The Genesis of Compass Lodge
By RWB Jason Rieger, Historian
On April 28, 1769 members of the Masonic order hailing from “Wallingsford” Connecticut petitioned the Grand Lodge, located at Boston, Massachusetts.
“At the Grand Lodge or Quarterly communication held at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston, Massachusetts, on Friday 28th day of April 5769. Present, John Barrett of Wallingsford, in Connecticut. A petition of sundry Brethren living in Wallingsford in the Colony of Connecticut, was read, they praying for a Deputation to form them into a Lodge…….”
A charter was granted, dated May 1, 1769, for the following Brothers who signed the petition electing Brother John Barrett to be the first Master:
Epaphras Nott, Robert Byington, Samuel Tyler, Johnathan Barnes, Samuel Holt, Hezekiah Johnson, Levi Comstock, Josia Robinson, Amos Ball, Samuel Cook, Macock Ward, Elnathan Street, Daniel Whitney, and John Webster
The Lodges in this state that are older than Compass Lodge:
Hiram No. 1, New Haven – 1750; St. John’s No. 2, Middletown – 1754; Fidelity-St. John’s No. 3, Fairfield – 1762; Wyllys-St. John’s No. 4, West Hartford – 1763; Union No. 5, Stamford – 1763; Old Well-St. John’s No. 6, Norwalk – 1765; King Solomon’s No. 7, Woodbury – 1765; and America-St. John’s No. 8, Stratford – 1765
Just How Old Are We?
• The United States of America does not exist! Connecticut is a Colony of England and it’s inhabitants Subjects to the King of England.
• There is talk of “Revolution” and trade boycotts and other means of defiance are spreading among the colonies.
• George Washington is 37 years old and Abraham Lincoln will not be born for another 40 years.
• The Grand Lodge of Connecticut will not be formed for another 20 years.
An Interesting Stipulation Stated In The Original Charter
“…….and that they do annually keep the feast of St. John the Baptist, or St. John the Evangelist, or both, and dine together on said day or days, or as near either of them as shall be most convenient;” This illustrates the importance of St. John’s Day, not only to Freemasons where-ever-so dispersed, but to Compass Lodge’s traditions in recognizing these special days.
The Early Years
Unfortunately, there are no records of the doings of Compass Lodge until 1822. In 1822 meetings were held the first Thursday of each month at 6pm. Compass began meeting on Monday evenings in 1872. Meetings were held in several locations through the years: Br. Jared Lewis’ residence on Main St.; “Masonic Hall”-2nd Floor of brick building owned by Br. E. Pomeroy on the corner of Center & Fair Streets; A building known as Union Hall on Main St.; 4th Floor of a building on Wallace Block;3rd Floor in Town Hall building; Judd Block on Center St.; and finally the Wallingford Temple Building.
• In the records of 1852, mention is made of the loss of the “old records” and the Secretary was instructed to search and collect as many as possible the old names. The sheet containing these names were found by Br. W. B. Hall as penned by Br. Randall Cook.
• The Charters; In 1837, the whereabouts of the original charter granted from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts along with other records prior to the creation of the Grand Lodge of CT were unknown and the Charter granted and subsequently returned in 1851 has been “missing” for an undetermined amount of time. However, there is a theory to its current location.
Some Interesting By-Law Revisions In 1823
• “If any member chosen as one of the Executive Committee refuses to accept the office without permission of the Lodge, he shall be suspended until he accepts”
• “No member shall leave his seat except in the execution of the duties of his office”
• “When a Ballot is to be taken, every member present must vote or be expelled, and if any member leaves the Lodge to avoid voting by Ballot he shall be expelled”
• “Whenever the Lodge calls for refreshments, the Steward shall obey such call, in compensation for which he shall receive from each member who partakes thereof, such sum as in the opinion of the Lodge will compensate him for the same and for his trouble”
Surrender of the Charter
Compass Lodge surrendered their charter to the Grand Lodge in 1837 primarily due to anti-Masonic sentiment resulting from the Morgan Affair. For a space of 19 years “Compass Lodge was in a torpid state” but in 1851, the interest in Masonry revived, Compass petitioned the Grand Lodge of Connecticut for the restoration of their charter.
Brothers petition Compass Lodge for permission to form Corinthian Lodge 103, Northford, 1866. Lockwood Chapter, Royal Arch Masons is organized, and Organization of Mizpah Chapter No. 37 Order of Eastern Star, 1892. Masonic Home opens in Wallingford with a procession of 10,000 Masons beginning from Compass Lodge. Brothers petition Compass Lodge for permission to form Ashlar Lodge 332, Wallingford, 2008
The Masonic Temple Corporation of Wallingford is Formed
|A committee was formed to investigate the purchase of property for sale on Main Street. After the deed was secured, the Masonic Temple Corporation was formed, stock was issued, plans perfected, and contracts for the construction granted. The first communication in the new Hall was held on Feb 5, 1912, where meetings have since been held.|
|Our Temple Corporation continues to be active today and is responsible for the maintenance and management of our building. This is accomplished through the hard work of some very dedicated members of this Lodge.|
|The Cornerstone of the new Temple was laid by the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Connecticut, with appropriate ceremonies on July 29, 1911.|
Contents of the Cornerstone
Historical Sketch of Compass Lodge #9 by W. B. Hall, Past Master
Autograph list of the officers of Compass Lodge for 1911
Roll of membership of Compass Lodge July 1, 1911
Grand Lodge of CT – Report 1910
Grand Chapter Royal Arch Masons – Report 1910
Grand Chapter Order of Eastern Star – Report 1910
Copy of Compass Lodge Bylaws
Copy of Lockwood Chapter R.A.M. Bylaws
Copy of Mizpah Chapter O.E.S. Bylaws
Photograph of Richard Talbot, Treasurer of Compass Lodge for 33 years
List of stock holders in the Masonic Temple Corporation
Autograph list of Board of Directors of Masonic Temple Corporation
Copy of Town, Borough, & Borough Electric Light Reports for 1910
Copy of Central School District Report 1910
Copy of Meriden Daily Journal July 28, 1911
Lockwood Chapter Royal Arch Mason Token
Compass’ First Worshipful Master
John Barrett 1731-1806
Was born in Middletown and became a trader and merchant in New Haven and Wallingford. He was raised a Master Mason in the Lodge at New Haven, now Hiram (1), and was an occasional visitor at Middletown before he organized the Lodge in Wallingford. Moved north to the open lands of Vermont and New Hampshire some time before the Revolution. He served in the military in the French & Indian campaigns and took the field on several occasions during the Revolution. He also served in the General Assembly of Vermont. Again petitioned the Massachusetts Grand Lodge to form Vermont Lodge 17, of which he was named first Master and served for 5 years. Assisted in forming the Grand Lodge of Vermont in 1794. After a full life as trader, farmer, public official, and soldier and nearly a half century as an active Mason, our Brother was accidentally drowned in Black River in 1806.