Jimmy Stevens 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
District Deputy Grand Master 15th District
I was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on June 30, 1950 and grew up in Garner. I hold a Bachelor of Science Degree in Police Science with a Minor in Religion and retired from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol in 2000 with the rank of lieutenant. In 2003 I became the Director of Internal Affairs and Special Investigations for the Wake County Sheriff’s Office. I married Carlene Welch of Siler City in 1976 and we have one adult daughter, Carla, a Social Worker married to Brandon Norris of Garner; and one grandson, Tyler. A member of Aversboro Road Baptist Church in Garner for more than twenty years, I have been honored to serve as a deacon and Sunday school teacher.
In August of 1975 I was initiated in Columbus Lodge #102 in Pittsboro and raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason the next month. In 1993 I demitted to Garner Lodge #701 and served as Master there in 2001. I am a Certified Class A Lecturer, Scottish Rite Mason, and District Deputy Grand Master of the 15th District.
History, especially Civil War history has always held a fascination for me and over the years I have developed a passion for Masonic study and research. I truly love Freemasonry. This is a compilation of some Masonic Education Programs that I have presented at various lodges. I sincerely hope you find them entertaining, interesting and helpful.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
7 July 2005
It was at about that time that those Operative Freemasons enjoyed what some consider their most glorious years. They constructed bridges and castles, mansions and palaces, and of course those magnificent medieval gothic cathedrals, many of which stand today. Those ancient artisans were the primary custodians of the mysteries of mathematics, and most especially geometry, which even became a synonymous term for masonry. In an age of extremely limited education, those craftsmen were practically the only true technicians of their time.
Medieval Construction Medieval Masons
Now to be fair and accurate it should be noted that in all likelihood neither Brother Ashmole nor Brother Moray were actually the first speculative Mason. However, their distinction lies in the fact that they are among the first men who can be authentically documented as having come into the Craft without any skills in the building trade. So, really neither are identified as the first Speculative Masons in history, only the first whose names are known.
Oliver Cromwell King Charles I General George Monck
In order to better appreciate the lives of both these Brothers a very brief glance at the English Civil War is appropriate. From 1640 to 1645 a devastating civil war was fought in England between the supporters of the King, Charles I, and the supporters of Parliament, known as Roundheads, led by Oliver Cromwell. The Royalists eventually lost, Cromwell ruled as Lord Protector, and King Charles was tried and beheaded by the Roundheads. After Cromwell’s death in 1654, the country began to disintegrate into a disorganized state of turmoil, political and religious feuds. With the support of the army, Roundhead General George Monck gained the approval of Parliament to invite the old king’s son to return from exile in France and become the new monarch.
The prince returned, and was crowned Charles II. The ensuing period, known as the Restoration, introduced a settled and prosperous period into English history. It also marked the beginning of the Age of Reason, historically known as the Enlightenment, a time when science and progressive activity abounded.
Brother Elias Ashmole was born in Staffordshire, England May 23, 1617, lived to be 75 years old, and was married three times, outliving each of his wives. He attended Oxford College and was a chemist, lawyer, botanist, poet, philosophical writer, and antiquarian. Some sources have reckoned him the first man to become a speculative Mason. Brother Ashmole was a great supporter of both King Charles I, and Charles II, who each appointed him to several high positions and bestowed upon him a number of honors.
In March 1646 Elias Ashmole was made an infantry captain in the Royalist Army. Later, he witnessed the surrender and the final defeat of King Charles in September 1646. The very next month, on 16 October 1646 he was made a Freemason in Warrington, England. His initiation took place at 4:30 in the afternoon. The precise time can be pin pointed thanks to Brother Ashmole’s diaries. It is important to note that Colonel Henry Mainwaring, with whom Ashmole was initiated, had been a Roundhead Army officer and the city of Warrington was at that time, a Roundhead stronghold. The implication is that Freemasonry, from these very early days, recognized no political boundaries as a Captain in the Royalist Army and a Colonel in the Roundhead Army were initiated together into our adored fraternity.
Brother Ashmole faired well under the rule of Charles II he was a founding member of the Royal Society, a group of dedicated scholars devoted to study and research. The very prestigious Royal Society is still in existence today, 350 years later. Brother Ashmole proposed the design for the coat of Arms of the Royal Society. His submission was inspired by the Biblical reference in Amos 7, verses 7&8 and featured a plumb line, a Masonic emblem familiar to us all.
About 1660 he became primarily an antiquarian and collector of scientific specimens. He published quite a few books in that area and his collection was enormously enriched in 1659 when the famous botanist, John Tradescant, presented his natural history specimens to Brother Ashmole. In 1675 Ashmole began to make arrangements for his scholarly collection to be conveyed to Oxford University, where it was to be housed in a special museum. This building, now known as the Old Ashmolean, was completed in 1683 and was the first public museum in the British Isles.
Sir Robert Moray, a Scottish adventurer, was also well regarded by King Charles II, and a member of the Royal Society. Brother Moray is a most fascinating character with a complex and confusing background. Sir Robert Moray was a descendant of an ancient and noble Highland family. He was educated partly at the University of St. Andrew's and partly in France. Moray was knighted at Oxford on 10th of January 1643, by Charles I. As a soldier, he fought on both sides in the English Civil War. He was also an enthusiastic member of Freemasonry. Sir Robert Moray became an “accepted” member of the Lodge of Edinburgh in 1641.
The first record we have of an Englishman becoming an accepted mason points to Elias Ashmole, who joined a lodge at Warrington in 1646. However the initiation of Scottish Brother Moray into the Edinburgh Lodge on May 20, 1641 is absolutely extraordinary; it occurred inside a castle, which was garrisoned and awaiting attack. Present for the Masonic rite that evening were members and officers of both armies, including at least three generals who enjoyed complete safety inside an enemy stronghold, miles from their own troops. These men, separated by loyalty, but united by masonry were probably a mix of operative and non-operatives masons. They were simply all Freemasons. It is also interesting to note that following this initiation the much-anticipated battle did not happen. It was resolved by negotiation.
So, who then was truly the first Speculative Mason? The answer to that question is likely forever lost in antiquity. But the earliest recorded Speculative Masons, men like Elias Ashmole and Robert Moray proved to be great assets to the fraternity and helped keep the door open for non-operative masons like you and me. What great examples they set, that we should strive to emulate their exemplary character in our own journey through the annals of Freemasonry.
Coat of Arms of the Grand Lodge of Scotland
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
With special thanks to Brother Ric Carter for his assistance
16 September 2004
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
Brother Francis Bellamy
Early Pledge of Allegiance
Who wrote the Pledge Of Allegiance to our flag? Can you imagine a time when this was not known? Well, truth is stranger than fiction, for up until 1939 it was not certain who wrote the Pledge. Finally, in that year after several years of research a committee of the U.S. Flag Association determined that Francis J. Bellamy had indeed written our Pledge of Allegiance.
Francis J. Bellamy was born May 18, 1855 in the town of Mount Morris, New York. His father was Reverend David Bellamy, minister of the First Baptist Church there. Francis received his early education in the public schools of Rome, New York. He graduated from Rome Free Academy in 1872. As a small boy Francis saw many Union veterans returning home from the Civil War, many of them disabled from wounds. At age eight, he asked a recuperating Gettysburg veteran why he had gone off to fight. The soldier replied to keep the nation from dividing. The youngster never forgot that conversation.
After high school Francis entered the University of Rochester, graduating in 1876 at the age of 21. He then attended the Rochester Theological Seminary, completing his training there and being ordained in 1879. A year later he accepted his first pastorate at the First Baptist Church in Little Falls, New York. While serving the church there Francis Bellamy became a Mason and was a member of Little Falls Lodge # 181.
In 1885 he left the Little Falls church to assume the pastorate of Boston’s Dearborn Street Baptist Church. In 1891 he joined the staff of The Youth’s Companion, a very popular magazine throughout New England in the late 1800’s.
At that time Masonic Brother James B. Upham as a member of Converse Lodge in Malden, Massachusetts and a partner of the firm that was publishing The Youth’s Companion. One of his strong beliefs was that an American flag should be flown over every schoolhouse. To this end he persuaded the magazine to sponsor a plan to sell flags to schools at cost; the idea being so successful that 25,000 schools acquired flags in just one year.
Brother Upham had still another idea, that on Columbus Day 1892 (the 400th anniversary of America’s discovery) every public school in the land would hold a flag-raising ceremony under the most impressive circumstances, and every school child would rededicate himself in love and service to his country. Daniel S. Ford, the owner of The Youth’s Companion, and Brother Upham’s uncle appointed Brother Bellamy, the national chairman of a committee to enlist the support of educators, mayors, governors, and members of Congress in that tremendous undertaking. The results of their labors surpassed their fondest dreams, for United States President Benjamin Harrison enthusiastically embraced and endorsed the plan. He declared a national holiday for Columbus Day, October 12, 1892.
President Benjamin Harrison
U.S. Flag in 1892
There was great excitement in the schools throughout the land during the months preceding the great day of celebration. Committees were busy at every school, planning Columbus Day programs down to the finest details. Everyone understood that the climax and the most important and impressive part of the ceremony would be the raising of the flag and the salute to it by the students. In preparing the suggested program for the Columbus Day Observance to be printed in The Youth’s Companion, Brother James Upham hesitated when he came to the wording of the students’ salute. He was not entirely satisfied with the “Balch Salute,” then in common use. It had been written in 1887 by Colonel George T. Balch and went as follows:
We give our heads and our hearts to God and our country – One country, one language, one flag.
Brother Upham discussed his dilemma with Brother Bellamy and asked for his help. They spent many hours considering a revision of that salute. Each suggested that the other write a completely new and different one for the upcoming ceremony.
In August of 1892, Brother Bellamy shut himself inside a room alone to formulate the actual Pledge. Beginning with the word “allegiance” he decided “pledge” was a better word for school children than “vow” or “swear;” and that the first person singular (I rather than we) should be used. Then those first, now familiar words, “I pledge allegiance to the flag” were set to paper and the start appeared promising.
Then should it be “country,” “nation,” or “republic?” “Republic” won out because it distinguished the form of government chosen by the fathers of the Revolution and established by that conflict. The true reason for allegiance to the flag is actually the “Republic for which it (the flag) stands.” Brother Bellamy recalled the sayings of Washington, the arguments of Hamilton, the Webster-Hayne debates, the speeches of Lincoln and Seward, and the Civil War veterans he had met as a youth. After many attempts all was reduced to three word One Nation, indivisible.”
Next what doctrines would everybody agree upon as the basis of Americanism? “Liberty and Justice” were surely basic, and were all that any one nation could hope for. At last he called for Brother Upham and repeated the Pledge to him with full emphasis:
I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Thus our Pledge of Allegiance was born, and was proclaimed with great rejoicing throughout the land on October 12, 1892. In writing the Pledge, Bellamy was fulfilling only one of his many assignments for the magazine. However, those who knew the man knew that he was also fulfilling a deep desire to compose a simple dignified message of loyalty, which would convey the truest and most noble sentiments of a devoted patriot toward his native land. All Masons should salute him!
At the First National Flag Conference in Washington, D.C., On June 14, 1923, the words “the flag of the United States” was substituted for “my flag.” The change was made on the grounds that those born in foreign countries might have in mind the flag of their native land when repeating the Pledge. The Second National Flag Conference in 1924 added the word “of America.” On Flag Day 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an Act of Congress adding the words “under God.”
For greater meaning and proper presentation when reciting the Pledge, there should be only three pauses:
1. After “America”
2. After “stands”
3. After “indivisible”
Due to the fact that no author was mentioned when the Pledge appeared in 1892, few knew who actually had written it and in time its origin was completely veiled in obscurity. We should not be surprised it was penned by a Master Mason.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
Brother Jeremy Cross
Brother Thomas Webb
Can you remember when you were first presented your Bahnson Manual? Do you recall the first time you sat down and really looked at it? You probably did not start at the beginning and read through it, but rather thumbed through or perused it. Some of the first things we all notice about the manual are the rather dated, and unusual pen and ink drawings we see throughout the book. Some of them may look familiar, because we have recently seen them in the slide presentation we viewed during a degree lecture. As years pass and we continue our journey in Masonry we begin to notice those very same images appearing over and over again in a variety of ways and through numerous mediums. But have you ever wondered exactly who drew those simple yet striking renderings?
Most of those beloved and recognizable illustrations were created in the early 1800’s by two extraordinarily talented Masons who wanted to help standardize Masonic ritual and help Masons and Masonic Lecturers with their memory work. Jeremy Ladd Cross was born in New Hampshire in 1783 and at age 24, in 1807 was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason in St. John’s Lodge in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Nine years later he moved to Providence, Rhode Island, and became a hatter by trade. While living in Providence he met and began to study Masonry under the tutorage of Brother Thomas S. Webb. Brother Webb was a renowned Masonic historian, scholar, and lecturer who in 1797 published America’s first Masonic guide book, The Freemason’s Monitor; or Illustrations of Masonry. Webb’s Monitor not only gave those types books the name we use today, “Monitor,” but also its language helped standardize the development of the Masonic ritual throughout the United States. The word “monitorial” that is used in the third degree lecture relates to the “monitor” or manual, in our case the Bahnson Manual. To modern Masons the title of Brother Webb’s manual may be a little misleading. The word “illustrations” did not mean pictures or symbols, but rather a clarification of the ritual. In fact there were no illustrations contained in that book.
After learning all the rituals proficiently under Brother Webb, Brother Cross soon began traveling as a much in demand lecturer. After he exemplified all the degree work for the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, he was certified as an official instructor, and continued to teach the ritual in his travels to various Lodges in the Northeastern part of the United States. By 1818 he had met and formed a partnership with another Mason, Brother Amos Doolittle (below), who was a gifted artist and engraver, from New Haven, Connecticut. They created a number of beautifully printed Masonic aprons, which they sold.
In August 1818 Brother Cross documented in his diary an entry stating that he “spent the day drafting emblems with Brother Doolittle for the Masonic Chart, which I intend publishing.” Several more entries in the diary mention that the men were busy designing emblems and images for the “Masonic Chart.” The “chart” that Brothers Cross and Doolittle were creating came to be known as The True Masonic Chart or Hieroglyphic Monitor. It was not a chart in the sense most of us would picture, but rather a small book or manual. It is uncertain if Brother Cross’s mentor, Brother Webb, ever saw the Masonic Chart, as he passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage in July1819.
We can only speculate whether Brother Webb, a strict Masonic traditionalist, would have approved of publishing images with ritualistic ties. Prior to the publication of the “chart,” most Masonic symbols only appeared painted on Lodge Room walls or on a “Master’s carpet” adorning the lodge. What is obvious though, is that Brother Cross successfully converted the memory work he had received from Brother Webb into stunning images, which for decades have aided in teaching and learning the several Masonic lectures.
The Masonic Chart enjoyed immediate and long-term success, all but replacing Webb’s Illustrations of Masonry. Together, first Brother Webb and then his ardent student, Brother Cross should be recognized for helping standardize Masonic ritualistic work across America. Only Pennsylvania does not work some version of “Webb-Cross” ritual.
Some say the highest form of flattery is imitation and such was the case with The Masonic Chart. Since its publication in 1819 countless monitors, charts, and manuals have been printed. However, it is interesting that the vast majority of them reprinted Brother Cross’s images virtually unchanged. For example, in almost every modern monitor Father Time, standing behind the beautiful virgin at the broken column is depicted with a particular tuft of hair flowing forward from his forehead. This feature can be traced back to the original Doolittle-Cross engraving.
Today the results of Brother Cross’s and Brother Doolittle’s images appear on most everything Masonic from aprons, to coffee mugs, fine artwork to stationary. His images are also seen in the illustrations contained in our Bahnson Manual, a tremendous amount of “clipart” on the Internet, and of course the slide presentations that accompany our lectures.
I have always admired those remarkable drawings and often wondered from whence they came. Now every time I see on of them I am thrilled to connect with dedicated and talented brothers who lived and practiced Masonry almost 200 years ago and whose work has endured so long. That is just one small reason that makes it so great to be a Mason.
Three drawings from Jeremy Ladd Cross’s True Masonic Chart or Hieroglyphic Monitor depict (from left to right) the Weeping Virgin; Palmyra, or Tadmor from the Royal Arch Degree, and the four cardinal virtues: Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice, standing in front of the Point-within-a-Circle
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
13 April 2004
Joel was born on March 2, 1779 in Charleston, South Carolina, during the American Revolution. He grew up in a well-to-do family and obtained an exceptional education. As a very young man he was fluent in French, Spanish, Italian, and German. Joel studied medicine, law, and military science. At the age of 22 he had the opportunity to travel in Europe and Asia from 1801-1804 and again from 1806-1808. He returned home when he was 29 years old, amid indications of war with Great Britain.
After the War of 1812 Joel, who by that time had become a Master Mason, served in the South Carolina state legislature from 1816 to 1820; and was chairman of the state’s Board of Public Works from 1818 to 1820. In 1821 Brother Joel was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served two terms. While a member of Congress Brother Joel also served as special envoy to Mexico from 1822 through 1923
In 1825 President Madison appointed Brother Joel as the United States’ first ambassador to Mexico. While in Mexico, he advocated the causes of South American republics. At the request of Mexican Freemasons, he sent for charters for five lodges, which were granted by the Grand Lodge of New York. Subsequently, he helped establish the Grand Lodge of Mexico.
In 1830, he returned home to South Carolina and continued to be politically active. In 1833, at age 54, he married Mary Izard Pringle. He also spearheaded what is now known as the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Additionally; Brother Joel was actively interested in military training and was very much involved in expanding the operations of the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Brother Joel is recorded as having been Past Master of Recovery Lodge No. 31, Greenville, South Carolina and Solomon’s Lodge No. 1, Charleston, South Carolina. In 1831, Brother Joel was appointed as a Line Officer in the Grand Lodge of South Carolina, but was never able to serve as Grand Master, because of his appointment as Secretary of War (1837-1841) under President Van Buren.
However, Brother Joel is not generally remembered for any of those accomplishments. Throughout all these endeavors, he collected cultural and horticultural artifacts the world over and was an accomplished amateur botanist. Brother Joel became fascinated with the native Euphorbia pulcherrima, whose “petals” are actually bracts surrounding clusters of tiny yellow flowers. In 1826, he brought the plant home to the United States, and it was first called “painted leaf” and “Mexican fire plant.” Later, it was renamed POINSETTIA in honor of Brother Joel Roberts Poinsett.
At the age of 72 he died at the home of his doctor in Statesburg, South Carolina. In his honor, Poinsett State Park has been created in S.C. He is buried at the Church of the Holy Cross in Statesburg, S.C.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
Brother Andrew Johnson
Johnson birthplace in Raleigh
As a student of the War Between the States, I had long held very mixed feelings about the 17th President of the United States, Andrew Johnson. I, of course, was proud of the fact that he was born and reared in Raleigh, North Carolina and worked his way out of poverty into the nation’s highest office. However, I had read accounts of his drunkeness and knew that some of the cruelest and most sadistic abuses of reconstruction were carried out against his native state during his administaration. I was later somewhat surprised and a little disappointed that he was a Master Mason, until I did a little research. Now I have a much different perspective of Brother Johnson and would like to share with you some information about him.
Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh in 1808 and began life in a small wooden house, which is still preserved in Raleigh at Mordecai Historical Park on Person Street. His parents, Jacob and mary Johnson maintained the home in downtown Raleigh, a few hundred feet from the Capitol, by working for Casso’s Inn, a popular inn and stable. The Johnson home stood on property owed by the inn. Andrew’s mother was a weaver for Casso’s Inn, while Jacob Johnson was the inn’s hostler as well as the janitor for the State Capitol. Andrew was the younger of two sond born into the Johnson household. His father rescued two friends from drowning in 1812, but died from over-exertion, leaving Mary to raise four-year-old Andrew and his brother William. In an effort to provide a trade for her sons, when Andrew was just fourteen, Mary Johnson apprenticed her sons to John J. Selby, a tailor in Raleigh.
Andrew never attended school. He began his informal education while sewrving as an apprentice. Frequently customers would read to Andrew from books of oratory while he worked. Some even gave him books and thus the determined youngster taught himself to read. Two years after beginning his apprenticeship, Andrew and some mischievous friend threw rocks at a local merchant’s house. When the occupant of the house threatened to summon the police, Andrew left town and abandoned his apprentice work at the tailor shop. He fled to Carthage, North Carolina, sixty miles southwest, where he found a market for his tailoring skills. A short time later he moved to Laurens. South Carolina to further distance himself from the trouble in Raleigh. After a year in Laurens he returned to Raleigh and sought to complete his apprenticeship under Mr. Selby. However, his former master had sold the shop and the new owner had no need for an apprentice. With no available employment and no good prospects for any work, eighteen-year-old Andrew Johnson lead his mother, brother, and new step-father to Tennessee in 1826. That he was able to so strongly influence his elders is an indication of his personality and native leadership qualities.
Andrew settled the family in Greeneville, Tennesee just across the North Carolina stateline, north of Asheville. There he established a tailor’s shop by nailing a sign over the door of their cabin stating simply, “A. Johnson, Tailor.” Soon Andfrew met Eliza McCardle and the two were wed on May 17, 1827. Eliza was better educated than her nineteen-year-old husband and used her education to improve his mathematics, reading, and writing skills. Business improved for the young tailor, andd his shop soon became a gathering place for political duscussions. Andrew honed his debating skills further by joining a debate club at a small college four miles from his home, walking to debates once a week. With encourage from his wife and with speaking experience gained both in his shop and at his debate club, Andrew entered politics.
While he was still considered a mere boy, at age 20, Andrew was elected as an alderman in Greeneville, Tennessee in 1828, and two years later he became mayor of the town. In 1825 Johnson won election to the Tennesse House of Representatives (right). After completing his second term, Representative Johnson ran for a seat in the Tennessee Senate and won. Recognizing the unique circumstances and philosophy of mountain residents, Senator Johnsotried unsuccessfully to create a new state from Appalachian regions of North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee to be named Frankland.
At the conclusion of his senatorial term in 1843, to the U.S. House of Representatives and was re-elected to four more terms until 1853. During that p[eriod Congressman Johnson was made a Master Mason in May 0f 1851, in Greeneville Lodge #119 (now #3), F.& A.M. Although hailing from a Southern State, Representative Johnson was a staunch supporter of the Constitution over States’ Rights, a position which conflicted with many Southern legislators. Brother Joihsnon was one of the few polivitians at the time that viewed the United States as one great country composed of states. Although that is the modern day perspective, in Brother Johnson’s time most politician, north and south, considered their home state their primary political concern.
Turning his sights back to state politics, Brother Johnson won the 1853 Tennessee gubernatorial election and was re-elected in 1855. Johnson’s star continued to rise and his term as governor of Tennessee provided such benefits to the state as a public school system and state library. On the eve of the Civil War in 1857, Johnson was elected to the U.S. Senate. In the Senate, Brother Johnson, as a Southern, supported the Fugitive Slave Law and defended slavery. He also supported Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln’s chief opponent in the 1860 presidential election. Nevertheless, he spoke out stternly against both abolitionists and secessionists, calling both groups dangerous to the existence of the Union and the Constitution.
By the1860 presidential election, several Southern States had already formed a confederacy. Abraham Lincoln won the November election but took only forty percent of the votes cast, and the following April South Carolina batteries bombarded Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor igniting the Civil War. Senator Johnson warned that the dissolution of the Union would produce many minor countried ruled by various forms of government. In spite of Johnson’s strong support of the Constitution and the Union, Tennessee seceded from the United States. Johnson rejected the Confederacy because he sincerely believed the Southern States had no Constitutional right to secede, He was the only Southern Senator to remain in the U.S. Senate after secession. Johnson’s support for the Union won him acclaim in the North and infamy in the South. Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina possessed strong pro-Union factions, but pro-Confederate influences from other parts of those states secured them for the South.
When the war erupted, Tennessee was an early battlefield. A series of Union victories in the state placed large parts of it under Federal control. In 1862 President Lincoln commissioned Andrew Johnson as a Brigadier General and appointed him military governor of Tennessee. Brother Johnson ruled with a firm hand, silencing sources of anti-Inion sentiment and held the military governorship of Tennessee until 1864. Preparing for the presidential election, foreseeing an imminent end to the war, and contemplating a re-unification of the nation, President Lincoln urged the Republican Party’s leadership to drop his previous vice president, Hannibal Hamlin, an ardent abolitionist from Maine, in favor of Johnson, a Southerner and a Democrat. President Lincoln defeated General George McClellan in the 1864 election, and Johnson became vice president of the United States of America.
Andrew Johnson took the oath of office in March 1865. There is little, if any, doubt that Brothet Johnson was intoxicated at his inauguration, a shameful and embarrassing situation for him and the president. However, documentation sseems to indicate that Brother Johnson was sick at the time and had taken medication that was either opium or alcohol based, in addition to ingesting some spirits. While that obviously is not an excuse for his disgraceful conduct on that day, it somewhat mitigates the circumstances, especially when one realizes that most medicines at that time contained alcohol and other substances that are carefully controlled today.
The following month President Lincoln went to Ford’s Theatre in Washington for an evening of entertainment and was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Booth was part of a larger conspiracy to assassinate key members of the government. Andrew Johnson was a target of the conspirators, but the assassin assigned with killing the vice president lost his nerve and did not attempt the assassination. Brother Johnson became president on April 15, 1865. The mirrores Lincoln’s views on a benevolent period of reconciliation with the South after the Civil War. However, there was astrong faction within Johnson’s inherited cabinet and within the Northern States that favored a policy of harsh retribution for the rebellious states. Because most leaders of that movement were members of the Lincoln’s own Republican Party, he had been able to effectively keep them in check. But Brother Johnson, being a Southern and a Democrat, was considered an outsider by the radical Republican faction. They overrode Johnson’s plan for reconstruction and sought to destroy completely all the political elements within the South that had been influential before the war.
President Johnson vetoed many of the harsh measures passed by Congress, but half of those vetoes were overturned by Congressional vote. Within the Cabinet, President Johnso faced the same factors that existed in Congress. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was a member of the radical faction within the Republican Party and worked against Johnson’s policies in facvor of more harsh reconstruction plans. The president dismissed Stanton in1866, but Stanton claimed that Johnson had acted in violation of the Tenure of Office Act, enacted the previous year. That law stated that the president could not dismiss certain public officers without consent of the Senate. It was an act aimed directly at President Johnson, designed to undercut his authority and he vetoed it in 1687, but Congress overrode the veto.
Staton barricaded himself in his office, and radical elements in Congress voted to impeach President Johnson. Eleven charges were brought against him, primarily dealing with violations of the Tenure of Office Act. Only three of those charges were voted upon, and they all failed by one vote of reaching the two-thirds majority required for impeachment conviction. Upon Johnson’s acquittal Edwin Stanton left his barricaded office and resigned. Brother Johnson’s presidency, though a turbulent one, began the reunification of a country suffering from four years of civil war. Under Johnson’s administration the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, and the 14th Amendment, providing equal protection under the law for all citizens, were added to the Constitution. Johnson’s presidency saw the addition of Nebraska to the United States and the purchase of the Alaskan Territory. Andrew Johnson completed the remainder of Abraham Lincoln’s second term in office, but failed to receive the Party’s nomonation in 1869.
Brother Johnson returned to Greeneville, Tennessee where he remained active in politics. He returned to public office in1875, winning election to the U.S. Senate, but later that same year Andrew Johnson suffered a stroke and soon died. The Seventeenth President was laid to rest on his own land in Greeneville. Johnson requested that his body be wrapped in an American flag and laid on a copy of the U.S. Constitution. That request summarizes the man and the Mason well. Born of humble origins in Raleigh, North Carolina, Brother Johnson always supported the rights of the working class. He maintained a strong love of the Constitution and the federal Union it embodied. He willingly supported the Union cause, rejecting the actions of his home state. He had the moral courage to withstand the people of his hometown, his neighbors, and constituents, who displayed a banner calling him a traitor. Rising to the presidency after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Johnson sought to soothe the scars os the reunited nation, again acting in a manner contrary to the popular trend. His action earned the President enemies in hos own Party and led to the vote on his impeachment. Andrew Johnson’s life and career show him to have been a man of great courage, and integrity. He remained constant to his beliefs regardless of the personal cost to himself. Johnson’s courage, dedication and service to the nation in a difficult time of national transition reflect positively on Andrew Johnson and reflect well on hid practice of Masonic teachings.
