The Bronx District
Historical Note

History does not record when the first Masonic meeting was
held in what is known as The Bronx. It is known that after the
Duke of York assumed control of New Amsterdam, in 1664,
that British forces established garrisons in both the East Bronx
(Borough of Westchester) and West Bronx (Annexed Lands).
British military units then, as now, often had Military, or
Traveling Lodges accompanying them, and it is possible that
such a Lodge "Worked" in the Bronx. The first Lodge
organized in what is now known as the Bronx appeared when a
petition was presented to Grand Lodge on March 2, 1796, and a
Warrant was ordered issued by Jacob Morton, D.G.M., and
DeWitt Clinton, J.G.W. instituting Westchester Lodge, No. 46.
The first meeting of Westchester Lodge was held in the home of
David Hustice in the Town of Westchester (now Westchester
Square). The Lodges jurisdiction extended from Long Island
Sound and the Connecticut line on the east; to the Hudson
River on the west; from the Harlem River on the south to the
Putnam County line on the north. Stated meetings of the Lodge
were those of the first full moon of the months of January,
April, July, and October." To discourage non-attendance
members were fined one to four shillings for absence. On June
24, 1797, the Festival of St. John the Baptist was observed by
the Lodge and Masonic Services were held in St. Peters
Episcopal Church with the Reverend Brother John Ireland
officiating. On December 27, 1797, Westchester Lodge
relocated to a more central point in Eastchester and alternately
met there and in White Plains and New Rochelle until finally
locating to Tuckahoe, where it continues to work under the
name of Huguenot Lodge, No. 46. From 1797 to 1852, no
Lodges regularly operated in what is now known as the Bronx,
probably due to its small population and, in part, the
anti-Masonic fervor resulting from the Morgan incident," plus
the schism in Grand Lodge.
With the end of the Morgan Era" and the reunification of
Grand Lodge by the 1840Œs, Masonry enjoyed a rebirth. On
December 25, 1852, a Charter was issued to Marion Lodge, No.
278 allowing them to work in the Town of West Farms. Marion
Lodges original jurisdiction encompassed the Annexed Lands;
from the Bronx River on the east to the Hudson River on the
west; from the Harlem River on the south to the Yonkers line
on the north. Between 1852 and 1918, eleven Lodges were
Chartered in the area and one Lodge, Hopewell, relocated to the
area, from Hopewell Junction. From the formation of the
Grand Lodge of New York, in 1781, Lodges were arranged in
Districts according to Lodge number and area; Districts were
numbered from 1 through 42. In 1898, the State of New York
completed its incorporation of Counties and the creation of the
City of Greater New York, thus was formed in Bronx County.
At the same time, Masonry in New York was growing in
ever-increasing numbers; this trend continued into the 20th
century.
In 1908, R.W. John E. Virden, D.D.G.M. of the 7th Masonic
District, first advocated the formation of a new Masonic District
to be composed of Lodges locating with the County and
Borough of The Bronx. He was supported and joined over the
next few years by R.W. S. Harby Plough, R.W. William Y. Jack,
R.W. Edward Feih, R.W. John Bell, and R.W. John Lecky,
together with the earnest efforts and cooperation of their many
colleagues from Lodges meeting in The Bronx. Similar
discussions were going on, at the same time, throughout the
state. It was not until 1917 that the movement gained sufficient
support to be presented at a Grand Lodge Communication. At
the 1918 Annual Communication of Grand Lodge, in May, the
plan for redistricting was adopted.
It fell to the newly installed Grand Master, M.W. William S.
Farmer, to implement the plan. This plan established the new
Masonic Districts along county lines, with numbers as necessary,
and created 64 Districts, geographically arranged into four
Regions. The Bronx District was one of the twenty-two
Districts in the Metropolitan Region, which includes the five
counties comprising Greater New York City plus Putnam,
Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties (some Districts
incorporated more than one county and some counties had
more than one District).
The twelve original Lodges of the Bronx District came from the
6th, 7th, 8th, and 42nd Masonic Districts and were:

Azure, No. 868 (42nd District)
Bronx, No. 860 (42nd District)
Gavel, No. 703 (8th District)
Guiding Star, No. 565 (7th District)
Hebron, No. 813 (7th District)
Hopewell, No. 596 (7th District)
Level, No. 914 (42nd District)
Lily, No. 342 (6th District)
Marion, No. 278 (6th District)
Pelham, No. 712 (8th District)
Trowel, No. 860 (42nd District)
Wyoming, No. 492 (7th District)

R.W. S. Harby Plough was appointed as the first District Deputy
Grand Master (D.D.G.M.), R.W. Walter McGivney was
appointed as the first Staff Officer (Grand Sword Bearer) and
W. William Steiger was appointed as the first Assistant Grand
Lecturer (A.G.L.) of the Bronx District. Part of the redistricting
plan was to encourage the formation of District organizations.
Meetings were held in the autumn of 1918 and resulted in the
formation of The Masters and Past Masters Association, which
became operative in January 1919. W. Arthur A. Barr was
elected as its first president. The Masters and Past Masters
Association was established to provide a forum for District
concerns, to provide for Masonic relief to the Brothers of the
District, their widows, and orphans, to promote the spirit and
unity in the District, and to undertake charitable endeavors.

Since 1919, other associations have been established to fulfill
these same aims. There have been Wardens Associations and
Masters Associations at various times. The Past District
Deputies have an association which continues to function and
has the responsibility of recommending appoints to Grand
Lodge Offices; there is also a Purple Circle made up of past and
present Grand Lodge Officers.
Over the past 100 years, members of Bronx District Lodges
have served their District and Grand Lodge, with distinction, as
District Deputy Grand Masters, Grand Lodge Officers, Grand
Chaplains, Grand Representatives, Assistant Grand Lecturers,
Presidents of the Masters and Past Masters Association, and
Masters of their respective Lodges. Some of our Brothers have
been called upon to serve Grand Lodge in appointed to elected
officers, R.W. James F. Reynolds was appointed as Senior
Grand Deacon (1949 . 1950), R.W. Henry W. Emmerson was
elected Grand Treasurer (1978 . 1979) and R.W. Robert E.
Roeser served as an elected Trustee of the Robert R. Livingston
Masonic Library and Museum (1986), and R.W. Louis H. Juers
was elected Grand Treasurer (1996 . 1998). Other members of
District Lodges have served Grand Lodge on standing and
special committees.