The first Provincial Grand Master, Daniel Coxe, was appointed to oversee NY, NJ, & PA. He formed one of the oldest Lodges in the New World still in existence, St. John's #1 in New York City (1737). St. John's Lodge owns the Bible that George Washington used to take oath of office as first President of the United States. The bible has been used to swear in a number of Presidents, the last being George Bush on Jan. 20, 1989.
Another Lodge in the New World, which has retained its original identity, is Lodge # 139 of Savannah, Georgia (1735). It was renamed Solomon #1 in 1776. The Lodge kept English registry till 1813 even though it was on the Grand Lodge of Georgia rolls.
During this Provincial period many field Lodges were established. One such Lodge is listed on the NY Grand Lodge roster as Lake George Lodge #4 April 23, 1756. It was established by Richard Gridley, younger brother of Jeremy Gridley (Boston), the then Provincial Grand Master of Massachusetts. During the infamous massacre at Fort William Henry, all records were destroyed.
Other field Lodges within the NY State boundaries included:
An interesting note per James Holden, who claims that Israel Putnam (1718-1790), who was made a Mason at the Military Lodge at Crown Point on June 7, 1758, had been captured by the French a few months later near Ft. Ann. He was saved from torture by giving the Masonic Sign of Distress, which was recognized & answered by French Commander Marin. (James A. Holden address May 15 1913) There is an oak tree in Crown Point where he was bound; a plaque exists there today. During the War of Rebellion he became a Major General in the Continental Army (Battle of Long Island).
There were three (3) Lodges in existence in Albany, N.Y., which have some bearing on this area. The first was Lodge #74, a Military Lodge, which was under Irish Registry, was formed in 1737 and came into the Albany area about 1757. It serviced His Majesty's 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Foot, now known as Royal Scots.
General James Clinton appealed to Provincial Grand Master George Harrison, who had been made Provincial Grand Master in 1753, to grant a new Charter to this Lodge.
On Feb. 21, 1765 it became Union Lodge #1. In 1766 Sir William Johnson became a member of this Lodge so that later in the same year, he went on to become a charter member of St. Patrick's Lodge #4 in Johnstown and its first Master.
General Nicholas Herkimer, who was a friend of Sir William, joined this Lodge on April 7, 1768. Sir William Johnson died in 1774.
In this connection it is interesting to note among the membership of this Lodge, the names of persons who were clearly identified and intimately connected with the early history of this region. Signed to the By-Laws of Union Lodge #1 in Albany, as belonging in 1765 are the names of:
Peter Tearse (State Assembly 1786-89), the noted ancestor of our late Brother William Tearse of Glens Falls Lodge 121;
Col. Robert Conchran, a Revolutionary hero and later a large land owner around Hague;
Seth Warner of Green Mountain fame;
Tobias VanVechton the lieutenant killed at Ft. Edward the morning of the Jane McCrea murder;
John Vernor (Delegate to Constitutional Convention in 1801), prominent in the Revolution who in after years conducted a tavern at Lake George;
Major John Chipman who had charge of Ft. George when it surrendered to the British in 1780. At a later date, we find the names of Seth Baldwin & Peter Threehouse, who were prominent in Queensbury Masonic history later.
On May 12, 1767, the cornerstone for the new Masonic Temple was laid; a little more than a year later on June 14, 1768 the new Temple was dedicated. This was the first Masonic Temple built in America, which was used exclusively for Masonic purposes. It still stands in Albany today on the corner of Maiden Lane and Lodge Street and is said to be the oldest structure in America with continuous Masonic use.
After the American Revolution and the formation of the Grand Lodge of New York, with much dissension, Union Lodge surrendered its original charters and the new Mount Vernon Lodge #3 was formed on January 6, 1807.
Masters Lodge #2 (now #5) was formed on March 5, 1768, also under Warrant issued by Provincial Grand Master George Harrison, with Temple Lodge following in that same year shortly thereafter.
On the rolls of Masters Lodge in Albany, preceding the Revolution, appear the names of:
In 1765 (May 20, 1762) Abraham Wing, the Quaker founded the Town of Queensbury in Charlotte County. Charlotte County was renamed Washington. Thereafter, Warren County was formed from part of Washington County on March 12, 1813.
Warren County was named for General Joseph Warren, hero of the American Revolution and the first Provincial Grand Master of Masons in the Colony of Massachusetts (December 27, 1769). He continued as Grand Master until he was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill (June 17, 1775). The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts assumed its independence on March 8, 1777 becoming the first independent Grand Lodge in the United States.
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