Andrew Johnson’s Grave
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
DDGM 15th District
14 January 2008
The highest honor any North Carolina Mason can receive is the Joseph Montfort Service Medal. It is presented by the Grand Master to any Master Mason in good standing who, in the opinion of the Grand Master, is deserving of such an exalted honor because of his distinguished Masonic service or achievements. No more than three medals can be awarded during each Grand Master’s term. Since the award was established in 1940, two hundred fifteen Masons have received it, 54 of whom are still living.
Our own Lodge most proudly boasts of three recipients, our late Worshipful Brother Bill Langley in 1980, Worshipful Brother Delmas Williams in 1990, and Worshipful Brother Earle Purser in 1995. All them have served as Masters of Garner Lodge 701, certified lecturers, District Deputy Grand Masters, and District Deputy Grand Lecturers, not to mention the hundreds of hours they have applied to various Masonic pursuits.
I have heard of Joseph Montfort and the prestigious medal named for him ever since I became a Mason, but never knew exactly who he was. After some research, I believe it is fair to call Brother Montfort the father of North Carolina Masonry.
Brother Montfort was born in England in 1724 and died at the young age of 52 in Halifax, North Carolina in1776 just as the Revolutionary War was beginning. He apparently became a Mason before he relocated and settled in the town of Halifax, North Carolina around 1750. He soon thereafter married Priscilla Hill and through her and his father-in-law came to own a sizeable estate. As his investments and holdings grew so did his statue and influence in the America colonies, most especially North Carolina.
He amassed vast tracts of land and at one time owed more than 30,000 acres spread over the Carolina colony; and was known as one of the wealthiest men in North Carolina. In 1762 he was elected to the colonial General Assembly the first time he ever ran for office. He also was Clerk of Court in Halifax County, a member of the Halifax Board of Commissioners, and a colonel in the local militia.
However, Brother Montfort’s Masonic accomplishments were just as impressive. Just as a matter of quick review, remember at that time there was no Grand Lodge anywhere on the American continent. The Mother Lodge or Grand Lodge of England had been formed in 1717 and was universally recognized as the de facto head of all Freemasons throughout the world. There were only three or four Masonic Lodges in North Carolina at the time, and they had been chartered by the English Grand Lodge or were working under dispensation from that Grand Lodge. The principle, ideals, and landmarks of Masonry were the same then as they are today, but Masonry’s organization was quite different. The colonial lodges in America were just a loose confederation of English Lodges extended into the new world. Brother Montfort wanted them to be much more than that; he had a vision of how Masonry should be practiced and how it could be better organized.
Brother Montfort was a charter member of Royal White Hart Lodge chartered in 1764 in Halifax. The authority for its charter is a little uncertain, but in the winter of 1767 Brother Montfort traveled to England and returned with a charter signed by the Duke of Beaufort, the English Grand Master establishing Royal White Hart Lodge as an English Lodge # 403. Four years later in 1771 the Grand Lodge of England proclaimed Joseph Montfort the Provisional Grand Master for America. He was soon thereafter recognized as the Provisional Grand Master of North Carolina Masons.
This is somewhat confusing to us as modern Masons, first because we know there is no such thing as a national or American Grand Lodge. However, remember that at that time the United States did not exist. Also at about the same time the same English Grand Master recognized Brother John Rowe of Boston as Grand Master of all of North America. Considering the era and language difference as well as other evidence it is likely the Duke of Beaufort intended for those brothers and others upon which he conferred the title of Grand Master, to operate within their general geographic areas similar to modern day District Deputy Grand Masters; except they were authorized to grant dispensations and charters, even in other colonies when appropriate. In fact Brother Montfort did issue a charter to Cabin Point Lodge #7 in Virginia, the only authority he ever exercised outside of North Carolina.
Although Brother Montfort was appointed a “Grand Master” North Carolina did not have an official Grand Lodge for him to preside over. Nevertheless the four lodges in North Carolina did meet in grand convention and did many of things a modern Grand Lodge does. During the next four years Brother Montfort granted charters to nine Lodges from New Bern to Salisbury. He visited every lodge in North Carolina that was operating at that time. Under his leadership membership more than doubled in some lodges and records abound with incidents of charity extended locally and even sent back to England, even as our two countries were about to go to war,
Determined to raise Masonry to a higher level in North Carolina, Brother Montfort took that loose confederation of lodges and laid a strong foundation for the North Carolina Grand Lodge, which would be formed in 1787, fifteen years after his death. Many of the rules, regulations, and customs of the modern North Carolina Masonic Lodges originated with Brother Montfort and the edicts he established for his Lodges in the 1700’s. For instance:
· Strict standards for membership
· Confidentiality of Masonic business
· Rising and awaiting the Master’s permission before speaking in open Lodge
· Only one man standing at a time
· No one to leave without properly requesting and receiving permission
· Speaking no more than twice on any subject without the Master’s permission
· No political or obscene discourse in the Lodge
There were other rules he authored, which we no longer embrace such as
· No Mason could sue another Mason in court for debt. However, such matters as that were heard and decided in the Lodge.
· All absences from Lodge meetings had to be examined and classified as “excused” or “unexcused” with some unspecified consequences exacted for unexcused absences.
In large measure owing to the dedication and hard work of that good man and Mason, Joseph Montfort, Masonry in North Carolina survives and thrives for you and I to practice and enjoy. No wonder our highest honor is named for this remarkable Mason.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
8 November 2004
Lieutenant Audie Murphy
Audie Leon Murphy was born on June 20, 1924 or 1925 near Kingston, Texas. He was the son of poor sharecroppers, and one of 12 children, only 9 of whom survived to adulthood. His early years were extremely hard, even by the standards of his time. As a small child, Audie engaged in strenuous farm labor, picking cotton and harvesting crops with practically no mechanized equipment. The boy also became highly skilled with a rifle by hunting small game to help feed the family.
By 1937, the Great Depression had taken its toll and times were even more difficult for the Murphy family. That year, when Audie was but 12, his father abandoned the family ostensibly to find work. Four years later Audie's mother died, leaving him effectively orphaned and needing to take care of his younger siblings.
When the United States declared war later that year, in December of 1941, Audie rushed to enlist. He first attempted to join the Marines but was turned away for being too small, being only 5' 5" tall and weighing 110 lbs. Undeterred, he attempted to join the Army Paratroopers and was again turned away. Finally, Audie enlisted in the Regular Army as an infantryman. He signed the enlistment papers a few days after his 18th or perhaps even 17th birthday. It is highly possible that the farm boy was only 17 at the time and had somehow altered his birth certificate in order to join the Army.
3rd Division Patch
Medal of Honor
After Basic and Advanced Infantry Training, Audie was shipped overseas where he joined Company B, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, which was operating in North Africa. Arriving in February of 1943, Audie saw little action but 5 months later, he received his baptism under fire as he landed in Sicily on July 10, 1943. Audie soon distinguished himself under fire as a resourceful and effective soldier and was promoted to Corporal.
Audie's next action was in the invasion of Salerno on the Italian mainland. Here Audie again excelled in combat and was promoted to Sergeant. Audie missed the next invasion at Anzio due to a serious attack of malaria, but soon recovered and rejoined his unit just in time for some of the fiercest fighting of the war. Later, after the unit was pulled out for a short rest, the young sergeant was offered a battlefield commission to 2nd Lieutenant, but not wanting to leave his unit, Audie declined the promotion.
As the 3rd Division continued their advance, Audie was wounded in the heel by a shell fragment. He received the Purple Heart and spent two weeks in an Evac hospital. After returning to his unit, Audie fearlessly engaged in actions that earned him two silver stars for gallantry within three days of each other, as well as several other medals for bravery under fire.
Soon thereafter, Audie was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, with which rank he returned to his platoon, this time to command it. On October 26, 1944 Lieutenant Murphy was wounded again and evacuated to a hospital where he spent the next 3 months recuperating. Rejoining his old unit in January 1945, the 19-year-old lieutenant led his men against the German stronghold at Holtzwihr. There he performed an incredible act of heroism, for which was recommended and received the Medal of Honor.
On June 2, 1945, Lt. Gen. Alexander Patch, Commander of the US Seventh Army, presented the Medal of Honor and Legion of Merit to Audie. The Legion of Merit was awarded for his outstanding services with the 3rd Infantry Division from January 22, 1944 to February 18, 1945. He received every decoration for valor that his country had to offer, some of them more than once, as well as 5 decorations by France and Belgium; making him the most decorated American combat soldier of the war. Credited with killing over 240 of the enemy while wounding and capturing many others, he had become a legend within the 3rd Infantry Division. Audie was wounded three times, fought in 9 major campaigns across the European Theater, and survived the war. On September 21, 1945, Audie was discharged from the Army.
Upon his discharge from the Army, Audie returned to Texas and bought a house in Farmersville for his oldest sister Corinne, her husband Poland Burns, and their three children. The idea was that Audie's three younger siblings, Nadene, Billie, and Joe, who had been living in an orphanage since Audie's mother's death, would also be able to live with Corinne and Poland and would become a family again. Unfortunately, six children under one roof created too much stress on everyone. The arrangement didn't work out as smoothly as expected, particularly with Nadene and Joe, so Audie came and picked them up.
During the meantime Audie had received an invitation from actor James Cagney to visit him in Hollywood. Cagney had seen the handsome hero’s photograph on the cover of Life Magazine and believed he might have potential as an actor. Of course, Joe and Nadene wanted to stay with Audie, but Audie himself was having a hard time surviving. Despite a lot of post war publicity and James Cagney's help, Audie's acting career had gone nowhere. He was broke and sleeping on the floor of his friend Terry Hunt's gymnasium. Audie's oldest brother Buck and his wife agreed to take in Nadene but Audie didn't know what he was going to do with Joe.
Audie went to Brother James "Skipper" Cherry, a Dallas Freemason and theater owner, who had previously befriended Audie. Brother Cherry was a member of a consortium of Texas theater owners who were part of Variety Clubs International and was involved with the Variety Clubs International Boy's Ranch a 4,800-acre ranch near Copperas Cove, Texas. Mr. Cherry arranged for the Boy's Ranch to take Joe. Fortunately, Joe loved it there and Audie was able to visit him, as well as Brother Skipper frequently.
Brothers Murphy and Cherry
During one of those visits, Audie confided to Brother Cherry that even with Cagney's help and acting lessons, he wasn't getting anywhere in Hollywood. He was discouraged and somewhat despondent concerning his movie career. The past couple of years in California had been hard times for Audie Murphy, as the barely educated young man labored writing his autobiography, titled To Hell and Back.
The kind-hearted Texan Mason realized that Audie Murphy himself needed as much help as his brother Joe. Brother Cherry called Texas theater executive, Brother Paul Short, who was at that time producing a film, and suggested they consider giving Audie a significant role. Audie looked good in the screen test and was cast as the lead. He turned in such a fine performance that the Hollywood powers finally recognized his talent.
So, while it is true that James Cagney introduced Audie to Hollywood and taught him to act, in all likelihood he would never have made it as an actor if it hadn't been for some good-hearted and generous Texan Masons who wanted to help Audie Murphy as much as they helped his brother Joe and other kids in trouble.
In 1950 Audie Murphy signed a contract with Universal Studios where he starred in 26 films, 23 of them westerns, over the next 15 years. His 1949 autobiography To Hell And Back had become a best seller and the Studio decided to base a movie on the book. They selected Audie to star as himself in the film, released in 1955 with the same title. The movie, To Hell and Back, held the record as Universal's highest grossing picture until 1975 when it was finally surpassed by the movie Jaws. In the 25 years that Audie spent in Hollywood, he made a total of 44 feature films and in excess of three million dollars.
The year 1955 was also
extremely significant to Audie for another reason; he became interested in
Freemasonry. Encouraged by his close friend, Brother Skipper Cherry, Audie
petitioned and joined the Masonic Order in California. Brother Audie received
his first degree in Masonry when he was regularly initiated an Entered
Apprentice on February 14, 1955 in the North Holly wood Lodge #542. He was
passed to the degree of Fellowcraft April 4, 1955 and on June 27, 1955, he was
raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason.
A year later, he became a dual member and affiliated with Heritage Lodge No. 764 (North Hollywood, California) on May 14, 1956. Eventually, he returned to Texas to receive his 32° Scottish Rite work and to join the Shriners. Audie remained active in various Masonic events and was decorated by the Scottish Rite as a Knight Commander of the Court of Honor (KCCH) on December 11, 1965.
It is truly remarkable that this man, who while at the pinnacle of his career and life, sought out the secrets of Masonry! That says a great deal about both the man and the Fraternity. But Audie Murphy knew he owed much to his friend and Masonic Brother Skipper Cherry and never forgot it. Which is why he named his second son James Murphy after James Cherry and always called him "Skipper.”
While on a business trip on May 28, 1971 (Memorial Day Weekend), a private plane flying in fog and rain crashed into the side of a mountain near Roanoke, Virginia. Brother Audie Murphy was killed at the age of 46 along with five others, including the pilot.
On June 7th, Audie Murphy was buried with
full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. His gravesite, near the
Amphitheater, is second most visited gravesite year round. President John F.
Kennedy's grave is the most visited. In 1996 the Texas Legislature officially
designated his birthday, June 20th, as Audie Murphy Day.
During his life as a Mason, Brother Audie often participated in Shrine parades in both Texas and on the West Coast and made one of his last public speeches for a Masonic Event on April 15, 1971. In November 2000, the late Brother Audie Murphy was honored when local Scottish Rite members presented to his widow, Mrs. Pamela Murphy, a 33rd Degree cap in honor of his posthumous election to that degree by the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite.
Audie Murphy’s widow receives his 33rd Degree Cap
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
The White House in the 1850's
Our Masonic Presidents, 15 thus far, embraced Freemasonry even as they represented different political parties, different faiths and many different walks of life.
GEORGE WASHINGTON (1732-1799) 67
First President (1789-1797)
George Washington was initiated Nov. 4, 1752, passed March 3, 1753, raised Aug. 4, 1753 all in Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 at Fredericksburg, Va.
was the commanding general of American Forces during the Revolutionary War and
lost ½ of his personal net worth during that conflict. He was the Charter
Master of Alexandria Lodge No. 22, Alexandria, Va., April 28, 1788 and
reelected Dec. 20 1788. Brother Washington was inaugurated President of the
United States April 30, 1789, thus the only man ever to serve as President of
the U.S. and Master of a Lodge at the same time. After his presidency a group
of Masons attempted to form a National Grand Lodge to oversee the several state
Grand Lodges and sought to draft George Washington as its Grand Master, but he
declined and refused to endorse any National Grand Lodge.
JAMES MONROE (1758-1831) 73
5th President, born 1758; died 1831. Initiated in Williamsburg Lodge No. 6 at Williamsburg, Va., Nov. 9, 1775, by St. John’s Regimental Lodge, which was a military Lodge in the Continental Army. Notice Brother Monroe was only 17 years old when he took the degrees. However at that time a “lawful age” for Masonic membership had not been universally established. He later became a member of Williamsburg Lodge.
ANDREW JACKSON (1767-1845) 78
The 1st U.S. President born in N.C., he was the 6th Grand Master of Tennessee, 1822-23. Some of his Masonic records have been lost, but it is believed that he was a member of Tammany Lodge No. 1, Nashville, Tennessee around 1800; which was the 1st Lodge in Tennessee organized in 1789 under dispensation from the N.C. Grand Lodge. Brother Jackson also is said to have attended at Clover Bottom Lodge under the Grand Lodge of Kentucky. He was present in lodge at Greeneville in 1801 and acted as Senior Warden pro tem. The records of St. Tammany Lodge No. 29 at Nashville, which became Harmony Lodge No. 1 under the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, show that Jackson was a member.
JAMES K. POLK (1795-1849) 54
The 2nd N.C. native to be elected president, James K. Polk was initiated, passed, and raised in Columbia Lodge No. 31, Columbia, Tenn. Exalted a Royal Arch Mason in La Fayette Chapter No. 4 at Columbia in 1825. Brother Polk assisted in the Masonic cornerstone laying ceremony of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. May 1, 1847.
JAMES BUCHANAN (1791-1868) 77
Worshipful Brother Buchanan was initiated December 11, 1816, in Lodge 43, at Lancaster, Pa., passed and raised in 1817. He held the position of Junior Warden in 1821 and 1822 and was Master in 1825. He also served as the District Deputy Grand Master for Lancaster, Lebanon, and York Counties.
ANDREW JOHNSON (1808-1875) 67
The 3rd President, born in North Carolina, Brother Johnson was initiated passed and raised in Greeneville Lodge No. 119 now No. 3 at Greeneville, Tenn. in 1851. All 3 North Carolina native to be elected president were Master Masons. He was a member of Greeneville Chapter No. 82 Royal Arch Masons, since he joined Nashville Commandery of Knights Templar No. 1 in 1859. He received the Scottish Rite degrees in the White House in 1867.
JAMES A. GARFIELD (1831-1881) 50
President (July 2-September 19,1881)
Brother Garfield was initiated and passed in Magnolia Lodge No. 20, Columbus, Ohio, in November 1861, but due to his service in the Civil War was raised in Columbus Lodge # 3O, in 1864, where he later served as Chaplain. He affiliated with Garrettsville Lodge No. 246 in 1866 and with Pentalpha Lodge No. 23 Washington, D. C. as charter member in 1869. Assassinated less than 90 days after being inaugurated president.
WILLIAM MCKINLEY (1843-1901) 58
Brother McKinley was initiated, passed, and raised in Hiram Lodge No. 21 in Winchester, West Virginia May 1, 1865. He affiliated with Canton Lodge No. 60 at Canton, Ohio in 1867 and later became a charter member of Eagle Lodge No. 431. Following Brother McKinley’s assassination in 1901 Eagle Lodge changed its name to William McKinley Lodge.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT (1858-1919) 61
Brother Roosevelt was initiated, passed, and raised in Matinecock Lodge No. 806, Oyster Bay, N. Y. in 1901 while he was Vice President of the United States. As President he paid and official visit to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania
WILLIAM H. TAFT (1857-1930) 73
Brother Taft was made a Mason at sight in Kilwinning Lodge No. 356, Cincinnati, Ohio in 1909 by Grand Master Charles S. Hoskinson. Brother Taft’s father and two brothers were also members of Kilwinning Lodge. After being made a Mason, President Taft addressed the Brethren saying,” I am glad to be here, and to be a Mason. It does, me good to feel the thrill that comes from recognizing on all hands the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man.” President Taft, like Brother Roosevelt paid an official visit to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.
WARREN G. HARDING (1865-1923) 58
Brother Harding was initiated in Marion Lodge No. 7O, Marion, Ohio, 1901. He received no other degree until after being elected President some 19 years later. He was passed and raised in Marion Lodge in 1920, between his election and inauguration. In the following year, as President, Brother Harding received Scottish and York Rite Degrees and became a Shriner. He died in office of a heart attack in 1923.
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (1882-1945) 63
Brother Roosevelt was initiated, passed, and raised in Holland Lodge No. 8, New York City, in 1911, 32nd Degree Scottish Rite in Albany Consistory 1929, Shrine in 1930. Brother Roosevelt raised his son Elliot on February 17, 1933 in Architect’s Lodge No. 519 New York City. He was also present when his other two sons became Masons in 1935.
HARRY S TRUMAN (1884-1972)
Worshipful Brother Truman received the degrees in Belton Lodge No 450 in 1909. He later helped organize and became a charter member of Grandview No. 618, Grandview, Mo. He served in France as a captain in the U. S. Army in WWI. W.B. Truman served as both district lecturer and Deputy Grand Master for several years. Elected Grand Master of Masons in Missouri in 1940. He always claimed this was the greatest honor that had ever come to him. He worked for servicemen and women through the Masonic Service Association during World War II. Brother Harry was elected vice-president in 1944 and became President on the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt (a Mason) on April 12, 1945. In 1959 Most Worship Brother Truman received his 50-year Masonic service award, the only president to received that honor. He was 1 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason. He died on December 26 1972. On the 28th he was buried on his library's grounds with impressive Masonic rites, the only Masonic funeral service ever televised worldwide.
GERALD R. FORD (1913-2006 ) 95
Gerald R. Ford was born July 14, 1913 as Leslie L. King, Jr. He was later adopted and took the name of his mother's second husband (a Freemason). Brother Ford became President on August 9, 1974 on the resignation of Richard Nixon (not a Mason). Ford received the degrees in Malta Lodge No. 405, Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1949 and later became a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason. Brother Ford was the 1974 recipient of the NY Grand Lodge Distinguished Achievement Award, the highest honor that can be presented by the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
7 March 2007
Brother Edmund G. Ross
About midway between Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio is situated the town of Ashland. There on December 7th 1826 Edmund G. Ross was born. Edmund was advantaged with a solid education for those times and developed a knack for speech making and composition. He was a wordsmith both in his oration and with his pen. Naturally he gravitated to the newspaper business and worked as a writer, reporter, editor, and publisher in Ohio, then moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In Milwaukee, Edmund Ross worked as a newspaper printer and gained notoriety for his abolitionist views. In 1854 the controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act provided that the residents of individual territories could vote on whether they wished to be admitted to the union as a free state or slave state. Edmund led a troop of free-soilers to Kansas, where they established residence in order to vote to keep Kansas a free state. There Edmund joined the upstart Republican Party, started a new abolitionist newspaper, and helped draft a constitution that certified Kansas as a free state.
When the Civil War broke out Ross enlisted in the Union army and served as a captain in the Eleventh Kansas Regiment, eventually working his way up to Major. On just one day in a fierce battle he had two horses shot out from under him. Edmund Ross may have been made a Master Mason during his service in the Civil War. When the war ended he went back to his newspaper work in Topeka, Kansas and continued to be politically active.
In the spring of 1866 Edmund Ross attended a town meeting in Lawrence, Kansas where a very hot topic was being addressed. Kansas Senator Jim Lane, a wily politician and former Union General, had just voted to uphold President Johnson’s veto of the Civil Rights Bill. Ross blasted his former comrade in arms with speeches attacking Senator Lane’s weakness. Senator Lane, who was already ill, depressed, and in money trouble, shot himself to death on the 1st of July.
Kansas Governor Samuel J. Crawford, another seasoned politician and Civil War officer, knew Lane’s vacant Senate seat could have dramatic national implications. Congress was in the middle of the Reconstruction controversy. Some radical northern legislators were intent on punishing the South, with a hate-filled vengeance rarely seen in our country before. President Andrew Johnson and some of the more moderate members of Congress were less hostile, insisting that a peaceful transition and reconciliation were more important than exacting retribution for the war. Governor Crawford, being a proponent of hard reconstruction and a subservient South, said he was looking to appoint a new Senator with “backbone.” A radical abolitionist, Civil War hero, and outspoken leader from Lawrence seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Kansas Republicans needed someone they could count on to help override Johnson’s constant vetoes of the harsh Republican Reconstruction agenda. Edmund G. Ross appeared to be the perfect choice.
As soon as the newly minted Junior Senator from Kansas arrived on the Floor of the United States Senate he read a statement supporting the Republican attitude toward Reconstruction. In the next two years he voted with the Republican majority without exception. Senator Ross was just what the radicals were looking for, solid just like Senator Samuel Pomeroy, the Senior Kansas senator, and one of President Johnson’s harshest critics.
Early in President Johnson’s term, Congress had passed “the Tenure of Office Law,” which very sharply limited the President’s powers and essentially made it impossible for him to fire anyone of importance without Congress’s okay. Of course Johnson vetoed it, but the veto was overridden. President Johnson was the foremost constitutional authority of his time and he along with a few other opponents of the law claimed it was unconstitutional and directly interfered with the balance of powers set out in the constitution. Twenty years later the United States Supreme Court declared the law was in fact unconstitutional and it was repealed; but right then, Johnson had to deal with it.
On Friday, February 21, 1868 President Johnson sent a message to both Houses of Congress informing them that he had removed Secretary of War William Stanton. Stanton had been appointed by Abraham Lincoln and kept in office by President Johnson. However, Stanton and Johnson were of different political parties and never had any kind of acceptable working relationship. Stanton was a hard liner and undermined much of what the president attempted to do, especially relating to a lenient Reconstruction.
Sec. Edwin Stanton
Sen. William Sprague
President Andrew Johnson
Washington and the nation were in turmoil. Secretary Stanton actually barricaded himself in his office and refused to leave. Stanton also had his would-be successor arrested for attempting to exercise the duties of the Secretary of War. Senator Ross and many others spoke out against Johnson in the Senate and voted to reject Johnson’s ouster of Stanton
In the House of Representatives a resolution was passed to impeach President Andrew Johnson for high crimes and misdemeanors. On Monday, February 24th, at five o’clock p.m., a vote was taken, and the resolution, which read "Resolved, that Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors," was adopted by a vote of 126 to 47.
Once charges were actually drawn up for Johnson’s impeachment, some Senators observed a change in Edmund Ross. He commented to a fellow Senator, “Well, Sprague, the thing is here, and so far as I am concerned, though a Republican and opposed to Mr. Johnson and his policy, he shall have as fair a trial as an accused man ever had on this earth.” The word “fair” must have spooked Rhode Island Senator William Sprague, who soon thereafter passed a note around the Senate Floor stating that “Ross was shaky.”
When Ross refused to participate in the Republicans’ informal poll to ascertain if they had the needed 2/3-majority vote, he immediately came under intense pressure. He wasn’t alone of course, there were six other Republican “traitors” who submitted to the poll and indicated that they intended to vote against the impeachment. But Ross was in many ways singled out, because he was the only Republican Senator who was apparently undecided!
Everyone was shocked at Ross’s obvious wavering. What had happened to the outspoken Ross of Kansas, the extreme abolitionist, the man who shouted about Senator Lane at that Lawrence meeting? Senator Edmund G. Ross quickly became a household name all over the nation. Newspapers featured him and he was the subject of many a civil and not so civil discussion throughout the entire country. The amount of spying on him to try to get a hint of how he would vote may have been unprecedented for a United States Senator. The New York Tribune reported that poor Ross was “mercilessly dragged this way and that by both sides, hunted like a fox night and day and badgered by his own colleagues … now trod upon by one Army and now trampled by the other.” Both sides said they had clues as to how Ross would vote, and cautiously counted him on their side.
There were even bribes some offered to him just to give a hint of how he would vote. Ross’ brother was offered a huge bribe just to guess how his brother would vote. The presidency of the United States was on trial here, and the amount of the bribes reflected it. The corrupt old politician and controversial Union General Ben Butler had been appointed as the House prosecutor against Johnson. Even he grew impatient declaring, “There is a bushel of money! How much does the damned scoundrel want?”
President Johnson did not attend his trial in the Senate, which began on March 23, 1868 and was presided over by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase. There were eleven articles of impeachment. On May 16, the Senate voted on the eleventh article, which included many of the charges contained in the preceding articles. The Senate gallery was packed that day. Scalpers sold tickets to the gallery for ridiculous sums. The floor was crowded not just with Senators, but chairs crammed in for all the House members, cabinet, and various lawyers. One Senator who was seriously ill was literally carried in to the chamber.
The voting began. Halfway through, twenty-four Senators had already voted “guilty.” It was Edmund Ross’ turn. Eleven more guilty votes were virtually assured. So Ross’ guilty vote was all that was necessary to obtain the required 2/3 major and a conviction. Chief Justice Chase asked, “Mr. Senator Ross, how say you? Is the respondent Andrew Johnson guilty or not guilty of a high misdemeanor as charged in this Article?”
Overcome with emotion, Senator Edmund G. Ross, Junior Senator from the state of Kansas spoke a barely audible “Not Guilty.” Chase said he did not hear him and asked Ross to repeat his vote. So Ross cleared his throat and declared his vote again in a strong, firm, unmistakable manner, “Not guilty.” Everyone heard it that time. Most of the people present reacted with disbelief and disgust. The article of impeachment had failed. Subsequently, the rest of the articles failed, all by one vote, Ross’s. The impeachment of President Andrew Johnson had failed the seventeenth president would stay in office by one vote.
