Hiram 40 History

p1050063The Grand Lodge of North Carolina chartered Hiram Lodge No. 40 in December of 1799. Hiram 40 has not missed a Stated Meeting since the Civil War.

The World in 1799:
During the year in which Hiram No. 40 received it’s Charter:
• George Washington, first president of the United States, passed away.
• Having captured Egypt, Napoleon advanced into Syria.
• Beethoven finished his Symphony No. 1 in C major
• 60,000 people lived in New York
• 550,000 people lived in Paris

During Hiram’s first year as a Lodge in 1800:
• Thomas Jefferson was elected the third President of the United States
• United States Federal offices were moved from Philadelphia to Washington DC.
• In that year, Washington had 2,464 free and 623 indentured inhabitants.

Ref: The Timetables of History by Bernard Grun

Raleigh in 1799:
• 669 people resided in Raleigh.
• 12,768 peopled lived in Wake County
• The City of Raleigh had been founded seven years. It was not until three years later, however, that the new capital city received it’s self governing charter from the North Carolina General Assembly
• The newly built North Carolina State House was in its fifth year. The State House was destroyed by fire in 1831.
• Henry Potter, Hiram’s first Master, was a practicing attorney.
• The Grand Lodge had been meeting in Raleigh for 3 years.

Ref: “Wake, Capital County of North Carolina by Elizabeth Reid Murray

Historical Notes:

Hiram Lodge No. 40 is mentioned 3 times in Elizabeth Reid Murray’s historical book entitled, “Wake, Capital County of North Carolina”:

1. “The minutes of Hiram Lodge No. 40 recorded various acts of charity, not only to brother members and their families in need but also to strangers in distress. Two examples are the case of a Mason’s widow, Mrs. Edith McGuffy, who was the object of the lodge’s largesse from 1828 through at least 1843, and that of a ‘distressed traveling brother,’ Clemmons C. Conly, for whose relief the members took a collection in October of 1842. A history of the lodge indicates that benevolent and charitable acts were frequent on part of members, who were enthusiastic supporters of the school movement in the 1840s and who were among the first contributors to the fund for establishing St. John’s College in 1858 in Oxford (Granville County), a forerunner of Oxford Orphanage at the same site in 1873. Wake County had no orphanage in the antebellum period. “ pg. 433

2. “News of President Lincoln’s April 14 assassination reached Raleigh on the 17th. General Sherman was ready to depart by train for Durham’s Station in Orange County to discuss surrender terms with General Johnston when the message in code was telegraphed to him at the North Carolina Railroad depot by way of Morehead City. He issued special orders to General Cox to strengthen the garrison around Raleigh and to post extra men to guard all roads leading from camps into the city.

The official announcement that Sherman dispatched to his commanding officers on the afternoon of April 17 began thus:

The general commanding announces, with pain and sorrow, that on the evening of the 11th instant, at the theater in Washington City, His Excellency the President of the United States, Mr. Lincoln, was assassinated. We have met every phase which this war has assumed, and must now be prepared for it in its last and worse shape, that of assassins and guerrillas; but woe unto people who seek to expend their wild passions in such a manner, for there is but one dread result.

Reaction among the Union troops varied. Maj. Henry Hitchock of Sherman’s staff noted that some ‘stood around in the camps, in little squads, silent or talking in subdued but bitter tones, and many of them weeping like children,. He heard officers who ‘always denounced and trove against violence…swear in bitter terms that if our army moved again they would never spare nor protect another house or family’. Some soldiers swore ‘eternal vengeance against the whole southern race’. Others vowed they would burn Raleigh ‘to the ground’.

Captain Bradley wrote to his friend, ‘They had to double their guard around the city, or it would have been laid in ashes; in fact, several attempts were actually made to fire the buildings. A young Indiana officer, Theodore Upson, recorded in his dairy, ‘We have just received the terrible news that our loved President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated last night. The men are fearfully angry and I don’t know what they may do. It is said some of the troops intend to burn and sack Raleigh.

‘Many frightened house holds sat up all night in readiness for violence, John Nichols recalled ‘that terrible night’ with a shudder as he thought of ‘the impending danger of riot, murder and burning of the city’. Nichols, master of Hiram Masonic Lodge, had just opened a late afternoon meeting at the Masonic Hall where several Union officers, who were also Masons, were guests. ‘Suddenly we heard the hasty footsteps of someone ascending the stairs to the hall, and the low clanking of the sword of an officer’, he wrote later in his history of the lodge.

