Archive of Letters, Documents and Business Papers of Valley Lodge, No. 109, Free & Accepted Masons, Rochester, New York, one time lodge of Anti-Mason William Morgan and Native American General Ely S. Parker, 1829-1942

Archive of 213 letters/communications, 279 pp., mostly handwritten, dated 1829-1942; with 681membership initiation petitions and 658 initiation petition inquiry committee reports, dated 1840s-1870s; 329 inter-lodge communications sheets, dated 1865-1872; 303 mss receipts, dated 1840s-1940s; plus 114 miscellaneous documents and papers (166 pp.), dated 1840s-1940s. The bulk of the entire archive is dated from the 1840s-1870s.

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Valley Lodge No. 109 F. & A.M.

 

Valley Lodge No. 109 was originally chartered as Wells Lodge No. 282 F. & A.M. on 5 June of 1816 at Rochester, New York. Wells Lodge appears to have surrendered their charter in 1828 during the anti-Mason hysteria of that era (The Valley Lodge’s antecedent was at the epicenter of the Anti-Masonic hysteria, see below). In 1845, an application was made by a couple of members of the old Wells Lodge to the Grand Lodge in 1845 for the return of the Wells Lodge original charter, but it could not be found, so a new charter was issued on 8 June 1846 in the name of Valley Lodge 109, thus was born Valley Lodge No. 109 of Rochester, New York. Some of the letters from the 1840s deal with the start up of the lodge.

The officers named on the warrant for Valley Lodge 109 were Charles G. Cummings, Master; Samuel Richardson, SW; and Charles C. Lathrop, JW. The charter members were: Henry A. Brewster, Asahel S. Beers, Nathaniel Clark, Phineas B. Cook, Lyman B. Langworthy, William A. Langworthy, Charles C. Lathrop, William E. Lathrop, Cyrus Knapp, Marcus Moses, Schuyler Moses, Sylvester H. Packard, Nicholas E. Paine, Samuel Richardson, and Ebenezer Watts. Most of these men's names appear on the early letters, documents and papers in this collection.


Two of Valley Lodge's charter members (Charles C. Lathrop and Ebenezer Watts) were members of the original Wells Lodge No. 282 which was forced to close in the anti-Masonic movement 1828-1829. The last return made by this old lodge was in 1827. Lathrop at the time was Junior Warden, Watts the Treasurer.

When re-chartered in 1846, Valley Lodge met at Brewster Hall on 67 Exchange Street in Rochester. It moved to the John Burns building at the corner of Main and State Streets, where it remained until the fall of 1858; when it moved to the Wilder Building, corner of Alain and Exchange Streets, until September, 1872, when it again moved, this time to Masonic Hall in the Smith and Perkins Building, Exchange Street. This Hall was dedicated by M.W. Christopher G. Fox, Grand Master, on 14 Nov 1872. In 1898 it moved to the Masonic Temple on Clinton Avenue, North, where it remained until at least 2010. A number of receipts in this collection attest to the furnishings and repairs of the lodge's hall.

Jews were actively involved in the beginnings of Freemasonry in America. There is evidence they were among those who established Masonry in seven of the original thirteen states: Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia. The collection offered here shows a number of Jewish men who petitioned for initiation into Valley Lodge, No. 109 and became members.

Anti-Masonic Background

In 1826, William Morgan disappeared from the small town of Batavia, New York, after threatening to expose Freemasonry's "secrets" by publishing its rituals. His disappearance caused some Anti-masons to claim that he had been kidnapped and murdered by Masons.

Morgan claimed to have been made a Master Mason while he was living in Canada, and he appears to have briefly attended (but not as a member) a Masonic lodge in Rochester, New York, while living there before moving to Batavia. This lodge was the Valley Lodge's original lodge of Wells Lodge 288. According to an article titled "The Morgan Affair" published in Short Talk Bulletin, Volume XI, March, 1933, No. 3, we find:

"That he [Morgan] was really a Mason is doubtful; no record of his raising or Lodge membership exists, but it is certain he received the Royal Arch in Western Star Chapter R. A. M. No. 33 of LeRoy, New York.  It is supposed that he was an 'eavesdropper' and lied his way into a Lodge in Rochester by imposing on a friend and employer, who was led to vouch for him in Wells Lodge No. 282...”

Morgan's disappearance sparked a series of protests against Freemasonry, which eventually spread to the political realm. The political backlash against Masons was profound. The pressure was so strong that withdrawals by individuals and bodies were numerous. In 1827, two hundred and twenty-seven Lodges were represented in the Grand Lodge of New York. In 1835, the number had dwindled to forty-one. Wells Lodge No.288 was one such lodge that went under.

