Chronology of Masonry, Burlington, New Jersey
John Skene, Deputy governor of West Jersey, moves to Burlington, the capital of the Province. As far as can be determined, Skene has the distinction of being the first Freemason in the American Colonies. Brother Skene was a member of Aberdeen Lodge No. 1, Aberdeen, Scotland .
Colonel Daniel Coxe, son of Dr. Daniel Coxe, the last of the Proprietor Governors, takes up residence in the city. Colonel Coxe is held in high esteem in the colonies. He served in numerous official capacities. For many years he was President of the West Jersey Proprietors. Towards the end of his life he was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Brother Coxe was a member of Lodge No. 8 of London.
Colonel Daniel Coxe appointed Provincial Grand Master of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The first authority for assembling of Freemasons in America was issued by the Duke of Norfolk, Grand Master of Free and Accepted Masons in England . There is no record that Coxe ever issued a deputation for the formation of a Lodge in this country.
An Emergent Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania was held at Burlington on March 30. On this date a new Lodge, to be known as Burlington Lodge No. 32 was invested with a warrant from the R.W.G.L. of Pennsylvania. The members of this Lodge now known as “Old No. 32,” were mostly of the military, the Rebellion against England still being in progress.
Lodge No. 32 now apparently defunct. There are no further records of minutes. Lodge No. 32 was not officially represented at the first session of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey meeting at New Brunswick. However, the agreement was signed “in behalf of No. 32” by four of the brothers.
The Pennsylvania Warrant of No. 32 was surrendered in April of this year.
Institution of Burlington Lodge No. 32 A.Y.M.
At two o’clock on Wednesday, June 21, 1854, twenty-six Master Masons met in the upper chambers of the I.O.O.F. Hall on East Union Street for the purpose of forming a new Lodge. This hall was destined to be the meeting place of Burlington Masons for most of the next half century. The following were charter members: Brothers Elias E. Boudinot, John W. Kelly, Thomas Neal, William R. Allen, Lewis Gotta, Ellwood Conners, Richard B. Westbrook, Aaron E. Ballard, Jr., and John Rodgers. Brother Rodgers served as our first Master.
Burlington Lodge No. 32 received its warrant from the M.W.G.L. of New Jersey on January 10. During this, the first complete year, fifteen members were initiated and two accepted by affiliation.
First official visit from Grand Lodge. At the February 3 meeting, the Lodge was honored by a visitation from the M.W.G.M. Joseph Trimble of the M.W.G.L. P.M. John Rodgers introduced the Grand Master who was then received by the Lodge with the honors due the dignity of the office.
First Committee appointed by W.M. to “take incipient steps for erection of a Lodge building” of our own.
First building fund for new lodge building created.
Masonic Hall Association created on April 13. The Association acquires the C.G. Ridgway property on West Union Street.
January 10 – Anniversary date of the first hundred years of Lodge No. 32.
A New Masonic Temple Building Committee was formed to draft building plans for a new building. Brother Leonard Baker served as General Chairman.
May 14. Permission to lease ground at Masonic Home on Jacksonville Road as site for new Temple was received from Grand Lodge. Pledges secured from brethren.
January 13. Mrs. Irma S. Phillips presents gift of land on Mt. Holly Road as a memorial to our late brother, Harold Del. Phillips. New Temple to be constructed on this ground. Gift was enthusiastically accepted and plans for the building on Jacksonville Road were given up.
October 1. Mr. and Mrs. George Smith of Mt. Holly present gift of land 50′ x 66′, for use as driveway to new Temple.
April 8. Tract of land, 25′ x 325′, fronting proposed site, purchased from Public Service Electric & Gas Company.
October 13. Ground broken for new Temple.
January 10. First communication in new Temple.
January 21. Cornerstone laying ceremony. M.W.G.M. Samuel B. Brosius and Grand Lodge Staff participated.
A dining room was added, to complete the original plans. This finalized the unique design of the building which is in the shape of a Square, one of the working tools of a Master Mason.
125th anniversary celebration of Burlington Lodge No. 32, F. & A.M.
We trust that Brother Lodges will not consider it presumptuous of us to embrace the story of all Freemasonry here in Burlington. We do not claim the story as our own, but gladly share it with all Freemasons. That a lodge did not flourish here continuously is regretful, but there is always life in the small acorn.
The first tree apparently did not find fertile ground here, but scattered its seed widely, as lodges sprang up throughout the Colonies. The second, although it became only a small sapling, was able to leave behind a seed that eventually germinated in 1855. Today this tree is less than 150 years old, veritably young for Masonry, but within itself it holds remembrance of its past and faith in its future.
Each year its leaves will fall gently to the ground, as all our brothers must, but yearly the tree will gain in girth and stature and should continue well into the future.
Many thanks to our Historian, Richard J. Abdill, Jr., PM, for his efforts in compiling this page.
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