Rhode Island Reading Room
These documents are made available free to the public by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project

History of the State of Rhode Island with Illustrations

Albert J. Wright, Printer
No. 79 Mille Street, corner of Federal, Boston.
Hong, Wade & Co., Philadelphia 1878.


The History of Providence.

pp. 253 - 283.

PROVIDENCE. (continued)

Newspapers and Periodicals.
The first newspaper printed in Providence was the "Providence Gazette and Country Journal', a weekly paper published by William Goddard, the first number of which was issued Wednesday, Oct. 20, 1762.  The 'Gazette' was discontinued from May 11, 1765, until the 9th of August, 1766, when it again appeared, published by Sarah Goddard & Co., at the printing-office near the great bridge.  In 1816, it passed into the hands of Hugh H. Brown, and became a semi-weekly journal.  This paper, in the hands of various publishers, existed until 1825, as the 'Providence Gazette', when it was united to the 'Rhode Island American'.  In 1827, 'The Microcosm' was united to this establishment, and in 1829, 'The Cadet and Statesman', at which time the title was changed to the 'Rhode Island American Gazette and Statesman', and it was discontinued in 1834, under the title of the 'Microcosm, American, and Gazette'.

The 'Daily Advertiser' was the first daily paper, which was published by Daniel Mowry, from November, 1829, until February, 1833, when it was discontinued.  The 'American Journal and General Advertiser', a weekly paper, was published from March, 1779, till about 1784.

The 'State Gazette and Town and County Advertiser' was the first semi-weekly paper in Providence.  The first number was issued Jan. 4, 1796.  It was discontinued after about six months.  The 'Impartial Observer', a weekly paper, was published from July, 1800, to 1803.  The 'Providence Phenix', commenced in May, 1803, and was published weekly until 1816, when the name was changed to that of the 'Providence and Patriot and Columbian Phenix'.   From January, 1819, it was published semi-weekly until about 1833, when it was discontinued.

The 'Rhode Island Farmer' was published weekly, for about one year from the summer of 1804.  The 'American', the second semi-weekly paper printed in Providence, was commenced Oct. 21, 1808.  After the first year, the name was altered to the 'Rhode Island American'.  In 1825, it was united with the 'Providence Gazette'.

The 'Providence Sentinel and War Chronicle' was published during the war of 1812.  The 'Manufacturers and Farmers' Journal, and Providence and Pawtucket Advertiser', was first issued, January, 1820.  It was issued on Mondays and Thursdays, until July 1, 1829, when the proprietors commenced publishing a daily paper, called the 'Providence Daily Journal'.  The 'Courier' became united with the 'Journal' in 1840, and was issued only semi-weekly.  The 'Independent Inquirer' was established in August, 1823.  It was published weekly about a year, when it was transferred to the 'Journal', and its name changed to the 'Rhode Island Country Journal', under which name it is still published.  The 'Beacon' was issued weekly for more than two years from Jan. 10, 1824.  The 'Micrcosm' was published weekly from June, 1825, until June, 1827, when it was transferred to the 'Rhode Island American'.  The 'Literary Cadet and Saturday Evening Bulletin', was published weekly from April 22, 1826, until July, 1829, when it was united to the 'American and Gazette'.  The 'Investigator and General Intelligencer' was published weekly, commencing in October, 1827.  In 1828, it was removed to Boston, and, afterwards, to New York, where it was discontinued.  The 'Juvenile Gazette', a small paper, was published a few months, commencing in 1818.  The 'Herald' commenced in August, 1828, and was published weekly until 1832, when it was issued on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  In 1840, the proprietor commenced the publication of the 'Daily Evening Herald', but discontinued it after about six months.  The 'Beacon Light', and 'Little Genius', were issued for a few months in 1829.  The 'Literary Subaltern' was issued, commencing Jan. 1, 1829, as a semi-weekly paper.  It was discontinued about 1833.  The 'Providence Free Press' was published for a single year from April, 1830.  The 'Chronicle of the Times', the first number of which bears date Sept. 18, 1831, was a short-lived paper.  The 'Scourge' was the title of a paper published occasionally in 1810.  In 1842, the 'Daily Express' was published for a short time, when it ceased to exist, but was revived, and lived for a short period as the 'Independent'.

