The Masonic fraternity came into Lebanon within a few years after its settlement.
Lebanon Lodge was organized under dispensation in 1814, the date unknown,
that it was probably early in that year is evident from the statement of its Historian, Brother Charles A. Hough, M. D., that its first meeting was on May 14, 1814, and that within that year seven meeting were held.
In 1815 the lodge was represented in Grand Lodge by "Brother Daniel Roe,
The Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge commenced on January 2nd.
On January 4th the Grand Lodge "ordered that the Grand Secretary" prepare a
charter for Lebanon Lodge No. 26, and a charter dated January 5, 1815,
was granted to Lebanon Lodge No. 26.
Its charter members, according to the old Grand Lodge Minutes, were
Brothers Thomas R. Ross, John Sheets, Nathan Kelly, Daniel Roe Martin Earhart,
Daniel Cushing, George Kesling, and Charles Stone.
The record furnished by Brother Hough omits some of the above, and has
instead of them the names of Abner B. Hunt, William Snook, R. C. Talbot,
and W. M. Wiles.
The Charter was signed by Most Worshipful Brother Henry Brush, as Grand Master
and attested by Right Worshipful Brother Robert Kercheval, Grand Secretary.
The first initiates of Lebanon Lodge were Phineas Ross and Oliver Cock; the
initiation fee was twenty dollars; twenty-five cents was paid at each meeting
by the members.
Lebanon Lodge was frequently honored by the election of its members to offices in
In 1817 Brother Thomas R. Ross was elected Junior Warden;
in 1821, Phineas Ross, Deputy Grand Master;
in 1818, Brother Thomas B. Van Hornwas elected Junior Warden;
in 1823, Brother Thomas Corwin was elected Deputy Grand Master and in subsequent
years to other offices, until in 1828 he was elected Grand Master.
In 1831 Brother John Satterthwaite of Waynesville, a member of Lebanon Lodge No.26,
was elected Grand Master, and later Brother Horace M. Stokes was an honored
Grand Master of Masons in Ohio, and departed this life while serving as such.
Brother J. Kelley O'Neal, another member of Lebanon Lodge No.26, was Grand High
Priest in the Grand Chapter of Ohio, and Grand Commander of Knights Templars in Ohio.
From 1815 to 1831 inclusive Lebanon Lodge No. 26 was represented at
every Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge. In 1832 it was not
represented, but in 1833 it
was represented by Brother S. R. Miller.
The Annual Communication of 1830 held at Worthington, Ohio, commencing
on January 4th, with the Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother John Snow
presiding and an attendance of representatives from fifty-nine subordinate
As an interesting incident it may be mentioned that at this session
one hundred dollars was voted to be sent to the widow of Past Grand Master
Judge Charles R. Sherman and asking her to "receive it as a token of the
respect this grand Lodge entertains for the memory and public services of
her departed husband, and of the sympathy which is felt in her bereavement."
At this period in the history of the Grand Lodge the animosity of the anti-
Masonic political party and the relentless and bitter denunciation and
persecution of Freemasons by its fanatical following had become very
serious in Ohio, as in other States. In some instances lodge rooms were
defaced and stoned; sticks and stones were thrown at Masonic processions,
with hoots and yells, even upon the occasion of funeral processions.
The fanaticism also of weak-minded, disloyal converts to their pharisaical
pretense of the wickedness of secrecy and Masonic obligations and a
religious duty requiring their renunciation, was apparent in many lodges. As
an instance, at the Annual Communication in 1830 on motion of the
distinguished Brother Joshua R. Giddings it was "Ordered, That the Grand
Secretary be and he is hereby directed to issue a new charter to Jefferson
Lodge No. 87, the former charter having been mutilated by the violence of
some evil-disposed and weak-minded person unknown." The anti-Masonic spirit
prevailing, however, in that locality was of such character that in 1835 Brother Giddings
enclosed the charter of Jefferson Lodge No. 87 in a letter to the Grand Lodge,
and on recommendation of the Committee on Charters and Dispensations,
it was "Resolved, That the Grand Lodge rescind said charter, and the Secretary
be ordered to place the same on file."
Over one hundred seventy years has now elapsed since the occurrences
mentioned, a brief statement of their origin may be of interest.
In 1826 one William Morqan of Batavia, New York, a mason by trade, a man
about fifty years of age, and of dissolute habits and loose principles and at
times very intemperate, but of good address when sober, having been, it is
claimed, incensed at being excluded from membership in a Masonic body,
and being desirous of both money and revenge, proposed the publication of
an "Exposition of the Secrets of Freemasonry," and for its publication
entered into a partnership with David C. Miller, a printer, who also claimed to
be a Mason, the publisher of a newspaper in Batavia and an impecunious
politician of intemperate habits, who claimed that Masonic influence had
caused his paper to become unprofitable. Both believed that the scheme, if
sufficiently advertised, would prove a matter of great pecuniary profit.
Miller subsequently claimed that an attempt had been made to burn his printing office.
