Thursday, January 1, 2015

Freemasonry and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: Freemasonry West of the Mississippi River, Kaskaskia 1700 to 1775

This is the second half of the Freemasonry and the Lewis and Clark Expedition series. This half will focus on Masonic work that took place at the same time as, but separate from the expedition and what happened with Freemasonry west of the Mississippi River after the expedition returned.

While the Masonic work conducted during the Lewis and Clark Expedition was unofficial, official Masonic work was conducted while the expedition was taking place. In the villiage of Kaskaskia the first Masonic Lodge west of the Mississippi was chartered while the Lewis and Clark Expedition was making their way to the Pacific Northwest. Though not directly related to the expedition, those who conducted the Masonic work in Kaskaskia may be have been inspired by the members of the expedition. These men who conducted this work may have had the foresight to realize there was going to be further expansion to the west once the expedition returned. The lodge was called Western Star Lodge No. 107. This area was the Indiana Territory  which became the state of Illinois. Kaskaskia, Illinois exists today.

Timeline of Kaskaskia 1700 to 1775:
1703 -  French Jesuit missionaries established a mission with the goal of converting the Illini Native Americans to Catholicism.
1707 - The population of the community was estimated at 2,200
Before 1714 - Of 21 children whose birth and baptism was recorded in Kaskaskia, 18 mothers were Indian and twenty fathers were French. One devout Catholic full-blooded Indian woman disowned her half-breed son for living "among the savage nations," as she referred to the French.
1714 - The first stone church is built.
1715 - A a visitor wrote that the village consisted of 400 Illinois men, " good people;" two Jesuit missionaries, and "about twenty French voyageurs who have settled there and married Indian women.
Between 1714 to 1718 - The French had a fur trading post in the village. French settlers moved into the area to farm and exploit the lead mines on the Missouri side of the river. Kaskaskia became the capitol of Upper Louisiana.
1718 - The French built Fort de Chartres. The French imported the first enslaved Africans, shipped from Santo Domingo in the Caribbean, to work as laborers in the lead mines being developed in Missouri. This region became both a fur trading and slave trading post.
1719 - The French goals stimulated the expedition of Claude Charles Du Tisne to establish trade relations with the Plains Indians.
1733 - The French built Fort Kaskaskia near the village.
1741 - King Louis XV sent a bell to Kaskaskia for one of the several churches constructed there.
1754 - The French Indian War, also known as he Seven Years War, started with the British.
1763 - Fort Kaskaskia was destroyed by the British and the French Indian War ended.
March 24, 1773 - Shardach Bond Jr. is born in Fredricktown, Maryland. He would become toe first governor of Illinois.
April 19, 1775 - The American Revolution started.

Up to this point no record of Masonic activity or work has been found or is known to have taken place in Kaskaskia. But it is plausible Freemasons of French and British decent were in the area at some point since its beginning and that Masonic work was conducted.

Info. source:
Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania - Wikipedia
Louisiana Purchase - About Education
Freemasonry Comes to Illinois - Alphonse Cerza
Freemasonry in Ste. Genevieve - Ste. Genevieve, Missouri
Horicon Lodge No. 244 - blog
History - St. Louis Missouri Lodge #1
Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania
Grand Lodge of Missouri
The Missouri Freemason Spring 2007 - magazine
Western Star Lodge #240
Freemasonry in Illinois - Masonic Voice Review
Kaskaskia, Illinois - Wikipedia
Curse of Kaskaskia
History of the M. W. Grand Lodge of Illinois
Shadrach Bond - Wikipedia
Grand Lodge of Illinois

Previous articles:
Freemasonry and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: Introduction
Freemasonry and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: Thank You
Freemasonry and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: Information Sources
Freemasonry and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: Timeline
Freemasonry and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: The Type of Men who Joined Freemasonry in the Past 
Freemasonry and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: Was Masonic Work Conducted during the Expedition?
Freemasonry and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: We Proceeded On Article.
Freemasonry and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: Royal Arch Mason Article
Freemasonry and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: First Series Summary