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Compiled & edited by R.’.W.’. Gary L. Heinmiller
Director, Onondaga & Oswego Masonic Districts Historical Societies (OMDHS)
View of Lake Erie and the Bay from Buffalo in 1816
History of the City of Buffalo and Erie County: History of Buffalo,” by Henry Perry Smith, Chapter XIV, page 351-411.
see also the same text by Bro. M(ichael). Pinner at: http://books.google.com/books?id=GTAZAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA32&dq=%22Williamsville+Lodge+No.+344%22#v=onepage&q=%22Williamsville%20Lodge%20No.%20344%22&f=false the preface of which reads:
THE compiler of this pamphlet, at the solicitation of the publishers and several members of the Fraternity undertook to furnish a chapter on "Freemasonry in Erie County" for the work recently published by D. Mason & Co., Syracuse, NY, entitled: "History of Erie County." Some idea may be formed of the labor connected with its preparation when it is stated that the record of a single Lodge in Buffalo, Hiram No. 105, consisting of about 6000 written folio pages, had to be examined. The quantity of material submitted by the other lodges, chapters, etc., lessened, however, with their respective ages. A large majority of the Bodies permitted the examination of their records with fraternal courtesy; the promises of some, however, remained unfulfilled; others declined to permit an inspection for reasons best known to themselves, while a few left a politely addressed request unnoticed. If under these circumstances, the report is in some particulars incomplete, the Fraternity will understand the reason thereof.
The early history of Freemasonry in Erie County, was involved in uncertainty, and depended entirely upon the scant oral traditions handed down to us through some of the older members of the craft. The compiler, and with him those brethren to whom he communicated the fact, rejoiced when, after a laborious search in the archives of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, he discovered the original petition presented to that Body for a dispensation to form a lodge, to be called "Western Star Lodge," in the village of New Amsterdam, now the City of Buffalo. The writer does not fully share the general belief that the minutes of that lodge, which would throw light over the early days of Masonry in Erie County, have been destroyed. The most interesting points only of the papers brought to light could be furnished, as the space assigned to the " Chapter on Freemasonry " was necessarily restricted by the publishers.
The promise made by the latter to reprint that Chapter separately for the use of the Fraternity they have handsomely fulfilled, of which the present pamphlet furnishes occular demonstration.
That a necessity existed for some records of Masonry in this County which would place them beyond the contingencies of conflagrations, etc., has long been manifest to every member of the Fraternity; it is placed in a much stronger light by the publication of these sheets. It is to be hoped that the outlines now furnished fill, although to a very limited extent, this long felt want, and that other and abler brethren will add to and complete the scanty material.
The writer is under obligations to a number of brethren who have placed at his disposal material in their possession, and their knowledge of events, without which the record now presented would have been still more incomplete.
Buffalo, May, 1884.
FREEMASONRY was transplanted into Erie county with the advent of the early settlers. It was in the year 1807, when New Amsterdam [later Buffalo] was but a small village, that a sufficient number of Masons had collected in the place who felt the necessity of founding for themselves a Masonic home.
Erie County Lodges, New York
No. Name Village Warrant Notes
Pre Morgan Lodges
239 Western Star New Amsterdam 24 Dec 1813 [Buffalo]; Forfeit 5 Jun 1835
West Orb of Light Willink 1815 Petition referred, but no Warrant issued
294 Blazing Star Willink 31 Jun 1817
342 Sardinia Sardinia 06 Mar 1822
346 Concord Concord 08 Jun 1822
356 Centre Clarence 06 Mar 1823 1st Petitioned 31 Jun 1814
416 Livingston Boston 01 Jun 1825
429 Amherst Amherst 01 Jun 1825 Forfeit 8 Jun 1832
434 Hamburg(h) Union Store Hamburg(h) 01 Jun 1825
Porter Black Rock 12 Nov 1823 Dispensation date; never chartered
442c Barton Black Rock 06 Jun 1825 Forfeit 1832
Post Morgan Lodges
105 Hiram Buffalo 05 Dec 1845
143 Concordia Buffalo 13 Jun 1849 a German Lodge
161 Erie Buffalo Jun 1850
240 Washington Buffalo 11 Dec 1851
247 Tonawanda Tonawanda Jun 1852
255 Living Stone Colden 09 Jun 1852
261 Evans Angola 15 Jun 1852 Previously of Evans Centre
292 Parish Black Rock Jun 1853
340 Modestia Buffalo Jun 1854
344 Williamsville Williamsville 10 Jul 1854
351 Springville Springville Jun 1855
358 Queen City Buffalo Jun 1855
441 Lodge of the Ancient Landmarks Buffalo Jun 1858
498 De Molay Buffalo 09 Jun 1860
514 Zion East Hamburg 20 Jun 1861
527 Akron Arkron Jun 1863
598 Alden Alden Jun 1866
625 Fraternal Hamburg Jun 1867
694 Blazing Star Aurora 07 Jun 1869
699 Harmonie Buffalo 13 Jun 1870
766 Occidental Black Rock Jun 1876
788 Fortune North Collins Jun 1883
823 Depew Depew 02 Jun 1897
835 Highland Buffalo 28 Jun 1901
842 Transportation Buffalo 30 May 1903 Date of Constitution
846 Buffalo Buffalo 05 May 1904
879 Charles W. Cushman Buffalo 05 May 1910
887 Lackawanna Lackawana 03 May 1911
899 Mystic Art Buffalo 08 May 1912
911 Master Builder Kenmore 07 May 1914
925 Tyrian Kenmore 06 May 1915
Western Star Lodge No. 239
For Biographies pertaining to this Lodge see the end of this present work.
