Oswego County, New York

Independent Order of Good Templars in Oswego County, New York

A2012_44_1c_DS_web versionThe year 2012 has brought many new acquistions to the Archives and one notable collection was a group of seven ledgers from Bowens Corners Lodge, No. 67, Oswego County, New York of the Independent Order of Good Templars. These ledgers date from 1902-1908.

The ledger minutes from Bowens Corners were written during one peak of the Temperance Movement within the United States and the height of membership in the Independent Order of Good Templars. In 1907, the Independent Order of Good Templars had 350,000 members nationwide. It was an organization that had split off from the International Order of Good Templars. However, the factions came together in 1852 and formed the Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Good Templars of the State of New York. It was a fraternal order that accepted both men and women as well as African Americans (in northern states), had ritual degrees, and promoted the total abstinence from alcohol.  For further information about early temperance groups see these previous posts.

One of the ledgers contains a printed copy of the Good Templars' Constitution. Article II, Section I, of this Constitution is the pledge which reads: "No member shall make, buy, sell, use, furnish, or cause to be furnished to others as a beverage, any Spirituous or Malt Liquors, Wine or Cider; and every member shall discountenance, in all proper ways, the manufacture, sale and use thereof." Each man or woman had a membership certificate that gave them clearance into the order. Nellie Dumars had been an officer of the Bowens Corners Lodge and signed her name to this certificate (below) in 1904.

Bowens Corners Lodge minutes from another ledger reveal that certain members, Seth Johnson (b. 1879) of Granby and Earl Worden (b.1882) of Volney had "broken their pledge on April 12, 1902 and admitted their guilt." At a meeting in May 16, 1902 members decided to table this issue while they A2012_44_1_DS_IOGT certificate_web versionconsulted Article VII of their Constitution which deals with offenses and trials. If Johnson and Worden drank alcohol then they were to be expelled and restored to the order only with a restoration ceremony in open lodge within four weeks of the admission of guilt. Later that summer according to the minutes, on June 6, 1902, Johnson and Worden were in fact expelled from the Bowens Corners Lodge. One can speculate, perhaps, how difficult these two men found it to stop drinking.

Suggested Further Reading:

Bernard, Joel Charles.  From Theodicy to Ideology:  the Origins of the American Temperance Movement. Ann Arbor, MI:  UMI Dissertation, 1983.

Fahey, David M. "How the Good Templars Began:  Fraternal Temperance in New York State", Social History of Alcohol Review, Nos. 38-39 (1999), p. 17-27.

Fahey, David M.  Temperance and Racisim:  John Bull, Johnny Reb, and the Good Templars. Lexington, KY:  University Press of Kentucky, 1996.


Collection of Independent Order of Good Templars Ledgers, Bowens Corners, Oswego County, New York, 1902-1908. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, A2012/44/1a-g.