Fragments of Charleston Masonic Members & Lodges
By: Brother McDonald “Don” Burbidge, 33º
In the 1700’s in Charles Town persons of like national origin tended to organize their own clubs for the purpose of charity and pleasure. There were clubs representing all principle national elements in the province. The Scots had their St. Andrew’s Society, the English their St. George’s Society, the French their South Carolina Society. As early as 1736 there was a Welch Club which celebrated the anniversary of their patron saint. There was an Irish Society in 1749. Captain Michael Kalteisen who was dating Colonel John Mitchell’s mother-in-law and was a close friend of the Colonels established the German Friendly Society in 1766.
The members of each one of the societies each had there own set of “Rules and Regulations” to govern themselves accordingly. Unfortunately many of these rules, regulations, and minutes to these early societies are lost to time unless someone happens to open up an old book hidden away somewhere that might have them that one can learn from.
Some 275 years ago the first documented mason arrived in Charles Town as it was then called sometime in the year of 1730. The town size was rather small and not as we know it today. His name was Brother Thomas Whitemarsh who was an apprentice of Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia and also a member of St. John’s Lodge. On January 8, 1731 he published his first, “Gazette,” newspaper in Charles Town which became the eighth paper established in America.
Sometime in the year 1730 Dr. John Lining arrived in Charles Town at the tender age of 22 having just graduated from the Edinburg University of Medicine. Dr. Lining was the first doctor to shuck off some of the conventional medical practices of his contemporaries. He began, for instance, to let light, sunshine and fresh air into the rooms of his patients where the common practice of the day dictated the close darkness and stale air of a sick room. With his encouragement, the more healthful attitude of the sick began to take shape. He later on wrote the first paper that described, “yellow fever,” that some many persons of Charles Town died from.
Due to his experiments with lighting bolts along with his correspodences with Brother Benjamin Franklin the houses of Charles Town soon started erecting lightening rods on their houses to reduce the damage causes by a lightening bolt hitting them during a storm that reduced the amount of deaths and damage brought by them.
Brother John Lining was a member of Solomon’s Lodge No. 1 in Charles Town. The date he became a Mason is not known due to the many fires, floods, and loss of records.
On the anniversary meeting of Solomon’s Lodge No. 1, on December 28, 1738 the South Carolina Gazette paper printed the following announcement,
“The day was ushered in with firing of guns at sunrise from several ships in the Harbor, with all their colors flying. At 9 o'clock all the members of Solomon’s Lodge, belonging to the Ancient and Honorable Order of Free and Accepted Masons, met at the house of Honorable James Crokatt, Esq., Master of the said Lodge. At 10, proceeded from thence, properly clothed with the Ensigns of their Order, and Music before them, to the house of the Provincial Grand Master, James Graeme, Esq., where a Grand Lodge was held. At 11 o’clock, the Lodge went in procession to Church to attend Divine Service, and in the same order returned to the house of Mr. Charles Shepheard, where, in the Court-Room, to a numerous assembly of ladies and gentlemen, the newly elected Provincial Grand Master made a very eloquent speech of the usefulness of Societies, and the benefit arising there from to mankind. The assembly having been dismissed, Solomon’s Lodge proceeded to the election of their officers for the ensuing year, when Mr. John Houghton was chosen Master; Dr. John Lining, Senior Warden; Mr. David McClellan, Junior Warden; Mr. Arthur Strahan, Secretary, and Mr. Alexander Murray, Treasurer. After an elegant dinner, Capt. Thomas White invited all brethren on board the Hope. There several loyal health’s were drank, and at their coming on board and return to shore, they were saluted by the discharge of 39 guns, being the same number observed in each of the different salutes of this day, so that in all there were about 250 guns fired. The evening was concluded with a ball and entertainment for the ladies, and the whole was performed with much grandeur and decorum.”
In 1748 the organization of, “The Charleston Library Society,” founded by William Burrows was one of, “a group of seventeen aspiring young intellectuals,” who agreed to raise a fund of ten pounds sterling and import recent magazines and pamphlets from London. These seventeen men held together by the bond of a reading habit, including a school master, two planters, a peruke maker, a doctor, a printer, two lawyers, and nine merchants with the hopes of educating the youths of the city.
The library Society was soon supported with rules, organization, and in 1750 the eminent; Brother Dr. John Lining (who was a member of Solomon Lodge No. 1) who was also a meticulous observer, recorder of weather data, experimenter in electrical phenomena, and correspondent of Benjamin Franklin (a known Mason of Philadelphia) is listed as the president of this society. This society still exists today and is still very active in the education of the youth in Charleston, SC.
