The Grand Lodge of Ohio was founded on January 7th, 1808 during a Masonic convention in Chillicothe, Ohio. In celebration of our 214th birthday we’re looking back on what that convention looked like, who was there, and how our fraternity has grown into the organization it is today. Happy 214th birthday to the Grand Lodge of Ohio!
5 Days in Ohio
In the early days of January 1808, during a convention that included five Masonic lodges, the Grand Lodge of Ohio was founded. This convention was held at the statehouse in Chillicothe, Ohio from January 4th to January 8th. Each day of the convention the Masonic lodges moved one step closer to solidifying the Grand Lodge of Ohio, originally called the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio.
On January 4th, Lewis Cass presented the initial resolution to form a grand lodge and a day later it was unanimously approved. Later, on January 7th a formal resolution was passed that included the election of officers and named Rufus Putnam as the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio. The men further agreed that the first Grand Communication, or Annual Communication as we now refer to it, was to be held on the first Monday in January 1809.
It’s impossible to discuss the formation of the Grand Lodge of Ohio without mentioning the importance of Brother Rufus Putnam. Born in Sutton, Massachusetts on April 9, 1738 he was a man of many strengths. After serving three years in the French and Indian War he left the army and purchased a farm in New Braintree, Massachusetts where he spent his time studying practical surveying and business. In 1775, he re-enlisted in the army to fight in the Revolutionary War under Freemason and President George Washington.
While serving in the Continental Army, Rufus Putnam was raised a Master Mason in 1779 in American Union Lodge. Brother Putnam served as Junior Warden and was highly involved in the activities and day to day conventions of his lodge. After the defeat of the British, he returned to his farm and surveying business in Massachusetts. Later, he purchased land in Ohio, moved west and helped establish the Ohio Company, a real estate organization that bought and sold lands. He helped settle Marietta, the first settlement in what would become Ohio, and he was instrumental in the establishment of American Union Lodge in Marietta. With his history as war hero, business leader and pioneer, Brother Rufus Putnam was elected Right Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ohio on January 7th, 1808, making him Ohio’s first Grand Master.
Although Grand Master Putnam was asked to be excused from serving due to his advanced age, the Brethren of Ohio, continued to recognize him as their Grand Master. At the next Annual Communication of 1809, the Deputy Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother Thomas Henderson, presided while recognizing that Grand Master Putnam could not be present. After determining that a quorum was present, Brother Samuel Huntington was elected Most Worshipful Grand Master. The Grand Lodge then approved its first Constitution and began to receive requests to recognize or authorize additional masonic lodges.
Celebrating 214 years as an honorable and prominent fraternity is no small feat. Our Brotherhood is now home to 440 Masonic lodges and 65,000 Ohio Masons. The Grand Lodge of Ohio stands tall each and everyday with the tenants they were founded on. Brotherly love, relief, and truth have shaped the diverse lives of the various communities that involve our Masonic lodges. From the Masonic Relief Fund to our Veterans Fund, the Grand Lodge thrives on ensuring each and every Mason is taken care of. Our online community lifts up and empowers Masons from different lodges and proves that the Masonic connection goes far past your lodge name and number. On our 214th birthday we look back on our history and remember the Brethren that formed our fraternal organization. As we begin another year as an active and unified lodge we can’t help but be proud of our past and excited for our future. Ohio Freemasonry is men who are working together to become even better each day by teaching respect, kindness, and tolerance. Men whom we are proud to call “Brother.”
As we celebrate another year as a fraternal organization we’d love to hear from you. What excites you about the future of Ohio Freemasonry? Send us a message at OhioLodgeLife@Freemason.com!