 90 years before Sullivan Lodge 272 (1817-1835) was established in Sullivan County. The first lodge in the United States (…then, still a colony…), was a lodge meeting reputed to have been called in King’s Chapel in Boston in 1720 by order of the Grand Lodge of England – but proof of the meeting never has been satisfactorily procured.
It is argued, nevertheless, that at least one Lodge was in existence in Philadelphia in 1730 because we are told that the regularity of Freemasonry in the colonies did not begin until June 5, 1730, when the Duke of Norfolk, Grand Master of England, appointed Daniel Coxe, Provincial Grand Master of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Coxe was appointed for a two-year term during which time he made a brief visit to America. Historians who hold that the first authentic Grand Lodge was erected in Philadelphia argue that this lodge derived its authority from the Coxe deputation. Meanwhile; In 1732, on an old hazardous Sullivan County Native American Indian trail; Manuel Gun Sallus, a Spaniard, and his Dutch wife from Rochester, Ulster County, came to Mamakating to erect their house and be the first permanent non-native american settlers in Sullivan County.
If Philadelphia was not the first Grand Lodge (Benjamin Franklin, who was Grand Master in 1734, was not convinced that it was) then the first authentic Grand Lodge came into existence in Boston in 1733. St. Johns Lodge of Boston, Massachusetts was chartered, opened and constituted, July 30, 1733, when the Grand Master of England issued a deputation to Henry Price (or Prince) of Boston appointing him Grand Master of “New England and the dominions and territories thereunto belonging.” From centers of Freemasonry such as Boston, Mass.; Philadelphia, Pa., and Savannah, Ga., the fraternity grew, spreading its influence in every one of the colonies. Lodges were formed by many of the settlers as soon as they arrived and began to carve out new homes in the wilderness. Solomon’s Lodge No. 1 at Savannah, Georgia, was the second colonial lodge to be listed on the English Grand Lodge roll. It was chartered in 1736. A lodge at Charleston, South Carolina, was formed the same year. Masonry progressed rapidly from 1733 when the first warranted lodge was established in America until the Revolutionary period when there were warranted lodges in each of the thirteen colonies and in seven of them, including New York State, there were provincial Grand Lodges.
The First Colonial Anti-Masonic Campaign
Amid the expansion of colonial Masonry at this time, the first attack on Masonry in America occurred in New York. This followed the papal condemnation by Pope Clement XII’s claim that the Masons were immoral. Interesting enough; the Duke of Norfolk was a Roman Catholic as the members of his family have been from 1483 to the present day, and it is therefore interesting to know that it was a Roman Catholic who granted the first authority to warrant Masonic lodges in America.
In 1737, the New York Gazette acknowledged the existence of Masonic Lodges, and by reason of the secrecy of their ritual; assumed that they were following immoral practices. A special note was made that the death penalty was the punishment for revealing its secrets. The general tone of mystery made Masonry subject to suspicion. Secrecy, in the eyes of colonial Americans, could be proof of something to hide, or of some immoral activity, or of some conspiratorial plot. The same year that the New York Gazette made its charges; Philadelphia newspapers were also reporting that the Masons were immoral. These Attacks were touched off by an accident that occurred during what was claimed to be a Masonic initiation. A prospective member was burned and died a few days later. A doctor and two others who were Masons were tried by jury and convicted of manslaughter. This event was also printed in the Pennsylvania Gazette, which was edited by Ben Franklin, and made the point that the men were only posing to be members of the Fraternity. But since the Masons were already publicly suspected of conducting immoral acts; such an incident was considered proof that all of the rumors about Masons were true. However; Ben Franklin, who was an active member at the time, sought to disassociate the Masons from the act.
The Second Anti Masonic Campaign
In the Mid to later 18th century, America was a land where formal established religion was on the decline. Deism, a basic principle of the Masons at the time; was the religion of many prominent men. Of course; there were those who denounced this as a violation of moral codes, and is evidence of the widespread growth of an Anti-Masonic fervor. However; these people were unable to do anything about the Fraternity. In spite of this, a second campaign was launched against the Masons when the Anti-Masons Party of the 1770’s enlisted a clergyman as their spokesperson; and their attacks were no longer based solely upon suspicion of immorality. The Anti-Masons Party declared that the Masons were striving for political revolution, as well as religious upheaval.
This second movement gained traction as a crusade because it came to a head at a time when colonists had cause to fear for their anticipated freedom, and their possible survival as a new nation. The Reverend Jedediah Morse who became the Anti-Mason spokesperson, and was one of Boston’s leading Congregational Ministers; delivered a sermon in which he proclaimed that “mysterious forces” associated with a group known then as the Bavarian Illuminati, had taken control of the Revolution in France and the then existing French Government, and now sought to control America. He further postulated the Illuminati allegedly promoted “irreligion” and anarchy. As proof of his claims, Morse quoted a book by John Robinson; a Scottish Presbyterian clergyman, who traced the activities of the Illuminati in France. Morse also described their operations in England; where they used the Masons as a “front”, and noted their plans to move on to America, also using the Fraternity. Many Americans believed that the French Revolution was a mirror image of their own Revolution hopes, with the exception that the French had failed. Throughout New England, newspapers carried stories about the Illuminati. Editors also warned of the dangers of a conspiracy to overthrow the American Government. As proof of this; they pointed to the chaotic course that the French Revolution had taken. Perhaps the reasons for this were that some conspirators had misdirected the French people and might try to undo the American attempt at a Democratic Republican Government. Such an attempt at overthrow of the American Government of course, could not be permitted.
However; one of the few things which prevented the Anti-Masonic movement from success at the time, was that it was impossible to find proof of a connection between the Illuminati and the American Masons. Both George Washington and John Adams rejected the idea that American Masons were involved in any way with foreign conspirators. Although Jedediah Morse had further stimulated some Anti-Masonic interest; he was never able to solicit any political party to adopt Anti-Masonry as a weapon to use against any other party, because he could never produce any further evidence of the alleged connection. Additionally; another reason for his unsuccessful stump, was that many prominent Federalists were Masons, who therefore had no interest in raising the issue, and the Democratic Republicans were silent on the issue to avoid increasing Anti-French sentiments.
Even though there was much concern over the course of events in France, and the preservation of order in America, generally there was little acceptance of the notion of a contest between those who would carry on the new system of order, and those who would bring anarchy and chaos being fellow citizens. This Anti-Masonic crusade continued on through the Revolutionary War (1775–1783) where Military Lodges were established even against the then current Anti-Masonic fervor.
Revolutionary War amidst the Second Anti-Masonic Fervor.
During the second anti-masonic wave; On March 6, 1775, Prince Hall and fourteen of his companions were admitted in an Irish Lodge #441 in Boston. There were fourteen military lodges in and around Boston in that year. Of these Lodges one was English, four were Scottish and the remainders were Irish. Lodge 441 was warranted on 4 July 1765 to meet in the 38th Regiment of Foot (1st Battalion South Staffordshire).
George Washington was raised in Fredericksburg Lodge as Master Mason on August 4, 1753 – amid the first Anti-Masonic fervor. He joined with others, most of whom were Masons, in public assemblies to plan their course in the Revolutionary war. He saw his Revolutionary Comrades die for the ideals of a freedom-loving people and witnessed ceremonies in which their graves were wet with Masonic tears and decorated with sprigs of acacia. These experiences, though sad, had demonstrated the importance of unity and brotherly love during the Revolutionary war and the conflicts which preceded it. They suggested the first Congress in New York and prepared the way for a Continental Congress ten years later. These men, strangers to each other but facing the common dangers and the difficult purpose for which they were met, realized the necessity of a unity of action. We could pose a scenario that Masons from Sullivan County did participate in these Military Lodges, but we have no written record of specific Masons from Sullivan County at this time. Many of the patriots were Masons, whose deeds and actions found prominent places in the history of our country, and Sullivan County.
Ten known American Continental Army military lodges were instituted during the Revolutionary War (1775–1783) in the new American Continental Army even against the backdrop of Anti-Masonic sentiments, in the following order and by the following authorities:
- 1st. St. John’s Regimental Lodge, in the United States Battalion, July 24, 1775, by the old Provincial Grand Lodge of New York (Moderns).
- 2nd. American Union Lodge, in the Connecticut line, February 15, 1776, by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts (Moderns).
- 3rd. No. 19, on the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge Registry, in the first regiment of Pennsylvania artillery, May 18, 1779, by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania (Ancients).
- 4th. Washington Lodge, in the Massachusetts line, October 6, 1779, by the Massachusetts Grand Lodge, (Ancients).
- 5th. No. 20, on the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge registry, in a North Carolina regiment, 1779, by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania (Ancients.)
- 6th. No. 27, on the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge registry, in the Maryland line, April 4; 1780, by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania (Ancients).
- 7th. No. 28, on the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge registry, in the Pennsylvania line, July 27, 1780, by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania (Ancients).
- 8th was No. 29, formed on July 27, 1780, on the same registry and by the same Grand Lodge as No. 7.
- 9th. No. 31, on the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge registry, in the New Jersey line, March 26, 1781, by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania (Ancients).
- 10th. No. 36, on the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge registry, in the New Jersey line, September 2, 1782, by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania (Ancients).
Although a military lodge warrant had been granted by the Provincial Grand Lodge of New York for the establishment of St. John’s Regimental Lodge in July, 1775, the American Union Lodge Is said to be the first organized inside the new Continental Army, which, until it became the “Continental Army”, had been independent state Militias with existing military lodges within them. It was organized by troops of which Washington had command and held its meetings along the Hudson, in New York City and on Long Island. On September 13, 1776, its officers were either killed or taken prisoners by the British with the result that no further meetings occurred until March, 1777. In the meantime its Master, Joel Clark, died in captivity.
