Huntington No. 26 A.Y.M

Long Island’s First Masonic Lodge

In April 1790, Brother George Washington toured Long Island, New York, for five days, to show his appreciation for the important role many locals played in the fight for American Independence. The newly elected President visited several towns and met hundreds of people, many of whom were Freemasons in the miliary lodges that sprouted up throughout the colonies during the war.  Brother Washington’s reverence for the Craft may have led him into conversation with fellow brothers and future candidates. Two of his brief stops would be influential in the foundation of Long Island Freemasonry.

On April 23, he dined at the home of the “Widow Blidenberg” in Smithtown, later referred to as Blydenburg’s Tavern, which would later be the first meeting place of Suffolk Lodge No. 60 in 1797. On April 24, Washington visited the home and paper mill of Henrick Onderdonk in Roslyn, whose daughter, Sarah, was the wife of David Richard Floyd Jones, charter member and master of Huntington Lodge No. 26 and Morton Lodge No. 63 in Hempstead.


Kings (Brooklyn) and Queens Counties became boroughs during the consolidation of New York City in 1898 but were considered part of Long Island for over 200 years prior. On February 4, 1784, James Gardiner, John L. Hudson, and Joseph Corwin petitioned to form a lodge in Brooklyn with the name Long Island Lodge. No further records exist of this lodge. On September 5, 1787, a group of brothers residing in Jamaica, Queens, received the charter for Jamaica Lodge from the Grand Lodge of New York. The only recorded activity of Jamaica Lodge was marching in the procession for the anniversary festival of St. John the Baptist in New York on June 24, 1789. By 1793, this lodge had surrendered its charter due to a lack of activity.

A group of Masonic brothers, residing in several towns along the route of Brother Washington’s tour in 1790, desired to form a lodge on Long Island. Led by Moses Blachly (1769-1828), first Postmaster of Huntington, brothers from Setauket in the east to Hempstead in the west petitioned to form a Masonic Lodge. On March 22, 1793, the foundation of organized Long Island Freemasonry was finally created, when the warrant for Huntington Lodge No. 26 Ancient York Masons of Oyster Bay, Queens County, was issued. For four years, Huntington No. 26 was the only active Masonic lodge for present day Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

Eighteenth Century tavern

Blydenburgh House, Smithtown as it appeared in the late nineteenth century prior to extensive remodeling. From the archives of Suffolk Masonic Lodge No. 60 F. & A.M.

Eighteenth Century Travel

In the late eighteenth century, Long Island was mainly rural and agricultural, limited to travel by horse or foot on rocky and dirt paths. The great distances to lodge meetings limited the brothers to utilize the “ride and tie” method of traveling.  Several hours before a lodge meeting, two brothers would begin their long journey with one on horseback and the other on foot. The horse rider would travel to a predetermined location, tie the horse to a tree, and continue to walk on foot. The walker would reach the well-rested horse, ride to the next predetermined location, tie the horse to a tree, and continue to walk on foot. This process would continue to the meeting location, giving the two walkers and one horse needed rest during their long journey. The brothers would attend the lodge meeting, stay overnight nearby, and return home the next day utilizing the same method.

Masonic Passport

Huntington No. 26 A.Y.M. Master Mason Certificate of David Harrison, December 6, 1801. From the archives of Jephtha Masonic Lodge No. 494 F. & A.M.

The lodge meetings most likely occurred in the homes of individual members and local taverns, including as far north as Lloyd’s Neck, which borders Long Island Sound. Typically, eighteenth century lodge meetings were held in taverns, with food and spirits prepared for the brothers gathered around a long table. Dues were owed at each meeting, whether a brother was present or not. There are only 30 known members of this lodge, 16 of whom later became charter members of two Masonic lodges that meet to this very day. 

By 1802, Huntington Lodge No. 26 was not listed on the Masonic Register, possibly for non-payment of dues, a common occurrence with early nineteenth century, country lodges. Because of the difficulty in attending regular communications, Huntington Lodge No. 26 met sporadically until 1806. The last known record of Huntington Lodge No. 26 in the Grand Lodge Reports, dated December 2, 1818, stated, “That the warrant of Huntington Lodge No. 26, together with the book of minutes, had been surrendered; from which it appeared that that Lodge had not met since the 2d of August, 5806 (1806), and that, by information derived from the Worshipful Rulef Duryea, the late Master, the funds and property of the same were dispersed and lost.”

Masonic Light after Huntington Lodge

On December 7, 1796, an application for a warrant for “a lodge in Suffolk County, Long Island, by the name of Suffolk Lodge” was granted by the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. The first meeting was held on March 9, 1797, at the Widow Blydenburgh’s in Smithtown, with the installation of officers, including the first worshipful master, Moses Blachly, the first Past Master of Huntington Lodge No. 26. Seven brothers from Huntington Lodge No. 26 and a “Brother Fagen from Ireland” attended this first meeting. Within the first year, 19 candidates were initiated, led by the first applicant, Woodhull Smith. Interestingly, Suffolk Lodge was meeting in Dix Hills in present day Town of Huntington in 1802. Suffolk No. 60 currently meets in Port Jefferson Village.

Six months later, on June 23, 1797, Morton Lodge No. 63 was granted a warrant. Requested by eight members of Huntington Lodge No. 26 residing in Hempstead, the petition stated one of the reasons to form a new lodge was “the distance they live from Said place of Meeting and the fatigue and trouble which an attendance Theron creates.” Named after Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York, Jacob Morton, this lodge meets to this day as Wantagh-Morton No. 63 in Baldwin.

These first Long Island Freemasons laid the foundation where the current two local Masonic Districts (Suffolk and Nassau) and 26 lodges continue to thrive today. The son of one of Suffolk 60’s charter members would become a founding member of Jephtha No. 494, a lodge that branched out to create four additional lodges including the one where Brother Theodore Roosevelt was raised (Oyster Bay). The tree branches that sprung from the roots of the first Long Island Lodge can be traced to Brother Washington’s brief tour of our Island thanking fellow patriots for their service and sacrifice. The importance of Huntington No. 26 should not be underestimated or underappreciated.


Written by Wor. Bro. Ronald J. Seifried, DSA
Trustee Chairman and Historian, Jephtha Lodge No. 494 F. & A.M.
Area 1 Historian, Nassau and Suffolk Masonic Districts
Co-Editor, Craftsmen Online NY Masonic History column
32° Scottish Rite,  Valley of Rockville Centre
Companion of Asharokan Chapter No. 288, Royal Arch Masons
Member of Suffolk Council No. 76, Cryptic Masons
Author, “Long Island Freemasons,” Arcadia Publishing, 2020