Source: The Early Life of Lexington [KY] before the Year 1820, Mary Estelle Delcamp, A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Transylvania College in Candidacy for the Degree of Master of Arts June, 1916

The early Lexingtonian believed in organisation. The many sided character of his life is clearly seen in the various societies of the day. While some of these have already been discussed under educational factors, yet others were of a social and political character. In 1793 the Democratic Society, under the able chairmanship of John Breckinridge, was holding meetings at the State House on Saturday mornings at ten o’clock. Its chief object was the discussion of subjects highly interesting to the commonwealth of Kentucky (Oct. 19, 1793).

Another matter of great importance to the people of the western state, the question of immigration, was met in 1797 by the formation of a society for the promotion of immigration and the assistance of immigrants (Sept. 6, 1797). The need of such an organisation is readily seen, when one reads that in the year 1795 alone 9,010 immigrants came into Kentucky (May 7, 1795). In 1817 this organization was known as The Foreigner’s Friend’s Society (Mar. 24, 1817).

Because of its central location and prosperity, Lexington became the Mecca for the Masonic Lodge of the state. In 1806 the several lodges under the Grand Lodge of Kentucky held their convention in the town (Sept. 8, 1806). In 1812 the funeral procession and oration for the departed Grand Master was delivered at the Presbyterian Meeting House (June 2, 1812). At the close of the decade, a most gorgeous procession in honor of Thomas Webb, Esq., late deputy general grand high priest of the general grand royal arch chapter of the United States, passed thru the streets of Lexington to the Episcopal church, where services were held. The order of march was formed thus:

Two Tylers with swords.
Nine stewards with rods.
Entered apprentices.
Master Masons.
Six deacons with rods.
Secretaries and treasuries.
A deputy marshall, Bro. Thomas Anderson.
A mason’s son, with a banner of wisdom.
Three masons’ sons, with baskets of flowers.
A mason’s son, with a banner of strength.
Three mason’s sons, with baskets of flowers.
A mason’s son, with a banner of beauty.
Grand Tyler, with drawn sword.
Band of music.
Two grand stewards, with rods.
Representatives of lodges, two and two.
Past masters, two and two.
Grand sword-bearer, and grand pursuivant with swords.
Grand deacons, with rods.
Grand secretary and grand treasurer.
Grand orator and grand marshall.
Grand wardens.
Deputy marshall.
Past grand officers.
Holy Bible, borne by an elderly past grand master.
Grand master.
A car bearing two cross swords, a high priest’s insignia, dress and jewels; the grand royal arch constitution, and free mason’s monitor borne by nine royal arch masons with white scarfs and weeds.
Tyler of chapter, with sword
Three Grand masters of vails, with swords
Three royal arch masons, with extinguished candles.
Royal arch masons by threes.
Secretary and treasurer.
Deputy marshall.
The captain of the host, principal sojourner, and royal arch captain.
Past high priests.
Mourning arch, with a Holy Bible borne under it.
Orator and chaplain.
High priest, king and scribe (Sept. 3, 1819).

This was perhaps the most elaborate procession that ever marched thru the streets of early Lexington. In this same year, 1819, the Masonic Hall was entirely destroyed by fire. Sums were raised at once, and the structure was rebuilt in wonderful haste, - the more so because all spiritous liquors were prohibited from the premises, and the workmen were not even permitted to leave in order to slake their thirst on alcoholic beverages (Sept. 3, 1819).

Among the other societies of the period were: The Cincinnati Society, founded in 1797 (Jan. 4, 1797); The St. Andrew, in 1798 (Nov. 21, 1798); The Bachelor’s Club (Aug. 7, 1804); The Mechanics Benevolent Society (July 6, 1813); and The Tammany Society (Feb. 20, 1815).

Beginning in 1793 with a meeting of the Overseers of the Poor, at Mr. M’Gowan’s Tavern (Apr. 13, 1793), the charitable organisations reached a climax in 1816, when a society made up of 48 prominent people was incorporated and called: The Contributors of Fayette Hospital. The reason for its founding lay in the necessity of providing a place for lunatics and the sick poor of the county. The result of this organisation was the erection of a building 64 by 62 feet, the three stories high, the first lunatic asylum (Feb. 26, 1816; Apr. 15, 1816; July 12, 1817).

Transcribed February 2002 by pb

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