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THE FIRST 100 YEARS

OF

SACRAMENTO LODGE No.40

 

 

 

BENJAMIN T. CROUCH, Jr.

 

 

                    An original petitioner of Sacramento Lodge, Benjamin T. Crouch, Jr., was the son of the famous preacher of the same name who belonged to the Kentucky Conference of Southern Methodism.  He came to California from Kentucky in the early 1850's accompanied by Bishop Soule and was the first preacher ordained in the Conference of Southern Methodism on the Pacific Coast. His first charge was at Martinez and Benicia and he continued his work at these towns until Sacramento was left without a Methodist minister by the resignation of Rev. John Mathews, when Bro. Crouch was appointed to fill the vacancy. At this time the city of Sacramento was still suffering from the disastrous fire on Nov. 2, 1852 in which every church building in Sacramento was destroyed save the Congregational Church on Sixth Street. Just two weeks before the fire the Methodist Church property had been redeemed through the generosity of our Bro. W. W. Stovall (also an original petitioner of Sacramento Lodge) from a mortgage foreclosure and when Rev. Crouch arrived in Sacramento there was only a vacant lot to show for all the expenditures that had been made. Rev. Crouch started a vigorous campaign to raise funds for a new building, meantime holding services in the County Court Room. The brick basement of the new Asbury Chapel or Methodist Episcopal Church, South was completed for occupancy in 1853 at a cost of nearly $7,000 and through Christian fellowship of Rev. Crouch, the congregation of the First Baptist Church was gathered in services on Sabbath afternoons from February to June in this structure. The entire building was not completed until its dedication on July 10, 1859. As educator as well as a minister, within a year of his arrival in Sacramento, Bro. Crouch organized Asbury Academy, a school for the youth. In 1854 Rev. Crouch married a most estimable young widow, Mrs. M. E. Bailey. The following year he was transferred by the Conference to San Jose where he labored with moderate apparent success until there was a great revival of religious spirit in his church, probably the result of a camp meeting. This camp meeting was held in the foothills some eight miles west of the city at the Saratoga Camp Grounds, then called the "Toll-gate." At this time he also served as president of the Female Institute at San Jose located to the west of Main Street between Liberty and Lexington Streets. In 1856 he was assigned to the First Methodist Church, South, in San Francisco and was also elected Chaplain of the State Assembly at Sacramento, holding that esteemed position during the 7th season of the Legislature from January 14 to April 27, 1856. As Chaplain he was very popular and made many friends among the members of both Houses. At the close of the session he was presented with a beautiful Manzanila cane having a massive gold head with a setting of gold-bearing quartz bearing an appropriate transcription. At the next session of the Conference his assignment was to Aberdeen, Mississippi, under jurisdiction of the Memphis Conference. Here he was instrumental in reviving religious interest and in the erecting of a fine brick Church building to replace a dilapidated house of worship. In 1861 Rev. Crouch became Chaplain of a regiment of Southern soldiers in which most of the young men of his charge had enlisted. Soon after he was promoted to Chaplain of a brigade. On March 7, 1863, in a sharply contested engagement at Spring Hill, Texas, while responding to a call from a distressed officer to rally his men who had twice recoiled from a charge, as he stood up in the stirrups and eloquently appealed to their chivalry, he was shot through the knee and died of hemorrhage twenty minutes later. Apparently Bro. Crouch was raised in some Lodge in Kentucky prior to arriving in California but the Grand Lodge of that State has been unable to supply any information relative thereto. On July 7, 1853 he was elected an honorary member of Washington Lodge No. 20 F. & A. M. Sacramento and was immediately appointed its Chaplain. He was reappointed the following year, although the records of Grand Lodge indicate that until he dimitted from Sacramento Lodge No. 40 on August 4, 1854, he was Chaplain of our Lodge which he had assisted in organizing. On removal to San Jose Bro. Crouch affiliated with San Jose Lodge No. 10 F. & A. M. and served as chaplain in 1855. In 1857 he withdrew from that Lodge. Whether Bro. Crouch affiliated with any Lodge subsequent to his withdrawal from San Jose Lodge No. 10 is not known. The Grand Lodge of Mississippi has informed us that a check of all Lodges located in Aberdeen, Mississippi from 1857 through 1863 had failed to disclose the name of Crouch.

 

 

 

Transcribed by Sally Kaleta.

Proofread by Betty Vickroy.


2007 Sally Kaleta.

 

 

 


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