Edson Fitch was born in Glens Falls New York in 1838, his ancestry included an early Governor of the State of Connecticut; and, during this initial period, he lived a normal and moderately supported life. As was expected at the time, he was formally educated and soon prepared himself to enter business life.
Like many of his generation, however, any plans that were laid were immediately disrupted by the War Between the States. On November 1st, 1861, Edson Fitch was mustered into the army at Bolton Landing in the 43rd New York Volunteer Infantry. He was a Lieutenant in the “Washington County Regiment.” Before he was to see battle, however, he was made a Mason in Senate Lodge #456 at Glen Falls and was raised July 6,1862 while he visited his home on leave. He led the company first into action during the Pennsylvania Campaigns, promoted Captain by the end of 1863 and was wounded in the head during fighting in the wilderness. After he recuperated, he returned to duty and was given responsible staff assignments until his discharge.
After the war, Brother Fitch, like many Americans, welcomed the opportunity to return to more peaceful pursuits and commenced making his way, in the American fashion, through the world. Like any smart business man, he looked for ways to exploit the new technologies which the late war had developed and use the resources at hand for building a better existence for his fellow man. The household friction match had recently been greatly improved and Bro. Fitch saw a demand for its many uses. In 1867 he went to Canada to take advantage of raw materials to be found there and began producing “matches by the million”. Edson Fitch made his mark as a pioneer in the “splint industry.” Every pipe smoking “habitant” in Canada welcomed the development of the friction match, as a means of keeping “his continual and comforting companion conveniently lit.”
Twice, Brother Fitch saw his factory destroyed by fire, but his “indomitable pluck and perseverance” enabled him to grow his operation until it was the largest such establishment in the world. He employed 500 persons in all departments, used no less than seventy million feet of lumber in a single year and at one point produced 90 million matches in a single day.
Edson Fitch was also a lover of open spaces and took the radical action at the time of supporting fish and game conservation. During his lifetime, he kept his benevolent activities private, recognizing that his good works were their own reward. As he established himself more firmly in business and banking circles, he became director of the Quebec and Levis Ferry Company in Quebec City and was for several years President of the Masonic Hall Association. In 1873, he affiliated with Tuscan Lodge #28, in Levis, serving as Master in 1876. As District Deputy his service was continuous and required involvement on several committees. Yet, in this time of travel on poor roads and waterways, he was able to progress through the various stations until his election as Grand Master.
His many quiet acts of charity became public knowledge after his death at the age of sixty-two. He had no children.
“A lover of truth and honor…one who hated falsehood and deceit
…loyal to his friends…exemplary in his daily life and conduct…
one who manifested by his deeds those truly Masonic ornaments of
Brotherhood and Benevolence”—the whole city grieved to see him go.