Unity Lodge, No. 9
by Captain Franklin Ellis445
Unity Lodge, No. 9, located at Lebanon Springs, was instituted in 1788. The application for a warrant bears the names of Eleazer Grant, John Darling, Elihu Phinney, John Noyes, Wm. Powers, John W. Schermerhorn, James Wylie, Nathan Hand, Samuel Wheeler, Daniel Green, William Johnson, and Ephraim Hunt. The warrant issued Sept. 18, 1788, designates Eleazer Grant as W. M.; John Darling, S. W.; and Elihu Phinney, J. W. At that time Robert Livingston was the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State, and Hudson and Albany were the neighboring lodges. Northward there was no lodge nearer than Montreal. The Master and Senior Warden were properly installed at Albany, in December, and on the 2d of February, 1789, at a meeting held in the house of Casparus Hewson, Elisha Gilbert, Lewis and Levi Preston became the first initiates.
About 1794 an arrangement was entered into with Major Elisha Gilbert, whereby a room in the house which he was then building was secured for lodge purposes. For many years this afforded a comfortable place of meeting, where friendly feeling and good cheer prevailed. It was customary in those time to refresh the brethren coming from a distance with the substantials of life, and to pledge themselves anew in the flowing bowl. As far as can be learned, no inebriety resulted, as the spirits were not so evil disposed then as now. The lodge was in good repute, and soon had a large membership, numbering, in 1796, one hundred and fifteen, among them being the most prominent citizens of the town.
In the fall of 1796 twenty-four members withdrew to form the Canaan Lodge, at New Concord, and four years later twelve more left with John W. Schermerhorn to organize a new lodge at Nassau. In a year sixteen others withdrew to build up a new lodge at Stephentown, leaving the membership of Unity at forty-five.
The Masters up to this period were: 1788-93, Eleazer Grant; 1794, Elihu Phinney; 1795, Ephraim Hunt; 1976, Eleazer Grant; 1797, Nathan Hand; 1798-99, Elisha Gilbert; 1800, Daniel Green; 1801, Seth Hill.
From this time until the anti-Masonic times the increase of membership was small, and the history of the lodge uneventful. For the next ten years but one meeting per annum was held,--simply to preserve the organization.
In 1844 it was deemed advisable to resume the regular meetings. From the minutes of the first meeting it appears that but nine members were left, viz.: Elisha Gilbert, John Bull, Jr., John Murdock, David Harrington, Allen Spencer, Josiah Wait, Charles W. Hull, Elias Gates, and Isaac Salls, All of these were old or middle-aged men, who had an abiding faith in the future of Masonry in New Lebanon. Their belief was not groundless. Unity Lodge has not only lived but prospered. Many of its members have become prominent in Masonic circles, notably Grand Chaplain Churchill, Grand Master Joseph Enos, Grand King Elisha Gilbert, Grand High Priest Benjamin Enos, Grand Scribe Ebenezer Wadsworth, and Grand Marshal John Bull.
Since 1872 the lodge has held its meetings in the handsome hall in the Gay block, and has enjoyed uninterrupted prosperity, being at present one of the most flourishing lodges in the county.