In the span of ten seconds, long enough to cast a vote, Ross’s political career was over. He instantly became hated and demonized for his decisive “not guilty” vote. Telegraphs rolled in from his home state one said, “Kansas repudiates you as she does all perjurers and skunks.” Another coarsely stated, “The rope with which Judas Iscariot hanged himself is lost, but Jim Lane’s pistol is at your service.” Newspapers compared Ross to Benedict Arnold and all other miserable traitors in history. He lost his re-election bid to the Senate; in fact none of the other Republicans who voted to acquit Johnson were ever re-elected to the Senate. Ross switched to the Democratic Party and was ultimately forced to move from Kansas into the New Mexico territory where he opened a print shop and established a newspaper.
So why did Ross vote “not guilty”? How could such a strong radical Republican throw his career away to save a weak president doomed to election defeat just months later, a president Ross had, before the trial, voted against every time anything came to the Senate floor? Ross did not like Johnson’s politics, his policies, and did not even like the man personally.
Ross later hinted that he voted against impeachment because he truly understood what was at stake for the American political system. The independence of the executive office as a strong branch of the government was on trial. If Andrew Johnson had been convicted by a bloodthirsty Congress for little more than “stepping on a dog’s tail,” it would have set a dangerous precedent. No president would ever again be safe to make a decision contrary to that of the majority of Congress. They could have been impeached and convicted at the drop of a hat from then on any time they rubbed Congress the wrong way. It would have made a mockery of the Constitution, which calls for a balance of powers among the three branches of government and Congress would have come to dominate our national government.
But I would like to suggest there might have also been another reason. Andrew Johnson and Edmund Ross were both Master Masons. Even though they were political enemies, and in fact did not particularly care for one another personally, they were, at a higher level, brothers. I believe that Brother Ross knew in his heart that Brother Johnson was ethically correct in what he was trying to do. I also believe that Brother Ross just could not bring himself to supplant Brother Johnson in that laudable undertaking.
From a political perspective, Andrew Johnson was not worth ruining a career over. He was a weak president, lacking in both his negotiating and communicating skills. He was blunt and sometimes rude when talking to or about his opponents. He was a lame duck in 1868, even after being acquitted. But none of that mattered. He was a brother Mason doing the best he could do during one of our country’s most difficult periods, and I think his brother from Kansas recognized that.
So what can we learn from this great act of personal courage and conviction? I think Brother Ross teaches a number of lessons:
1. Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice, are not just precepts mentioned in Masonry, but are virtues we are to actually practice in our lives.
2. We do not have to like a brother to do for him what we have sworn before God to do.
3. The square of virtue may always be used as a rule and guide for our conduct in all of our transactions with mankind.
4. Practicing the principles we profess as Masons is not always easy and something has costly consequences. But if we keep in mind that we are merely traveling on a level of time to an undiscovered country where virtue and morality reign supreme, with the help of the Great Architect we can stick by our convictions and triumph in the end.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
18 January 2007
George Washington was born on February 22, 1732 and was raised to the Sublime degree of Master Mason at age 21 on August 4, 1753 in Fredericksburg Lodge #4, Fredericksburg, Virginia. During the American Revolution General Washington attended a number of Masonic functions including attending communications of the American Union Military Lodge at West Point, NY.
After theAmerican Revolution, independent Grand Lodges formed themselves within the state boundaries in a system most like that currently in use. Some thought was given to organizing an over-arching "Grand Lodge of the United States" similar to the Grand Lodge of England. George Washington was the obvious choice to act as the first Grand Master. However, the idea was short-lived in part because a majority of the state Grand Lodges wished to keep their autonomy, and in part because Brother Washington himself was not in favor of a National Grand Lodge. We can but imagine how different American Freemasonry would be today had a National Grand Lodge been established.
As father of our country, George Washington is one of the most famous and revered Freemasons in American history. Unfortunately a number of mythe have been born and perpetuated over the decades regarding Brother Washington’s live including his Masonic activities. This is somewhat perplexing because of all the Freemasons we can praise, he requires no embellishment. His entire life demonstrated extraordinary wisdom, industry, courage, and patriotism. Here are but a few of those unfortunate myths:
Myth: All of George Washington's generals during the War for American Independence were Master Masons.
Fact: Thirty-three of the generals serving under Washington were members of the Craft, but not all.
Myth: Brother Washington insisted that the Marquis de Lafayette be made a Mason before he would promote him to general.
Fact: Lafayette was already a Freemason before he arrived in America to help fight the British, even though he wasn't 21 years of age when he first arrived her.
Myth: There are many aprons owned or worn by George Washington available if one can afford them.
Fact: There is only one authentically documented apron owned by Washington still in existence. It was the only apron listed in Washington's inventory that was released after his death.
Myth: Washington was Grand Master in Virginia.
Fact: Brother Washington never was a Grand Master. Grand Master Edmund Randolph appointed him as the first Master of Alexandria Lodge No. 22 in Virginia. The new charter was dated April 28, 1788. In December of the same year he was regularly elected Master and was therefore Master of Alexander Lodge #22 when he was sworn in as President of the United States in March of 1789.
Myth. Washington acted as Grand Master when the cornerstone of the Federal Capitol was laid on September 18,1793.
Fact. The Grand Lodge of Maryland was called on to lay the cornerstone. Alexandria Lodge, of which Washington was a Past Master, held a place of honor. Right worshipful Joseph Clark, the Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Maryland, acted as Grand Master. Clark placed the President between himself and the Master of Alexandria Lodge. Brother Washington didn't act as Grand Master, but without question he was the most honored and influential Freemason participating in the event.
Myth. George Washington never was interested in Freemasonry. He rarely, if ever, attended Lodge meetings.
Fact. True, he seldom attended Masonic meetings. This is understandable when it is realized that from the day he was made a Master Mason until shortly before his death he worked for his country. There are verified records that indicate Brother Washington visited a number of Lodges and attended Masonic function while he was President of the United States, Including visits to St. John’s Lodge #2 in New Bern and Zion Lodge #18 In Trenton, N.C. Without question he loved and respected the Craft. He was buried with Masonic rites. That he commissioner a portrait to be made of him in full Masonic regalia is further evidence of his pride in and love for Masonry.
Myth. Washington was uneducated.
Fact. Unschooled – yes; uneducated -- no. Brother Washington never formally attended any school. Through his father's vast library Washington learned the fundamentals of mathematics, surveying and many other subjects. At the age of 17 he earned a substantial wage as a surveyor. In 1749 he was appointed surveyor of Culpeper County, Virginia, having produced a certificate "from the President and Masters of William and Mary College, appointing him to be surveyor of this county." From various intellectuals he learned how to study and use his common sense. The history of his life proves he became one of the most knowledgeable men of his, or any, age.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
9 May 2005
Mary Ball Washington
Worshipful Brother George Washington
As we all know yesterday was Mothers’ Day, so for tonight’s Masonic Education I thought it might be appropriate to examine for a few minutes a very special mother; the mother of one of the greatest Freemasons America ever produced, George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball Washington.
While our first president’s early life is well documented with both fact and fantasy, little is usually mentioned about his parents. Mary Ball Washington was the second wife of Augustine Washington, and George was her first child. She is deemed by some historians to be one of the noblest women in the annals of American colonial and revolutionary history. Certainly, history has shown that she had a profound influence on the life of the first President of the United States, who is also a Masonic icon.
Mary Ball was born in Lancaster County, Virginia, in 1708 to Joseph Ball and Mary Ball. Each of her parents had been previously married and had children by their previous marriages. The family home was 600-acre plantation known as “Epping Forest.” Her grandfather, William Ball, had been born in England and had immigrated to Virginia around 1650.
Mary grew up learning those lessons every lady should know including sewing, knitting, and cooking. Her mother also instilled in her the lessons of the Church. But sadly, by age thirteen, both of Mary’s parents had died, and a family friend, Colonel George Eskridge, was appointed her guardian. For the next decade, she lived at times with Colonel Eskridge and his family and at times with her married half sister, Elizabeth (Betty) and her husband Samuel Bonum. Not much is known about her life at this time, but we do know that Mary was probably tutored with the other children on the Eskridge plantation, because she could read and write and was an avid horsewoman.
Around 1728 when Mary Ball was twenty, she traveled to Stratford-by-Bow just outside London, England. During her visit, she became better acquainted with Augustine Washington, who also lived in Virginia and happened to be visiting London at the same time. The two began a romance and were married two years later back in Virginia. She was about 23, which for that time, was somewhat old for a first marriage. Augustine was also from a family that had been in the colonies since the mid-1600s, but he had been educated in England as was the custom of the day. He was a well-established, wealthy widower, fourteen years her senior, and father of three children, Lawrence, Auggie, and Jane.
Augustine Washington looks very familiar
After marriage, the Washingtons lived at Pope’s Creek Plantation on the Potomac River, later called Wakefield, where Mary undertook to raise her husband's three children from his previous marriage. The next year on February 22, 1732 she gave birth to her first child, George, named for her guardian George Eskridge. She gave birth to two more children while living at Wakefield, Betty and Samuel, who were named for Mary’s other guardians, her sister and brother-in-law. Also at Wakefield, Augustine’s daughter, Jane, died at age 13.
In 1736, Augustine purchased the larger Hunting Creek Plantation, which was renamed several years later Mt. Vernon, and the family moved there. Mary gave birth to two more children, John Augustine and Charles. Two years later, Augustine purchased another plantation known as the Ferry Farm on the banks of the Rappahannock River, south of Fredericksburg in order to be closer to his iron manufacturing business, and the family again moved. Mary’s last child, a daughter, Mildred, was born at Ferry Farm but died only16 months later. Four years later in 1743, Augustine Washington died unexpectedly at the age of 49, leaving Mary to raise the five surviving children.
Mary, who herself had been orphaned at age 13, became at age 35, a widow with five young children. George was 11-years-old at the time of his father’s death. Agreeable to Augustine’s will, Hunting Creek was left to George’s half-brother Lawrence, and Ferry Farm was left to George.
Augustine Washington’s death certainly had a profound effect on his son George. Augustine’s two older sons were already out of the house, and so it meant that George became “the man of the house” at a young age. Furthermore, he would be unable to go to England to be educated like his older brothers. George looked to his older half-brother Lawrence as a role model. Lawrence had been educated in England and gained military experience fighting with the British Navy against Spain in the Caribbean. In fact, it was Lawrence who renamed Hunting Creek “Mt. Vernon” in honor of the great English mariner, Admiral Edward Vernon.
Admiral Sir Edward Vernon
Mount Vernon was named for the admiral
After a couple of years, Mary allowed George to leave Ferry Farm to live with Lawrence at Mt. Vernon. In 1746, when George was 14 years old, Lawrence obtained a midshipman's warrant for him in the English naval service. George made plans to embark on board a man-of-war, which was then anchored in the Potomac. His baggage was already on board the ship. But at the last minute his mother refused to give her consent, preventing her son from embarking on a life that would have cut him off from the great career he would eventually pursue. How different might the history of our country and yes even our beloved fraternity be had it not been for this concerned mother putting her foot down?
One noted biographer described her action as "the debt owed by mankind to the mother of Washington." She later gave to George, as a consolation gift, a penknife engraved, “Always Obey Your Superiors,” which he cherished.
Mary Washington continued to live at Ferry Farm and worked the land. In fact, she lived more than 45 years after the death of her husband, and never remarried. Clearly, she was a strong-willed woman and had a tremendous influence in instilling a most laudable value system within her son and ultimately our country. To Mary Ball Washington we owe the precepts and example that governed her son throughout his life. The moral and religious maxims found in her favorite book, "Sir Matthew Hale's Contemplations," made an indelible impression on George's memory and on his heart, as she read them aloud to her children. That small volume, with his mother's autograph inscribed, was among the esteemed treasures of George Washington's library as long as he lived.
In 1772, when Mary was about 64 years old, George purchased a home for her in Fredericksburg, Virginia and moved his mother there to be closer to her daughter Betty. Because of its location on the Post Road, communications were easy to maintain in Fredericksburg and there she would live out the remaining 17 years of her life.
Mary Ball Washington lived to see her son elected President. George Washington paid his last visit to his 81-year-old mother at the house in Fredericksburg in April 1789, while en route to New York for his inauguration. Mrs. Washington died in her home four months later on August 25, 1789. She was buried a short distance away.
In 1830, the women of Fredericksburg banded together to raise the money to fund a monument for Mary Washington. Unfortunately, the monument was heavily damaged during the Civil War. However, the women of Fredericksburg and America were successful thereafter in rebuilding the monument. It is said to be the first instance of a monument to a woman financed solely by contributions of women. A new cornerstone was laid in October 1893 and dedicated by President Grover Cleveland in May 1894. On the shrine, which looks very much like a miniature “Washington’s Monument” is the simple inscription: “Mary the Mother of Washington.” Perhaps it should also read “Mary, the Mother of American Freemasonry.”
Mary Washington’s monument
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
24 April 2007
Young Ehrich Weiss or Erik Weiss
Ehrich Weiss was born in Budapest, Hungary on March 24th 1874 to a Jewish Rabbi and his wife. The family moved to America soon thereafter where his name was changed to Erik. The family lived in Wisconsin before eventually settling in New York City. Erik left home at age twelve, poor and uneducated, but determined to seek his fortune. After five years of performing manual labor, odd jobs, and all manner of menial work, Erik returned home and at age 17 he and his brother, Theo, developed a magic act.
They struggled for a few years performing in poolrooms, private parties, and bars, then finally at the Coney Island Amusement Park for tips thrown into a hat. At the 1892 Chicago World Columbia Exposition, Eric performed 20 shows a day for $12 a week. Two years later Erik married Bess Rahner and she became a part of his act as his chief assistant. Erik and Theo split soon after Erik’s marriage, taking on stage names and pursuing separate careers in the entertainment business. During their early years as a team, Erik and Bess worked carnivals and similar venues, where they gained a great deal of experience in show business.
Even as an adult, Erik was somewhat small in statute at about 5'4", but extremely strong both in mind and body. By regularly exercising, both mentally and physically, he developed an amazing degree of fitness with muscles of steel and a determination of mind to match. An outstanding swimmer, he also developed an extended underwater breath control technique, which, together with his superb physical condition, would prove so essential to his success.
The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917 and Erik, who by that time was a renowned international star, threw himself into the American war effort. Though he was too old to serve actively in the military, Erik became a military instructor and taught American soldiers escape techniques such as picking locks and escaping from cells, ropes, and chains.
Erik had also formed an organization of professional magicians, of which he had been elected president. Under Erik’s leadership the Society of American Magicians tendered their absolute loyalty to the American Cause and served in many capacities, including entertaining the troops, working as spies, decoding messages, and even developing camouflage.
Erik himself developed an act to entertain the troops, which he performed in military camps all across the United States at no cost. A part of that act included a trick he called “Money for Nothing” where he apparently materialized a succession of $5 gold coins out of thin air. Each coin produced was then given to a boy headed overseas. Over time this trick alone cost Erik more than $7,000 of his own money. This was at a time when the average income in America was somewhere around $500 per YEAR. Erik’s efforts also resulted in the sell of more than $1 million in war bonds. Additionally, he contributed $50,000 of his own money to help buy much needed ambulances for the doughboys.
At the age of 49, on July 17, 1923 Erik Weiss was initiated in St. Cecile Lodge No. 568, New York City. Just two weeks later he returned his catechism and was passed to the Fellowcraft Degree on July 31. Three weeks later, on August 21st he was raised to the Sublime degree of Master Mason, demonstrating his extraordinary mental capacity and dedication to the Fraternity. Erik became a Scottish Rite Mason in 1924 and often demonstrated his pride in being a Freemason. On one occasion Erik gave a benefit performance for the Scottish Rite Valley of New York, which filled the 4,000 seats Scottish Rite Auditorium and raised thousands of dollars for charity. In October 1926, just weeks prior to his untimely death, he became a Shriner in New York’s Mecca Temple.
On Halloween, just days after becoming a Shriner, at age 52, Brother Erik Weiss died of complications from a ruptured appendix. Some believe he was injured while taking a blow to the stomach during a demonstration of his strength on October 22nd in Montreal, Canada. His body was taken to New York where on November 4, 1926 funeral services were held at the W. 43rd Street Elks Lodge Ballroom with some 2,000 mourners in attendance. The most impressive service included eulogies by Rabbis, a Broken Wand Ceremony by the Society of American Magicians, tributes from the National Vaudeville Artists and Jewish Theatrical Guild, traditional rites by the Mt. Zion Congregation and the Elks Club. Then lastly, as by tradition of the fraternity, Masonic Rites were conferred by St. Cecile Lodge No. 568. Burial was in Machpelah Cemetery, Brooklyn, a site Brother Eric had personally selected.
Brother Weiss’s monument features two tall pillars, one on the right the other on your left. There are three steps upon the top of which is a beautiful virgin weeping beside a large stone shaped like an ancient level. Above her head is inscribed Erik’s stage name by which he is much better known “Houdini.”
Today when we hear that name our minds probably immediately think of the greatest illusionist and escape artist of the twentieth century. However, behind the public life was a great Mason as well, one who demonstrated that his charity was as extensive as his fame, as he leveled himself with the Fraternity, extended its privileges and practiced its precepts.
Brother Erik Weiss aka Houdini
Jimmy Stevens 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
In preparing for our 3rd Degrees, Worshipful Brother Ronnie Whaley will usually step out to one of the shrubs at the base of our front steps and there pluck a “sprig of acacia” to use in the degree. When we attend a Masonic funeral, one of the good brothers, at the cemetery invariably approaches a convenient holly tree of juniper plant and secures the symbolic greenery.
We are taught that the sprig of acacia, being an evergreen is representative of eternal life. Evergreens in general have symbolized life eternal from time immemorial among innumerable religions, sects, and fraternities. The Christmas tree, holly wreath, mistletoe, and evergreen garland are all very familiar Christian symbols of life everlasting. So why does Masonry chose to recognize specifically the acacia in the Legend of Hiram Abiff and as the most prominent symbol of immortality?
I did not realize until just recently that acacia was mentioned so prominently in the Bible. Although the word “acacia” is not found in the King James Version of the Bible, it is used in the NIV, NRSV, and NKJV. The King James Version uses the word “shittah” or “shittum” to designate that variety of plant found in the arid areas of the Middle East.
Acacia refers to a species of plant that range from small bushes to very large trees. One type of acacia referred to in the Bible is a large thorny bush found in the Holy Land. It has a very sweet smell, with green leaves and yellow flowers. Its bark is black, gnarled, and very rough. Some scholars believe that Moses’ burning bush was an acacia.
Another type of acacia or shittum was a medium sized tree, leafed in green and bearing yellow blossoms. Its wood is very hard and indestructible by insects. This acacia has a fine beautiful grain that is orange colored.
It is believed that the posts, which supported Moses’ tabernacle, were formed from Acacia or shittum wood.
Based on the description in Exodus 25:10-13, Archeologists have pretty well established as fact that the Arc of the Covenant, that beautiful gold covered chest, which held the stone tablets upon which were written the Ten Commandments, was crafted from Acacia wood.
In the Books of Numbers and Joshua we read of a plain or valley in the Land of Moab where the Children of Israel encamped after 2 glorious victories over Sihon and Og, at the close of their desert wanderings. The name of that valley was Abel-Shittim, which translates “Grove of Acacias. It was from this point that Joshua sent forth two spies to secretly view the land of Jericho.
The gum obtained from the acacia is called Arrabic and is used even today by some herbalist in the belief they contain medicinal powers.
Acacia has also been found to be used to build coffins that contained several Egyptian mummies. Acacia, of course is part of our Masonic work and represents the immortality of the soul, as the soul lives on after our bodies have been put to rest.
Thus we see acacia can be a bush, tree, or grove of trees. If one cuts down an acacia, it grows back. If it is burned to the ground, it will grow back. If one digs up the plant and leaves but one portion of the root, it grows back. Acacia can live through floods, droughts, and bad soil conditions. There is little doubt as to the reason acacia is our symbol of immortality.
I hope you have found this information interesting, and that you will have a greater appreciation for the sprig of acacia when next you contemplate it.
Acacia Tree Acacia foliage & pods
from: “Lectures on Masonic Jurisprudence” by Roscoe Pound, 33°
Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Garner Lodge # 701
What are the Ancient landmarks of Freemasonry? What is their purpose? Why are they significant? I was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason in 1975. For as long as I been a Mason I have heard the term “Masonic Landmarks,” or “the Ancient Landmarks” used by the brethren. I have always been curious as to exactly what those Landmarks really are. I had discussed the landmarks with several well-informed brothers over the years, but usually got rather vague and sometimes even conflicting answers and opinions about the Landmarks.
Last year, as our Grand Lodge was embroiled in a good deal of controversy, again, I heard the mention of the Ancient Landmarks, and strict admonishment that we must not stray from them. I thought I knew what those landmarks were, and one night in a private moment at home, I attempted to mentally list the Landmarks, as I understood them. It was at that moment I realized that perhaps I really did not have an adequate knowledge of them. Therefore, I recently embarked on a study seeking additional light in Masonry relative to the Ancient Masonic Landmarks.
As is often the case in Masonic research, I discovered that some of the older writings were really the best in answering fundamental questions relating to the Craft. I found a book published in 1924, written by scholarly Brother Roscoe Pound a 33° Mason from Cambridge, Massachusetts, titled Lectures on Masonic Jurisprudence. Brother Pound dedicates a considerable portion of his work to the Ancient Landmarks and helped me much better understand them. I hope I might now share some of that knowledge with you, and especially some of the newer members of our fraternity.
First the question arises exactly what is a Landmark? In a common sense, a Landmark is a fixed geographic location dominated by a recognizable and relatively permanent feature. The best landmarks are not man-made, but natural like mountains, huge boulders, and the confluence of rivers. Our forefathers used landmarks in their travels to determine where they were, where they were going, and even what route they had taken to get there. It is somewhat the same with Masonic Landmarks.
The Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry are described as a small body of not clearly defined fundamentals, which are beyond change! They are the standard by which all things Masonic must be judged ultimately, and to which we must all conform. Another definition of Masonic Landmarks ascribes that they are certain universal, unalterable, and unrepealable fundamentals, which have existed from time immemorial and are so thoroughly a part of Masonry that no Masonic authority may derogate from them or do anything but maintain them.
Accordingly, Masonic Landmarks must:
1. Be absolutely unchangeable, ever!
2. Fundamental Standards
5. Having existed from time immemorial
Using these stringent criteria, there are those Masons who insist that there are no Landmarks at all. But rather Landmarks are theoretical expressions that have evolved in our Order, much as myths or legends evolved in various societies. However, I believe the vast majority of Masons do recognize the very real existence of the Ancient Landmarks, even though the understanding of them may be somewhat clouded.
In order to examine adequately the Ancient Landmarks, even in this brief time of study, we must glance our history. No one really knows when or where Masonry originated. We know that forms of Masonry have been in existence for many centuries. Modern Masonry, as we basically recognize it today, was generally initiated during what is known as the Masonic Revival of 1717 in England. Even then Landmarks were recognized and acknowledged. A Brother Payne was the second Grand Master after the 1717 revival and in 1723 he wrote “The Grand Lodge may make or alter regulations, provided the old landmarks be carefully preserved.”
Since the advent of Modern Masonry the Order has been governed and directed primarily by three means, the landmarks, tradition, and legislation; and I explain them thusly:
The Landmarks are the essence of Masonry. They are the sum and substance of what we are as Masons. They are tenets that were set in place so long ago that no one could trace their origin, and yet they are so complete, so steeped in truth, that they have remained unchanged for millennia.
Tradition is similar to the old English Common law. For hundreds of years civilized societies had no written laws. Everyone knew what was acceptable and unacceptable, and judges meted out punishment for violations of accepted standards, even though there was no written ordinance. Later, statutory, or written law was often based on the old common law. Masonic tradition is very close akin to that type of common law.
Finally Masonic legislation, consists of the rules, regulations, resolutions, and laws written and enacted by the various authorized Masonic bodies, such as the Grand Lodge. All such legislation should be based upon the Ancient landmarks and Masonic tradition.
Dr. Albert Mackey Brother George Oliver
In 1856, Brother Dr. Albert Mackey, a renowned Masonic scholar, wrote a book on the subject of Masonic Jurisprudence. In that work he identified 25 Landmarks. In 1863, Brother George Oliver, an English Mason produced a scholarly work in which he noted some 40 Landmarks. Yet even Brother Oliver admitted that he was “groveling in the dark,” and had “no actual criterion by which we may determine what is a landmark and what is not.” Then in 1878 a certain Rev. Brother Woodford published a widely accepted list of 19 Masonic landmarks
Brother Pound very meticulously analyzed all the fore mentioned lists and others. Using the previously mentioned 5 part criteria, he identifies and justifies 7 true Masonic Landmarks:
1- Belief in God
2- Belief in eternal life and resurrection
3- A Book of Law as an indispensable part of the Lodge furniture
4- The Legend of the Third Degree
6- The symbolism of the OPERATIVE art
7- That a Mason be a MAN, free born and of age
After having studied the subject of Landmarks to some degree, I agree with Brother Pound’s analysis. Each of the 7 landmarks meets the most stringent tests to qualify them as landmarks. However, one of the main lessons I learned about Masonic Landmarks is that they are not as absolute, as I thought. I hope that I have enlightened you somewhat on the Ancient Landmarks, but more importantly I hope I have whet your appetite to do some more research on them yourself, so you may share that knowledge with us.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
14 June 2007
In the Fellow Craft’s Degree we are informed that Masonry is considered under two denominations, Operative and Speculative. Of course, we all know that our ancient Masonic brethren practiced both but were primarily operative masons; they built some of the most magnificent and durable structures ever erected. Operative Masons constructed Solomon’s Temple more than 3,000 years ago, and were it not for the hand of ignorant men and the ravages of war, that edifice would no doubt still be standing even today.
Roman Masons constructed magnificent temples, coliseums, aqueducts and even roads that have stood the test of time and are still in existence today. However, the Roman Empire fell late in the 5th Century or about 1500 years ago. The next 1,000 years (from around 500 A.D. to 1500 A.D.) are generally considered the Middle Ages or Medieval Times. During that period in history ancient masons completed some truly wondrous works like castles, forts, and elaborate cathedrals. What makes it particularly amazing is that they did so at a time when formal education was nearly nonexistent, and the tools of architecture were of the crudest and most basic nature.
Today modern Masons, who practice Speculative Masonry, carefully guard some secrets that we have promised, in the most solemn manner, never to reveal inappropriately. Can you name some of those secrets? They primarily relate to our signs of recognition, interaction with other Masons, and some of our ritualistic work.
Our ancient brethren, the early operative masons, maintained secrets as well. Some were similar to some of the secrets we keep today, but some were entirely different. The mysteries related to geometric principles, and the construction of edifices were particularly treasured and carefully concealed. In other words, our ancient brethren were practitioners in the science of geometry. That does not sound like such a great secret to us today, when practically every 10th grader has a working knowledge of geometry and algebra. Yet that was not the case during the Middle Ages. A mastery of geometry was a closely guarded, most valuable, almost mystical commodity and those who possessed it could construct buildings that would have been impossible to build without employing that science.
Therefore, it becomes quite obvious why the Masons so carefully safeguarded and maintained the formulas, and mysteries related to geometry. If everyone else knew those secrets, the Masons who then possessed them would no longer be in such demand. There were relatively few true Master Masons, who had thoroughly “mastered” the secrets of geometry. They were the ones who laid down the plans and designs for the grand cathedrals and other structures built during that period. Those Master Masons hired men to actually perform the necessary labor and very gradually taught them the building trade, imparting a quite limited knowledge of geometry, just a little at a time, until the workmen proved they were worthy to possess the more hidden secrets of geometry. These workers advanced in knowledge by degrees and were known as Entered Apprentices and Fellow Crafts. Eventually, after many years of dedication and hard labor, they might become Master Masons themselves and qualify for very handsome wages.
As previously stated there were relatively few Master Masons, so in order to complete building projects all over what was then the known and civilized world, those few had to be free to travel from one building site to another. This was at a time when most people’s travel was quite limited by kings and other restrictive authorities. Very few individuals could travel from place to place without specific permission; one exception was the “Freemasons.”