On April 21, 1762, Rev. Robert Smith established, “The Society for the Relief of the Widows and Children of the Clergy of the Church of England in the Province of South Carolina,” 11 clergymen of the city attended the first meeting of this Society. One of the rules of the society was that each Clergy member would provide a, “Charity Sermon,” to a church other than his own on the appointed anniversary date. On the first anniversary of this society the Rev. Robert Smith provided the Mason’s of Charleston with his sermon titled, “Charity Sermon for the Masons No. 100,” which was first read on December 27, 1762 then again in December 1784. It should be mention that the Reverend Frederick Dalcho and Colonel John Mitchell were both members of this society.
If the name of Reverend Robert Smith might sound familiar it should be as this is the same person that with 60 of his own students he was teaching in his home established the, “College of Charleston,” in the year 1790.
On Saturday May 7, 1791 President George Washington (also a Mason), with the City Intendment and Wardens, visited the Orphans House, and Illustrious Colonel John Mitchell is listed as the senior Commissioner receiving him, afterwards entertaining him at breakfast in the Commissioners’ Room. During the Revolutionary War Illustrious Mitchell performed various duties for President Washington and the both of them became good friends.
The Charleston Orphan House was at the time the oldest municipal orphanage in the United States, at the instigation of John Robertson, a philanthropic citizen and a member of City Council. Its main purpose was to establish the Institution for the “purpose of supporting and educating poor and orphan children and those of poor and disabled parents who are unable to support and maintain them. During the 1800’s the Orphan House was a well-known child care institution that was completely self-sufficient entity.
The Charleston Orphan House stood at the corner of Calhoun and St. Philip Streets. Built on the site of the Revolutionary War Barracks, the Institution was officially occupied on October 18, 1794.
Another good friend of President George Washington who was living in Charleston at the time of his visit was General Mordecai Gist who served under the President during the revolutionary war.
In a letter written by Brother General Mordecai Gist to the President George Washington before his visit to Charleston he asks the following of the President in his letter;
Sir-Induced by a respect for your public and private character, as well as the relation in which you stand with the brethren of this society, we, the Grand Lodge of the State of South Carolina, Ancient York Masons, beg leave to offer our sincere congratulations on your arrival in this State.
We felicitate you on the establishment and exercise of a permanent government, whose foundation was laid under your auspices by military achievements, upon which have been progressively reared the pillars of the free Republic over which you preside, supported by wisdom, strength, and beauty unrivalled among the nations of the world.
The fabric thus raised and committed to your superintendence, we earnestly wish may continue to produce order and harmony to succeeding ages, and be the asylum of virtue to the oppressed of all parts of the universe.
When we contemplate the distresses of war, the instances of humanity displayed by the Craft afford some relief to the feeling mind; and it gives us the most pleasing sensation to recollect, that amidst the difficulties attendant on your late military stations, you still associated with, and patronized the Ancient Fraternity.
Distinguished always by your virtues, more than the exalted stations in which you have moved, we exult in the opportunity you now give us of hailing you brother of our Order, and trust from your knowledge of our institution, to merit your countenance and support.
With fervent zeal for your happiness, we pray that a life so dear to the bosom of this society, and to society in general, may be long, very long preserved; and when you leave the temporal symbolic lodge of this world, may you be received into the celestial lodge of light and perfection, where the Grand Master Architect of the Universe presides.
“Done in behalf of the Grand Lodge.
“M. Gist, G. M.
“Charleston, 2d May, 1791.”
In the return letter President Washington's writes to M. Gist the following;
I am much obliged by the respect, which you are so good to declare for my public and private character. I recognize with pleasure my relation to the brethren of your Society, and I accept with gratitude your congratulations on my arrival in South Carolina.
Your sentiments, on the establishment and exercise of our equal government, are worthy of an association, whose principles lead to purity of morals, and are beneficial of action.
The fabric of our freedom is placed on the enduring basis of public virtue, and will, I fondly hope, long continue to protect the prosperity of the architects who raised it. I shall be happy, on every occasion, to evince my regard for the Fraternity. For your prosperity individually, I offer my best wishes.
Marine Lodge No. 38
Again on May 31, 1773 printed in the, “South Carolina Gazette,” we find the following announcement;
“The Marine Lodge of Masons, which is the “Junior” in this Town, is the First that is possessed of a Lodge Room, having lately purchased a very convenient one.”
