Fragments of Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4,

on their 250th Anniversary

By: Brother McDonald “Don” Burbidge, 33°


Brother Joseph Bellisario, K.C.C.H. 

(Above Photo of Ill. Bro Don Burbidge giving presentation;

click ANY photo for larger view)

Gavel Presentation, standing L to R: Most Worshipful Bro. Ron Mitchum, Grand Master; Worshipful Master Philip J. Lawrence, Jr., Ill Bro Don Burbidge

Tables are ready!

Getting ready to start.

Brother Joe Bellisario mans the laptop.

Congratulatory letter from Sovereign Grand Commander, Ronald Seale.

Congratulatory letter from Michael D. Smith, Sovereign Grand Inspector General, South Carolina



Note:  There are 17 slides that accompany this talk.  Click on each "Slide" link, as indicated, to view the .jpg slide for the section.

SLIDE NO. 1 (click on link for slide)

Our lodge was first chartered on May 3, 1755 by the Provincial Grand Lodge of South Carolina to the following persons: Samuel Bowman, D. Campbell, John Cooper, Robert Wells, William Michie, John Bassnett and John Stewart. It received the designation of “Union Lodge No. 4.”  

When the lodge was first chartered meetings were held at Shepheard’s Tavern.   

Meetings were later held at the Wentworth Mansion, Masonic Center located at the corner of George and Meeting Street. The Lodge later met at the Grand Lodge building in Charleston, located at the corner of Wentworth and King Street.  It is now located at the Masonic Center on Orange Grove Road.  

There is an interesting circumstance connected with the early history of this Lodge, which can alone explain its change of name from “Union” to “Union Kilwinning.” A reference to the list of members will show that there was, in the commencement of its career, a great number of  Scottish names on the roll, such as Michie, Gorden, Rowand, Macauly, Baillie, just to name a few of them as noted in the book of the lodge for the year 1759.  

Much has been written concerning the history of this lodge that most of us know. What is not written is all of the information that has been lost to the fires, hurricanes, the spoils of war, or just the misplacement of these important documents.    

SLIDE NO. 2 (click on link for slide)

Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4 can boast as having the most Grand Masters of South Carolina from the year 1758 to the present time. A total of 18 Past Master’s of Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4 have gone on to serve as Grand Master of South Carolina Masons. The lodge that comes closest to these numbers of Grand Masters is Solomon’s Lodge No.1, which has had 12 Past Masters elevated to sublime position.   

The first Past Master of Union Kilwinning Lodge No.4 to be elected Grand Master of South Carolina was Brother James Michie who served from 1758-1760.  

The last Past Master of Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4 to serve as Grand Master was Brother Joseph Bell Hyde who served from 1958-1960 and was the Lodge Historian. It must also be mentioned that Past Grand Master Hyde was also the author of a book on the history of this great Lodge in the year 1929.  

In his opening remarks he states;  

“The history of the beginning of Free Masonry in Charleston is closely identified with the history of the Colony, the Fraternity was a vital force for good in the community, and it entered into the religious, social and business life of the people.” 

Today’s talk will cover a small part of the early beginnings of, “Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4” as we know it today and a few of the men that were members.  

These men who were members of Union Kilwinning Lodge No.4 made important contributions to the Masonic Fraternity, The Scottish Rite Supreme Council, and to the city where they lived and are still just as important today as when each of them fulfilled their destiny. 

The original membership of Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4 was limited to sixty-three members, it was increased to eighty-nine in 1867, later to one hundred and twenty-five, and in the early 1900’s the limit of membership was dropped from the lodge books.  


Stephen Girard of Philadelphia

SLIDE NO. 3 (click on link for slide)

Stephen Girard was born on May 20, 1750 near Bordeaux, France and was the oldest of nine children. When he was 16 years old he left France and immigrated to Philadelphia aboard the sailing ship “L’Aimable Louis,” in 1776. Then on June 6th, 1778 he became an American citizen.  

Brother Girard was raised a mason at Royal Arch Lodge No.3 (Philadelphia) on September 7, 1778.  

On January 28, 1788 when, “Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4,” was known as, “Union Lodge No. 8”, Stephen Girard of Philadelphia was visiting a relative in Charleston when he was approached by the master of the lodge and was made a member on sight of Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4.   

During the War of 1812 Brother Girard provided the government with a cash loan of 8 million dollars that helped save the country from financial ruin.  

His generosity was exhibited in many charitable works, the most notable of which thrives today, the “Girard College,” that was established in 1848 with his own funds. It still functions today as he decreed it, giving opportunity to those who would otherwise not have it. He then founded the “Girard Orphan House,” located in Philadelphia which still operates today as when he first established it.  Stephen Girard’s legacy lives on in diverse ways, visible and invisible, public and silent, his mark indelibly embedded in Philadelphia and America.  