However, this need to travel also created a number of problems. Master Masons were paid very good wages, so everyone in the building trade sought to be Master Masons. Some men, perhaps Entered Apprentices or Fellow Crafts, or others with some limited knowledge of geometry some times attempted to pass off themselves as Master Masons. Since they were traveling in places where their true identities were unknown, Master Masons developed special signs of recognition whereby they could recognize one another without knowing the other man personally. This also helped to expose imposters, often referred to as cowans and eavesdroppers.
Additionally, because the Freemasons did often travel and were away from home and family for quite extended periods, they began to make pledges to one another relating to way they would interact with a fellow Mason and his family. Basically, they promised or obligated themselves to look out for a brother Mason’s family while he was gone. Therefore, a Mason knew he could trust a brother Mason with his wife and family, his property, and all his possessions no matter how long he might be gone. He also knew that he could completely trust other Master Masons, which he encountered in his travels into strange and sometimes hostile lands. Thus were developed two types of secrets our ancient brethren held sacred, Operative (or work related) and Speculative (or relationship oriented).
Speculative Masons today obligate themselves to some promises similar to the ones Ancient Operative Masons made to one another. Obviously, the secrets having to do with relationships are just as important as they have ever been; but those having to do with geometry are no longer secrets and are therefore not relevant. Nevertheless, it is interesting to take a look at what were some of the ancient secrets of Masonry.
One of the basic tools of ancient Masonry was the square. Though a very simple instrument, it was essential to erecting a building of any size. If the stones were not perfectly square, none of the materials would fit properly, the buildings integrity would be compromised and it would be in danger of collapsing or otherwise failing. Most anyone knew how to use a square, no big secret there; but how did you know your square was accurate? Was your square really square? Truing a square or squaring a square was one of the most carefully guarded secrets of Ancient Masonry.
Truing a framing square is really pretty simple, if you have a basic knowledge of geometry. Take a piece of string and affix one end to a small tack, which is pressed into a drawing board. These were all items available to our ancient brethren. Now using the string and some type of marking instrument carefully draw a perfect circle. Now using that string, determine the center of the circle and establish the diameter and mark it. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. So now we have a perfect circle and a perfectly straight line. The way we created those figures was another Masonic secret.
Now on this figure you have constructed, pick any point on the circle other than on the straight line, any point at all. Then draw a straight line from that point to one of the straight line-circle intersections; and another from your point to the other intersection.
The result will always be a perfect 90-degree angle and you can test your square by it. This was a very closely protected secret of the ancient Masons.
Now once we have established a means to possess a true square the calibration of other tools is also simplified. We have a perfectly straight line and a squared square so we can test our plumb and our level by the straight line and the square.
The Ancient Operative Masons maintained other secrets as well. For thousands of years builders had used some sort of limestone-sand-cement mixture to create a very primitive concrete. Our ancient brethren however, discovered that by introducing volcanic ash into the mixture a much better product resulted. The remarkable paved road known as the Appian Way, many Roman baths, complete with indoor plumbing and running heated water, the Roman Coliseum, the Pantheon in Rome, and the Pont du Gard aqueduct in south France were built almost two thousand years ago with that type of material and these structures still exist today! The formula for that miracle material that we now call concrete was safely lodged in repository of faithful Mason breasts, not to be shared with the profane.
Operative Masons also learned that they could construct massive and impressive stone and cement domes, a feat formally impossible. The Masons developed a system whereby they used heavy materials at the base, lighter materials as they worked toward the apex of the dome and also gradually altered the concrete formula depending on where in the dome it would be used. All of which were secrets not to be revealed except to other Master Masons.
The final “secret” I want to share with you is one of a modern nature. Of course our Ancient brethren used wooden squares and did not have access to the metal framing squares we use today. So how do we true a metal square that has become misaligned? You will need a hammer and a nail punch. Any size punch will do. A framing square is nothing more than an L-shaped piece of metal; it has no moving parts. To cause it to be perfectly square, you must "re-form" it.
First we must determine how the square is out of true. First
draw out your circle and form a 90-degree angle; lay one arm of the framing
square on and/or parallel with that line.
Here's how the actual adjustment is made. Solid concrete or an anvil is best as the work surface. If you do not possess an anvil, you can make a substitute by sticking an axe into a chopping block, lay the square on the head of the axe. To close up the angle, use the nail punch and strike it with a hammer a sharp blow at a point near the heel; to open the angle, strike near the throat. Don't strike too hard, but use a firm blow to strike the punch. You must then re-test the square and re-test it after each blow until the square is trued.
This procedure also teaches us a very valuable life lesson. When our lives get out of true or are misaligned, when we’re not living by the square of virtue, God does not simply discard us, he tries to reshape us, like the square; and like the square, sometimes that involves Him banging on us some. So the next time you feel like the Supreme Architect is hammering you, just stop and consider, He just may be trying to make you usable again.
Perhaps that is the best insight on the secrets of Masonry. Speculative or modern Masons have taken the ancient secrets and, with the help of the Almighty Creator, applied them so to demonstrate many great truths relating to life and our relationship to Him. This is just one more reason that Masonry is such an honorable institution and that its secrets are so important.
Jimmy Stevens 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
24 September 2007
Early in our Masonic journey, we are taught that Freemasonry is a beautiful system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. One of the beauties and most alluring factors in Masonry is its symbolism. Through symbols we are taught about some of the mysteries of the Order and some tremendous truths that we can apply throughout our lives. For an example, in the Entered Apprentice Degree’s Lecture we are told that the ornaments of the Lodge are the Mosiac Pavement, the Indented Tessel and the Blazing Star.
In order to understand this information more thoroughly we must examine it a little more closely and realize the information is more complicated than it initially appears. First, here “the Lodge” does not refer to the Lodge Building; but rather the Masons therein asembled, or as the Lecture states “A certain number of Masons duly assembled . . .” Next “Ornaments” does not mean “decorations.” There are several definitions for the word “Ornament,” some of which are:
· A person or thing that adds to the credit or glory of a society
· Outward display
· Any accessory, adjunct, or equipment
Mosaic pavement, indented tessell, & blazing star
The ornaments of the Lodge therefore are things that add credit and glory to our Society of Friends and Brothers. They are indeed outward displays of additional or adjunct equipment that helps us recall and recognize our duties as men and Masons. The Mosaic or checkered pavement is identified as a representation of the Ground Floor of King Solomon’s Temple and readily reminds us that each of our lives are checkered with good and evil. The indented tessel was a very ornate and beautifully inlaid border that surrounded the floor. It puts us in mind of the beautiful and lavish blessings that God showers upon us, one after another. We are taught that the Blazing Star hieroglyphically represents Divine Providence or in more simple terms “symbolically represents God.”
While some of our symbols, like the working tools, the ashlars and the trestle-board are very old and have been a part of Masonry since time immemorial; the Blazing Star is a relative youngster as a Masonic symbol.
At that time, in England, there was rabid fascination with all things viewed in the heavens, and most especially comets, or “Blazing Stars” as they were then called. Just a few years earlier in 1680 the world had experienced a very close encounter with a comet that both mesmerized and terrorized the people occupying this planet.
The Comet of 1680, also known as Kirch's Comet, has the distinction of being the first comet ever discovered bytelescope. Discovered by Gottfried Kirch on November 14, 1680, it became one of the brightest comets ever viewed by man and was visible with the naked eye even in daytime. Eyewitnesses recorded that when the comet appeared to touch the horizon, its huge terrifying tail extended to a point directly overhead. Modern science has determined that Kirch’s Comet passed within about 37 million miles of the Earth, which is but a hairs breadth, considering the Sun is but 93 million miles away. It was visiable from the fall of 1680 until the spring of 1681.
Even in our mdern day such a celestrial display would be spectacle and awe inspring. We can only imagine the impact it had on the people who lived in the late 1600’s. One witness wrote:
“I tremble when I recall the terrible appearance it had on Saturday evening in the clear sky, when it was observed by everybody with inexpressible atonishment. It seemed as though the heavens were burning or as if the the very air was on fire.”
This blazing star indeed was a reminder of greatness, the power, and the beauty of our Kind and Magnificent Creator. God does certainly conduct the universe and all the worlds therein contained with unerring precision. As Masons we recognize that He is all mighty, all knowing, all present and eternal. And even with that little chuck of ice and iron He displayed a very small portion of his might and glory. The Blazing Star, what a wonder symbol, what a marvelous ornament for our Lodge!
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
In the Third Degree Lecture we are told the story of the Broken Column Monument and in our Bahnson Manual on page 59 we are provided with an illustration of such a monument. As is the case in so much of Speculative Masonry some parts of the ritual and lectures are based on historical facts taken directly from the Bible, and some are symbolic in nature, designed to help illustrate a principle or thought. The broken column falls into the latter category.
While many of Freemasonry's symbols have
come to us from antiquity, other symbols are of relatively recent design.
Nevertheless, they all deserve the respect and careful study due to any
precious object that is offered as a means to enrich our minds and enhance our
journey upon this level of time. For instance, the square, the point within a
circle, the apron, circumambulation, and the Altar have been used not only in
Freemasonry but also in innumerable orders of ethics, philosophy, religion, and
fraternities from time immemorial.
Other Masonic symbols and emblems are somewhat more recent in comparison, but all are very old. Certainly the newer images are no less important or revered simply because they have been developed in the past couple of centuries. Among the less ancient symbols is that of the Broken Column. While the marble monument is a quite ancient idea, the broken column seems a more recent addition. The Broken Column Monument was first illustrated by Amos Doolittle and Jeremy Cross in their "True Masonic Chart," a manual they published in 1819.
Masonic scholars are uncertain whether Cross and Doolittle
invented the “marble monument” as part of the symbolism of the Third Degree.
The image of course, consists of a weeping virgin, holding a sprig of acacia in
her right hand and an urn in the left, before her is a broken column upon which
rests an open book, while Time is behind her unfolding and counting the
ringlets of her hair. The image of the broken column was first introduced in
the Masonic Chart and subsequently widely accepted and reproduced in
its original form. Lithographs including illustrations from the Masonic Chart
became popular in the mid 1800’s, with Currier and Ives even printing one in
1876. All of the reproduced images are practically indistinguishable from
Brother Doolittle’s artwork, with only slight variations.
There is some debate on the question if Jeremy Cross actually "invented" or "designed" the Symbol of the Broken Column. Most likely he developed the image from other ancient Masonic emblems and traditions. However, there remains little doubt that Brother Cross improved, enhanced, and some might say, perfected the idea and appearance of the Broken Column.
The question then becomes upon what did Brothers Cross and
Doolittle base their interpretation of the Broken Column Monument? Was there
actually such a monument placed over Hiram Abiff’s grave? We know that Hiram
was an actual historic figure and was the great architect at the building of
King Solomon’s Temple. The Book Of 2 Chronicles refers to him as Huram but the
Bible does not relate any details about his death. Again the legend and
tradition of Hiram Abiff is given to us as a symbolic story intended to help us
better understand some great truths taught in Masonry. There is no historical
account of any such memorial, but there is ample evidence indicating that a man
of Hiram Abiff’s prestige would have been memorialized with some sort of grand
In trying to determine what the grand artist’s monument may have liked like, Brother Cross visited a cemetery in New York City. There a monument in the southwest corner of Trinity Churchyard inspired him. It was a large marble pillar, a part of which had been broken off. He decided that such a pillar should be the foundation of his new emblem. After a lengthy discussion with Brother Doolittle, they hit upon the idea of an open book to be placed upon the broken pillar. Obviously there needed to be a reader, so a beautiful virgin weeping at the memory of that good and distinguished character was developed.
Very old Masonic documents speak of a marble monument, the beautiful virgin weeping, the open book, the sprig of acacia, the urn, and Time standing behind her. What is lacking of course is the broken column. Thus it appears that the present emblem, except for the broken column, was in use prior to the publication of Cross' work in 1819. The monument emblem, in somewhat different forms, is frequently found in ancient symbolism. So we can conclude that Brothers Cross and Doolittle merely refined and illustrated the ancient tradition.
The urn, in which his ashes were therein safely deposited, is pure invention. The urn was an ancient sign of mourning, carried in funeral processions to catch the tears of those who grieved. However, the Hebrew Tribes did not practice cremation of the dead at the time of the building of King Solomon’s Temple. Only the bodies of heinous criminals and evil doers were deposed of by burning, certainly Grand Master Hiram Abiff’s remains would not have been treated in that manner. Neither did the Israelites embalm the dead but rather buried them the day of death or at longest the next day. That Hiram Abiff was buried in a shallow grave, then disinterred and reburied with the honors deserving of so illustrious a craftsman is indeed, a plausible.
We are told that lying before the figure of the virgin is an open book. If we pause and think just a moment, we readily see that too is creativity, because there were no books in ancient Israel. Not until the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were books invented with the advent of the printing press. There were scrolls and rolls of skins, but the appearance of a bound book was thousands of years in the future. Thus, there could not have been such a volume in which his virtues were recorded.
Time standing behind the beautiful virgin unfolding and
counting the ringlets of her hair is a lovely depiction, but it is also out of
character for the times. The figure of Time with his scythe is probably a
variation on the ancient Greek god Chromos, who was depicted carrying a sickle
or reaping hook. However, the Israelites would probably not have had any
knowledge of that mythological figure at the time in which Solomon's Temple was
We must be particularly careful not to de-emphasize or in any way belittle the image of the Broken Column Monument simply because it is not quite as ancient an idea as are some other parts of Freemasonry. Masonry is old. It came to us in a slow, gradual evolution of the thoughts, ideas, beliefs, teachings, and the idealism of many great and thoughtful men through hundreds of years. It relates to us, in a simple and understandable way, some wondrous truths with profound meanings, which enrich our lives here and in the hereafter. The Broken Column Monument relates the importance of a single great life, his skill, knowledge, piety, and fidelity; it causes us to reflect upon his untimely and needless death, and reminds us that there is some of Hiram and some of the Ruffians in each of us. It is an ancient and valuable lesson, not one merely a recent innovation. It is indeed a most valuable facet of our beloved fraternity.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
During the World War II years a monologue was written and recorded by various artists that told the story of an American soldier who was brought before his commanding officer accused of playing cards during chapel services. The young soldier admitted that he had a deck of cards in his hands during the chapel service, but denied he was playing cards and asked for an opportunity to explain. The patient commander agrees to listen to the boy’s explanation, but promised a very severe punishment if it was not satisfactory. At that time the private explained that he had no Bible or Prayer Book, but that each card in the deck held a significant Christian meaning; for example the two card reminded him of Mary and Joseph, the three called to mind the Trinity, and so forth. The soldier’s explanation was found to be not only satisfactory, but also heartwarming and all charges against him were dropped.
Thus I believe that a Master Mason might also find Masonic symbolism even in a common deck of cards:
The two or deuce for instance, might call to mind the two great brazen pillars in the porch of King Solomon’s Temple, B. and J. They were a total of 40 cubits high (about 60 feet) and we are taught they denote the universality of Masonry.
The three or trey could represent many things in Masonry; the three Degrees the three principal officers, the three Great Lights and the three lesser, three ruffians, thee tenets of a Mason’s profession, three knocks to gains admission, and three primary duties we are charged to inculcate. There must be three dimensions contained within a solid object namely length breadth, and thickness. Since Biblical times the number three has represented totality, completeness, and perfection, as God in His perfection, presents Himself to us in Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
The four may be symbolic of the four perfect points of entry illustrated by the four cardinal virtues, which we as enter apprentices, are taught to develop and revere. Temperance is a due restraint of those natural weaknesses that harm us spiritually and physically; and demands a high degree of self-discipline. Fortitude necessitates courage and enables us to resist the natural tendencies of cowardice and rash behavior. With prudence, we are able to reason as mature and principled men and then employ justice as the standard of all that is right. Our ancient brethren also recognized four elements, water, wind, air, and clay or mother earth; all of which are addressed in the First Degree lecture.
The Orders in Architecture as explained in the Second Degree may be found in the five card. They are the Ionic, Doric, Corinthian, Tuscan, and Composite. There are also five human senses, hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting. Five is also the number most often associated with the Fellow crafts’ Degree as the candidate make five specific promises during the degree. There are also five elected officers in a Lodge.
The six, of represents the six working tools of a Master Mason, the twenty-four inch gauge, common gavel, plumb, square, level, and trowel. Each of them is extremely important in their own right. We, as Freemasons, really should dedicate ourselves to mastering the symbolic use of each of those tools.
There are seven liberal arts and sciences esteemed by Masonry, Grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. The seventh letter of the alphabet is “G,” which represents the first and noblest science, geometry; as well as a more important second allusion to the letter “G,” which is taught in the Fellow crafts’ Degree.
The eight reminds me of the eight specific expectations detailed to an enter apprentice during his charge. The newly initiated is instructed to:
1. Reverence God in word and deed
2. Follow the Golden Rule
3. Avoid irregularities and intemperance
4. Be a quiet and peaceable citizen
5. Attend Masonic meetings wherever practical
6. Refrain from arguing with the ignorant about Masonry
7. Actively seek to improve in Masonic knowledge
8. Keep sacred and inviolable the secrets of Masonry
The nine card might remind us of the nine distinct knocks at the door that are required before becoming a Master Mason. Twelve ancient fellow crafts, we are told once went in search of three assassins; nine of them where unsuccessful.
The ten card might remind us of the ten specific acts to which we obligate ourselves during the Master Masons’ Degree.
The Jack, who rules all the numbered cards, must bring to mind the Grand Architect at the building of King Solomon’s Temple. He directed some eighty thousand fellow craft and seventy thousand entered apprentices as they constructed the grand edifice.
The Queen surely represents our wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers, all of whom we particularly revere and respect as Masons. The Queen may also represent our precious and exalted sister organization the Order of the Eastern Star.
The King obviously represents the most esteemed King Solomon, our first most excellent Grand Master. It might also remind us of our own Worshipful Master, who sits in the East and presides over the Lodge with the wisdom of a seasoned Master Mason.
Doubtlessly the Ace stands for the One Supreme Architect of the Universe, Our Supreme Grand Master, He Who Has Done All Things Well, Our Creator, Our Sustainer, The Author of Existence, God.
The cards are printed on white board, representing purity, like the white lambskin apron. The predominant colors are red and black; red representing blood or life, and black being the traditional color representing death, in either state we find ourselves to be Masons.
There are four suits in a deck; there are four stages to an man’s life, infancy, youth, manhood, old age. Each suit contains a Masonic design. The Spade is one of the non-monitorial emblems explained in the Third Degree Lecture. The Heart is part of one of the monitorial emblems detailed in the same degree, a sword pointing to a naked heart. The club was originally an implement of war and reminds us never to carry anything offensive or defensive into the Lodge. The diamond reminds us of the interior shape formed by the square and compasses.
The North Carolina Grand Lodge prohibits card playing in any part of the Lodge building, but not outside the Lodge. When correctly used, a deck of cards can be a useful instrument for instruction and can provide hours of pleasure and enjoyment; or when used imprudently it can result in anguish, problems, and distress. I hope from henceforth, every time you handle a deck of cards you will recall the Masonic symbolism it contains.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
9 April 2007
"Circumambulation" is practiced during every degree in Masonry and is the process of walking around the altar a prescribed number of times. Have you ever wondered why we do that? The First Degree Lecture gives one specific and practical reason for it, for there are others, and still other reasons why we do so in straight lines at right angles. Circumambulation is very old and was given that name by archaeologists researching ancient religious rites of initiation in priesthoods and other orders. Those rites in part consisted of a formal procession around the altar, or other holy object.
The practice of circumambulation appears to have been almost universal among the ancients and is found to have existed in countless cultures throughout the course of history. It originally alluded to what those ancient people thought was the course of the sun across the sky, traveling from east to west by way of the south.
In ancient Greece, when certain priests were engaged in particular rites of sacrifice, they and the people always walked three times around the altar while chanting a sacred hymn or ode. The similarity between this chanting of an ode by the ancients and the reading of Scripture during Masonic circumambulation is obvious, and may be from whence our tradition was derived.
Sometimes, while the people sat or stood back from the altar, the priest circled the altar alone, always turning towards the right hand. In making this circumambulation, it was considered absolutely necessary that the right side should always be next to the altar, and consequently, that the procession should move from the east to the south, then to the west, next to the north, and afterwards to the east again. Thus the apparent revolution of the Sun around the Earth was represented.
The Israelites, Assyrians, Persians, and Romans all used some form of circumambulation in their rites and ceremonies as well. In worshipping and praying to their gods they were accustomed to “turn to the right hand."
The Romans employed circumambulation in the rites of sacrifice, or purification. In order to prepare oneself for initiation into a holy order one had to cleanse and rid himself of distractions outside influences. Here again we may see a relationship with our rites and ceremonies.
Again, the essence of the ancient rite of circumambulation was that of circling the altar, from the east to the south, from the south to the west, thence to the north, and to the east again. Of course our modern Masonic rite of circumambulation strictly conforms to the ancient one, and as the circumambulation is made around the lodge, just as the sun was supposed to move around the earth, we are brought back to the symbolism that is noted in the First Degree Lecture, that the lodge is a symbol of the world.
Walking in straight lines and turning at right angles remind us of our duty as Masons to walk “the straight and narrow” through life; and to always act upon the square. Additionally in the early days of Modern English and American Masonry, Lodges often met in taverns. As the Lecturer gave his lecture he would often draw the symbols on the floor with chalk. After the meeting the Stewarts and new member would mop and wipe out any trace of the drawings, thus impressing the new member with the importance of secrecy.
Later these drawings were painted on large cloths, called tracing boards, not to be confused with trestle boards, and were rolled out onto the floor during the degrees. They were beautiful, and took up a large amount of space in mostly small Lodge Rooms; therefore no one wanted to step on them. In walking around them turning on the square slowly evolved. Eventually these beautiful floor coverings were placed on the wall, by the tradition of walking in straight lines and turning at right angles remained even until this day.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
8 January 2007
have all been taught that craftsmen at the building of King Solomon's Temple
actually received their wages in the form of corn, wine, and oil. Today modern
Masonry offers those three products as symbols, representing some of the
rewards we may receive from our great fraternity. Corn, wine, and oil as
described in the Fellowcraft Degree have long and interesting histories.
Those three agricultural goods have been associated together from time immemorial. Corn, Wine, and Oil are mentioned together at least 18 times in the Old Testament. Most often the three commodities are referenced as forms of taxes, money, tithes for religious purposes, wealth, and refreshment. All three were used extensively as religious sacrifices because they were quite valuable to an individual; and obviously a true sacrifice must be something of value. In ancient times grapes growing in a vineyard, olives still on the tree, and grain on the stalk were not only a sign of wealth but also used as a measure of trade; similar to our modern futures market. So many fresh skins of wine, so many jars of oil, or so many bushels of corn were to the ancients as are dollars as dollars are to us. So, not surprisingly, our ancient brethren received their wages in corn, wine and oil.
Those of us who enjoy the study of history have always been
taught that when Columbus arrived in the New World he was introduced to a
wonderful new grain that the Indians were growing, called maize. Of course that
is what we know as “corn.” If corn was undiscovered in Columbus’ time, how was
it available in Solomon’s time? The Bible, with its mention of corn, was
certainly in existence in the 1400’s. The answer is found in the fact that the
corn of Biblical times is not the same corn we know today. For modern man
perhaps a better translation for “corn” would be simply "grain." The
principal grains of the Old Testament days were barley and wheat. The word
"corn" represents both of these, as well as all the grains that were
cultivated in that region and time. Corn, as we know it, was unknown to our
ancient brethren, but they may well have had some type of grain similar to the
An ear of corn, or more accurately grain, has been an emblem of plenty for longer than we can trace. The Hebrew word “Shibboleth” means both an ear of corn and a flood of water; both of which are symbols of abundance, plenty, and wealth. Over the years the phrase "water ford" has replaced the original "water fall" in our Masonic work. A water FORD signifies a scarcity, a shallow point were a river or stream can be easily crossed. A water FALL on the other hand, indicates the more appropriate abundance of water, or plenty.
American Corn Grain was also known as corn to ancient people
Grape vineyards were highly esteemed both as a sign of wealth and comfort. The cool and pleasant shade produced by the grape arbor or fig tree was an important part of ancient hospitality in polite society. Vineyards planted on mountainsides or upon hills were most carefully tended. The owners took great care and pains to protect their vineyards from washing away with complex terraces and walls, some of which are still visible even today. Fences constructed of thorn hedges kept cattle and other animals from helping themselves to the grapes. The vineyard tender often stayed in a crude watchtower or hut built on an elevation to keep watch for predators, human or animal, intent on depriving him of his ripening wealth.
Grapes produce wine
The Feast of Booths, an ancient Hebrew celebration that extended over several days in the early fall, when the grapes were ripe, was a time of joy and happiness. Everyone drank the "new wine," which was unfermented, freshly pressed grape juice. Storing the juice of the grape in goatskins or bottles resulted in fermented wine.
The oil pressed from the olive was as important to the Jews in Palestine as butter and other fats are to us in this day. Because it was so necessary, and hence so valuable, it became an important part of sacrificial rites. In addition to being a
Olive Tree Olive Oils
food, oil was used also for lighting purposes; more inside
homes than in the open air, where torches were more effective. Oil was also an
article used in grooming; mixed with perfume it was used to anoint one’s hair
and body, most often in preparation for some ceremony. The "precious
anointment which ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard" as the
quotation has it in our Entered Apprentices degree, was doubtless made of olive
oil, probably mixed with such perfumes and spices as myrrh, cinnamon, and
frankincense. Oil was also used as a surgical dressing, ancient people had experience
as to the value of soothing oil on the skin in an arid climate.
Oil was obtained from the olive both by pressing, probably by means of a stone wheel revolving on a large stationary stone, and also by a gentle pounding. This hand process produced a finer quality of oil.
Like so many things in Masonic ceremonies, corn, wine, and
oil is wholly symbolic. Corn, wine and oil were the wages paid to our ancient
brethren. They were the "master's wages" of the days of King Solomon.
Masons of this day receive no material wages for their Masonic labors; the work
done in a lodge is paid for with unseen treasures. But those wages are no less
real. They may sprout, as does the grain, strengthen, as does the wine,
nourish, as does the oil. How much we receive, what we do with our wages,
depends entirely on the quality of our Masonic work. A brother obtains from
this Order in proportion to that which he puts into it. To receive the
equivalent of corn, wine and oil in abundance, a brother must labor. He must
till the fields of his own heart or faithfully serve in that House not made
with hands. He must give labor to his neighbor or carry stones for his
If he stand and wait and watch and wonder, he will not be able to ascend into the Middle Chamber where our ancient brethren received their wages. If he works for the joy of working and the love of Masonry, if he does his part in his lodge’s work, if he willfully takes his place among the laborers of Freemasonry, then he will receive corn, wine and oil in measures pressed down and running over and know a fraternal joy as real in his heart as it is intangible to the profane world.
For all of us, then, corn, wine and oil are symbols of sacrifice, of the fruits of labor, of wages earned.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
24 April 2008
One definition of the word “badge” indicates it is a device or accoutrement, which is presented or displayed to indicate some feat of service, a special accomplishment, a symbol of authority, or as a simple means of identification. In the military, badges are often used to denote qualifications received through military training. Similarly, scouting organizations use them to show group membership and rank. Police officers wear them as a sign of public trust and authority.
Boy Scout Merit Badges U.S. Army Combat Infantry Badges Sheriff’s Badge
We all know that the white lambskin apron is the badge of a Mason. However the officers of the Lodge also have badges signifying their rank and station. These badges, insignias, or ensigns should notbe confused with the jewels worn by the officers. For instance the Master’s badge is his hat. Some would say the gavel is also an emblem of his authority, but it can also be argued that the gavel is more of a tool, and the Wardens also have gavels, so the gavel does not exclusively apply to the Master. The hat or “cover” is without question the sign of his power and responsibility. It is interesting to note that at one point in Masonic history, the master was the only person in the room NOT wearing a hat. To the ancient Romans, head covers were signs of freedom. Therefore in the distant past all Freemasons attending Lodge wore hats, as a
symbol of that freedom and brotherly equality. However, times, tradition, and practicality changed that.
