Nauvoo Lodge under Dispensation, Minutes, [, Hancock Co., IL], 15–16 Mar. 1842. Featured version copied [ca. 15–16 Mar. 1842] in “Record of Nauvoo Lodge under Dispensation,” pp. –; handwriting of ; Nauvoo Masonic Lodge Minutes, CHL.
The minutes appear in “Record of Nauvoo Lodge under Dispensation,” which comprises twenty-three loose leaves that were cut and torn from a bound book of unknown size. The leaves now measure 13⅞ × 9⅜ inches (35 × 24 cm). Lodge Secretary inscribed the record, first copying the temporary dispensation granted on 15 October 1841 to organize a lodge in the and then keeping minutes of the lodge’s meetings, starting with the meeting of 29 December 1841. He appears to have inscribed the minutes roughly contemporaneously, though the cleanliness of the inscription and lack of edits suggest that he copied the minutes from drafts inscribed elsewhere. The last minutes in the record are dated 6 May 1842. The minutes recorded in this book were also copied into a separate lodge minute book that continued the record.
When the leaves were cut from the bound volume, an additional blank leaf was cut from the book and used as a new cover page, listing the names of the Masonic Hall building committee. A note was written at the bottom of the page indicating the record’s placement in the cornerstone of the Hall in . The inscription suggests that this record was cut from the ledger book around 24 June 1843, the day the cornerstone was laid.
The record, which was deposited in a copper box, was removed from the cornerstone in 1954, when Wilford Wood purchased the Masonic Hall from Arline Mulch on behalf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Shortly after making the sale, Mulch threatened legal action and the church returned the hall (retaining the documents), with the proviso that if Mulch ever decided to sell the property the church would have rights of first refusal. The church then repurchased the hall permanently in 1967. (“Settle Suit on Mormon Nauvoo Land,” Des Moines [IA] Register, 17 June 1955, 8; Allen, “Nauvoo’s Masonic Hall,” 45–46, 48–49; Bashore and Barrett, “To Unlock the Secrets of Nauvoo’s Masonic Hall,” 57–58.)
Des Moines Register. Des Moines, IA. 1860–.
Allen, James B. “Nauvoo’s Masonic Hall. The John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 10 (1990): 39–49.
Bashore, Melvin L., and Anne Barrett. “To Unlock the Secrets of Nauvoo’s Masonic Hall.” In Historic Sites Division Research Reports, CHL.
On 15 March 1842 the Nauvoo Lodge under Dispensation was officially installed. , Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of , granted a dispensation for the creation of a temporary Masonic lodge in , Illinois, the previous year, on 15 October 1841. Masons living in Nauvoo at the time, led by member , had petitioned the state’s Grand Lodge for the creation of a local lodge. Masonic regulations required that those petitioning to create a new lodge be “recommended and vouched” for by members of an existing lodge in the area. In this case members of the (Illinois) Lodge 6 provided the recommendation. JS, not a Mason at the time of the temporary lodge’s creation, was not involved in these earlier events. The featured minutes are for multiple meetings of two lodges—a Grand Lodge and a subordinate lodge—held in Nauvoo on 15 and 16 March 1842. They are presented together here as an account of the creation of the Nauvoo Lodge U.D.
Tuesday, 15 March, was filled with events related to the lodge’s installation. Although JS was not yet a Mason at the beginning of the installation of the permanent lodge that day, he nevertheless served as Grand Chaplain during the proceedings. The day began with a nine o’clock meeting in the upper room (frequently referred to as the “lodge room”) of JS’s on Water Street, during which opened a Grand Lodge for the purpose of installing the lodge. The meeting adjourned until one o’clock, at which time Nauvoo mayor , acting as Grand Marshal, organized a procession to the on the west side of the construction site, where the Nauvoo Lodge U.D. was formally installed. Following a speech by Jonas, those assembled dispersed, with Masons returning to the lodge room, where they read and accepted bylaws drafted on 30 December 1841. Later, at a seven o’clock meeting of the lodge, JS and were initiated as Entered Apprentice Masons (the first degree).
The next morning, 16 March, the lodge held a meeting at nine o’clock in which JS and were passed as Fellow Crafts (the second degree). In the afternoon JS was raised as a Master Mason (the third and final degree). That evening Rigdon was also raised as a Master and the lodge passed four resolutions expressing gratitude for and fellowship with Jonas and the other visiting Masons. Although JS was never as involved with the lodge as other church members—including his brother —attendance rolls indicate that he participated more frequently than most other nonofficers of the lodge until the end of his life. By the end of 1842, the lodge was the largest Masonic lodge in .