Several short-lived papers followed, as the 'Daily Gazette', 'Sentinel', and 'Transcript'.  The latter, after changing hands, was soon after given up by the proprietors; and the 'Post' established, which name was changed in 1862 or '63, to the 'Morning Herald.'  This paper was discontinued about 1872.  The 'General Advertiser' was commenced in 1850, and is now published as the 'General Advertiser and Gazette' by Mr. A. Crawford Greene.  The 'Providence Evening Press' was established March 14, 1859, and, soon afterwards, the 'Rhode Island Press' (weekly) was issued from the same establishment.  The 'Providence Morning Star' is also published by the 'Providence Press Co.', the first number of which was issued Dec. 6, 1869.  The 'Evening-Bulletin' was started on the 26th of January, by the proprietors of the 'Providence Daily Journal'.  The first religious paper was published in 1820, under the title of the 'Religious Intelligencer', which existed only about six months.  Some fourteen others, in the interests of the various sects, have been published since that time, not one of which now exists.  A number of literary newspapers and magazines have also been published.  Also, the following temperance papers.  The 'Rhode Island Temperance Pledge', the 'New England Diadem', and the 'State Temperance Advocate'.  Previous to  1855, Mrs. Paulina Davis published the 'Una', in the interest of woman's rights.  But two daily papers now exist, -- the 'Providence Daily Journal', and the 'Providence Evening Press'.  The other publications of to-day, not previously mentioned, are the 'Sunday Dispatch', 'Sunday Telegram', the 'Weekly Visitor', the 'Jeweller', the 'Freemason's Repository', and 'Town and Country'.  The first directory was published by Brown & Danforth in 1824.  A directory is now published yearly.

Public Buildings, Institutions, Halls, and Places of Amusement.
The present city building came into existence in 1771, as a market-house, the second story used partly by town officers and party by tenants.  It is now wholly occupied by the chambers of the city council, and officers of the city government, all of which will be moved to the new city hall as soon as completed.

The City Hall is an imposing pile of granite, of the Renaissance architecture, surmounted by a dome of harmonious proportions.  It is 133 x 187 feet, including the portico.  Its main front is on Exchange Place, or Monument Square, facing the east.  It is three stories high, with a Mansard roof.  The dome is thirty-eight feet high.  Its full height from the ground is one hundred and forty feet.  Within the building, the structure is solid and elaborate.  The finishing is mostly oak, and the furnishing will be such as comports with the wealth and reputation of the city.  The building is to be heated by steam, and constructed in the most approved and substantial manner.  The architect is Mr. S. J. F. Thayer of Boston, Mass.

The Custom-House, a fine structure, of pleasing architectural proportions, is built of solid granite, and is located on Weybosset Street.  The lower story is occupied by the post-office department, the second story, by the customs' department, and the various offices connected therewith.  The upper story contains the United States court-room, with the apartments for the judges, and other legal officials of the United States Government.

Providence County Court-House.  The General Assembly, at the January session, 1875,  voted to condemn the old town-house lot, owned by the city of Providence, on the corner of Benefit and College streets, for the purpose of building thereon a court-house for the county of Providence, and elected Amasa S. Westcott, Edwin Darling, and Thomas P. Shepard commissioners for the purpose.  Mr. Shepard died before the completion of the work, and was succeeded by Mr. John P. Stiness.  Alfred Stone, and Charles E. Carpenter of Providence, were the architects.  The ground was broken July 30, 1875; the corner stone was laid May 15, 1876, and the house was dedicated, with appropriate ceremonies, Dec. 18, 1877.  The dimensions are about 114 x 108 feet.  It is made of Danvers pressed brick, laid in black mortar; the basement story, above the Quincy granite underpinning, being of quarry-face Connecticut red sandstone.  The height of the main tower is two hundred feet above the sidewalk at the main entrance.  The building is complete in all of its departments, and is one of the finest public buildings in New England.

