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The History of Freemasonry

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Ancient Traditions

Though its heritage is in antiquity is unmistakable, modern speculative Freemasonry was founded more recently upon the structure, ceremonies, and symbolism of the lodges of operative or working freeman stonemasons, who built the magnificent Medieval Gothic structures throughout much of Europe and England.


Dated in 1390 A.D., the Regius Poem details the charter of a lodge operating in the 900's A.D.  "Masonry" then meant architecture and encompassed most of the arts and sciences.  Because lodges held knowledge as competitive secrets, only trusted, capable companions were instructed in the craft -- and then only by degrees, orally and through symbols, because of widespread illiteracy.


In the late Renaissance, lodges of freemasons began to accept as speculative masons (also known as accepted masons) those educated men who were attracted by the elegance of Masonic traditions for philosophic expression.  In time they were passed into the inner circles.


Thus, the framers of speculative Freemasonry began to describe a code of conduct through the symbolic nature of architecture and the stonemason's craft.  Signaling modern speculative Freemasonry, the first Grand Lodge was chartered in 1717.  Constituent Symbolic Lodges were soon established throughout the world.


The first Lodge in the American Colonies was chartered in Boston in 1733.  After the Revolutionary War was concluded there came the great westward surge of Americans in search of land and new opportunities.  Several Masonic Brethren settled at what is now Marietta, Ohio.  Across the Muskingum River from Marietta was Fort Harmar, among whose officers was Capt. Jonathan Heart, Worshipful Master of American (Army) Union Lodge. This had been chartered as a military Lodge under St. John's Grand Lodge of Massachusetts on February 15, 1776.  When this Lodge moved to New York shortly after it was chartered, the Brethren obtained from Dr. Peter Middleton, Grand Master of the Province of New York, permission to meet on April 23, 1776.  In that same month he granted them a new Warrant under the name of Military Union Lodge No. 1.  The Brethren, however, referred to the Lodge as American Union Lodge.

On June 28, 1790, Bro. Jonathan Heart and a number of Marietta Masons opened American Union Lodge in that community, and thus it was that Freemasonry formally appeared in the Ohio Territories.

A few years later the Charter of American Union Lodge was destroyed by fire.  The Brethren applied to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania for a Charter but were refused. They then asked Massachusetts to renew their Warrant and were granted permission to work under their old Charter until such time as a Grand Lodge was formed having jurisdiction over the territory in which they were located.

On January 4, 1808, American Union Lodge No. I met with representatives of Cincinnati Lodge No. 13, Erie Lodge No. 47, Scioto Lodge No. 2, and Amity Lodge No. 105 to establish a Grand Lodge in Ohio.  After four days they adopted a resolution to form such a Grand Lodge, electing Bro. Rufus Putnam as Grand Master, and setting the first Monday in the new year (January 2,1809), as the date for the first Communication, which was to be in Chillicothe, the state capital of Ohio.

When they convened on this date, American Union Lodge was not represented.  Since it seemed advisable, or at least desirable, to the other representatives to have delegates present from all of the Lodges which participated in the formation of the Grand Lodge the preceding year, they waited for three days for the arrival of a representative from American Union Lodge.  Finally, deciding that none was coming, on January 5, 1809, they adopted the same Constitution as that of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, and installed their officers.

Bro. Rufus Putnam having declined because of age and ill health to accept the position of Grand Master, they elected Bro. Samuel Huntington, who was Governor of Ohio, as the Grand Master of Masons for 1809.

Thus it was that The Grand Lodge of F. & A. M. of Ohio came into being.
 The first Lodge in Ohio was chartered (the American Union Lodge) at Marietta in 1816.


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