An act to incorporate Endeavor Lodge, No. 17, Milton, Delaware. Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representives of the State of Delaware, in General Assembly met, That James Ponder, Elisha Holland, John B. Mustard, Theodore W. Parker, David Lofland, Francis W. Willy, Silas M. Reynolds, William Jefferies, Rouse F. Young, James Cooper, Henry W. Johnson, Benton H. Johnson, John W. White, Tindley B. Stephenson, Peter P. Johnson, James E. Blizzard, James M. Baynum, George H. Mustard, John C. Lacy, Thomas A. Moore and such other persons as now are, or hereafter shall become members of " Endeavor Lodge, No.17, Milton, Delaware" be, and for twenty years here after shall be by virtue of this act, one body politic and corporate in fact and in law, and shall have continuance and succession for twenty years, by the name, style and title of " Endeavor Lodge, Name. No. 17, Milton, Delaware." June 27, 1848

James Ponder, First Worshipful Master (October 31, 1819 – November 5, 1897)

James Ponder (October 31, 1819 – November 5, 1897) was an American merchant and politician from Milton, in Sussex County, Delaware. He was a member of the Democratic Party, who served in the Delaware General Assembly and as Governor of Delaware. The First worshipful Master of Endeavor Lodge 17 in Milton.
Early life and family
A lifelong resident of this community, James Ponder was born October 31, 1819, the son of John and Hester Milby Ponder. His father was a successful merchant who was active in local political affairs. After receiving his education in the academies of Milton, Lewes, and Georgetown, James joined his father in business. In addition to general merchandising, the firm was active in the shipping of grain and lumber, and the construction, purchase, and sale of ships. James Ponder was elected to the State House of Representatives in 1856. He was elected to the State Senate in 1864, and served as Speaker in 1867. In 1870 he was the Democrat Party's successful candidate for Governor. After completing his term in 1875 he continued his business endeavors, bringing one of the first canneries to the area in 1881 and playing a key role in the construction of the Queen Anne's Railroad. He was President of the Kent County Mutual Insurance Company and Director of the Farmer's Bank of Delaware. He served as warden of St. John the Baptist Protestant Episcopal Church and was an active member of the Masonic order.

Professional and political career

Ponder was elected to the State House for the 1857/58 session and then to the State Senate for the 1865/66 and 1867/68 sessions. He was Speaker during the 1867/68 session. In 1870 he was elected Governor of Delaware, defeating the Republican candidate, Thomas Boone Coursey. He served from January 17, 1871 until January 19, 1875. The election of 1870 was the first opportunity for African-Americans to vote in Delaware elections, and Ponder’s tenure was marred by an ongoing response to this change. Ponder himself was in no way sympathetic, saying to the General Assembly that the Federal government was wrong in extending the franchise to “uneducated Negroes.” The 1870 election featured rigged voter lists that effectively denied the vote to most African-Americans, and resulted in all the seats in the General Assembly going to the Democratic Party. Two years later, in response, U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant sent in federal troops to police the elections, winning a few elections for Republicans, but undoubtedly prolonging the bitterness felt towards the federal government and their Republican followers in Delaware. The immediate result was the passage of a poll tax and the “Assessment Act of 1873,” that effectively allowed tax collectors the ability to remove people from voter list, allegedly for not paying their taxes, and made it enormously complicated for the voter to have their name restored. Ponder’s term also featured the expansion of state offices into all of what is now known as the “old State House,” and a thorough going restoration that included the first installation of heating and gas lights. The most controversial action of the term was Ponder’s appointment of his brother-in-law, former U.S. Senator Willard Saulsbury as Chancellor of Delaware. Saulsbury had left the Senate as a disgraced alcoholic, and promised Ponder he would change his ways if he was appointed. Evidently Saulsbury kept his promise.
Death and legacy
James Ponder passed away on November 5, 1897, and was laid to rest in Milton's Goshen Cemetery. The Gov. James Ponder House at Milton was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Lodge History with Endeavor Lodge #17 A.M & F.M.

LODGES.-Endeavor Lodge, No. 17, A. F. A. M., was instituted at Milton in June, 1848. The first officers were as follows: W. M., Hon. James Ponder; S. W., Theodore W. Parker; J . W., Elisha Holland; Treasurer, Samuel J. Wilson; Secretary, James E. Blizzard; S. D., Rouse Young; J. D., Benton H. Johnson; Tyler, John H. B. Mustard. The charter members were Hon. James Ponder, Theodore W. Parker, Rouse F. Young, James Cooper, Benton H. Johnson, Henry W. Johnson and Elisha Holland. The lodge steadily increased in numbers until it has a membership of thirty-three. Meetings are held on the second and fourth Thursday evenings of each month, on the second floor of Masonic Hall, a two-story building recently erected by the society on the corner of Chestnut and Mill Streets. The officers of the lodge at the present time are,-W. M., James A. Hopkins; S. W., Samuel J. Martin; J. W., David H. Atkins; Treasurer, Charles U. Atkins; Secretary, Joseph E. Lank. Page 1266 History of Delaware
Scharf, John Thomas History of Delaware: 1608-1888 : General History Vol. 1 Philadelphia PA. L. J.Richards & Company 1888
Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1. Members of the Delaware General Assembly took office the first Tuesday of January. State Senators have a four-year term and State Representatives have a two-year term. The Governor takes office the third Tuesday of January and has a four-year term.
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Endeavor Lodge No. 17 A.F. & A.M.
201 Mill St.
Milton,De. 19968

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