Charter Members

History may seem a bit dull at times but we should never forget that it is made by men acting out their dreams and aspirations.  — Ill. R. Stanley Penfield, 33°

The Valley of Hartford was born on July 7, 1864.  Like any other Masonic organization, it began by brethren petitioning for a charter.   But in order for these brethren to petition, they had to be Scottish Rite Masons.  Who were these men, and where were they made Scottish Rite Masons?

On September 28, 1863, in Providence, Rhode Island, the nine charter members of the Valley of Hartford, eight of whom were Knights Templar from Washington Commandery #1, “received their sublime and superior degrees and orders of Ineffable Masonry.”  Or, as we would say today, they received their 32nd Degree.

The nine charter members of the Valley of Hartford were:

  • Amos Pillsbury, a mechanic, age 34
  • Joseph K. Wheeler, a merchant, age 30
  • Lucius E. Hunt, a merchant, age 34
  • Samuel L. Way, a merchant, age 31
  • Edwin Garfield, a mechanic, age 48
  • Ira W. Ford, a merchant, age 47
  • Albert P. Pitkin, a mechanic, age 34
  • Enoch P. Savage, a mechanic, age 39
  • Samuel Mumford

On July 28, 1864, the Charter Oak Lodge of Perfection was instituted under the direction of Ill. Nathan H. Gould, 33°, Deputy for Rhode Island and Connecticut.  An election was held and Amos PIllsbury was elected the first Thrice Potent Master, Joseph K. Wheeler the Deputy Master, Ira W. Ford the Secretary and Albert P. Pitkin, the Treasurer.

At that time, the degree fees were $15.   And it should be noted that in the by-laws of 1878 (the earliest of which there are record), it stated that “all candidates must have attained the rank of a Knight Templar.”   This requirement persisted on a formal, or informal, basis until the 1940’s.

More Information About the Charter Members

Information about Jospeh K. Wheeler and Amos Pillsbury exist elsewhere on this site.

It should be noted that Lucius E. Hunt served as Major Commandant of the First Company, Governor’s Foot Guard, a prominent Hartford military organization, from 1862 to 1865, and was in that office when made a Scottish Rite Mason.  Commanding the Foot Guard and chartering a Scottish Rite Valley are both time consuming propositions, so one can assume that Brother Hunt was a very busy man indeed.

Samuel L. Way is listed in the 1880 US Census as residing in Hartford, being married to Kate N. Way, and his occupation is noted as being in the “hardware business.”

Edwin Garfield was a Master Mechanic with the Hartford, Providence & Fishkill Railroad, achieving that position after service as Fireman and later, Engineer.   He passed to the Celestial Lodge Above on November 16, 1877.  His obituary in the Annual Report of the American Railway Master Mechanics Association 1878 mentions that his character was of sterling worth and that he was also a man of much wit and humor.

Ira W. Ford celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary to Mary Ford nee Boyd in November 1897 at their home at 117 Trumbull Street in Hartford, according to an article preserved by the Connecticut Historical Society.  Ford, originally of Hebron, was married at his bride’s family Windor Street  home in Hartford.  The couple resided in New London for two years and then settled in Hartford.

Albert P. Pitkin was a descendant of colonial Governor William Pitkin and part of one of the oldest families in Connecticut, the Pitkin family of East Hartford.  Born in 1829, his career centered on furnaces and steam boilers.  He died on February 21, 1892.  An excellent biographical article with picture appears on rootsweb.ancestory.com.

A Note About Samuel Mumford

Samuel Mumford was not made a Master Mason in any Connecticut Lodge.  There is a Samuel Mumford listed in an early City Directory of Hartford, with an occupation of chemist, and when he passed on February 28, 1878 at age 65, the funeral notice requested that “Newport Papers please copy.”  This would indicated that he was from the Newport area and probably a member of the Scottish Rite there, but as their records are not extant, it is just speculation.