The first Masonic Lodge in what is present day Illinois was established in Kaskaskia, then in Indiana Territory, in 1805. The origins of this lodge can be traced back to seven Brothers, from 5 separate Pennsylvania Lodges, 1 Canadian Lodge and 1 New York Lodge. These Brothers petitioned the “R.W. Grand Master of Masons in and for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Masonic jurisdictions thereunto belonging” for a charter on March 9, 1805.
On September 24th, 1805 a dispensation was granted to Western Star Lodge #107, the first Masonic Lodge to be formed in what was then Indiana territory. The Officers were installed the Lodge was constituted on September 13th, 1806. The two story brick building that the Lodge first met in would later be rented to the State of Illinois as the first state capital building.
By 1816, several Masonic Lodges were operating in the Indiana Territory. They had been granted charters by the Grand Lodges of Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Indiana. However, the great distances to, and the methods of travel, made it almost impossible to communicate or attend the Grand Lodge affairs. As a result, these Lodges were largely left on their own.
On December 9th, 1822 several Lodges operating in the newly formed State of Illinois decided to meet and form the 1st Grand Lodge of Illinois. The first elected Grand Master of Illinois was Shadrach Bond, who only a few days earlier had completed his term as the first governor of the State of Illinois. Unfortunately, the strong anti-Masonic sentiment resulting from the infamous Morgan Affair in New York was disastrous for Masonry in Illinois. After January, 1827 the Grand Lodge of Illinois did not meet again, effectively eliminating organized Freemasonry in Illinois until 1840.
On April 6th, 1840 delegates from six Masonic Lodges (Harmony Lodge #24, Springfield Lodge #26, Columbus Lodge #20, Bodley Lodge #29, Far West Lodge #26 and Equality Lodge #102) met in Jacksonville, Illinois to form the 2nd Grand Lodge of Illinois. W.B. Abraham Jonas of Columbus Lodge #20 was elected as the first Grand Master.
Today, the Masonic Fraternity under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Illinois is comprised of more than 500 Lodges and some 70,000 Masons.