Capt. W.C. Whitten of the Ninth Maine Regiment had come to apprise the group of what had happened, to order the officers to rejoin their commands, and to advise the local men to hurry to their homes to protect their families.

Most of the officers were able to keep their men in camp as ordered. But a band of stragglers set out that night from camps southwest of Raleigh toward town, torches in hand. They turned back only when General Logan, who had hastened in from Morrisville, threatened to shoot any man who did not return immediately to his camp. The Upson diary recounts the dangerous moments in these words:

“Last night a mob of some 2000 or more started for the City saying they would destroy it. General Logan got in their front and ordered them back to their camps. They still went on. Then he told them that if they did not do so he would order the Artillery (which they could see) to fire into them with grape canister. They gave it up and went back to camp. General Logan saved the City and it owes him a debt it never can pay.”

As a footnote to this event, Hiram Lodge No. 40’s Master, John Nichols, did not wait to close the Lodge on that frightful evening. That Lodge meeting was officially closed on the 50th anniversary of that event at a special ceremony.

3. “The William G. Hill Masonic Lodge No. 218 was organized during the last year of the war, taking the name of that Raleigh physician, a past grand master of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina as a member of Raleigh’s Hiram Lodge No. 40. During the occupation period, Union soldiers who were Masons were visitors at meetings of both Hiram and Hill lodges. Local Masons had published, also during the war, a Masonic journal,The Key Stone; and in 1876 a group incorporated the Key-Stone Publishing Company, which issued for a brief time a Masonic publication called Square and Compass. Finances apparently thwarted these efforts as well as those of local and statewide Masons to build a new Masonic Temple to replace the 1813 Masonic Hall at the corner of Morgan and Dawson streets, by then considered unsafe. They secured a charter for a North Carolina Masonic Temple Association in 1870, sold shares, bought the former Gales property at the northwest corner of the Fayetteville and Davie street intersection, and employed architect G. H. S. Appleget to draw plans.

The amount of stock sold was insufficient, however; the temple was not constructed, and the lot was sold several years later. The Masons demolished their old hall, eventually selling that Morgan Street lot, and met in rented rooms on Fayetteville Street until after the turn of the century.”

Charles Rouse, PM, writes about this period in Hiram’s 2003 Membership Directory:

“Hiram 40 met in a number of different locations and residences across the city in its earliest days, most notably Casso’s Tavern located on Fayetteville Street, the ‘Indian Room of Queens Tavern’ and a room at Raleigh Academy. Hiram 40 and the Grand Lodge got together and built its first Masonic home in 1811 at the corner of Dawson and Morgan Streets. This was our home until 1870, when the old building was sold for $1000. We rented facilities for a time after that until 1907 when we again built a facility on the corner of Hargett and Fayetteville Streets. We stayed there until 1954 when Hiram joined with Scottish and York Rite to acquire the former Daniels Mansion on the corner of Wade and Glenwood Avenues, where we meet today. Even as we publish this directory there is talk about the future of our Lodge and its facility needs.”

Hiram No. 40’s Masonic Roots:

Charles Rouse, Hiram’s Secretary, writes in the directory’s brief history of Hiram:

“Hiram Masonic Lodge #40 traces its roots to 1792 when the Grand Lodge of North Carolina granted a charter to Democratic Lodge No.21 in Raleigh, at the same time it decided that the Grand Lodge itself be located in the new capital city. May of the members at the time consisted of a few old Revolutionary War soldiers and foreigners that had come to Raleigh to work on the new capital and help build the city. There was much dissension in this Lodge, and although the records are not clear, the Charter for Democratic #21 was surrendered sometime prior to 1799. On March 10, 1799 the Grand Lodge granted a dispensation to some of the former members of Democratic #21 to establish a new Lodge in Raleigh by the name of Hiram.”

Mr. Rouse comments in a final statement regarding Hiram’s history:

“There are a number of other stories and legends through our two centuries as a Lodge in the City of Raleigh. Hiram has endured wars, Union occupation, epidemics, shortages, depressions, and other calamities. Yet, throughout its history, Hiram Masonic Lodge No. 40 has never failed in its primary purpose – to provide fraternal assistance to those in need, to watch over its widows and orphans, and to be a good citizen of the City of Raleigh. Its long heritage is a testament to its membership, and their commitment to family, their reverence to the creator, their devotion to our country, and their dedication to the principles of Freemasonry.”