What are the badges of the Wardens’ positions? Again don’t confuse the jewels with a badge. The insignia or badge of the Warden is the column. In Pennsylvania as far back as 1778, the Wardens carried their proper pillars or columns in all Masonic processions. It is interesting to note that the columns were originally assigned to the deacons.
The 1797 edition of Webb’s Masonic Monitor indicated that the Deacons received the Columns as the badges of their office. Some time between 1804 and1807 the Columns were transferred from the Deacons to the Wardens and rods or staffs were given to the Deacons as the badge of their office. So after the early 1800’s the columns were everywhere recognized as the badge of the Wardens, and the rods or staffs, as belonging to the Deacons.
The Wardens of course represent the pillars or columns of strength and beauty, therefore it is obvious why their insignia should be that of a column; but why rods for the Deacons? As we all know, the Deacons are messengers for the Master and the Senior Warden. In ancient Roman mythology, Mercury was the fleet, wing-footed messenger of all the other gods and he is always depicted holding in his hand a rod, known as a caduceus. That may be the earliest origins of our custom, which places a rod or staff in the hand of our “messengers” or Deacons.
However, over the years the rod or staff came to be recognized as an emblem of power. Moses carried a staff; the Pope often carries a staff; George Washington is sometimes depicted carrying a cane, which is but a small staff. In each case the staff is an insignia of authority. When a King carries it, it is called a scepter; when the leader of a musical group or the commander of an army carries it, it is called a baton. But when carried by a lower-grade officer it becomes known as a rod, verge, or staff. At one time the Deacons, Stewards, Treasurer and Marshal of a Lodge all carried Rods. The Steward's rod is in imitation of the white staff, which in medieval times was carried by the Lord High Steward of the king's household, who, next to the king himself, was one of the most powerful men in the kingdom. The Lord High Treasurer of the kingdom also carried a white staff on formal occasions.
Here then is why the stewards’ staffs are white, in imitation of the High Lord Steward’s staff. The Rod is the badge of our Stewards in the Lodge, on the top of which is the same design as is found on the Stewards’ jewel, and the same system of jewels and rod tops follows for the Deacons as well. The first formal account of the Stewards and their white rods is found in the English Grand Lodge’s Book of Constitutions from 1738. It indicates that on June 24,1724, at a Masonic possession the Stewards were walking “Two and two abreast with white rods.”
In America the custom of the Treasurer carrying a rod has long ago been abandoned. However, the custom was derived from the old practice of the Treasurer of the King’s household carrying a staff as the ensign of authority. In old reference books we are told that the Steward and the Treasurer of the royal household received the white rod as a badge of his office from the King himself.
Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry states that the proper badge or ensign of the office of a Deacon is a Blue Rod surmounted by a pinecone; and he should always carry it with him in the discharge of his duties. Eventually, the Deacons’ rods in America evolved from blue to black. In colonial days ushers or sergeants-at-arms in many colonial legislatures sometimes carried black staffs as emblems of their rank and authority. That may have been the origins of the color change in the American Masonic Lodges. The pinecone on top was also replaced by the corresponding officer’s jewel.
Rod tops for the Senior Deacon Junior Deacon and the Stewards
Thus now we see that the Wardens’ columns, the Deacons’ black staffs and the Stewards’ white staffs are much more than paraphernalia we place in the Lodge Room before our meetings. They are badges of those offices and carry with them a long and rich tradition that we sometimes overlook.
Jimmy Stevens 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
If all goes as planned at our next stated communication two well-recommended men will begin their journey through the annals for Freemasonry. As a part of that beautiful ceremony each of them will be presented with a pure and spotless lambskin apron, and informed that it is an emblem of innocence and the badge of a Mason.
What is a badge? The dictionary says that a badge is a device or emblem worn as an insignia of rank, office, or membership in an organization; an emblem given as an award or honor; a characteristic mark. The English word “badge” probably is of German origin from the word “biegen” referring to bowing or bending over as a sign of reverence or respect.
I have worn some sort of badge for most of my adult life and can attest to the fact that a badge is held in the highest esteem by any worthy law enforcement officer who is privileged to wear it. The same can be said about the badge of a Mason. There is no symbol in Masonry that is held in higher regard than the Lambskin Apron. It is the first gift of Freemasonry to a candidate, and at the end of his life it is reverently placed with his mortal remains and with them laid beneath the silent clods of the valley as a last tribute.
Above all other symbols, the Lambskin Apron is the most recognized by Masons and non-Masons alike as the badge of a Mason. Our apron has been the object of many literary and artistic works, as well as the subject of considerable speculation by the uninformed. Much of ancient lore tends to indicate that the Lambskin Apron represents regeneration, or a new life, and this thought of resurrection may be the basis for its interment with the body of a deceased brother. The association of the lamb with redemption and being born again is also expressed by John the Apostle in the Book of Revelation, when he speaks of the Lamb and being cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb.
A badge can be either good or bad depending on that for which it stands. For instance, swastikas, or pentagrams generally are considered badges that represent very evil ideals; while a metal star or eagle crested shield may represent that which should be positive and honorable. So for what does the Lambskin, the badge of a Mason stand?
First, it is a badge of service. For our ancient brethren the apron was so much a conspicuous part of the Operative Mason’s dress that it became associated with him in the public mind and gradually evolved into his badge. Modern day Speculative Masons now seek to distinguish themselves as builders of friendship, morality, and brotherly love. These great traits are all achieved through service to our fellowman. The lambskin therefore is an outward sign or badge of our inward desire to serve.
Second, because the apron is made of Lambskin, it is a badge of sacrifice. The Lamb in all ages has been not only an emblem of innocence, but also a symbol of sacrifice. We who wear this Apron must understand that truly worthwhile service can only be achieved through some degree of personal sacrifice. Thus we must be prepared for the time when hard decisions are to be made, when trials are to be endured, and fortitude prevails.
Third, in its color it is a badge of purity. White has always been emblematic of purity, a purity of thoughts, a purity of motives, and a purity of actions. White is also the clean color that reflects the most light. In the case of our fraternity it most readily represents reflecting Light in Masonry.
Fourth, it is a badge of antiquity and tradition; it emphasizes the value of the past. As a badge of antiquity the Apron exalts the greatness and glory of the past by maintaining Masonry’s present contribution to human good and happiness. No institution enjoys a richer tradition or history than the Institution of Freemasonry and our badge from time immemorial has been the lambskin apron.
In the fifth place, the Apron is a badge of honor. It is declared to be "More honorable than the Star and Garter." The Order of the Star was created by John II of France at the beginning of his reign in the middle of the 14th Century. It was basically a royal plaything, a social order for special friends of the Crown. The Order of the Garter was formed by Edward III of England at about the same time, around 1349 and is the most illustrious order of British knighthood. The order consists of the king, and only 25 companions, of which the Prince of Wales is always a member. It therefore is an important order and a very great honor to be selected a member.
is in somewhat of a contrast to such orders. Masonry stands for the resolution
of discord and disagreement, for the promotion of peace, the pursuit of
knowledge, the practice of brotherhood, the devotion to duty, the building of
character and the rectitude of life and conduct.
Think about the messages represented by those Orders as opposed to the Lambskin Apron. The Star & Garter represented class distinction, special privilege and the divine right of kings; the Masonic lambskin stands for justice, equality of opportunity, and the brotherhood of man – therefore, it is not a stilted phrase or an exaggeration to say that the badge of a Mason is more honorable than the Star and Garter.
As a badge of honor, the Lambskin Apron represents integrity, honesty of purpose, decency of character, and soundness of moral principles. Every time we come together as a body of brothers, we wear the lambskin Apron. Perhaps all too often we tie it about our waist without even pausing for a moment to reflect upon its meaning. Let us all resolve to be more aware of that great and honorable badge we wear and demonstrate the reverence it deserves.
Order of the Star Order of the Garter
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
28 May 2008
Legends have long been an effective teaching method. Legends are usually based on very real human beings. For example, Paul Bunyun was an actual person but did not accomplish some of the super-human feats credited to him. George Washington is another great American Legend. Of course he was a real person, but he did not chop down a cherry tree, throw a silver dollar across the Potomac River, have wooden teeth, or stand up in the boat while crossing the Delaware.
As Master Masons, we are all quite familiar with the Legend of Hiram Abiff, another person who actually lived, and the unique way that legend is expressed in our Third Degree. Additionally, we know that the roots of Masonry are very deep and the origins of our Fraternity extremely old. Masonry, as we know and practice it today, essentially began in London in the early to mid 1700’s. However, before that time our craft went through many changes and modifications including our rites, forms, and ceremonies
In medieval times very few people could read, and information including Masonic Light was most often shared in the form of stories and plays. Among these plays were the various productions known as “Mystery Cycles” performed by the medieval Christian church. Those Bible-based dramas were popular until they were banned in the 16th century as part of the Church’s Reformation. The Cycles enacted events described in the Bible from the fall of Lucifer to the Day of Judgment in a series of pageants.
Each pageant or section of the story was performed by a different trade-guild. Thus, in many places carpenters enacted the crucifixion, while in other places the carpenters staged the tale of Noah and the Flood. By the 15th century the plays had been written down in various forms and the Mystery Cycles that survive today are long and very elaborate. There have been several Masonic historians who hold that the rites of our fraternity are a continuation of the trade-guilds and their Mystery Plays.
There seem to be two main legends associated with Freemasonry, the Noachidic and the Hiramic legends. Obviously, our present Third Degree ceremonies are based upon the Hiramic legend. But what about the Noachidic Legend or Legend based on Noah?
When we stop to think about it, Noah was indeed a great architect, who designed and built the Ark. At one time, by tradition, he was considered one of the Grand Masters of Freemasonry. We can readily see how the dedication and skill of Noah as a builder, along with the enormous nature of the task and the importance of what he constructed on God's direct orders would make him, by necessity, a master builder.
According to a literal translation of the Bible, Noah was a ninth generation descendant of Adam. His half-brother was Tubalcain, whom we recognize as the first artificer or cunning worker of metals. God commanded Noah to make an Ark of gopher wood, also known as acacia and instructed him how to design and build it. Noah, who was then 500 years old, took 100 years to build the Ark, making him 600 years old when the project was finished. When he entered the Ark he took with him his wife, his three sons and their wives, and two of every kind of animal, as God had commanded him.
One of the earliest surviving Masonic documents is known as the Graham Manuscript, which is dated 24 October 1726. It refers to the sons of Noah seeking some unspecified secret, which their dead father had possessed. The manuscript provides a story based on Noah rather than one based on Hiram Abiff, as the legend of the Third Degree.
The Graham Manuscript describes the Noachidic Legend in a way that is remarkably similar to the Hiramic Legend. It states in part "We (Masons) have it by tradition and reference to scripture that Shem, Ham and Japheth went to their father, Noah's, grave to try and find the secret he possessed. The three men had already agreed that if they did not find the secret itself, then the first thing they did find was to be to them a secret. They came to the grave and found nothing except the dead body in a dreadfully mangled and putrid condition. On taking a grip at a finger it came away from the joint, so too the wrist, and also the elbow.
So they raised up the dead body and supported it setting foot-to-foot, knee-to-knee, breast-to-breast, cheek-to-cheek and hand to back. They cried out, “Help Oh Father” by which they meant “Oh Father in Heaven help us now for our earthly father cannot.” Not knowing what to do they lay the dead body down again. One said, “There is still marrow in this bone.” The second said, “It is but a dry bone,” and the third said, “It stinketh.” They agreed to give it a name, which is known to Freemasonry to this day."
In other words, having found no real secrets, they made one: “Marrow in the Bone.” As early as 1725 Masonry recognized that phrase as a metaphor for concealing the secrets of Freemasonry. As marrow is hidden in the bone, so also the secrets of Masonry should be hidden within the Mason.
What was the first word whispered to you when you were raised in your Third Degree ceremony? Perhaps that word actually signifies “marrow in the bone” and has been adapted to align with the Hiramic legend. Certainly, any Mason easily realizes the significance of the method of Noah's raising by his sons.
There is another striking similarity between the ancient charges and today's Freemasonry; the seven Noachidic Laws. The Book of Jubilees was found among the manuscripts discovered in the Dead Sea Caves. This part of “the Dead Sea Scrolls” includes a set of laws given by the Deity to Noah. According to the Book of Jubilees the list of laws are as follows:
To observe righteousness;
To cover the shame of their flesh;
To bless their Creator;
To honor their parents;
To love their neighbor,
To guard against fornication,
To reject uncleanness and all iniquity.
These are generally the same moral laws that we Freemasons are charged to obey today. While there is reference to Hiram and his work for King Solomon in the Graham Manuscript, it makes no mention of his death. It was not until 1730 that any detailed account was published of the death of Hiram. Apparently, at some point our fraternity decided to replace Noah with Hiram, and this change took place over time finally evolving into our modern Third Degree Legend of Hiram Abiff.
Jimmy Stevens 32º
Past Master Garner Lodge 701
We are taught that Freemasonry is a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. Some of the symbols we use are derived from nature, and some from man-made objects, both of which are tangible, things we can see and touch:
· The Square And Compasses
· The Beehive
However, we also illustrate the tenets of Masonry with some intangible and abstract symbols, those things we cannot perceive through our five senses. One classification of intangible or abstract symbols is the mathematical symbols we discover in our journey through Masonry. Two of the greatest mathematical symbols in Freemasonry are the number “3,” and “the 47th Problem of Euclid.”
Both of these symbols demonstrate Deity with mathematics. Pythagoras (Pa thag’ a rus) once said, “all is numbers” and he believed all things could be proven and determined through mathematics, and that mathematics, along with its near cousin, geometry, was the means of understanding all God’s creation and eternity as much as is possible for mortal man to understand it.
First the number “3.” There is great emphasis placed on the number 3 in Freemasonry; it is an extremely important Masonic symbol. The doctrine of God as a Trinity is not a recent or exclusively Christian ideology. Some of the oldest recorded information relating to man’s perception of God indicates a three-part nature of God. Most every religious, which has viewed God as a Supreme Being, has seen Him as a:
Christians express this Trinity as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
There are indeed threes throughout all nature:
· Solid-Liquid-Gas (Or Earth-Water-Fire)
Nature seems to have an insistence upon the number 3.
In a similar manner 3 is prominent in Masonry:
· 3 Degrees
· 3 Principal Officers
· 3 Original Grand Masters
· 3 Great & 3 Lesser Lights
· 3 Movable & 3 Immovable Jewels
· 3 Knocks At The Door
· 3 Ruffians
· 3 Gates
· 3 Steps In Masonry & Many Other 3’s.
We learn in the 1st degree that the Lodge is an oblong square or rectangle that represents the world or the universe. Within that oblong the 3 stations of the principal officers form a triangle. The triangle, NOT THE OFFICERS THEMSELVES, represent God, God here among us in His Universe. The three-sided triangle has always been a representative symbol of God for several reasons:
A point is no more that an idea, really with no dimension. That which connects two points by the most direct route is a straight line. But every line must have a beginning and an end. God does not! Two straight lines cannot make a figure without a beginning and an end. However, when the third line is added, a triangle may be formed without apparent beginning or end. A triangle is the FIRST possible figure that can be constructed of straight lines, and is known as the first perfection of geometry. God has a 3-part nature, is first in all things, is without beginning or end, and is the first (and only) perfection. Therefore, the three-sided seamless triangle is an appropriate symbol.
This esteem for the 3 sided-triangle naturally leads us to another great mathematical symbol, the 47th Problem of Euclid. In the 3rd Degree lecture we are introduced to Pythagoras and provided with roughly one paragraph of information about him. Many of us have wondered about this mysterious character and the peculiar problem he is said to have solved. We are told he invented the formula that is known as the 47th Problem of Euclid; that he traveled all over the world and was initiated into several priesthoods; that he was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason; that when he made his discovery he cried “Eureka,” and sacrificed a hecatomb (probably 100 head of oxen).
Like much else in Masonry a good deal of the information about Pythagoras probably is symbolic in nature and not to be taken absolutely literally. Pythagoras was a great Greek mathematician and philosopher who lived around 550 BC. He was extremely well traveled and well educated, and was initiated into at least one priesthood. Later he formed a fraternal society whose basic beliefs were:
(1) Reality is mathematical in nature
(2) Philosophy can be used to enhance spirituality
(3) The soul can rise to union with the divine
(4) Certain symbols have hidden significance
(5) Members of the order should observe strict loyalty and secrecy
Now, as to the 47th Problem of Euclid, there too our information may be somewhat faulty. Actually, it more properly might be referenced as the Pythagorean Theorem. The problem actually predates Pythagoras by several thousand years. The ancient Egyptians and ancient Chinese devised a similar theory, but Pythagoras was the first to prove it. About two-hundred years later Euclid, another great Greek mathematician published a list of mathematical formulas and theorems, in which number 47 on the list was the Pythagorean Theorem, thus we see the originals of its Masonic name.
The 47th problem of Euclid basically states that for any right triangle the sum of the squares of its legs is equal to the square of its hypotenuse, or longest side. This holds true regardless of the length of the sides. For example we can draw a 3-inch line horizontally on a sheet of paper, then draw a 4-inch line at right angles to it. The line we draw to form a triangle will be 5 inches long. The square of 3 is 9; the square of 4 is 16. 16 plus 9 equals 25, which is the square of 5. The numbers may change but the results will always be the same. One line could be 7.8649 millimeters long and the other 15 miles in length, the sum of the squares of those two numbers will always equal the square of their connecting line. Therefore, if we can determine the length of any two lines of a triangle, we can figure out the length of the third without measuring it.
With this great truth and certainty, man reaches out into the vast expanse of space and with confidence measures the distance to stars: he surveys land; constructs roads, railways; and edifices. Brother Pythagoras’ theorem enables man to navigate the seas; pinpoint locations across the globe; and plan inter-galactic travel.
In our modern age, it is hard for us to image why this revelation was so astounding. But at Pythagoras’ time numbers held a great mystery, and even the best-educated people had difficulties thinking of numbers in conceptual, abstract terms. The 47th Problem of Euclid has rightly been called the very basic foundation of geometry, and we should remember that geometry and Masonry were once synonymous terms.
At any rate it is doubtful that Pythagoras was a Master Mason as you and I are. But he was a master of geometry, and believed in many of the same tenets we profess as modern Masons. It is also doubtful that he actually sacrificed 100 head of cattle. Pythagoras was a strict vegetarian and probably did not own any livestock. Surely he was elated by his discovery and must have demonstrated his gratitude to God in some overt way, providing the basis for the assertion about his hundred-fold sacrifice.
Pythagoras also felt that numbers had special properties and even personalities. He viewed 10 as the very best number. It contained within itself the FIRST four integers, 1, 2, 3, & 4, which when added equal 10. These written in orderly dot formation form a perfect TRIANGLE. Inside that triangle we discover 9 smaller triangles again three 3’s and so have come full circle back to the Masonic esteem for the number 3.
So far as we can discern, the fundamentals of mathematics are true not only of this world, but all worlds. Because the Great Architect of the Universe established such order in all His creation, we can better appreciate the number 3 and the 47th problem of Euclid. Those great truths and Masonic symbols teach us to be lovers of the general sciences, and to bow our heads in reverence at the perfection and beauty, the universality and infinite extension of the laws of nature set in place by our Heavenly Father.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
10 January 2006
The moon has been a focal point, an object of wonder, and the catalyst of great speculation for as long as man has inhabited the earth. For eons mortals have wondered about the moon, what is it really like up there, and what can be found there. But alas ancient man could only speculate as he ached to reach that nocturnal luminary and explore it. Only in our own lifetime has the dream of lunar exploration become reality.
Before modern science revealed the true nature of the moon, it had inspired music, poetry, and even religion in cultures around the world throughout all history. For us Freemasons, the moon is one of the most beautiful and recognizable symbols in our fraternity. It is depicted in various jewels, and staffs; and used allegorically in our various degrees and lectures.
Perhaps then it would be beneficial to take a few moments to examine the moon and its long association with our Craft. In the first chapter of Genesis, we are told that on the fourth day of creation, God made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to govern the night. Despite the specific prohibitions against lunar worship in Deuteronomy and the Book of Kings, the moon was still regarded as a strong symbol of permanence and regularity. Hence was developed its usage as a means to measure the passage of time, the lunar month for example. In fact, the monthly offerings required at the new moon as explained in Numbers 28:11-15 are still read in some Jewish synagogues.
The medieval European science of Alchemy provides us with some of the first uses of the moon in a graphic and ritualistic manner similar to that of modern Masons. The Alchemists were a group of mystics who first appeared in the 12th century and were the forefathers of modern chemists. They believed that with the proper mixture of chemicals and methods, base metals such as iron and lead could be turned into gold and silver. Additionally, the Alchemists were great philosophers who used symbols and drawings extensively in their teachings and who insisted on strict secrecy from all whom they accepted within their circle. Much of the graphic symbolism used in Masonry, such as images of the plumb, square, level, rough ashlar and perfect ashlar, can be found in ancient Alchemical texts.
To the Alchemists, the moon was a symbol of the metal silver and was used to depict that substance in the covert writings, which contained their secret formulas. One of the most prevalent images used by the Alchemists was the familiar depiction of the sun and the moon with human faces. These renderings are now associated with modern Masonic images.
In modern American Masonic ritual the primary reference to the moon is a Lesser Light. The reference to the Sun, Moon and Master of the Lodge and their particular association with the three burning tapers was developed by the so-called Antient Grand Lodge which was active in England from the mid to late 18th century. The Antients, consisting of Masons from Scotland and Ireland, were at odds with another faction of Masons in England, called the "Premier Grand Lodge." The ritual of the Premier Grand Lodge only referred to three "great" lights without the reference to the "lesser" lights. The fact that the Antients insisted on maintaining an interpretation of the three lesser lights is important to American Masonry, as was their use of deacons in their degree work.
In the symbolism of the Lodge, the moon has traditionally been identified with the Senior Warden in the West, thus following the Egyptian tradition associating the moon with this direction. Some Masonic philosophers have found this to be a fitting parallel, because as the light of the moon is a mere reflection of the greater light of the sun, so the Senior Warden is intended to be a reflection of the "light" of the Worshipful Master. It is thus particularly significant that the messenger of the Senior Warden within the lodge is the Junior Deacon whose jewel, consists of the square and compasses enclosing the crescent moon.
There is another association of the moon with Masonry, which is mostly forgotten by twenty-first century Masons. In the early eighteen hundreds, the United States was mostly a wild and unsettled place. It is difficult for us to imagine the thoughts and feelings of a nineteenth century Mason stepping into the bitter cold of a winter night after a lodge meeting to travel home. For him, a trip of several miles on foot or on horseback, at night after a lodge meeting was a major undertaking. Even finding one's way on a dark moonless night could be formidable and treacherous. For this reason, many of those early lodges adopted the custom of holding their meetings during the week of the full moon. Hence, these lodges became referred to as "Moon Lodges," a term we rarely if ever hear any more.
Following the phases of the moon was no trouble at all for the hardy Masons of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They depended on that soft glow of the nocturnal beacon to light their way homeward along the dirt roads and beaten pathways of the rural countryside.
However, as with so many customs the advancement of society and its technology has driven the Moon Lodge to the status of a quaint footnote in the archives of Masonry. The advent of modern transportation and street lighting together with the general decline of agricultural pursuits made the scheduling of Masonic Communications according to the phases of the moon, rather than on a fixed day, inconvenient. Nevertheless, the next time you drive your automobile home from a Lodge meeting and notice the full moon, beautiful and majestic, spreading its reflected light upon your path be mindful that in essence you are following in the footsteps of our elder brethren for whom the moon was a real as well as symbolic light.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
15 February 2006
As part of the Second Degree Lecture, we are imparted with knowledge concerning the Orders in Architecture. A brief definition of Orders in Architecture is provided and then an oration about the symbolism of columns. Columns are important symbols in Freemasonry. We speak of the three great columns in the First Degree and the three Grand columns in the Third degree. King Solomon’s Temple was supported by 14 hundred and fifty-three columns, all hewn from the finest Parian marble. The purpose of columns is two-fold; 1 to support and 2 to adorn. Parian marble, also known as lychnite or Paros, is a strikingly white, beautiful stone. The famous Venus de Milo (which is in the Louvre in Paris) was sculpted from Parian marble. Lychnite was an important part of many ancient wonders, statues and palaces in Athens, Rome and Egypt and was used extensively in beautifying and adorning the magnificent Temple of King Solomon in Jerusalem. The analogy between the column and Freemasonry is obvious; our Fraternity is indeed a beautiful system or morality, which strengthens and supports us as men and masons.
Simply put, the Orders in Architecture are the design and appearance of columns used in various types of buildings and the design and appearance of the part of the building they support. In classical types of architecture there are generally five so-called classical orders, which are named Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, and Composite. As we all know, the Greeks developed the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian Orders or styles of columns. Each order comprises the column with its base, shaft, and capital and the supported part of the building’s roof, or entablature, consisting of architrave, frieze, and cornice. Each order has its own distinctive appearance, both as to relative proportions and as to the detail of its different parts. The proportions are particularly important. The ancient masters spent untold hours to determine what height, width, and depth each part of the column should have to result in maximum strength and beauty. What percentage should be the shaft? What percentage capital? How wide should the base be?
The Roman orders, the Tuscan and Composite, made greater use of ornament than the Greek, and their column proportions were more slender. Using the classical orders as a basis, designers working during the Renaissance and subsequent periods created many variations to the classic orders in architecture. However, during the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, a strict adherence to the proportions of the original Greek and Roman models became the rule. Though 20th-century architects are aware of the orders, they no longer use them.
Of the three columns found in Greece, Doric columns are the simplest. They have a capital (the top, or crown) made of a circle topped by a square. The shaft (the tall part of the column) is plain and has 20 sides. There is no base in the Doric order. The Doric order is very plain, but powerful looking in its design. Therefore it is the column that represents strength to Masons, who might well look to the West to find it. Doric, like most Greek styles, works well horizontally on a building, that’s why it was so good with the long rectangular buildings made by the Greeks.
The area above the column, called the frieze [pronounced "freeze"], had simple patterns. Above the columns are the metopes and triglyphs. The metope [pronounced "met-o-pee"] is a plain, smooth stone section between triglyphs. Sometimes the metopes had statues of heroes or gods on them. The triglyphs are a pattern of 3 vertical lines between the metopes.
Ionic shafts were taller than Doric ones. This makes the columns look slender. They also had flutes, which are indentions carved into them from top to bottom. The frieze is plain. The bases were large and looked like a set of stacked rings. Ionic capitals consist of a scroll above the shaft. The Ionic style is a little more decorative than the Doric.
The scrolls might well remind one of reading, studying, and wisdom. Therefore, every Mason knows where the Ionic Column belongs and whom it represents.
The Corinthian order is the most decorative and is usually the one most modern people like best. The Corinthian capitals have flowers and leaves or other decoration below a small scroll or square top. The shaft has flutes and the base is like the Ionian. Unlike the Doric and Ionian cornices, which are at a slant, the Corinthian roofs are flat.
Being the most beautiful column leaves no doubt as to who and what the Corinthian order represents to Masons. By looking a little deeper into the Orders of Architecture, we can readily see why the ancient and original Greek Orders are the ones most esteemed by Masons.
Composite column developed by the Roman’s Centuries after the Greeks, is a
variation of the Corinthian and Ionic Column. Notice the decorative work on the
capital and the scroll that tops it.
The Roman’s developed a variation of the Doric Column known as the Tuscan. It generally supported a flat roof, had a base, and its shaft plain or fluted rather than 20-sided. Otherwise there was little difference from the Doric.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
13 April 2005
The penalties in our obligations, at times,
have caused some criticism to be leveled at Freemasonry. Some of the more
radical watchers and critics of our Craft express their absolute horror and
attach all manner of evil to our allegedly taking “Blood Oaths” in order to
become Masons. In fact, a recent decision by the United Grand Lodge of England,
and a few American Grand Lodges, has eliminated the Ancient Penalties from the
obligation of each degree. That decision has caused a good deal of discussion
within the Masonic Fraternity.
Most Masons do recognize that the ancient penalties are not to be taken literally; and that they are not unique to Masonry. The Penalties for violating our Obligations are strikingly similar to those used for centuries in England, and which were attached to the oaths taken by mariners during the 1400’s. The same or nearly the same penalties were also used in oaths men were required to take before being permitted to practice law in London, England during the 16th century.
