Simonds Masonic Lodge

Freemasonry at Work in Burlington

     The Daily Times and Chronicle, Tuesday, April 5, 1983

       Burlington Past and Present, by John E. Fogelberg
      (Article # 196)

 A little Masonic history

     Masons  in  this  area this year will be  celebrating  the 
250th  anniversary  of the Grand Lodge  of  Massachusetts,  the 
third  oldest Grand Lodge in the world,  preceded only  by  the 
Grand  Lodge  of England,  known as the Mother Lodge,  and  the 
Grand Lodge of Ireland.
     The English Lodge was constituted in 1717 and met for  the 
first  time in the Goose and Gridiron Alehouse in  London.  The 
Irish  Lodge was constituted in 1725 and the Boston  Lodge,  or 
First Lodge, now St. John's Lodge, in 1733.
     Previous  to those years there had been individual Masonic 
lodges  here  and there,  but the English Grand Lodge  was  the 
first  which succeeded in tying a whole group of them  together 
under one jurisdiction and one declaration of principles.
     It was at the famous Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston that 
one  Henry Price,  under authority granted him by a  commission 
from the Grand Lodge of England,  formed the first Grand  Lodge 
here in America. That was on July 30, 1733.
     Alice  Morse  Earle in her "Stage Coach and  Tavern  Days" 
mentions that first lodge:
    "Massachusetts  Grand Lodge organized at the Green  Dragon, 
and the first lodge of all.  St.  John's Lodge,  met in 1731 at 
the  Bunch of Grapes in King,  now State,  Street.  One of  the 
three  bunches  of grapes that formed the original tavern  sign 
still  hangs  in front of the lodge room of  St.  John's  Lodge 
Masonic Temple in Boston.  This tavern had an early and lasting 
reputation as the best punch-house in Boston.  In Revolutionary 
days  it  became the headquarters of High Whigs and  a  scarlet 
coat was an inflammatory signal in that taproom.
     Alphonse Cerza, a noted Masonic scholar, wrote about Henry 
    'It is not known when or where Price became a Mason, but in 
1730,  while in London,  England,  he was listed as a member of 
Lodge No.  75,  which met at the Rainbow Coffee House. On April 
13,  1733 (sometimes stated as April 30),  when he was again in 
London attending Grand Lodge, he received a deputation by order 
of  Viscount Montague,  signed by Thomas Batson,  Deputy  Grand 
Master and the Senior and Junior Grand Wardens,  appointing him 
Provincial  Grand Master of New England and Dominions and  Ter-
ritories therunto be longing; he paid the required fee of three 
guineas.  The  deputation  authorized him to  form  lodges,  to 
superintend them, and to perform other incidental duties."
     Henry Price served as Grand Master until 1737,  again from 
1740-43, 1754-55, and 1767-68.
     The  Massachusetts Grand Lodge referred to by  Mrs.  Earle 
was a lodge, originally St. Andrews' Lodge and chartered by the 
Grand  Lodge of Scotland in 1756 and it met at the Green Dragon 
Tavern.  Paul  Revere became a member of that lodge and  Joseph 
Warren,  who  was to lose his life at Bunker  Hill,  was  named 
Grand  Master of Masons in Boston by the Grand Master of  Scot-
     This  set  up  something of a rivalry  between  two  Grand 
Lodges  which was amicably settled in 1792 when the two  joined 
to  make  the  present Grand Lodge of Masons  in  Massachusetts 
which  began with 22 constituted lodges,  11  from  St.  John's 
Grand Lodge and 11 from the Massachusetts Grand Lodge.
     Some of the early individual lodges formed were: 1733, St. 
John's (Boston);  1760,  Philanthropic (Marblehead);  1766, St. 
John's (Newburyport);  1770,  Tyrian (Gloucester);  1770, Mass-
achusetts  (Boston);   1771,  Union  (Nantucket);  1779,  Essex 
(Salem); and Corinthian (Concord), date unknown.
     Some  famous early Masons beside Henry Price were Benjamin 
Franklin,  Paul  Revere,  John  Hancock,  John  Brooks,  Joseph 
Warren,  Isaiah Thomas, Moses Cleveland, Benjamin Crowinshield, 
Gen.  Henry Knox and Gen. George Washington. A tombstone in the 
old Burying Ground shows that Burlington's,  Gen.  John  Walker 
was a Mason but to what lodge he belonged is not known.
     Closer  to  home and much later  in  time,  charters  were 
granted in:  1865,  Mt. Horeb (Woburn); 1871, Simon W. Robinson 
(Lexington);  1889, Thomas Talbot (Billerica); 1902, Friendship 
(Wilmington);  and 1955, Simonds (Burlington). Washington Lodge 
(Roxbury)  whose charter was granted in 1796 is now located  in 
     Before  Burlington had a lodge it was only natural that  a 
number  of Burlington men should join the Woburn lodge.  Samuel 
B.  Sewall entered in 1857,  Ward B. Frothingham joined in 1858 
and Nathan Simonds became its Worshipful Master in  1872-73.  A 
much later arrival, Herbert Crawford, fire chief of Burlington, 
became Master in 1957-58.