All the new Continental Army Military lodges convened at various places throughout the thirteen colonies and the names of many prominent Revolutionary War figures were among those recorded on the attendance listed. Washington had gathered around him stern and determined men who had left their peaceful avocations to defend their hearthstones.
American Union and the other military lodges were at work at Morristown and every other place of Revolutionary activity. Some of these men manned forts and blockhouses at Mamakating and Westbrookville in Sullivan County. Others joined wearisome marches with the Continental Armies. They experienced defeat, sickness and privations but their miseries in cheerless camps and their toils and hardships were forgotten when wearisome tramps through the wilderness of uncharted country ended and the Military Lodge opened. Their hearts lightened and their courage and determination again revived. Washington was not slow to realize that the good effects of Masonry had been reflected wherever military lodge communications were held. This realization and the influence of Masonic fellowship aided him to weather the 1777 military campaign which gave history the battles of Brandywine and Germantown, the evacuation of Philadelphia by Congress, the occupation by British troops and the retirement of the American Army to winter quarters at Valley Forge. Washington watched his shoeless and inadequately clothed army march in on snowy trails splotched with blood and remarked, “Poor fellows.” The reply came in true Masonic spirit, “God bless Your Excellency, you are the poor soldier’s friend.” Such was the courage and determination of Sullivan’s hardy pioneers. Washington attended lodge at New Winsor [sic], Newburgh, Poughkeepsie.. Kingston and other places along, the Hudson river.
The United States of America owes a great deal to Masonry for Masons and ideals born of Masonic beliefs were largely responsible for a safe steerage through the trying days of Colonial infancy. Likewise, Masonry owes a great deal to the country which has made possible its perpetuation. Masonry has had the names of great statesmen on its rolls and statesmen have been influenced to greatness by Masonry. Many great and prominent men in American history were Masons. Included among these Colonial patriotic Masons were Samuel Adams, father of American Revolution; Patrick Henry, the first Republican Governor of Virginia and author of “Give me liberty or give me death.” Paul Revere, whose midnight ride and cry of alarm enabled the Middlesex farmers to prepare for the battle of Lexington; James Otis, William Daws, John Hancock, Peyton Randolf; who presided over the Philadelphia convention, was the Provincial Grand Master of Virginia, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, and George Washington…just to name a few, and many others, who sought for independence and a free and powerful land. George Washington was among the leaders of Colonial days who worked with the foremost men in the Masonic fraternity to launch the new nation.
Post Revolutionary War Masonry Amidst the 2nd Anti-Masonic Campaign
The second Anti-Masonic campaign continued into the 1790’s with a similar slim chance of success of praying on the high anxiety of the citizens of the new nation. The dark days when the light of happiness and security began to dim, had been brightened by the light of Masonry and one time bewildered people now saw the fulfillment of their hopes under a government headed by a Mason and based upon Masonic ideals which had been born in the minds of a congress of delegates in Philadelphia. Since the Anti-Masons could only claim that the Masons were a threat to the nation, there wasn’t any evidence strong enough to attract the serious interest of the people. Something dramatic had to occur first in order to substantiate such a claim in order to rally the American citizens. Then the movement would have to prove it had the solution for the problem. Since formal religions were weak, and religious toleration was brought forth in the U.S. Constitution, the Masons capitalized on the prestige of men like Ben Franklin and George Washington (et al leaders), all of whom were Masons. There seemed to be little hope of checking the Fraternity because of their secular nature.
In contrast to this Anti-Masonic fervor – in the years following the Revolutionary War (1775–1783), Freemasonry attained its peak of popularity. After the revolutionary war, and before 1798, many additional Lodges, (…including in New York…) had drawn up a Charter, and either became affiliated with the Grand Lodge of Boston, or had even chartered their own State’s Grand Lodges. When the Boston Military Lodge returned to the area around Boston, after the revolutionary war in 1783, Prince Hall and his Brethren reached out to England and were given the authority to meet as a Lodge, form Processions on Saints John’s Day, and conduct Masonic funerals, but not to confer degrees nor to do other Masonic work. These Brothers later applied for and obtained a Warrant from the Grand Lodge of England in 1784 and were formed under the Grand Lodge of England as African Lodge #459, in Boston.
In 1798; President John Q. Adams refused to accept the claim that any American Citizen would join to plot against the American Government, although he did believe the worst about the secret societies in France. He thought if there was such a conspiracy; it had to be one comprised of foreign citizens, rather than one consisting of Americans. George Washington; a long standing Mason, shared the views of then President Adams. When Washington died; many prominent Masons turned out for the services, probably to ensure the public knew he was a member. Additionally; In a letter to the Masons of the Grand Lodge of Maryland in 1798, President Adams wrote: “It has been an opinion of many considerate men, for as long as I can remember, that your society might, in some time or another, be made into an instrument of danger and disorder to the world. Its ancient existence and universal prevalence are good proofs that it has not heretofore been applied to mischievous purposes… I presume that no one has attempted to employ it for purposes foreign from its original institution.”
19th Century Masonry
Into the start of the 1800’s; the second anti-masonic campaign continued; during the presidential election of 1800, there was much said about Jefferson in his election: to the tune of how the fall of the American Government was imminent – however – most Americans, even those few accepting the claim of a conspiracy, again; would reject the assumption that their fellow citizens would be involved in such a plot. Since many of the prominent leaders of the nation assured the public that there was little danger of any governmental upset, Americans felt somewhat at ease. This eventually caused the cries of such Anti-Masons as Jedediah Morse to become less and less heard, and eventually to be silenced.
Meanwhile; even against a backdrop of the 2nd anti-masonic campaign, post colonial sullivan county had continued to grow… The Newburgh-Cochecton Turnpike Company was incorporated in 1801 with a capital of $125,000, and as their superficial enterprise progressed through nearly 50 miles of wilderness inhabited by a few scattered pioneers, eyes turned westward. A heavily-traveled toll road was superceding the winding wagon trail to Monticello. The Newburgh-Cochecton Turnpike is now known as Route 17 [sic], to Monticello and Liberty and to the West along 17B to Cochecton. This allowed for further expansion of Sullivan County.
1811 – 1826: Turmoil and Change; Amidst the 2nd Anti Masonic Campaign…
All warranted American Lodges existing before the French and Indian War (1754–1763) had operated under the supervision of both the Grand Lodge of England and the Ancient Masons, which in 1738; arose independently beside the regular Grand Lodge of England. The Ancients have been classed under the name of Free and Accepted Masons and the Moderns under the name of Freemasons. These two separate bodies were formed when a number of brethren in London became dissatisfied with certain transactions of the Grand Lodge of England and began to hold meetings and initiate candidates without the sanction and authority of the Grand Lodge. Dissension between the two Grand Lodges lasted until the year 1813 when the two bodies consolidated under the name and title of the United Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons of England. Four years later (1817) the Grand Lodges in America united under the same name.
Meanwhile… On February 16, 1812 (a significant date to Prince Hall Masons) the African Lodge 459 of Boston, Massachusetts, issued a facsimile of their charter to a number of black Masons to establish a lodge in New York City under the name “African Lodge of New York”, later known as “Boyer Lodge of New York”. The name of the Lodge was later chosen in honor of Jean Pierre Boyer who black Masons admired and respected for his significant role in Haiti’s war of liberation from France. Thus, the year 1812 marked the beginning of “African American” Freemasonry in the State of New York. ( Boyer lodge came under investigation by the then fractured White Grand Lodge(s) on the 3rd of March, 1812, which was one month after its establishment – and passed.)
At that same time; some of Sullivan County’s growing numbers of post-colonial settlers were members of lodges in America while others had become Masons in lodges across the sea. Among the latter was Daniel Niven. Niven had been a Mason only three years when he reached the land of opportunity. George Washington, the Mason, leader and advocate of religious and political freedom, was then completing his first term of office under a constitution born when clouds of political adversity had gathered over the colonies in 1774. The outcome of the continental congress was the beginning of a new era which was to make Niven the Mason emigrant as well as Washington the Mason leader of a new nation, conscious of their mystic Masonic ties.
Sullivan Lodge 272 (1817-1835) was in its formation while the Provincial Grand Lodge of the State of New York was operating as an ancient body. At that time: Sullivan Lodge 272 (1817-1835) had been in operation under a charter for one year – while Bloomingburgh Lodge 310 (1818-1833) didn’t have to deal with that issue… because in 1817 (after Sullivan Lodge 272 formation) the existing Grand Lodges in the America united under the same name.
At the same time Bloomingburgh Lodge 310 was forming in Sullivan County, On October 2nd, 1818, there appeared a notice in several local new york city newspapers, calling for a meeting of a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons and also on October 6th, 1818 in the City of New York, a lodge also called, the “African Lodge” (Boyer Lodge) placed a notice. The notice was signed: Sandy Lattion, Worshipful Master of Boyer Lodge. Interestingly enough, just one day later, on October 7th, 1818, the newly reorganized White Grand Lodge of the State of New York called a special meeting, in what appeared to be an urgent meeting, to convene and investigate this matter. As a consequence, a Committee was appointed to investigate, and report back. This information was thunderous, since approximately ten thousand of the forty thousand Blacks in the State, were still under the yoke of the institutional of enslavement. Sadly; this “incursion” into, “Their Territory and Fraternity”, was a hard pill to swallow by many whites within our State when hearing of an established and operating Masonic Lodge composed of Free Black Men in New York City. What was forgotten is that prior to 1818, Boyer Lodge was already investigated on the 3rd of March, 1812, which was one month after its establishment.
The warrant for the first lodge in Monticello — Sullivan Lodge 272 (1817-1835) — was signed by DeWitt Clinton, who was then the Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York, and John Wells, Grand Secretary. Clinton had just started his first of three terms as governor when the petition was presented in 1811. Between then and the warranting of Sullivan Lodge in 1817, Clinton ran an unsuccessful bid for president of the U.S. (1812), and served as mayor of NYC (1811-1813). He had the distinction of serving both as mayor of NYC and lieutenant governor at the same time. Clinton was one of the highest-ranking Masons in the Union during the 1826 Morgan affair – the infamous persecution which threatened the continuation of the craft.
