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Illustrations of Masonry (1826)

Narrative of the Anti-Masonick Excitement (1827)

The Masonic Martyr: Biography of Eli Bruce (1861)

The Broken Seal (1870)

History of the Abduction of William Morgan (1873)

History of the Abduction of William Morgan (1874)

Wm. Morgan and Political Anti-Masonry (1883)

"Morgan, Mormons, and Masonry" (1946)

Morgan, Mormons, and Masonry
(Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1946-47)

Entire Contents Copyright © 1946, 1947, Grand Lodge of Iowa
All Rights Reserved  (limited "fair use" reproduction only)

1946: Oct.  |  1946: Nov.  |  1946: Dec.  |  1947: Jan.  |  1947: Feb.  |  1947: Mar.

GRAND  LODGE  OF  IOWA,  A. F.  &  A. M.
  Vol. XLVII                        Cedar  Rapids,  Iowa,  October,  1946                        No.  8  


Morgan, Mormons, and Masonry

Tom Bentley Throckmorton, P.G.M.

Few scholars in Ancient Craft Masonry in this Grand Jurisdiction are aware of the role played by the William Morgan episode. It furnished the background which influenced greatly the life of Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of Mormonism. Likewise, some of the Prophet's followers -- as members of the Masonic lodge at Montrose, Iowa -- played an important part in the convention at which the Grand Lodge of Iowa was formed.

It may seem, at this date, a far cry that the Morgan affair and the establishment of Mormonism in this country had any bearing whatsoever on Masonry in Iowa. But such is the case, and from a historical point of view it is a most interesting and intriguing story.

It begins with the anti-Masonic movement in western New York almost a century and a quarter ago. Just how this movement originated is unknown. That it started in the early 20's of the nineteenth century is well established. For some time this undercurrent of unrest toward Masonry, as a so-called secret society, had been manifesting itself in various ways. It needed only a breeze to fan the embers of its hatred into a fierce flame. Hence, the Morgan episode proved to be that means, just as the killing of Archduke Francis by a misguided student at Sarajevo, in 1914, precipitated World War I.

Since the anti-Masonic movement revolves entirely about the life and alleged murder of William Morgan, it is proper that this narrative should begin with a consideration of the role he unintentionally played in this thrilling drama.

The Morgan Episode

William Morgan was born in Culpepper County, Virginia, August 7, 1774. This was a stirring age in the life of this country. In those days it was not uncommon for children to be "bound-out" to learn a trade; hence, we find that young William, at the tender age of 12 years, was apprenticed to Joseph Day, of Hap Hazard Mills, Virginia, to learn the stonecutter's trade.

After he had served his apprenticeship, he became a journeyman-mason and worked on various jobs ranging all the way from Richmond, Virginia, to Lexington, Kentucky. He suspended his operative masonry during the War of 1812, at which time he served with General Andrew Jackson and took part in the Battle of New Orleans, January 8, 1815. This was the final major engagement of the war.

Following his discharge from the army, Morgan eventually drifted back to his old stamping ground at Richmond. Although he was upwards of 40 years of age, his mortal frame still retained the innate -- but heretofore unlighted -- spark of love, for he became enamoured of Lucinda Pendleton and courted her. She was the sixteen-year-old daughter of the Rev. Joseph Pendleton, pastor of the Methodist Church of that city. The father, realizing the vast difference in the ages of the lovers, opposed the marriage on biological grounds as well as those growing out of tales of intemperance and debauchery of his would-be son-in-law. But, in spite of parental objection, love had its way. Lucinda and William became man and wife.

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As well might be expected, the course of true love did not run smooth for the Morgans Perhaps the parental distaste for the groom may have been a contributing factor, for we find that Lucinda became estranged from the rest of her family, and the Morgans left the Pendletons and Richmond, never to return. After a short stay in New York City, Morgan took his bride to York, Canada. Here he became interested in a distillery and for a few years manufactured ardent spirits. Perhaps Lucinda may have written her parents of her whereabouts and the doings of her husband. Perhaps the Rev. Pendleton may have prayed that fire from heaven descend on the distillery owned and run by his son-in-law. In any event, fire did destroy the building, and, having lost his worldly goods, Morgan decided to return to the States. This he did in 1822. For a time the family was located in Rochester, New York. Later it moved to Le Roy, and then to Morganville in the same state. But the final settlement of the Morgans was in Batavia in 1824. It was in and about this community that the anti-Masonic movement had its birth two years later.

William Morgan claimed to be a Freemason. There is no record extant of his initiation, passing, and raising in a Masonic lodge. That he was familiar with the workings of the Order no one denies. Through his knowledge, lawfully or unlawfully gained, Morgan passed himself off as a Master Mason, and as such he was tolerated by the local Masons, although his habits and character were not in keeping with the teachings of the Order.

There is some diversity of opinion as to why William Morgan decided to expose the secrets of Freemasonry. Some writers hold that it was for mercenary gain only; others maintain that it was primarily for revenge. Whatever may have been the motive, the facts remain that the writing of an exposé by Morgan and its attempted printing by David Cade Miller were the two things which pulled the Temple of Masonry down upon the heads of the Fraternity and almost wrecked it. It has been recorded also that Morgan was desirous of becoming a York Rite Mason. Thus, when steps were taken to form a Royal Arch Chapter in Batavia in 1825, the local brethren, knowing full well the weakness and frailty of Morgan -- the alleged Master Mason purposely omitted his name from the list of charter members. This act is said to have aroused his anger and to have been the immediate cause of his desire to take revenge on his Masonic brethren.

David Cade Miller was a printer and the editor of the Batavia Advocate. He likewise had a grievance against the Masonic Order. While living in Albany, New York, he had petitioned for the Mysteries of Masonry. He was elected and initiated in the Entered Apprentice Degree. In those days candidates were elected to but one degree at a time. Hence, when Brother Miller petitioned for advancement in the degrees, he was rejected by his brethren. This proved to be a bitter pill for the novice in Masonry, and the remembrance of its taste lingered in the mind of its recipient long after he had moved to Batavia. There is an old saying that "birds of a feather flock together;" so it was no surprise when William Morgan and David Cade Miller became bosom friends, each nurturing in his breast his hatred against Masonry and everything Masonic. Thus it came about that this disgruntled pair decided to expose the secrets of

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Freemasonry. Without doubt Miller was the prime mover in the plot. Morgan, with his inherent weakness of character, was as moulder's clay in his hands. Led to believe that a fabulous sum would be garnered from the sale of the printed material Morgan was willing to furnish the knowledge of which his more astute and erudite partner was devoid. Thus the seed was sown, and in the fertile soil of these two rogues it sprang into being. It was not long after the press of the Batavia Advocate began turning out pages of Morgan's Illustrations of Masonry in July, 1826, that news of the perfidity leaked out.

The local Masons were shocked beyond measure. They literally were swept from their feet by the audacity of the act. I would not have to stretch my imagination to believe that an emergent communication of the lodge was held and the problem thoroughly discussed by the local brethren. What may have been various plans proposed to handle the unfortunate situation Masonic history fails to reveal. That Miller was considered the aggressor and Morgan the weakling is borne out by subsequent events. The consensus among the Masons was that Morgan must be separated from Miller. "Coming events ofttimes cast their shadows before them" is an old truism. But in this case, if the Masons of Batavia could have known what their acts, however kindly intended, would cause, I am sure they never would have done what they did. But in the heat and passion of the moment they looked not to the future and the possible consequence of their acts, but only to the present; namely, William Morgan must be removed from the locality. Accordingly, plans were arranged for his disposal.

