Masonry Connections – Rigdon:
Royal Arch register for 1829 lists a John Rigdon in the Norwalk chapter and a Thomas Rigdon in the Columbus Chapter. In the 1820 and 1830, Thomas was living near Columbus in Knox County, but in 1830, John was living a hundred miles from Norwalk. See Proceedings of the Grand chapter of Royal Arch masons, of the state of Ohio, [Columbus, 1872], 122. On their Campbellism and connection to Rigdon, see A. S. Hayden, Early History of the Western Reserve, Ohio…[Cincinnati, 1875], 92. John L. Brooke – Refiner’s Fire.
Rigdon was admitted to Masonry on the same day as Joseph Smith –1840, John Cook Bennett, a former active leader in Masonry had arrived in Commerce [Nauvoo] and rapidly exerted his persuasive leadership in all facets of the Church, including Mormon Masonry. …Joseph and Sidney [Rigdon] were inducted into formal Masonry…on the same day…” (“Is There No Help for the Widow’s Son?” by Dr. Reed C. Durham, Jr., as printed in Joseph Smith and Masonry: No Help for the Widow’s Son, Martin Pub. Co., Nauvoo, Ill., 1980, p. 17.)
Rigdon died as a Mason in good standing and received a Masonic burial.
W.W. Phelps was a Master Mason who was knowledgeable regarding Royal Arch Masonry. Reference: David Bernard, 1829. Light on Masonry, A Collection of All the Most Important Documents on the Subject of Speculative Free Masonry: Embracing the Reports of the Western Committees in Relation to the Abduction of William Morgan … with All the Degrees of the Order Conferred in a Master’s Lodge 1829. p.415.
On page 120, W.W. Phelps is listed as a Master Mason.
On page 421, W.W.Phelps is reported as a member of “a committee of fifteen [seceding Masons] appointed to prepare the degrees of Free Masonry above that of Master for publication”. He also served on “a committee of seven appointed to draft a circular invitation to all Free Masons who are opposed to the institution of Masonry, and to secret combinations in general.”
See also: Page 15 in the MS Thesis of Walter Dean Bowen, 1958. Thesis title: “The Versatile W. W. Phelps – – Mormon Writer, Educator, and Pioneer.” Submitted to the Faculty of the Division of Religion, Brigham Young University.
In February of this year (1828) a convention of seceding Masons met a Leroy, Genese County, New York. It denounced Masonry, upheld Morgan’s Illustrations of Masonry, and sent a memorial to congress…. And then, in order to ensure a correct publication, the convention appointed a committee of fifteen to prepare the degrees of Masonry above that of master for publication. The following gentlemen composed said committee: Elder David Bernard, Elder John Stevens, Solomon Southwick, Rev. Reunben Sanbarn, David C. Miller, John Hascall, Herbert A. Read, Richard Hollister, Samuel D. Green, Oliver Forward, Edward Giddins, Judge Hirman, William Perry, and W. W. Phelps.