INTERNATIONAL MASONIC REVIEW PUBLISHED BY BONISTEEL MASONIC LIBRARY
Volume 18. Issue 2 • • SPRING 2009
Short story about Bro. Joseph Brant
By Raymond W. Doyscher Jr., P.M.
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• BrANT BecomeS A freemASoN iN
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• A mASoNic clASSic STory
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• The wAr eNdS BuT The iroquoiS Are
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HONOR AND INTRIGUE
Raymond W. Doyscher Jr., P.M.
Northwood Ancient Craft Lodge #551, FAM of Michigan 2008
Cover photo of J. Brant from The Valiants Memorial - http://www.valiants.ca/english.html
Much has been written about Joseph brant over the years. Freemasons have been interested
in him because of his steadfast dedication to his Masonic oath. Historians view him as either a
savage and wicked warmonger or as a Crown loyal, dedicated military man. To this day his own
Mohawk people revere him as their savior for securing for them a safe homeland in Ontario. He
is indeed a man of many complicated sides.
In this research, my wife Donna and I poured over articles, newsprints, books, pamphlets,
and unpublished family archives records, and museum record-rooms in brantford and burlington,
Ontario. brant’s people, now live there in cultural co-existence with their neighbors. My visit
there focused on piecing together the Freemason spirit of this remarkable man. This story emerges
as a result.
Research Sites Visitations:
1. Woodland Cultural Center Museum, brantford, Ontario
2. Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks, brantford, Ontario
3. Joseph brant Museum and Achieves, brantford, Ontario
4. The brant House (Museum and Archives), burlington, Ontario
5. Six Nations Public Library, Ohsweken, Ontario
6. The Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites board of Information
7. brant Lodge #45 AFAM. G.R.C., brantford, Ontario
THAYENDANEGEA - A FREEMASON OF
HONOR AND INTRIGUE
In addition, many Indian tribes were
hostile to one another as not all were in
agreement with the Iroquois Confederacy
peace agreement. Chief Pontiac in the Detroit
region was stirring up trouble. Many tribes
were angry with the white European settlers.
Also, to make the political waters of the
times even muddier, colonists were restlessly
talking about their own independence from
England’s governmental control.
An English Freemason Appears
A politically powerful Freemason now
entered the picture and would have a huge
influence on Thayendanegea Brant as a mentor,
brother-in-law, military Major General, and
as a Provincial Grand Master of Masons
A Baby Named “Two Sticks of Strength”
in the New york Colony. His name was William
Johnson. born in 1715 in England, Johnson was sent
The year was 1742. The place was an Ohio
by his aristocratic uncle ( a Royal Navy officer) to the
River bank. The event was the birth of an Indian baby
Mohawk Valley in New york to oversee some land
named Thayendanegea meaning two sticks or in Indian
holdings. Johnson connected with the Mohawks, lived
symbolism, STRENGTH. Not only would this newborn
as their neighbor, mingled with them, and traded with
live up to his title, he would eventually emerge as a
them. During these first few years Johnson also raised
Masonic classical legend.
a family with a German immigrant wife. Eventually
Thayendanegea’s mother and father were
he was widowed but continued to accumulate land and
Mohawks who were on a hunting trip (in what is now
became highly respected among the Mohawk natives.
Ohio) and on Miami Indian hunting ground. Two
As time moved along the political climate of the
hundred years earlier, trespassing on another tribe’s
colonies became more and more disordered. European
hunting ground would have been met with hostility.
settlers were rebelliously interested in independence
However, in the 1500’s Hiawatha successfully
from England. France continued their annoying military
assembled the leaders of five Indian tribes (eventually
presence and Johnson was commissioned by the Crown
six, including the Mohawks) in the American northeast
as the Superintendent of Indian Affairs.
who agreed to peace among themselves. The tribes
In 1755 Johnson was directed to gather his
then settled disputes at regular Powwow gatherings and
Crown-loyal Iroquois to run the encroaching French
became known as the Iroquois Confederacy.
out of New york. Of all things, a 13 year old boy
Little could anyone in that Mohawk hunting
named Thayendanegea brant joined Johnson’s Indian
group have imagined that the newborn Thayendanegea
battalion and distinguished himself as a worthy warrior
was destined to become a great leader of his people and
in defeating the French at Fort George. Johnson took
leave behind intriguing Freemason history.
a special notice of this youthful warrior. Johnson
The father of Thayendanegea died soon after his
christened him Joseph. Now Theyendanegea had
birth. Another Mohawk became the infant’s stepfather.
the English name of Joseph brant. Johnson himself
That man carried the English name brant, a name that
became invested with a new title of Sir William for his
Thayendanegea would use for the rest of his life.
outstanding military achievement against the French.