It was then that some members of the Craft recalled that Morgan had committed a minor infraction of the law in Canandaigua, a neighboring town to the east, for which he had never been punished. Accordingly, a warrant for his arrest was issued, and in due time he was behind bars in the jail at Canandaigua. Here he was supplied with good quarters and excellent food. Then came the scheme to separate him forever from Miller, the printer. It had been well planned by Masons, and only its execution remained. The motive was commendable, but the reaction, uncontemplated and unthought of, was terrific. One evening some members of the Craft called at the jail, presumably to pay a fraternal visit to an indisposed brother. Only the jailer's wife was in attendance at the jail. Unhesitatingly she admitted the visitors, but it was with marked protest that she demanded on their retirement that they leave William Morgan to the law. But the men who visited the prisoner that night heeded not her call. When they left the jail, Morgan was with them. Whether he left voluntarily or was taken by force makes little difference. The truth is he left the jail and was taken on a journey which eventually ended at Fort Niagara.

The fort was under the command of Colonel William King, himself a Mason. For a few days Morgan was kept a prisoner, presumably in the powder magazine at the fort. In due time, so the report goes, he was ferried across the Niagara River to the Canadian shore. Here he was given a sum of money and instructed to remain in the locality until the provision for the removal of his wife and children could be made. Instead, however, he made his way to his old stamping ground

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at York. It was while he lived in this town that fire had destroyed his distillery some years before. From York he went to Port Hope on the St. Lawrence River, thence by boat to Boston. From here he sailed on the ship "America" bound for Smyrna in Asia Minor. It is in this far-off country that his death is said to have occurred in 1840. As far as we know, that is the last of William Morgan

Before taking up events which followed the Morgan kidnapping, perhaps a word should be said about the disposition of his family. It consisted at that time of his wife Lucinda and two small children. The prolonged absence of the husband and father, the inability to trace his wonderings, his murder by the Masons as alleged by Miller and others, eventually forced Lucinda Morgan to the conclusion that William had either deserted his family or had been done away with, as it was contended by his supposed disappearance. Lucinda married George Harris, an old friend of the family. Their wedding took place on November 23, 1830. It is interesting to note that in time the Harris family came west and was among the pioneer families in Iowa. But again the course of love did not run too smoothly, and in 1850, for some unknown reason, Lucinda packed her worldly possessions and disappeared completely from George Harris' life. She was seen last in Memphis, Tennessee, where she was serving as a Sister of Charity in one of its hospitals.

As for George Harris, the records in Pottawattamie County, Iowa, show that he filed notice of divorce in that court in February, 1856. There ends all knowledge of Lucinda Morgan and George Harris.

The abduction of William Morgan and his complete disappearance from western New York served as a spark to kindle the dry tinder of the enemies of Masonry. Nothing could have transpired to serve their purpose better. Miller, the printer, was in a position where he could deluge the public with his propaganda against the Order which had rejected him. Accordingly, his paper exuded reams against the alleged vileness of an Order that permitted its members to murder one of their number. Of course, it is only fair to state that the punishment by imprisonment of the parties who released Morgan from the jail and placed him safely on Canadian soil by no means satisfied Miller and his followers. They insisted that Morgan had been murdered in cold blood by the Masons and that the culprits should be made to pay for their crime. But murder cannot be proved unless the body of the victim is in evidence and the corpus delicti was not at hand. This was the stumbling block for Miller and his adherents.

(To be continued)

GRAND  LODGE  OF  IOWA,  A. F.  &  A. M.
  Vol. XLVII                      Cedar  Rapids,  Iowa,  November,  1946                      No.  9  

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Morgan, Mormons, and Masonry

Tom Bentley Throckmorton, P.G.M.
(Continued from October Bulletin)

A year passed and the public ravings of the anti-Masonic multitude became less audible. It seemed, with the passing of the weeks and months, that much doubt had arisen as to the death of William Morgan. Then one day, unexpectedly, came a break for David Cade Miller and his followers. A body was washed ashore from the Niagara River. Although the incident occurred thirteen months after Morgan's disappearance, the finding of a body was the one thing Miller had longed for most. He, Mrs. Morgan, and others hastened to Carlton, a small town situated on the Niagara River about 40 miles east from Fort Niagara. Here he demanded that the authorities disinter the body for identification. The demand was granted, and the body was brought from darkness to light. It was that of a man in a highly putrid and decomposed state, so much so that its features were beyond recognition. But a little cajoling on the part of Miller and his man Friday, Thurlow Weed, a politician who declared that "any body was good enough until after election," caused the grieving widow to express her belief that the body was the earthly remains of her husband. The jubilation of the anti-Masonic adherents was short-lived, however. The hand of fate entered the scene.

The voice of a woman who yearned to know the whereabouts of her husband, one Timothy Munro, was heard. He had left his home in New Castle in upper Canada one day and had embarked in a small boat on the Niagara River. He had never returned home. Evidently, when others viewed the body, there was enough objective evidence about the corpse to satisfy them who it was. A coroner's inquest was held, and the verdict was, "That the body is that of Timothy Munro, who was drowned in the Niagara River on the 26th of September, 1827."

This finding, too, failed to satisfy the enemies of Masonry. They still insisted that William Morgan had been done away with by the Masons and that the adherents to the Institution should be held responsible for his death. The issue, which in the beginning was purely local, spread throughout western New York, later engulfed the Empire State and eventually became national in scope...

John Quincy Adams, then President, became one of Masonry's bitterest enemies. So great was the furor over the Morgan affair that it literally shook Freemasonry to its foundation. In some localities members deserted their lodges en masse. In other places the bitterness of the anti-Masons was so

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intense that lodges had to go into hiding until the storm blew over. Seceding Masons were extremely unfaithful to their vows. They were instrumental in holding... mock ceremonials and initiations in public. They subjected Masonry to ridicule. Figuratively speaking, they defiled, vilified, and spat on it.

Some circuit- riding parsons, who were anti-masonic, were especially vehement in their attacks on Freemasonry. Fortunately Masonry is not built on shifting sand. Its foundations are laid on the rock eternal. Its great light is the Holy Bible. Less than that for a foundation, it never would have survived the attack. Long after the monument raised by popular subscription by anti-Masons and erected in the cemetery at Batavia to the memory of William Morgan -- "murdered for revealing the secrets of their Order" -- has fallen in ruins, the peoples of this earth will find still among them the living, vibrant Institution known as Freemasonry.

Truly it may be said that "truth crushed to earth will rise again." The bitterness of the anti-Masonic period well can be illustrated by an incident which occurred to the late Rev. Charles Mitchell, one-time bishop in the Methodist Church, and which he related to me many years ago. Young Charles, having obtained his majority, approached his father one day and queried him concerning his views on Freemasonry. The father, who was not a member of the Order, advised his son that the reputation of the Institution was good and recommended he apply for admission. This advice the young man heeded, and in due time was notified to appear at the lodge hall for initiation. On that day, after the evening meal was finished, candidate Mitchell hied himself to his room and put on his Sunday clothes. As he was about to leave the house, his mother inquired as to where he was going for the evening, to which the son replied, "I am going down to the lodge hall, mother dear. I'm joining the Masons tonight." A pained expression came over the mother's countenance as she bade her boy goodbye, but the true significance of that look was lost on the young man at that moment.

Long past the hour when most of the village lamps had been extinguished, Charles Mitchell wended his footsteps homeward. He had experienced something foreign to his past life. Thus musing, he came up the walk to his father's home, where he noticed a light in the window. Entering the house, he observed his mother sitting beside the table on which a lamp rested. She was rocking gently to and fro as she gazed on the open Bible on her lap. The house was quiet, save for the deep breathing of the father, who peacefully slept in an adjoining room. He was not worried about his son that night. Only the mother awaited the return of the prodigal. Slowly raising her head, she fastened her gaze on the son standing before her and in withering and sarcastic tones exclaimed, "Now, Charles, I suppose you found out who killed Morgan."

The Rise of Mormonism

Having covered briefly the high points of the Morgan episode, let us now turn our attention to the consideration of its influence on the creation of Mormonism. At first glance one might see no connection between the two. Morganism was purely anti- Masonic; Mormonism is purely religious. Yet I feel it is wholly unlikely that Mormonism would have come into existence had it not been for events which undoubtedly affected its

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originator, Joseph Smith, Jr., and sprang out of the environment of anti-Masonic hatred to influence his life, his character, and his conduct.