Police-Stations.  There are three fine brick buildings devoted to this purpose, -- the Central Police Station, on the corner of Canal and Haymarket streets; the Richmond Street Station,  and the Station on Knight Street.  In the Central Station, besides the special apartments for police-purposes, are the hall and rooms of the police-court.

The State House is situated on a lot, bounded by North Court, Benefit, South Court, and North Main streets.  It fronts to the west, and has an entrance also on Benefit Street.  The erection of this building began in 1750, and it was completed in 1762.  It has been described as a 'brick building, 40 x 70 feet, two stories high, of fair proportions and prepossessing appearance.'  Portraits of distinguished men in the State may be seen in the office of the secretary of state, and in the Senate Chamber.  Courts were held here until the completion of the Providence Court-House.

Providence Athenaeum.  A public library was formed in Providence previous to 1754, which was kept in the Court or State House, which was burned down in 1758, at which time the books were destroyed.  This loss was afterwards repaired by the grant of a lottery from the General Assembly, but the library was not well sustained.  In 1831, a company was incorporated, under the name of the Providence Athenaeum, and they made a valuable collection of modern books.  Their building, on the corner of College and Benefit streets, was commenced in April, 1837, and completed in September, at a cost, including the preparation of the lot, of $19,000.  This library contains about 35,000 volumes.  In addition to the fine collection of books upon its shelves, there are excellent specimens of painting, statuary, bass-reliefs, and antique curiosities, the generous gifts of its patrons and friends.

The Library of Brown University, located in the new building on the corner of Waterman and Prospect streets, contains about 45,000 volumes.  This building is constructed of pressed brick, with stone trimmings, and has a roof of wrought iron and slate, entirely fire-proof.  The building was constructed in accordance with the designs of the architects, Messrs. Walker & Gould, and is an ornament to the city.

Providence Public Library.  For the past half-century, the subject of a free library has been agitated from time to time, and much interest was manifested in the enterprise.  Owing to many adverse circumstances the project did not reach any permanent result until the year 1871.  Much had been said upon the subject of a library previous to that time, but nothing had been done.  In that year the movement began on a $10,000 foundation, and since that time earnest words have been spoken, accompanied with many generous deeds.  In January, 1871, a charter was granted for a free public library, art gallery, and museum.  June 15, 1871, there was an informal meeting, at the rooms of the Franklin Society, of friends of the free library.  The Franklin Society, Horticultural Society, Franklin Lyceum, Mechanics' Association, and Domestic Industry Society were represented.  Mr. Joseph Barker made the generous donation of $10,000 toward the purposes specified in the act of incorporation.

This was a noble beginning, and a committee was immediately appointed to solicit further contributions.  The efforts of this committee were not at first very encouraging.  In November of the above year, Mr. Barker came forward with a farther personal gift of $15,000, provided $75,000 should be raised for the library.  Contributions were soon made by various parties amounting to $55,000.  In November, 1874, the contributors held a meeting; the charter granted in 1871 was accepted, and the following board of trustees was appointed:  Thomas A. Doyle, Alexander Duncan, W. S. Slater, Mrs. Anna Richmond, and Joseph Barker.  The trustees soon became impressed with difficulties in regard to carrying out the terms of the charter.  The interests involved were so numerous and diverse as to weigh heavily upon the free library project, consequently the board devised certain amendments to the charter, the first of which was the changing of the name of the corporation to the 'Providence Public Library'.  At this time there were twenty-two contributors, representing an amount of money pledged of $90,750.  After submission of the amendments of the charter to the contributors, the amount was reduced to $84,750, only twenty approving of the amendments.  April, 1875, the amendments were passed by the General Assembly, and adopted by the board of trustees.  A committee was appointed to find a suitable location for the erection of a library building.  After much research the committee reported in favor of leasing a room in the Butler Exchange, and of opening the library there.  The Mechanics Association, in 1875, accepted the provisions of the amended charter, and contributed books and money amounting to $10,000, and thereby became entitled to a trusteeship in the corporation.  May, 1877, the report of the committee of the board was accepted, and their recommendations were adopted.  The library contains some 12,000 volumes, and additions are being made by the purchase of new and generally standard works.  The institution is under an excellent management, being in charge of Mr. W. E. Foster, aided by two competent and accomplished assistants.  It was opened to the public Feb. 4, 1878.  This is indeed a worthy institutions, and supplies a need long felt by the citizens of Providence, and on their co-operation and liberal support depends its future welfare and prosperity.