Perhaps the term "ancient
penalties" is not the best expression for the consequences of the
Obligations. What they really are and what we might be better served to refer
to them as is "ancient symbolic penalties” These
penalties were never included in modern Masonry for the purpose of having an
enforceable violent penalty. They were included simply as a symbolic
representation of how seriously an obligated candidate should view his oath.
Some might argue that if these are simply symbolic why not remove and replace them with more practical and enforceable consequences. At first glance that might seem prudent, but such logic is somewhat misleading, because so much of what we have around us and which we hold dear is represented in symbols of practically every kind. Symbolism is a very rich and important part of human life. It certainly should not and probably could not be cast aside even if we wanted to do so. Architects, geographers, generals, astronomers, in fact anyone whose field relies on the use of numbers or mathematical expressions, would be helpless were it not for symbols. We encounter symbols even while engaging in the most routine and mundane acts.
Most of us drive an automobile every day of our lives. Consider for a moment the importance of symbols in operating a motor vehicle. The functions of all the controls are depicted by symbols, the numbers on the speedometer are no more than symbols, various shapes and designs that constitute highway signs are but mere symbols, and the road map we use to arrive at a new and unfamiliar destination is simply a sheet covered in symbols. Each of the fore-mentioned symbols is established and represented in a specific place and manner to ensure understanding regardless of the language, and to some degree the comprehension level of the operator.
Obviously, symbols are a most effective means of communication, which serve to ensure accurate understanding regardless of language, education or intellect. Symbolism, of course is no more than a particular item, such as an icon or figure that is presented to remind us of something else, often times an idea, philosophy or promise. We need only to look in the very first Book of the Holy Scriptures to see that the Grand Artificer required of Cain and Abel formal sacrifices, which are simply symbols representing our gratitude and obedience to the Lord. This points to both the importance and the long time existence of symbols.
Modern symbols come in an endless variety of
shapes, forms and styles. The newspaper we read, the calendar we consult, the
watch we check, and the menu from which we order, as well as the bills we pay,
all depend on our understanding of symbols. Yet some might say that unlike the
“Penalties of the Obligations," those are all symbols lacking any violent
origin. However, that may not be entirely accurate. Many symbols in use today
depict a violent consequence and their design is intended to remind us of that
hazard. Thus, can we not agree that some symbols depicting violence can be very
effective communicators to warn us of danger? For an example what does the
skull and crossbones on a bottle of liquid do for us?
Even the flags of many nations, which certainly are revered and honored by their countrymen, and displayed even in places of worship, use red as a symbol of the blood spilled for the cause of that nation. The little red poppy worn so proudly an appropriately in memory of our brave soldiers who died in battles to defend our country was originally a symbol of the blood shed in battle on Flanders Fields, in Belgium during World War One. The vent in the back of a man's jacket is a symbol of the time soldiers rode horseback. The vent allowed their jackets to fall on either side of the riders' legs and so keep his powder dry to more effectively kill his enemy. How many of us were aware that we are sporting that nice little symbol when dressed in our Sunday best.
So, who then should be offended by the symbolism contained in the “Penalties of the Obligations?” Why on earth would anyone in our Great Fraternity consider revising or removing them; perhaps because they might be offensive to some religious orders? That raises the very logical question “which religious orders?” Some of the greatest clergymen have been members of the Masonic Fraternity, and apparently never deemed any part of its ceremonies offensive, including the penalties. Certainly, no clergy outside of the craft should cause us any concern because they really do not really understand the context of the ceremony or the part the penalties play in it.
There are those who might argue that violence is an offense
to God. Yet Moses, David, even Jesus resorted to violence against what was
revealed to them as an affront to God. But in actuality the whole violence
argument is irrelative because there really is no violence in Masonry. Again,
remember the penalties are ancient symbolic penalties.
Otherwise they would be an offense to both God and Masonry.
One of the most striking parts of the Masonic obligation is the specification of the penalty of the obligation. A man would have to be callous or mentally dull not to be impacted by the detailing of the penalties. What better way could our fraternity impress unto our candidates the seriousness of the obligations they are assuming? While the penalties are not meant to be carried out physically, they are can be just as devastating, because they destroy a Mason’s spiritual ties to our beloved Craft. Could there be a worst penalty?
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
24 August 2006
In the 1st Degree Lecture, we are told that modern Lodges are dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist, sometimes known as the Holy Saints John of Jerusalem. It is pointed out to us that in every regular and well governed lodge there is represented a point within a circle bordered by two perpendicular parallel lines REPRESENTING those two saints; upon the top of which rests the Holy Bible, which points out man’s whole duty. In going round that circle we necessarily touch upon both those lines as well as upon the Holy Scriptures and when a Mason keeps himself thus circumscribed it is impossible that he should materially err. Obviously, that portion of the lecture is an effort to encourage all good Masons to esteem and follow the example of the Holy Saints John and the teachings of the Bible.
The teachings of the Bible are readily available, and familiar to us, and we know generally who the Holy Saints John are, but what about them are we to emulate, and regard as a pattern for our own lives, that we might not materially err? What do we really know about the Holy Saints John?
The First-degree Lecture informs us that they were two eminent patrons of Masonry. Notice, nowhere is there a claim that either was actually a member of the Masonic Fraternity, of course Masonry as we know it did not even exist during their lifetimes. Eminent means exalted, or influential; patron is a supporter or contributor. In this case, I think the saints represent two honored men who strictly lived their lives based on core values taught and embraced by Freemasonry. In our circle of acquaintances we all know men who are Masons they just don’t know they are. That is to say they live by Masonic principles without ever having received the degrees, I believe the Holy Saints John were two such men.
Masonry admonishes us to keep ourselves circumscribed by the Holy Saints John and the Holy Bible. So let us consider who these men were. John the Baptist was the son of the Jewish priest Zaccarius, and his wife, Elizabeth, cousin of Mary thus making him Jesus’ earthly cousin. The Bible tells us he was born approximately 6 months before Christ and was slain about 6 months before Jesus’ crucifixion. The Angel Gabriel came to Zaccarius foretold John’s birth, and gave him instructions as how the boy was to be raised. John the Baptist grew up to be a zealous judge of morality, his life was built on the strength of faith, and ethical living. John’s importance and statue are re-enforced by being described in all four gospels; and by Christ Himself who once said there was no greater human man than John. Owing to his loyalty to Jesus, his inflexible fidelity to the teachings of God, and his uncompromising dedication to morality, John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded by King Herod.
John the Evangelist is also sometimes called Saint John the Apostle and was one of Jesus’ closest companions, and most loyal disciples. He is also one of the greatest writers of all time, being generally credited with authoring the Gospel of Saint John; 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John; and the Book of Revelation. He was James’ brother and Jesus sometimes referred to them as “the sons of thunder,” But John was much more the thinker.
At times the writings of John sound very much like Masonic Ritual. The first few verses in his Gospel speak in detail of light and life and the Great Creator or Architect of the Universe. So John the Evangelist leads us to Light; a truly Masonic philosophy. Christian tradition tells us that John the Evangelist was eventually beheaded for his faith in Jesus.
So what about these two ancient personalities sets them so much apart that Freemasonry would embrace them and even dedicate our Lodges to them. (By the way, so much for the “Masonry is anti-Christian” theories). Well, John the Baptist was a Nazarite, which means he adhered to a strict religious belief and regimen, in other words he was an extremely disciplined man, he learned to subdue his passions. He was always as anxious to give instructions, as his followers were to receive them; as he taught others in the ways to become a better person. Doing the will of his Heavenly Father, and preaching repentance and the turning away from selfish pursuits were his primary interests. John the Baptist denounced the Sadduces and Pharisees as a "generation of vipers," and warned them not to assume their heritage gave them special privilege, in other words he regarded no man for his wordly worth or honors, it was the internal and not the external qualities of a man that mattered to him. He also warned tax collectors and soldiers against extortion and plunder, demonstrating he believed in what was good kind and charitable, and reproved all that was vicious cruel and oppressive.His doctrine and manner of life stirred interest, bringing people from all parts of Israel to see him on the banks of the River Jordan. There he baptized thousands into one sacred band or society of friends and brothers. Can we wonder why Masonry heralds such a man?
John the Evangelist was a member of Jesus’ “Inner Circle” and must have been the recipient of many comfidences and secrets which he safely lodged in the repository of his faithful breast. Jesus revealed some secrets and great truths to John and a few select others, which were not readily available to all persons because they were veiled in allegory and illustrated with symbols. John was one of three duly assembled at the raising of Jairus's daughter; at the Transfiguration where three Grand Pillows of Christianity (Abraham, Moses, and Jesus) had a communication, and at the Crucifixion. Only John and Peter were sent into Jerusalem to make the preparation for the Last Supper. John alone remained near Jesus at the foot of the cross with Jesus’ mother. Jesus entrusted the care of his widowed mother to John. Can we wonder why Masonry heralds such a man?
Now when we observe the point within a circle bordered by two parallel, perpendicular lines and the Holy Bible resting atop, we may better understand why it is impossible to materially err if we thus circumscribe ourselves.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
12 December 2005
Grand Master Hiram Abiff
Santa Claus and Hiram Abiff are two legendary figures with which Masons around the world are familiar. As adults, Santa usually evokes in us a smile, fond memories, lighthearted feelings, and serene mental pictures. Hiram calls to mind darker more serious thoughts relating to our mortality and our relationship with the Supreme Architect of the Universe. Nevertheless, both of these legends have quite a great deal in common that may not be immediately obvious.
Of course, we know there was actually a very real Santa Claus. He was a man known as Saint Nicholas (left), who was born during the third century in a village in what is now Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. But today Santa Claus, his modern representation, has evolved into a mythological figure that serves as a symbol for charity, and love for our fellowmen. So, in Santa Claus we find a progression of stages. As children we understand Santa as a gift-giving kindly old man. As we grow older and began to appreciate the physical impossibilities of Santa Claus’ nocturnal journey, we learn the history and mythology behind that figure. Then eventually in time and with age and experience we understand the true meaning of the symbol.
Hiram Abiff parallels the same progressive stages. When we are first introduced to Hiram, he is presented as a real person and Master Architect. Huram, was in fact a skilled artisan who helped beautify and adorn King Solomon’s Temple as recorded in the Book of First Kings. Like Saint Nicholas, Huram evolves into the mythological figure Hiram Abiff and the details of his story are related to us through ritualistic degree work. At first we only see what is on the surface. As we grow in Masonry however, we realize that quite a lot of the story has been invented and is presented to teach us moral lessons. Eventually, through a virtuous Masonic education, our own endeavors and the help of the Supreme Architect, we understand the true meaning of the Hiramic legend and how it relates to our growth as Masons and men. Understanding Santa Claus and understanding Hiram Abiff are both growing processes by which we arrive at the real meaning of each legend.
Another parallel to Santa can be seen in how Hiram is struck down and how Santa Claus "dies" in ours minds. We are told that Hiram was struck in the throat, the place of our voice. Is it not by word of mouth from our school classmates or older siblings that Santa Claus is also first struck?
Hiram was also struck in the chest or heart, the place of our affections. Once our suspicions about Santa are confirmed by our parents or our own sensibility doesn’t it almost always break their hearts? We are growing up, but who among doesn’t wish Santa really exists, as we first perceived him?
Finally, Hiram received a blow to the head, the place of our intellect. Similarly, children who are aware of the true nature of Santa kill the jolly old elf in the minds of other children by ridiculing, with blistering logic, those who still believe in him, until finally there is no belief. After that, it is only with personal growth and acquired wisdom that a person can obtain a full realization of the symbolism of Santa Claus. This understanding takes time, thought, and guidance from others. But this eventual understanding is what actually inspires us to perpetuate the Santa Claus myth with our own children. Santa Claus, like Hiram Abiff, has life after death, albeit a different life. Is it any wonder that the Christmas tree, like the acacia, is evergreen?
Finally, how did you first hear about Santa Claus, and Hiram Abiff? You heard it from the mouth of a person who cared about you and wanted to share a wonderful tradition with you. They probably enjoyed sharing it as much as you enjoyed receiving it. Both legends are perpetuated and passed along generation to generation by word of mouth from parents to children and from Master Masons to candidates.
Santa Claus and Hiram Abiff were two actual historic figures. Their lives inspired legends that have lived for centuries and enriched the lives of those who sought to learn from them. They were two very different men, but their legends contain several parallels and we can be better men and Masons by following their examples.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
14 April 2008
From time immemorial animals have played an important part in symbolism. Think of all the fables and fairy tales that teach great moral lessons using animals. Man often finds strong analogies between the characteristics of animals, birds and other forms of life to the truths he was trying to teach with symbols. A mule is pictured as stubborn; a turkey, stupid; and fox, sly. When in actuality a mule is just as docile as a cow, a turkey is just as intelligent as an owl, and fox is no craftier than a rabbit. But their reputations are used to tell wonderful stories and teach great lessons. Masonry uses a number of animals to represent certain virtues and teach lessons as well. Therefore for just a moment let’s take a trip to the “Masonic Zoo.”
Obviously, the first animal we come to is the lamb. We are told that the lamb has in all ages been deemed an emblem of innocence. By observing lambs in the pasture one immediately appreciates their meekness and trusting innocence. The lamb is meek; the lamb is white and white is spotless, without soil or blemish; the lamb requires care and guardianship, the very symbol of innocence. The ancient Hebrews required the sacrifice of lambs owing to their innocence and Christ is often referred to as the Lamb of God because of His sinless or innocent nature.
Our lambskin or white leather apron is our badge and as the apron lecture states; He, therefore, who wears the lambskin is thereby continually reminded of that purity of life and conduct which is so essentially necessary to his gaining admission into the Celestial Lodge where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides.” Some uninformed or misinformed people have tried to use this statement to demonstrate Masonry is anti-Christian because we Christians believe that salvation is gained only through the grace of Christ and not through our own actions. If you actually read the statement as is, it says that we are reminded of that purity of life, not our purity of life. That purity of life could just as easily be the life of Christ, could it not?
Now let’s move on to the next cage where we find the Roman Eagle. We are taught that our apron is more ancient than the Roman eagle. The silver eagle was the ensign or standard of the Roman Legion and the symbol of its power. The officer in charge would appoint an aquilifer who was the soldier that would carry the aquila (eagle) into battle atop a high pole something like a regimental flag. If the eagle was captured the legion would disband. On one of the legion standards the powerful talons of the eagle are gripping golden thunderbolts, as the eagle stands ready for flight against all enemies of Rome. The ancient Roman eagle is also important in the study of Biblical archaeology. As with the ancient Hebrews the Roman eagle symbolizes divinity, the bird that comes from above. And while we are at the bird’s habitat, look there at the vultures of the air, which carry a symbolism that can only be obtained within the tiled recesses of the Lodge.
As we continue our tour of the zoo we of course come to the lion’s cage. The lion is one of Freemasonry’s most powerful and potent symbols. “Judah’s Lion” is a somewhat understated, but an extremely important part of the Third Degree and a key element of the Third Degree lecture. Obviously, the Lion is very significant because of the value we place on the symbolic Lion’s Paw. Jacob’s son, Judah, was symbolized as a lion in his father’s deathbed blessing. The lion was upon the standard of the large and powerful tribe of Judah. “Lion of the Tribe of Judah” was one of Solomon’s titles. But Christian interpretation of the phrase springs from Revelations 5: 5, “Behold, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book and to loose the seven seals thereof.”
The lion has been associated with resurrection for thousands of years. In ancient Egyptian mythology, a lion raised Osiris from a dead level to a living perpendicular by a grip of his paw. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah was once thought by the ancient Hebrews to signify a coming redeemer who would spring from that tribe, or meaning the King of Israel who built the Temple, or symbolizing the Christ. However the message contained in our Third Degree Lecture clearly represents the Christ.
To the world at large the best-known animal in the Masonic Zoo without question must be the goat. Oh how that homely farm animal has harmed our beloved Fraternity! For centuries brothers have joked with candidates about the terrors of “riding the goat” and the danger he may expect when that ornery beast is set loose upon him.
The traditional mental picture of Satan is that of a goat-like creature with horns, a tail, and cloven hooves. Later, in the Middle Ages, the devil took a more dignified form, in keeping with his supposed power. But the people would not wholly give up the goat, therefore their devil was supposed to appear riding on a goat. In the early days of Masonry in London, the enemies of the Fraternity, the Gormogons and or other organizations made fun of the secrecy and the ceremonies of Freemasonry. Soon stories circulated that Freemasons and witchcraft were closely associated, and that Freemasons’ ceremonies include conjuring up the devil in their lodges. Of course, Satan always appeared riding on his goat! Gradually it was rumored that the Freemasons in attendance also “rode the goat.” We still have the expression, though not the belief. One other association between Masonry and the goat is the fact that once Masons regularly referred to the Great Architect as the “God Of All Things,” sometimes abbreviated as “G.O.A.T.” This made for countless misunderstandings.
Hear that buzzing? The next exhibit in our zoo is a beehive full of the hard working insects. There may be no better representative of Masonry in the animal kingdom than the tiny honeybee. Each bee knows his exact purpose and works hard at accomplishing his task. There is no contentious and they all strive to work and agree. Every cell in the honeycomb is built to exacting specifications and geometrically perfect. The bees do great good for mankind by assisting with the pollination of flowers and plants; and produce a sweet product with wonderful properties. Yes the bee is quite industrious and we are reminded that every created being, including the lowest reptile in the dust should be industrious. Which brings us to our next attraction, the snake and lizard aquarium. Those lowly retiles are eating grasshoppers, which are mentioned in the Third Degree and symbolize our aging process.
No Masonic Menagerie would be complete unless it included the beasts of the field. The Third Degree lecture reminds us in the most serious terms that because we are human we have immortal souls, unlike the beasts of the fields. The beasts of the field could be domesticated cattle, oxen, donkeys, camels, goats, and sheep. They could just as well be wild beasts like bears, wild bulls, hyenas, jackals, leopards and wolves; all Old Testament animals. We are also taught that the timbers used to build King Solomon’s Temple were floated by sea to Joppa then by land to Jerusalem, oxen or other beasts of the field must have been used to pull those lumber carts. We are also told that Pythagoras sacrificed a hecatomb upon erecting the 47th problem of Euclid, which is 100 head of cattle.
Well that about concludes our tour of the Masonic Zoo. It is not as big or exotic as some zoos but rather selective and exclusive. Our animals’ symbols are plain to see; yet they have deeper and more sacred meanings for those who are willing to look below the surface. They are all touching, comforting, and gentle teachings of a Mason’s relationship with his fellowman and his Divine Creator.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
Most people, and even some well-informed Masons, are unaware that at one time there existed an American political party known as the “Anti-Masonic Party.” It was a powerful force in its time and had an appreciable impact on the political history of our nation.
As a result of some very negative feelings then running rampant about Masonry, the Anti-Masonic Political Party was founded in 1827-28, chiefly as a result of the mysterious disappearance of William Morgan, which came to be known as the “Morgan Affair.”
It was believed by some, although never proved, that a group of Masons had conspired and murdered Morgan. Masonry in New York received a nearly mortal blow, membership dwindling in the decade from 1826-1836 from 20,000 to just 3,000. Opponents of Freemasonry, including sections of the press, churches, and abolitionist elements, joined together in the condemnation of the fraternity, and the new political party founded.
William Morgan was a brick mason and resident of Batavia, New York, in the 1820’s. Morgan was a shiftless, uneducated but shrewd man. He was careless with finances, often arrested for debt, idle and irresponsible, but frequently the beneficiary of Masonic charity. It is very doubtful that he himself was actually a Freemason at all. No record of his raising or Lodge membership exists, but it is certain he received the Royal Arch Degree in Western Star Chapter No. 33 of Le Roy, New York on May 31, 1825. It is almost certain that he was a Cowan and eavesdropper, and lied his way into a Lodge in Rochester, N.Y. by convincing a friend and employer to vouch for him without having any lawful Masonic information that Morgan was a Mason. Afterwards, he visited a number of Lodges, made Masonic speeches, and even took part in degrees.
When a Royal Arch Chapter was formed in Batavia, he was among those who signed the petition. But suspicion of his regularity began to grow, and his name was omitted as a member when the Charter was granted. Apparently, that incident caused the animosity he developed for the Fraternity. Morgan became an outspoken enemy of Masonry, and soon let it be known that he had applied for a copyright on a book, which was to "expose" the Masonic ritual, secrets and procedure. Keep in mind this occurred in the 1820’s, and such an action was absolutely unheard of.
Morgan boasted in bars and on the street of his progress in writing this book. The more he bragged, the higher the feeling among Masons ran against him, and the greater their determination that the exposé should never appear. Masonic Brethren were deeply angered by Morgan’s bold disrespect and disregard for their privacy.
Morgan was arrested for the theft of a shirt and tie in September of 1826. After he was acquitted of that charge, he was rearrested for failure to pay a debt of $2.68, and jailed. After one day behind bars, someone anonymously paid the debt. When Morgan was released he left in a coach with several men, apparently not completely of his own free will. Then Morgan disappeared!
Enemies of the Craft said Freemasons had kidnapped and murdered him, to prevent the publication of his exposé. Freemasons, of course, indignantly denied the charge. As time went on and Morgan was not found, members of the Craft disavowed the approval of any such act, if it had been committed.
It was not too difficult to discover that Masons were involved in a hundred and twenty-five mile journey, which took Morgan to Ft. Niagara in upstate New York. Three members of the Craft eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to "seize and secrete" Morgan, and, together with Sheriff Eli Bruce, and John Whitney, all served terms in prison for the offense. But murder could not be proved for no body was found. In fact, years later, on his deathbed, Whitney confided to a friend that he and several other Masons had kidnapped Morgan, and bribed him off not to publish his book; then paid him to move to Canada, and threatened him never to return.
Nevertheless, William Morgan had disappeared and Freemasons had been convicted of abducting him. A body had even been found and identified as Morgan. The fact that better evidence and a less excited jury had later found that to be a misidentification was inconsequential. The stories of Morgan's "murder" persisted.
It is difficult, a hundred and eighty years later, to understand the extent and power the widespread scandal excited; or the passions the incident stirred. The infamy of the Morgan Affair spread over much of the nation, particularly New England and the other northeastern states. It was the beginning of anti-Masonry sentiments, which grew and spread like wild fire. Thurlow Weed, who was soon joined by the Anti-Masonic Review, in New York City, started an anti-Masonic newspaper. The anti Masonic movement spread fast and far. Teachers and pastors driven from their stations, even the children of Masons were excluded from the schools, and Freemasons from their churches.
Thurlow Weed William Wirt
Desperate efforts were made to take away chartered rights from Masonic Corporations and to pass laws that would prevent Masons from holding their meetings and performing their ceremonies. In 1827, two hundred and twenty-seven lodges were represented in the Grand Lodge of New York. In 1835, the number had dwindled to forty-one. Every Lodge in the State of Vermont surrendered its Charter or became dormant; and the Grand Lodge, for several years, ceased to hold its sessions.
Editor Weed of course, led the press attack on all Freemasonry and endorsed anti-Masonic candidates for New York State offices in the election of 1827. When fifteen of these candidates were elected to the state Assembly, an Anti-Masonic Party formed in 1828 in New York and held its first convention.
The new political party reflected the widespread hostility toward Masons generally, and particularly those holding or seeking public office. There was a rapid proliferation of anti-Masonic papers, especially in the Eastern states. By 1832 there were 46 such publications in the state of New York and 55 in Pennsylvania.
The Anti-Masonic Party was the first party to hold a nominating convention and the first to announce a platform. On Sept. 26, 1831, convening in Baltimore, it nominated William Wirt of Maryland for the presidency of the United States and Amos Ellmaker of Pennsylvania for the vice presidency. The political effect of the entrance, for the first time, of a third party into a United States presidential election, split the vote and helped President Andrew Jackson (who was a Mason) win reelection by a wide margin.
However, Vermont gave the party seven electoral votes and elected an Anti-Masonic governor, William A. Palmer. The party also gained members in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Ohio.
After the elections of 1836, however, the
Anti-Masonic Party declined. Together with the National Republican Party, it
eventually was absorbed into the new Whig Party. Before its demise, the
Anti-Masonic Party did win a considerable amount of seats in the 23rd congress.
What lessons can we learn from this unfortunate period of history?
Garner Lodge #701
From an article by Frank Ceresi and Carol McMains
"I Do Solemnly Swear . . . "
It is with these words that each American President since George Washington has taken the Oath of Office. With his hand on the Bible and eyes fixed squarely on the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, every four years the President swears to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America." With those words, the President assumes an enormous responsibility. That responsibility is to "simply" guide our nation, indeed the hopes and dreams of our citizenry, for four years . . . through peace and prosperity as well as turmoil and war.
Since we are a nation that celebrates its history and relies upon tradition to carry on our democratic ideals, we wondered about the very first presidential Bible used at the very first Inauguration . . . the Bible that was used by our first President George Washington. We know that great documents outlining the form of our government are safely entombed at the National Archives and the Library of Congress and that Washington's own papers can be found at his home at Mount Vernon, but what about the Bible that was used at the first Inauguration? Was it an old Washington family heirloom? Was its use required when the General assumed the presidency? Has it been used by every President since Washington? Most importantly, does Washington's Bible exist today?
Is a Bible required? The Constitution of the United States makes no mention of the use of a Bible in the taking of the oath, nor is it even required that the ceremony be public. Yet from Washington's first Inauguration in 1789 to the present, almost every President in a very public manner has placed his hand upon a Bible and, while raising his other hand towards the heavens, repeats the Oath of Office. And . . . before the eyes of a world that watches the ceremony unfold . . . the President-elect becomes the leader of the free world. Thus, though the use of a Bible is certainly not constitutionally required, it has become the focal point of every presidential Inauguration and the image of the taking of the presidential oath is certainly incomplete without it.
Does the first presidential Bible used by George Washington exist and has it been used by each President? The simple answer to that question is that the Bible certainly does exist and though the Bible has been used by several Presidents it has not been used by each succeeding President. In fact, unfortunately several of the presidential Bibles, particularly from the 19th century, have never been unearthed and there is even some suggestion that the Bibles themselves were not used by every President who took the Oath of Office. However, how exceptionally appropriate it is that the Bible Washington used -- our nation's first inaugural Bible -- is not lost and, like so many other threads that make up the historical fabric of our country, how this magnificent book came to be used well over 200 years ago is an unusual story in itself.
The First Inauguration
In April of 1789, New York City was a small and plain community that can more accurately be described as a large rural village. In fact, it wouldn't be for an additional 50 years that its population would exceed that of its southern neighbor, the city that was considered the most vital in our country during the late 1700's, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. However, during April of that eventful year, New York City claimed the historical distinction of hosting our nation's very first presidential Inauguration. The preparation for the ceremony itself had been painstaking and deliberate in almost all regards. In fact, George Washington had traveled from his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia several days prior to the April 30th Inaugural Day on a route that had been preplanned, mapped out and studied for its effect.
For several days up until that moment of the taking of the oath, all of the detailed planning for the pomp and circumstance that would envelop the majesty of the event went without a hitch. On April 14th of 1789, a special Congressional courier dutifully rode his horse to Mount Vernon to deliver the news to Washington that the Inauguration would take place on April 30th at New York City. Within a few days, Washington began his journey north by horse but even before he crossed the Potomac River, a stone's throw from his mansion, multitudes of well wishers greeted him peacefully and reverently. Historians tell us that the reception in his own backyard was the start of an ovation that continued for the 300-mile journey. Moreover, it became more and more of a celebration as the 57-year-old war hero trudged northward.
It was a joyous trip attendant with cannon salutes, fireworks, lavish banquets, marching men, waving women, and children who broke out in song and dance. After all, who can blame these patriots from the Revolutionary War for their joy because with Washington the acclaim was as much for the man as for his office. He had been America's first war hero; he had been the idol of the soldiers under his charge and of a populace recently freed and independent; his skill at compromise at the first Constitutional Convention was greatly responsible for our nation's early success; and he had borrowed $30,000 against his own property to pay for the salaries of his nation's Army when the first Congressional Congress couldn't raise the money itself! In short, George Washington was already a triumphant figure as he slowly made his way towards the inaugural event.
