Just some brief observations of 1826-1827
I set out sometime ago to read every proceeding of the Grand Lodge of Michigan. I’ve officially finished them up to the year 1900 and thought it would be a good pause to go back and share notes about things that have caught my eye along the first part of this journey. This first set of reflections just covers the years 1826 and 1827.
Our earliest Michigan brothers were very brief in their record making. Their brevity doesn’t prevent the reader from taking in how significant the actions were of the earliest Grand Lodge. In the new world, and the relatively new country, the formation of a Grand Lodge is certainly a distinction that a place was ‘taking shape.’
His name is significant to me only because I’ve encountered a few Michigan brothers interested in finding out more about him. He appears in the Grand Lodge record as an early officer (S.G. Warden on July 21st, 1826). Some may recognize him as the First Master of the lodge at Monroe when it was originally created under dispensation from the Grand Lodge of New York prior to the formation of the Michigan Grand Lodge. There are several pieces of his history scattered through various writings and I only note encountering his name because of the previous research efforts of others I’ve spoken with.
First lodge to recognize the GL and first lodge to request charter
Zion lodge, most appropriately, was the first lodge to communicate its recognition of the Grand Lodge of Michigan’s sanction and jurisdiction subsequent to the Grand Lodge’s formation and announcement of the same. This was communicated by letter and officially received Jan 15, 1827. At the same meeting it was determined that lodges would be assigned a number based on their date of origin under previous dispensations. Just a side note to plug the history of Zion #1. If you are not familiar with the history of that lodge, which far predates the history of our own Grand Lodge, you owe it to yourself to study up on it. It is fascinating. Detroit Lodge and Oakland lodge followed with similar correspondence shortly thereafter in February.
You encounter a series of ‘firsts’ when reviewing the early records of the Grand Lodge. Such as the group of Master Masons living in Washtenaw County, whose request was formerly reported at the Jan 15, 1827 meeting, sought a charter from the Grand Lodge for a group of Masons to meet in Ann Arbor under the name of Western Star lodge. This constitutes the first example of a lodge requesting a charter from the newly formed Grand Lodge. (Within a year, a group of Masons would request the same for a Lodge at Stoney Creek). The request from Ann Arbor was obviously looked on favorably as the early records show the first reported dispensation issued by G.M. Lewis Cass and subsequently a consecration and installation of the lodge by the Bro. R. Irwin, Jr., acting as Secretary of the Grand Lodge.
First recorded Masonic Discipline / Appeal
An unfortunate first for the new Grand Lodge included time taken in 1827 meetings to notify the Grand Lodge that Benjamin Gummar had been expelled from Zion Lodge. He subsequently requested the Grand Lodge to take up the matter of his appeal which is referred to in subsequent proceedings by the committee charged with the task. The final resolution of the matter (and its origin) are not recorded in the records. It possibly remained an active matter until the original Grand Lodge entered into its period of dormancy.
Requests for other lodges followed
By June of 1827, requests for new lodges had been made by groups of Masons in Stoney Creek, Paint Creek (Oakland), and Rochester. Being a student and researcher of First Masters, I would like to thank our early brothers for recording the First Master of Stoney Creek as William A. Burt. Grand Lodge proceedings, to this day, remain the single best source for my research on documenting First Masters. WBro. Burt is the first First Master to be recorded specifically in the proceedings of the Grand Lodge.
One last thing…
In the June 1827 proceedings, report is made of a certificate of membership that was on display in the Grand Lodge sessions. The Grand Secretary is directed to order 100 copies of the certificate. Its purpose being to identify the credentials of Masons from the Michigan jurisdiction. Shortly before its selection there had been a discussion of a resolution that no visitor would be allowed into lodges of the Michigan Grand Lodge unless he produce sufficient credentials from the lodge he last belonged along with proper certification from his Grand Lodge. The order, not to exceed 31.25 cents / per certificate, was likely intended to be for a Michigan Masonic patent. I have never seen a copy of this original patent and I wonder if one is in existence and perhaps in the possession of our earliest lodges or a collector?
This concludes a summary of snippet observations from reading the first series of proceedings of the original Grand Lodge (1826 to 1827). The Grand Lodge of Michigan went dormant during an anti-masonic period that followed. My next posting will involve the contents of the proceedings of the Grand Lodge when it returned to work in the 1840s.