The Children's Friend Society was organized by Mrs. Harriet Ware, in 1832.  Subsequently, a subscription of $600 was raised, a small house rented, and Nov. 1, 1835, she began housekeeping, with one small boy.  The work prospered and the number of children increased.  In 1860, the spacious and substantial brick building on Tobey Street, which they now occupy, was erected.  The number of children now under the society's care is about 150.

Providence Association for the Benefit of Colored Children was organized in 1838, and incorporated in 1846.  Its location is at No. 20 Olive Street, in an excellent structure of wood, well suited to the wants of those who make it their home.

Home for Aged Women.  This institution was organized in 1856.  The fine brick edifice first occupied by them, Nov. 30, 1864, is situated on Front Street, corner of East, opposite the Reform School.  Its sole object is to provide a home for aged women who are not utterly friendless, but who, it is believed, can be made happier and far more comfortable by voluntary entrance into a kindred society, where they may enjoy the comforts of a home for the remainder of their days.

Home for Aged Men.  This institution is situated at No. 64 Point Street, and is designed to do for aged men, what the old ladies' home does for aged women.

The Young Men's Christian Association is an institution which seeks the mental, moral, and religious welfare of young men in the city, and those who have come to Providence for a temporary or permanent residence.  Its rooms are located at No. 98 Weybosset Street.

Union for Christian Work.  This institution occupies rooms in a building of its own, on Broad Street, corner of Eddy Street, Their rooms are open and free, day and evening.

Women's Christian Association and Young Women's Boarding Home was organized in March, 1867, and incorporated January, 1870.  It is now permanently located at No. 66 Fountain Street.  The boarding home is not a charity, but a kindly way of assisting young women to help themselves.

Providence Medical Association.  At a meeting of a number of the physicians of the city of Providence, held at the office of H. W. Rivers, M. D., June 31, 1848, it was voted to organize a medical association, and a committee was appointed to draft a constitution and by-laws for such a society.  Feb. 5, 1848, a constitution was adopted, and the following gentlemen were chosen as officers:  S. Augustus Arnold, President;  Lewis L. Miller, Vice-President;  Lewis W. Clifford, Treasurer; J. W. C. Ely, Secretary.  The present membership is seventy-seven.

Providence Mutual Health Association.  This society was organized Feb. 18, 1868, for the purpose of securing to workingmen and their families suitable medical attendance and medicine, by small regular payments, without incurring the hazard of hopeless indebtedness.  Chartered by the General Assembly, at the January session, 1869.

Providence Reform School, east corner of Front Street.  This excellent institution went into operation Nov. 1, 1850.  It is designed for the confinement, instruction, and reformation of idle and vicious children.

There are other educational and benevolent institutions, whose history we have been unable to obtain.