Meanwhile, as the President-elect enjoyed what can only be called an elaborate one-man parade, the statesmen in New York City deliberated on the minutest details of the inaugural event itself. In fact, it is said that the increasing fervor of the throngs of people from town to town unnerved Washington to such a degree that he sent word ahead to his Vice President John Adams that he hoped and prayed that the Inauguration itself would go forward without a hitch.
As the big day approached, decisions were confirmed on who was to sit where, on how Washington himself was to be addressed, on what color the drapes and curtains would be, on where the furniture at the great Senate Chamber of Federal Hall on Wall Street would be arranged, on every single detail involving the day's decoration except for one . . . no one, from Washington and Adams on, gave nary a thought about the Bible that would form the springboard for our very first Inauguration!
Perhaps Washington, traveling from Virginia, assumed that Adams or his Congressional brethren would have provided the Bible. Or perhaps those from New York City assumed that Washington would provide one of his many personal Bibles for the great event. Who knows? Have you ever made a business trip and forgotten your alarm clock? Maybe it was as simple as that! For whatever the reason, the fact remains the same, for once the big day dawned and the eyes of the newly formed nation rested solely upon the historical event at Federal Hall, the almost President and assorted dignitaries were about to make an unwelcome discovery.
April 30, 1789
Inauguration Day was clear and cool when it finally arrived. Foreign ambassadors and statesmen alike jammed their way into Federal Hall. Townspeople mingled with their neighbors from other states to crowd the roads leading to Federal Hall and Wall Street itself. Historians tell us that at precisely 11:00 a.m., the Senate door swung open and the House Speaker, escorted by three Senators and Representatives from the House, went downstairs to a waiting carriage. Suddenly, it is said that Washington himself appeared at the door, exchanged nervous greetings with fellow statesmen, paused only a moment to acknowledge the cheers from his countrymen, and entered the Hall for the swearing in.
Once inside Federal Hall, we are told that the President-elect, standing regally and tall, accepted the applause of the joint Congress. He glanced around for his Vice President, John Adams, sat down on a beautiful crimson chair and said simply, "I am ready to proceed." Tension wasn't in the air . . . it was the air!
However, there was an awkward pause and then there was confusion! Though reports are sketchy at best regarding how long of a period of time confusion reigned, we know that the cause of the confusion was the missing Bible. What a scene it must have been as members of
Vice President John Adams
the first Congress, with ashen faces, searched through the building in consternation and without success. Perhaps many of those present felt that without a Bible the oath could not be administered nor Washington even proclaimed our first President! Soon, however, New York State Chancellor, Robert R. Livingston, a fellow Mason, remembered that his local meeting house, St. John's Lodge #1, housed a beautiful altar Bible and, importantly, that Bible was a short few hundred feet down the block. After a quick trip down the street, the historic Bible was provided and, in fact, carefully placed upon a red velvet cushion. Everyone relaxed, calm prevailed, and the stage was set.
Immediately, Chancellor Livingston administered the Oath of Office to Washington. When the oath was completed, Washington added the phrase, "I swear, so help me God!" and, bending down, kissed the open Book. While Chancellor Livingston loudly and joyously proclaimed Washington our nation's first President, one Joseph Morton, Master of St. John's Lodge, stepped forward and carefully folded down a corner of the open page, thus preserving a record of the random Bible opening where Washington had rested his left hand. Interestingly, fate sometimes does funny things, for the random selection fell open to Chapter 49 of the Book of Genesis (Jacob blesses his sons), the book that Biblical scholars remind us that literally means "the book of new beginnings."
The scene that ensued was bedlam as the crowd broke into a storm of cheers. Livingston reportedly said, "It is done." and then turned to the crowd and shouted, "Long live George Washington, President of the United States!" Grown men cried and shouted and joyous celebration was the order of the day. Thursday, April 30, 1789, had been a great day, indeed, and a great era was born. However, one must wonder whether or not the day would have ended on such a high note had it not been discovered, at the very last minute, that the ornate Bible -- now known as President George Washington's inaugural Bible -- rested in a small room at St. John's Lodge, No. 1, a few short yards from Federal Hall.
The Bible Today
So what happened to this historic Bible? One would have thought it might have ended up somewhere in the White House. But, no, that permanent presidential home wasn't even a thought in 1789. It turns out that very shortly after the Inauguration the members of the Masonic St. Johns Lodge, No. 1, inserted a special silk page into the Bible to earmark the very place where President Washington rested his hand. Thankfully, from the beginning the Masons have had a keen sense of history, for the Bible has been carefully preserved under their dominion for well over 200 years in New York City. Every Master Mason raised in St. John’s #1 takes their final obligation on that very same Bible. Many U.S. presidents including Eisenhower, Carter, Reagan, and George W. Bush have used it during their oaths of office. The Bible weighs approximately 12 pounds and is accompanied by the lodge’s three principal officers whenever it leaves the lodge. They certainly recognize that it is a hidden National Treasure and regularly invite the public to gaze at its splendor.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
22 April 2005
On Monday November 22, 1954 the Grand Master of North Carolina Masons opened an Emergent Communication in the American Legion Post #232 on Main Street in Garner. Most Worshipful Brother Robert L. Pugh announced that the purpose for the Communication was to institute Garner Lodge Under Dispensation. The following officers were appointed:
WM James R. (Jim) Collier
SW James Graham Lane
JW Albert Joseph Dickson
Tres J. Noel Bryan
Sec Onnie Felton Hinton
SD Roy N. Moore
JD Raymond Umstead
Ste Samuel Ray Collins
Ste Leland Henry Poole
Tiler G. Armistead (Monk) Jones
Chap James R. McDaniel
Worshipful Brother Royden I. Council, Master of Hiram 40, presented the new lodge with an Altar Bible. That same Bible was rebound in 2001 and is still in use in Garner Lodge today. Eight masters and past masters from various lodges were present and made appropriate remarks, as 32 charter members proudly sat together for the first time as a Lodge.
Thus began the rich and wonderful history of Garner Lodge 701.
by Jimmy Stevens 32°
Garner Lodge 701
revised 29 January 1998
From the spring of 1861 through the early summer of 1865, approximately 700,000 Americans lost their lives in an American war fought on American soil. In a sense, each wound the Nation suffered was a self-inflicted wound, and some of the best and bravest Americans ever to draw a breath were cut down in their youth. We shall never know, in this life, exactly what that war truly cost us. How much more advanced, how much stronger might our country be today had some of those, whom we benignly list as “casualties,” lived to realize their full potential? Perhaps the man capable of finding the cure for cancer was struck down by canister at Cold Harbor. Maybe a great evangelist was bayoneted to death in the cornfield at Sharpsburg. Could it be that a future chemist who would discover some new alternative power source died of smallpox in Chimarazo Confederate Hospital? Did the greatest president this nation would ever know drown when his ironclad sank?
It is my very firm conviction that there has never been a “Civil War” fought in the United States of America. I support this opinion with facts I have gathered in a life long, informal study of that war which occurred on our continent in the mid-nineteenth century. A civil war is generally accepted as a war to overthrow a governmental entity, and replace it with another. The Southern States never intended to do that. They merely desired to be allowed to peaceably withdraw from a union of several states, and to form a looser confederation of several individual states. Most Southerners felt they had every right to do so, as did many Northerners. Before the war, when people spoke of the United States, they said, “the United States are . . . ,” after the war, the phrase changed to “the United States is . . . ,” just as we say today. Some historians, including the late Shelby Foote, assert that is what the war did for us, it made us an “is” instead of an “are.”
The war was not fought over slavery, as is postulated by the Northern myth, nor over state’s rights, as perpetuated by the Southern myth. It was fought over money, power, greed, self-centeredness, unwillingness to compromise, and all other things un-Masonic. As I said, there has never been a Civil War fought in this country, it was a war between the states, or more accurately a war for Southern independence, however because it is a familiar and accepted term, I will refer to that conflict as “the Civil War.”
Over three million Americans, north and south, fought in the Civil War, approximately 11% or about 320,000 of whom were Masons. This is rather incredible considering in 1861 there were less than 500,000 Masons in America, which means over 60% of America’s Masons went to war. Consider too, that many Masons living during that period, obviously had to be older men, or otherwise incapable of going to war, so there is no question that an overwhelming percentage of Masons, able to be soldiers, fought for their country, be it the Union or Confederacy. More than 300 generals in those two armies were Master Masons.
The charge given to all Entered Apprentices (entry level Masons) states in part, “In the state you are to be a quiet and peaceable citizen, true to your government and just to your country.” Many have used this portion of the charge to indict Southern Masons, who fought for the Confederacy, as “unworthy.” However, notice that the wording of the charge almost equates the terms “State,” “government,” and “country.” At that period in history, the vast majority of Southerners and many Northerners considered their home state to be their “country.” Confederate General Robert E. Lee, a non-Mason, is a prime example. He explained, when he declined an offer from President Abraham Lincoln to head the Union Army, that he could not draw his sword against his country, Virginia. General Lee also stated he was prepared to sacrifice everything, but honor. What a great Mason he would have made!
The charge goes on to state, “You are not to countenance disloyalty or rebellion, but patiently submit to legal authority, and conform with cheerfulness to the government of the country in which you live.” Again, most Southern Masons felt that to be disloyal to the new Southern Confederacy, “the country in which they lived,” would violate this sacred charge. They truly felt the United States of America had no “legal authority” over them after their own individual state seceded, and therefore, they were not obligated to submit to it. Many believed that not to go to arms for the Confederacy would amount to countenancing disloyalty and rebellion.
Obviously the Northern brethren held the opposite view. The Nation divided because sections of it could not agree. Brother Master Masons also disagreed on several political points, but the mystic craft never divided rather it and its principles became stronger.
Following are several accounts of incidents related to the Fraternity of Masonry during the Civil War. Some are well documented and almost universally accepted as being factual. Others are somewhat less certain and though based in fact may not be actual historic events. Nevertheless they serve to illustrate the importance Masonry played during one of the most trying times our nation has ever known.
The Presbyterian Church was torn in two, as was the Baptist Church, by the war, hence the Southern Baptist Convention. The question was repeatedly asked, “Whose side is God on?” While Masonry could not escape the political issues of the decade, breaches in Masonic relationships were few and far apart.
In Mozielle Mills Missouri, a 16-year-old Confederate guerrilla was captured and sentenced to face a firing squad, as a spy. The boy pleaded for his life, to no avail. Just as the boy was being placed before a Federal Firing Squad, a girl, about 18 years old rode up, ran to, and hugged the boy, begging for his life. She explained he was her brother, and still only a child. As soldiers were prying her from the boy, the coat sleeve of one of them was torn in the struggle revealing a breast pin he had fastened to his shirt sleeve. Suddenly her struggling ceased, and in a calm, subdued, and confident tone of voice, she said, “Soldiers, let me make one more effort for my brother.” She stepped in front of her brother and gave the Grand Hailing Sign of a Master Mason! The Masons there stood in silent amazement! A Federal captain, who was a Mason, intervened and ordered the execution postponed until 9:00 the next morning.
That evening the Masonic members of the company met in the captain’s quarters and examined the girl, whereupon they found she had received all the degrees of a Master Mason. Where and how that was accomplished, she refused to say. She and her brother had been in the country only about 10 weeks, having emigrated from Ireland. The boy was not a Mason and did not know his sister had received the degrees, though their father had been a Mason in Ireland. Somehow, the boy and his sister escaped during the night, never to be seen again.
Just previous to the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, Fredericksburg Lodge #4, the lodge in which George Washington had received his degrees more than 100 years earlier, was ransacked by Federal troops. The silver jewels, made in Scotland and used during Washington’s initiation, were stolen along with many other items of value. Years later, most of what had been stolen was returned, after they had fallen into hands of Masons, who realized their worth.
Ten years before the war, James E. Seddon, who was not a Mason but would become Confederate Secretary of War, was a passenger on a steamboat, and contracted smallpox. A Mason named John Wilkins went to his aid and saved him from being thrown overboard, then nursed him to health. During the war, Brother Wilkins was arrested for burning bridges in the Confederacy and sentenced to death. While in prison awaiting execution, he managed to get a note to the Confederate Secretary of War, Seddon. A telegram soon arrived from the Secretary reading, “Release John Wilkins from custody at once and do not allow him to be molested . . . ” The mystic circle’s brotherly love and friendship permeated even a non-Masonic friendship, through Brother Wilkins’ courageous acts ten years earlier.
Unfortunately, this was not always the case. Several years before the Civil War erupted, an alcoholic Army officer had resigned and was leaving the service under some degree of pressure. Lieutenant U.S. (Sam) Grant, who was never a Mason, did not even have enough money to retrieve his baggage and secure transportation home. His fellow army officer, Brother Simon Bolivar Buckner, could have been critical and pointed out that apparently Sam had enough money to buy whiskey, but instead, Brother Buckner opened his purse to his comrade in arms, and gave Lieutenant Grant enough money to get home.
Brother Simon B, Buckner General U.S. Grant
In 1862, Confederate General Buckner found himself thrust into command of Fort Donnelson, surrounded by troops led by his old friend General Grant. Brother Buckner seeing the hopelessness of his situation sent a message to General Grant, under a flag of truce, requesting terms of surrender. The federal general could have assured paroles for the garrison, benevolent treatment for the Confederates and their wounded, exchanges for the officers, or any number of humane considerations. Apparently the Master Mason’s kindness, which had been extended years before, was forgotten or viewed as insignificant, for General Grant’s note, which was returned to Brother Buckner, read simply “My terms are immediate and unconditional surrender.”
Neither Abraham Lincoln nor John Wilkes Booth were Masons, but the assassin’s brother, Edwin Booth was. We can hardly imagine the hatred that was overtly and covertly directed at the Booth family after the assassination. On 4 June 1865, less than two months after the president was murdered, Brother Booth’s home lodge, New York Lodge #330, wrote him an open letter, which appeared in The New York Times, fully endorsing his “status throughout the Masonic and civic world.” The letter concluded by saying “In a conclusion, dear brother, permit us in the discharge of this fraternal duty to add to our official communication our individual sympathies and renewed confidence under the trying circumstances which now appear to surround you, and should our hopes fail of realization we can commend you to the beneficent goodness of the all-wise and merciful Being who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.”
On 4 October 1861, Relief Lodge #284, Pierpont, Ohio raised Sylvester B. Brown to the sublime degree of Master Mason. The following day he moved out, headed south with the Union army, never to be heard from again. Fifty years later, in 1911, Relief Lodge received a letter from a New Orleans Mason, David T. Weill. He explained that while plowing a field on his farm, where a Civil War skirmish had taken place, one of his laborers turned up what appeared to be an old grave, bearing indications it was the resting place of a Union soldier. In this grave was found a medallion made of a silver half dollar, having engraved on one side a square and compasses and the words, “Relief Lodge #284.” The initials “S.B.” were also present and discernible. After much research Brother Weill had located the correct Lodge. The medallion now hangs on the wall of Relief Lodge #284 along with a copy of Brother Weill’s letter.
Lodge meetings are said to have been held between the lines, with Union and Confederate Masons sitting together in peace and harmony. It is a well-established fact that Union and Confederate soldiers often met “between the lines” during interludes in the fighting. One can easily image a lodge meeting with Northern and Southern brethren imploring the blessings and protection of Deity on the eve of the most horrible battle ever fought on American soil.
Several Confederate Masons led one of the most famous charges in military history, Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Major General George Pickett
Brother George Pickett
Brother Lewis Armistead
Brother Jimmy Kemper
commanded a Division of James Longstreet’s I Corps, which consisted of three brigades, two of which were commanded by Masons, General Lewis “Lo” Armistead and General James “Jimmy” Kemper. As the charge began to stall on Cemetery Ridge, Brother Armistead placed his hat upon the tip of his raised sword, and led his Brigade forward to a rock wall, behind which, Union forces were dug in, with infantry and artillery. Brother Armistead and his men, consisting mostly of Virginia and North Carolina boys, overran the position, achieving the “high watermark,” or the most northern advance of the battle. Then Brother Armistead placed his hand on a cannon, and proclaimed, “This gun belongs to me!” At that moment he was struck by a minie ball, and knocked from his feet resting against the cannon’s wheel, whereupon he called out, “I’m a widow’s son.”
The Friend to Friend Monument at Gettysburg National Cemetery depicts the incident between Brothers Armistead and Bingham
Union Captain and Brother Henry H. Bingham were immediately by his side, and took the fallen general in his arms, they recognizing one another as brothers. Brother Armistead gave Brother Bingham his watch, and some papers with the request they be forwarded to certain friends. Of course his request was honored. General Armistead also inquired about his best friend and Masonic brother, Union XI Corps Commander Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, and found “Ol’ Winnie Boy” had been wounded at almost the same instant Brother Armistead fell. General Armistead asked Captain Bingham to “Give General Hancock my regrets.” Captain Bingham then had his Southern brother removed to the XI Corps hospital where, despite the best care available, he died that evening. Brother Hancock survived his wound, to fight again in the war, and later was a United States presidential candidate. In the later Twentieth Century a beautiful monument was erected on the grounds of the Gettysburg National Cemetery depicting that touching moment when Brother Bingham went to his Masonic Brother’s aid even in the heat of battle.
Anson Miller, a 40-year-old private, was wounded four times on McPherson’s Ridge, an advanced position west of the Union’s main line on Cemetery Ridge. He was unable to retreat with the rest of the Federals as the Confederates overran their position. The ragged rebels began to take his clothing, food, and equipment, when he uttered the words familiar to every Mason, even in the din of battle. A Tennessee Mason by the name of Menturn stepped forward and demanded Brother Miller’s possessions be returned to him, which they were. The wounded brother was given food, water, and protection. At the first practical time he was removed to a hospital where Confederate brothers visited him several times, but his wounds proved mortal and he died on 1 August 1863.
Colonel Joseph Wasden was a member of Franklin Lodge #11, Warrenton, Georgia, and the commander of the 22nd Georgia Infantry when he was killed on the Emmitsburg Road on 3 July 1863, the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg. While the bullets still flew, a private belonging to the 2nd Rhode Island found, on Colonel Wasden’s body, a document that identified him as a Master Mason, and which he promptly delivered to Captain Foy, of his Regiment, whom he knew to be a Mason.
Considering it his duty, as a brother Mason, Captain Foy enlisted the aid of Brother Corporal Stalker, and three other brethren, all of whom proceeded to the place Colonel Wasden had fallen. They carefully wrapped the body in a blanket, dug a grave nearby, under the sharp fire of Confederate rifles, and tenderly, reverently laid their departed Southern brother beneath the silent clods of the valley. A green leaf of corn served in place of the customary sprig of acacia, and the soul of their brother was thus committed to the Supreme Architect of the Universe.
McClelland Lodge, a Union Military Lodge was active in New Bern during the war. More than 40 new Masons were raised in just six months.
In the bitterly cold December of 1862, at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, Union Captain Brother T.B. Wearengen, General Brother G.G. Meade’s Adjutant, was wounded through the lungs, and found lying senseless on the field by a North Carolina regimental officer. The Tarheel recognized Captain Wearengen as a Mason by a pin he wore on his coat, and carried him to a house used as a Confederate Headquarters. A surgeon was called who treated the wound, though it was believed to be fatal; yet by kind care and watching of the craft, he soon improved and was transported to Richmond. Shivering, half-naked, blanket less Rebels returned his blankets to him, and nothing was taken from him.
Just after the war ended, the Grand Lodge of North Carolina was told that the invading army had ruthlessly destroyed the property of Union Lodge #17. Most of the chapters in the state had shared similar fates, and were not in the position to purchase new equipment; even the Grand Lodge had not the means to defray its ordinary expenses. However, that did not stop Masonry in North Carolina! Throughout the Masonic world, the end of the war was greeted with quiet rejoicing. Masons were looking to the future. Little could they realize what a great future they would bring forth.
The Grand Master of Tennessee, in 1861, worried about the transient nature of Civil War armies and was reluctant to grant dispensations for Military Lodges in areas under the jurisdiction of another Grand Lodge.
The National Zouave Lodge at Fort Monroe, Virginia met regularly. Their communications included Federal soldiers mostly serving as guards and the Confederate Prisoners of War who were under their charge.
There were 94 Military Lodges in the United States Army, and 150 in the Confederate States forces. Record keeping in the lodges of both armies was extremely poor. There was a fear that many of the men who were made Masons in these lodges were not worthy and could not have entered a lodge at home, where they were best known. The Grand Master of North Carolina, Most Worshipful Eli F. Watson, was of that opinion. However, in 1863 he granted six dispensations for military lodges. In 1865 all North Carolina Military Lodges were ordered to surrender all their records to the Grand Lodge.
In 1861 the Virginia Grand Lodge was presented a resolution to forbid fraternization with Northern Masons. The Grand Lodge rejected it, but the rumor that the resolution had passed persisted. Some Federal prisoners of war stated they had not revealed themselves as Masons to Confederates they knew to be Masons, because they had heard that rumor. Actually no Grand Lodge ever issued any such order throughout the entire course of the war.
The Grand Master of Missouri, Brother Marcus McFarland, stated, “Our fraternity embraces the whole bonds of charity; as Masons we know no north, no south, no east, or west . . . Whatever individuals may feel to be their duty as citizens let us not forget our brotherhood.
Brother Robert Anderson Brother P.G.T. Beauregard
Major Robert Anderson (Mercer # 50, New Jersey) was the Union commander of Ft. Sumter when Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, a Mason and former student of Brother Anderson at West Point, bombarded it. Brother Anderson is generally considered the first Union hero for his brave and noble actions at Ft. Sumter. He was known as a deeply religious man, and died in Charleston in 1871.
Brigadier General Lewis Addison “Lo” Armistead (Alexandria-Washington Lodge #22, Virginia) was born in New Bern, North Carolina, and killed at Gettysburg in Pickett’s Charge. He is memorialized on the “Friend to Friend, Masonic Monument” at Gettysburg, which commemorates his encounter with his brother Mason, Union Captain Henry Bingham. Before he became a Mason, Brother Armistead was dismissed from West Point for breaking a mess-hall plate over the head of future Confederate General Jubal Early. He was a widower with a son who served by his side in the 57th Virginia Infantry.
Turner Ashby (Equality #136 Virginia, Now #44 West Virginia), one of the most popular Confederate generals, was killed in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign in 1862. He died in the arms of a fellow Mason, Lt. James Thurston. In June of 1861 his brother was murdered by a Union patrol, which motivated Brother Ashley to enter the war with a vengeance. He quickly earned the reputation
as one of the bravest participants of the conflict. Even stoic General “Stonewall” Jackson was shaken by Brother Ashby’s death and was quoted as saying, “As a partisan officer, I never knew his superior.” Four years later, his body was disinterred and reburied in the Stonewall Cemetery at Winchester Virginia. There were 15 Lodges represented by more than 300 Masons, with 10,000 people looking on.
General William Barksdale (Columbus #5, Mississippi) was a Congressman and U.S. Senator, from Mississippi before the war. Brother Barksdale was instrumental in the Confederate success at Chancelorsville, as he held a goodly portion of the Union army in place at Fredericksburg, preventing them from re-enforcing their compatriots, whom “Stonewall” Jackson circled and surprised. On the second day of Gettysburg, General Barksdale led a charge described by Confederate General James Longstreet, as the most magnificent charge of the war. He was shot from his horse, north of the Trostle Farm, and wounded three more times, once in the chest, which sprayed blood with every breath. One of his privates, Joseph Lloyd, tended the general, until Barksdale ordered him to attend to his company’s needs, and thus forced him to leave. Two Union officers who took him to a Yankee field hospital later visited Brother Barksdale, who died the next day. He was wearing a clean white shirt of fine linen, which fastened with Masonic studs. He was eventually buried in Greenwood Cemetery, in Jackson, Mississippi.
General Henry Barnum (Syracuse #102, New York) fought throughout the entire war, was severely wounded twice, and once captured. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. After the war he became New York’s Inspector of Prisons, Harbor Master, and Tax Commissioner.
Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard finished second in the West Point class of 1838 and went on to have a distinguished career in the United States Army before “going south” in 1861 and accepting a Brigadier General’s commission in the Confederate Army. He supervised the attack on Fort Sumter, co-directed the successful Battle of First Manassas (Bull run), and took command of Confederate forces at Shiloh after General A.S. Johnson fell.
At Bullrun (Manassas) Confederate General Bernard B. Bee, a Texas Mason, gave “Stonewall” Jackson his nickname, then was killed. Brother Bee was a West Point graduate and served as a captain during the war with Mexico. The Provisional Confederate Congress awarded his general’s rank posthumously.
T.H. Benton, (Bluff City #71, Iowa) a future Grand Master of Iowa Masons, was commander of the occupying force in Little Rock, Arkansas. He ordered the home and library of Albert Pike (Western Star #2, Arkansas) secured and guarded while Brother Pike was away serving as a Confederate general. Brother Pike later became a renowned Masonic scholar and was instrument in the development of the modern Scottish Rite Masonic Order.
Union Captain (later General) Henry Harrison Bingham (Chartiers Lodge #297, Pennsylvania) rendered aid to Confederate General Lewis Armistead at Gettysburg and is memorialized on the Masonic Monument there. Later, he received the Medal of Honor for bravery, and served 33 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Confederate General and Brother P.G.T. Beauregard was so outraged that such an order would be issued in his hometown, that he undertook a frantic recruiting campaign playing on General Order 28, and its insulting tone to the women of the South. Even though these two Masonic brothers were very much at odds politically, the benevolence of the fraternity still shone through. In December of 1862, Brother Beauregard’s wife, Caroline, fell gravely ill at her home in New Orleans. Brother Butler immediately sent word of Caroline’s condition to General Beauregard in Charleston, South Carolina, expressed his sincere sympathy and guaranteed him safe passage in and out of the Union-held city so Brother Beauregard could visit his dying wife. Even these two, among the bitterest enemies of the war, could find a measure of brotherly love on the common ground of Masonry.
After the war, Brother Butler supplanted President Andrew Johnson (Greeneville #119, Tennessee) by joining forces with staunch anti-Mason Thaddeus Stevens, to have President Johnson impeached. Brother Butler ran unsuccessfully for president in 1884.
General Daniel Butterfield (Metropolitan #273, New York City) entered the Union army as a sergeant in 1861, and by 1862 was a general. He was one of the most respected officers in the army, implemented corps identification badges, and wrote “Taps.” He was one of the early recipients of the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Peninsula Campaign. Brother Butterfield resigned after the war, and became associated with the fledgling American Express Company. He died in 1901 and has the most ornate tomb on the West Point Military Academy grounds, even though he never attended school there.
Brother Dan Butterfield Brother Butterfield’s Tomb
General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (United #8, Maine) was a college professor, and Union hero at Gettysburg. He represented the United States Army and presided over the formal surrender of Confederate troops at Appomattox, Virginia. After the war Brother Chamberlain served several terms as governor of Maine, and became President of Boudin College, where he had instructed before the war.
Private Samuel Clements (Polar Star #79, Missouri) was a Confederate soldier who later became great American Writer, known as Mark Twain. He fought only briefly in the western theater.
Union Scout William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody (Platte Valley #32, Nebraska) later became a Wild West showman.
Colonel James Connor (Landmark #76, South Carolina), was known as one of the best officers South Carolina contributed to the Confederacy. He lost his leg at Mechanicsville, Virginia while fighting with the 22nd North Carolina. Later he was elected Attorney General of South Carolina, and served as Grand Master of South Carolina Masons.
General William Ruffin Cox (William C. Hill #215, Raleigh, North Carolina) was born in Scotland Neck, North Carolina and served with North Carolina troops throughout the war. He was wounded 11 times, 5 times just at the Battle of Chancelorsville. On 9 April 1865, near Appomattox Courthouse, Brother Cox led the last organized attack made by General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. He later served as a judge, a U.S. Congressman, and Secretary to the U.S. Senate. He was one of the oldest surviving Confederate Generals when he died the day after Christmas in 1919.
John W. Ellis (Fulton #99, North Carolina) was the Governor of North Carolina at the time the Civil War erupted. Brother Ellis was instrumental in helping prepare the state for war but died just a few months into the conflict.
