"Freemasonry in Michigan"
Freemasonry is a unique institution that has been a major part of community life in America for more than 250 years.
Masonry traces its ancestry back to the operative craftsmen, primarily cathedral builders, of the Middle Ages. Because of their special knowledge and skills, these builders were permitted special travel privileges from country to country. As cathedral building came to an end during the 17th and 18th centuries, some Masonic Lodges began to accept men into membership who were not craftsmen.
In 1717, Freemasonry members created a formal organization in England when the first Grand Lodge was formed.
In a time when travel was by horseback and sailing ship, Masonry spread with amazing speed. By 1731, when Benjamin Franklin joined the fraternity, there were already several Lodges in the Colonies, and Freemasonry spread rapidly as America expanded west. In addition to Franklin, many of the Founding Fathers – men such as George Washington, Paul Revere, Joseph Warren, and John Hancock – were Masons. Freemasonry played an important part in the Revolutionary War and an even more important part in the Constitutional Convention and the debates surrounding the ratification of the Bill of Rights. Many of those debates were held in Masonic Lodges.
The French first brought Freemasonry to the Great Lakes at a time when it was Indian Territory. The earliest documented Lodge was in Detroit in 1764, by George Harison, Provincial Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of New York, with Lt. John Christie of the 2nd Battalion, 60th Royal American Foot Regiment (British) as Worshipful Master. This lodge was the first lodge established west of the Allegheny mountains. By 1772 there were at least three Lodges meeting in the Detroit area; Lodge No. 1 and two Irish Military Lodges, warranted to Masons of the 10th Regiment, then stationed at Detroit. Zion Lodge #1 was formed in 1794 and continues to work to this day. Zion also has an important part in the history of another Michigan institution; the University of Michigan which was assisted in its formation by Zion Lodge and its members.
Today there are over 240 Lodges in Michigan in both the lower and upper peninsulas. These lodges hold a membership of over 25,000 Masons. The history of Michigan is the history of the Masonic Fraternity. As the state was settled and established from the East to the West, so to the craft moved from East to West. However, lodges along the St. Joseph River in southwestern Michigan are also among the oldest in the state. This river was an important trading route during the formative years of the state and was settled earlier than the interior portion.
Becoming a member of the Michigan Masons offers members opportunities to learn and lead within the organization, the community and their family.
What is Freemasonry?
Many years ago, the famous Dr. Albert Schweitzer wrote these magnificent words:
“It is not enough merely to exist... Every man has to seek in his own way to make his own self more noble and to realize his own true worth.”