Portrait of First Worshipful Master


The secretary of Delaware Lodge #46 F&AM (Muncie, Indiana) was recently surprised to receive an email from Mr. Bill Asdal of Chester, New Jersey, advising that he was in possession of an oil painting of Dr. Samuel P.  Anthony.  Dr. Anthony was the first Worshipful Master of Delaware #46.  Mr. Asdal proposed that if the Lodge was interested, he would donate the painting to be displayed in the Lodge building.  The proposal was presented to the Lodge, and after brief discussion, it was agreed to accept Mr. Asdal’s offer and proceeded to make arrangements for it to be shipped back to Muncie. That painting arrived in Muncie in November 2023.

In preparation for receiving and appropriately displaying the portrait in Lodge, a significant amount of research was conducted regarding Dr. Anthony and the early years of Delaware #46.  The following text about the chartering of Delaware #46 was found at RootsWeb:

When Delaware County began to be populated by white men, and the era of civilization began to dawn upon the wilderness, Freemasonry, the handmaid of Christianity, was a primal element of the pioneer movement which has left its impress upon the society of today.  In the course of time, the number of those who had been inducted into the mystic temple was sufficiently increased to justify the experiment of instituting a lodge authorizing them under the regulations prescribed by the Grand Lodge to affiliate together and to work according to the usages of the fraternity.  In the fall of 1842, a number of the brethren, feeling that the proper time had come to avail themselves of the opportunity to enjoy these privileges, made application for a dispensation empowering them to  meet as a lodge and to work.  The request was granted, and a dispensation issued by Philip Mason of Connersville, Grand Master, bearing the date of the 7th day of October 1842.

Following the issuance of that dispensation, Samuel P. Anthony was installed as Worshipful Master of the Lodge on March 20th, 1843.  At that meeting, a committee was appointed to draw up a code of by-laws.  Those by-laws, consisting of twenty-five articles, were unanimously adopted by the Lodge the following evening.  At the session of the Grand Lodge on the 23rd of May, 1843, the committee on dispensations, having examined the proceedings and by-laws, granted the lodge at Muncie (then known as Munceytown) as Delaware Lodge #46 and a charter was issued as of that date.  The roll of Lodge membership that year listed a total of eleven members.  Between the years 1843 and the time of his death, Dr. Anthony served eight terms as Worshipful Master, two terms as Senior Warden, and one term as Treasurer.

In the latter part of 1855, Dr. Anthony and several other of his Masonic Brothers residing in Muncie and the immediate vicinity petitioned the M. E. G. High Priest of the State of Indiana for dispensation authorizing them to meet and work as a Royal Arch Chapter.  The prayer of the petitioners was granted, and the dispensation was issued appointing Samuel P. Anthony, H. P. and designating the chapter as Anthony Chapter, U. D.  At the meeting of the Grand Chapter in May of 1856, the by-laws and records of the proceeding under the authority of said dispensation were presented and referred to the Committee on Charters and Dispensations.  The Committee, having examined the by-laws and records of Anthony Chapter, U. D., and found them generally correct, and recommended that a charter be granted to the Companions at Muncie, under the name of Muncie Chapter, No. 30 and that Samuel P. Anthony be the first H. P. of said Chapter.  A charter was issued accordingly, bearing the date 22d day of May, 1856, signed by the proper officers and attested by the seal of the Grand Chapter.  The charter having been granted, M. E. High Priest Hacker, gave his proxy to Companion S. P. Anthony, with the necessary authority to institute said chapter in accordance with the usages of Capitular Masonry. 

At the time of his death in 1876, Dr. Anthony was known as one of the wealthiest men in Eastern Indiana and perhaps the most widely known citizen of Muncie.  It was reported that much of his holdings were in real estate in Delaware and adjoining counties and in western states.  He was a large stockholder in the Bee Railroad Line and the Citizens’ National Bank of Muncie.  On the day of his death, he had been at his office all day attending to business as usual.  After retiring for the evening, he felt his feet growing cold and prompt steps were taken to warm him.  He seemed to have a premonition of his impending death and remarked to those around him that his time had come.  An hour and a half later, his spirit passed from his body.  He was buried in Muncie’s historic Beech Grove Cemetery after a large concourse of citizens attended his funeral.  His grave site is in Lot #354 at the north side of the cemetery’s “Old Circle” where visitors can see the impressive Anthony family centerpiece monument and Dr. Anthony’s headstone - along with that of many members of his family.  Cemetery records indicate that Dr. Anthony was a veteran of the War of 1812.

Delaware #46 received the painting of Dr. Anthony from Mr. Asdal on November 15th,, 2023, and plans to have it appraised and perhaps cleaned and reframed before being hung in the Lodge.  As of this writing, the identity of the portrait artist is unknown.  Mr. Asdal noted that in the 1800s there were many itinerant painters crisscrossing the land.  Their target audience was politicians, doctors, lawyers, ministers, and the like who would put them up for a week or more while they painted the subject in a few sittings.  While such portraits are often found without a name and sold as "Portrait of a Gentleman", this portrait has a copper plate attached with Dr. Anthony’s name and a notation that it was the property of Earle H. Swain.  The Indiana Grand Lodge office located Mr. Swain’s membership card which indicated that he received the degrees of Masonry at Muncie Lodge #433 in 1920.  Mr. Swain was the great grandson of Dr. Anthony.  Mr. Asdal is reaching out to a consignment company in an effort to identify the portrait’s last owner(s).  Delaware #46 intends to hang a plaque beside the painting explaining its background and extending its sincere appreciation to Mr. Asdal for his generosity in donating the portrait of its first Worshipful Master to Delaware Lodge #46.

Written and Researched By Robert Fey PM

October 2023