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THE FIRST 100 YEARS

OF

SACRAMENTO LODGE No.40

 

 

 

                           

 

COL. PHILIP LEGET EDWARDS

 

 

                   Philip Leget Edwards, an original petitioner of Sacramento Lodge was born in Breckenridge County, Kentucky, July 14, 1812, the son of Thomas Edwards and June Cunningham Edwards, both natives of Virginia. He moved with the family in 1824 to Old Franklin, Howard County, Missouri, and then to Bay County, Mo., where his parents resided until 1850. Philip commenced his career as a teacher at the age of 21 in the village of Richmond, Bay County, Mo., but his health began to fail in his second year. He then joined a party consisting of traders, topographers and missionaries headed for the Oregon Country west of the Rockies. Capt. N. J. Wyeth led the traders; Jason Lee had charge of the Methodist Missionaries. With the party were also Townsend and Nuttall, the distinguished naturalists and Capt. W. D. Stewart (Stuart) of English nobility. Leaving Liberty, Mo., April 25, 1834, the party established a trading station at Fort Hall, on the Snake River, on July 15, where Wyeth and his traders remained. The others continued to Fort Vancouver, established by the Hudson's Bay Co. on the Columbia River, arriving in the middle of September. Philip Edwards remained with the missionaries who finally established themselves at a place called French Prairie in Willamette Valley. Edwards was a member of the Methodist Church but was not officially connected with the Mission. In Oct. 1835 he established a school at Campment du Salle, or Campoeg, which he continued through the following spring. After a short visit to Fort Vancouver he returned to teach school through the winter of 1836. Jason Lee, realizing that the possession of cattle was fundamental to the welfare of the people in Willamette Valley, was instrumental in organizing on January 12, 1837, the Willamette Cattle Company, for the purpose of bringing cattle from the missions in California to the valley. The project was financed by the settlers with appreciable help from Dr. John McLaughlin of the Hudson's Bay Co., Lt. Wm. A. Slocum of the U.S. Navy and Jason Lee. A pioneer familiar with California, Ewing Young was chosen head of the party and Philip Edwards was chosen Treasurer. The party of eleven men was offered free transportation by Lt. Slocum on his brig Loriot. Leaving the mouth of the Willamette on Jan. 22, 1837 they arrived in San Francisco Bay on March 1. After purchasing cattle and horses from Gen. Guadaloupe Vallejo, agent for the government and collecting the stock from the Missions at San Francisco and San Jose, a herd of 729 head was gathered. Starting north Aug. 14 and after many thrilling experiences with the Indians, they arrived with 630 head in the middle of Oct. 1837. Philip Edwards kept a diary of this trip covering the period from Jan. 14 to Sept. 18, 1837. Why it was not continued during the entire journey is not known. The manuscript is in the California State Library at Sacramento. It was printed for the first time in Volume II of Themis, reprinted in pamphlet form at Sacramento in 1890, and reprinted in 1932 in book form by the Grabhorn Press, S. F., in a limited edition, with an introduction by Douglas S. Watson. On March 26, 1838 Edwards with Jason Lee and two Indian boys started down the Willamette River to Fort Vancouver and from there to the Missouri frontier. Edwards continued to his parents' home at Richmond, Mo. There he studied Law and was admitted to the Bar in 1839 or '40. In August 1840 he married Mary Venable Allen. During the Mormon troubles he commanded a regiment and was given the rank of Colonel in the Missouri State Militia in 1841. In 1842 he was elected a member of the Missouri State Legislature from the Whig party and gained the reputation of being one of the best orators in either House of the General Assembly. Edwards published a booklet Sketch of the Oregon Territory or Emigrants Guide in 1842, the only known copy of which is in the Yale University Library. It has recently been reprinted in a facsimile edition limited to 500 copies. He was elected to represent Ray County in the Lower House of the State Legislature in 1843. The following year as a delegate to the Whig National Convention, he helped nominate Henry Clay for President and stumped the State for him. Edwards was known as the "War-horse" of the Party. Leaving Richmond in 1850 for a "trek" across the plains to California, he was chosen Captain of the wagon train including his family, arriving in Sept. of that year. He settled in Sacramento and became a Law partner of James Lawrence English (our first Worshipful Master) and of Judge Sanders. Chosen one of the Whig members of the State Legislature at Sacramento in 1854, he was offered the Speakership of the Assembly but refused the honor and was appointed Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He died of paralysis in Sacramento May 1, 1869. Resolutions of respect were drafted by the State Bar of which he was a prominent member, One of his biographers writes of him - "He never spoke ill of anyone nor did ever charity appeal to him in vain." In the Sacramento Daily Union of Dec. 29, 1851, appears a Masonic address which he delivered before the Masonic Fraternity assembled at the Baptist Church of Sacramento, on the occasion of the anniversary of St. John the Evangelist, Dec. 27, 1854. It is a masterpiece of Masonic Literature. Philip Leget Edwards presented his position for the degrees of Masonry to Richmond Lodge No. 57, A. F. & A. M. on Sept. 5, 1842. He was elected Oct. 3, initiated Oct. 5, and passed and raised on the same date, Nov. 8 of that year, a procedure no longer countenanced by the Grand Lodge of Missouri. He dimitted from Richmond Lodge April 29, 1850 and became an original petitioner of Sacramento Lodge No. 40. He dimitted from Sacramento Lodge No. 40 on Dec. 2, 1859.

 

 

 

Transcribed by Sally Kaleta.

Proofread by Betty Vickroy.


2007 Sally Kaleta.

 

 

 


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Sacramento County

 

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