Our first knowledge of the Smith family comes from New England. Here Joseph Smith, Sr., resided in Sharon, Vermont. As a Christmas gift to her husband, the good wife, emulating the Virgin Mary, presented a baby boy to him. The arrival of the little one occurred December 23, 1805. The child was christened Joseph Smith, Jr. He was the fourth offspring of what later became a family of ten children. I am sure that the Smiths, as they gazed on their newborn that Christmas time, never dreamed of the role that Joseph and his older brother, Hyrum, were destined to play in the affairs of state and nation. Nor could they envision the part they were to play, indirectly, in Masonic affairs, especially at the time of the formation of the Grand Lodge of Iowa almost 40 years later.

In the course of time the Smith family drifted to western New York and settled in Manchester, Ontario County. This village was near Batavia, in Genesee County, the site of the anti-Masonic uprising. Here Joseph grew up as a child and young man. Here he undoubtedly knew something of William Morgan, the stone mason, and David Cade Miller, the publisher of the local paper in Batavia. It requires no stretch of my imagination to believe that both Joseph and Hyrum Smith were interested, as young men, in the beginnings of the anti-Masonic movement in their neighboring town. It is only reasonable to assume they were interested spectators at the indignation meetings which were held by irate citizens and disloyal Masons. They certainly would be present when mock trials and ceremonials were held in public to impress upon the minds of those present the wickedness of the Masonic Order and the sinfulness of its members.

It will be recalled that the printing of "Morgan's Illustrations of Masonry" began in July, 1826, and the abduction and subsequent disappearance of William Morgan took place a month later. Undoubtedly the following 12 months of that period were fraught with much hard feeling and animosity toward the local Masons and their friends. It was in this hotbed of anti-Masonic environment that the impressionable young man, Joseph Smith, Jr., received an insight into mass hatred and mass psychology.

It long has been my observation that people are most gullible in affairs which concern religion and health. P. T. Barnum, the greatest showman of this time, was right when he said, "The public likes to be fooled." The most vulnerable spot in man, psychologically speaking, is his reaction to things emotional. Of these reactions the principal ones are church matters and concern for health. To become a leader of any great movement or cult requires of the individual that he possess a nervous mechanism that is not of the common "garden variety" type or "mine run" quality. It requires a mechanism capable of engendering in its owner the qualities of shrewdness, cunning, discernment, ability to force opinions -- no matter how untenable -- upon others who swallow them hook, line, and sinker and to sway the emotions and thoughts of the masses to his own purpose. Whether Joseph Smith, Jr., possessed such nerve protoplasm I have no personal knowledge. That he possessed the above mentioned characteristics is demonstrated by is life and actions.

It is well to note also that the early growth of Mormonism

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occurred during the revivalist, reformist days of the 1830's. In retrospect, one can discern that it stemmed not so much from a new theology, which was a mixture of the new world religious thought, but from the personality of its founder, Joseph Smith, Jr. He accredited to himself the power of divine revelation, which was his ultimate authority in all things, an unanswerable instrument, and which he used to create and maintain his theocratic dictatorship.

Anyone who reads the historical setting of the origin of the Book of Mormon cannot help but be impressed that it was an "inside job." The time, the place, and the man were in readiness. The people of western New York were in a receptive mood for anything out of the ordinary. The alleged murder of William Morgan by Freemasons made them so.

Hence, it is easy to understand, from a psychological viewpoint, how an impressionable youth, with a mind aflame from things seen and heard at anti-Masonic gatherings and with imagination running wild, could readily conjure up the vision of the Angel Moroni, who awakened him from his slumbers one night -- almost a year to the day when William Morgan disappeared -- guided him to the Hill of Cumorah near his home, and there pointed out the place where the golden plates were hidden. Only a gullible person would believe such a tale. But Joseph Smith, Jr., did not stop here in his story. With embellishment he portrayed how he had digged into the earth -- he didn't mention what tool he used -- and discovered the golden plates, together with the Urim and Thummin [sic]. The latter, he explained, were essential to translating the characters on the plates, which were in the style of "Reformed Egyptian." The Urim was a pair of spectacles made of stone. The Thummin was a breast plate, fashioned after those worn by the High Priests as mentioned in the Old Testament. These instruments, when properly worn, were to enable the wearer to translate the hieroglyphics on the golden plates.

The work of translation, however, did not begin for some months following the mysterious discovery of the golden plates. One would naturally think that Joseph long before would have been agog to begin his labors, but such was not the case. Is it not strange that he began the work of translation in the home of his father-in-law, Isaac Hale, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, rather than in his own home at Manchester? Even more strange is the manner in which the translating was carried on. The room in which the work was done was divided by a curtain. On one side of it sat Joseph Smith, Jr., with plates and paraphernalia. On its other side sat Martin Harris, friend and neighbor, whom the Prophet had inveigled to accompany him and to act as his secretary. It was under these surroundings that the work of translation began. It was a slow and laborious task. In time 116 pages of manuscript were finished. By that time Secretary Harris was becoming a little wearied in well-doing, and perhaps homesick besides. He requested "time out" for a trip home. To this Joseph agreed, but the translator demurred when Harris requested that he be allowed to take the manuscript with him to show his wife the beginning of a new Bible. But Harris was adamant, and rather than to lose his favor Smith acquiesced in his request.

Perhaps Martin Harris wanted something tangible to convince his spouse that his time during his absence from home had been fully occupied and free from worldly thoughts and errors of the flesh.

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Three weeks passed and no word came to Harmony from the Harris home at Palmyra, New York. As the days dragged on their more recent ones greatly disturbed Joseph Smith, for his secretary should have returned ere then. Sensing that all was not well back home, Smith returned to Manchester. Here he lost no time in seeking out his old friend, Martin Harris. To his dismay he learned from him that the manuscript had disappeared after he had allowed his wife to see the fruit of their labors. After perusing the writing, Mrs. Harris had misplaced it and was unable to find it. It was for this reason that Secretary Harris had been afraid to return to Harmony empty-handed.

The loss of the manuscript certainly put Smith, the Prophet-to-be, on the spot. If he were sure that the writing was destroyed, the solution of the problem would be simple. But he had no such assurance. To retranslate the golden plates would be no hard task. But to do so and then be confronted with the original translation, which might be off the beam and far from the magnetic pole of Mormon, would be disastrous. But Smith was a resourceful man, and whenever he got into a tight place he always took his problem to the Lord. And mirable dictu, the Lord never failed him. So it came to pass that the Lord revealed unto His servant, Joseph Smith, that he was not to retranslate from the plates of Lehi that which had been stolen but to confound the evil designing persons and devil by beginning the work of translation from the plates of Nephi. Hence the Book of Lehi, by the hand of Mormon, is forever lost to the world.

When the Prophet resumed his labor of translation, he dismissed Martin Harris and in his place secured the services of Oliver Cowdery, one of the faithful. Apparently Oliver had the necessary prerequisites for the job. By vocation he was a blacksmith and a school teacher; his avocation was opposing the Masons. It is important to bear in mind that the translation of the golden plates and the work of compiling the manuscript of the Book of Mormon was accomplished during those trying years of anti-Masonic juror, 1827-1829. The book was made ready for the press and a copyright secured by Joseph Smith, Jr., author and proprietor, in June, 1829. It was printed for the author by E. B. Grandin, of Palmyra, in 1830. It is stated that during the printing of the book only a few pages of the manuscript were allowed to go to the printer at any time. Evidently Joseph had profited by the Harris experience and had no desire to take a similar trouble to the Lord again in case the manuscript was stolen.

