The Start of Ohio Freemasonry

The Start of Ohio Freemasonry

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 what is now Ohio.

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 January, 1809 (January 2), as the date for the first Communication, which was to be in Chillicothe, the state capital.

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 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, governor of Ohio, Grand Master of Masons for 1809.

Thus it was that The Grand Lodge of F. & A. M. of Ohio came into being.