The South Carolina Gazette
May 31, 1773
It was from Lodge Alley that Charlestonians openly defied the British government in the early days before the Revolutionary War. On November 7, 1777, as a means of protesting the harsh treatment shown to Boston, Charleston’s Sons of Liberty Boys met in the Masonic Lodge-Room in Lodge Alley and constructed a “rolling stage” or parade float. Upon it effigies of the Pope, the Devil, Lord North, and Governor Thomas Hutchinson of Massachusetts and floated it in the Bay.
At the Grand Communication of the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of AYM of Pennsylvania a petition signed by Brother Edward Weyman, Brother David Hamilton and seven recently made AYM brethren was read and granted on December 23, 1782. This set in motion for the formation of Marine Lodge No. 38, which was to meet in the City of Charles Town, South Carolina, at the Lodge room in Lodge Alley. Brother Weyman and Hamilton then demitted from Lodge No. 2 of Pennsylvania. Master Richard Wistar, dated December 26, 1782 signed a demitted and an endorsement of the same from the Grand Lodge dated January 25, 1783. The appearance of Worshipful Brother Wistar’s name in the South Carolina record of August 1783 indicates that he took up residence in this state shortly thereafter.
The seven petitioners mentioned above were “made” by courtesy of the only existing AYM Lodge then in South Carolina, Lodge No. 190, operating under the Grand Athol Lodge of England.
When the “Grand Lodge of South Carolina, Ancient York Masons,” was formed by the five “Ancient,” Lodges in Charleston on January 1, 1787, Marine Lodge, No. 38, was a prominent factor. It is a noteworthy fact, that at least three of the principal officers were Pennsylvania Masons, viz. Hon. William Drayton, Grand Master; Hon. Mordecai Gist, Deputy Grand Master; Edward Weyman, Esq., Senior Grand Warden.
Saint Andrews Lodge No. 10
St. Andrew’s Lodge No. 10 received its warrant from the G.L. of Pennsylvania, at some period previous to 1787, as “Lodge No. 47.” It was one of the four Ancient York Lodges in Charleston that united in that year in the formation of the Grand Lodge of Ancient York Masons of South Carolina, and on March 24, 1787 it received a new warrant from that body as “Lodge No. 4.” In 1808 it concurred in the union of the two Grand Lodges and the formation of the Grand Lodge of S.C., at which time its officers were Francis Curtis, W.M., Jos. Cole, S. W., and Charles Cleapor, J.W.
Not known before this is the lodge that Illustrious Thomas B. Bowen who was a founder of the Supreme Council was a member of along with his good friend General Mordecia Gist were members of in Charleston, SC.
Recently found in a locked safe at Union Kilwinning Lodge No.4 were the “Rules” of Saint Andrews Lodge No. 10 dated February 4th, 1820 which consists of 27 total. In a moment I will be reading some of these “Rules” as they appear in the book. Thesse “Rules”show without a doubt how serious these brethren were about the Craft and their actions both in and out of the ldoge.
“Whereas it is necessary that every Society of Men should have Laws, to Govern, Guide and direct them without which, regularity and good order could not long exist among them. The history of Nations, States and Societies from time Immemorial making this self evident. We the Master Wardens and Members of Saint Andrews Lodge Number Ten under the Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina held at our Lodge Room in Church Street at Brother Roche’s one Friday the 4th February 1820 and of Masonry 5820 have thought proper to Establish the following Bye Laws, Regulations, & “
(Time Appointed for Regular meetings amendant the Lodge to Meet the 3rd Monday in each month.)
The regular Meetings of this Lodge shall be on the First Friday of every Calendar Month throughout the year. The Lodge shall consist of one Master, Two Wardens, Senior & Junior, One Treasurer, One Secretary, Two Deacons Senior & Junior, Two Stewards, A Tyler and as many Members as the Master and a Majority of the Members shall think proper, who shall be Master. The Tyler shall be a person well skilled in the mysteries of Masonry. His business is to stand at the out side of the Lodge Door in the Tyler room and to Guard the same to report to the Lodge those who desire to be admitted, To Summons the Members by order of the Master or presiding Officer signified to him by the Secretary or his Adjutant and to do such other duties as may by proper Authority be required of him for which served when allowed the sum of Twenty dollars, which will be paid Quarterly Exclusive of his Arrears if a member of the Lodge and to receive his prerequisite as Tyler for Initiations.