Providence is well supplied with public halls and places of amusement, some of which are ranked among the first in New England.  Music Hall, No. 266 Westminster Street, is one of the largest in the city.  Its dimensions are:  Length, 106 feet;  breadth, 85 feet;  height, 52 feet; with a seating capacity of 2,250.  Music Hall is especially adapted for fairs, as the main floor has an area of 6,888 square feet.  A spacious gallery, extending around the four sides, furnishes seating capacity for 1,100 persons.  In short, Music Hall, for concerts, fairs, lectures, school exhibitions, and first-class entertainments, possesses advantages second to no other hall in America.  The Providence Opera House, Low's Opera House, and the Academy of Music are other well-known places of amusement.

Secret Societies.
Saint John's Lodge, No. 1.   Freemasonry was established in Providence Jan. 18, 1757, on which day R. W. Jeremy Gridley, Provincial Grand Master of Masons in New England, under a deputation from the Grand Master of Masons in England, granted the charter for St. John's Lodge, No. 1, Providence, to John Burgess and other brethren, who had been made Masons in St. John's Lodge, No. 1, at Newport.  This charter has survived all the perils through which Masonry has passed, and is to-day in the hands of the Master.  It is one of the oldest original Masonic documents extant on this continent.  The original records, and the book of by-laws for the signatures of the members, are also preserved, and the latter book is still in use.  It contains the autograph signatures of many of the most influential citizens of the town.  The copy of the Holy Bible first used by the lodge is still preserved, and the wooden square and silver pair of compasses, which were made by Lewis DeBlois of Newport, and presented to the lodge in 1757, are still in use.  The jewels of the officers have also been in use from the foundation of the lodge, except those for the Secretary and Treasurer, which were made in 1758, and those for some of the subordinate officers, which are probably of later date.  The jewels of the Deacons, like those used for the same officers in other of the old lodges in this State, are such as would be appropriate for use in the degree of the Holy Royal Arch; and, although no direct record of the fact remains, there is no doubt that the lodge opened chapters of that degree, and conferred the same on the Masters.  On the 31st of July, 1793, the Masters were directed to give letters of recommendation to such of the brethren as were of the Royal Arch degree, wherever they should wish to organize a regular chapter.

The first meetings of the lodge were held at the White Horse Tavern, which, it is believed, stood on the southeast corner of North Main and Meeting streets.  In the year 1853, the lodge began to meet in the upper story of the What Cheer Building on Market Square, where the meetings are now held.  The interest of the lodge in the Market Building had became the property of the city.  There have been thirty-eight installed Masters of the lodge, and fourteen members have held the office of Grand Master of Masons.

On the sixth day of April, 1791, the lodge joined in a convention with St. John's Lodge, No. 1, of Newport, which had been chartered in the year 1749, in the constitution of the M. W. Grand Lodge of Rhode Island.  The charter, which had been received from Grand Master Gridley, was exhibited to the Grand Lodge, and a confirmatory charter was issued.  In this charter, for the first time, a name is given to the lodge.  The title 'Saint John's Lodge', in ancient times, was the generic title of a lodge of Freemasons; but after that date it became the specific title of the two lodges that formed the Grand Lodge.  The General Assembly of the State, at the October session, 1793, passed the act of incorporation of the lodge, which is still in force.  During the 'anti-masonic agitation', no action seems to have been taken to vacate this charter.

The social element of Freemasonry has always received especial attention.  For many years, a supper was invariably a part of the lodge proceedings, and the records give frequent evidence of abundant provision for those convivial meetings.  The lodge still preserves three elegant china pitchers, adorned with emblems, and a service of cut-glass decanters and glasses, which were made, in 1779, in Holland, to the order of the lodge.  The feast of St. John the Evangelist is still observed by the annual dinner of the lodge.

The charities of the lodge have been marked by generosity and by prudence.  There has always been a committee in charge of that matter, and their recommendations have been adopted in the expenditure of large sums of money.   A considerable permanent charity fund has been established by individual donations, and by a regular system of contributions from the general funds.

