A Masonic Secret in time of War.

Joseph Brant, a Mohawk Chieftain and a Free Mason
Joseph Brant, a Mohawk Chieftain and a Free Mason

Freemasonry is shrouded in secrecy and mysticism. In early America, the Masonic brotherhood would grow to include our finest patriots, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Paul Revere, and John Paul Jones.  Lafayette, the French fighter for American democracy, was encouraged into the brotherhood by George Washington, himself.  George preferred fellow Masons for his officers because he felt they had the same noble beliefs.  It was a quick way to separate the wheat from the chaff, a reliable shortcut.  Over time, many found that the bonds of Masonic brotherhood often eclipsed any other loyalties.

There is an unbelievable tale from Masonic lore that is probable, a tale that has been handed down, but like many handed-down tales, its truth has  not been completely verified.

Mohawks ready to execute Colonel
Mohawks ready to execute Colonel John McKinstry

During the American Revolution, the British cultivated allegiances with Native American tribes.  The colonists were considered a common enemy.  It is a fact that Colonel John McKinstry was an American officer captured by Indian allies of the British, Mohawks.

It is also known that McKinstry was a brave man, but naturally he could not help experiencing anxiety as he was bound to a tree by the Mohawks who captured him, and preparations were made to burn him alive.  The fire was lit, and flames shot up and were singeing his legs.  He was sure to die a horrible death.  Who knows what possessed him to use a universal Masonic signal for help, a secret signal known only to members of the brotherhood.  There were certainly no Masons nearby who could help him.  It was a desperate move.  Perhaps he was delirious.

McKinstry was, no doubt, suffering from pain and smoke inhalation by this time, his moments on earth growing shorter, when the execution was immediately halted by one of his Mohawk captors.  He had recognized the Masonic signal.  The man who stepped forward to halt the execution was Joseph Brant, a Mohawk chief who had spent some time in Europe—part of it on his own education—and was initiated onto the Masonic craft there.  Brant had returned to North America and his tribe, but he retained his Masonic loyalty.

After stopping the execution, Brant handed McKinstry over to British Masons, who took MeKinstry to an American outpost.  Both Brant, and the British Masons, held their Masonic allegiance in higher regard than their loyalty to their country or tribe.

Joseph Brant, born in March of 1743 and was known among his people as Thayendanegea (“two wagers”).  His birthplace was Ohio Country, somewhere along the Cuyahoga River.  During the American Revolutionary War, he led Mohawk and colonial Loyalists to the Crown against rebel colonists on the New York frontier.  He was given the name Monster Brant because of accusations that he committed atrocities.  These charges were later proven false and after the war, he remained a leader of his people and was highly involved in their affairs.

He died on November 24, 1807 (age 64) in what is now Burlington, Ontario.  He professed to be Anglican in religion and was known to have shown compassion on numerous occasions.  Perhaps one of those occasions involved Colonel McKinstry.


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