Erik Johnson, WPM
October 13, 1797
Franklin Lodge No. 4 was chartered on October 13, 1797 under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Vermont at the third annual Communication of the Grand Lodge held at Windsor October 13 and 14, A:.D:. 1797, A:.L:. 5797.
For 217 years Franklin Lodge No. 4 has been a driving force in the lives of men and, subsequently, the community in which they live. This was the first chartered Lodge north of Burlington and continues to remain the eldest of the Lodges in District No. 7.
Franklin Lodge No. 4 is dedicated to observing the timeless customs and usages that have been present throughout the history of Ancient Craft Masonry in Vermont and continues to project the fundamental virtues embodied by it’s membership and the Craft at large.
Freemasonry in St. Albans
Freemasonry in Vermont antedates the admission of the state into the Union, and it’s centennial as an organization in St. Albans was celebrated only six years after that of our Commonwealth. The first charter for a Lodge in this state bore the autograph of Paul Revere and the first warrant for a charter that of DeWitt Clinton. The records of Franklin Lodge for the first three quarters of a century have been lost in fires which have thrice destroyed its halls, including the original charter and the first duplicate warrant issued in its stead, thus we have been left to look to other sources for information concerning its history during its formative years.
At the third Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge held at Windsor, October 13 and 14, A.D. 1797, A.L. 5797, the records show that “A petition signed by Ebeneezer Marvin, Seth Pomeroy and others, praying that a charter for a Lodge to be held at St. Albans, by the name of Franklin Lodge, was read, the prayer thereof granted, and it was ordered that the charter issue accordingly.”
This was the first chartered Lodge north of Burlington, and the fifth after the formation of our Grand Lodge. Its charter members were Ebeneezer Marvin, Worshipful Master; Seth Pomeroy, Senior Warden; Solomon Morgan, Junior Warden; Silas Waterman, John White, Asa Holgate, Enos Wood, Isaac Smith, Prince B. Hall, Aaron Hastings and William Nason.
Dr. Ebeneezer Marvin, the Father of Masonry in Franklin County, was born in Connecticut in April 1741. He studied medicine and located at Stillwater, N.Y. where he became widely patronized. When the Revolutionary War broke out he soon became involved in it, first as a Captain of a volunteer Company that went to the assistance of Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold at Ticonderoga and afterwards as surgeon in the Continental Army after the capture of Burgoyne. He removed to Lansingburg, N.Y. and from thence to Tinmouth, V.T. in 1781 where he at once took the front rank in his profession. In 1784 he virtually relinquished the medical field and removed to Franklin where he became a large owner of real estate. He represented Tinmouth in the General Assembly for five years, was a member of the Council of Censors from Franklin County from 1791 to 1802. He was judge of Rutland County Court six years and the first judge of the Franklin County Court; although a Layman, the late first Chief Justice Stephen Royce paid him the high compliment of being “a great commonsense lawyer.”
He was made a Mason in 1777 in Master’s Lodge, Albany, N.Y. He was present as a visitor at the organization of North Star Lodge in 1785, and the Worshipful Master resigning, was appointed to the chair; as Honorable Noah Smith, the first Grand Master, received the second and third degrees in this Lodge, no doubt they were conferred upon him by Brother Marvin. He died in November of 1820 after an eventful and well spent life.
Captain Seth Pomeroy was prominent citizen and successful merchant of St. Albans. He was the first Postmaster of the town when the mail was brought from Burlington weekly on horseback. He was the Town Clerk from 1799 to 1807. He represented St. Albans in the General Assembly in 1800, 1801, 1803 and 1805. He was County Clerk from 1798 to 1805 and was one of the trustees named in the charter of the First Volunteer Cavalry. He was made a Mason in Dorchester Lodge No. 3, Vergennes, V.T., October 1795 and became a charter member of Franklin Lodge. He was its second Worshipful Master from1797 to 1806. We have been unable to find the date of his birth or death.
Solomon Morgan was a resident of North Hero and held the office of State’s Attorney for Grand Isle County in 1807 and 1808, and served at the Battle of Plattsburgh. He was made a Mason in Dorchester Lodge No. 3, July 8, 1795 and severed his membership to become a charter member of Franklin Lodge.
Silas Waterman was a prominent citizen and served as a Private in the 30th U.S. Infantry under Col. Elias Fassett. We have been unable to find when or where he was made a Mason.
John White resided in Georgia. He was County Judge for Chittenden and Franklin Counties, serving with Judge Marvin. He was a member of the Council of Censors for Franklin County in 1794, 1798, 1801 and 1808 and was Presidential Elector in 1808. He was made a Mason in North Star Lodge No. 2, June 23, 1785 and became a charter member of Franklin Lodge. He died in 1816.
Asa Holgate resided at Highgate and from 1793 to 1799 we find that he kept a Hotel at Swanton Falls. He became a charter member of Franklin Lodge and died in 1799.
Enos Wood in 1783 with others came from Tinmouth, V.T. on snowshoes to St. Albans Bay. They visited North and South Islands and drew “cuts” for the first choice in locating their claims, Wood having first choice selected the South end of North Hero. His wife joined him soon after and was the first white woman upon the island. He held the rank of Major at the Battle of Bennington, was Constable, Selectman, and represented the town of North Hero. He was made a Mason in Dorchester Lodge No. 3, June 23, 1797 and was one of the petitioners for a charter for Franklin Lodge.
Isaac Smith served in the Revolutionary War and was Judge of the Franklin County Court in 1799. He became a charter member of Franklin Lodge and died May 27, 1826 at the ripe old age of ninety.
Prince B. Hall was one of the leading men of Franklin County and held the office of Sheriff from 1786 to 1804. He was made a Mason in Dorchester Lodge No. 3, June 23, 1797 and became a charter member of Franklin Lodge.
Doctor Aaron Hastings settled in North Fairfax, was a physician by profession but is recorded as having “frequently served as a lawyer” and reputed to have been a “shrewd and intelligent man.”
William Nason came to St. Albans in 1796 from Epson, N.H., and opened a tavern near the residence of S. S. Allen which he kept until his death, December 10, 1810 at the age of fifty-eight years. He was prominent in the application for a charter for Franklin Lodge and its first meetings were held at his Hostelery.
With a membership, as we have seen, of some of the stronger and more influential men who had assisted in the formation of Franklin County two years before and were prominent in the State, it entered upon its career under favorable circumstances. Our first meetings were held, as already stated, in the hotel of William Nason on the site of S. S. Allen’s dwelling house just south of the cemetery on South Main Street and subsequently in what was known as the Barlow (now American) House until the fire in 1821. The Lodge currently resides at the Doctor Johnson House where it has been since the early 1950s.
Taking into consideration that Franklin County was new, that it was partially settled, and the means of travel and communication not only limited but expensive, Franklin Lodge had a prosperous growth and its share of influence in the St. Albans community and the lives of the men and families it connected with.