The Formation of the Grand Lodge

From the earliest colonial days to the period of the War between the States, West Virginia
was the transmontane section of Virginia, and is thus a true daughter of the “Old Dominion,” born
of her amid the throes of the fratricidal strife of 1861-65. Likewise, our Masonic history is part and
parcel of that of Virginia, up to the time of the formation of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia in
1865. Consequently our laws, ritual, traditions, and usages in great part came to us by inheritance
from Virginia, just as our civil law grew out of and was developed from that of the Mother State.
Shortly after the admission of West Virginia into the Union, a circular letter was sent out
to the lodges by Fairmont Lodge No. 9, calling a convention to consider the organization of a
Grand Lodge in the new State. The convention met in Grafton on December 28, 1863. It held an
adjourned meeting at Fairmont, on February 22, 1864, and another adjourned meeting at the same
place on June 24 of that year. Eight working lodges were represented, the situation was considered,
an election of Grand Officers was held, a date was fixed for their installation, and the convention
adjourned. The Grand Officers-elect, before the time fixed for installation, declined to be installed,
fearing that there was irregularity in the proceedings of the convention, in that it had adjourned
sine die, instead of to the day set for the installation.
Again upon invitation of Fairmont Lodge No. 9, the delegates convened at Fairmont on April
12, 1865, with the same eight lodges represented: Wellsburg No. 108, Wheeling No. 128, Ohio
No. 101, Marshall Union No. 37, Cameron No. 180, Morgantown Union No. 93, Fairmont No. 9,
and Fetterman No. 170. It was resolved to be expedient at that time again to elect officers, which
was done, and the convention adjourned to meet for the installation at Wheeling on the second
Wednesday in may, next following.
On May 10, 1865, the convention assembled at Wheeling, the same eight lodges being
represented, and in addition, Mount Olivet No. 113. The Grand Officers were installed by Most
Worshipful William B. Thrall, of Columbus, Ohio, a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of
Ohio. Grand Officers so installed were as follows:
William J. Bates, Wheeling, Grand Master
Edward C. Bunker, Morgantown, Deputy Grand Master
E. H. Showalter, Fairmont, Senior Grand Warden
Israel Foreman, Fetterman, Junior Grand Warden
W. P. Wilson, Wheeling, Grand Treasurer
Thomas H. Logan, Wheeling, Grand Secretary
William L. Hyland, Parkersburg, Senior Grand Deacon
S. B. Stidger, Cameron, Junior Grand Deacon
A. J. Lyda, Fairmont, Grand Chaplain
T. W. Bliss, Wheeling, Grand Tiler
The organization of the Grand Lodge, therefore, dates from May 10, 1865. The session
continued through the following day and evening.

West Virginia Grand Lodge