If any member refuses to serve in any Office of this Lodge except such as have already served Twelve months in such as he or they might have been Elected to serve in, he or they shall be Subjected to the following fines. The Master Eight Dollars, Each Warden Four Dollars, Treasurer and Secretary Three Dollars each, Deacon and Steward One Dolor each and to be fined in the like sum if they do not serve their full time without a Sufficient excuse to be approved of a Majority of the Lodge at a Regular Meeting.
(Expenses for Regular and Extra Meetings.)
The Expenses of the Evening Regular and Extra meeting shall not exceed Fifty Cent for each member present except upon special Occasions, Visitors to be charged Fifty Cents for each visit after the first visit provided he stays to supper if any that night. The Junior Warden shall at all meetings regular or Extra, keep account of the expenses and from time to time give such directions to the Stewards, as to keep them informed when the stated complaint is in Any Brother ordering in Liquour or other Refreshments without the consent of the Junior Warden shall be Obligated to pay the same which should Be or they so offending refuse so to do, the Amount of the same shall be to his or their account and Exhibited against them at the quarterly day. The Junior Warden on neglecting of informing the Lodge when the stated amount is in or ordering more than it shall be made chargeable with the over plus whatever it may be.
(Behavior of any Member in the Lodge.)
Any Member of the Lodge entering it disguised with Liquor or become so by to frequent or use of it therein, Swears, Curses, or offer to lay wager or who shall use any language in derogation of God’s Holy Name so as to interrupt the Harmony of the Lodge or any Officer or Member while in the Act of duty or speaking such conduct shall be deemed inconsistent in a Brother and he or they so offending shall be reprimanded from the Chair and unless a sufficient excuse be immediately made he or they shall be fined Two Dollars if an Officer, if a Member not in Office the sum of One Dollar but on persisting to offend in like manner shall be Obligated to quit the room immediately and not be admitted until an apology is made and determined upon by the Lodge.
Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4
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 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.
The most precious possession of Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4 are the candlesticks that are a set of 3 total and at one time were used by all of the lodges of Charleston. The candle sticks 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.”
In the minutes of the lodge books for February and March of 1868 there is an account of the presentation to all the Masons of Charleston by seven Brethren of Washington, D. C. of a marble Alter.
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.”
On January 28, 1788 when the lodge was then known as, “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.
On the patent of Stephen Girad it is signed by Colonel John Mitchell who was the Worshipful Master of the lodge.
In November of 2004 found in the safe of Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4 was a book that contained the hand written Rules of “Lodge No. 4.” These rules were also signed by each member of the lodge who took great pride in the fraternity and wanted those that came in contact with a member of this lodge to project a positive imagine to all persons. It contains approximately 150 signatures which not only identify who the member was but also provides the reader of today who of the men of Charleston were masons that was not known before.
Here is a few of the “Rules” as written in the book that is noteworthy of being identified.
According to the
of the Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of
Free and Accepted
Revived by his Royal Highness Prince Edwin of York in the year of Mason 4926 and of the Anlgar Arras 926. The following Rules and Orders are established for the Government of the Masters, Officers, and Members of the Lodge late of No. 47 under the Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania but since newly organized and regularly Constituted Lodge No. 4. By virtue of a Warrant by the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of South Carolina and Masonic Jurisdiction thereof to the Worshipful General Mordecai Gist Master, Thomas Bartholomew Bowen Senior Warden, and Ephraman Mitchell Junior Warden, bearing Date 24th day March 1787, and in the year of Masonry 5787.
8th On the first Initiation of any person in this Lodge the Bye Laws shall be submitted to his Inspection and he shall be at Liberty to sign them and become a Member or to defer it until he is raised in the degree of a Master Mason. But no Brother shall be allowed to add his Signature to these Bye Laws, or becoming a Member of some other Lodge under the same Jurisdiction.
9th Any Ancient York Mason desirous of becoming a member of this Lodge shall produce a certificate of his good Behavior in his former Lodge if in his power and shall be proposed and Balloted for as before mentioned and if admitted a Member shall pay the sum of One Guinea to the General Fund.
10th Every person being made an Entered Apprentice in this Lodge shall pay the sum of ten Dollars to the Treasurer and One Dollar to the Tyler, And Two of the Members shall be appointed his Guardian to Instruct him in the Mysteries of the Craft. On being passed to the Degree of a Fellow Craft each Apprentice shall pay Five Dollars to the Treasurer and one Dollar to the Tyler, and on being Raised to the Degree of Master Mason the sum of Five Dollars to the Treasurer and One Dollar to the Tyler.
