Benevolent Lodge No. 7 Milford, NH
Benevolent Lodge #7 was chartered by the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire on April 26, 1797 in Amherst, New Hampshire.
In 1826 the Lodge moved to Milford and met at Buxton’s Tavern and from there met on the third floor of the William Wallace Building on the corner of South Street and Union Square
On July 3, 1869, Benevolent Lodge Masons laid the cornerstone of the Milford Town Hall with President Ulysses S. Grant in attendance
On April 12, 1892, the Masons moved into the Milford Town Hall Annex (Library), and finally in 1939 the Lodge moved into its present location on Mont Vernon Street.
In the year 1732 the Province of Massachusetts made a grant of several large tracts of land to the soldiers and for the descendants of the soldiers who had served in the war against the Narragansett Indians. Among those tracts was one about six miles square, including most of the territory now comprised in the towns of Milford, Mont Vernon, and Amherst. It was originally called Narragansett Number 3, afterwards known as Souhegan West, and finally in the year 1760 was incorporated as the town of Amherst.
In the late spring of 1735 the first pioneer came from Reading, Mass and built his house about a mile south of where Amherst Village is now located. Other settlers soon followed and a little colony flourished and grew rapidly, so that in the year 1773, less than forty years after Samuel Lamson made that little clearing in the wilderness, Amherst had a population of 1370, including two slaves, and was the seventh town in the state in point of valuation. In 1790 Amherst was the sixth largest town in the State and the County seat of southern New Hampshire. Its population of 2369 was exceeded only by the towns of Portsmouth, Rochester, and Londonderry, Barrington, and Gilmanton.
Among the many business and professional men who were now residents of Amherst and the neighboring towns, were several who were already members of our ancient and honorable fraternity, having received their masonic degrees before they became residents of this part of the State, and is was very natural that they should desire a Masonic home of their own.
At this time there were only six lodges in the State. On the north was Franklin, located at Hanover, on the east, Columbian, at Nottingham; on the west, Rising Sun at Keene, on the south, St. Paul’s Lodge at Groton, Mass. To attend a lodge meeting, therefore meant a considerable outlay of time and money. They therefore petitioned the Grand Lodge for permission to organize a lodge in Amherst, and we find it recorded that at a quarterly communication of the Grand Lodge, held at Portsmouth on the twenty-sixth day of April, 1797, a petition was received from Samuel Dana and seven associates, praying that a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons might be erected and constituted and they having produced a recommendation from three lodges, it was voted, that the prayer of the petition be granted and that Samuel Dana, Jonathan Gove, Luther Dana, Andrew Woodbury, John McLaughlin, Samuel Crafford, Robert B. Wilkins and Leonard Wilkins be formed into a lodge and that charter be granted them accordingly, under the designation of “the Benevolent Lodge” said charter to take precedence in the Grand Lodge and elsewhere from the 26th day of April 1797. The Grand Lodge appointed Samuel Dana, Master, Jonathan Gove, S.W., and Luther, J.W. Thus on the 26tyh day of April 1797, Benevolent Lodge was constituted and the original charter, signed at that time, is now in possession of the Lodge, in good state of preservation.
The first meeting of the lodge was held on the 24th of July and on the 10th day of the following August the Grand Lodge came to Amherst for the purpose of consecrating the Lodge and installing the master. By a happy circumstance the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts consecrated St. Paul’s Lodge at Groton on August ninth, came to Amherst on the following day and assisted in the consecration of our Lodge. Preceded by the officers and members of Benevolent Lodge, the Grand Lodges of New Hampshire moved in procession to the meeting house where a learned discourse was delivered by Rev. Brother William Bently of Salem. This was followed by the services of consecration and installation. An historical address was then given by the newly installed master of the Lodge after which the brethren returned to the Lodge room, where an “elegant entertainment” was provided by the Stewards. A brief account of these proceedings may be found in the Village Messenger, a newspaper published at Amherst at that time, a copy of which is now in the possession of the New Hampshire Historical Society.