There are pioneers in every human endeavor. For Masonry in Michigan, our Masonic pioneers are the men who settled our state and founded Masonic lodges in their communities. They carried our Craft into all corners of Michigan and led the way towards making good men better.
This project seeks to honor the First Masters of Michigan by documenting their existence and collecting their photos. The project is the first in a series of interactive Masonic history projects spearheaded by the Michigan Masonic Museum and Library. We are centralizing the research, but we need interested Michigan Masons to help us collect it.
Many lodges have an image of their First Master hanging in their lodge room. We are asking brothers to help us document this image and build a biography of their First Master. The Museum and Library can assist you in searching historical records for information about your First Master, but we need you to take the First Step and help us identify your First Master.
First, we have to clarify what constitutes a "First Master." Before a lodge can be formally chartered, a group of Masons receives a dispensation from the Grand Master of Masons in Michigan. This dispensation allows them to meet and start behaving as a Masonic Lodge. A Masonic brother is appointed by the Grand Master to serve as Master of the lodge while it is "under dispensation."
For our purposes, we have been considering the "Master Under Dispensation" to be the First Master. After a lodge formally receives its charter from the Grand Lodge, officer elections are held for the first time. Sometimes the Master Under Dispensation would be elected Master of the Lodge. Sometimes he would not be elected and this gives rise the distinction between the "First Master Under Dispensation" and the "First Elected Master."
We have created a database primarily from information we can cull from proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Michigan. This list is not definitive and there are several errors in early Grand Lodge records as to spelling and times of service. We ask that you review the document below and see if our record matches the records of your lodge regarding your First Master.
The current First Masters database can be downloaded here
Please contact the Museum and Library to participate in this project.