(To be continued)

GRAND  LODGE  OF  IOWA,  A. F.  &  A. M.
  Vol. XLVII                      Cedar  Rapids,  Iowa,  December,  1946                      No.  10  


Morgan, Mormons, and Masonry

Tom Bentley Throckmorton, P.G.M.
(Continued from November Bulletin)

Once the Book of Mormon was off the press, the next step was to sell it and the Mormon religion to the people. The first adherents of Mormonism were not hard to obtain. They were friends, relatives, and neighbors of the Smith family. But once that field was harvested, the pickings were rather short. As a result, the Prophet realized that the best thing to do to further the interest of the Mormon faith was to move to newer and more fertile pastures. Evidently he believed and took at face value the Old Testament quotation, "A prophet is not without honor save in his own country." Hence, in 1831 Joseph Smith and his followers moved to Kirtland, Ohio, where they formed the first colony of Mormons and where the first Mormon temple was built.

The Mormon Church is indelibly associated with the lives of two men, Joseph Smith, its founder, and Brigham Young, his immediate successor. Since Brigham Young played so dominating a part in the life of the church, it is well that we pause at this point and trace his connection with the Mormons. He became a member of their colony a year after its establishment at Kirtland, Ohio. Thus, for all practical purposes, Young was connected with the Mormons from their beginning, and it was he who kept the faithful together and led them to their new home in the far west after the death of the Smith brothers in 1844.

Brigham Young was born in Vermont, June 1, 1801. He evidently came from good New England stock. His physical endurance, his statesmanship qualities, and his longevity are mute testimony of this fact. His grandfather, Joseph Young, was a doctor in the French and Indian Wars. His father, John Young, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. When Brigham was three years of age, the family moved to western New York. Here he grew to young manhood. Apparently Brigham had no special vocation. Rather was he inclined to be a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, for he worked as a painter, a carpenter, a glazier, and a stone mason. Eighteen years of his life were spent in Aurelius, Cayuga County, New York. In 1824 he was married to Miriam Works. She bore him two daughters before her death eight years later. His interest in Mormonism was aroused when he acquired a Book of Mormon in 1830. But it was not until after the death of his wife that he became an active adherent of the faith.

This transpired when he, together with Heber Kimball, with whom he and his daughters lived following the demise of the

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wife and mother, left the Empire State and joined the Mormon colony at Kirtland, Ohio, in 1832.

Apparently the colony grew and thrived. In time missionaries were sent out to spread the new doctrine and to secure converts to the new faith. Perhaps the largest of these missionary fields was the one in Jackson County, Missouri. It has been estimated that by 1833 there were at least one thousand Mormons in that county. However, it seems their presence was not looked upon favorably by natives of that community. Among the reasons given by the Missourians for their dislike of the Mormons was their tendency to antagonize the local inhabitants with their religious zeal, to stir up strife among the slaves and the Indians, and, by their increase in number, to threaten the political policies of the community. Be these claims as they may, it is apparent that something of a radical nature occurred in Jackson County, for we learn that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and 130 men started for Missouri in 1834 to help their long-suffering brethren. This trek proved disastrous. Cholera, the much dreaded scourge of that day, broke out while the party was en route. The Prophet tried to cure the disease by prayer and the laying of hands on the afflicted ones. Over half of the personnel contracted the disease. Even Joseph himself was stricken, but fortunately recovered. In all, fourteen deaths occurred in the party. This clearly proved that the disease was contagious and not religious. Nothing was gained by the attempted and ill-fated trip to Missouri, and Joseph Smith and Brigham Young soon returned to Kirtland, Ohio.

During the next few years the Mormons grew and flourished in their colony in Ohio. Here they erected their first Temple. But in time dissention broke out in their ranks. Financial disasters developed, and Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Sidney Rigdon, one of the apostles of the church, were blamed for the losses. Things got so hot that Young fled the town and was followed by Smith and Rigdon in January, 1838. The three leaders in the church made their way to western Missouri. Here they eventually joined their predecessors and endeavored to establish a New Zion.

The Missourians, however, determined to have nothing to do with the religious zealots. Consequently, Joseph Smith and the other leaders were arrested and thrown into jail. Later it was ordered that they be shot to death. In the meantime Brigham Young, on finding that the Mormons were not welcome and in fact would not be tolerated in the community, collected the faithful -- estimated at 3,000 strong -- and started on a return trip to the East. As the wagons and the people drifted eastward in search of a new home, much sorrow and lamentation arose over the loss of the beloved Prophet. But "God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform," for we find, in due season, that Joseph Smith, by divine guidance and perhaps a fair-sized amount of human ingenuity, made his escape from the jail and, amid shouts of hallelujahs and general rejoicing, rejoined his followers. Wending its way slowly across northern Missouri and touching at times some points in southern Iowa, the band of the faithful continued its journey toward the rising sun.

Eventually it came to the Father of Waters, the Mississippi, and, crossing it, made its way to Quincy, Illinois. Evidently, as the stragglers made

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their way through the town, they left a rather unfavorable impression on its inhabitants. This may not have been entirely their fault, for certainly no people on the march, and living under such primitive conditions, can present themselves at their best. But first impressions are often the most lasting, and I am inclined to believe, in the light of subsequent happenings, that the unfavorable impression which the Mormons created in the minds of the citizens of Quincy had much to do with the unfavorable attitude which the Masons of Bodley Lodge No. 1 took toward them when they refused to sanction the forming of a Masonic lodge by the Mormons at Nauvoo some years later.

Turning his footsteps to the north, Joseph Smith led his flock from Quincy along the east bank of the Mississippi River until the little trading post at Commerce, Illinois, was reached. May 1, 1839, was an eventful day in the life of the Mormon Church, for on that day the committee, headed by Smith, made its initial purchase of land. From time to time other holdings were added, and by the turn of the next year, when a post office was established, the Prophet changed the name of the village to Nauvoo, which he said was of Hebrew origin, meaning "beautiful and suggesting repose." No doubt the Mormons, after traipsing all the way back from western Missouri, needed a haven where they could beautify and adorn themselves and where they could relax in peaceful repose. Within three years the population of the little river trading post grew from a handful of people to between eight and ten thousand souls.

The enormous influx of people to Nauvoo and its vicinity was not without significance. This increase in number was noticed particularly by outsiders. Especially did the politicians of Illinois take due and timely notice of this activity, for some of them early recognized that the strength of the Mormons numerically and voting as a unit was a political plum of great value. At that time the two national political parties were the Whigs and the Democrats. It is only human that both parties should seek favor of these new citizens of Illinois. So, in 1840, when the church petitioned the Illinois legislature for the privilege of incorporating Nauvoo, Dr. John C. Bennett, an Ohio Mason and a good lobbyist had no trouble in putting the measure through at Springfield. The bill not only further provided for a charter for the Nauvoo Legion, a local militia, and for the University of the City of Nauvoo, but it likewise granted the new community the privilege of passing any law which was not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States or to the Constitution of the State of Illinois.

Stephen A. Douglas, later to become Justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois and better known as the "Little Giant," appreciated the Mormon strength. He not only visited the Smith brothers at the colony, but he appointed Dr. John C. Bennett, one of their number, Master of Chancery. It has been stated that Abraham Lincoln, then a newcomer in Illinois politics, likewise was careful not to incur the enmity of, or to antagonize, the Mormons.

January 19, 1841, was a propitious day for Joseph Smith, the Prophet. On that day he had a vision in which the Lord told this faithful servant that he should begin the construction of a new Temple. Accordingly, plans were executed for the fulfillment of that heavenly demand, and in time work began on the second Mormon

[ 694 ]

Temple. It was practically completed by October, 1845. Much has been written about the cause for the split in the Mormon Church and the reasons for the Mormons leaving Nauvoo. The concensus is that polygamy was the primal factor. Just who took his first plural wife, and when and where that incident occurred, long has been a matter of debate between members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints stemming from the mother church in Missouri and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Utah. It is the contention of the former that Joseph Smith did not countenance or practice polygamy, but that the taking of plural wives was the outgrowth of the Brigham Young regime, which followed the death of the Prophe and his older brother Hyrum. It is not my purpose or province to argue the matter. I can but mention the historic writings of others concerning this moot question.