Sullivan Lodge 272 (1817-1835) is said to have been named in honor of the County but it is more than likely that the county’s first Masons, who conceived the idea of organizing a lodge in Monticello in 1811, had attended a military meeting with Major General Sullivan when his military Lodge convened in the camp of Major General John Sullivan, the patriot in whose honor allegedly the county is named. Sullivan was the first to conduct a Masonic meeting in Delaware Valley. Major General Sullivan took Masonry seriously. He was honored by Masons of his home state, New Hampshire, where he was elected its first Grand Master. He had been raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason before the Revolutionary War.
It is also within the realm of possibility that Masons who attended the old Sullivan Lodge 272 (1817-1835), or Bloomingburgh Lodge 310 (1818-1833), may have attended one of the Loyalist Military Lodges frequented by Sir (John) Johnson. Colonel (Guy) Johnson and their Mohawk Indian ally, Chief Joseph Brant, the latter a Mohawk Indian Chief who was protégé of Sir (William) Johnson, a British man, appointed superintendent of the Nations of Indians. Although Chief Joseph Brant, a full-blooded Mohawk Indian, traveled extensively through this county, and has been the object of considerable comment in the history of Sullivan County, he possessed many redeeming qualities.
General Sullivan’s expedition against the Loyalists and Indians brought about a situation resulting in clashes between the forces of the General and those of the Johnson’s and Colonels’ Butler and Claus, which were led by a British Captain and Chief Joseph Brant. Very often Mohawk Chief Brant was paid tribute for his remembrance of Masonic vows but the eyes of Johnson and Butler had become blind to the Mason’s sign and their ears deaf to the Mason’s word. On many occasions he is said to have endangered his safety to rescue a fellow-Mason from Indian tomahawk. Chief Joseph Brant was a Chief of the Mohawks until the widowed Sir William Johnson took the Chief’s sister as his mistress. Had it not been for the meeting of Johnson and this Indian girl Chief Joseph Brant might never have traveled the wilds of Sullivan and its adjoining counties to destroy property, murder and also to identify himself as a Mason. It is equally as conceivable that he would not have been educated or initiated into Masonic membership had Johnson the Mason not come into his life. Chief Brant‘s sister, Molly, possessor of rare beauty, was present one day at a military review and playfully asked an officer riding on parade to allow her to ride with him. He consented without realizing she would have the courage to attempt it, but she quickly mounted and, with her dark hair streaming in the air, rode around the parade ground to the amusement and admiration of the spectators. Among those who witnessed the spectacle was Sir William who was so impressed by her that he took her to his home as his wife in a manner consistent with Indian customs. They later were married at an Episcopal church ceremony. Chief Brant took up abode with the Johnsons and he and several children which issued from his sister’s union were educated at Dr. Eleazer Wheelock’s school at Lebanon, Connecticut, the town from which John P. and Samuel F. Jones emigrated to Monticello. In 1770 Dr. Wheelock removed his family and school consisting of 18 whites and six Indians’ to Hanover, N.H., to establish Darthmouth College [sic] where the children of Chief Brant were later educated. Chief Brant was educated for the Christian ministry but never joined the ranks of the clergy, as did Samson Occom, the famous Mohegan Indian preacher. Many times when one of his captured and seemingly doomed enemies was identified as a Mason, Chief Brant is said to have affected his release. (The addendum story of Captain McKinstry is one such example.)
in 1823; The Grand Lodge of New York became divided and there resulted the formation of the City Grand Lodge and the Country Grand Lodge, Sullivan Lodge 272 (1817-1835) coming under the jurisdiction of the latter. it is Unknown as to which jurisdiction Bloomingburgh Lodge 310 (1818-1833) fell.
The rift occurred as Upstate lodges were desirous of moving the Grand Lodge to their city, among those most commonly considered being Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Kingston and Albany. There also arose questions relative to Grand Visitors and the collection of Grand Lodge dues by the same; the paying of Proxies or Representatives to the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge in June of each year; and the withdrawal of the right of Past Masters to a voice to vote in Grand Lodge.
The Grand Lodge of NY took a firm stand in this crisis and was loyally backed by country lodges, which included those from Sullivan Lodge 272 (1817-1835). Just as determined were the delegates from the city district. They convened the day before the Grand Lodge opened and selected their Grand Secretary and Grand Treasurer from the upstate districts. At the opening of the Grand Lodge on June 3rd, 1823, the following day, resolutions were offered in an effort to modify the situation. A heated debate ensued with the result that City Grand Lodge adopted a resolution* which provided that there should be two Grand Lodges, one in the city and one in the country districts.
Finally, in 1826, before the full fury of the Morgan incident broke out, a reunion was accomplished and Past Masters were granted the right of vote and voice in Grand Lodge. ( *Not agreed to by the regular (country) Grand Lodge. ) During this period; Sullivan Lodge 272 (1817-1835) and Bloomingburgh Lodge 310 (1818-1833) enjoyed an era of prosperity and had a crowded trestle board which attracted the county’s leading men. Also by 1826, the Prince Hall Lodge in Massachusetts had chartered two other NYC Lodges: Rising Sun No. 3 in Brooklyn and Hiram # 4 in NY City. Other lodges throughout the state had experienced similar prosperous conditions through the period – even with these internal struggles – and yet another (3rd) Anti-Masonic campaign fervor that began in 1826.
During the 1820’s; Anti-Masons once again tried to fan the flames, and garner national public interest. Just as in the latter half of the 1700’s; Americans were surrounded by a cloud of anxiety over the alleged loss of traditional beliefs, and the fear that the principals for which the country was founded, were dying, or otherwise changing (especially since all the original “founding fathers” had died), combined with the uncertainty of the significant national economic changes happening after the the Louisana Purchase in 1803, and the War of 1812, and the collapse of formerly established political organizations and parties.
The only significant difference between any of the movements was that the 1820’s movement was more successful in promoting a crusade against the Masons. This renewed Anti-Masonic crusade also began in New York. It is difficult to find definitive reasons for Anti-Masonry in this era, although it is also historically linked to the numerous religious revivals and reform campaigns, and Anti-Mason Party stumps that were conducted in the region. Anti-Masons were especially concerned about the level of morality in society (“moralists”), but not all citizens who were Moralists became Anti-Masons, while all Anti-Masons were Moralists.
At the same time the public coupled the ideas of the Moralists to those of equal rights, equal opportunity, and social equality. In the states where political party lines were unclear; the Anti-Masonic movement was the strongest… for example – like in Vermont – who had no coherent party system: Anti-Masonry became a major political force – as opposed to neighboring New Hampshire; which had strong party organizations, where Anti-Masonry had little importance, influence, or affect.
1826 – The Morgan Affair = The 3rd Anti-Masonic Campaign
Historians vary as to William Morgan’s character but generally agree that he was born in Virginia about 1776. He is said to have served as captain with General Andrew Jackson at New Orleans during the War of 1812. Later he returned to Virginia, married and settled down to pursue his trade of bricklayer and mason.
In 1821 he moved to York, Canada, where fire burned a brewing business he had established and reduced him to poverty. He then moved to Rochester, N.Y., and again engaged in his old trade. William Morgan had gained entrance to Batavia Lodge No. 433, after inducing a man by the name of Warren to vouch for him. Although not a member of record at the Batavia Lodge or any other lodge he was successful in joining the Royal Arch Masons in LeRoy in 1825. Later he attached his name to a petition to form a Royal Arch Chapter in Batavia, N.Y., but being suspicious of him being a pretender the request was denied. Not allowed to sign a second petition, regarded as an imposter and then denied financial support of the Masons, Morgan’s mental and physical sufferings increased.
Shortly afterwards he is said to have become an, extremely intemperate man and soon lost the fine appearance and oratorical ability he had possessed before his bankruptcy and inebriety. He needed money and was ready to take desperate risks in obtaining it, so he conceived the idea of preparing a book for the purpose of disclosing the secrets of Masonry. Although not a qualified Master Mason he became well versed in its secrets and set about to divulge them.
In 1826, Morgan finished a book on Masonry, disclosing its usages, oaths, and obligations. Morgan declared that Masonry “…is powerful… it comprises men of rank, wealth, office and talent, in power and out, and in almost any place where power is of any importance… and are capable of being directed by the efforts of another so as to have concert through the civilized world… It is so powerful that it fears nothing from violence, either public or private, for it has every means to learn it in season, to counteract, defeat, and punish it.”
On September 11, 1826, while internal affairs of the local lodges were still unsettled, William Morgan, a traitor to the Craft, while being held upon jail “limits” in Batavia, N.Y. was arrested on a Canandaigua County warrant for petty larceny. He was arraigned on this charge and after dismissal of the case was arrested again on another debt charge and jailed that same day. He was released late that same night in the early hours of September 12th, after several Masons had satisfied the debt judgment to which he had confessed, earlier that day. In those early hours of September 12th, 1826, he was then taken by force, and mysteriously driven away in a carriage, to Canandaigua, New York… about 50 miles away. Then, he was forced into a post coach, and driven to Rochester and finally, another 100 miles away, to Fort Niagara, where for several days he was confined. He was then lost to sight. William Morgan was never seen again.
About the same time, David C. Miller, an Army Colonel and printer who had received the Entered Apprentice Degree, took Morgan’s manuscript and set his idle presses to work, in hopes that he too might receive some much needed cash. Colonel Miller; the publisher of Morgan’s book, was also seized in Batavia, and taken to LeRoy, New York. However; he escaped, and safely returned to Batavia.
