According to an article by Benjamin Franklin published in his own newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette, there were in 1730 several Lodges already established in the State. A Deputation had been issued to Daniel Coxe by the Grand Lodge of England and there may have been time for him to have established one or two Lodges, but most probably those mentioned by Franklin were working by "immemorial" right. In 1734 Franklin, Master of Saint John's Lodge, applied for and obtained a Charter for a Lodge at Philadelphia from the Grand taster of the Saint John's Grand Lodge of Massachuset. At this time several of the Lodges worked the Royal Arch Degree under the Lodge Warrant.
In 1731 a Grand Lodge was organized by the Brethren from the Lodges mentioned by Franklin. Records are preserved since July 29, 1779, and earlier ones were probably destroyed in the Revolutionary War. On September 25, 1786, it was decided to sever relations with English authority.
The Grand Lodge was closed and a Convention held the same day, by representatives of thirteen Lodges, who decided to open a new and independent Grand Lodge. On July 24, 1734, Franklin was elected Grand Master.
The first Chapter in Pennsylvania worked under the Warrant of Royal .Arch Lodge, .No. 3, which had been formed in 1763 by some of the members of Lodge No. '', Ancient York Masons, established 1757. A Royal Arch Degree had been worked as early as 1757 or 1758. In 1763 several members of this Lodge established Royal Arch Lodge, No. 3, under whose warrant the first Chapter in Pennsylvania worked for some time. From 1758 until 1795 all Chapters in Pennsylvania worked under the authority of Lodges subordinate to the Grand Lodge. A Grand Holy Royal Arch Chapter was opened on February 24, 1798, attached to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. In 1824 this was closed and a meeting was held to organize an independent Grand Chapter. May 24, officers were elected and Michael Nisbet became Grand High Priest. This Grand Chapter was not subordinate to the General Grand Chapter of the United States, and worked all the usual Degrees except that of Past Master, which is controlled by the Grand Lodge.
Washington, No. 1, was the first Council to be established in Pennsylvania. On December 6, 1847, delegates from three Councils, namely, Washington, No. 1; Mount Moriah, No. 2, and Lone Star, No. 3, met and formed a Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters. This Encampment met regularly at first, but gradually interest in it lessened and in 1854 it was proposed to put the Degrees under the control of the Council of Princes of Jerusalem. The Councils would not agree to this and on December 30, 1854, the Grand Council was reorganized as an independent Body which did not recognize Degrees granted in the Chapter.
The first Commandery in Pennsylvania was opened at Philadelphia in 1793. On December 27, 1812, it united with No. 2 as No. 1. On May 12, 1797, delegates from Commanderies Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 held a Convention and organized a Grand Encampment. Nos. 1 and 2, however, as So. 1, with No. 2 of Pittsburgh; Rising Sun, No. 1, of New York; Washington, No. 1, of Wilmington, and Baltimore, No. 1, of Maryland, established a second Grand Encampment on February 16, 1814. After 1824 the subordinate Encampments except Saint John's, No. 4, ceased work. May 10, 1854, representatives from Saint John's, No. 4; Philadelphia, No. 5; Union, No. 6, and De Molay, No. 7, established a Grand Encampment under the authority of the Grand Lodge. On February 16, 1857, the Grand Lodge withdrew all privileges granted to Lodges of Knights Templar. There were thus two Grand Encampments and not until June 1, 1857, was the union of the two Bodies finally accomplished.
On May 14, 1852, the Gourgas Lodge of Perfection and the Pennsylvania Council of Princes of Jerusalem were established at Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Chapter of Rose Croix was chartered at the same place on May 14, 1857, and on that day also a Charter was granted to Pennsylvania Consistory, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Juries diction.
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