Under the leadership of anti-Masonic Thurlow Weed, an Anti-Jacksonist movement became (Jackson was a Mason) the Anti-Masonic Party. This political Party ran presidential candidates in 1828 and 1832, but by 1835 the party had disbanded everywhere except Pennsylvania. It was only then that the Masonic Lodges then attempted to rebuild their organization in New York. Valley Lodge No. 109 was one such lodge that had to be rebuilt and the early correspondence and documents offered here shows this period of the lodge's history and gives insight into the reformation of Freemasonry in Rochester.

Earlier, in 1830, William Morgan's widow, Lucinda Pendleton Morgan, married George W. Harris of Batavia, a silversmith who was 20 years older. After they moved to the Midwest, they became Mormons. By 1837, some historians believe that Lucinda Pendleton Morgan Harris had become one of the plural wives of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She continued to live with her older husband, George Harris. After Smith was murdered in 1844, she was "sealed" to him for eternity in a rite of the church.

Members of Freemasonry criticized the Mormons for their alleged adoption of Masonic rituals and regalia. In 1841 the Mormons announced their vicarious baptism of William Morgan after his death, as one of the first under their new rite to posthumously offer people entrance into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Later Anti-Masonic Movement

A later political organization called the Anti-Masonic Party was active from the early 1870s to the early 1880s. This second group had a more religious basis for its anti-Masonry and was closely associated with Jonathan Blanchard, the President of Wheaton College. On 13 September 1882, the National Christian Association, a group co-founded by Blanchard and opposed to secret societies, commissioned and erected a memorial to Morgan in the Batavia Cemetery. The ceremony was witnessed by 1,000 people, including representatives from local Masonic lodges. During the time of Blanchard's activities, there were approximately 18 Masonic organizations that existed in Rochester alone; Valley Lodge 109 was one such lodge. In 1990, Valley Lodge 109 merged with Frank L. Simes No. 990 to become Valley Simes No. 109.


Ely Samuel Parker (1828-1895)

 

One of the more well-known members of Valley Lodge No. 109 was Ely Samuel Parker (1828-1895), born Hasanoanda, later known as Donehogawa. He was a Seneca attorney, engineer, and tribal diplomat. He was commissioned a lieutenant colonel during the American Civil War, when he served as adjutant to Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. He wrote the final draft of the Confederate surrender terms at Appomattox. Later in his career, Parker rose to the rank of brevet brigadier general. President Grant appointed him as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the first Native American to hold that post.

 

A study of Ely S. Parker’s life shows his great interest in and devotion to the Masonic Fraternity. It is recorded that in 1847, at the age of nineteen years, he was “raised”, as Masons say, in Batavia, New York Lodge No. 88 where he was made a Mason. Later he affiliated with Valley Lodge No. 109 of Rochester, New York on 6 May 1850. He demitted from there on 6 September 1858, to become one of the founders and first Master of Miners’ Lodge No. 273, Galena, Illinois, serving from 1858 to 1860. In 1862 he demitted from Miners’ Lodge to become the first Master of Akron Lodge No. 527 in Akron, New York, under the Warrant dated 3 June 1863.

The archive offered here includes a manuscript Initiation Committee Report on General Parker's petition to become a member of Valley Lodge. It reads:

 

"To the Worshipful Master Wardens and Brethren of Valley Lodge

Your committee to whom was referred the Petition of Bro. Ely S. Parker for membership in this Lodge would respectfully report that they made enquires in relation to the character and standing of the applicant and are of the opinion from the best information they can obtain, that the Bro. is a man worthy, in all respects, to the protection and fellowship of the fraternity - and would cheerfully recommend that the prayer of his petition be granted.

A.S. Beers

G. Edgerton

Committee

May 6, 5850"

Others:

Rochester Mayor George G. Clarkson (1811-1905); Niagara Falls Mayor Arthur C. Hastings (1860- ); New York Secretary of State Frederick Cook (1833-1905), were all members at one time of Valley Lodge No. 109. Also, a number of Civil War era officers were members of Valley Lodge, including: Gen. John A. Reynolds (1830-aft 1894); his brother Capt. Gilbert H. Reynolds (1832-1913); Maj. Gen. Daniel Craig "Dan" McCallum (1815-1878); Capt. J. George Cramer; and Major Maurice Leyden (1836-1906).

Description of Archive:

213 letters/communications, 279 pp., mostly mss, dated 1829-1942, includes 1 letter from 1829; 16 letters from the 1842-1849; 35 letters from 1850s; 83 letters from the 1860s; 45 letters from 1870-1876; 10 letters from 1901-1925; and 22 undated letters, but from the same general time period. The correspondence consists of full letters, and short communications, or notes. Starting in the 1840s the papers deal with the reorganization of the lodge after it had folded in the late 1820s due to the William Morgan Affair. Most of the correspondence after this period concerns members requesting to "demit" (leave) the lodge due to their moving away, or the letters contain information about meetings, or reports, of the activities of the lodge, such as discipline problems with members, or business meetings, or communications with other lodges, or the Grand Lodge of New York State.