The minutes of the lodge featured below were inscribed by the lodge’s first Secretary, , presumably based on rough minutes he took during the meeting.
A “dispensation” is a written document authorizing the creation of a lodge. Lodges referred to as “under dispensation” are “inchoate” during a probationary period wherein they prove their ability to perform their work in an acceptable manner, after which they become duly constituted.
“An Observer” from Adams County, Illinois, wrote on 22 March 1842 to the Columbus (Illinois) Advocate of having witnessed the event. The author wrote that attendance estimates ranged from five to ten thousand and that “never in my life did I witness a better dressed or a more orderly and well behaved assemblage.” (“Nauvoo and the Mormons,” Times and Seasons, 1 Apr. 1842, 3:750.)
Hogan, Mervin B. Vital Statistics of Nauvoo Lodge. Salt Lake City: By the author, 1976.
Tuesday, March 15th, A. L. 5842, AD. 1842,
9 o’clock, A. M.
Special Communication, by order of . Lodge met pursuant to previous notice. Present— W. M. [Worshipful Master] , G. M. of the G. L. [Grand Lodge] of ; W. D. McCann, D. G. S. [Deputy Grand Secretary]; , W. M. p. t. [pro tem]; , S. W. [Senior Warden]; , J. W. [Junior Warden]; , T[reasurer]; , S[ecretary]; , S. D. [Senior Deacon]; , J. D. [Junior Deacon]; , T[yler]; Wm. Felshaw, and , S[tewards]; , , , , , Christopher Williams, , , , , , , George Montague, Noble Rogers, and , Members; and L. B. Adams, Franklin, 22, Ill.; M. Plumb, Franklin, 22, Ill.; Henry King, Sylvan, 229, N.Y.; A. C. Graves, Harmony, 11, Ia.; J. Rose, St. Johns, 21, N.Y.; A. Lambert, Sciota, 28, O[hio]; G. Heberling, La Fayette, Pa.; D. Hibbard, New England, 4, O.; James Cummings, Maine, Me.; E. Jennings, Mt. Moriah, N.Y.; Samuel Miles, Rainbow, Vt.; Thomas C. King, Bodley, 1, Ill.; Caleb Baldwin, Concord, O.; S. Comer, Urbanna, O.; & L. Evans, Urbanna, O.; visiting brethren. The M. W. [Most Worshipful] presided, and opened the lodge in due form, in the 3rd degree of masonry. He, likewise, organised, and opened a Grand Lodge according to ancient usage, in the 3rd degree. The Grand and Subordinate Lodges then called off from labor to refreshment, until 1 o’clock, P. M.
1 o’clock, P. M.
The Lodges called to labor. Present as before. The then directed the Grand Marshal, , to form a procession according to ancient usage, in order to proceed to the , near the , for installation, which was accordingly done. At the , after the ceremonies of installation, the delivered a highly creditable and finished address on the subject of Ancient York Masonry, after which the lodges returned to the lodge room in masonic orders. The Grand Lodge then closed in due form, without day. The subordinate Lodge then adopted the by-laws which they had informally prepared on the 30th of December, as amended at the suggestion of the . On motion, the Lodges [p. ]
“5842” refers to the year in the Masonic dating system, representing the Gregorian year plus 4,000. Dates in the Masonic system are often preceded by Anno Lucis, Latin for “year of light.” (“Masonic Computation of Time,” 129–131.)
“Masonic Computation of Time.” Freemasons’ Monthly Magazine 9, no. 5 (1 Mar. 1850): 129–131.
A “special communication” is an assembly of Masons called by the Worshipful Master, as opposed to meetings regularly scheduled in the lodge’s bylaws, which are termed “stated” or “regular” communications.
In 1825 Illinois Masons had adopted a rule that certain types of business were to be conducted only in a third-degree, or Master Mason’s, lodge. (Reynolds, History of the M. W. Grand Lodge of Illinois, 86.)
Reynolds, John C. History of the M. W. Grand Lodge of Illinois, Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons, From the Organization of the First Lodge Within the Present Limits of the State, Up to and Including 1850. Springfield, IL: H. G. Reynolds, 1869.