Freemasonry in Maine 1762 - 1945

Author:  Ralph J. Pollard

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Picture of Samuel Fessenden Samuel Fessenden, Fifth Grand Master

Samuel Fessenden was born in Fryeburg, in 1784. He was graduated from Dartmouth College in the class of 1806, and at once took up the study of law, and was admitted to the bar in 1809. He began practice in New Gloucester and four times did he represent that district in the General Court of Massachusetts, and was twice Senator from Cumberland County before the separation of the Province of Maine. After Maine became a state, he having removed to Portland, was the Representative in Legislature for several terms. One of the earliest abolitionists, he was constant, in season and out of season, in his devotion to the cause. He regarded it as the "crowning mercy" of his life that he lived to witness the overthrow of slavery. Brother Fessenden was initiated in Pythagorean Lodge, at Fryeburg, September 11, 1805, and in 1808 was elected Junior Warden. Removing about that time to New Gloucester, he dimitted and affiliated with Cumberland Lodge in October, 1809. He served that lodge one year as Junior Warden, one as Senior Warden, and five years as Master. In 1825, having removed to Portland, he dimitted from Cumberland Lodge and affiliated with Portland Lodge, No. 1. His first appointment in Grand Lodge was in 1822, as Grand Junior Deacon, and he was continuously advanced until elected Grand Master in 1828 and 1829. He received the Orders of Knighthood in Maine Encampment, then located in Portland; was afterward Commander, and served in 1845, as Grand Captain General of the Grand Encampment of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. M. W. Brother Fessenden died in Portland, March 9, 1869, and was buried by the Grand Lodge of Maine, M. W. Grand Master Murray officiating.

Picture of Robert DunlapRobert P. Dunlap, Sixth Grand Master

The special committee appointed to report on the death of Past Most Worshipful Grand Master Robert P. Dunlap, said in their report: " We need neither write his eulogy nor cover his tombstone with memorials. His name and fame are abroad. Could we erect a beautiful shaft of granite or of marble over his resting place, we need no inscription upon it but the name of Robert Pinkney Dunlap." He was indeed one of the State's most prominent citizens and for more than twenty years his life was given to public office. Born in Brunswick, August 17, 1794, graduated at Bowdoin, 1815; Lawyer; Representative in the Legislature, 1822 to 1823; Senator, 1824 to 1829 and 1830 to 1833; and President, 1827, 1828, 1831 and 1832; Councillor, 1833; Governor, 1834 to 1838; Representative in Congress, 1843 to 1847; Collector of Customs, Portland, 1848 and 1849; Postmaster, Brunswick, 1853 to 1857; and Overseer at Bowdoin, 1821 until his death, October 20, 1859. The whole State mourned his departure. It is in Brother Dunlap as a Mason that we are concerned. The offices he held were many. Beside being Grand Master, he was Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter; the first presiding officer of our Grand Council; President of the Order of High Priesthood; and had presided over the General Grand Chapter. He was possessed of a high moral sense of duty, and manifested at all times the utmost regard for the reputation of the Grand Lodge. He was a man of rare and commanding personal appearance, and in every position he held he sustained the same high character for faithfulness and integrity. At the time of his death he was chairman of the Committee of Masonic Jurisprudence.

Picture of Nathaniel CoffinNathaniel Coffin, Seventh Grand Master

Nathaniel Coffin, the seventh Grand Master, hailed from Wiscasset, in the early part of the last century, one of the most active and prosperous ports on the Maine coast. He served the Grand Lodge as Grand Master during the trying period of the Morgan anti-masonic excitement, but he was a person well fitted for this important position as he was one whose constancy could not be shaken by persecution or reproach, combining in his life and character all those qualities which give strength and stability and prepared him to act a manly part in all relations. He loved Masonry, and saw in it those great moral principles which he knew would withstand, and in time triumph over, all the persecution hurled at the institution during those dark days of its history. At the time of his election to the highest office within the gift of his Brethren anti-masonic violence had almost exhausted its fury, but it had scattered from our altars all who could not bear persecution. Only eight lodges were represented at that annual communication, but he received every one of the eighteen votes cast. He was one of those who took an active part in the formation of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Maine, and was Grand High Priest from 1826 to 1829. His long and useful life was closed at Watauga, Illinois, April 7, 1864, at the age of eighty-two years and two months.

Picture of Reuel WashburnReuel Washburn, Eighth Grand Master

Reuel Washburn was born in Raynham, Mass., May 21, 1793, the son of Israel Washburn. He was graduated from Brown University in 1814, coming soon after to Paris, Maine, where he entered the office of Hon. Albion K. Parris to study law. He was admitted to the bar and began the practice of his profession at Livermore, in 1817. He was a member of both branches of the State Legislature; served for two terms on the Governor's Council; was Register of Probate and Judge of Probate in his county for a long term of years, and was three times candidate of his party for election to Congress. He was ever faithful in the performance of the many duties devolving upon him, in all the relations of life. Brother Washburn was made a Mason in Oriental Star Lodge, No. 21, at Liver-more, June 26, 1818. He served his lodge as Master from 1821 to 1823, and as Secretary from 1858 to 1865. He was District Deputy Grand Master in 1826 and 1827; was elected Grand Senior Deacon in 1832; Deputy Grand Master in 1833 and 1834, and Grand Master in 1835, 1836 and 1837. He was Trustee of the Charity Fund of the Grand Lodge from 1841 to 1847. In 1850, he again served his District as District Deputy Grand Master. He was a Royal Arch Mason for over fifty years, but living a considerable distance from his chapter he never accepted an office in it. His death came very suddenly on March 4,1878. A Masonic funeral was held four days later, conducted by Oriental Star Lodge, of which he had so long been a member, and attended by prominent representatives of the Grand Lodge.

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