Freemasonry in Connecticut: Incoming 1876–1885 Archive of Autograph and Printed Circular Letters to Joseph Kellogg Wheeler, Grand Secretary of Grand Lodge of Connecticut, Master Mason, and Hartford Merchant.
An extensive grouping of over 150 handwritten letters
Archive of 161 letters addressed to and some related papers of Joseph K. Wheeler (1834–1894), Grand Secretary of the Masonic Grand Bodies of Connecticut. A Master Mason since 1860, Wheeler stepped aside from his Hartford, Connecticut grocery business after 1867 in order to devote himself full-time to his duties as Grand Secretary.
The letters here date from 1876 to1885 and come from all over the United States: Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, Virginia, Vermont, Rhode Island, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas, Maryland, Ohio, and Montreal, Canada. The letters concern news of various lodges, exchanges of publications on Freemasonry, communications with other Grand Lodges, etc. Seven printed circular letters comprise obituaries of various Masons and other Masonic business. One of these latter printed letters, from 1884, is autographed by its sender, H.G. Reynolds of Blue Rapids, Kansas, who humbly asks for the charitable donations of his Masonic brothers across the country
One of the more interesting letters is from a fellow Mason also in need, one Ulysses A. Buckingham from Hartford, here writing from Kansas City, Missouri in 1878:
Like every other place, this City feels the hard times. Money is scarce. ... I have offered to work for my board, as yet I have struck—“Nothing”—[George H.] Child pays my board. I paid his fare from Pittsburgh here, he is a white man. I have pawned some time since all my clothes except what I have on. ... I have kept a stiff upper lip, when that gets down I shall go take a big Muddy leap into the Missouri [River]. ... Hiram Buckingham has been mixed up in the affair long before it cropped out and if I live, he will learn a lesson that will teach him to have intercourse with only his own wife. I have “ample proof” that he is little better than a murderer, and this of a brother & a Mason. ... If I had any money, say 3 or 500 dollars I would be all right for with a very small capital [one] can out wind any damd. Missourian in the country. ... I will try to send my dues. ... I ask you as a personal & Masonic favor to see that my names is not stricken from the roll.
Another “charity” letter, undated but post Civil War, concerns Southern Masons. It appears to be the manuscript for a printed circular to be issued by Dwight Phelps, Grand Master of of the Connecticut Grand Lodge: “A cry of distress comes to us from the fever stricken districts in the south, Our Southern brethren are sore beset, and…look to us to help aid and assist them…” The letter asks that contributions be sent to “Grand Secretary Joseph K. Wheeler at Hartford.” An annotation at the bottom suggests that 150 circulars were to be printed and to “send proof soon J.K. Wheeler.”
Wheeler would be perhaps most associated as the compiler of the Records of Capitular Masonry in the State of Connecticut… (Hartford, 1875).
See pp311–312 for a contemporary biographical study of Wheeler’s life in Spalding’s Illustrated Popular Biography of Connecticut (Hartford, 1891).
Description: Freemasonry in Connecticut: Incoming 1876–1885 Archive of Autograph and Printed Circular Letters to Joseph Kellogg Wheeler, Grand Secretary of Grand Lodge of Connecticut, Master Mason, and Hartford Merchant.
[Various U.S. Places]. 1876–1885. Approx. pp. 161 Letters comprising 154 Autograph Letters Signed + 7 Printed Circular Letters. Archive accompanied by an additional ALS from 1855 by “E.G. Stover, G[rand]. S[ecretary].” concerning the Grand Lodge of Connecticut; a blank Masonic certificate “Published by J.K. Wheeler, Hartford, Conn.”; and two receipts (1845 and 1881) for Wheeler. Folds; brief wear to some letters; overall, very good.
Ref. Cornish, comp., A National Register of the Society Sons of the American Revolution (New York, 1902), p229.