Thayendanegea the Terrible
This mighty chief of the Six Nations was a leader of the Indians under the British in the American Revolution. He was also a Freemason. Know to us as Chief Joseph Brant he was the first Indian (Native American) Freemason.
Born on the banks or the Ohio River in 1742 his home was it Canajoharie Castle in the Mohawk Valley of New York. His Indian name means “he who sets or places together two bets.” He became the protégée of Sir William Johnson, superintendent of Indian Affairs for the British who sent him to school where he learned to speak and write English and acquired a general knowledge of literature and history.
He was not a Mason when he lived in New York but he had many fiends who were Masons and this may have caused him to petition the Hiram’s Cliftonian Lodge #417 while he was in England. He was in London in 1776 as the chief sachem (king, leader head) of his tribe and the British wanted to woo him to remain on their side during the Revolutionary War.
He received his degrees in the Lodge mentioned above which met at “The Falcon” tavern on Princes St. in London. Hiram’s Cliftonian Lodge #417 was chartered by the Moderns and Brant received his degrees in 1776. He returned to the Colonies and eventually settled in Canada following the Revolutionary war (as did my Simser ancestors who were United Empire loyalists). Brant was active Masonically until his death. He was a member of Barton Lodge No. 10 and served as the first Master of Lodge No. 11 in “Mohawk Village” in 1798.
Brant died on November 24, 1807, at the age of nearly sixty-five years, at his own house on Grand River, Ontario, and was buried by the side of the Episcopal church he had built there. There are many stories about Brant and his Masonry. A Colonel McKinstry was taken captive after being twice wounded. He was doomed to die at the stake. “in the agony of his despair and scarcely conscious of a hope, the captive made the great mystic appeal to a Mason in the hour of danger. It was seen and understood by the Chieftain Brant who was present on the occasion. Brant at once interfered in his behalf, and succeeded by the influence of his position, in rescuing his American brother from his impending fate. Having freed him from his bonds, he conducted and guarded him in safety to Quebec.” From there he eventually was allowed to return home on parole. Brant and McKinstry became lifelong friends.
Jay Cole Simser