The whole abduction was committed by New York Masons (… including the then Master of Canandaigua Lodge 23 [now 294]…). Pains were taken to ensure that even the drivers were Masons. Accidentally, however; the last driver was not a Mason. He went to Fort Niagara, and noted some observations about his trip. This troubled the men of a Masonic Lodge; who called a special meeting, to initiate him as a member, so he could not be used as a witness against them.
Later, James Ganson; one of the conspirators, said that Morgan was “put where he would stay put until God should call for him”. Masons were charged with abducting him and inasmuch as no trace of him could be found; politicians, anti-Masons, and zealous clergymen lost no time in assuming that he had been murdered by members of the fraternity whose trust he had violated.Three men were eventually tried, and given prison terms for their part in the affair.
Masons have consistently, and continuously insisted that Morgan escaped and became missing, rather than a murdered person. The kidnappers were eventually acquitted. The acquittal aroused protests, and Anti-Masonic newspapers were founded to spread the story of the “Masonic crime” – especially when it was noted that the judge and most of the jury were Masons. Those who wrote articles against the Masons argued that the testimony given at the trial was sufficient to have convicted the accused Masons. Since they were acquitted and freed; they assumed that the Masons had subverted the justice system.
To the Anti-Masons; this was fertile proof that the crime was not the work of only a few, but of the whole Masonic Fraternity. The Morgan affair prompted further investigation into the Masons. Anti-Masons discovered that although the number of Masons in New York was, at the time, a relatively small percentage of the general population; they held most of the high judicial and political positions around the State. Anti-Masons again pointed to the Mason’s secret rituals, those that Morgan exposed, that the Fraternity considers so important that they had to do away with him. They reminded the public that secrecy was indicative of darkness, and that was the realm of evil – an evil that perhaps wanted to undermine religion. In the rhetoric of the day; Reverend Morse, and the Illuminati were again cited, giving way to a closed society, where the Masons controlled all the wealth.
During the first year after the Morgan Affair, Anti-Masonic agitation became another crusade against the Fraternity as a threat to the moral quality of American society, and the spirit of democracy. The Anti-Masons were not openly against any individual Mason; but were against the whole Fraternity – under the belief that once the Masonic Fraternity was dispelled or disbanded, the individual Masons would abandon their Lodges. At the time, many Masons did just that, and of course; anyone who was interested in becoming a Mason, gave up the idea. Sadly; many who left Masonic Lodges played an active role in the Anti-Masonic crusade: since they could best expose the evils and dangers of Masonry. It was believed that individual Masons could not successfully be brought to trial, even if they had indeed broken the law, since; as it was portrayed in the Morgan Affair: the Masons protected each other.
Although William Morgan’s fate remains to this day, a matter of historical dispute; the consequences of his abduction are quite clear: the rise of the 3rd Anti-Masonic Movement, and the formation of the Anti-Masonic Political Party, and the near destruction of the Fraternity in the American North-East, and parts of the South. Morgan’s Abduction was highly illegal, immoral, and utterly un-Masonic, and it deeply wounded the Fraternity for generations.
Morgan Affair Spreads to Sullivan County
Amid the turmoil of this 3rd wave of Anti-Masonry, and it’s capstone of the Morgan Affair – a canal, as well as a railroad, was commenced in 1826 and completed in 1828. On December 3, 1828, a fleet of six boats laden with 120 tons of coal passed through Mamakating Hollow, now Wurtsboro on their way to the Hudson. The cheering Dutch families and the more recent Yankees witnessed the great spectacle. At last the gloom which reigned along the westward slopes of the Shawangunk mountains was broken by the busy din of commercial enterprise. Millions of tons of coal and other merchandise were transported through the artificial channel during its years of activities.
Different theories were advanced as to Morgan’s later years. The Republican Watchman, Sullivan County’s leading newspaper, expressed a general belief that Morgan was removed from Batavia for the purpose of taking him from under the influence of Miller. The eventual disposition of Morgan has remained a mystery throughout the years, even to today. He was reported to have been settled on a farm in Canada. It was also reported that Morgan had gone abroad. Newspapers devoted extensive space to articles about his going with Brant to the Northwest settlement. In most of the Morgan articles which appeared locally in those days there rang a loud note of Masonic condemnation. The local newspapers were divided in opinion and the Masonic topic supplied a reservoir of news which was popular and interesting to readers, some of whom enjoyed a lampooning style and others who enjoyed notes of praise for the fraternity.
The issue was purposely confused with politics, religion and plain jealousy for the fraternity. That’s probably why it took until 1858 to attempt to form another Lodge in Monticello (Monticello Lodge 460 (1858-1862)). But all through this trying period all but one of the first officers of Sullivan Lodge 272 (1817-1835), and most all of its members, maintained loyal and not once attempted to conceal their identity as Masons. Others of Sullivan Lodge 272 (1817-1835) were more timid, however, and either ceased to remain active or declared themselves anti-Masons. Men who had joined Sullivan Lodge 272 (1817-1835) inspired by the good it had brought during Washington’s life and during the time that Masonry had flourished, were openly accused of being “Sunshine Masons” (men who had joined the Craft for their own political advantages).
Sheriff David Hammond attacked Masonry with all the venom early penmen could muster in the Sullivan County Herald, which he and the anti-Masonic party established in the Fall of 1831. Hammond was presidential elector and cast his vote for James Monroe when the latter was re-elected President in 1820. Hammond, too, had been a Mason but anti-Masonic forces became his master. He served as the fifth sheriff of Sullivan County in 1815, and built the Mansion House, now a part of the Monticello Inn. Hammond was one of several who backed the Herald financially.
Of Masonry in general, Peter F. Hunn, editor of the anti-Masonic Sullivan County Herald wrote, “We are in favor of sustaining the laws as expounded by the Democracy; a protective tariff; the United States Government; and measures embraced in what was then known as the American system of Henry Clay. “Freemasonry”, he continued, [“]was seen in the days of prosperity and glory, we believe it to have been a useless, frivolous and pensile institution. As such we should never wage war upon it; but it is in our opinion as mischievous as it is useless. It is calculated effectually to destroy that confidence which should exist between the different members of the same community.” This comment in the first issue of the Herald appeared on September 19, 1832, and is typical of the warped and fancied ideas of political opportunists such as Hunn and others who had tried but failed to usurp the fraternity’s rights, teachings and privileges for political betterment. Commenting at length, Hunn set forth his objections which were adduced from the case of Morgan and declared that he “would labor to attain an entire suppression of the order.” But the average sound-minded and thorough thinking reader in those days found it impossible to follow the Hun theory, neither did they find it possible to follow it in print with the result that they gradually sought substitute and more authentic reading. Finding insufficient patronage publication of the Herald ceased in 1837. Hunn had rightfully considered the Herald’s fate and had ceased his employment as editor a year or so before. He had helped the enemies of Masonry to prolong their unwarranted attacks but failed miserably in fulfilling his boast. He had been a Mason prior to becoming possessed with anti-Masonic beliefs. He was given an opportunity to view Masonry as its enemy but like many others of his calibre his eventual side was with the fraternity he had so bitterly attacked. His fantastic beliefs while editor of the Herald no doubt had enabled him and many others to determine he was wrong and in the end Hunn and his fiends belatedly attempted to right their wrongs by working with and for the fraternity and its principles. Hunn was persuasive and commanding in his literary and oratorical work and had gained a number of recruits for what he promised would be a more prolific group. He was helped in his work by religious groups and politicians who saw opportunities as “Anties”. The timid group he failed to convert to his way of thinking but nevertheless they discontinued their membership rather than to live under the fear of being shunned as the believers in something that was “harmful”.
E.C. Wood, a member of Bloomingburgh Lodge 310 (1818-1833), was a well known Bloomingburgh resident who deserted the fraternity in 1827 but respected it enough to ask for a discontinuance of his membership. An account of the controversy which followed his action appeared in the Republican Watchman on October 26, 1830; over the signature of the “Vulcan”. The “Vulcan’” pointed out that Wood had particularly distinguished himself in the political anti-Masonic excitement which was raised in the county and more especially in a series of resolutions, reported by himself and others to a meeting held in Monticello on October 25, 1830, in which the whole Masonic fraternity was denounced as a band of criminals guilty of every crime. “It may not be uninteresting to your readers,” wrote the “Vulcan”, “to learn the real character of the pretended pious patriot,” For this purpose I send you the following literal copy of a note addressed by him to the Bloomingburgh Lodge, on the occasion of his withdrawal from the same as an evidence or his opinion of the institution at that time:
“Bloomingburgh, Dec. 29, 1827, “To the Master and Wardens of Bloomingburgh Lodge No. 310: “I do hereby petition the Lodge, for a certificate of my membership and standing in said Lodge, and I wish to discontinue my membership. Respectfully yours, C.E. WOOD.”
In commenting on Wood’s request, the “Vulcan” said:
“The reader will observe that up to the 29th of December, 1827, Mr. C. Wood set so much value upon the institution that he actually petitioned the Lodge to which he belonged for a “certificate of his membership and standing.” Why do this, if it was as corrupt and depraved as he now represents it? What! Petition “a band of midnight conspirators, kidnappers, and murderers” for a certificate of his fellowship with them in their dark scenes of human depravity? Ask from them written evidence of his participation in those horrid deeds which crimsoned the earth with the blood of the innocent and perverted the ends or justice on the most important occasions, by the dark mysteries of the order? And all this, too, while he was an ardent professor of our bold religion, and mingling in sacred communion around the table of his Master? If the sense or feeling could be communicated to the paper on which I write, it would blush at the very thought! The fate of Morgan had long before this date been sealed, and if his death was, as Mr. Wood now says, the “result of a systematic arrangement or the order,” and if by the term order he means to incriminate the whole institution, as the language evidently implies, then he was an associate actor in the infernal deed, and the hand which raised the broken emblem of his crucified Savior to his lips, was stained with a “brother’s” blood! If, Mr. Wood dares come out and plead guilty to this charge which he had deliberately preferred against the order, a discerning public will judge what credit ought in justice to be awarded to him who could carefully conceal his guilt until confession became popular! and if he refuses to do this, and disclaims ail participation in the affair, the same public will award the measure of reliance which is due to the assertions of one who employs himself in picking up the common reports of the day and charging them as facts, against an institution of which, although a member in full communion, he was entirely ignorant. It is a matter of Some doubt, whether the ignorance, or the depravity of this man ought to be the more sincerely pitied. “VULCAN.”
Mamakating, Oct. 21, 1830 ― ● ― Mr. Editor: I send you inclosed some’ extracts from the last part of the third chapter of the second book of the Chronicles of the Anti-Masons, which book contains the acts of the political Anties, since they become fully Anti-Jackson, and wholly Anti-Republican, having received from Daniel Webster & Co. a transfer of ail the Adams men, including the leading Masons, and placed them safely under the cloak of Anti-Masonry. And it came to pass on the 19th day of the tenth month, of the year Anti-Masonry, that the anties assembled themselves’ together, at the Anti-Masonic hotel of Stephen the Publican (Stephen Hamilton, early innkeeper in Monticello). And of those that came from the North and the East and the West, there were the Luddingtonites, the VanTuylites, the Woodites, the Schofteldites, and the Bennettites, and all the different clans, we numbered and of the whole were a full score and three men. And they essayed to name a man for one of the rulers of the people; and the arose a strife amongst the different clans, for lo there were many that had joined themselves to the Anties through the hope of office. And there was amongst them a valiant man called Harley, a leader of the Luddingtonites, who stood boldly forth the midst of them and lifted up his voice and proclaimed that he had already look out a wise man by the name of James of the numerous race of Jacksonians, who inhabited the North, all of whom would follow after James and bring great numbers to the Anties. But Otto and Cornelius, and many other wise men seemed to doubt the truth of the sayings of Harley, and alleged that when James and his kindred and followers, discovered that the Anties were aiming to remove Andrew, the ruler of the nation, and to place Henry the man of Clay, in his stead, they would return again to Andrew, for all the Jacksonian race loved Andrew for his valiant deeds and nothing short of office could have induced James to turn against Andrew and his old friends. And it came to pass whilst they were yet contending, that there appeared amongst them a wise man, a very great Magician, from the land of Ulster, whose business it was to devise and publish marvelous tales to deceive the people and draw them unwittingly from the support of Andrew. And be said unto them, “Men and brethren, ye must curb your lust for office yet a little longer. Know ye not, that all the Anties, including the Adams men, the anti-Republicans and all the opponents of the Jacksonians number not their strength, and unless we can devise means to draw off part of their strength by selecting those who have been partisans of Andrew, none of ye can hope for office? Therefore, I pronounce the wisdom of Harley to be greater than all of ye – he is a modest man, wants no office, serves for the good of our cause, and shall henceforth be the leader of all the Anties In Sullivan. So the Luddingtonites prevailed and James turned against his old friends; rent his garments and put On the cloak of the Anties for the sake of being named for ruler amongst the people. And it came to pass that the wise man from Ulster proclaimed that Hiram, the Schofleldite, had also consented to be named for another ruler. But when he had departed and was afar off, Hiram returned from walking up and down upon the earth, and said he had found that the good people of Ulster had found out the tricks of the Anties and set their faces against them; and forsooth he had been a politician too long to be deceived; consequently that he, Hiram, had repented his promise and should not be named as the ruler of the Anties.Liberty, October 23, 1830.
A forerunner to the meeting on October 25, 1830, to which the “Vulcan” alludes, was held in Monticello on July 17, 1810. A notice of the meeting was printed in the Republican Watchman on July 12, 1830 as follows:
NOTICE A county convention of the citizens of Sullivan County opposed to Masonry, and secret society, will be held at the house of Stephen Hamilton in Monticello on Saturday the 17th of July, inst. at 4 o’clock P. M. for the purpose of appointing a delegate to attend the anti-Masonic convention to be held at the village of Utica on the 11th day of August next, and for other purposes. The citizens of the different towns are requested to send two or more delegates to represent them at said meeting. – Thompson, 5th day of July, 1830.
The notice did not appear without editorial comment, however. Frederick A. Devoe, editor of the Republican Watchman, was believed to have been a Mason and proof of his loyalty to the fraternity is evidence in the following comment:
JULY 13, 1830 It is due to our Republican friends and patrons to state that the notice which will be seen in another column, calling an anti-Masonic meeting, is inserted as an advertisement, and as such alone. Had it been presented to us in any other shape we should have refused to give it an insertion, for we never could consent to make our paper a vehicle of intelligence for a party which seems to be destitute of everything like honest principles. So far as anti-Masonry had for its object the detection and punishment of those who violated the laws of their country in the Morgan affair, we could not censure such of our fellow-citizens as partook of the spirit of anti-Masonry. But when the proper object was lost sight of altogether, and was followed by the attempts of a few designing politicians to elevate themselves, making use of the anti-Masonic excitement as a lever, we could not withhold our disapprobation. We unhesitatingly repeat what we have often said, that political anti-Masonry possesses nothing to recommend it to an honest man, and wherever an honest anti-Mason is found, he will be seen opposing any attempts to connect political or religious topics with the anti-Masonic question. The avowed purpose in calling the meeting in this county, is political, and we cannot but I believe that the attempt will meet with that unqualified reprobation which it merits, and that those base politicians who wish to glide into office through the influence of this excitement will find that they have made erroneous calculations upon their own sagacity. We are not disposed to quarrel with our neighbor because he opposes the national and state administrations, for nothing is more natural than that people should honestly differ on these questions; but we have no charity for such as are anxious to convert the anti-Masonic question into a political machine. If we do not quarrel with these, it is because we choose rather to pity or despise them.
Devoe was not content to allow the anti-Masons to proceed with plans to destroy the fraternity without further comment and reported the activities of the secret gathering as follows:
July 20, 1830 Last Saturday, as our readers must have observed from the advertisement in our paper and which we very obligingly noticed under our editorial head, was the day appointed for the anti-Masonic convention in this county, to choose a delegate to represent the political anties of Sullivan in the State Convention. The public ear was wide open and the public eye stuck out with the expectation for some days previous, and the redoubtable editor of the anti-Masonic paper in our neighboring county of Ulster, elevated his ears and brayed out in rapturous exclamation, at the sight of the notice, “Well done, Sullivan.” In view of the approaching event, some of our honest citizens gazed at each other with the most anxious phizzes as if inquiring who were the agents of Southwick, Weed & Co., in Sullivan; others like Sancho’s mule, seemed extremely dubious as to the result, whilst a few with lengthened faces looked forward with horror to the moment when our devoted county was to be completely revolutionized, and “firebrands, arrows and death” scattered among its hitherto peaceful citizens. The day at length arrived when the process of gestation having been gone through with, and the mountain having labored, was to bring forth. Accoucheurs – “with nurses wet and dry” stood in readiness to catch the bantling who was to represent us at Utica. The hour arrived; but, “tell it not in Gath,” there was an outright abortion, and the nurses went away as wet and dry they came. The faces that had been awfully drawn out, contracted to their natural shape, and some unbelieving varlets began to suspect that our political anti-Masonic conjurers, as the auld Scotch woman said of his Satanic majesty and his imps, “ware but poor devils after all.” So three or four fellows, with whiskers pointed a-la-mode de Morgan, and clean shirted and shaved, together with one or two who we had almost said were neither shirted nor shaved, constituted the interesting assemblage. They sauntered about for an hour or more and not being able to increase their numbers beyond seven (we’ll send their names to Thurlow Weed) they drew off without organizing their meeting or doing any business. We venture this assertion, because we cannot believe that these fellows, so strenuously opposed to secret societies, etc., would do their business in public. If, therefore, Sullivan is represented at all in the Utica Convention it will be by self-created delegate. We have seriously thought of offering some good advice to two or three of these anti gentlemen, but perhaps it will be time thrown away, for as the old couplet says: “Fools will be fools say what you will, And rascals will be rascals still.”
Devoe sought to bare the political misdoings of anti-Masons and to make clear their intentions with the following letter, which was signed “Mamakating”.
Mr. Croswell – The anti-Masons of Sullivan County were called together a few days since to send a delegate to Utica. After much exertion, six persons were gathered together, but being chagrined by the paucity of their numbers, the conclave separated without doing anything. The head man of the anti-Masons in Sullivan, is the person who touched the cash ($10,000) which was procured from the state for the Neversink Navigation Company. There is a report on this subject made to the last legislature, which I understand exposes this transaction in its true light, and if you will send me a copy, I will endeavor to make this man better known to the people of his county, than he was to the Legislators whose credulity he imposed upon. This arch imposter may volunteer to go to the convention, even without an appointment, as he is anxious to lay his case before Myron Holley, and get his professional opinion, as to the process of converting the public money to his own use, and at the same time producing the required vouchers a to balance his accounts. Holley knows how the thing is done, and could of course aid in transferring a few thousand dollars more from the state treasury to the pockets of his fellow laborers in anti-Masonry. I am quite confident, that this disciple of anti-Masonry, who, has evidently taken a leaf from Myron Holley’s book of problems, will effect as little in making proselytes to anti-Masonry in Sullivan, as he had in improving the navigation of the Neversink river. No discreet man will trust his ark to such a pilot. “MAMAKATING”
The man referred to was O.E. VanTuyl, who unsuccessfully undertook make the Neversink river navigable for rafting. Considerable money was extended on the project; it was abandoned after several rafts were dashed against rocks and destroyed. Letters and editorial comment continued and on August 24, 1830, an interesting editorial, entitled “The Cat Let Out of the Bag,” appeared in print:
THE CAT LET OUT OF THE BAG Since the proceedings of the State Convention at Utica on the 11th inst. we think there can no longer be a doubt upon the mind of any person as to the ultimate object intended by the opponents of the Republican party.* We invite our readers who feel the slightest degree of interest in the political concerns of the State to view the course which has been pursued by the Frank Granger part, from the period of its organization, until the grand development which took place at their convention; when an alliance was formed between political workers led by Stevens. *The Republican party referred to was actually the Republican-Democratic party of Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, George Clinton, James Madison, James Monroe and John Quincy Adams. Other parties were the Whigs, with whom William Henry Harrison was associated, and the Federalist party of George Washington and John Adams. The Republican party of today was not organized until 1854. Abraham Lincoln was the first President elected under their banner. Originally, nothing connected with politics or religion was intended by anti-Masons. The first anti-Masons were undoubtedly operated upon and excited by an honest and laudable feeling. They believed that a violent outrage had been perpetrated against the rights of the community and the liberty of a fellow-citizen. They believed (erroneously as we think) that the commission of this offense was justly chargeable against the Masonic institution, and they engaged with more zeal than prudence in a warfare against it. The excitement continued to rage-men suffered their angry passions to get the upper hand of their selfish views. They accordingly continued to add fuel to the flame which was already burning with violence, and by every means within their reach continued to pursue their object. They succeeded in duping many honest people into the belief that Masonry, where it existed, infected religion and politics, that the ballot boxes afforded no security against Masonic intrigue, and that the courts of justice and the halls of legislation were the scenes of corrupt influence proceeding from the Masonic institution. By means thus specious and plausible, and representations thus false, they finally succeeded in bringing the enemies of Freemasonry to say that they would support no man for office who was a Mason, or who was not an avowed enemy to that institution. The necessary result of this step was the organization of a new political party, the cardinal principle of their creed being self-elevation. In every county where the mania existed, some two or three individuals more noisy and, more sagacious than the greater part of those who participated in the excitement, procured themselves nomination to office, and were in many instances elected. Thus the original motive of anti-Masonry was completely lost sight of. The success of the schemes of those who cared nothing more about anti-Masonry than to make it a stepping stone to once, depended mainly upon keeping the unnatural feeling alive which had pervaded many of the western counties. Consequently, a short time, previous to the election, and about a year after the abduction of Morgan, the following singular and extraordinary transaction took place: A corpse was found near the mouth of Oak Orchard creek, and a coroner’s jury having been summoned and heard testimony, gave the verdict of accidental death by drowning and the body was buried. The leading anties, however, were determined that the dead man should be a “good enough Morgan,” till after the election, and the body was dug up, a new jury summoned, and by the perjury and deception a verdict was procured pronouncing it the body of Morgan. About this time a Mrs. Monroe made claim to the corpse as the body of her deceased husband, Timothy Monroe, who had been drowned a short time previous in the Niagara river. She swore to the clothes of the deceased with exactness, and to the identity of the body. Some evidence was also given by other relatives and acquaintances of the deceased, but to no purpose. The managers would have Monroe to be Morgan till after the election. A grand funeral procession was got up, and the members of the Lewiston convention, the blackness of their hearts shading their faces with the gloom of a mock sorrow, as chief mourners, and every tag, rag, and bob tail who was either a great knave or a fool, joined the procession and traversed about 40 miles of country to give an imposing effect to the base transaction. By such and similar means and by gathering in a mass every disaffected politician whose claims no respectable political party would recognize, they made a show of some thousand votes at the last election for Governor, and had some twenty or thirty members in our Legislature. The breaking up of the Adams party presented another glorious opportunity for the enemies of the Republican party to exercise their ingenuity and pursue their darling object, which Was no other than the prostration of every party except that which would recognize them as leaders, Accordingly in those sections of the State where the machinery of anti-Masonry could not be put in motion, a party calling themselves by the specious name of “Working Men” was organized under the direction of certain politicians, whose lives had been marked by political intrigue and chicanery, and who never performed a day’s work in their lifetime, except that kind of work which our readers will understand if we use the every day phrase, of head work. That is, they are trying to work themselves into office, but are not inclined to work for the benefit of those who are in reality working men. In cities and populous towns, the mechanics and laborers form a very large proportion of the voters, and the name of “working-men’s party” was assumed by the managers in the hope that the deception would not be discovered, and with the belief that a sufficient number would be drawn off from the Republican party, which, when united with the political anti-Masons would form a majority. This plan is completely developed by the proceedings at the Utica Convention, where the interests of the honest part of the anti-Masons and working men have been bought and sold with as little feeling as any article of traffic would be disposed of. The anti-Masons are called on to support Stevens, who no anti-Mason, for Lieutenant Governor; and the “working-men” are called in return to support Granger, who is no working man, for Governor: what consistency!!! A working-men’s party, led by Granger and Stevens, two lawyers, who never have belonged to the Republican party, and who are willing be everything and anything for the sake of the loaves and fishes. While on this subject we cannot but give credit to Mr. Granger for what he has done for our own county, and while we feel gratified that Sullivan was not scandalized by a representation at this convention of “Black spirits and white, Blue spirits and gray,” It is well that we should offer a reason why anti-Masonry and workeyism has not taken deeper root among us than it has. First then – Our people are honest, and honestly and firmly attached to Republican principles. Secondly – Those who are not Masons find that their neighbors who are Masons are no worse than other men; and therefore they are not disposed to join in the persecution and proscription which is elsewhere carried forward. Thirdly – We are all working-men but ONE. He has worked the State (we suspect) out of about $110,000, and “thereby hangs a tale”. We will tell it: The president of the Neversink Navigation Company made application to our Legislature for a loan of $15,000. Frank Granger was chairman of the committee to whom the application was referred, and Mr. Granger reported a bill in favor of granting a loan of $10,000. The president of the company returned from Albany a flaming anti-Mason, loaded with Giddins’ Almanac, Morgan’s Illustrations, Southwick’s Oration, etc., and as extravagantly lavish in praise of honest Frank Granger. From the Neversink Navigation Company, therefore, has proceeded all of political anti-Masonry which disgraces Sullivan County. But the sequel of this tale is yet to be told. The $10,000 having been expended, during the last session of the Legislature this same anti-Masonic president of the navigation company, finding his funds as well as the waters of the Neversink getting low, applied for a further loan of $6,000 to make a slack water navigation. There had been, however, so much slackness in this matter already, that it seemed necessary to make a little inquiry as to the expenditure of the former loan – and the president was accordingly sworn before the committee of the Senate. His evidence is thus given in the report of that committee: “Mr. VanTuyl, who appeared before the committee to urge his petition, on being sworn, testified, among other things, in substance, that he could not speak with confidence as to the amount of work which he had done in improving the navigation of the Neversink river, since the Spring of 1828; but believed it to be to the value of about two thousand dollars – $1,000 in each year. These payments were made principally in goods. He further testified, that of the money loaned he had paid, in the purchase of a lot of land and erecting buildings thereon, about two thousand five hundred dollars; in the purchase of a store of goods, between two and three thousand dollars; and in the payment of old debts between five and six thousand dollars.” The above, we think, will convince any man that if, through the defection of a portion of the Republican party, the Utica Convention nomination and district and county nominations of the same character should prevail, the people have no security for the appropriation of their funds to legitimate purposes, but must be content to look silently upon its distribution among those who have worked the hardest to put themselves up, and to put the Republican party down. We would say to every honest, well-meaning man to guard against being imposed upon by names: ― “Look, before you leap,”
In the Fall of 1831 the Morgan issue seemed to have been given more newspaper space, and on November 1, 1831, anti-Masons were accused of the Morgan outrage in the following article:
ANTI-MASONS THE AUTHORS OF THE MORGAN OUTRAGE The Guilty Shielded by the Anti-Masonic Party We have on a former occasion stated the fact that the original author of, and prominent actors in, the Morgan outrage, are now leading members in the anti-Masonic party. We referred then more particularly to the, notorious Giddeis, who, by his own testimony in a court of justice, was the stern, unfeeling jailor, if not, the murderer of Morgan. He visited him for the purpose of “stopping his noise”, with a loaded pistol, and threatened to shoot him. In company with five or six others, he concerted the murder of Morgan, and went towards the fort for that purpose, the execution of which was prevented by the relenting of one of the party, not himself. It was in this man’s possession, Morgan was last seen; yet for his final fate he was entirely ignorant! And has this Giddins, thus guilty by his own confession, been punished. Has he been even indicted? No! He was the first to renounce Masonry, the principles of which and of humanity, he had under a false pretense, violated, and was among the first in organizing an anti-Masonic party for political objects. By this party he has been cherished, honored and shielded from punishment, and is receiving large emoluments from his anti-Masonic Almanac, and other services which he has rendered the party of which he is a leading member. Nor is Giddens the only person, as unquestionably if not equally guilty, who has been shielded from obloquy and punishment. In the county of Genesee, the plans for the abduction of Morgan were concerted, and by residents of that county they were put in motion. Have these prime movers been convicted or have they escaped punishment? A late able writer in the Genesee Republican throws some light on this subject. He, indeed, discloses the truth, and defies contradiction. He states that in the town of LeRoy (where the author resides, and most of the persons implicated reside) “there is not a single, individual who was concerned in any of the outrages connected with the abduction of Morgan excepting, seceding Masons – of them there are some ten or twelve residing in this town, a number of whom took an active part in those outrages.” He adds, “We pronounce the undeniable fact that the guilty perpetrators of these outrages in this, town, are exclusively seceding Masons, all of whom have escaped punishment through the favor and management of political anti-Masonry!” He mentions the names of Haecall, Read, Gates, Knight and others in the county of Genesee, and also of Giddins and of Shed, and asks, “Why have not these men been punished? Let the elders of the anti- Masonic party, (who claim exclusive credit for whatever is done towards bringing the guilty to justice,) answer the question. Any man who will be at the trouble to look over the Morgan transactions, will find some of the most prominent characters, especially in the closing scene of the tragedy, to have escaped punishment through the management and favor of political anti-Masons.” In a subsequent and concluding number, devoted principally to remarks and facts of a local bearing, the writer says: “It has been my object to state facts which the public good, as well as justice to a large portion of proscribed and persecuted citizens, in my opinion, require to be made known. Every exertion has been made to divert the public attention from these facts. What are they? – That in the town of LeRoy, the cradle of anti-Masonry, every Mason who was guilty of the Morgan and Miller outrage, is now a seceder and a violent political anti-Mason. That of these seceders, two who have been named and distinctly charged as guilty, were at the time indicted, but have escaped punishment by the favor of political anti-Masonry. That these two individuals were far more guilty than either of the three who were tried and convicted in this county. That of the twenty or thirty (I have since been told that there are near forty) adhering Masons in this town, most of whom, at least, are among our most respectable citizens, not one is guilty of those outrages, but many refused to join in them. If there are any guilty among them, why have they not been named? That of those who last had Morgan in custody, and who kept him several days a prisoner in Fort Niagara, with a knowledge, as they say, that he was to be murdered, two only are surviving, viz.: the wretched Giddins and Shedd. That these two are seceding and warm political anti-Masons – that all these men have escaped punishment, and notwithstanding their crimes, are cherished and supported; by the anti-Masonic party-held forth as patterns of virtue, and worthy of the ‘unbounded confidence of the public’.”