Reverend Frederick Ludovovs Dalcho

Slide No. 4 (click on link for slide)

In 1770 the Reverend Frederick Ludovovs Dalcho was born in London, England. He was the 2nd of 3 children born to John Frederick and Euphemia Dalcho. When he was 15 years of age he embarked on a sea voyage to live with his Uncle Karl Frederick Wiesenthal who had some years before immigrated to Baltimore, Maryland. 

On September 23, 1801, Brother Dalcho delivered his, "Oration," to the "Sublime Grand Lodge of the Ancient York Grand Lodge," located in Charleston, South Carolina where he was a member of St. John’s Lodge No. 31.  He later became a member and Past Master of Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4.  

In his opening statement, he commented;

"The duty of this evening, to which I am called by the honor of your appointment, is a task infinitely more important, and arduous, than my feeble abilities are equal to: And nothing but the high respect I have for the Society, which have [sic] honored me with the appointment [as Chaplain], could have induced me to have accepted it." 

Again in 1803 Brother Dalcho delivered another “Oration” to the Grand Lodge. 

On October 17, 1806, Brother John Fowler who was a member of the "Illustrious College of Knights of K. H. and of the Original Chapter of Prince Masons of Ireland" took notice of Brother Dalcho’s orations of 1801 and 1803. In a letter written to Brother Dalcho from Brother Fowler he asks for permission to reprint all of Dalcho's “Orations.” Brother Dalcho replied four months later expressing his gratification at the request and readily acceding to it. 

Brother Dalcho began his early career as an army doctor, receiving his medical degree in 1790 from his Uncle Wiesenthal Medical School. Toward the end of the first decade of the nineteenth century, he showed an increasing interest in the affairs of the church and devoted himself to theological studies. During this period, his religious involvement manifested itself into his Masonic service and writings.


Slide No. 5 (click on link for slide)

In 1807, at the request of the Grand Lodge of Ancient York Masons of South Carolina, he published the “Ahiman Rezon,” which was adopted as the code for the government of the lodges under the jurisdiction of that body. This book of constitutions consisted of 50,711 words, and has since has gone through 33 revisions. In 2003 under the direction of Past Grand Master Jack A. Marler, it was again revised and republished as the 34th edition.  

In the “Preface” of the 34th edition Brother Dalcho is still given credit for his great work in creating the first book of constitutions for the South Carolina Masons. 

When the “Ahiman Rezon” was first published in Charleston, SC there existed two separate Grand Lodges, the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons and Ancient York Masons of South Carolina. The existence of these two Grand Lodges caused much trouble for the brethren of Charleston for many years. 

In 1809 the Ancient York Grand Lodge and the Free and Accepted Masonic Grand Lodges united under the name, “Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina.” Brother Dalcho was instrumental in the union of these two Grand Lodges.     

At the first Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of the “Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina”, Brother Dalcho was elected Grand Chaplin.   

After the installation of Grand Lodge officers, a procession was formed and paraded to St. Michael's church where Reverend Dalcho delivered his sermon, “Festival of St. John’s.”  

In 1820 Reverend Dalcho’s monumental work published.  It was called, “An Historical Account of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina.” This monumental undertaking took him 2 years to research and write. It covers the early beginnings of the church in the Carolinas to the date that the book was published. The book is still of such importance that it is used today by researchers, writers, and the church due to the significant information it contains about the birth of the church in South Carolina. 


Past Grand Master David Ramsey

SLIDE NO. 6 (click on link for slide)

The Civil War in America brought many hardships for all of those that who were involved with it. Many battles were fought with many lives lost.  

From 1862-1863 Brother David Ramsey, Past Master of Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4, was Grand Master of Masons in South Carolina.    He wrote, in part, the following:

 “Walk circumspectly in the present evil time, ever mindful of solemn undertakings on your part, in the presence of Almighty God; be faithful in observance thereof towards all and singular the brethren, whether these be met in Lodge dedicate, or only in light; in health or sickness; in wealth or want; in peril or safety; in prison, escape or freedom; in charity or evil mindedness; armed or unarmed; friend or seeming foe; and as to these, most certainly as towards brethren, whether Masonic ally met or with due and regular interchange.  It will never be regret to remember any good deed done in the name of a common Master and Father even to him whom the profane will call an enemy. I charge you in “His” great name, suffer not the disputes and broils of men, to impair the harmony which has existed, and will exist though out the fraternity, for whether or not, you put to shame the teachings of the Craft, they cannot be annulled. Let us not hear among us that there is War that strife and dissention prevail, as Masons, they concern us not.”  

Well and faithfully did Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4 follow this  admonition, no words of condemnation cloud its records, no words of blame, no criticism, nor anything to mar its fraternal reputation?  

In April 1864 the lodge reported in the minutes of the many deaths of its members of this lodge. Grand Master David Ramsey was recorded as one of the fallen brothers who fell died at Battery Wagner in 1863.   


