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1819 – Chester Griswold

M. W. Brother Chester Griswold was born at Litchfield, Connecticut on September 8, 1782, the son of Elizur and Triphena Birge Griswold. His father, who was engaged in the trading business in the West Indies and South America, died when Chester was five years old. In his late teens Chester Griswold moved to Hartwick, Otsego County, New York, where he married his first cousin, Rhoda Griswold. Later, at age 24, he moved to Cooperstown, opening a tannery. He soon gained the confidence of the citizens of Cooperstown and served for a number of years as sheriff of the county and several other responsible official positions. Due to his personal friendship with the governor of New York he received the commission of Captain upon the declaration of the War of 1812, serving several months of active duty. He was twice wounded but neither was serious. In 1814, however, his failing health caused him to retire from the military service at which time attractive business prospects caused him, at the urging of James Kilbourne, to take up his residency in Worthington, Ohio.

Unfortunately, the financial crisis that followed the War of 1812 resulted in the failure of The Worthington Manufacturing Co. business in which he and Kilbourne were engaged. Almost three years were consumed in Brother Griswold’s efforts to pay off creditors of the business, results of which greatly reduced his modest wealth and depressed his spirits, whereupon he returned to New York, making his residence at Utica, where he remained until 1849, when failing health caused him to move to Baltimore to reside with his surviving children.

Brother Griswold was initiated in Otsego Lodge No. 138, Cooperstown, N. Y., on September 2, 1806 and served that Lodge as Worshipful Master in 1812. He joined Otsego Mark Lodge No.5 on June 2, 1807 and Otsego Chapter No, 26 RAM on July 10, 1810.

His Masonic residence in Ohio dates from July 27, 1814 when he appears as a visitor at New England Lodge No. 4 in Worthington. He affiliated with New England Lodge No. 4 on October 26, 1814 and was elected Worshipful Master on December 7, 1814, serving as Master also in 1816 and 1817. On January 2, 1815 Bro. Griswold represented New England Lodge in the Annual communication of the Grand Lodge, and he was assigned to four of the standing committees, and later in the session was elected Grand Junior Warden.

At the Annual Communication held at Chillicothe in June of 1816 Brother Griswold again was present, appointed on sundry committees, and was elected Grand Senior Warden. At the Annual Communication 6 Jan. 1817, although not in attendance, Brother Griswold was re-elected Grand Senior Warden and at the next Annual Communication August 4,1817, he filled the station of Grand Master pro-tem and held proxies for three Lodges; he was re-elected Grand Senior Warden.

At the Annual Communication on December 14, 1818 in the absence of Grand Master Brush and Deputy Grand Master Beecher, both being members of Congress, Brother Griswold again served as Grand Master pro-tem and was elected at that session to the office of Grand Master.

In 1821, in contemplation of moving from the state of Ohio, he changed his residence to Delaware county and dimitted from New England Lodge. In granting his request for a dimit, the Lodge appointed a committee “to communicate to Brother Griswold its thanks for his many services to them.” And thus, appropriately, terminated the relationship of M. W. Brother Griswold and Freemasonry in Ohio. M. W. Brother Griswold was instrumental in the founding of the Grand Chapter R. A. M. of Ohio and later served as Grand High Priest. He was the first candidate to receive the degrees of knighthood in Worthington (now Columbus) Commandery.

M. W. Brother Griswold died in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 27, 1867 at the age of 85, and it is believed that his body rests in the family burial plot in Forest Hill cemetery, Plot 45, City of Utica Section, Utica, New York.