On the feast of St. John and Baptist, June 24, 1857, the lodge celebrated the completion of the first hundred years of her history.  A splendid procession of Freemasons of all ranks, numbering about fifteen hundred, and, including the Grand Lodges of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and representatives from many other bodies, proceeded to the First Baptist Meeting-house, where an oration was delivered by M. W. George M. Randall, P. G. M. of Masons in Massachusetts, and afterwards Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.  A poem was read by Brother Charles C. Van Zandt, afterwards governor of Rhode Island.  The festival dinner of the Grand Lodge closed the exercises of the day.  Regular communication, Wednesday preceding each full moon.

Mount Vernon Lodge, No. 4, F. and A. M., commenced its labors Feb. 22, 1799, under a dispensation from the G. M., and continued working under this authority until the 24th of June following, when a charter from the M. W. Grand Lodge of Rhode Island was granted them, and they took position among the lodges of the State, ranking as number four.  The first officers were:  Amos M. Atwell, M.;  Samuel Thurber, S. W.;  Stephen Abbott, J. W.;  Thomas Sessions, Treas.;  Aarons Seamons, Sec'y;  Michael Anthony, S. D.;  William Billings, J. D.;  Howell Williams, Tyl.  Isaac Bullard was the first candidate for the mysteries of Masonry in this lodge; and he received them in February and March, 1799.

The first funeral service on record, as performed by this lodge, was that in honor of the illustrious George Washington, January, 1800.  This lodge is in a flourishing condition.  The membership is about three hundred and seventy-five.  Regular communications Tuesday, on or before full moon.

What Cheer Lodge, No. 21, F. and A. M.  The first preliminary meeting for the purpose of forming a new lodge was held at the office of Clifton A. Hall, No. 10 Franklin House, July 7, 1857, at which time it was unanimously voted to call the new lodge What Cheer.  The second informal meeting of the lodge was held on the 16th of July, when the following were elected officers under the dispensation; William B. Blanding, W. M.;  Lyman Clapp, S. W.;  Robert S. Fielden, J. W.;  Absalom P. King, Treas.;  Edward Hooker, Sec'y;  Sylvanus Tingley, S. D.;  Samuel L. Blaisdell, J. D.  The first regular communication, U. D., was held in Masons' Hall, What Cheer Building, on Tuesday evening, Sept. 1, 1857, for the purposes of organizing, under the dispensation granted by the M. W. G. L., August 31.  At this meeting, M. W. G. M. James Hutchinson was present, and obligated the officers elect to the faithful performance of their duties.  The first annual communication of What Cheer Lodge, and the first communication under the charter, was held Nov. 30, 1857, when the officers were elected and duly installed.  The number of members is about five hundred.  A special feature of What Cheer Lodge is its charity fund, the avails of collections at each regular communication.  The fund at the present time amounts to about six thousand dollars.  Regular communications are held the first and third Fridays of each month.

Corinthian Lodge, No. 27, F. and A. M.  A dispensation for the organization of this lodge was granted by Thomas A. Doyle, G. M. of Masons in Rhode Island, Feb. 8, 1868.  May 18, 1868, the lodge was duly constituted, and the following officers were installed:  Henry C. Field, M.;  Andrew Hutchinson, S. W.;  Israel M. Hopkins, J. W.;  Joshua Wilbour, Treas.;  S. George Stiness, Sec'y;  Clinton D. Sellew, S. D.;  Henry R. Barker, J. D.;  Charles T. Place, S. S.;  Henry Allen, J. S.;  Zenas C. Rannie, Marshal;  Albert F. Fuller, Sent.  Present membership, forty-one.