Atmosphere of War was Everywhere
A Refined Gentleman or a Fierce Warrior
The 1700’s were a tumultuous political period.
Now our story backs up a little. When Joseph
The winds of war were blowing in several directions
(Thayendanegea) brant was 10 years old he had a 16-
at once. The obvious advantage in controlling the
year-old sister in the Mohawk village that would flirt
American Colonies was attractive to the European
with the British field officers. Johnson, now a widower,
powers, especially England and France. Each wanted a
noticed her pleasing appearance and eventually married
piece of this untapped resource and was willing to fight
her. He called her Molly and accepted Joseph brant as
for it. In fact, France and England were at war with
each other in Europe over it.
Photo - Indian Boy in Village of Mohawks
Some time later, Sir William was directed stories of this up-and-coming influential Mohawk
to take Iroquois warriors to Fort Niagara where he Indian called Joseph brant. The King understood
again defeated the French in the French Indian War. that Brant was a fierce and highly acclaimed warrior
brother-in-law Joseph was once more recognized as who was also a respected, educated, noble missionary
an outstanding warrior. by age 17 Joseph became a and language interpreter between the Indians and the
regular part of the aristocratic household of his sister british forces. brant was understood to be part of Sir
and his brother-in-law, Sir William. All this time Joseph William’s household. He was decorated as a Crown
was becoming more and more refined. He learned to military Captain and was capable of soliciting the
speak English. Sir William then sent Joseph, at the age military help of at least the six large Indian tribes of
of 19, to the Moore Charity School (later Dartmouth the Iroquois Confederacy. Most intriguing to the King
College) in Lebanon, Connecticut to learn british was that this powerful Indian War chief seemed very
grace and culture. There, while other Indian students loyal to the Crown through Sir William’s influence.
dropped out, Joseph became an exemplary student. He The King saw a great military advantage in fostering
even converted to Christianity and soon held the status a friendship with brant and invited him to England as
of spiritual missionary to his people. His dedication a diplomat. The rebellious colonists were becoming a
to his new religion was so profound that in later years growing concern and brant’s Crown loyalty was much
Joseph transcribed books of the Holy bible, a prayer needed.
book, Acts of the Apostles, a History of the bible, and a
Brant Becomes a Freemason in London
catechism into the Mohawk language.
However, Joseph’s cultural refinement and
formal education at the Moore School had to come to a In 1774 Sir William died and his estate and
quick interruption. brother-in-law Sir William needed military command was taken over by none other than
him to put down Pontiac’s Rebellion in and around two more Freemasons, Sir John Johnson and Colonel
Detroit. Once again a successful military undertaking Guy Johnson. As this was occurring british Freemasons,
occurred. Colonel John butler and Colonel Walter butler were
leading a battle called the “Loyalist Resistance” in up-
A Family Man state New York. Masonic influence must now have
been profound to brant and while in England he asked
As a young man Joseph brant’s interest in to become a Mason. On April 26 or May 29, 1776 ( it
matrimony and family life was met with hard luck. He is not exactly clear when) he was raised in London’s
married three times before the age of 32. Each wife; Falcon Lodge #71 or in Hiram’s Cliftonian Lodge.
Peggy, Christina, and Susanna were Indian ladies. Each Again, it is unclear which as the two Lodges met in the
died of consumption. Finally at the age same building at that time. Interestingly, King George
of 33, brant married Catherine, a daughter of an Indian III is said to have presented brant his Masonic apron at
mother and Irish father. Catherine must have been quite that time.
young as she survived Joseph by some 30 years.