 

681 petitions for initiation, printed sheets, completed in manuscript, most not dated, but circa 1840s-1870s; generally gives name, residence, place of birth, other information on applicant, some are more detailed then others, with questions on do you believe in God, how long have you live in Rochester, how long have you lived in state of New York, occupation. Also usually includes person who recommended you, plus someone who vouched for that person, etc.

205 initiation inquiry committee reports, written in mss, dated 1845-1864. There are 32 reports from the 1840s; 112 reports from the 1850s; 6 reports from the 1860s; and 55 reports not dated, but from the same time period. These reports include name of person who requested membership to the lodge, the names of the committee members, the date of their report, and if their inquiries were positive, or negative and their recommendation.

453 initiation inquiry committee printed sheets, filled out in mss, dated 1858-1872, gives name of applicant and if he was granted in favor, plus date, and committee members. A committee would make an inquiry on the potential new member either giving a thumbs up, or thumbs down, after their investigation of the individual.

125 inter-lodge communications, single printed sheets, completed in mss, for ballots taken at meetings of Genesee Falls Lodge, No. 507, for candidates for degrees conferred either applied or rejected, and sent to Valley Lodge, No. 109, dated 1867-1872

31 inter-lodge communications, single printed sheets, completed in mss, for ballots taken at meetings of Germania Lodge, No. 722, F. & A.M, for candidates for degrees conferred, applied or rejected, and sent to Valley Lodge, No. 109, dated 1872.

83 inter-lodge communications, single printed sheets, complted  in mss, for ballots taken at meetings of Rochester Lodge, No. 660, F. & A.M, for candidates for degrees conferred, applied or rejected, and sent to Valley Lodge, No. 109, dated 1867-1872.

90 inter-lodge communications, single printed sheets, completed in mss, for ballots taken at meetings of Yonnondio Lodge, No. 163, F. & A.M, for candidates for degrees conferred, applied or rejected, and sent to Valley Lodge, No. 109, dated 1865-1872.

303 receipts, either printed letterhead and mss, dated 1845-1874, 1900-1902, 1914, and 1942. Collection includes 31 items from 1840s; 46 from 1850s; 104 from 1860s; 57 from 1870s; 30 from1900s; and 35 items not dated, but fitting the same time period. These receipts are for expenses of Valley Lodge, such as candles, oil, aprons, gloves, advertisements in papers, printing costs, rent, hiring hack, coal, furnishings for the lodge, postage, monies paid to Grand Lodge, monies paid to secretary, or for services, refreshments, washing, monies for tyling the lodge, amongst many other items; as well there a list of members who subscribed to the "Hall and Asylum Fund," listing their names and amount subscribed, plus two different lists of returns of new members ,with their numbers, dated 1868; plus a two page 1872-3 report of the "Room Furnishing Committee Masonic Temple."

11 miscellaneous mss committee reports, 17 pp., dated 1846-1860, some undated. Reports of various committees including committees pertaining to: treasurer's books, amendments to the lodge's constitution, disagreements and/or charges against members, renovating the Lodge's hall, purchase musical instruments for hall, bill of repair's for hall, investigate loans, etc.

 

19 resolutions, 20 mss pp., dated 1845-1880, some not dated. These are resolutions made by Lodge's meetings.

48 miscellaneous Masonic documents, 67 pp., dated 1848-1911, includes 14 certificates of membership of Masonic lodges, ceremonial certificates, as well as two mss copies of by-laws for Valley Lodge (17 pp.), and 1 testimony of trustees of the Homer Lodge No. 352 (3 typed pp.), plus various single printed sheets filled out in mss concerning various Masonic lodges and their activities, invitations, announcements, or official proclamations, circulars, etc.

17 mss pieces, 26 pp., 1845-1870, includes memorandum notes, copies of returns, subscribers list to the Hall Asylum Fund, complaints, list of members and numbers, etc.

19 non-Masonic related documents and papers, 36 pp., dated 1912-1943, related mainly to Silas F. Horning, of Gloversville, New York, and his connection with a gold mining operation. Includes 1 telegram, 1 certificate of assay, a blank purchase agreement sheet, an agreements between Horning and the Rodrian Electro-Metallurgical Company, which appears to have developed a new process for the recovery of metals, a report of the attempt of this new process, a chattel mortgage sale, a couple of assignments between Horning and others, investor circulars, property title, etc. There are also several property deeds and burial plot deed and stock certificate.