by Rev. Henry Hedges Prout
Originally published in the Windham Journal from February 18, 1869 to March 31, 1870. Article 28 published on November 18, 1869. Extracted from the microfilm copies of the Windham Journal located at the Vedder Research Library.
Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin
Every form of association in pioneer times had its peculiar attractions. There is something genial about it. There is a freshness in the friendship, and a naturalness in the fellowship of the early settlers that invests the records of those times with a pleasant glow.
Through the courtesy of Milo C. Osborn, Esq., the writer has received the examination, the memoranda minutes, and other documents of the two Masonic Lodges organized in the early times of our Town. The writer deems this act of civility the more marked and worthy of his respectful acknowledgment, because he himself is not a member of the Order. These documents date from 1804 to 1835 and bring before us the names of many trusted and venerable men, several of whom the writer has already noticed in these papers. There is but one document which the writer has seen, older than the Warrant for the formation of Revival Lodge (1804 that is, the Act of Incorporation of Trinity Church, 1799). And the leader in both these Acts of organization was one and the same person—Samuel Gunn—a sketch of whose eventful life was given early in this series of papers. He appears to have been a man of clam, pure, elevated character, who won and enjoyed the respect of all good men, whose abilities were marked, and whose general refinement of deportment, pointed him out as a leader in all social walks. His autograph is as bold and finished as that of John Hancock and adorns the earliest of our public records. His two brothers, Asa and Daniel Gunn, were also members of the Order.
Constant A. Andrews, George Miles, Ichabod Andrews, Forster
Morss*, Isaac Buel, Henry Osborn, Dr. Thomas Benham, Zadoc Pratt, Henry Goslee, Curtis Prout,
Reuben Hosford, Jonathan Reynolds, Caleb Hubbard, Samuel Reynolds, Chester Hull, George Robertson,
Medad Hunt, Ephraim Stimson, Roma R. Ives, George Stimson, Marshall Lewis, Abijah Stone,
*(Whose name on the list in 1804 shows that he was then a resident of Windham.) and others are on the early records of the Order.
The following is of interest as one of the earliest entries of the Journal.
Aug. 21 A. L. 5804 (A. D. 1804) Revival Lodge installed in the Meeting House, in Batavia, and the Mason’s dined at Mr. John Tuttle’s. Mr. Tuttle’s bill $51.00. Voted that $6.00 be given to Brother Perry.
This latter item is quoted as showing that the Rev. Mr. Perry was present in 1804. His name occurs subsequently on the records; apparently as Chaplain on public occasions.
A closing formula of the Minutes as they were kept by Ephraim Stimson, Secretary, sometimes occurs—Lodge closed till God shall give us an opportunity to open it again. This occurs only in the earliest records, and while Samuel Gunn was Master.
Revival Lodge, No. 117 was organized at the house of John Tuttle, but almost immediately removed to Capt. Medad Hunt’s—afterwards its session were held at the house of Mr. John Prout—and then removed to John Tuttle’s again in 1810.
A little over a year after the formation of the Lodge (a year which seems to have developed some peculiar trials to the sensitive and refined heart of the Master), we find Samuel Gunn addressing the Lodge, and leaving with them his valedictory words, as he was about to remove to the West. He was, it would seem, a poor man, and there is something touching in the vote of his brethren, giving him a small pecuniary present, and remitting his dues; and his giving to them one or two tokens of remembrance. Then this entry occurs in the minutes.
When this you see, think on the friend
Who freely drops a tear for you
But now he seeks a distant home,
And bids you all a last adieu.
Lines written by Samuel Gunn, Master of Reformed Lodge, in Windham, on presenting a glass as a present to said Lodge, and taking his farewell of the Brethren.
Then occurs the following:
Brother Samuel Gunn’s farewell speech on taking his leave of Revival Lodge, over which he had presided as Master.
Dear Brethren: I now rise, most probably, to address you for the last time, although I am confident my inability to perform anything of this nature would be a sufficient excuse for my silence. Being about to commence my journey, and leave the Lodge, whose foundation and structure have in some measure been aided and assisted by my hands, and being anxious to promote the welfare of the same, I am inducted to offer a few words on the subject.