     The original petitioners for Mt.  Horeb Lodge in 1855 were 
David Tillson,  J.  Franklin Bates,  William T. Grammer, George 
Butler,  William Pratt,  William D.  Stratton, Samuel S. Miles, 
Jesse  Converse  Jr.,  Page Eaton,  John Nelson and  Albert  H. 
Nelson.  David Tilson became the first Master in 1855-56,  fol-
lowed by William Stratton,  1857-59,  and Charles W. Stevens in 
     Just  100  years after those petitioners asked to  have  a 
lodge  formed in Woburn,  so a group of Burlington men asked to 
have a lodge formed here.  Thus on March 2, 1955, acting on the 
petition  of 63 Masons,  all of whom became Charter Members  of 
the  new lodge,  the Most Worshipful Grand Master Whitfield  W. 
Johnson,  Grand Master 1954-56,  granted precedence to  Simonds 
Lodge and directed Dist.  Deputy Grand Master Geoffrey Pippette 
to institute said lodge which was done March 8 in the Church of 
Christ, Burlington.
     The  charter was granted Dec.  14,  1955 and the lodge was 
duly constituted Dec.  20, 1955 in ceremonies held in the audi-
torium of the Memorial School on Winn Street. George L. Michaud 
became the first Master of Simonds Lodge;  1955-56, followed by 
Fred Simms,  1957-58,  and William L.  Nelson,  1959-60, all of 
whom are now deceased.
     The Grand Lodge of Scotland,  which approved the formation 
of  Warren's  Massachusetts Lodge in  1756,  "ranks  fourth  in 
Masonic  precedence  throughout  the world," said  Joseph  Earl 
Perry in an address in 1936 (he was later to be Grand Master of 
Masons  in Massachusetts in 1938-39 and '40), "but,  more  than 
that,  it contains the individual Lodge,  Edinburgh No.  1,  at 
Edinburgh, whose records date back to 1599, antedating those of 
any other lodge in the world."
     Perry  mentions a number of interesting items relating  to 
masonry  in a little published book titled "The Masonic Way  of 
     There are more or less authentic records of general assem-
blages of operative masons,  or traveling builders, as far back 
as York, England in 926 and in Strassburg in 1275 and 1375," he 
    "As  early as 1350 a statute fixed the wages of the  Master 
Freemason  at a rate higher than those of ordinary masons,  and 
there  is some evidence that the term 'Freemason' was  used  to 
distinguish workers in free-stone from those who did rough work 
with unhewn stones known as 'rough masons' or,  in Scotland, as 
     As  the  "era  of cathedrals and abbeys  and  great  stone 
fortifications was drawing to a close, the conditions which had 
given operative Masonry such an impetus was ending.  Confronted 
with this fundamental change, the societies of operative Masons 
gradually  admitted leading men of the community as speculative 
or 'accepted' Masons,  and a new emphasis was placed on Masonry 
as a code of ethics or plan of living."
     So  that  by  the time Henry Price started  his  lodge  in 
Boston  Masonic  lodges already were  operating  elsewhere.  In 
fact, some encyclopedias give credit for the first lodge in the 
new world to a Daniel Cox of New Jersey who received a  deputa-
tion in 1730 as Grand Master of New York,  New Jersey and Penn-
sylvania.  However, Cox never followed through and nothing came 
of that authority at that time.
     Thus Henry Price,  a tailor by trade, whose business block 
stood  on  the  corner of what is now  Bedford  and  Washington 
streets,  who owned other property on what is now State Street, 
who  owned a farm in Townsend,  and had a summer place in Meno-
tomy in Cambridge,  now Arlington,  who married twice and  left 
two daughters to inherit his considerable fortune, who actually 
gave himself a death wound while chopping wood and died at  the 
age  of  83,  is  now known as "The Father  of  Freemasonry  in 
     To be applied with particular emphasis to today's world is 
this  statement by the Most Reverend William L.  Wright,  a 33-
degree Mason and retired Metropolitan of Ontario, Canada:
    "Freemasonry  is a declaration that mankind is  indivisible 
and that we must learn to live together if we are going to live 
at all."

(First photo,  4.3 inches wide by 4.7 inches high: "HENRY PRICE 
the  'Father of Freemasonry in America.' This photo is  from  a 
copy of 'The Northern Light.' a magazine sent to Masons.")

(Second photo,  6.6 inches wide by 5.5 inches high:  "THE FIRST 
OFFICERS of Burlington's Simonds Lodge were (seated, from left) 
Bro.  Clarence I. MacDorman, Bro. the Rev. Sidney D. King, Wor. 
Fred Simm,  Wor.  George L. Michaud (master), Bro. Frederick M. 
Henderson,  Bro.  William  A.  Barnes,  Bro.  Wilbur  McIntire, 
(standing,  from left) Bro. A. Gordon Turnbull, Bro. Herbert W. 
Crawford,  Bro.  Benjamin R. Bird, Bro. Gordon C. Thomson, Bro. 
William L.  Nelson,  Bro.  Norman C.  Blaisdell,  Bro.  Douglas 
Forbes, Bro. Harold Marvin, and Bro. Richard G. Berry.")

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