It has been contended by some writers that the Prophet practiced polygamy secretly while the Mormons were at Kirtland, Ohio. Certain it is that the doctrine had been taught by him, or at least strongly hinted to certain of his followers, at that early date. Be that as it may, there seems to be ample proof that "the great and glorious principle of plural marriage" was in vogue at Nauvoo and was practiced secretly by high-ups of the inner church circle. For instance, in 1841 the Prophet preached a sermon on the "Restoration of All Things," in which he hinted that the patriarchal or plural order of marriage, as practiced by the ancients, again would be restored to the sons of men. To his general listeners this sermon was quite a shock, so much so that he later modified his statement by saying that the spirit had made the time when such things would be restored seem much nearer than it really was.

Apparently Joseph Smith was averse to waiting for that millennial time, for it is stated that he took his first plural wife, Louisa Beaman, in April, 1841. Within two years he had taken unto himself no less than twelve plural wives, and other leaders of the church had followed him quite extensively in this practice. Since none of these acts was officially sanctioned by the church as part of its doctrine, it may be that the onus for the practice of polygamy is correctly laid at the doorstep of Brigham Young, for it was not until after the settlement of the church in Salt Lake City, Utah, that its doctrine officially sanctioned polygamy as a part of the institution.

(To be continued)

GRAND  LODGE  OF  IOWA,  A. F.  &  A. M.
  Vol. XLVIII                        Cedar  Rapids,  Iowa,  January,  1947                        No.  1  

[ 3 ]

Morgan, Mormons, and Masonry

Tom Bentley Throckmorton, P.G.M.
(Continued from December Bulletin)

It was William Law, a Nauvoo Mormon, who openly broke with the prophet over polygamy. He and his friends left the church and formed an opposition group. There were no telephones or radios in that day by which news could be spread. Instead Law and his friends established a newspaper which they named the Nauvoo Expositor. Only one issue of the paper, with its motto “The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth," ever came from its press. That issue was dated June 7, 1844. So great was the upheaval which followed its appearance that it caused Joseph Smith great concern. He issued orders that the press and type be destroyed. Three days later this was done and the building set on fire. Law and his followers fled for their lives to Carthage, Illinois. Here they caused warrants to be issued for the arrest of the Smith brothers and members of the Nauvoo council. Accordingly Joseph, his brother Hyrum, and the council went to Carthage, where they surrendered themselves to the law June 24. Joseph and Hyrum were charged with treason, for having called out the Nauvoo Legion, a military organization, and were placed in jail. The members of the council were admitted to bail. The two high ranking leaders of the Mormons were shot to death by a mob which descended on the jail three days after their incarceration. Their bodies were buried nearby but later were removed to a secret place. This, I was told some years ago by one of the grandsons of Joseph Smith, was beneath the floor of one of the old milk houses at Nauvoo. A few years ago their remains again were disinterred and now rest beneath stone slabs in the Mormon burying ground at Nauvoo. It was one beautiful autumn day in 1936 that I visited the graves of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. I could not help but think as I stood beside them of the significant meaning of the word Nauvoo which the Prophet stated, as he renamed the town in 1840, indicated "beautiful and suggesting repose."

With the death of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, Presidents of the Mormon Church, the Mormons, for the first time, were without a leader. Sidney Rigdon, one of the apostles and an old-time member of the church, immediately began a campaign, the end of which he hoped would bring to him the mantle which had fallen from the shoulders of Joseph Smith. But his desire to attain the presidency of the church was not to be without competition. Brigham Young, who happened to be in Boston at the time of the assassination

[ 4 ]

of the Smith brothers at Carthage, on learning of their death, hastened home as quickly as he could. His return was none too soon for he found Rigdon actively campaigning for the presidency, which seemed to be almost within his grasp. But Young was not dismayed by the head start which apostle Rigdon had over him. He threw himself into the campaign with such. vigor that when the time came for the selection of a new leader, he found himself in possession of the coveted office of president. And indeed it would seem, in retrospect, that the selection was a wise one. The Mormons were in a terrible predicament at that time, to say the least. With the founder of the church dead, with its members in dissension because of strife in their ranks over polygamy, and with the colony threatened because of the bitter hatred engendered by its enemies, perhaps the most critical time in the life of the church occurred during those months which immediately followed the death of Joseph Smith.

Had any leader with less ability for organization and statesmanship than Brigham Young been chosen by the Mormons, I doubt whether the church would have survived. Suffice it to say that his selection proved to be a wise one. For many months following the martyrdom of the Smith brothers, Brigham Young, in spite of overwhelming odds, held the flock together at Nauvoo. But his efforts to keep the colony intact were of no avail. He realized all too well that Illinois, like Missouri, wanted nothing to do with Mormons. So, in the fall of 1845, some of the Mormons began to dispose of their property and prepared to emigrate westward into Iowa Territory.

The exodus, however, did not occur until February 15, 1846. It was then that Brigham Young and two thousand of the saints crossed the frozen Mississippi River to Montrose, Iowa, and began the long trek which ultimately ended in their New Zion at Salt Lake City, Utah. The physical suffering, hardship, and privation of these religious pioneers were great. Starting out in the dead of winter was bad enough, but to encounter the almost impassable terrain of southern Iowa when the spring thaws and rains occurred would have disheartened any less determined group of people. Their trail led across Lee County to Keosauqua, in Van Buren County. Travel was slow. Some days only two or three miles' progress could be made before the weaker ones gave out and camp had to be made on the frozen or water-soaked ground. Under such conditions it is little wonder that death struck often to end the suffering of the sick. In fact, the trail which the Mormons left across southern Iowa could be followed. for years by the graves that marked the pathway of their journey.

Slowly they wended their way across Davis, Appanoose, Wayne, Decatur, and Clarke Counties to Union County. It was at Garden Grove, in Decatur County, and Mount Pisgah, in Union County, that they made their first prolonged stays. The first settlement was made at Garden Grove on April 27. Rude log houses sprang into existence while the virgin prairie was broken to raise crops upon which they could subsist when they later resumed their march. The second settlement was made at Mount Pisgah on the 17th of June. Here some of the faithful selected a ridge on the east side of Grand River, which was covered with a beautiful grove of native oak and elm, and proceeded to build for themselves log houses,

[ 5 ]

a mill for grinding grain, and a tabernacle. They also provided a cemetery in which their numerous dead were buried. More than 400 of their number who died from the effects of exposure and hardship during the exodus of 1846-47 now rest in this cemetery. Fortunately, this early stamping ground of the Mormons still exists and is marked by a suitable monument, thanks to the kindly interest of the Latter Day Saints in Utah. As the main body pushed westward from mount Pisgah to the Missouri River, it crossed Adair, Cass, the north edge of Mills and Pottawattamie Counties. It left along its trail little settlements at Lost Grove, Sargent's Grove, and Indiantown. These settlements, and others like them, were referred to by the Mormons as "Stakes of Zion," for they were the means of furnishing food for themselves and to those who came after them. From Mills County the trail of the Mormons led northward to Indian Creek, in Pottawattamie County, where they built a town they named Kanesville near where Council Bluffs now stands. Here they went into winter quarters.

Apropos of the Mormons' trek westward I recall a story which my Grandfather Bentley related to me as a boy. Grandfather came to Chariton, in Lucas County, in 1855. Shortly after his arrival the townspeople were greatly disturbed over a threatened spread of smallpox. Lagrange, a little village to the east, reported several cases of the disease among its inhabitants. Hastily, the citizens of Chariton called a town meeting to discuss the threatened epidemic. Smallpox in that day was a dreadful scourge and in many instances took a high toll among those who became infected with its virus.