Past Grand Master General Wilmot Gibbes de Saussure

SLIDE NO. 7 (click on link for slide)

Brother Wilmot Gibbes de Saussure was born in Charleston, S. C. on July 23, 1822.     

Brother DeSaussure was raised a Mason in Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4, on November 17, 1855, served as Worshipful Master in 1868 and elected Grand Master of Masons for the state of South Carolina from 1875-1877. 

In 1860 while he served in the U. S. Army he was in charge of Castle Pinckney, Fort Ripley, and the “Fifth Subdivision.” He held these positions until 1861 when the U. S. Army evacuated Fort Moultrie; he was then appointed General of the South Carolina Forces at the abandoned fort under the Confederate flag.  He later took command of the Fourth Brigade, South Carolina Militia, and held this position to the close of the War.

At the close of the Civil War he commanded the reserve forces, which were engaged in the defense of Charleston and, after the resignation of his good friend General States Rights Gist, was appointed adjutant general of the state.  

SLIDE NO. 8 (click on link for slide)

It must be mentioned that General States Rights Gist father was General Mordecai Gist who served under General George Washington during the Revolutionary War and was a member of Union Lodge No. 4 (Ancient).  Union Lodge No. 4,  merged into Union Kilwinning Lodge No.4 after the Ancient and Modern Grand Lodges were united in 1809. Until now the lodge that General Mordecai Gist was a member of was unknown. 

Brother de Saussure was a member of two other important Charleston Societies and served as their president. They were the Society of the Cincinnati and the St. Cecelia Society.   

Brother de Saussure attaining as he did to the loftiest positions in all the other branches of Masonry his love for this Grand Lodge never wavered or cooled. Twice he was elected as Grand Master of South Carolina Masons, and then for a number of years as Financial Agent.  

During his life time he wrote many papers for these societies. Two  papers of great importance written by Brother De Saussure were the “History of Masonry in South Carolina” and “The Siege of Charleston.” Both of these papers hold much information that is still as highly regarded today as when he first wrote them.  

Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4 During the Civil War

During the Civil War years communications were held at an average of four meetings a year during 1864. At various times during the Civil War Shepheard’s Tavern was damaged by shellfire from the enemies guns pointed at Charleston.  

While the Lodge building was being repaired the meetings where held at the residence of Worshipful Master Dr. Raoul. With the cessation of the War, the minutes show larger attendance with visitors from Maine and other Northern States recorded. 

When General Sherman was heading for Charleston, SC, many of the lodges sent their records and jewels to Columbia, S. C. to protect them from being destroyed, stolen, or damaged from the Northern troops.

But on the way to Charleston, SC, General Sherman’s army passed through Columbia and many of the jewels were lost to looters while the records were lost to the fires.   

On September 18, 1866, some of the jewels of this lodge stolen from Columbia, S. C. had been recovered by a brother who wanted to return them to the lodge. The W. M. announced to the Lodge the letter he had received informing him of the find on January 17, 1867. A committee introduced the resolution, that the members of Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4, A. F. M. were very impressed with the truly Masonic conduct of Brother F. L. Heyward of Clarksville, Missouri, in returning the Jewels which were lost in Columbia, S. C.     

A On September 19, 1867, a resolution of thanks was adopted and sent to Brother Heyward. Past Master Furman, after a few pertinent brief remarks, restored to the Lodge one of its Jewels found in Lynchs Creek after Sherman’s Army had passed through the area.”  

In 1871, a correspondence between Brother W. T. Walter, the W. M. of Richland Lodge, Columbia, in regard to a silver compass, one of the Jewels of Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4, was given to Brother J. E. Parkins, who lives in Earlham, Iowa by one of his employees.   After looking at the jewel Brother Walter felt a strong desired to return it to its proper owner. The Compass was then placed  in an enclosed slip of paper and the following words inscribed on it which states “Presented as a War Trophy by one of Shermans Bummers, Columbia, South Carolina, and February 18, 1864.”   

On April 7, 1871, the secretary acknowledged its receipt, the Jewel coming directly from the Brother of Iowa, who states rather eloquently in his letter “Would to God I could restore all that was ruthlessly taken from you.” 

The Candlesticks Around the Alter

SLIDE NO. 9 (click on link for slide)

Surrounding the altar in the center of the lodge room is one of the most priceless possessions of Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4. The candlesticks were at one time used by all of the lodges of Charleston when Shepheard’s Tavern was still standing.  

The Grand Lodge of Scotland presented the candlesticks to Union Lodge No. 4 in 1759 as it was then so named.   

SLIDE NO. 10 (click on link for slide)

Each, “candle stick,” has “etching” marks on them. It has always been thought that these were with each candlestick when they were presented to “Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4,” in 1759.   

