Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4

Charleston, South Carolina

By: Ill.\Brother\McDonald “Don” Burbidge, 33°


“Let us not hear among us that there is war,

that strife and dissension prevail;

as Masons it concerns us not.”

David Ramsey,

Grand Master of Masons

for South Carolina

March 21, 1862


The Provincial Grand Lodge of South Carolina approved a grant for a new lodge to be established in Charleston, South Carolina on May 3, 1755. The new lodge designation was called, “Union Lodge No.4” which was later renamed to “Union Kilwinning Lodge No.4.”  The reason for the name change was due in part to the amount of Scots on the rolls of the lodge over the years.


The original membership of Union Kilwinning Lodge was limited to sixty-three members, in 1867 it was increased to 89, and again in 1867 it was increased to 125 total members, and in the early 1900’s the limit of new members were omitted from the By-Laws of the lodge.


On January 28, 1788 when it was then called “Union Lodge No. 4, Stephen Girad of Philadelphia who was visiting Charleston was made a mason on sight when he was entered and passed on this date.


Stephen Girad 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 landed in Philadelphia aboard the sailing ship “L’Aimable Louis” and on June 6th, 1778 he became an American citizen.


During the War of 1812 he provided the government with a cash loan of 8 million dollars which helped save the country from financial ruin and pay for the War. Later on that year he bought the First Bank of the United States.


On one of Stephen Girad Masonic patents it is signed by Colonel John Mitchell who was the founder of the Scottish Rite Supreme Council, which was established in Charleston, South Carolina on May 31, 1801.


On December 26, 1831 Stephen Girad passed away due to complications brought on by influenza in Philadelphia and four days later was buried in the churchyard cemetery of Holy Trinity, where a simple ceremony took place in his honor. In the four days between his death and burial, the city of Philadelphia paid tribute to Girard with acclamations of appreciation and respect for his contributions, both on a business and personal level.



The Civil War Era



                                     1862 photo of interior of

                                                        Fort Sumter during the Civil War.


Past Master of Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4 and Grand Master of the State in 1862 and 1863 Brother David Ramsey wrote of the Civil War on March 21, 1862 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 Masonically met or with due and regular interchange. You have registered words which can not be recalled, antedating words which can not be recalled, antedating as they will survive, all disturbance among men and turmoil’s in State, words which should be ever present to you in thought, utterance and deed. 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, anything to mar its fraternal reputation?”


In the minutes of April 18, 1861, the first reference is made to the Civil War is mentioned. “The W. M. congratulated the Lodge that while many of its members were actively engaged in the stirring events of the past week, there was many reasons to be grateful that no causality has occurred to any of the brethren of this lodge.  


In April 1864 the lodge reported in the minutes of the many deaths of the members of this lodge. Brother David Ramsey was recorded as one of the fallen brothers who fell at Battery Wagner in 1863.  Brother David Ramsey at the time of his death was the Grand Master of Masons for the state of South Carolina.


Communications were held during these days, an average of four a year during the year of 1864. At various times during the Civil War the Temple was damaged by the shellfire of the enemies guns pointed at the Charleston. While the temple was being repaired the meetings where held at the residence Brother W. M. Dr. Raoul. With the cessation of the War, the minutes show larger attendance, and visitors from Maine and other Northern States.


The lodge records and jewels of Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4 were taken to Columbia, S. C. for safe keeping during the Civil War. When General Sherman army passed through Columbia many of the jewels were loss to looters while the records were loss to the fires.  


On September 18, 1866, some of the jewels of the 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. impressed with the truly Masonic conduct of Brother F. L. Heyward of Clarksville, Missouri, in restoring the Jewels which were lost in Columbia, S. C.  A desire to express to him their high appreciation, of the brotherly kindness which has actuated him, and exemplifying principle of the order “Love to the Brethren without regard to Creed or Section.” A resolution of thanks was then adopted and sent to Brother Heyward, also on September 19th, A. L. 1867.” Past Master Furman after a few pertinent brief remarks restored to the Lodge one of its Jewels found in Lynchs creek after the passage of Sherman’s Army.”


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. A strong desire to return it to its proper owner, the Compass was enclosed in a paper slip which states “Presented as a War Trophy by one of Shermans Bummers, Columbia, South Carolina, 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 Altar



In the minutes of 1868 February and March there is an account of the presentation to all the Masons of Charleston by seven Brethren of Washington, D. C. of a marble Alter. This is the Altar which all Charleston Masons at one time  knelt at and took their degrees at.


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.


A letter of thanks was sent on the part of this Lodge by Brother W. G. DeSaussure, W. M. A. M. Lynah, S. W. and W. E. Howland, J. W.



The Candlesticks Around the Alter






                                                     Pictured above are the “Candle Sticks”

                                                     Shown in a photograph taken in 1924

                                                     at Shepheard’s Tavern before it was

                                                      torn down.


Surrounding the altar in the center of the lodge room is one of the most priceless possessions of Union Lodge No. 4. The candlesticks are a set of 3 total and are used by some of the Lodges in Charleston that meet at the Orange Grove Masonic Center. The candlesticks were presented to Union Lodge No. 4 in 1759 by the Grand Lodge of Scotland and at the same time the Lodge added “Kilwinning” to its original name of “Union.”


The first mention of the name Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4 was printed in the South Carolina Gazette on December 29, 1766, when Mr. John Deas attended the celebration of the Grand Lodge Festival of St. John the Evangelist as Master of Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4.”



Ill.\Brother\General Wilmot Gibbes DeSaussure




                               Ill.\Bro.\General Wilmot Gibbes DeSaussure, 33°


Ill.\Brother Wilmot Gibbes DeSaussure was born in Charleston, S. C. on July 23, 1822. His grandfather was Chancellor henry William DeSaussure who was a well- known Charleston lawyer and also a judge.  


He graduated at the South Carolina College at the age of eighteen then went on to serve his state as a legislator at the age of twenty-six. For sixteen years thereafter; and was in the Military Service of the Confederate States, as Colonel of artillery and Brigadier General, from the beginning of the War Between the States until the end.


He was made a Mason in Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4, at Charleston on November 176, 1855, was Master of it in 1868 and Grand Master from 1875-1877


In 1860 while he was stationed at Castle Pinckney and Fort Ripley he was in charge of the “Fifth Subdivision.” He held this position until 1861 when the U. S. Army evacuated Fort Moultrie, he was then appointed General of the South Carolina Forces at the abandoned fort.  While he was in charge of the abandoned fortress during the bombardment of Fort Sumter by Confederate military forces he was in command of artillery on Cummings’s Point. He later took command of the Fourth Brigade and the South Carolina Militia. 


He commanded the force of reserves, which included the Zouave Cadets, that engaged in the defense of Charleston and, after the resignation of General States Rights Gist, was appointed adjutant general of the state. He was also President of the Society of the Cincinnati, the St. Cecelia Society, and many other useful societies in Charleston.


Attaining as he did to the loftiest positions in Masonry his love for the Grand Lodge of South Carolina never wavered or cooled. Twice elected Grand Master of South Carolina, and then for a number of years as Financial Agent, with all its money matters. On May30, 1876 he was elected to the Supreme Council by Ill. Bro. Albert Pike.



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