The local populace was afraid of the disease and did not want it to obtain a foothold in the community. Accordingly, it was agreed at the meeting to quarantine the town voluntarily and to stop all channels of ingress and egress. Just as the assemblage was about to disperse, the village doctor, Charles Fitch, made his belated appearance. Upon learning of its purpose he at once reminded his listeners that no smallpox was in the town and quarantine therefore was unnecessary. However, if quarantine was insisted upon, he related, it would be necessary to establish suitable signs to warn all outsiders. Adroitly he slipped in the wedge which quickly split the group and caused it to rescind its action. He used that psychological approach which so frequently causes men to change their views when their pocketbooks are hit. He told his fellow citizens of the coming of the Mormons from the east and who, he had reason to believe, expected to pass through Chariton to take on supplies. If the town was quarantined, not a Mormon could enter, and thus, he facetiously remarked, not a merchant would benefit from them. This explanation caused the resolution, so hastily passed, to be immediately rescinded. The story ended well, for fortunately no other case of smallpox developed in the county at that time.

After spending the winter in Kanesville, Brigham Young made ready to push westward. Undoubtedly he had information concerning the "lay of the land" beyond the prairies and the Rocky Mountains. Accordingly, he selected a group of 145 men and 3 women which made up the personnel of the expeditionary force. Brigham, his brother Lorenzo, and Heber Kimball each took a wife, which accounted for the presence of

[ 6 ]

women. There were 72 prairie schooners in the train. Only Providence knew the dangers and difficulties which were in store for this group as it began its journey westward April 6, 1847. The distance from Omaha to Salt Lake City is approximately a thousand miles. Today one may make the trip by aeroplane in a few hours. Streamlined passenger trains cover the distance in 18 hours. The autoist can drive his automobile over paved and well-marked roads to make the trip in a few days. But such was not the fortune of the Mormons as they wended their way slowly over an uncharted road across the plains, valleys, and mountains. All the streams, greatly swollen by the spring rains, had to be crossed without the aid of bridges. Hostile Indians menaced them from ambush.

Yet in spite of all these trials and tribulations, Brigham Young led the saints across this uncharted tract of land and entered the great Salt Lake Valley July 24. Three months and eighteen days were consumed in making the journey. As the weary and footsore travelers came in sight of the great valley, it is said that Brigham Young grounded his staff and exclaimed, "This is the spot."

Having reached journey's end. there was still much work to do. Shelter and food were paramount, both for man and beast. At once the little band of men and women put all their efforts toward providing for their future welfare. Log houses were erected and means were taken for the procuring of food. In Temple Square there stands today the first log house to be erected in Salt Lake City. Also there stands nearby a monument with a golden gull on its top. This was erected to commemorate the deliverance of the Mormons from the plague of crickets and grasshoppers which swept over the valley one year threatened to destroy their crops. Fortunately, when all seemed lost, the gulls flew in from the lake in large numbers and destroyed the invading army of insects. This act indeed was a life-saver for these pioneers.

April 6, 1853, was a propitious day for the Mormons. It was then the cornerstones of the Salt Lake Temple were put in place with imposing ceremonies. The date is significant, since it represents the twenty-third anniversary of the church and the sixth anniversary of the Mormons leaving Kanesville, Iowa. The Temple cost around four million dollars and required 40 years for its completion. Six spires point heavenward. On the tip of one stands the figure of the Angel Moroni, who in life is said to have guided Joseph Smith to the Hill ... On the east center tower is the inscription in gold letters, "Holiness to the Lord." Emblems of clasped hands, the All-Seeing Eye, and the beehive, likewise are to be found on or about the Temple. Surely these objective evidences of speculative Masonry didn't happen by chance!

Also in Temple Square is the huge tabernacle where religious services and programs, open to the public are held. The building is one of the wonders of architecture because it has no posts to support its egg-shaped roof which is held in place by means other than nails. The acoustics are excellent. The seating capacity is eight thousand. There are three tiers of pulpits, each supplied with a huge

[ 7 ]

brass vessel for the reception of umbrellas. But of all the interior accoutrements of the building, the pipe organ is, without question, outstanding. By means of radio its beautiful and soul-inspiring tones can now be heard all over the world. The tabernacle was completed in 1870.

I feel that I cannot close my remarks about the Mormons more fittingly than by referring to their great leader, Brigham Young. For 45 years he was an active and ardent member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. For a third of a century he was its head. He had his eccentricities and peculiarities, but notwithstanding these he was a great organizer, a great leader, and a great statesman. He caused the Salt Lake Valley to "blossom like the rose." It is true that he made practical application of polygamy to the church. He had 27 wives and was the father of 56 children. His death occurred August 29, 1877, and was caused by cholera morbus which resulted from the eating of green corn and fresh peaches. His mortal remains rest in Salt Lake City.

Mormon Influence on Iowa Masonry

Thus far I have endeavored to show the influence which the Morgan episode had on the formation of Mormonism through its effect on the author of the Book of Mormon, Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. The various historical references I have made about the Mormons from the time they began their activity in western New York and northern Pennsylvania, and which was continued at their various Zions in Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and Utah, have been for the purpose of giving the reader an insight into their character and activities and of laying the foundation for the consideration of the so-called Mormon lodges and their subsequent influence on Iowa Masonry at the time of the formation of the Grand Lodge of Iowa.

It will be recalled that the Book of Mormon was written during the time when anti-Masonic feeling was at white heat. One naturally would presume, under such circumstances, that the adherents of this new religion would be adverse to Freemasonry. On the contrary, it is necessary, to assume that some of the converts to the new faith were members of the Order before they knew anything about Mormonism. In support of this assumption, it has been stated that Hyrum Smith, an older brother of the Prophet, had received his degrees in Masonry while he was residing in New York; likewise, it is known that some of the apostles and many followers of the church were Masons. As for Joseph Smith, Jr., author and proprietor of the Book of Mormon, he was not a Mason at the time of the writing of his book and did not become a member of the Order until about twelve years after its publication. I have found no records indicating that Brigham Young was a member of the Craft. But there is reason to believe he may have been, for some of his pictures portray the presence of what appears to be a Masonic emblem on his person.

(To be continued)

GRAND  LODGE  OF  IOWA,  A. F.  &  A. M.
  Vol. XLVII                      Cedar  Rapids,  Iowa,  February,  1947                      No.  2  

[ 35 ]

Morgan, Mormons, and Masonry

Tom Bentley Throckmorton, P.G.M.
(Continued from January Bulletin)

The first authentic move on the part of the Mormons to form a Masonic lodge came soon after they were well established at Nauvoo. As above stated, it is only reasonable to assume that during these preceding years there were among the adherents to the new faith a goodly number of Freemasons. If there is any one thing that a Mason likes to do, it is to fraternize with his brethren. Thus it was only natural for the Mormons who were Masons to yearn for a lodge of their own where they could meet and work and exemplify the teachings of Freemasonry.

It was soon after the reorganization of the Grand Lodge of Illinois at Jacksonville, April 28, 1840, that the Mormons became interested in Masonry. Abraham Jonas, of Columbus, was its new Grand Master. He originally came from Kentucky, which means, of course, that he had the necessary elements from which practical politicians are made. Jonas, however, had not endeared himself to the citizens of Quincy as the result of his previous activity in a bitter contest, which waged for several years, to change the location of the county seat of Adams County from Quincy to Columbus. When the Quincy newspapers refused to publish several articles he had written in favor of Columbus as a county seat, Mr. Jonas and other citizens purchased a printing outfit and established the Columbus Advocate, in which they set forth the advantages of their city. Evidently the newspaper battle was a royal one, and hard feelings engendered as the result of the county seat fight were destined to last long after the smoke of battle had passed and Quincy continued to be the county seat.

