February 16, 2008

Freemasonry And The Founding Of Ohio.

Bunch Of Grapes Tavern

On Saturday, October 20th 2007, The Grand Lodge of Ohio launched a year-long celebration of its Bicentennial with the installation of Most Worshipful Brother Ronald L. Winnett and the Grand Lodge Officers.

Grand Master Winnett explained after his installation that the spread of Freemasonry throughout Ohio over the past 200 years will be reenacted by the passing of a Bicentennial Lantern in each District. A District Deputy Grand Master from each of the 25 Masonic Districts was presented with a Bicentennial Lantern that they will carry to the oldest Lodge in their Districts. The Lodge will then make a special visitation to the next oldest Lodge in the District and pass on the Lantern. Over the course of the year, each District will pass the Lantern through all its Lodges from oldest to youngest. The 25 Lanterns will be reassembled and used to open the 2008 Grand Lodge Session.

A specially commissioned painting, entitled “From Whence We Came,” was unveiled at the close of the Grand Session. The painting depicts a meeting held on March 1, 1786, when eleven pioneers met at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston, Massachusetts to form the Ohio Company of Associates, mostly all Freemasons. From left are Gen. Benjamin Tupper, Col. John Brooks, Gen. Winthrop Sargent, the Rev. Manasseh Cutler, and Gen. Rufus Putnam. This association founded the city of Marietta, the first American settlement in what would become the state of Ohio. Since this humble beginning, Freemasons have worked with their fellow citizens to help nurture the destiny of the Buckeye State. Source 9thdistrict.ohiofreemason.com

Ohio Company of Associates

In 1786, a group of men in Massachusetts, including General Rufus Putnam and Brigadier General Benjamin Tupper, founded the Ohio Company of Associates. Winthrop Sargent became the secretary of the venture. The company planned to purchase land in the Northwest Territory west of a previously surveyed area called the Seven Ranges. Both Putnam and Tupper had participated in survey expeditions led by Thomas Hutchins and believed that the region had great potential for land speculation.

The company first chose Samuel Holden Parsons to represent their interests to the American government, but when he was unsuccessful in his mission, the company replaced him with the Reverend Manasseh Cutler. Cutler worked with Treasury Secretary William Duer and president of the Congress Arthur St. Clair to negotiate an arrangement for the purchase of the land. The Ohio Company of Associates purchased 1,500,000 acres of land, agreeing to pay $500,000 immediately and another $500,000 payment once survey work was finished. Congress allowed the company to pay for part of the land using military warrants. This created a very favorable arrangement for the investors since less cash was required to make the purchase. In the end, the investors paid about eight and one-half cents per acre. In order to encourage settlement of the region and create a buffer between white settlements and American Indians, Congress also gave the Ohio Company of Associates 100,000 acres that became known as the Donation Tract. In this area, any adult white male could obtain one hundred acres of free land. Although the survey pattern was somewhat different from that of the Seven Ranges, company investors were required to set aside land in each township for education and religion as well as three sections for future government purposes. In addition, two townships were set aside for a university.

Putnam established the first Ohio Company of Associates settlement on the banks of the Ohio River. Known originally as Adelphia, the community soon became known as Marietta in honor of French Queen Marie Antoinette. To protect the settlement from Indian attacks, the settlers built a fortification known as the Campus Martius. Many of the early settlers of Ohio Company of Associates lands came from New England. Now in Ohio, they tried to establish institutions and communities similar to those they had known in the East.

In 1808, the company established Ohio University on the land that they had set aside for that purpose. In its early years, the university only offered the equivalent of a high school education and enrollment remained low. The settlers of Marietta had greater success in establishing a new society once the Native American threat was reduced with the signing of the Treaty of Greeneville in 1795. As the population continued to grow in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, many of the New England settlers found themselves not always in agreement with people coming from Virginia and Kentucky who had different visions for the region. Source OhioHistoryCentral.org

On March 1, 1786 General Rufus Putnam and his associates, nearly all of whom were Freemasons, met at "The Bunch of Grapes Tavern", in the City of Boston, Massachusetts for the purpose of forming a company to buy land in what is now Ohio. Thus was formed the Ohio Company. On July 23, 1787 Congress empowered the Board of the Treasury to contact for the sale of a tract of land North of the Ohio River and East of the Scioto River.

As a result of these events the City of Marietta was settled in 1787 - 1788 and a short time thereafter, June 28, 1790, American Union Lodge #1 was established in that city.

The tract of land between the Scioto River and the Little Miami River was reserved in it deed to the United States Government for the purpose of establishing the Virginia Military District. The purpose of establishing this district was to reward citizens of Virginia, who had fought in the Revolutionary

Ward, with grants of land. The grants were made in accord with the rank of the person serving and the length of such service.

In order to handle the details involved in these land transactions, the State of Virginia established a land office in Chillicothe. Settlers came up the Scioto River to establish homes in the new country. Chillicothe was platted and became a city in 1796. Among its first citizens could be found Freemasons from Virginia and, in even larger numbers, from the New England States.

In 1803 Ohio became a state and the legislature met in Chillicothe, which was selected as the capital of the new state. A number of the delegates to the legislature were members of the Masonic Order, they and others felt that a lodge should be located at Chillicothe. These members subsequently petitioned the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for a charter.
Source www.sciotolodge.com

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