The Lodge’s Most Important Document

The Charter of a Lodge, which grants those Brethren permission to Work, is usually framed and displayed prominently on the wall of any modern Lodge room. But, what happens when the original document is lost? Very often, a replacement can be issued by a Grand Lodge, although the new Charter may never quite “live up” to the original. Such was the case at Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 27 in Statesville, North Carolina.

Evidentally, the Charter had been lost once before, and then replaced around the beginning of the 19th century. However, the Lodge’s original Charter from its founding in 1795 remained lost, until 2014. At that time, it was carefully preserved and will hopefully NOT be lost to time again!

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By James Neal Mar 14, 2017 Updated Mar 14, 2017
The Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 27’s charter from 1802 was rediscovered in 2014 by Mark Carr. It will be preserved in Raleigh.

Mt. Moriah No. 27 at

Grand Secretary Walt Clapp stopped in Statesville earlier this month to preserve a piece of Masonic history from one of the state’s oldest lodges.

Founded Jan. 25, 1795, Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 27’s original charter is lost, but a charter from 1802 was rediscovered in 2014 by Mark Carr, a past master of Statesville No. 27, when going through the lodge’s archival safe.

Carr said Statesville’s temple was built during the early 1950s and the charter was around then, but its location was forgotten. After Carr found it, he took it home and placed it in a climate-controlled safe.

Tom Gregory, past master of the lodge, mentioned the charter during a presentation in February and someone informed him Carr found it.

Gregory contacted the Grand Lodge of North Carolina to have the document properly archived.

Lost more than once

Written in flowing script, some parts faded and illegible, the yellowed 1802 charter was lost more than once, according to the lodge members.

The charter was first rediscovered in 1914 among the belongings of a Chattanooga attorney named Frank S. Garden.

An Iredell native and Freemason, Capt. J. A. Chambers, had an office in Garden’s building, and later arranged for it to be returned to Statesville.

Nearly as old as Statesville

“The city of Statesville started up just a little before our lodge,” said Gregory. “We were one of the first organizations here.”

During its long history, Gregory said, the lodge met at various locations, including 33 years under the town clock.
“We’d stop meeting and a few years later we would regroup and start meeting again,” Gregory said.

The Statesville lodge went dark during periods of war and economic depression, losing its charter when funds were insufficient to pay state dues.

Charter won’t be lost again

The 1802 charter is the lodge’s oldest possession, despite the Masonic implements and documents from the early 1800s it has on display.

“This time we’re not going to lose it,” Gregory said. “The Grand Lodge is going to take the charter to the archives at UNC. We’ll have a duplicate here that we can hang on the wall.”