The History of Washington Lodge 19

This commentary begins at the close of the year 1790, when a small group of Masons met to discuss the formation of a Lodge to be named after George Washington and become the oldest Washington lodge remaining under its original jurisdiction. They met in the home of Johns Beardsley, who lived a short distance east of the present green in Monroe. Bro. Beardsley's has been the home of four Past Masters. The new Lodge's territory was to embrace North Stratford which included areas presently known as Monroe, Stepney, Trumbull, Tashua, Nichols, Huntington, Easton, and parts of Shelton and Oxford.  

The Charter was signed on January 12,1791, by M.W. Bro. Pierpont Edwards, the first Grand Master, and Eilas Shipman, the first Grand Secretary, of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut. The first stated communication was held on Valentine's Day in 1791 at the home John Beardsley. Worshipful Master of St Johns's No 8, a farmer in Ripton, installed the first officers with Worshipful Brother and Doctor Ezra Curtiss as first master Wor. Bro. Curtiss died in 1810. His home is the present Episcopal Rectory across the Common from the present Masonic Temple 

At the February 12, 1795 meeting, there were 46 members. Toasts were drunk to the Grand Master and to George Washington, President of the United States of America. In April 1796, a committee was appointed to choose a site for a new Lodge Room and a fund was started for that purpose. In 1799, membership had grown to 75 and a new building of two stories was erected north the of the present Monroe Green. This was the first Masonic Temple built in Connecticut for Masons use only. The Lodge building was later moved to the Hurd St. location on Route 111 and still stands.  

On Christmas night in 1800, Gideon Judson received all three degrees in the presence of 30 members, The Lodge now consisted of over 80 members. On December 30, 1800 the Temple was dedicated. A procession, sermon, speech, and dinner marked the joyous occasion. Brother Samuel Monson, who died in 1803, became the first Master to preside in the new Temple. The Lodge was visited by Bro. Jeremey L. Cross, Grand Lecturer of Grand Lodge, who gave lectures illustrating degree work. 

In the early 1830's a resolution to dissolve the Lodge was offered. The last regular communication of the old Lodge was held on April 30, 1839, Wor. Brother Lucius Curtiss, who served as Master from 1835-1837, had same surname as the very first Master of the Lodge. The Grand Lodge recalled its Charter in 1860. The Lodge jewels, records, and Charter disappeared. The Grand Lodge acknowledged receipt of the Charter, record books, and jewels of Washington No 19 in 1860, thus signifying the recognition of Masonry in Monroe to the authority of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut and clearing the way for the resumption of Masonry in Monroe.  

On March 11, 1864 the Grand Lodge issued a warrant or dispensation for Monroe Lodge No 93, not the old Washington No 19, as originally granted. Rodger M. Gray was to be first Master. The petition to the Grand Lodge was signed by thirteen Masons from nearby lodges. Among the charter members were Orrin Raymond, proprietor of the local distillery, and Phillip J. Jones, a 52 year Mason who died in 1912. On May 24, 1864, the charter was signed. Monroe Lodge No 93 was destined for a short life lasting just seven years. On June 5,1871 the Grand Lodge of Connecticut passed a resolution retaining the charter of Monroe No 93 and granted the original charter of Washington No 19. This was accomplished largely by the dedication and commitment of Worshipful Brother John L. Beardsley who served as the Last Master of Monroe No 93 and the first Master of the revised Washington No 19! He compiled the first history of two Lodges.  

January 6, 1868 marked a milestone in the history of the Lodge. On this date, and for the first time, the installation of the Master Mason degree (refreshment), not on an Entered Apprentice degree, as was the former custom. From this date on, all business of the Lodge was conducted on the Master Mason degree. Fittingly enough, on July 3, 1871, Brother John L. Beardsley, whose picture proudly hangs in the foyer of the Temple, became the first Master of revied Washington Lodge No 19 through the restoration of the charter for which he had for so long labored. Wor. Bro. Beardsley, many years later, worked with Brother David C. Grant in compiling the first list of petition dates and dates of degrees of men made Masons to 1923. This monumental work took many hundreds of hours, and remains a credit to the two Brothers. As hard as he worked for the restoration of old No 19's Charter, he worked equally as hard to avoid surrendering it again during the 1800's and 1890's when economic depression struck the land, followed by the crash of the stock market and panic of 1884. Brother Beardsley died in 1923, after having served the Craft for more than 53 years. 

Compiled and Prepared by : The Masonic Lodge of Research, December 1, 1996 for the 175th Anniversary of Washington Lodge No.19 Monroe, Connecticut. Edited by Leo H. Lohrman