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Freemasonry: Surviving the Anti-Masons

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, in our confabulation last week, we spoke of the first meeting of Highland Lodge No. 38 of Free and Accepted Masons in 1817 and left off with how the Lodge nearly folded due to the great Anti-Masonic agitation that rose up in America less than a decade after the Lodge received its charter 200 years ago.

Speaking of 200 years, the Highland Lodge will be celebrating its 200th Reconsecration on May 4 from 9 a.m. until noon this year at the venerable Masonic Temple, located on the corner of North High Street and Beech Street. Any Mason who would like to attend the 200th Reconsecration Ceremony by the Grand Lodge of Ohio is welcome to attend.

With that programming note out of the way, let’s take a quick look at the Anti-Masons (who probably won’t be at the May 4 ceremony).

According to Wikipedia, the Anti-Masonic Party was formed in upstate New York in February of 1828. Anti-Masons were opponents of Freemasonry, believing that it was a corrupt and elitist secret society which was ruling much of the country in defiance of republican principles.

During a period of social upheaval caused by the Industrial Revolution and westward migration, community and family relationships weakened, causing many people to become skeptical of government and other longstanding institutions – and Freemasonry was an obvious target. But according to the centennial publication, “History of Highland Lodge No. 38 F&AM Hillsboro, Ohio 1817-1917,” George L. Garrett wrote that due to the zeal of George
Washington Barrere (1770-1838), who was the Highland Lodge’s first Master, the Lodge survived.

“Brother Barrere was the first representative of this Lodge in the Grand Lodge and served continuously as Master from 1817 to 1838, except during the years 1821, 1822 and 1823,” Garrett wrote.

“This good and exemplary Mason died in the year 1838, and a special meeting was held by the Lodge, March 10th of that year, to attend the funeral at New Market, and the minutes show that ‘the funeral was at the Methodist Meeting House, where a eulogy was pronounced by Rev. Henry Turner. The procession proceeded, accompanied by a large concourse of people to the graveyard in said place, where the body was deposited in ancient form.’”

Yes, Barrere served as the Lodge’s Master 17 times, and if you’re curious, Richard Collins and Henry Davis were the Masters the years Barrere was not in those early years. Other officers of the Lodge from 1817 to 1840 included T.J. Barrere, Moses Carothers, John Mills Barrere, Amos Grantham, B.H. Johnson, William Johnson, Daniel H. Murphy, Moses H. Kirby, William Carothers, John W. Woollas, R.R. Allen, G.W Tucker, Joseph McClain, William Thompson, A. Farquhar, Samuel Bell, John Woods, J. Penn Corbett, Michael Holmes, Thomas E. Johnson, Robert January, Cyrus A. Baylor, William Davidson, Jason Wheeler, Daniel VanWinkle, George W. Arrick and Alexander Bentley.

After George Washington Barrere’s death in 1838, his son, John Mills Barrere (1800-1880), served as Master of the Lodge from 1839-48 and again in 1856-58. Yes, that is 14 times, second all-time to his father. John Mills Barrere was a county postmaster for many years, served as a state senator for two terms, had 14 children, lost three sons in the Civil War and also fought in the Civil War and lost an arm at Harpers Ferry.

In closing this week, I will use the words that Brother Garrett penned more than a century ago: “We can never revere in too great a degree the earlier brethren of the Lodge, who through trials, discouragements and persecutions stood firm and established the foundation on which we have continued to build our Masonic edifice.

“And turning from the past to the future, it remains for us and our succeeding brother to so guard its portals and to so protect its good name, that when another hundred years have rolled around, our Order will still exist, and that it may be said then, even as it has been said now:

“Unaffected by the tempests of war, the storms of persecution or the denunciation of fanaticism, it still stands proudly erect in the sunshine and clear light of heaven, with not a marble fractured, not a pillar fallen.”

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

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

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