By Denise Huestis
Without question, the earliest Masons in these parts were members of the British and Colonial forces that came here in 1756 to wrest from the French the newly constructed fortress known as Carillon.
Records show the existence of lodges among the troops at Lake George in 1757 and at Crown Point in 1759 and 1762.
In 1810 our first native lodge was formed and their charter granted in 1816. This was known as Mt. Hope Lodge and was composed of members from a wide area. The original petition was signed by Peter King, Levi Wilcox, Ahira Griswold, Ebenezer Hopkins, Levi Thompson, Abel Potter, Thomas Hunter and Barnabas Moss. Other members of note were Guy Baldwin, Samuel Wickes and Edward Arthur.
The principal officers in 1831 were Horace Stowell, James Nelson and John Pickett. This charter was surrendered in 1835.
On June 7, 1861, the second lodge of the town was chartered. This was known as Old Ti Lodge # 503 and had an existence of but 17 years. Principal officers of Old Ti Lodge were Dr. John Smith, Curtis Allen, D.S.Smith, John Craig, Edmund Burt, Clayton Delano, James Bailey, A.M. Pinchin and Clayton Pond.
Old Ti Lodge had been suspended but nine years when Mt. Defiance Lodge # 794 came into existence in 1887 with Isaac Atwood, J.H. Bailey, B.W. Burleigh, John Craig, Clayton Delano, J. A. Flemming, Joseph Peterson, H.D. Spicer, W.G.Wiley and Charles Wicker as charter members.
The lodge began life on the third floor of the Gilligan and Stevens Block and they seemed doomed to stay there but for the wills of Isaac Atwood and C.E.Bennett in the 1940s making the present building possible. A building fund begun earlier was augmented by these bequests and the cornerstone was laid Oct. 20, 1948.
Free masonry is one of the worlds oldest secular fraternal societies. It is not a religion but its members must express a belief in a supreme being and each Mason is encouraged to practice the religion of his choice.
New York Masons support their Masonic Care Community in Utica and the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory also in Utica, the Masonic Child ID Program, the Masonic Student Assistance Program, many scholarships, a blood donor program, and sponsor other youth programs.
Masons are men of good character who strive to improve themselves and make the world a better place. They belong to the oldest and most honorable brotherhood known to man.
This series of articles is compliments of Ticonderoga Heritage Museum, located in the 1888 building at the entrance of Bicentennial Park.