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John Barney
October, 1780 - June 22, 1847
Masonic ritualist, born at Canaan, Connecticut, October, 1780. Made a Freemason in Friendship Lodge No. 20, at Charlotte, Vermont, in 1810. He was deeply interested in all that pertained to the work and purposes of the Institution, and in August, 1817, he went to Boston for the express purpose of receiving instruction directly from Thomas Smith Webb, which he succeeded in doing, with the assistance of Benjamin Gleason, then Grand Lecturer of Massachusetts. He attended the Grand Lodge of Vermont on October 6, 1817, and was registered as a visiting Brother. At this meeting a request was presented on behalf of Brother Barney for the approbation of this Grand Lodge, as a Lecturing Master. A committee was appointed to investigate the certificates and documents respecting Barney's qualifications and the report was as follows:
That they had examined Brother Barney on the first Degrees of Masonry, and find him to be well acquainted with the Lectures, according to the most approved method of work in the United States, and believe that he may be advantageously employed by the Lodges and Brethren who may wish for his services; but as many of the Lodges in this State are already well acquainted with the several Masonic Lectures, we do not believe it would be consistent to appoint a Grand Lecturer to go through the State, as the several Lodges have to pay the District Deputy Grand Masters for their attendance. We therefore propose to the Grand Lodge that they give Brother Barney letters of recommendation to all Lodges and Brethren wherever he may wish to travel, as an unfortunate brother deprived of his health, and unable to procure a living by the common avocations of life, but who is well qualified to give useful Masonic information to any who wish for his services.

A. Robbins,
For Committee.

His first work after being authorized by his Grand Lodge was in Dorchester Lodge, at Vergennes, Vermont. He was employed by twelve members to instruct them in the work and lectures. He continued lecturing in that State for several years. Brother Barney moved West in 1826, settling at Harpersfield, Ashtabula County, Ohio. In 1832 he assisted in establishing a Royal Arch Chapter in Cleveland, Ohio. He moved to Worthington, Ohio, in 1834, and became a member of New England Lodge No. 4 in that city. Elected Grand Lecturer of the Grand Lodge of Ohio in January, 1836, which office he held until 1843. In 1841 the Grand Master said of him: "The duties of Grand Lecturer of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, for the last two years especially, have been laborious and almost incessant. It were unnecessary for me to state to you a fact, which you are all so well apprised of, that his untiring and able exertions have essentially conduced to the prosperity which is now so apparent among our Lodges. The labors of that officer are, however, now becoming burdensome, and the calls for his services will be more frequent as the wants of the fraternity increase." Brother Barney was a delegate to the Baltimore Convention in 1843. At the meeting of his Grand Lodge in that year the question of recognition of the Grand Lodge of Michigan was considered and he was appointed one of the committee to whom the matter was referred, but at his request was excused from such service, and this is the last record we have of him in connection with the Grand Lodge of Ohio. About this time he settled in Chicago, Illinois, becoming a member of Apollo Lodge No. 32 in that city. He was appointed Grand Lecturer of the Grand Lodge of Illinois in October, 1845, holding the office for one year. Part of the years 1844 and 1845 were spent lecturing in Michigan, and his labors during these two years gave to that State the system which has been the authorized work for many years.
Undoubtedly several states owe much to this worthy Brother for their close connection with the ceremonial work of Thomas Smith Webb. Brother Barney died on June 22, 1847, at Peoria, Illinois (see Freemasonry in Michigan, J. S. Conover, 1896, page 249; the Barney work is discussed in American Tyler, volume iii, No. 6, page 5, and No. 17, page 2, and volume v, No. 18, page 4, and No, 28, page 10).
Friendship Lodge No. 20, Charlotte, Vermont : 1810

Source: Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Albert Galatin Mackey.


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