No doubt there was some eyebrow raising and expression of wonder on the part of some Masons in Quincy when they learned that Freemasons at Nauvoo had petitioned Grand Master Jonas for a dispensation to form a lodge. The Grand Master granted this request within ten days after his re-election to office in October, 1841, and the Craft began its work at Nauvoo on the 15th of that month. Nauvoo Lodge, U.D., was besieged by petitioners from the start. In less than six months the new lodge had initiated 286 candidates and had elected at one ballot 63 others. Then to cap the climax Grand Master Jonas visited Nauvoo the following spring, and March 15, 1842, he publicly installed the officers of the lodge in the grove near the Temple. Joseph Smith acted as Grand Chaplain on that occasion. Evidently his work of the afternoon was so satisfactory to the Grand Master that he made Joseph

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Smith a Mason at sight that evening, and the next day raised the prophet to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason. Sharing honors with Joseph was Sidney Rigdon, one of the apostles of the church. This action on the part of Grand Master Jonas, together with the wholesale manner in which Mormons were being made Masons, was protested by Bodley Lodge No. 1 of Quincy. The protest went unheeded and work continued unabated. In fact, it was not long until two other so-called Mormon lodges sprang up in Nauvoo to relieve the strain of Masonic work. They were Nye Lodge, named after Jonathan P. Nye, a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Vermont, and Helm Lodge, named for Meredith Helm, an Illinois Mason, who became Grand Master in 1842. But these were not the only Mormon lodges. Across the river from Nauvoo on the Iowa shore is Montrose. Here Rising Sun Lodge No. 12 was located. It had received its charter from the Grand Lodge of Illinois. Also at Keokuk was Eagle Lodge, U.D., whose dispensation, likewise, had come from the same source. The membership of these lodges was made up mostly of Mormons who resided nearby. It is no wonder that Illinois Masons became apprehensive of the tremendous influx of Mormons into their ranks. Accordingly, protests were sent to Grand Master Jonas concerning these five Mormon lodges. Among the reasons given are the following:

1. Persons of questionable character were admitted.

2. Candidates were balloted on in wholesale lots and then pushed through the work without regard to their proficiency.

3. Petitions received one day were balloted on the following day.

4. Lodge records and returns were not available to the Grand Lodge.

It was these irregularities and disregard of Grand Lodge instructions which ultimately brought about the suspension of these five so-called Mormon lodges, two of which were in Iowa Territory. In commenting on the work of the Mormon lodges, including Nauvoo Lodge U.D., which had initiated 286 candidates in a little over five months' time following its institution, Past Grand Master Robbins stated, "The average was about five a day, Sundays included -- a good showing for a religious revival, but rather questionable activity for a Masonic body."

At the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Illinos, held October, 1843, the charter of Rising Sun Lodge at Montrose was suspended, and the dispensations of Nauvoo, Nye, and Helm Lodges at Nauvoo and Eagle Lodge at Keokuk were revoked. Thus ended the activity of these so-called Mormon lodges. ...

With this brief resume of the birth and demise of the Mormon-Masonic lodges let us now turn our attention to the consideration of the formation of the four lodges in Iowa from which ultimately sprang the Grand Lodge of Iowa. In order to understand the family tree of these lodges it may be well to consider, briefly, the genealogy of Iowa Masonry.

The Grand Lodge of England, sometimes referred to as the Mother Grand Lodge, came into existence on Saint John the Baptist Day, in 1717. This Grand Body chartered lodges in North Carolina, in 1761. In time other lodges were chartered in the State by Provincial Grand Masters who acted under the authority of the Grand Lodge of England. At that time

[ 37 ]

Tennessee was a part of Carolina. But even when it became a separate state in 1796, North Carolina continued to exercise Masonic jurisdiction over the two states. It was not until 1803 that the name Grand Lodge of North Carolina and Tennessee was adopted. In 1812 the Tennessee lodges requested to be allowed to withdraw from the dual role which they had played for a number of years and be permitted to form their own Grand Lodge. This request was granted December 27, 1813. After the Grand Lodge of Tennessee came into existence, it chartered three lodges in Missouri. From this humble beginning the Grand Lodge of Missouri sprang into being May 4, 1821. It is from these Masonic progenitors that Iowa Masonry stems. Its first lodge was formed at Burlington, November 20, 1840. The Grand Lodge of Missouri granted the dispensation under which Burlington Lodge, U.D., worked until it received its charter as Des Moines Lodge No. 41, October 20, 1841. Soon after the Masons at Burlington, the territorial capitol of Iowa, had organized, the brethren at Bloomington, now Muscatine, were granted a dispensation, February 4, 1841. Later the lodge was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Missouri as Iowa Lodge No. 42. This took place October 20, 1841, at the annual session of the Grand Lodge. Then came the spread of Masonry up the Mississippi River to Dubuque and across the prairie land to Iowa City. Dubuque Lodge No. 62 and Iowa City Lodge No. 63 received their charters from the Grand Lodge of Missouri October 10, 1843. It is interesting to note that even before the two last named lodges had been chartered preliminary steps had been taken by all the lodges in the territory for the formation of a Grand Lodge of Iowa. The first suggestion came from the brethren at Burlington in October 1842. It was at a meeting of Des Moines Lodge No. 41 that Brother Jonathan Nye, a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Vermont, was requested to offer advice in regard to the formation of a Grand Lodge in Iowa. Finding this advice favorable, a committee was appointed and instructed to communicate with the other lodges in the territory. When Iowa Lodge No. 42 received the communication from her sister lodge at Burlington, it passed a resolution asking the baby lodge of the territory -- Iowa City Lodge, U.D. -- to name a time and place for holding a convention to take steps to organize a Grand Lodge of Iowa. This act by Iowa Lodge was done November 21, 1842.

Previously the so-called Mormon lodges at Montrose and Keokuk -- Rising Sun and Eagle Lodges -- and especially Far West Lodge at Galena, Illinois, had been urging the formation of an Iowa Grand Lodge. Evidently the first two of these lodges saw the dark clouds of impending danger and were anxious to find a safe port before the storm against Mormonism broke. With knowledge of such facts in the background, Iowa City Lodge, U.D., hastened to comply with the request made by her sister lodges and set the time and place for holding the convention at Iowa City May 10, 1843. The call for the meeting went out to the three Iowa lodges. Rising Sun, Eagle, and Far West Lodges apparently were not invited, the first two for reasons unknown -- unless it was they were sponsored by other than the Grand Lodge of Missouri -- and the third one because it was located outside of Iowa Territory. When the convention was held

[ 38 ]

on the above date, it was decided that each lodge should send three delegates as representatives to the Grand Lodge of Missouri at its annual communication the following October and that these representatives should then fix the time and place for holding a convention to complete the proposed organization.

January 2, 1844, was a momentous day in Iowa Masonry. It was the date set by the Iowa Masons for holding the convention. It was then that seven delegates and five proxies from the four Iowa lodges met in Iowa City. They had a new and a strange task to perform. Iowa Masons had never tackled the problem of forming a Grand Lodge for themselves. Did they have a precedent to go by? Turning back the pages of Masonic history, they found the four Time Immemorial Lodges, meeting in the Goose and Gridiron Ale House in London, had done that very thing in 1717 when they formed the Grand Lodge of England. This certainly was sufficient precedent for their action. The delegates set about their work in a methodical way. They chose as their chairman the outstanding Mason among them, Ansel Humphreys, a member of Iowa Lodge No. 42. He was an old-time Mason, having received his degrees in Connecticut, his native state, in 1818-1819. Soon after his arrival in Iowa in 1840, the Grand Lodge of Missouri had recognized his ability and appointed him District Deputy Grand Master. This office made him guardian of the lodges in Iowa Territory under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Missouri. During the early hours of the convention a voice of dissent was heard. Notwithstanding the fact that no invitation had been sent to the so-called Mormon lodges at Montrose and Keokuk -- unless they had been notified by the lodge at Burlington -- representatives from Rising Sun Lodge at Montrose were present and demanded that they be recognized.