Freemasonry seems to have existed in Buffalo from the time of the founding of the village by permanent white settlers, about 1801. As early as 1807, when the village was still known as New Amsterdam and “consisted of scarcely more than forty houses, mostly log,” it contained a sufficient number of Masons to warrant an effort being made to establish a Lodge.
First Petition: Dec 1807
Endorsed: Sep 1808, by Genesee Lodge (No. 130 or 138?), Hartford (Avon or Richmond?), Ontario, NY
Second Petition: 6 Jan 1812
Dispensation: 6 Feb 1812 to work in “New Amsterdam,” later Buffalo.
Warrant Granted: 7 Dec 1814
Warrant Dated: 24 Dec 1814
Warrant Forfeit: 5 Jun 1835
A petition was therefore drawn up, under date of December 1807, and forwarded to the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, praying for a dispensation to form a Lodge to be named “Western Star,” and to be located in the village of New Amsterdam, in the town of Clarence, at the house of Brother Zenas Barker. This petition set forth that the petitioners were practically unable to attend a Lodge as the one nearest to them was located about sixty miles distant.
The petition was endorsed by Genesee Lodge, in the town of Hartford, in the county of Ontario, September, 1808.
Zenas Barker was to be the first Master of the lodge; Cyrenius Chapin,* S. W. and Frederick Miller, + J. W. In addition to these three names, the following were attached to the petition: —
Erastus Granger, ++
Rowland Cotton and
Benjamin Hodge. **
For unexplained reasons the effort to establish a lodge was not crowned with success. Five years later, however, the attempt was renewed. The second petition was dated New Amsterdam, January 6, 1812. The new lodge was to bear the same name and be located, as the document expresses it, "in the village of New Amsterdam, in the township of Buffaloe, at the house of Brother Joseph Landon." With the exception of Philo Andrews, Edmund Raymond and Rowland Cotton, the names of the signers of the former petition are also attached to the latter, and in addition thereto appear those of
Heman B. Potter,
Ralph M. Pomeroy,
James Atkins and
A[bel]. M[oore]. Grosvenor.
In the second petition the petitioners stated that there was no lodge within forty miles of their residence [in Batavia]. The petition bears the endorsement of Olive Branch Lodge, held at Batavia at that time; it is dated January 16, 1812, and is signed by Richard Smith, Master and I. Babcock, Secretary.
The illustrious DeWitt Clinton, who was Grand Master of the State of New York for fourteen years, (from 1806 to 1819 inclusive) granted a dispensation for the lodge January 31, 1812, endorsing his consent with the following words: —
* Cyrenius Chapin, M. D., one of the earliest settlers and one of the most resolute defenders of Buffalo in the war with England. He was the leading spirit in capturing two vessels near Fort Erie, October 9, 1812.
+ Frederick Miller was the father of the late Captain William Miller, who was also a Mason, and grandfather of the late William F. Miller and Charles G. Miller.
++ Erastus Granger was the first postmaster and the first collector of customs in the collection district of Buffalo; he died December 21, 1826.
§ Joseph Landon kept a tavern on Exchange street, occupying a part of the site on which the Mansion House now stands.
** Benjamin Hodge was the uncle of Mr. William Hodge, still residing in Buffalo.
It is estimated that the number of inhabitants had at that time increased to about 1,600.
"The Grand Secretary is requested to make out a dispensation on the above application for two years and to deliver it to Mr. Bassford."
It was issued February 6. On the same day the Grand Master granted authority to Brother Heman B. Potter to institute the lodge, which duty he performed March 10, 1812, by installing Brothers:
Zenas Barker, Master;
Cyrenius Chapin, S. W.;
Frederick Miller, J. W;
Abel M. Grosvenor, treasurer;
Charles Townsend.f secretary;
Nehemiah Seelye, S. D.
Daniel Bristol, J. D.;
Raphael Cook and
Ralph M. Pomeroy, Stewards;
Rowland Cotton, Tiler.
The petition to the Grand Lodge for a warrant is dated "Village of Buffalo, (late New Amsterdam), 15th day of June, 1813.” It is stated therein that several of the petitioners had sometime in the year 1810 applied for authority to hold a lodge in the village, and had enclosed the usual fee, but that unfortunately the letter and money miscarried and had not since been found ; that a dispensation had been granted by the Grand Master on the 6th of February, 1812; that since that time they had assembled at stated periods and conducted the business of Freemasons according to the best of their abilities, etc., and that they now wished to obtain a warrant; that the officers mentioned declining to serve a further term, the following names are proposed in their place:
Benjamin Caryl, Master;
Heman B. Potter, Senior Warden;
Oliver Forward. Junior Warden.
The signers of the petition are
Heman B. Potter,
Asa P. Harris,
Ralph M. Pomeroy,
Z[enas]. W. Barker,
Willard Smith and
The report accompanying the petition states that during the time the lodge had worked under a dispensation, it had conferred the three degrees of Masonry on the following persons:
Thomas J. Atkins,
Guy J. Atkins,
Jonathan E. Chapman,
Harvey G. Morse,
Phipps W. Hewitt,
Zenas W. Barker,
John W. Macomb,
John W. Smoot,
Ebenezer Hovey and
Thomas B. Randolph.
The lodge conferred the third degree on Asa Coltrin, Charles Talmadge, and Robert G. Hite, they having received the preceding degrees in some other lodge.
Samuel Pratt, Jr., received the second and third degrees.
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