The French first brought Freemasonry to the Great Lakes at a time when it was Indian Territory. The earliest documented Lodge was in Detroit in 1764, by George Harison, Provincial Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of New York, with Lt. John Christie of the 2nd Battalion, 60th Royal American Foot Regiment (British) as Worshipful Master. This lodge was the first lodge established west of the Allegheny mountains. By 1772 there were at least three Lodges meeting in the Detroit area; Lodge No. 1 and two Irish Military Lodges, warranted to Masons of the 10th Regiment, then stationed at Detroit. Zion Lodge #1 was formed in 1794 and continues to work to this day. Zion also has an important part in the history of another Michigan institution; the University of Michigan which was assisted in its formation by Zion Lodge and its members.
Today there are hundreds of Lodges in Michigan in both the lower and upper peninsulas. These lodges hold a membership of tens of thousands of Masons. The history of Michigan is the history of the Masonic Fraternity. As the state was settled and established from the East to the West, so to the craft moved from East to West. However, lodges along the St. Joseph River in southwestern Michigan are also among the oldest in the state. This river was an important trading route during the formative years of the state and was settled earlier than the interior portion.