But Humphreys, speaking from his knowledge of Masonic privileges and procedure, insisted that any representative from the Mormon lodges in Iowa -- Rising Sun or Eagle -- was without a Masonic home by virtue of the withdrawal of charter and dispensation of these lodges by the Grand Lodge of Illinois. He pointed out that such a happening had occurred during the preceding October. With these facts before it, the convention upheld its chairman in his ruling, in spite of protest made by the delegates of Des Moines Lodge. This decision provoked a breach among the delegates which ultimately prevented election of Ansel Humphreys as the first Grand Master of Masons in Iowa.

(To be continued)

GRAND  LODGE  OF  IOWA,  A. F.  &  A. M.
  Vol. XLVIII                         Cedar  Rapids,  Iowa,  March,  1947                         No.  3  

[ 67 ]

Morgan, Mormons, and Masonry

Tom Bentley Throckmorton, P.G.M.
(Continued from February Bulletin)

Upon disposal of this bothersome problem, the convention organized itself and proceeded to formulate and adopt a constitution and by-laws. When this enormous task was finished, its next order of business was the election of Grand Lodge Officers. Prior to the convention it was the universal talk that Ansel Humphreys was the logical man for Grand Master. For a quarter of a century he had been a Mason. It was while he served his mother lodge, Village Lodge No. 29, at Canton, Connecticut, as Master that he had received baptismal fire during those troublesome anti-Masonic days which emanated from the Morgan episode. When some of its members renounced their allegiance to Masonry, Humphreys summoned the members of the lodge in emergent communication and insisted that the renegade brothers be expelled. Accordingly, they were put to death, Masonically speaking. Also, for several years, he had filled the office of District Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Missouri with credit to himself and honor to the Fraternity. By every right -- birth, breeding, education, and experience -- he possessed those qualities -which bespoke success should he become Iowa's first Grand Master. On the first ballot Humphreys received six votes, his support coming from Iowa and Dubuque Lodges. An equal number from Des Moines and Iowa City Lodges were cast for a dark horse who was not even present at the convention. Had not some of the delegates of Iowa City Lodge disregarded their instruction to vote for Humphreys, he would have been elected Grand Master. Evidently the delegates from Des Moines Lodge, peeved because the Mormon lodge at Montrose was not recognized, decided to vent their spleen on the chairman of the convention. They influenced the delegates of Iowa City Lodge to join with them in defeating him for the office of Grand Master. Apparently a little horse trading was behind the deal, for it has been intimated that Iowa City Lodge, as a reward for changing her vote, was to be honored with the Grand Secretaryship. In the end this failed to materialize, for Theodore Sutton Parvin of Iowa Lodge No. 42 was elected Grand Secretary.

It was at the crucial point of the tie ballot that Ansel Humphreys showed his real Masonic mettle. He realized more than anyone the futility of continuing to ballot. It might have been that some of the recalcitrant brethren would have thrown their support to him on second thought. But Ansel Humphreys was not a man to take a chance when the outcome

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might spell disaster to a cause which was dear to his heart. He realized all too well that to prolong the balloting might put in jeopardy the very thing for which the convention was held. It might cause the Grand Lodge to be wrecked on the rocks of factionalism even before its good ship had been christened and launched. Great would be the honor that would be his if he were to become Iowa's first Grand Master. But empty would be that honor if he did not have with it the united and wholehearted support of the Craft. Worse still would be the disgrace, if he were the means -- even if only indirectly so -- of bringing dissention among the delegates and causing them to return home with their task unfinished. I have no doubt it was thoughts such as these that coursed through his mind in kaleidoscopic succession as he reflected on the result of the ballot. Evidently he came to a quick and final decision. In a firm and manly voice Ansel Humphreys declared to his supporters that a stubborn continuance of their vote might destroy the harmony which was so essential to the success of the Grand Lodge, and that, in the interest of peace and unanimity and brotherly accord, he desired his name to be withdrawn as a candidate for the office of Grand Master and asked that his opponent -- the dark horse -- be elected. In this expressed wish the convention acquiesced, and a new and almost unknown man in Iowa Masonry was elected Grand Master.

Thus we see how Mormonism directly affected Iowa Masonry. For, had not the question arisen whether the Mormon lodge at Montrose should be recognized, the atmosphere of the convention would have remained tranquil, and Ansel Humphreys would have been elected the first Grand Master of Masons in Iowa. On this point Masonic writers are unanimous.

Just who was the dark horse candidate and from whence came he? He was Oliver Cock, Worshipful Master of Des Moines Lodge at Burlington. Cock was a young man and a very young Mason. He was born November 22, 1808, in New York City, emigrated to Ohio in 1812, and came to Burlington in 1839. He petitioned the local lodge in June, 1841, when he was 33 years of age. He became its Master in 1844. It is interesting to note that he was a Mason only a little more than three years when he assumed the office of Grand Master, and that he was the only Grand Officer installed who was made a Mason in Iowa Territory.

In retrospect, the selection of Oliver Cock perhaps was the wisest and best choice for the infant Grand Lodge. Quiet, dignified, conciliatory by nature and habit, he proved himself to be the logical man to nurture and lead the new Institution during the early critical days of its existence. Certain it is the new Grand Lodge prospered and grew in strength under his guiding hand.

Following the election of officers on January 3, the convention recessed until the 8th, when the delegates again met for the purpose of installing the newly elected and appointive officers. Ansel Humphreys, as District Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Missouri, then constituted the Grand Lodge of Iowa and installed the Grand Officers. He became Iowa's first Deputy Grand Master. The four Iowa lodges then surrendered their charters from the Grand Lodge of Missouri and took new charters from the Grand Lodge of Iowa in order of their seniority. From the small beginning of these lodges, with a combined membership

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of 101, the Grand Lodge of Iowa has chartered a total of 655 subordinate lodges, of which 543 are active, and has seen its membership reach the all-time peak of 86,541, in 1926. As of January 1, 1945, its membership is 73,072. This, certainly, is not a bad record for the century just past, for it is said, "The first hundred years are the hardest."

No man truthfully can say he has honored Masonry. On the other hand Masonry has honored countless numbers of its votaries. If he follows the teachings and precepts of Freemasonry, no Mason will stray far from the straight and narrow path which leads to life eternal. This, I believe, was Ansel Humphreys' creed. He put it into practice. By so doing, was he honored and rewarded by the Institution he loved so well? The answer is in the affirmative. When he definitely pushed aside the possible chance of becoming Iowa's first Grand Master, did he become sour and bitter toward Masonry because it refused to reward him? He did not. When the Grand Lodge passed him by in its choice of second Grand Master, did he become resentful? He did not. During all these years he continued to work faithfully and diligently in the delectable field of Masonry. When harvest time came, Ansel Humphreys reaped his full reward. He served the Grand Lodge as Grand Master during the years 1847-1848-1849 and 1853. He also served as Grand Secretary in 1851-1852. This is an enviable record, for only three other Grand Masters in this Grand Jurisdiction have served three administrations, and only two other Grand Masters. Theodore Sutton Parvin and Charles Clyde Hunt, have served as Grand Secretary. Did Masonry recognize and reward this splendid servant of the Craft for having put his allegiance to it before self? Ansel Humphreys' record, unequalled in the annals of Iowa Masonry, answers the question far better than words.

A New Approach

In this narrative I have pointed out four things which I think should be of particular interest to Masons, especially those in Iowa: (1) the influence which the anti-Masonic period had on the rise of Mormonism in this country, (2) the establishment and subsequent demise of the first Masonic lodges among the Mormons, (3) the role which the so-called Mormon lodge at Montrose played in the convention at Iowa City when the Grand Lodge of Iowa was formed, and (4) the significant lesson of unselfishness which Ansel Humphreys exemplified when he placed the welfare of Freemasonry above personal ambition. Truly it can be said that Humphreys emulated the example of the Grand Architect whose cunning workmanship beautified and adorned the Temple of King Solomon at Jerusalem.

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