In the first place, Brethren, I cannot but acknowledge myself under infinite obligation to you for the repeated honors conferred on me by this Lodge, and likewise for the remitted attention paid to my orders while residing over you as Master. * * * I could wish to remind you, Brethren, of you annual election, which is nigh at hand, and at which you will elect the officers of the Lodge, and I beseech you one and all, to deliberate coolly, and let no private motives prompt you to neglect those who have been faithful workmen in this vineyard. And you, Brethren, whoever it may be among you, that shall have the preference by the suffrages of this Lodge, I beseech you as officers of this Lodge not to abuse or betray that confidence.* * * *
Brethren, one and all, I beseech you ever to so have the welfare and prosperity of the fraternity at heart, as to keep pure an clean, from all pollution, that honorable badge of Masonry, which their hands have entwined around you, under a most solemn charge; and likewise keep all the other jewels and working implements bright, that you may be justly entitled to the character of good men, good citizens, masons and christians. Further, I beseech you be exceedingly careful whom you admit as members into your Lodge; let none come but those who are confident are worthy; wanting but the ceremony of initiation to make them real brothers; for be assured, no man ought to be admitted unless he have the true and honest principles of a man, and who considers himself ever under the all-seeing eye, which penetrates the inmost recesses of the heart, and the inspection of that God who will one day call us to account for the deeds done in body; and such characteristics as these ought by no means to be debarred. Ever remember, Brethren, that the peace and happiness of the Lodge do not consist in the great number of men who call themselves Masons, but in those who really are so at heart, without hypocrasy, and without partiality, and who, by their walk and conversation, cause their light to so shine before men, that they may see their good works, and glorify their Grand Master who is in Heaven.
Finally, Brethren, I must bid you farewell, and beseech you, one and all, to unite in contemplating that blissful period, when the various sects and parties among mankind shall be united in one assembly, in the presence of the most Holy Trinity, where sin and sorrow shall be no more, but all tears shall be wiped from our eyes, through the blood of the Immaculate Lamb slain for the sins of the world. Such thoughts as these must irresistably compel us to press forward with wisdom and fortitude, in the glorious cause in which we are engaged, and in conduct worthy of that most honorable name of Free and Accepted Mason. Brethren, Adieu.
October 7, A. L. 5804 (A. D. 1805)
All, even those outside of the Order, must hold in high respect the Master who could so address his brethren, and willingly untied with them in giving him the title, worthy. It is as a beautiful illustration of the tone of character of a christian gentlemen, that the above is given, as well as because of its authenticity, as an early document—probably one of the earliest of its kind extant. With the same view "The answer of the Brethren of the Lodge, delivered by Constant A. Andrews" is given.
Exalted Companion and Worthy Brother: On the part of the Brethren of the Lodge, I return you their warmest and most sincere acknowledgements for your long and unrequited exertions in obtaining the charter under which we are allowed, with the smile of Divine Providence, to meet together. A voluntary act of yours will shortly deprive you of the fraternal regards amongst us, to which you were deemed justly entitled. But we sincerely hope that the Great Architect of Heaven and Earth will guide you to some pleasant shore, where you may with delight realize your expectations. Not withstanding the great distance which will separate us. Our hearts will meet between these walls. We sincerely appreciate the lessons and admonitions you have given us of the royal art. We acknowledge you assuidity is support of Masonry, and hope your friendly advice may be treasured up in breast of every worthy brother. Lastly, my the Great Director of all events attend you while on your journey, and after you have arrived at your wished-for home, may you and your family, in peace and health dwell in the light of the glorious sun which illuminates and adorns the day. May you with joy behold his meridian glory, and when a great many happy days and years of yours shall have been made light and cheerful, may you be so happy as to meet you worthy Brethren on that friendly shore where peace and brotherly love pervade the whole.
Constant A. Andrews was Master of Harmony Lodge, and also became a special benefactor of Revival Lodge.
After Samuel Gunn, Foster Morss was Master for several years, Dr. Thomas Benham occupied the same station. So also did Jonathan Reynolds, and Abijah Stone, respectively.
Memorandum under date of April 22, 1805
Donation of the jewels, by Constant A. Andrews, to this Lodge. But if it should appear that this lodge, No. 117, should lose its charter or warrant, the said jewels, or the amount of them, which is twenty-two dollars, shall revert back to the said Andrews, or his heirs or assigns.
Memorandum under date of October 7, 1805
Voted that the Treasurer pay to Brother Samuel Gunn ten dollars as a present from the Lodge. Brother Samuel Gunn likewise gives to this lodge one large glass tumbler, together with the setting mall. Voted that Brother Samuel Gunn’s account be paid by Treasurer, which amounts to thirty-four dollars and four cents.
Samuel Gunn and Constant A. Andrews were evidently leaders in introducing Masonry here. It is by way of illustrating their character and position, as well as the character of the early period of our history, that these memoranda are given. There appears a tone of magnaminity about these pioneers. They were men who evidently embraced in their thoughts a high ideal—the perfection of friendship and unalloyed brotherly unit.