Gifts and Elegance Secures Loyalty
King George III Needed Indian Support
It is obvious that the King was out to impress
While brant was molding into what destiny brant with all the grace and charm afforded only
had in store for him, King George III in England heard to high-class dignitaries. brant was showered with
gifts from the King including two
pistols, a gold watch, and a silver
gilt gorget (chest plate) with the
inscription, “The gift of a friend
to Captain brant”. The gifts also
included a very special army rifle
and an important promise to amend
any losses to the Iroquois if they
would remain Crown loyal. In
London, brant was given two
special audiences with the King
and was toasted at a dinner party
as, “His Majesty’s greatest North
American subject”. brant’s picture
was painted in full Indian regalia by
a prominent English portrait painter
with that picture appearing in the
London Times paper. The attention
had to have been very flattering.
Picture of book with Brant’s translation of common prayer into Mahawk language.
Picture of Masonic apron hanging in museum display at the Brant’s house in Burlington, Ontario
brothers sat together in McKinstry’s
Hudson Lodge #7 in Greendale, New
york several times as friends. brant
even offered entertainment at Lodge
socials by telling Indian stories. The
last time that brant signed the Hudson
Lodge #7 registry was in 1805, two
years before hanging up his “working
tools of life”.
At least four other colonial
revolutionists were spared execution
courtesy of brant’s responding to their
Masonic distress gestures. Records
show them to be Masonic brothers
William Stacy, Major John Wood,
Lt. Thomas boyd, and Lt. Johnathon
Maynard. boyd was later still executed
in brant’s absence. Maynard survived
and eventually held the office of
On his return to the colonies in May 1776, a Massachusetts Senator. It is apparent
made-to-order Hollywood type drama emerged. brant that brant was sincere about the sanctity of his Masonic
used his new King George III gift rifle to discourage oath.
the efforts of an enemy privateer vessel attacking his
ship. Stories are told that Brant shot five enemy officers The War Ends but the Iroquois are not
before the privateer vessel was scared off. Forgiven
Masonic Dedication vs Crown Loyalty The Revolutionary battles were ugly and
intense. Captain Chief Joseph brant and the Iroquois
Arriving in New york harbor, brant met with his Confederacy faithfully and savagely fought on the side
former Moore School teacher, Dr. Wheelock who had of the british Crown. Eventually, in 1782 the colonial
joined the American revolutionists. brant would not be revolutionists defeated the british and the Crown
persuaded to embrace this rebel cause. He reminded loyal Iroquois Indians found their homeland rights in
his teacher that the school taught him to “fear God and jeopardy. After the defeated british army went home
honor the King”. brant added, “This I propose to do.” the Indians continued to be treated as the enemy. Most
brant now entered into dozens of battles with the became homeless and rather pathetic.
revolutionary colonists. It is noteworthy that this was brant now conferred with his Masonic brother,
only months after brant was courted into a friendship Sir John Johnson, the Superintendent General of Indian
with The Great While Father, King George III, and Affairs in Montreal. He also met with the Commander-
initiated into Freemasonry. in-Chief, General Haldimand. In 1784 the Six Nation
The stage was now set for a classic Masonic Iroquois were given a Canadian homeland in a highly
story. brant engaged his Iroquois warriors into the prized track of land 100 miles by 12 miles along the
battle of Cedars on the St. Lawrence River in the fall Grand River area of what is now burlington, Ontario.
of 1776. He captured Captain John McKinstry and in In 1785 brant visited King George III a second
typical Indian tradition arranged for a quick execution. time to remind him of his promise to the Iroquois people
It was then that Joseph brant entered into the status of of compensation for their allegiance to the british
a Masonic Legend. As brant’s warriors were preparing cause. The King graciously and generously replied to
for the execution, McKinstry called out the Grand their loyalty by stating, “The aboriginal losses shall be
Masonic Word and gave the Grand Hailing sign of made good”.
distress.. brant recognized the signal and recalled his
Masonic obligation to go to the “relief” of a brother Masonic Brothers- Brant and Washington
Mason in such a predicament.
