Poughkeepsie was founded as a village by five trustees in 1799. Three of the five, including the Village President, were officers of the Poughkeepsie Masonic Order “Solomon’s Lodge No. 1,” which had been founded in 1771. These three initial trustees are listed below with their Masonic Order roles at the time leading up to Poughkeepsie Village incorporation. One of the three initial Village acts was to establish the beehive as the seal, which remains to this day.
James Smith, 1st Village President (1797 to 1798 Masonic Grand Master)
Ebenezer Badger (1798 Masonic Secretary, 1791 to 1795 Sr. Warden)
Andrew Billings (1790, 1786, 1781 to 1783 Grand Master, Sr. Warden 1778 to 1780)
The earliest visual reference to a bee hive found in any Poughkeepsie document is this 1790 Masonic traveling certificate for William Ely. It was signed by William Billings who was Grand Master at the time. It may also have been designed and engraved by Billings. There appear to be 7 bees which was considered to be the number that would create a “perfect lodge.”