Masonic Lodge logo

Shown is the logo of Unanimity Lodge #7 AF & AM in Edenton. The lodge’s records detail its burial rites for deceased Masonic lodge members.

The passing of a Freemason is a lamentable affair for any lodge to endure. Masonic funerary rites, committed at the grave of a fallen brother, pay final tribute to a life dedicated to the betterment of not only himself but of his fellow man.

Unanimity Lodge, in Edenton, recorded the deaths of two Brothers in their minutes between 1775 and 1778, and on both occasions the Craft paid their last respects by communicating those Masonic rites at their gravesides.

The first Masonic death recorded in Unanimity’s minutes was that of Aurt Elbertson. At their meeting on Jan. 13, 1776, the master of the lodge notified the brethren of Brother Aurt’s passing, “which was the occasion of his calling them together, to know whether it would be proper the lodge should attend the funeral, he being a good Mason.”

Unanimity Lodge reconvened three days later to lay Aurt Elbertson to rest in the cemetery of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Edenton; the funeral service was set for 2 p.m. Sixteen Master Masons met and “proceeded to where our deceas’d Brother lay … having paid him all the funeral rites & honors due from Masons to a departed Brother.”

Unfortunately, little is known about Brother Elbertson (also spelled Elberson) as few surviving records referencing him could be found in the research for these notes. His earliest recorded appearance in Chowan County can be traced to at least a census taken in 1753. The following year, in April of 1754, Elbertson married Jehodah (Johanah?) Davis and they had a son named Abel. He also served as clerk of the church at St. Paul’s on several occasions.

The year following Brother Elbertson’s death and burial, members of Unanimity received word of the death of Brother Thomas Jones. Brother Payne announced his passing at the Jan. 27, 1777 communication and “requested (of) the brethren that he might be buried in form, upon which it was agreed unanimously.” The master pro temp, John Boggs, ordered that the lodge meet the next day at noon to prepare for the funeral procession. The following day, Jan. 28, the lodge assembled and buried Brother Jones in the cemetery at St. Paul’s.

The archival records documenting Thomas Jones’ affairs and accolades during this time are exceedingly abundant. However, such information proves problematic as certain sources seem to differ on just which Thomas Jones could be the Masonic Brother Unanimity Lodge buried at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Jan. 28, 1777.

Parish records from St. Paul’s indicate that the burial of a Thomas Jones did take place on such a date in the Episcopal cemetery and that Masonic rites were administered at his service. Included with this burial record is a brief notation referring to North Carolina’s 1776 state constitution as “Jones’s Constitution.” Such a remark suggests that the Brother Thomas Jones the lodge laid to rest in the winter of 1777 was the same Thomas Jones serving in the Provincial Congress just prior to his death, and who helped draft our state’s constitution.

Paul Vincent is a contributing researcher at Museum of the Albemarle.