From Whence We Came

By: Thomas C Johnson, P.M.

This chapter is not meant to detail the history of the Grand Lodge of Florida. That has already been eloquently done by the Most Worshipful J. Roy Crowther, Past Grand Master, our Grand Historian. This brief coverage of Grand Lodge history is meant only to give the reader a better understanding of “from whence we came.”

Everyone, and everything must have a point of origin. In order for Freemasons to work as a regular lodge in the state of Florida, they must hold a Charter, issued in accordance with Masonic Law, by the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the state Florida.

Prior to Florida becoming a State in 1845, it was known as The Territory of Florida. Prior to 1830, no Grand Lodge existed in The Territory of Florida. Where no Grand Lodge exists in a State or Territory, any Grand Lodge can charter a Lodge, and hold jurisdiction over it, in what can be described as “unoccupied territory.” When a Grand Lodge is formed in such territory, all the Lodges therein come under the jurisdiction of the new Grand Lodge.

On July 5th, 1830, in Tallahassee, Florida, three Lodges known as Jackson Lodge Number 23 chartered December 19, 1825 by the Grand Lodge of Alabama, Washington Lodge Number 1, chartered December 2, 1828 by the Grand Lodge of Georgia, and Harmony Lodge Number 2, chartered December 8, 1829 by the Grand Lodge of Georgia, met in convention.

This convention was styled as “The convention of Free and Accepted Ancient York Masons of the Territory of Florida,” and resulted in the formation of the Grand Lodge of Florida.

A constitution was adopted, officers elected, and on July 6, 1830, a motion was adopted to issue warrants to Jackson Lodge Number 1, to meet in Tallahassee, Washington Lodge Number 2, to meet in Quincy, and Harmony Lodge Number 3, to meet in Marianna.

These were the same 3 Lodges chartered by Alabama and Georgia, who called the convention, but now renumbered to conform to the constitution of the new Grand Lodge of Florida.

The Grand Lodge of Florida remained in Tallahassee until 1870, when by Grand Lodge resolution it was moved to Jacksonville. Thus began the history of the Grand Lodge of Florida, and subsequently, on January 22, 1896, it chartered New Smyrna Lodge 149 to meet in New Smyrna.

The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida is located at 220 Ocean Street in Jacksonville and its history is highly recommended reading.

This chapter briefly recounts the beginning of the Grand Lodge, explains its authority, and establishes “from whence we came.” Having served its stated purpose, this Chapter further establishes the point to begin the history of New Smyrna Lodge 149 Free and Accepted Masons of Florida.