brant met George Washington at least twice,
A Masonic Classic Story once in a battle northeast of Syracuse, New york in
1777 and once in peace at the end of the war. In battle,
And so it happened, brant halted the execution Washington dammed up the Susquehanna River and
and placated his warriors by offering them an ox to roast. used that to his advantage to put brant and his Iroquois
Masonic brother McKinstry was then sent to Montreal warriors to flight. In 1792 Washington invited Brant to
as a prisoner where he was subsequently released on Philadelphia to join the new Continental Congress and
parole to friendly Freemasons. McKinstry never forgot use his influence to settle down Indian hostilities in the
brant. According to McKinstry’s son, the two Masonic American mid-west. brant attempted to accommodate
Picture of Brant’s house in Burlington, Ontario
bible into the Mohawk language,
(2) being a guardian of his own
people, and (3) being patriotically
true to what was then the ruling
government of the colonies, the
Regarding the Masonic charge of
“censure, reproach, and integrity”,
brant was recorded as having
scolded his former schoolteacher
Dr. Wheelock with a statement
that the Moore School taught him
to “fear God and honor the King”.
brant added, “that is what I propose
Also, in post war years brant
was obedient to the Masonic charge
of being “faithful to your Lodge”.
He founded Lodge #11 in 1797
Washington’s request but was unsuccessful. Eventually
Washington sent Masonic brother General Anthony in brant’s Town at the Mohawk Village in Ontario,
Wayne to quiet the Indian uprisings and did so at the Canada. He also served as it’s Master. Later brant
affiliated with Barton Lodge #10 in Hamilton, Ontario.
unfortunate expense of the loss of many Indian lives.
In the Masonic charge of “promoting the general
On a personal editorial note, I wonder if
President George Washington and Chief Joseph brant good of society”, brant worked tirelessly to establish the
exchanged a Masonic Grip when they met as friends best possible life for the Mohawks who were displaced
from their Mohawk Valley in New york. He even
after the war.
approached King George III twice for favors owed.
It would appear that Chief Joseph brant, in his
Only the Grim Reaper could Subdue Him
own way, was a model of Masonic virtue.
As a final statement, the Canadian Royal Mint
brant never did retire. Even in his advanced
years he continued to champion the civil rights and released a “Joseph brant” silver dollar on January 19,
reasonable good of his people. Eventually he built an 2007 to honor and commemorate the Great Chief. The
elegant house at the west end of Lake Ontario (now coin bears his likeness and has become a collector piece
burlington, Ontario). Today a replica replacement sits to Masons all over the world.
on the original house site as a museum and historical
archive recalling the life and times of the incredible
man. It was there in 1807 that death took from brant
Many little side stories emerged in our search
that for which he was named some 67 years before-
for information regarding Masonic brother Joseph
brant’s internment is now next to the Mohawk Brant that didn’t fit into the focus of this essay but are
Chapel in brantford, Ontario. This location is the only anecdotes just too fascinating to be ignored.
Royal Chapel outside of Great britain. Appropriately,
a tribute to the Great Chief is included in the Chapel’s 1. Since King George III presented Joseph brant with
his lambskin apron, the question surfaces: Was the
eight stained glass windows
King a Freemason? Was he an honorary Mason
because of his status? Editorial comment- If so to
A Revered and Respected Freemason
what Lodge was he affiliated?
It is interesting to examine what kind of Mason 2. The name of the city of brantford originated as
a result of brant crossing or “fording” the Grand
was Joseph Brant. He certainly did fit many of the
River on horseback. Editorial comment- I should
Masonic organizational tenants. For instance, Masons
say that they “take a good man and make him better”.
Brant was a gentleman before his first trip to London. 3. Grandson Oliver brant died in 1865 but left behind
a Masonic lambskin apron with a crude drawing on
He was a Christian missionary and an interpreter
the reverse side. It was of a quartered shield showing
between his people and the English. After his Masonic
a Lion of England, German eagle, Irish shamrock,
affiliation he became a powerful and influential military
and Scottish thistle. below and in Oliver’s own
handwriting he states, “We lay no claim to Royal
Next, in obeying the Masonic charge of duty
blood, except as handed down through the Royal
to “God”, “Neighbor”, and “the State”, brant left a
house of the Mohawks. We bear no empty titles,
history of (1) interpreting religious books and the Holy
Mohawk Chapel in Branfort, Ontario
are said to have been in doubt as
to whether or not brant was a pure
blooded Indian. Some believed him
to have some “white blood” in him.
