Page 17 - MFMJan 2016
P. 17

Montana Freemason                               January 2016  Volume 92 Number 1

                   Brother Zerah French

                                   Blake Gardiner (3)

  Brother Zerah French, was born on his family’s         It should be noted the lodge did not confer a Master
farm, near Willisboro Mountain, Essex County,          Mason Degree, which is usually required of a lodge
New York on March 22, 1827. He moved to Kent           under dispensation before a Charter can be granted.
County, Cannon Township Michigan in 1850, where        However, application for a Charter was made to
he dabbled in railroad construction. In March 1854     the Grand Lodge of Colorado, holding its sixth
Zerah and George French and nine members of their      annual communication, and a Charter was granted
family moved to a shanty close to Mitchell Creek       November 7, 1865 to Helena City Lodge No. 10.
and the Muskegon River. Zerah and George French        The Charter did not arrive in Helena until the First
are considered the cofounders of Big Rapids. They      of December, and then the business of receiving
were the first white families permanently located in   petitions for degrees and affiliation became very
the vicinity of this flourishing place.                lively.

  In 1862, Zerah traveled to the gold fields of          On January 24, 1866 Helena City Lodge No. 10
Bvein’s Gulch near Virginia City,Montana Territory.    joined with Virginia City No. 43 and Montana No.
In January 1864 he moved to Last Chance Gulch          9 to form the Grand Lodge of Montana. Helena City
(Helena),Montana Territory where he operated the       Lodge No. 10 was then Chartered as Helena No. 3,
Star Restaurant. While in Last Chance Gulch, he        Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Montana.
became one of the first three Fire Commissioners
and was head of the Vigilante Committee, with the        Brother Zerah returned to Michigan and then moved
Code Name “Z”.                                         to San Bernadino, California in 1874. Then moved
                                                       to the Green River Valley, King County, Washington
  According to Brother William Campbell, in his        in 1878. Brother Zerah is buried next to his wife on
1951 book “From the Quarries of Last Chance            the family farm near Auburn, Washington.
Gulch: “[in 1865] The first regular meeting of Helena
City Lodge No. 10 U. D. [Under Dispensation from         On display in our Grand Lodge Museum is a
the Grand Lodge of Colorado] convened in a two-        Masonic apron that belonged to Brother Zerah
story log structure located at 53 South Main Street.   French who was the first Entered Apprentice
During the time that Helena City Lodge was under       initiated in Helena in 1865. The Apron was passed
dispensation, the Entered Apprentice Degree was        down to George Dewey French, Zerah’s grandson,
conferred on Zerah French,
and the FellowCraft Degree                                                           who passed it down to
was conferred upon J. G.                                                             his niece, whose husband
Sanders and Adniram Fall,                                                            Thomas Cooper donated
Sanders was a brother of                                                             the apron to Helena Lodge
Wilbur Fisk Sanders.                                                                 No. 3. Mr. and Mrs. Cooper
                                                                                     still live on the land that
                                                                                     Zerah French homesteaded.

                                                              Page 17
   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22