Adelphoi Lodge, No. 33, F. and A. M.    Jan. 6, 1876, Mr. Stillman White, with five other members of Mount Vernon Lodge, No. 4, met for the purpose of organizing a new Masonic lodge.  Jan. 31, 1876, the committee reported the name Adelphoi, which was adopted unanimously.  A dispensation was granted from the M. W. G. M., and, in conformity with said dispensation, a lodge of Master Masons was opened in due form, Feb. 8, 1876.  The lodge met in their new lodge-room in the Elizabeth Building, April 25, 1876, for the first time.  June 12, 1876, the lodge was duly constituted by M. W. G. M. Nicholas Van Slyke, and the following officers installed:  Stillman White, M.;  Ezra S. Dodge, S. W.;  Henry A. Chace, J. W.;  Daniel N. Davis, Treasurer;  O. S. Greene, Sec'y;  Jesse B. Sweet, S. D.;  John M. Buffinton, J. D.;  J. B. Hopkins, S. S.;  Thomas F. Arnold, J. S.;  John W. MacKnight, Chaplain;  Fred I. Marcy, Marshal;  Joseph N. Wheldon, Sent.;  S. S. Sweet, M. D.;  John Heathcote, Tyler.

Providence Royal Arch Chapter, No. 1, was organized, in 1793, by brethren from St. John's Lodge in this city, assisted by prominent ones from Newport.  Its first officers were:  Daniel Stillman, H. P.;  Thomas W. Moore, K.;  Jonathan Dennison, S.;  Jeremiah T. Jenkins, Treas.;  Bennett Wheeler, Sec'y;  Nicholas Hoppin, Tyler.

Jan. 9, 1794, the first regular election took place.  From its commencement up to 1828, the Chapter flourished under the care of its successive officers, and its members numbered more than four hundred.  No work was done during the anti-masonic excitement from 1828 till 1841, but all its annual communications were regularly held, and its charities distributed as usual.  In 1841, the wheels once more began to move, and, since that time, it has increased largely, the whole number of names borne upon its rolls being more than twelve hundred, its present living membership being about seven hundred.  There have been thirty-seven High Priests, twelve Treasurers, eighteen Secretaries, and ten Tylers.  It has furnished the Grand Chapter of Rhode island with twenty or more of its presiding officers, and all of its Grand Secretaries.  Regular convocations Thursday, on or succeeding the full moon, in each month.

Providence Council of Royal and Select Masters, No. 1.  This council received its charter in 1817 from J. L. Cross, a Mason of high degree, who had powers from the Grand Lodge of the United States to charter and organize councils in States having no Grand Council.  This is the oldest council in the State.  Regular convocations second Friday in each month.

Saint John's Commandery, No. 1.  This body of Knight-Templars was organized under the name of St. John's Encampment on the twenty-third day of August, 1802, by Thomas Smith Webb, Jeremiah F. Jenkins, Samuel Snow, Daniel Stillwell, John S. Warner, and Nicholas Hoppin.  It has existed, without intermission, from that day, and is the oldest body of Templars in this country, working on what is known as the 'American Rite', and which has preserved a continuous existence from the beginning.  After the dissolution of the order of the Temple by Pope Clement, and the fierce and unjust persecutions which followed, the ceremonies of the order were continued, and the succession of knights was preserved in various voluntary bodies on the Continent, in England, and, afterwards, in this country.  The French Templars early formed with the brethren of the Ineffable Grades of Freemasonry, a union from which has resulted the present Ancient and Accepted Rite.

The order was, it seems probable, preserved in England by preceptories, or 'Encampments', having no formal connection with any other body.  From these two sources the order spread to this country, where, previous to the year 1802, it was propagated in Royal Arch Lodges, as they were then called, in bodies subordinate to or connected with the Grand Lodges, and in bodies established by the Grand Consistoner, which at that day governed the Ancient and Accepted Rite.  All these bodies have been dissolved, or have ceased to confer the order of the Temple, and it is now conferred in this country only in Councils of Kadosh, under the authority of the Supreme Council, and in Commanderies under the authority of the Grand Encampment of the United States.  Of the subordinates of this latter body, St. John's Commandery is thus the oldest.


Continued

These documents are made available free to the public for non-commercial purposes by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project.
Transcription 2004 by Beth Hurd, Images by Beth Hurd 2004
Back to the Rhode Island USGenWeb Home Page

The Newport County Reading Room Index More Biographies and History.