Editorial comment- Gossiping Old
10. On his first trip to
London, brant had his portrait
painted by artist George Romney.
I believe the picture was idealized
because brant looks more English
than Mohawk on the canvas.
Editorial comment- I wonder how
brant liked the image?
11. In 1710 brant’s natural
father was one of four Iroquois
Chiefs to also visit England. This
was at the invitation of Queen
gained through political pull or Court intrigue but Anne. Her intent was the same as
claim a right to an emblem emblazoned with signs King George III, to secure the Crown loyalty of the
and insignias proclaiming the origin of our family.” Indians. They too were wined, dined, entertained,
Editorial comment- I wonder what the deeper and fawned over by the English high society.
meaning of this is all about. Editorial comment- If the French had the social
4. The Moore School had to be a severe come-down judgment to do likewise, our Revolutionary War
from what the young Indian braves expected from might have a different story behind it.
an education. No hunting, no fishing, no secrets
of the forest were taught. Instead, students were
expected to sit on wooden benches with wooden REFERENCES AND SOURCES USED IN THE
paddles labeled with cute little bible verses such as: RESEARCH OF THIS STORY
“In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.” “Zacchaeus, he Did
climb a tree, His Lord to see.” Editorial comment-
It is hard to imagine any one from the Indian books/booklets
culture of the time tolerating such an educational
environment. How was 19 year old Joseph brant 1. Joseph brant, A Man of His People. Helen
disciplined enough to stay? Caister Robinson. Longan Canada LTD.,
5. The docent at the Mohawk Royal Chapel informed 1971.
us that Brant spoke 7 languages fluently. Editorial 2. Joseph brant, Man of Two Worlds 1743-1807.
comment- Is that possible? Isabel Thomson Kelsay. Syracuse University
6. brant brought a golden ring home from England. Press, 1984-
It was inscribed “Theyendanegea, 1776”. His 86.
wife Catherine kept it with her as a keepsake after 3. Joseph brant,
brant died. She lost it four years later. It was
found 26 years after that by a little girl in a field
near Wellington Square, Ontario and returned to
Catherine in her elderly years. She is said to have
been most grateful. Editorial comment- I wonder if
the little girl played dress-up with it until her parents
discovered her with it?
7. The docent at the brant House told us that Catherine
chose to not live in the brant House after he died.
Instead, she returned to a wigwam. Editorial
comment- This is indeed hard to believe..
8. On one of brant’s audiences with King George III he
was expected to kiss the King’s hand upon a formal
greeting. brant refused but saved his own dignity
by kissing the hand of the Queen instead. Editorial
Picture of Brant’s
comment- Understandable as brant thought of
painting as an old
himself as “ Indian King”.
9. Some of the Mohawk elders at the relevant time
Theyendanegea. Mary M. Graser. Halton Press Other sources of Information
LTD., burlington, ONT.
4. Joseph brant. A. Roy Petrie. Fitzhenry and 1. Docent Lecture (and conversation) at Her
Whiteside LTD., 1978. Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks.
2. DVD-“ Last of the Mohicans”, Daniel Day-
1.“Worshipful Joseph brant, Canadian Hero
Commemorated”. Rural Lodge AFAM #8 Masonic
District of Massachusetts. www.rurallodge.com.
2.“Joseph brant- The Greatest Tory”. Joseph E. bennett,
FPS. Philalethes Society. www.freemasonry.org.
3.“Joseph brant, A Masonic Legend”. bro. David
Harrison. International Masonic Review. The Rising
Point. Summer. 2008.
Unpublished Paper Documents
1. The Last Will and Testament of Joseph brant.
2. Genealogy of the brant Family by members of
the brant Family. Circa- Mid-1900.
3. Program for the Pilgrimage, The Institute of
Iroquoian Studies, 1967.
brant’s memorial statue
Watercolor portrait of Joseph brant (Thayendanegea)
National Archives of Canada via Canadian Heritage Gallery
Author - William Armstrong (1822- 1914)
Painting of brant, possibly middle age.
By alex lundberg,
The largest Masonic temple in the world, Detroit’s Masonic temple is a monumental structure with a rich and
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Statue of Joseph Brant at
the Valiants Memorial in
BONISTEEL MASONIC LIBRARY - 2009