An article entitled “War, Pestilence and Famine” seemed to have ended the fight for no further comment is to be found in the old newspaper files.
WAR, PESTILENCE AND FAMINE On Friday evening last, we were visited with these in a tangible shape. It appears our member-elect gave a supper to his hirelings at the anti-Masonic Hall at the upper end of the village of Monticello. We are informed that much “good feeling” prevailed at the table. The member was complimented with the following toast: “Hiram Bennett, our worthy representative – ‘Six feet high and well proportioned’. Six cheers.” Mr. Bennett then rose and made a respectful bow to his guests: ― “Gentlemen, you do me great honor-I am unable to express my feelings-language fails, and sentiments-I have none. I will take my seat at Albany, as your representative-and should the Chemung canal bill not have passed, I shall probably finish the speech I commenced on this subject, when last you honored me with a place in the Legislature. (Cheers) Gentlemen, I pledge myself to bring in a bill to relieve the president of the Neversink Navigation Company, who illuminates this night in honor of my election, and also to procure the passage of an act regulating ‘pedlars,’ (Hear him). The member sat down evidently much eased. After enjoying “this feast of reason and flow of soul”, and devouring the substantials and delicacies of the table, a military escort was formed under command of Major St. John of the Infantry, and Captain Hamilton of the Cavalry. – The honorable member was escorted home in due form, but we enter our solemn protest against the selection of the music for the occasion. The “Rogues March” was appropriate enough for the gang that marched or rather staggered through our village, stoning houses and insulting individuals who belonged to the party opposed to them, but to march the honorable member home to such roguish music, was not in accordance with our views. However, we have no right to dispute the question, presuming it was done by order of the committee of arrangements of this “War, Pestilence and Famine” celebration. “Hail Columbia, happy land!”
The Morgan Affair: The Results…
The Morgan Affair brought about a crisis which for a time seemed to threaten the very existence of Masonic fellowship. The spark from the Batavia, incident kindled a flame which spread all over state, the nation, and even back to England.
After the Morgan Affair: Vermont and Rhode Island were the only states that were able to pass laws against the oaths demanded by secret societies. Since this was not able to be accomplished in other states, like New York, and since the local judicial systems were allegedly run by the Masons; the only way that the Anti-Masonic Party crusade had a chance, was to become politically active. Public opinion had to be galvanized into a political party to be used against the Masons. The Anti-Masons then considered the use of the ballot box and the democratic system to “preserve the morality, and the spirit, and institution of democracy”. The Anti-Masons realized that they had a political fight on their hands, and continued to base their attacks on the principal of defense of democracy.
They attempted to demonized Masons as self-interested aristocrats who lacked interest in, or respect for, democratic principals. As a political party, they employed a convention system to choose candidates, claiming to be following democratic procedures. This functioned as a political force for a short while. Local elections in towns and villages of New York ousted even trusted politicians because they were Masons. Some politicians made comebacks on the Anti-Masonic plank in their platform.
As a party; the Anti-Masons made strides as noted earlier in Vermont, and New York, and Pennsylvania. But since the Anti-Masons lacked organization, victories could only be attributed to the crusade against Masons in a few Northern States. Since Andrew Jackson did not reject his Masonic Affiliation in the 1828 presidential elections, the Anti-Masons were unwilling to support him. Officially they backed no candidate, but informally backed John Quincy Adams; who publicly renounced his Masonic ties. However – since Adams had much support from Masons, the Anti-Masons would wind up in coalition with the Masons, so they then tried to go it alone.This only kept the crusade alive, but weakened the party – and the division of forces broke up the vote in formerly strong Northern States, which caused Jackson to win in each, as well as the overall election.
In 1829, the Anti-Masons held a convention in Albany, New York; in an attempt to revitalize the organization, and lay plans to extend their influence, and console members on their recent losses. Even though the Republican Party was then ineffective, they would not unite with the Ani-Masons – even though in 1929 they still carried a majority in most of New York.
In 1830, another Anti-Masonic convention was held in Albany, New York. They planned for a nomination of governor, and a national convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They prepared specific charges against the then Grand Chapter (Grand Lodge) of the State of New York, for furnishing aid to the Morgan conspirators in escaping justice and thereby interfering with the due administration of law. The State Legislature referred the matter to the Attorney General for prosecution… wherein the Anti-Masons knew it would not stand a chance.
The Anti-Masons then desperately took up other important political measures. In doing so; they hoped to increase their political base. Francis Granger was nominated by the Anti-Masons, and the national Republicans, to run on the local Anti-Mason ticket against current Governor Samuel Throop for the Governor of New York. Governor Throop won by a very near margin.
In 1832, The Anti-Masons nominated William Wirt to run against both Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay: both Masons. As history notes: Wirt went down in utter total defeat by Jackson. After the defeat of 1832 the political party fell apart, and most of its members went with the republicans to form the Whig Party.
Meanwhile; the crusade itself was on the decline, as Masons were no longer the real opponents; it was now the Democrats. However; evidence of Anti-Masonic sentiment remained for many years as the crusade declined slowly.
The present-day Mason will find it almost impossible to realize what the loyal brethren of both Sullivan Lodge No. 272 (1817-1835) and Bloomingburgh Lodge No. 310 (1818-1833) endured by their fidelity during the ten-year period dating from 1825 to 1835. Today we cannot imagine the difficulties the brethren had to contend with. They were severely criticized and attacked in public and in print, and boycotted in business, and denied employment, and church rights, and even deprived of worship in several of the various religious sects with which they were identified, where they lived, and their rights as citizens were prejudiced. In many towns and villages, public pressure was exerted on the Masons to disband the local Masonic Lodges. Given the historical records available, and news print found above (and probably lots more), combined with the already existent Anti-Masonic fervor having it’s flames fanned by the Morgan incident, we can unfortunately conclude that the Morgan Affair was at least a contributing factor in the demise by lack of reporting of both Bloomingburg Lodge 310 (1818 – 1833) who stopped reporting in 1825, and Sullivan Lodge 272 (1817 – 1835) who stopped reporting in 1829.
It might also be remembered that there are many other conditions which may have made the first two Lodges in Sullivan County warrants invalid. The strict requirements for visitors laid down by the Grand Lodge kept many good sons from the inner rooms and prevented enjoyment many visitors looked forward to. On March 17, 1829, a resolution went by the Grand Lodge reading, “That it is recommended by this Grand Lodge all subordinate lodges under its jurisdiction, that the practice of receiving visitors not vouched for as Master Masons by a member of the lodge to which the visit shall be made, be discontinued”. During this period the number of candidates fell and payment of dues likewise fell off. A dark future was indicated. Many lost interest because of the Morgan incident and others were dropped because of non-payment of dues. To add to their misery the Grand Lodge had issued an edict forbidding public parades without its sanction. Feeling that permission to celebrate St. John the Baptist Festival on June 24, in 1835, an event it had yearly looked forward to, would be denied because of anti-Masonic feeling in Sullivan County, the lodge, no doubt, held as many others did, that the Constitution and Land Marks did not forbid such processions and paraded despite objections by the higher body. Warrants of other lodges were declared forfeited because of similar disobedience and it is likely that the Sullivan County Lodges were similarly affected.
While Masonry had its good effects in Sullivan County during the existence of Sullivan Lodge the ties of brotherhood became so strong at times that it became aligned with politics and unless those seeking appointment to office were members of the craft they would be overlooked in favor of a brother. Observing this favoritism with considerable malice, non-Masons were ready to act when news of the Morgan affair came to their attention. Non-Masons had made drastic protests to Masonic leaders regarding their activities, but with little result. Masonic favoritism was the hue and cry of the day but in those days one Mason could trust another and as a result of this many Masons were office holders. George Washington had set a precedent when he delegated Masons only for the positions of responsibility. Others wishing to acquire the same degree of success as Washington continued the custom despite the fact that other non-Masons could have successfully executed the duties of the office to which appointments were made. Until 1826 it was generally popular to be a Mason and decidedly unpopular not to be one.
However, in most every group or society they still had their friends and all was not criticism.
Both NY Grand Lodges Again Divided
The Sullivan County Brethren of both Bloomingburg Lodge 310 (1818 – 1833) and Sullivan Lodge 272 (1817 – 1835) no longer had a charter which would give them authority to convene but they watched with interest the progress or failure of the lodges in other sections of the State, as they faced the panic of 1837 and other troubled times, including internal issues between 1837 and 1858 which split the then existing Grand Lodge and resulted in the organization of the Phillips and the St. John’s Grand Lodges.
