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Almost since the beginning of the Ring of Fire Universe, readers (and writers) have speculated about potential activities by social and fraternal organizations in Grantville and how they might continue to operate in the seventeenth century. In particular, the Masonic Fraternity could have made the journey back in time and sought to function in the down-time environment.
There are a number of obstacles to fraternal activity in the form in which it would have existed up-time, and these place significant constraints on stories set down-time. I have been a writer in the universe for a few years and have had the benefit of excellent advice and editorial direction regarding a large number of subjects; now, as an active Freemason who serves as Grand Historian for the oldest Grand Lodge in North America and as librarian at its library, I have the opportunity to provide my own exposition which I hope will be useful for any writers seeking to work Freemasonry into stories set in the world of 1632.
Freemasonry in Up-time Grantville
Grantville, West Virginia is closely based on an actual town, Mannington, which up-time had a local lodge—Mannington #31, originally chartered (brought into existence) under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Virginia; it was inactive during the Civil War and was reformed and chartered in 1867. While not among the lodges that helped create the Grand Lodge of West Virginia in Fairmont in 1865, Mannington Lodge was still one of the earliest lodges created in the new state, and is still on West Virginia's rolls today.
Lodges and Grand Lodges
Since the early eighteenth century, a distinct geographical area—a country or region or, in the United States, a state or territory—will have a supernumerary body called a grand lodge. This organization, governed by a grand master, performs the following functions exclusively within its territorial jurisdiction: