"Don" L. Burbidge, 33°
155 Chandler Drive, Ladson, South Carolina 29456–4864
Ill. Isaac Auld was not only a notable Freemason in Charleston,
South Carolina, at the turn of the 19th Century but also a large
landowner, experimental botanist, and well-known doctor.
Photo: No image, except a silhouette portrait,
exists of Ill. Isaac Auld. However the noted painter, Ill. John D. Melius,
33°, recently created the above image of Auld based on the original
silhouette portrait and other historical sources.
Dr. Frederick Dalcho, himself
a Founding Member of the Supreme Council on May 31, 1801, asked his friend
and medical associate Isaac Auld to become the seventh member of the newly
fledged Masonic Body. Auld readily accepted on January 10, 1802.
Isaac Auld was born on February 25, 1770, in
Norristown, Pennsylvania, to Jacob and Lydia Auld who were of Scottish
decent. His father, a Mason, was a member of "Old Lodge No. 8"
in Pennsylvania, a soldier in the Sixth Battalion of the Keystone State
during the Revolutionary War, and a large landowner, eventually leaving
his 1,200-acre estate in Pennsylvania to his son. In addition, Isaac Auld
acquired a 1,100-acre plantation on Edisto Island, near Charleston. There
he grew several crops and experimented with various types of plants,
especially the growth of an improved form of long-staple cotton.
In addition, Ill. Auld had a medical career and
was a prominent member of Charleston society when he met and married a
local belle, Miss Frances Miot, on February 8, 1798. Dennis Isaac Auld,
who is a living descendant of Isaac Auld, states it was a case of love at
first sight: "Isaac had just returned from the Dominican Republic
and was attending a play at the Dock Street Theater. Upon walking up the
steps, he looked over and saw Miss Frances Miot who was with her father.
Isaac asked his friend who she was and also informed his friend that he
was going to marry her, and he later did."
On April 1, 1801, Dr. Auld was elected the 65th
member of the South Carolina Medical Society, three months before Dr.
Frederick Dalcho, who became the 66th member. Moses Holbrook, who was to
become a Grand Commander of the Supreme Council, was the 145th member of
the society. A book titled People and Professions of Charleston, South
Carolina for the year 1782–1802 states: "Dalcho & Auld,
Apothecaries, 132 East Bay Street." Together, Ill. Dalcho and
Auld also operated a doctor's office on Meeting Street. The register
states physicians equaled 2% of the Charleston population at that time.
Drs. Dalcho and Auld were within a few months of being the same age, and
the two men had a number of mutual interests that drew them together. They
both were members of the same Sublime Grand Lodge of Perfection in
Charleston along with John Mitchell who was the Founding Father of the
Supreme Council in 1801. The Lodge's register of 1802 shows Isaac Auld as
Senior Warden of this Lodge of Perfection, the third principal officer
under John Mitchell and Frederick Dalcho.
Active in many civic affairs, Ill. Bros. Auld and
Dalcho helped establish Charleston's first "Botanic Garden,"
which was funded by the Medical Society of Charleston and located on the
northwest corner of Meeting and Columbus Streets. In the Charleston
Courier of August 8, 1805, an ad by the Medical Society informed the
public of the garden's purpose. It reads: "Innumerable are the
advantages which will result from this establishment. It will induce in
young persons, a taste for the studies of Nature. The structure of a
feather or flower is more likely to impress their minds with a just notion
of infinite power and wisdom, than the most profound discourses on such
abstract subjects, as are beyond the limits of their capacity to
comprehend. Botany is a branch of natural history that possesses many
advantages; it contributes to health of body, and cheerfulness of
disposition, by presenting an inducement to take air and exercise—it is
adapted to the simplest capacity, which renders it attainable to every
rank in life."
In addition to farming, medicine and botany, Ill.
Auld must have had an interest in music since it is noted that following
an Oration by Ill. Frederick Dalcho, as its Grand Master, to the
"Sublime Grand Lodge of South Carolina" meeting in Charleston on
March 21, 1803, two songs were sung. The first, written by Bro. Thomas
Dunckerly, was titled "Anthem I"; the second, "Anthem
II," was composed by Ill. Auld. Only the words to these two songs
In 1824, Ill. Auld built a home and practiced
medicine on Edingsville Island, located off Edisto Beach about 70 miles
from Charleston. Established that same year, Edingsville Island was used
by well-to-do Charlestonians who sought to escape the summer heat and
disease-carrying mosquitoes of the city. At that time, the island had more
than 50 buildings, including two churches and a school.
Dr. Auld's name appeared less frequently in the
minutes of the South Carolina Medical Society over the years, indicating
he was withdrawing more and more from Charleston, confining his practice
and other activities to Edisto. His fame as a physician, however, was
extending beyond South Carolina during this time, as evidenced in the
faculty minutes of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia
University, New York City, April 7, 1820. The faculty minutes state: The
college took up the consideration of the testimonials in behalf of the
character of Isaac Auld, a practitioner of medicine in South Carolina, and
after some time spent thereon, On Motion, it was resolved that the Isaac
Auld be recommended to the Honorable Regents of the University as a person
eminently qualified to receive the degree of Doctor of Medicine in the
Past research and family records provide no
proof that Isaac Auld ever received a Doctor's Degree prior to this stated
intention by the faculty of the College of Physicians and Surgeons,
Columbia University, New York City. It is assumed that Auld studied under
a doctor in Pennsylvania and might have received a letter of intent from
this doctor indicating that he was competent to practice medicine. In
those days, this was an acceptable way to become a medical practitioner.
In February 1822, Dr. Frederick Dalcho resigned
from his post as Grand Commander. Upon Ill. Dalcho's resignation, Dr. Auld
issued new Letters of Constitution for the Council of Princes of Jerusalem
at Charleston, inactive since the fire of 1819. It was issued to
Illustrious Brothers Moses Holbrook, Horatio Gates Street, Alexander
McDonald, Robert Carr, and Joseph McCosh. This action was not only to
reactivate the Council but also to regularize a group of Masons who had
helped the Supreme Council. Dr. Auld signed this document as Acting Grand
Commander, and it was signed also by Dr. James Moultrie as Acting
Lieutenant Grand Commander, and by Moses Clava Levy as the Treasurer
Under the administration of Grand Commander Auld,
the Supreme Council at Charleston turned its attention to several
important matters. For example, Dr. Holbrook discovered that John Fowler,
of Ireland, had written to Dalcho expressing a desire to open a Supreme
Council in Ireland. Bro. Holbrook responded and Fowler wrote back that he
was still interested, but also noted that since the Grand Duke of
Leinster, the Grand Master of Freemasons of Ireland, had appointed him his
Deputy Grand Master, he thought it proper to appoint the Grand Duke in his
stead. John Fowler also suggested that he be granted the title of
Lieutenant General of the Grand Commander instead. Fowler's suggestion was
carried out with the necessary documents. During a meeting on August 13,
1824, the Supreme Council issued "Letters Patent" naming the
Duke of Leinster as Grand Commander for Ireland.
One cold fall day in 1826, a friend of Dr. Auld,
a Mr. Hardy from Pennsylvania, was visiting him at his Edingsville Island
residence. As Dr. Auld showed Mr. Hardy his plantation, they were caught
in a very heavy rain. Chilled to the bone, both contracted what was then
known as "country fever." Dr. Auld died on October 17, 1826, and
Mr. Hardy died shortly thereafter. Isaac Auld was buried on his Edisto
Island land, but his gravesite is now lost due to hurricanes in the mid
and late 1800s which washed away many cemeteries and buildings. Dr. Isaac
Auld was the last of the original "Eleven Gentleman of
Charleston" to hold an office in the Supreme Council. The next Grand
Commander, Ill. Moses Holbrook, was not a member of the original eleven
We are fortunate that Fred, Bobbie, and Dennis
Auld, descendants of Isaac Auld, have agreed to loan the Scottish Rite
some of Brother Auld's personal belongings for the Scottish Rite's
bicentennial anniversary. The celebration will be held in Charleston,
South Carolina, September 30–October 3, 2001. The articles to be
displayed are a pocket watch that belonged to Jacob Auld that he passed on
to his son Isaac Auld. This pocket watch, still in working condition, has
been passed from father to son for many generations. Along with the watch,
will be the mortar and pestle Ill. Auld used to mix medicine when he was a
doctor both in Charleston and Edisto Island.
||McDonald L. Burbidge
is a 25-year employee at the Robert Bosch Corporation, Charleston,
S.C. He was raised a Mason on November 19, 1975, and is currently a
member of Summerville Lodge No. 234, Summerville, S.C., the Scottish
Rite Bodies of Charleston, and the Scottish Rite Research Society.
On February 14, 1976, he received the 32°, and on October 19, 1981,
he was invested a K.C.C.H. For 18 years, Bro. Burbidge has been the
photographer for the Valley of Charleston, and he is currently
involved with the year 2001 celebration of the 200th anniversary of
the founding of the Scottish Rite in Charleston, South Carolina.
Reprinted with permission of the
Scottish Rite Journal, October 2000
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