11th Modern Masons who from a conviction of their Enamor, may make application to be Initiated into the True Craft in this Lodge, and being Balloted for and approved of as aforesaid, shall be entitled to receive in Modern Masons on only Paying the Expense of the Night (if Extra) Half Fees to the Tyler and the To the Grand Lodge.
13th No Member of this Lodge (Past Officers in the same or Higher offices Excluded) shall refuse serving in any Office to which they may be appointed under the following Fines and Penalties, Viz;
The Master………………………….Eight Dollars
The Wardens Secretary
And the Treasurer Each
Deacon and Stewards Three Dollars
But all fines and Penalties whatever may be remitted on reasonable excuses offered to the Lodge and admitted by them as satisfactory.
The Supreme Council
On May 31, 1801, Illustrious John Mitchell established the first Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite Masons in Charleston with his good friend, the Reverend Frederick Dalcho. Colonel John Mitchell, founding Sovereign Grand Commander of our Order, organized the first meeting of the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry at Shepheard's Tavern in Charleston, South Carolina. During this session, a resolution was adopted stating that Brothers Frederick Dalcho, Isaac Auld, and Emanuel De La Motta, Esq., would draft and submit a report to the Supreme Council for the next meeting. This report was to cover the subject of Free and Accepted Masons of all Degrees, Ancient and Modern. At the next meeting, they submitted the report which was called, "Circular Throughout the Two Hemispheres," agreeing to have it published and sent to all corners of the world. It announced the establishment of the Supreme Council in Charleston, South Carolina, and included a history of Freemasonry.
Saint Johns Lodge No. 31
This Lodge, now long since extinct and once played an important part in the history of Masonry in South Carolina. St. John’s Lodge No. 31 (for that was the original number) was the leader of that organized opposition of Ancient York Lodges, which dissented from the union of the two Grand Lodges in 1808, and which caused the revival of the York Grand Lodge in 1809. It took its willing share; however, in the second and more successful union of 1817 and, on the necessary alterations being made in the registry of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons in 1818, it received the number 13. In 1836 it became extinct, and a considerable amount of funds, including ten shares of Planters and Mechanics’ Bank stock, passed into the treasury of the Grand Lodge. St. John’s Lodge, during its existence, contained on its roll the names of some of the most zealous and intelligent Masons in the jurisdiction.
It must be mention that this was the lodge that the Reverend Frederick Dalcho was a member of before he joined Union Kilwinning Lodge No. 4 after Saint Johns Lodge No. 31 ceased to exist.
Our Brothers of years ago took much pride in being known as a Mason, who they were, and what they accomplished while they were alive. These same men came from many different countries with different beliefs but the two beliefs they all shared in was the education of the youth and the high honor of being a Mason. The documents that have survived the many years will always be an inspiration to those that have the pleasure to find them, to read them, and to present them to others to learn from.
When we read about something that has occurred many years ago it at times bring a desire to learn more about the events but is not always possible because a letter or a detailed report of the event does not exist. It is up to “researchers” like ourselves that when we find these documents that we get the information they contain published or put on a web page that others can learn more about the event instead of just a small part of the event that someone might write about who does not include the whole story.
There are still many undiscovered documents and stories out their just waiting to be re-discovered and I hope each and every one of you here today will experience that feeling of finding one of them like I have so many times before. I am saying this in a sense of not bragging but in a sense that someone else can uncover information that we can all learn from. All you have to do is, “look and search out,” and you might one day find what you are looking for. One thing for sure is that what we are still able to find today might be lost in the years to come due to “decay” of the papers that the information is written on.
The Reverend Frederick Dalcho best described what it is like to be a Master Mason and how one should conduct himself accordingly;
“Let us, gentleman, cheerful and resolutely determine to make our society as useful as it is respectable, to make it the school of instruction, and the deposit of important information for our posterity. The ardent pursuit of scientific information, which it adds respectability and honor to a country, is of incalculable depth; an inexhaustible source of usefulness and profit. The human mind, vast and capacious in its resources, is bounded by no limits, but the GREAT FIRST CAUSE, and yields to no impediments, but the disorganization of matter. The hearts expands with virtue and benevolence, as the mind extends its information. The riches of the ancients become our
property, and the labours of the learned, becomes our amusement. Compared to the learned, of the present day, the ancients were but the pupils of science; and we, in turn, will have to yield the palm of knowledge to those who will succeed us, and who, probably, will look back upon us, but as the removers of literary rubbish, or the pliers up of disjointed facts.”
Ill. Brother Frederick Dalcho
Oration delivered before the Medical Society December 24th, 1805
Thank you all for the pleasure of addressing each of you today.
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