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Celebrating 200 years of Freemasonry in Highland County

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, anyone who has been spent time in uptown Hillsboro will easily recognize the venerable Masonic Temple located on the corner of North High Street and Beech Street.

You probably know the temple is home to Highland Lodge No. 38 of Free and Accepted Masons. The Highland Lodge will be celebrating its 200th Reconsecration on May 4 from 9 a.m. until noon this year, along with a gala in September. We’ll elaborate in future confabulations, but consider this a save the date for any Mason who would like to attend the 200th Reconsecration.

The first meeting of Highland Lodge No. 38 was held in Hillsboro on March 3, 1817. Yes, that was more than 200 years ago – the lodge received its dispensation in the 1817, but didn’t receive its charter until 1819, so it was decided at the state level that this year, 2019, would be the year the lodge would celebrate its bicentennial with a Reconsecration Ceremony by the Grand Lodge of Ohio.

I have been a member of the lodge for a decade, and each time I set foot in the temple, I take a few moments to look at the wall of Past Masters on the second floor. When I look at the photos and names on that wall, I take some time to ponder the lives of all the men who helped form the lodge and shape it over the years to what it is today.

The first master of the lodge and one of its founders was George Washington Barrere. Some of you may remember I penned a series of offerings nearly a half-decade ago on the life and times of Barrere, so I apologize in advance for any duplication of information.

Barrere was born nearly 250 years ago – on March 17, 1770, near current-day Wheeling, W.Va. Some historians claim that he was the namesake of George Washington, the first president of the U.S., and that Washington actually held George Washington Barrere when Barrere was an infant.

When he was just 2 years old, Barrere’s parents were killed in an Indian raid and his older brother was taken captive. He was adopted by Jacob and Melissa Drennan and narrowly escaped death again. “Shortly after the death of his parents, the Indians again led an attack on the settlers in the area,” local historian Mrs. Jean Wallis wrote in a 1985 article. “Everyone made haste to the stockade. Mrs. Drennan, taking her children to safety, suddenly remembered the baby she had left in the cabin. Against the protests
of the people, she ran back into the cabin, picked up the baby, featherbed and all, and ran toward the stockade. By this time, the Indians were so close that when she reached the safety of the stockade, there were 11 bullet holes in the featherbed. However, she and the baby, Barrere, were unhurt.”

When he was older, Barrere fought the Indians, and was feared to have been killed in St. Clair’s defeat in 1791, but survived by hiding from the Indians during the day and traveling by night back to safety. He later fought in the War of 1812.

In 1802, he and his family moved to New Market, where he opened a tavern and eventually became a state senator. He was truly a man of many hats – he was a soldier, businessman, statesman, surveyor, judge, justice of the peace, husband and was a father to 13 children. He also was a Master Mason who was a big part of establishing the lodge.

Let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next week.

Steve Roush is a vice president of an international media company, is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees and is a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at

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