These issues, although serious, were considered minor as compared with the Morgan and anti-Masonic troubles and if both Lodges had not succumbed and lost their charters; the old lodges would probably be in existence today and birth of two other Monticello lodges would not have occurred.
The rumblings of the Morganic volcano became less audible just prior to the beginning of the second half of the nineteenth century but its furious flames were by no means under control until after the abolitionist movement started in 1831 and were still very active until ten years later offered a new topic for discussion.
Lodges throughout the country had begun to enjoy a modified reprieve from its most trying decade when in 1837 a serious panic presented itself to the country. The panic brought about business failures on a scale unprecedented in the history of the country. Most banks refused ‘to accept specie payments and held with the Democratic theory that gold and silver were the only legal tenders. As a result brethren found it impossible to pay dues and because of depleted treasuries many lodges found it impossible to carry on.
If still active Sullivan Lodge 272 (1817 – 1835) would have faced another crisis but if its members planned the organization’s finances as carefully as they conducted their own businesses, the effects of the panic would not have registered sufficiently to make it necessary to suspend. Through the storm the sailing would have been smooth until 1849 when internal affairs of Mason demanded attention. The old question which had split the lodges in 1823 had been debated quietly since the organization of the Grand Lodge in New York and in 1848 plans were adopted for an amendment of the Constitution which would deprive Past Masters of a vote and voice in Grand Lodge.
The lodges which had been reunited in 1827 after four years of wrangling had renewed the issue. Up-state lodges gathered the representatives at Geneva, N.Y. Masons from the country were desirous of an amendment denying Past Masters the right to vote on the ground that city lodges through their Past Masters, had from seventeen to nineteen votes, while up-state lodges only had four or five. City lodges called a convention of Masters and Past Masters on October 31, 1848, at the Howard House in New York City and adopted a resolution recommending that representatives in Grand Lodge and Past Masters be instructed to use the utmost endeavors to prevent the passage of the amendment proposed by the upstate lodges.
No sooner had the White Grand Lodge assembled in June 1839, when trouble commenced. The city lodges left the hall and organized the Phillips Grand Lodge while the up-state lodges remained. Their Grand body (the regular one) was generally known as the Willard Grand Lodge. The division in the White Masonic Fraternity continued until 1858, when both factions were merged into the present Grand Lodge of New York. Those who had been past Masters prior to December 1849 were to retain their seats in the Grand Lodge and enjoy the privilege of voting.
While the White Grand Lodge in New York was again divided – In late June of 1847, M.W. John T. Hilton (author of the famed Declaration of Independence of 1827), Grand Master of Prince Hall Masons of Massachusetts, requested a meeting with two other Grand Lodges: The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and the irregular Hiram Grand Lodge of the same state. Three representatives from Boyer Lodge were also present: Alexander Elston, William H. Clark and Lewis Hayden. The purpose of the meeting was to settle the disputes between two rival Pennsylvania Grand Lodges and to form a closer union of black Lodges. This meeting gave birth to an over-arching authority known as the National Grand Lodge of North America. The National Grand Lodge indeed was a force to be reckoned with in her prime. Yet, this period marked a division in Black Freemasonry that resulted in turmoil and the split of several Prince Hall Grand Lodges. The representatives of Boyer Lodge had no power to make or enact law for the jurisdiction of New York and therefore nothing proposed was binding unless it was ratified by a convened Grand Lodge Session. Brother Aldrage B. Cooper, a PGM of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New Jersey, in his book FOOTPRINTS of Prince Hall Masonry in New Jersey wrote: “The Articles of Union that were to bind the adherents of the National Compact compromised or destroyed absolutely the complete sovereignty of the individual Grand Bodies. At any rate, it was proper procedure that before any such alignment could be deemed legal and binding it would be necessary for the Grand Lodges affected so to determine. That fundamental function was not in the hands of their delegates.”
In 1848, a majority of the members of Boyer Lodge repudiated the signatures of its three representatives (Alexander Elston, William H. Clark and Lewis Hayden) to the proposal that was made at the meeting in 1847. On March of 1848, Boyer Lodge #1 along with Celestial #2, Rising Sun #3 and Hiram #4 came together and organized under the name United Grand Lodge, F. and A.M, of the State of New York. The officers of the United Grand Lodge were James Barnett, Grand Master; Jacob R. Gibbs, Deputy Grand Master; Alexander Elston, Senior Grand Warden; Arnold Ricks, Junior Grand Warden; Charles A. Horton, Grand Treasurer; and Ransom F. Wake, Grand Secretary.
This caused a serious division within Boyer Lodge #1, Celestial #2, Rising Sun #3 and Hiram #4; by 1850 the minority members who were the dissenters of the United Grand Lodge of New York, broke away and organized themselves under the name “Union Grand Lodge of New York” (National Compact).
Note: Celestial Lodge of New York was originally in union while under the Hiram Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, and later in 1848 became part of United Grand Lodge of New York.
This period was to mark a division of the Prince Hall Craft, which resulted in the split of some Grand Lodges in half. The separation lasted until December 27, 1878 when the two New York Grand Bodies re-united into one; the former dissidents acknowledging the concept in Freemasonry of States Rights. At last, Peace and Harmony prevailed among her borders.
NOTE: Prince Hall Masonry in the State of New York since its establishment into a Grand Lodge in 1848, has had the following “Names and Titles,” to wit:
1. United Grand Lodge, F. &. M. of New York (1848)
2. Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York (1877)
3. Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons, State of New York (1919)
Later Half of the 19th Century…
In 1858, after surviving all the turmoil; the remaining local Sullivan County Masons banded together, undaunted – to start Monticello Lodge 460 (1858 – 1862). Unfortunately the available history tells us little about Sullivan County Masonry and the events leading up to the formation of Monticello Lodge 460 (1858 – 1862).
The available records indicate that some of the members were indeed former members of Sullivan Lodge 272 (1817 – 1835), and Bloomingburgh Lodge 310 (1818-1833). The records available also don’t point to a clear reason why Monticello Lodge 460 (1858 – 1862) enjoyed only a short existence or explained it with any degree of satisfaction by either Grand Lodge records or the minute book of the lodge – but it hinted in the latter that harmony and good management were lacking.
Monticello Lodge 460 (1858 – 1862) was actually the nucleus of Monticello Lodge 532 (1862 – Present). It surrendered its charter December 1862, and during that same year and month Monticello Lodge 532 (1862 – Present) held its first meeting under dispensation.
In Callicoon, where Callicoon Lodge 521 (1861-1992) was getting its start, and in Monticello, where Monticello Lodge 532 (1862 – Present) was also getting it’s start, at the beginning of the Civil War (1861 to 1865), it was especially evident that troubled times and war conditions only served to bring out more fully the underlying brotherhood of Masonry. And how sound were the convictions of these Civil War brothers is evident from the fact that the foundations they laid so well in the 1860’s have endured down through the years, and Masonry has enjoyed a full measure of prosperity and success.
Monticello Lodge 532 (1862 – Present) enjoyed success and prosperity, and continued to enjoy the same for many years, and it helped spread Masonry throughout the county. At the end of the Civil War (1861 to 1865), in 1865, Monticello Lodge 532 (1862 – Present) mothered the formation of Delaware Lodge 561 (1865 – Present). Shortly thereafter in 1887; nine members of Callicoon Lodge 521 (1861-1992) started Livingston Manor Lodge 791 (1887 – 2015).
20th Century Sullivan Masonry…
Masonic participation in Sullivan County continued to grow, and in 1896 yet another Lodge was formed: Mongaup Lodge 816 (1896 – 1992). Masonry continued to flourish locally in Sullivan County – even through WW1 (1914 – 1918), to the point of growth that before WW2, in 1938 Fallsburgh Lodge 1122 (1938 – Present) was formed, again with the mothering of Monticello Lodge 532 (1862 – Present).
In 1942 as the draft calls its millions into the service of the country it is easily, understood how those men of 75 + years ago felt as they answered the call. From their farms and country hamlets they went away. But war, that mighty instrument of change in the affairs of mankind, did not make them any the less devoted to their Order when they came back. Masonry; went on where it had left off. The brothers who remained behind continued the work and when those who had been at war returned they found welcome and refreshing incentive to take up their affairs in their communities by renewing their Masonic ties in the return of peace.
After the war, Sullivan County Masons returned and picked up the working tools again – just where they left off. In 1965 Bethany Lodge 101 (1965 – Present) was formed by a civic group in Monticello, and In 1992 Liberty Lodge 521 (1992 – Present) was formed by the merger of Callicoon Lodge 521 (1861-1992) and Mongaup Lodge 816 (1896 – 1992).
There is much regarding Sullivan County Freemasonry which is still unwritten and, much important Masonic history which never will be written because of a lack of information due to a loss of records. Some Early Masonic communications in Sullivan County were held in a brick building in Monticello known as the old Curley Hotel, at Broadway and Pleasant St., across from Village Hall, according to a local historian. The Masonic Building at 5 Bank St., once owned by The Times Herald-Record, had been home to Monticello Lodge since the building’s dedication on October 10, 1910. At its northeast corner, next to the Key Bank driveway, we read: “This cornerstone with its Archives taken from the ruins of the Temple burned Aug. 10, 1909, was relaid in the new with Masonic honors Nov. 18th following.” The original cornerstone of the Curley Hotel reportedly weighed 940 pounds and contained an 8″x10″ cavity which held a zinc box with some deteriorated old newspapers dating back to 1829. According to records; eleven Masonic Lodges have been established in Sullivan County. The earliest recorded lodges in Sullivan County existed during James Monroe’s “Era of Good Feeling” and enjoyed prosperous days until the Morgan affair and Anti-Mason groups caused membership to dwindle and interest to wane, to the extent that those first Sullivan County Lodges failed to report to Grand Lodge. See the available individual lodge history links and added annotated articles for more information.