When the Grand Lodge met in Charleston, SC last year, the Grand Master it requested that Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4 loan their “candle sticks” for the occasion. With this in mind Brother Al Crabtree, (who is a noted Silver Smith and his wife Charlotte), offered to clean them before they were to be used at the installation.  

 When Brother Crabtree took the “candle sticks” apart for cleaning, he discovered that the engraver had etched his name on one of them under one of the pine cones which shows that they were etched in 1927 and not when they were sent over to the Lodge from Scotland. 

SLIDE NO. 11 (click on link for slide)

At the base of each “Candle Stick” is 4 plates made of silver with different symbols on each of them.  Before the “Candles Sticks” were cleaned by Brother Al Crabtree and his wife Charlotte the images were hard to see.  

The meaning of each one of these “plates” with symbols is unknown at this time.


The Alter

SLIDE NO. 12 (click on link for slide)

In the minutes of February and March of 1868 there is an account of the presentation of a marble alter to all the Masons of Charleston by seven Brethren of Washington, D. C.  This is the Altar, which all Charleston Masons at one time knelt and took their degrees when Shepheard’s Tavern was still standing. The letter accompanying the Altar states, “This is to inform you that a few of us who were permitted, some months ago, to visit your State on a mission of fraternal love, remembering the kindness and the true Masonic Spirit with which we were received, on that occasion, and being desirous to give an expression of the profound esteem in which we hold our brethren of South Carolina, we have forwarded to Charleston a white marble Altar to be presented by the undersigned to the Masonic Fraternity of your City. We beg of the Fraternity, to accept this gift from brothers, all of whom have bowed before that sacred Altar of Masonry.” And “we shall remember that we are a Common Brotherhood, bound together by strong and indissoluble ties, which no change of circumstances or time can ever break.” The donors, J. P. Hamlin, George W. Goodale, M. L. Merrell, Charles Stewart, J. F. Gedney, Henry Brick and George R. Price, all of Washington, D. C., sign the letter, their names also appear on the Alter.”  

Ladies and Gentlemen we will now turn our attention to the last member of Union Kilwinning Lodge No.4. His name is often mentioned today in stories and conversations when the talk is turned to the Scottish Rite Supreme Council, as we know it today.  

Without the insight and determination of this gentleman the Supreme Council would not have been established in Charleston, South Carolina.  The lodge this gentlemen, was a member of, was not known by the Grand Lodge of South Carolina or the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite Masons until November 1999.

His name is…


Colonel John Mitchell

SLIDE NO. 13 (click on link for slide)

He was born sometime during the year 1741 in Ireland and immigrated to Philadelphia at a later date that is unknown. He was a Past Master of Union Blue Lodge No. 8 located in Charleston, SC, which later merged into Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4 sometime after the merger of 1809. Seen on Brother Girard’s patent is Colonel Mitchell’s signature as Master of this lodge.  

SLIDE NO. 14 (click on link for slide)

It is strongly believed that Colonel Mitchell was raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason at Lodge No. 2 (Modern) in Philadelphia on April 25, 1763.  He was living there before the Revolutionary War started and was raised when he was 21 years old.

After arriving in Charleston, SC this gentleman became a member of, “Union Blue Lodge No. 8,” which later merged into Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4. The date of this merger is unknown at this time.  

SLIDE NO. 15 (click on link for slide)

We do know that from a document located in Philadelphia in 1999 that he signed the patent of Brother Stephen Girard. This patent has provided us with the proof of his membership in our lodge and the office of “Worshipful Master.”  

In 1789 and 1790 Colonel Mitchell was the Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of South Carolina and in 1799 and 1800 he was the Deputy Grand Master. This is where he found the opportunity for exercising that Masonic foresight and vision, which was so well, manifested a couple of years later. Under the date of June 24, 1799, he signed a circular to other Grand Lodges to unite all lodges under a systematic plan to work together. 

SLIDE NO. 16 (click on link for slide)

On May 31, 1801 Colonel John Mitchell along with his close friend Reverend Frederick Dalcho established the Supreme Council of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite along with nine other “Gentlemen of Charleston.”  

SLIDE No. 17 (click on link for slide)


The Brothers mentioned in tonight’s presentation serve as an example that anyone can follow. The events and circumstances that surround their destinies are an important example from which all of us can learn. It shows that we all can make a positive impact on the Masonic Fraternity and the community where we live. 

Thank each and every one of you for allowing me to talk to you on the history of this great lodge and some of the members that made a positive impact on it.



Any and all material herein is protected by Copyright © 1992 – 2014 The Sinclair Group, Inc.  All Rights Reserved. Nothing from this website may be copied or reproduced, in part or whole, or in any manner, without the express written approval of the owner of this website or the author of the particular work.  This includes, but is not limited to, all photos, stories, graphics, and information on this website.