Harmony Lodge Papers
December 10, 1862
Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin
When my last was written, a bright Summer’s sun shone, and the grass and flowers grew upon the graves of these "Brothers of the Mystic Tie;" to-day the wind sweeps over, and the snows of Winter apparel, in pale robes, their resting places. Since my last, too, more than one has gone to lie down at their sides, to be remembered sorrowfully for a season, and then to be forgotten, on earth, forever. One of the latest (if not the last) interment in your burial ground, suggests to my memory the name of another member of Harmony Lodge.
JOHN V. D. S. SCOTT was one of the early settlers at Catskill, where he was prominent as a lawyer, and respected as a man. What time could be spared by him from the duties of his profession, was chiefly occupied in horticulture, and I well remember when his garden, celebrated for the variety and quality of its fruit and vegetables, was at once the admiration of his neighbors, and the temptations of juvenile malefactors. These last, however, in their nocturnal depredations, sometimes carried off more fruit than they came for, in the shape of BB blue-berries from the double-barreled gun of the young rascals found leisure, in the County Jail, to ruminate over the sweetness of grapes as inaccessible to him as they were to the Fox in the fable.
After the resignation of MOSES I. CANTINE, Mr. Scott was appointed first Judge of Greene County, which position he held until his death. Of excellent sense, superior legal abilities, and well versed in the science of jurisprudence, he administered justice so righteously as to command the respect of the bar and the community, and to more than merit the honest, but uncouth, eulogy pronounced by his successor, Judge Daly.
But I am wandering from Harmony Lodge.
From the papers before me, it appears that Mr. Scott, in February, 1794, (previous to which he had been a member of Washington Lodge, of Livingston, Columbia Co.,) applied to Harmony Lodge for admission. His application was opposed by JACOB BOGARDUS, Esq., in a petition in which he sets forth that:
"Your Petitioner has some time been grossly insulted by Mr. Scott without any cause or provocation whatever. That Mr. Scott did with malice prepence, wittingly and with intent to stab the reputation of your Petitioner, and not having that fear of God before his eyes, Publish in the newspapers of this Town a ceartain anonymous Production full of scurrilous and opprobrious reflections to the great injury of the character of your Petitioner, " &c., and praying that.
"A committee of Discreet, Impartial Master Masons be appointed to enquire into the controversy, and be directed to report thereon, to the Lodge, what restitution and satisfaction shall be adequate to the party aggrieved."
The complaint, which doubtless grew out of some unimportant political quarrel, was followed by the appointment of the committee prayed for, and Brothers ISAAC BATEMAN and JOHN GARDNER commenced their duties as committee-men, by issuing the following Citation, which I copy verbatim, as a specimen of style at the close of the eighteenth century:
"Monday, April 7th, 1794.—We the subscribers being appointed a Committee by A unanimous vote of the brethern of the Harmony Lodge in Catskill, No 31, to make due inquiry into a Dispute now subsisting between Jacob Bogardus, Esq., and John V. D. S. Scott, Esq., as sot forth by the aforesaid Jacob Bogardus in A Petition presented to our Lodge. This is in conformity to our Appointment to request the Aforesaid Jacob Bogardus to appear at the Dwelling hows of David Van Bergen at 1 o Clock P. M., and likewise the aforesaid John V. D. S. Scott at the saime time and Place when they Have full time & opportunity to be heard on the subject matter—to enable us to proceed to Judgment, and issue Give to all disputes, that Brotherly Love may Abound, which is the Ardent prayer of us above.
"ISAAC BATEMAN, L. S. "
"JOHN GARDNER, L. S. "
But it seems that the Lodge, or the "Committee" had committed a fatal error in neglecting to serve Brother Scott with a copy of Brother Bogardus’ complaint, and the former thereupon declined to obey the citation of the "Committee, " in a communication without date, as follows:
"GENTLEMEN.—I having had no official information of Mr. Jacob Bogardus having presented a petition to Harmony Lodge, and not being indulged with a copy of the same, nor of the charges exhibited, feel much at a loss to understand the meaning of the present summons, and much less inclined to concern myself with proceedings that appear entirely exparte. I have the honor to be Gentlemen.
Your most ob’dt and very h’ble serv’t,
JOHN V. D. S. SCOTT."
This curt reply appears to have brought the "Committee" up "all standing." They could not get over the law-latin of the respondent, and they wisely retired form their labors, under cover of the following communication to the Lodge:
"April the 7, 1794.—Agreeable to our appointment, we the subscribers Issued A Citation to Jacob Bogardus, Esq., and John V. D. S. Scott, Esq., to appear before us intentionally to settle a dispute then subsisting between our two brethern, and where as John V. D. S. Scott would not agree to join in an investigation of the subject matter Agreeable to the Wishes of our brother Jacob Bogardus, we were intirely Divested of the Powr of proceeding to a judgment which ought to have bin had for the procurering of that union which ever ought to exist in our solem Band of Society, therefore we must of Cors leave the future proceeding to the Determination of the Lodge, whose members are but a part of. Signed
And so, in one brief day of citation, reply and report, this weighty controversy ended. I cannot discover that it was ever revived, and it certainly worked no serious injury to Bro. Scott, for the records show that on the 6th of October, 1800, he was acting as Secretary of the Harmony Lodge, in full communion and good repute.
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The residence of Judge Scott, with his office adjoining, were destroyed, and the pleasant garden and grounds adjacent were laid waste in the memorable fire of 1851. The family, after his death, removed to New York, where, I believe, those living still reside. The eldest daughter, wife of WILLIAM WHITLOCK, Esq., had been dead some years, as has also SUSAN, the youngest. MARY recently died at Catskill. Two daughters, JANE and MARTHA, and two sons, WILLIAM H. and JOHN M. (the early schoolmate, companion and friend of the writer) still survive. William and John have been for many years engaged in mercantile pursuits, and have, by strict probity and industry, won not only a comfortable competency, but also the respect and esteem of all who know them.