About Us
Our History

Our present Midwood-Fortitude Lodge is a combination of four different merged or consolidated Masonic Lodges that have taken place for over 200 years….

Initial Lodge Name & No             Year Instituted

Fortitude Lodge #84                                                  1799

   Changed to Fortitude #81 in 1819

   Changed to Fortitude #19 in 1839

Brooklyn Lodge #288                                                1853

Lexington Lodge #310                                               1853

Midwood Lodge #1062                                              1926

   Consolidated with Lexington #310 in 1970

Midwood Lodge #310                                                1970

   Consolidated with Brooklyn #288 in 1988

Midwood Lodge #288                                                1988

   Merged with Fortitude #19 in 2002

Midwood-Fortitude #19                                            2002

 

This piece was created in 1985 by W∴Stanley Milstein and R∴W∴Harold S. Roemer.  Also included are materials prepared in previous years by Bro.Benjamin Sparago. This document has been edited for posting on the world wide web.


Instituted in 1799

In 1799, the Village of Brooklyn was located in the area now known as the Borough Hall Section of the Borough of Brooklyn. It was completely separated by the East River from New York which was located at the southern tip of Manhattan Island. There were no bridges, tunnels, subways, telephones, telegraphs or any other rapid means of travel or communication between these two areas. The Village of Brooklyn was located within Kings County and had a total population of 1,603 people. In the entire county, there were 4,495, people which included 1,432 slaves.


In that year, 10 of those non-indentured (free) inhabitants, all members of either St. Albans Lodge # 63 which had become inactive, or Mechanics Lodge #1 of which no other mention or record can be found, presented a petition to the Grand Lodge of Masons in the State of New York, for a Warrant to form a new lodge under the name and title of Fortitude Lodge. The stated reason for the petition was "that due to the lack of lodges in Brooklyn, it was necessary for the petitioners to hold Masonic intercourse in New York City just across the East River from Brooklyn; and that when crossing the river by rowboat, there was a constant threat to the life and limb of Brooklyn Masons. This was especially true during the winter months when there was constant peril from the numerous ice floes present in the river."


The 10 Master Masons, all "Good men and true" and residents of the Village of Brooklyn in Kings County were:

*Martin Boerum, whose surname is honored by two streets in Brooklyn named after his family. He operated a hotel in Brooklyn where the defunct St. Albans Lodge held its meetings.

*Frederick Cleveland, a ferry-master, who later moved to Ohio where he had relatives. They were living a small village of which subsequently was named Cleveland after his family.

*George A. Clussman, a practicing physician who was held in high regard and was respected by the members of the community.

*Henry Eckford, a ship builder who in later years became famous for having built the Man of War (now know as battleship) "Ohio". Eckford Street in Brooklyn was named after his family.

*Nathaniel Hempstead who was a rope manufacturer.

*John Martin, whose occupation is unknown.

*John McKinney was a coach builder.  He later served on the police force of the Village of Brooklyn.

*Daniel Rhodes was a grocer. Very little else is known about him.  However, he served as Senior Warden of the Lodge. He died at a comparatively young age, a victim of a seasonal epidemic of yellow fever.

*Thomas Thomas who was also a rope manufacturer and was a Past Master of the inactive St. Albans Lodge.

*Samuel Thorne whose occupation is unknown.


On December 4, 1799 at a session of the Grand Lodge of Masons in the State of New York, the petition for the warrant to form a new lodge was granted and a charter was issued to Fortitude Lodge No. 84.  The charter was signed by Robert R. Livingston, Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York. He is best remembered as having administered the oath of office to the newly elected first President of the United States, George Washington. Benjamin Franklin called M∴W∴ Brother Livingston "The Cicero of America." The first elected officers of the newly chartered Fortitude Lodge No. 84 were: George A. Clussman, Master; Daniel Rhodes, Senior Warden; Henry Eckford, Junior Warden.


The original charter is now held in the Masonic Museum in Grand Lodge at 71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan for safe-keeping. The sitting Master of Fortitude Lodge has an exact duplicate of the original charter and that is passed on from old Master to each succeeding Master at his installation. It is interesting to note that while the name Fortitude has remained the same, the assigned number has changed over the years. In the year 1819, the number of the Lodge was changed from 84 to 81. In 1839, the number was changed again, this time from 81 to 19 which has remained our number to the present day.


Prior to 1799, there had been four Masonic Lodges operating in the Entire area of Long Island. All of these lodges had become inactive and their charters had lapsed. Fortitude Lodge therefore, is the oldest active Masonic Lodge on Long Island.  As its first official function after obtaining its charter, Fortitude Lodge participated in the funeral rites held on the occasion of the death of George Washington, Past Master of Alexandria Lodge in Virginia, First President of the United States and the sitting Master of his lodge during the term of his Presidency.


Fortitude's first communication took place on December 23, 1799 at the home of Martin Boerum who had been left in possession of the Masonic furniture and paraphernalia of the inactive St. Albans Lodge. He turned all of this over to Fortitude Lodge. At this communication, one Jeffrey Pillostsen was proposed as a candidate for membership. However, the records do not indicate whether or not he ever received the degrees.

Brother Edward Brush Fowler (May 29, 1826 - January 16, 1896)


Brother Edward Brush Fowler was a member of Lexington Lodge #310.  He was an officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He is best known for his command of the 14th Brooklyn and a demi-brigade during the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863.


Fowler enlisted into the Union Army as the lieutenant colonel of the 14th Brooklyn on April 18, 1861, at the age of 35. On February 22, 1862, he was promoted to colonel of the regiment after Col. Alfred M. Wood was wounded at the First Battle of Manassas.  He was raised as a Master Mason on November 20, 1865.


Colonel Fowler was very active after the war with Veteran Affairs and the 14th Brooklyn Association, helping veterans of the 14th Brooklyn with pension funds. He always attended the funerals of fallen 14th Brooklyn soldiers post-war. He was very highly respected in Brooklyn and was a beloved hero of the Civil War.

Colonel Fowler died on January 16, 1896. His body was shown at Brooklyn Borough Hall, and he was buried with full military honors at Green-Wood Cemetery.

On May 18, 1902, the City of Brooklyn dedicated a statue of Fowler in Fort Greene Park.