A Brief History of Grand Lodge
By petitioning for membership in a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, you will be associating with a fraternal order in Michigan that was organized in 1826 and was operating several years before our State was admitted to the Union. However, Freemasonry, as we know it today, dates its formal beginnings to the 17th century. Therefore you will become, upon acceptance, a member of the oldest fraternity in the world.
While we cannot claim that Freemasonry came to the Great Lakes area on any specific date, we know that it was first brought to the area by the French at a time when it was Indian territory. The earliest documented Lodge west of the Allegheny Mountains was warranted in Detroit on April 27, 1764, by George Harison, Provincial Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of New York, with Lt. John Christie of the 2nd Battalion, 60th Royal American Foot Regiment (British) as Worshipful Master. By 1772, there were at least three Lodges functioning at Detroit: Lodge No. 1 and two Irish Military Lodges, Nos. 299 and 378, warranted to Masons of the 10th Regiment, then stationed at Detroit. The next three Lodges warranted for work in Michigan were also started by members of the visiting military. These were Harmony Lodge in Detroit, St. Johns Lodge No. 15 on the island of Mackinac and Zion Lodge No. 10 (now No. 1) warranted in 1794 for work in Detroit.
Many events are recorded in the well-kept minutes of Zion Lodge but perhaps the most momentous occurred in September of 1817 when the Lodge provided much needed support for the newly-created University of Michigan: The idea first took shape in the minds of Augustus Woodward, a Mason and the first Judge of the Territorial Supreme Court; the Reverend John Monteith, a Presbyterian clergyman and Father Gabriel Richard, a Roman Catholic Priest. On September 15, Zion Lodge met and subscribed the sum of $250 in aid of the University of Michigan, payable in the sum of $50 per year. Of the total amount subscribed to start the University two-thirds came from Zion Lodge and its members.
The members of Zion Lodge sponsored and supported additional Lodges in Upper Canada and Michigan including Detroit Lodge No. 337 (now No. 2), Oakland Lodge No. 343 in Pontiac, Menomenie Lodge No. 374 in Green Bay (then a part of the Territory) and Monroe Lodge No. 375 in Monroe. These five Lodges laid plans for a Grand Lodge in the Territory to handle the growing plans for Masonry in the area, and in June of 1826 a Grand Lodge for the Territory of Michigan was established in Detroit. There are over 400 Lodges in the State of Michigan at the present time. Each Lodge sponsors several social and charitable events during the year. One of our major charities is a home for elderly Masons and their wives located in Alma, Michigan. We are justifiably proud of this Masonic Home, and you and your wife are invited to visit at your convenience.