Morgan having been arrested and jailed in an adjoining town for petit larceny
and for debt, it was claimed that a party of three or more persons who had
compromised the suit and settled the claim against Morgan secured his liberation
from jail, and that after his entering into a carriage with these persons he was
abducted, taken to Canada, and afterwards murdered, as from that time it was
said that William Morgan was never again seen, although an officer of the
American Embassy at Constantinople claimed to have seen him in that city,
and another man claimed to have seen him in central America.
For the purpose of carrying out the designs of the nefarious political tricksters,
it was alleged that the abductors of Morgan were Freemasons and
that the Fraternity was responsible for his disappearance.
When it is considered that Morgan himself was too shrewd to have placed
himself in the hands of those whom he would have considered his enemies;
and that although there were doubtless fools in all associations, yet it would
be difficult to conceive of any such shallow-minded and ignorant Freemason
as would have given any serious attention to the pretensions of Morgan,
much less to have entered into a conspiracy for taking his life.
The absurdity of the charge is more apparent also when it is considered that
Miller, who was the responsible one for the publication of the book, was
unmolested. The book when published proved to be unremunerative. Books
of the same character previously published in England were doubtless its
Although every effort was made for political purposes to substantiate the
charge, its flimsy character is apparent in the many fruitless trials had in that
Miller, the publisher, was later elected clerk of the county, as one of the first
fruits of the anti-Masonic movement, on the wave of which Alfred H. Tracy in
1829 was elected State Senator in the Eighth New York District and Millard
Fillmore was elected to the state assembly. In that and other states many
politicians of the period, among its promoters, became prominent and
successful in their aspirations in state and national affairs. The nomination of
Wirt, however, for President, on the anti-Masonic ticket, did not prove to be
the success anticipated, one State only, Vermont, voting in his favor. After
that election the anti-Masonic party influence waned rapidly. A few of its
political promoters, however, subsequently became prominent in national
In 1831 Brother John Satterthwaite of Waynesville, a member of Lebanon
Lodge No.26, was elected Grand Master, and in later years Brother Horace
M. Stokes was honored Grand Master of Masons in Ohio, and departed this
life whilst serving as such. Brother J. Kelley O'Neal, another member of
Lebanon Lodge No. 26, was Grand High Priest in the Grand Chapter of
Ohio, and Grand Commander of Knights Templars in Ohio.
From 1834 to 1838 Lebanon Lodge No. 26 was not represented in Grand
In 1838 Brother Allen Wright, as proxy of Samuel Glenny, submitted his
credentials as the representative of that lodge, and "a number of Brethren of
Lebanon having manifested a laudable desire to resume their Masonic
labors," the Committee on Charters and Dispensations, to whom the matter
had been referred, reported that no dues had been received from Lebanon
Lodge since 1830, but that "under the circumstances of trying
embarrassment, in which they have been placed during the last five years,
your committee are induced to propose, for the consideration of the Grand
Lodge, the following resolution:
"Resolved, That Lebanon Lodge No.26 be authorized to resume labor
under its charter; that Brother Wright be admitted to a seat in the present
Grand Lodge, as its representative; and that its dues be remitted up to
the present date, except so much as may be necessary to defray the
expenses of its representative at this Grand Communication."
The resolution was adopted, and Lebanon Lodge No.26 was rehabilitated
under its charter.
Since that period named Freemasonry in that locality has resumed its honored position.
From the first the lodge's membership numbered the leading men of the
community. All Masonic bodies (in Lebanon) suspended meetings during the
anti-Masonic period in the eighteen thirties but resumed them in 1842.
The great Tom Corwin, John Satterthwaite and Horace M. Stokes all went
from the local lodge to be grand master of the Grand Lodge of Ohio.
Lebanon Chapter No.5, Royal Arch Masons, was the first chartered by the
Grand Chapter of Ohio after its organization. The chapter was instituted June
24, 1817, and its charter dated December 30, 1818.
Grand High Priests from the chapter include Phineas Ross, the first High
Priest of the local chapter, Horace M. Stokes and J. KellyO'Neall.
Miami Commandery No.22, K. T., was chartered October 15, 1869 and gave
to the Grand Commander of Ohio a Grand Commander in J. Kelley O'Neall,
first Eminent Commander of Miami Commandery.
Lebanon Council No.134, Royal and Select Masters, was instituted February
27, 1951, and chartered October 10, 1951.
A council was previously formed in 1855, but was suspended in 1891.
The Masonic Temple in which all the Masonic bodies meet was erected in
Previously the Masons met for many years in a second-story added to
the Town Hall for that purpose.
1. History of Freemasonry in Ohio from 1791 by W. M. Cunningham, M.A.,
Cincinnati, Ohio 1909, pp. 243-244.
2. ibid, pp. 326-327.
3. ibid, pp. 328-330.
4. ibid, p. 244.
5. ibid, pp. 244-245.
6. History of Lebanon Lodges, Shows Masonic Oldest, by Marion Snyder,
taken from an undated newspaper article, June 29, 2000.
- author: Illustrious Brother Grover W. Brunton
- Researched and Compiled by Grover W. Brunton, 33°