Union Colonel (later General) Lucius Fairchild (Hiram #50 Wisconsin) lost an arm at Gettysburg while fighting with the “Iron Brigade. “ Later he became Wisconsin Secretary of State and Governor for six terms.
James Garfield (Magnolia #20, Ohio), and William McKinley (Canton #60, Ohio) were Ohioans, Union officers, and future United States Presidents, both of whom were assassinated while in office. Brother Garfield entered the war with a political appointment to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was a self-taught military man, studied hard and at the end of the war was a major general.
Brother John White Geary was a mayor of San Francisco, California, and a governor of Kansas, before the war. During the war he obtained the rank of general in the Union army and was wounded twice, once when a cannonball grazed his head. After the war, he returned to his native Pennsylvania where he was elected governor, but died eighteen days into his second term. Brother Geary received all three Masonic degrees in one day, and was made a Mason on sight on 4 January 1847. He was a member of Philanthropy #225, Pennsylvania; was a charter member and founder of Panama City #1 in Panama; Charter member and first secretary of San Francisco #1 California. He also saved the Masonic Lodge in Savannah, Georgia from destruction when Sherman’s troops occupied the city in 1864.
Brother Winfield S. Hancock Brother James A. Garfield
Union Major General Winfield Scott Hancock (Charity #190, Pennsylvania) led the XI Corps at Gettysburg, where he was seriously wounded. Brother Hancock ran for president in 1880, but lost to fellow Mason, James Garfield.
Lieutenant Kitteredge Haskins (Social #38, Vermont) fought with the 16th Vermont. After the war he served as the United States District Attorney in his home state. Brother Haskins served as Grand Master of Vermont Masons 1895-97 and received his 33rd degree as a Scottish Rite Mason in 1899.
Confederate General Henry Heth (Rocky Mountain #205, Utah Territory) commanded the “Stonewall Brigade” and made first contact at the Battle of Gettysburg. Brother Heth participated in all the major battles fought by General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
United States President Andrew Johnson (Greeneville #119, Tennessee) was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, but moved to Tennessee as a youth. Though southern by birth, Brother Johnson being a strict unionist was appointed military governor of Tennessee during the war. He was elected President Lincoln’s vice president in 1864 and ascended to the presidency in April of 1865. After the war, Brother Johnson’s reconstruction program was too lenient to suit the radical republicans then in power. He was impeached, but never convicted nor removed from office.
George W. Johnson was born in Georgetown, Kentucky in on May 17, 1811, and became a Master Mason after completing his education, receiving three academic
Brother George W. Johnson
degrees from Lexington’s Transylvania University in 1833. His wife’s cousin was United States’ Vice President John C. Breckinridge, who became a General in the Rebel army, and later the Confederacy’s last Secretary of War. When the hostilities began in the late 1850's Brother Johnson cast his lot with the South.
At first he opposed secession, feeling that President Lincoln’s Republican Party did not control Congress nor Supreme Court. However, when South Carolina left the Union, Brother Johnson changed his perspective and believed that if Kentucky joined the Confederate States, the North and South would be too evenly balanced to allow war. When President Lincoln called for troops from each state to quell the rebellion, Kentucky refused, but the state itself essentially split. Although Kentucky was officially admitted into the Confederacy on 10 December 1861, it never officially seceded from the Union. Factions elected both Union and Confederate governors. Kentucky Confederates elected Brother Johnson, at age 49, governor.
Although he was the elected governor of Kentucky, Brother Johnson joined General A.S. Johnston’s staff as a civilian aide in January of 1862. On April 6, 1862 the Battle of Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing began. Brother Johnson was then attached to General Breckinridge’s staff, and went into battle with the First Kentucky Regiment. At 9:30 that morning he had a horse shot from under him by federal artillery.
That night, hearing the agonizing screams of the day’s wounded all around, Governor Johnson enlisted in the Fourth Kentucky as a private. He was 51 years old and had a crippled arm, but stated, “I am determined to share the dangers of battle with these boys. They are my friends and relatives, and I feel better with them.”
Next day Brother Johnson was struck in the abdomen by a .58 caliber minie ball. He lay on the field grievously suffering for more than twenty-four hours, until Union General Alexander McCook walked over the field surveying the carnage of a two-day blood bath. As Brother McCook approached, Private Johnson flashed a
Brother Albert Sidney Johnston with hands, the next morning.
Union and Confederate brethren buried Governor Johnson in his hometown with full Masonic honors performed. General Brother B.G.T. Beauregard, a professional military man wrote of Brother Johnson in his official report of the battle, calling him ‘” a brave, upright, and able man.” Another old friend, Basil Duke simply stated, “A braver, nobler, more patriotic spirit never ascended to Heaven.”
General Albert Sidney Johnston is considered by some historians the Confederacy’s greatest general in the west, until his untimely death near “the Hornet’s Nest” at the Battle of Shiloh. He was the commander of the Confederate army in the western theater and a close personal friend of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Lieutenant Marcellus E. Jones, (Wheaton Lodge, Illinois) fired the first shot at the Battle of Gettysburg. Later he became a city councilman, sheriff, and postmaster in Colorado.
General James Lawson (Jimmy) Kemper (Linn Banks #126, Virginia) was Speaker of the Virginia House of Representatives when the war broke in 1861. Gravely wounded and captured during Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, Brother Kemper recovered, was exchanged, and fought again. After the war he served two terms as governor of Virginia and was instrumental in rebuilding that state.
General John Doby Kennedy (Kershaw #29, South Carolina) was a 23-year-old Confederate colonel at Gettysburg, commanding the 2nd South Carolina Infantry, when he was wounded. He also fought with General Joseph E. Johnston at Aversborough, and Bentonville, North Carolina, before being paroled in Greensboro, in May of 1865. After the war, he was elected to the South Carolina legislature and served as lieutenant governor.
General Joseph Brevard Kershaw (Kershaw #29, South Carolina) saw action in every major eastern battle of the war, which was fought by the Army of Northern Virginia. After the war he was elected to the South Carolina State Senate, and was a judge. He served as Grand Master of South Carolina Masons in 1873-74.
Brother General John Bankhead Magruder was
a Virginian and West Point graduate who excelled
in artillery tactics. He commanded the Confederates
during the first major land engagement of the war,
Big Bethel, which was a Southern victory. Later in
the war he fought in the western theater and is
credited with capturing the Union ship, Harriet Lane,
and thus breaking the federal blockade in Texas.
After the war, Brother Magruder was too proud to
apply for parole and moved to Mexico where he
fought for Maximilian until his defeat whereupon
Brother Magruder resettled in Houston, Texas,
where he died in 1871.
Private John McArthur (Cleveland #211, Illinois) was a Union soldier who emigrated from Scotland in 1849 and worked as a boilermaker in Chicago. Brother McArthur ascended to the rank of general and fought in several major battles in the western theater.
George McClellan (Williamette #2, Oregon) was the Union Commander in 1861-1862, and is still noted as one of the best training officers ever to prepare an army. He was the Democratic Presidential candidate in 1864, but narrowly lost to the incumbent Republican, Abraham Lincoln. However, he later served as governor of New Jersey.
William McKinley (Canton #60, Ohio) and James Garfield (Magnolia #20, Ohio) were Ohioans, Union officers, and future United States Presidents, both of whom were assassinated while in office. Brother McKinley joined the 23rd Ohio Infantry as a private in 1862, and was mustered out as a major in 1865.
Doctor John W.C. O’Neal (Good Samaritan # 336, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) was a civilian physician who practiced medicine at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1863. Brother Dr. O’Neal kept records of the names and burial places of many Confederates killed during that terrible battle. During the actual battle, he worked tirelessly in the Almshouse Hospital treating both Union and Confederate casualties. He recorded and marked hundreds of Confederate graves. Brother O’Neal wrote scores of letters to Southern families who were seeking the remains of their loved ones for reinterment in family plots. Because of his efforts, nearly one thousand Confederate
remains were located, identified, and transported south after the war. Often, Brother O’Neal assumed the costs of disinterment and shipping personally, if a family was unable to pay for the process.
Colonel Eli Parker (Past Master, Valley #109, N.Y.) was a full-blooded Indian on General Grant’s staff, who transcribed the surrender terms at Appomattox. Brother Parker was born a Seneca Indian, and trained as a lawyer. Because of his race, he was barred from practicing law in his home state of New York, of course that fact did not prohibit him from becoming a Master Mason.
Private William S. Patton (future Grand Master of Mississippi Masons) was a Confederate soldier and the father of famous World War II general, George.
General George Edward Pickett (Dove #51, Virginia), is the Confederate Division commander best remembered for the ill-fated charge at Gettysburg, which still bears his name. During the war he was a member of the Old Guard Military Lodge #221.
Brother General Albert Pike was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts in 1809, but had migrated to and was teaching school in Arkansas by age 23. The 300-pound Brother Pike was a poet, lawyer, planter, publisher, and philosopher. He raised a unit of Indian warriors who fought for the Confederacy, but a good deal of controversy erupted when those Native Americans were rumored to have scalped dead and wounded federal soldiers on the field. After the war, Brother Pike resumed his law practice, became a national spokesman for Freemasonry and is generally considered the father of the modern Scottish Rite.
Captain James Parke Postles (Eureka #23, Delaware) entered the war as a Union private in 1861. By 1863 he was a captain and received the Medal of Honor for bravery at Gettysburg. Brother Postle was Worshipful Master of his home lodge in 1891.
Matt Whitaker Ranson (Johnson-Caswell #10)
was born in Warren County, North Carolina,
enlisted as a private in the 1st N.C. Regiment in
1861, and ascended to the rank of Confederate
general before the war ended. A University of
North Carolina graduate, Brother Ransom was
an attorney and legislator before the conflict.
After the war he served North Carolina as a
United States Senator, and was appointed
minister to Mexico in 1895.
Elisha Hunt Rhodes (Harmony #9, Rhode Island) enlisted as a private in the Federal Army and fought in every major campaign with the Army of the Potomac from Bullrun to Appomattox, and recorded his experiences in a detailed and now famous journal. He remained in the army after the war, retiring as a general, and was very active in veteran affairs after his retirement. Brother Rhodes served as Grand Master of Rhode Island Masons in 1892-93.
United States Army General John C. Robinson (Binghamton #177, New York) lost his leg at Laurel Hill, Virginia, and was awarded the Medal of Honor. Later Brother Robinson became lieutenant governor of New York. He was the first Worshipful Master of Rocky Mountain #205, a military lodge in Utah Territory.
Christian Sharps (Meridian Sun # 158, Pennsylvania) invented the Sharps’ breech loading, repeating rifle, used and treasured by Union soldiers.
General Thomas Alfred Smyth (Washington #1, Delaware) had been a Mason only 28 days when he became the last Federal general killed in the war. He was shot in the mouth by a Confederate sniper on 9 April 1865, the same day General Lee surrendered to General Grant at nearby Appomattox.
Edwin McMasters Stanton (Steubenville #45, Ohio) was the U.S. Secretary of War during the war. Brother Stanton was a self-educated man who became a lawyer and served as President James Buchanan’s attorney general. President Grant offered him a cabinet post and nominated him to the U.S. Supreme Court. Congress confirmed Brother Stanton’s nomination, but he died just four days later.
William Booth Taliferro (Botetourte #7, Virginia) was a Confederate general, and Grand Master of Virginia Masons after the war. Brother Taliferro served under “Stonewall” Jackson and General Beauregard during the war. He was known as a strict disciplinarian, and led a division at the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina. After the hostilities he became a Virginian legislator, judge, and member of the board of directors for two colleges.
Union General George Henry Thomas, the “Rock of Chickamauga, fought a bloody delaying action which allowed General Rosecran’s Federal army to escape to Chattanooga in 1864, after being soundly defeated at Chickamauga Creek. Later he led the Union victory at Nashville, Tennessee and after the war was put in command of the Division of the Pacific.
Governor Zebulon Baird Vance (Mt. Hermon #118, North Carolina), while on active duty as a Confederate colonel, was elected governor of North Carolina, and thus returned to Raleigh where he served his state throughout the war.
Lewis “Lew” Wallace (Fountain #60, Indiana) was a Union general, and the author of Ben Hur, which almost 100 years later, became a great motion picture directed by another Mason, William Wyler (Loyalty #519, California)
In the Salisbury Prisoner of War Camp, a Union major, wearing a small Masonic pin on his coat lapel, was ordered from his cell by a guard, and taken to a small room nearby, where he was examined as a Mason. He vouched for his cellmate, a Federal captain. That night the guard attended his regular lodge meeting and told the craft about the captured brethren he had encountered that day. A committee was appointed and members thereof visited them daily. The camp commandant, who was also a Mason, gave them the freedom of the town and they received many other little favors. They learned of an escape attempt, which was to be made, so they returned to the prison, rather than to violate their trust. Several days later they escaped with about 200 other Union prisoners. Several months later, the major was caught up in a battle where the rebels charged his position, and he was knocked from his feet. A bayonet was literally at his breast beside the Masonic pin, when the rebel soldier cried out in recognition, then lowered his weapon, and rushed past. The major wrote, “Politics would have hung me, the Church would have failed me, but the grand old principles of our glorious Order secured to me my life, happiness, and freedom.
Brother Major James Wilson, one of General John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate cavalry officers, was captured and imprisoned on Johnson’s Island, situated on Lake Erie, in April 1862. Soon after arriving, Major Wilson formed “a Masonic mess,” which met every two weeks. The commander of the prison permitted the Masons who were imprisoned there, to attend the local lodge, and they were never molested by any of the guards, even if they remained longer than the time set for their return. Major Wilson later affirmed that the Masonic mess never knew what it was to be hungry, because the commander of the prison was also a member of the craft.
Many of the Union soldiers captured at First Manassas (First Bullrun) were eventually confined to a Prisoner of War camp in New Orleans. At that time, Most Worshipful John Quincy Adams Fellows, the state’s Grand Master, visited the Federal prisoners in their cells, administered to their wants, furnished them with food, and medicine even though he was once threatened with death by an angry mob. When the prisoners were exchanged or paroled and about to return home, Brother Fellows presented each Masonic Brother with a suit of clothes.
The most infamous Prison Camp of the Civil War was probably “Andersonville,” Georgia. One Union prisoner there, later wrote, “The churches of all denominations . . . ignored us as wholly as if we were dumb beasts. Lay humanitarians were equally indifferent, and the only interest manifested by any rebel in the welfare of any prisoner was by the Masonic brotherhood . . .
In the Confederate Prison Camp at Savannah, a captain of the 1st Georgia, whose men were charged with guard duty, was strolling about the enclosure, and struck up a conversation with a Union prisoner he soon found to be a fellow Mason. “What can I do to render your situation more comfortable?” asked the captain. The Federal replied, “Well, Captain, if I could be supplied with a couple of boards, I would be enabled to build a bunk for myself above the ground.” Within two hours, a wagonload of smooth yellow pine boards was delivered. The Northern brother was so elated that he divided the boards among his companions, retaining scarcely enough for his own usage.
In October of 1863, a small force of only 71 militia was guarding more than 550 Northern P.O.W.’s in the ten-acre Confederate Prisoner of War Camp, Camp Ford, near Tyler, Texas. On November 12th of that year one of the sentries allegedly murdered two prisoners without provocation. This led to a general uprising among the surviving prisoners, and on the next day several of the Yankees escaped, vowing to massacre the small guard detail and torch the neighboring town. The town of Tyler, understandably found itself gripped in panic, but one resident, an unnamed Mason, learned that a remaining inmate, who also was a Mason, had become ill with scurvy. Immediately, he sought and received permission to take the imprisoned brother into his home and care for him until his health returned.
In the First Battle of Bullrun (Manassas), very early in war, Union Colonel W.H. Raynor was knocked unconscious and captured, then literally dragged to a Confederate camp. He was threatened with mutilation and murder, before being transported to Manassas Junction, Virginia and placed in a stable. A guard there forced a surgeon to treat him. The Guard, J.H. Lemon got ice, wrapped it in his own handkerchief, and gave it to Brother Raynor, as well as some money. When Raynor thanked him, Brother Lemon replied, “I only hope to get the same treatment from your men if I ever fall into their hands. If you relieve the distresses of a suffering brother Mason when in your power to do so, I shall be well paid.” He pointed to a Masonic pin on Raynor’s shirt, hastily mounted and rode away, they never met again.
Immediately after the Second Battle of Bullrun (Manassas), a Confederate soldier, while walking the field, heard the agonized cries of a wounded Union soldier, which “chilled his blood.” There were many such left on the battlefield. While he suffered so dreadfully no one appeared to assist him, as most those standing were Confederates retrieving their own dead and wounded. Bringing no one to his relief by shrieks he suddenly gave the Masonic sign of distress. “This he did several times, when three men (I did not myself understand the signal at the time) left Confederate soldiers whom they were assisting, and went to his relief. They bore him off the field, and saw him properly cared for. This incident I witnessed as I stood in the frightful valley, and recognized for the first time, the power and beauty of the mystic tie.”
Lieutenant Colonel Murray, a brother Mason, and his regiment, the 3rd Ohio, took possession of Lawrenceburgh, Tennessee in the spring of 1862. He ordered his men to search all houses, arrest all men, and take possession of all firearms, being careful to protect women and children from insult. While riding through town he noticed several of his men had entered the Masonic Lodge and taken possession of some of the articles belonging to the Craft. He ordered the soldiers to immediately return every article to its place, and placed a guard at the lodge. Later that day, he rode out into the countryside to post his pickets. A few days after the Battle of Shiloh, a captured rebel surgeon, who was a Mason, made the acquaintance of Lieutenant Colonel Murray and once their Masonic characters were revealed, their private conversation in Murray’s tent became free. The surgeon asked if he was the same Murray who took possession of Lawrenceburgh, and was answered in the affirmative. The surgeon told him that as he rode that day to post pickets, a rebel squad was waiting in ambush for him, but their squad leader, who had been in town, and from a concealed position observed his actions at the lodge, ordered his men to allow the Yankee to pass in safety, concluding he was a Mason.
In July 1862, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest used the farmhouse of fellow Mason William Lusk as his Headquarters. A spy reported that fact, and the following day a squad of Federal Cavalry arrived at the house to find Forrest gone. The commanding officer rode up to Brother Lusk and asked, “What time did General Forrest leave?” Lusk replied with a quivering voice, “I declare I don’t know.” The officer said sharply, “Sir, your memory is damned short!” And he raised a pistol to Brother Lusk’s head. The farmer made a Masonic sign, the officer lowered his pistol leapt from his horse and grasped his brother by the hand. The two stood with arms around one another, by the gate until the Northern Army had passed.
It was sometimes difficult to discern Union from Confederate casualties left on the battlefield. A Federal Mason was going through the battlefield the night after the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) looking for survivors. In the darkness he saw a figure lying against a tree and heard “the never-to-be-forgotten words accompanying the sign of distress among Masons.” The Yankee immediately was at the side of a brother, who confessed he was the colonel of a South Carolina Regiment. The following exchange took place:
Federal: I will call the stretcher-bearers and have you taken to our hospital.
Confederate: What me?!
Federal: Yes sir, you!
Confederate: I am not entitled to such treatment.
Federal: You are entitled to all I can do for you, and to the kindest care and treatment our field hospitals can afford, because you have proved to me you are a freemason . . . I have taken, in the old Granite State, the same oaths that you have in the sunny Palmetto State, and we are therefore, companions until death. Nothing on Earth can separate us, or our attachment for each other. In war as in peace we are still the same . . . I love and respect you as a brother . . . I ask you if I have done any more than was my duty to you as a Mason?
The day after the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) the 5th New Hampshire took a position near the cornfield, concealed from Confederate sharpshooters who were situated in the trees on the opposite side of the field. After several hours of most savage fighting the preceding day, the cornfield was littered with dead and horribly wounded soldiers of both armies. During the morning, one of the wounded rebels, Brother Lt. Edon of the Alabama Volunteers, lay just beyond a New Hampshire regiment’s picket line, and managed to toss one of the Yankee soldiers a little slip of paper wrapped around a rock. Brother Edon was gravely injured and barely able to speak, but on the paper he had drawn, with a stick, dipped in his own blood, a Masonic sign, probably a crude rendition of the square and compasses. He implored the young Northerner to give the paper to a Freemason.
The slip was presented to Colonel E.E. Cross, a Mason, commanding the 5th New Hampshire. He sent for Captain J.B. Perry and several other brethren in the regiment and told them the story. In a matter of minutes, four members of the mystic tie were crawling past the picket line into the ghastly cornfield to find their brother in distress. He was located, placed on a blanket and dragged to safety, in spite of considerable Confederate fire directed at them by the southern snipers. Lt. Edon, near death, told his rescuers of another wounded brother who had fallen near him. That Mason was similarly retrieved and found to be the lieutenant colonel of a Georgian regiment. These two wounded rebel officers received the same attention and care as wounded officers of 5th New Hampshire and a warm friendship was established between men who, a few hours before, were engaged in mortal combat.
A great battle took place in the Harbor of Galveston, Texas early in 1863. Brother General John B. Magruder directed the southern forces, which attacked five Federal vessels and several Yankee ground units. One of the boats was the Harriet Lane, which was boarded by Confederates after a bloody fight. The Harriet Lane’s Captain Brother I.W. Wainwright, and his second in command, Lt. Lea were killed. Ironically, Major Lea was among the Confederate boarders and for the first time in two years he was to meet his son, only to find him among the dead on the deck of the Federal vessel.
Harmony Lodge #6 of Galveston and its Worshipful Master, Confederate Major P.C. Tucker, were made aware that the late Captain Wainwright was a worthy brother Mason and arranged to provide a proper Masonic burial. A public procession was formed in which appeared several Confederate soldiers, and several Federal Prisoners of War, all Masons, and all wearing the insignia of the Order. Accompanying them was a proper military escort under the command of Confederate Colonel and Brother H.B. Bebray.
In January of 1863 Federal gunboats including the Albatross mercilessly shelled the port town of St. Francisville, Louisiana. The Albatross’ Lieutenant Commander, Brother J.E. Hart, (St. George’s Lodge #6 Schenectady, N.Y.) after several days of delirium, killed himself with a pistol shot to his head. His executive officer and Masonic Brother Theodore B. Dubois, under a flag of truce, requested the very Confederate troops he had been shelling, to provide a Masonic burial for Brother Hart. The request was granted, without hesitation, and Brother W.W. Leake a captain in the Confederate army along with several other local Brothers conducted the services. The war halted while Confederate Masons buried and honored a Brother Mason from the North in a church cemetery pock marked by shells from the Union gunboat Lieutenant Commander Hart had commanded. Later the Grand Lodge of Louisiana dedicated a permanent marker on the grave of Lieutenant Commander Hart.
After the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, the city was surrendered and occupied by Union Forces. Unarmed Confederate soldiers were confined to the city until their paroles could be affected. Brother J.E. Mason, an officer in Grant’s army, was walking the streets of the captured city when he rounded a corner and came face to face with “a very handsome officer in a rebel uniform,” who graciously bowed and said, “Whom have I the honor of addressing?” Introductions were followed by a handshake, which took the form of the pass grip of a Master Mason. The rebel officer soon introduced his newly discovered brother to several other members of the craft. Brother J.E. Mason soon found himself surrounded by a crowd of brother Masons dressed in Confederate uniforms. He later wrote, “They showed clearly, that while they hated me as a Yankee, they loved me with true fraternal tenderness as a Mason. I was thunderstruck. The spectacle came near bringing tears to my eyes, and my heart warmed with friendship toward them after I had been so long preparing the deadly missiles of destruction to kill them with, as an Ordinance Officer.”
Often Civil War combat consisted on hand-to-hand struggles, really brutal situations. One afternoon, a contingent of Maine soldiers charged a Confederate artillery emplacement near Pleasant Hill, Louisiana. As they neared the guns one Yankee soldier was suddenly confronted by a rebel lieutenant and they slammed together in a “death grip.” The Union soldier, having already been twice wounded that day, and weak from loss of blood drew his pistol, but the lieutenant was quicker and fired his revolver into the Yankee’s wrist. Still locked together, breathlessly staring at each other, the Federal caught sight of a square and compasses pin on the rebel’s breast. He whispered the universally recognized words of a distressed brother and was immediately released. They then embraced one another, not in mortal combat, but in friendship and brotherly love. Subsequently the battery was captured and the southern lieutenant taken prisoner as he cared for his wounded brother.
Cold Harbor, Va. was the scene of a great Confederate victory in 1864, and an absolute blood bath for the Union army, 10,000 Federal soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured in just 20 minutes! Two more charges were made after the first. Finally one Union officer sent word to General Grant, “I would not make another such charge, if Jesus Christ Himself were to order it.” Grant did not order another charge.
Twenty-seven-year-old North Carolina General Robert Hoke was a Confederate Division Commander at Cold Harbor. Hundreds of wounded Union soldiers lay directly in front of his lines, crying out for water, as the loss of blood, especially in the heat of June causes a horrible thirst. Unable to bear the tortured cries, scores of Hoke’s Confederates sprang from their ranks to kneel among the sufferers and share with them water from their own canteens. They had engaged in such humanitarian activity only a few minutes when the opposing Federals opened fire on them, perhaps not understanding the rebels’ intentions. General Hoke was so upset, that he issued an order no man was to go forward of his lines.
Sometime later, while the day was still oppressively hot, two of his men approached General Hoke, saluted and said, “General, a wounded Yankee is lying in front of our lines and wanted to know if there are any Masons among us. We answered yes, whereon he gave us a sign, and begged us to bring him within our lines. We told him we, ourselves, had been fired on while trying to help his companions, and because of that were under orders not to pass outside our lines.”
General Hoke, who was not a Mason at that time, asked the men if they were, and was answered in the affirmative. “Do you know that it is almost certain death for you to try to give help to that poor fellow?,” he asked.
“We do, but he made a Masonic appeal, and we only await your permission to try and bring him in,” the brethren answered.
“Then go in God’s name, I do not stand in the way of such courage,” was General Hoke’s reply. The two Masonic brothers anxiously undertook their mission of mercy, were successful, and untouched, in spite of the intense enemy fire directed at them. Pg 121
On June 10, 1864, Brother John Grim of the 7th Ohio was taken prisoner. While traveling beside a Confederate lieutenant, he noticed his captor wore a Masonic emblem on his watch chain. Brother Grim immediately identified himself as a brother. The lieutenant allowed his squad to get several paces ahead of them, then told Grim to make a run for it, which he did. However, an alert private noticed the attempted escape, and fired at Brother Grim, who fell wounded. He started to get up when he heard a whisper, “Lie still; pretend you are dead.” The lieutenant then shouted, “You fixed him that time boys. Go ahead; we’ll leave him here, we ain’t got time to bury no damned Yankee.” Soon thereafter Grim crossed a river and was safely back with his army. He never learned the name of his southern brother.
In 1864 Brother Captain Rankin of a Mississippi unit led a Confederate charge into Union lines near Atlanta. The rebels were repulsed, and forced to leave Captain Rankin’s lifeless body behind. The Confederates fell back and reformed. During this lull the voice of song was heard within the Federal lines, and was recognized as a Masonic funeral dirge. It touched a sentimental cord in the heart of every Confederate Mason, and they spontaneously joined in the song with their brother Masons in blue, across the way, knowing that a brother was filling a bloody grave. Under a flag of truce, Captain Rankin’s personal belongings were returned and it was only then learned that the funeral service, which had been heard, was in actuality the burial of Confederate Captain Rankin by his Northern brethren.
A countless number of Federal soldiers were actually foreign immigrants literally “taken right off the boat,” at Northern port cities. Many of them could not even speak English and were more or less “Shanghaied” into the armed services. In one case, at a Federal Hospital in New York a recently arrived German who had “enlisted” in the Union army and been wounded, was so near death’s door he could not speak even his native tongue. However, he pointed to a Masonic pin on an orderly’s tie and made a sign, which indicated he was a brother. Later the orderly wrote, “Need we say that he was ministered to?”
Brother Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Brother John Brown Gordon
Two days after General Robert E. Lee signed surrender papers and submitted his Army of Northern Virginia to General U.S. Grant, a formal surrender ceremony and stacking of arms took place near Appomattox. Representing the Federal Commander, General Grant, at this ceremony was Brother General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Brother General John B. Gordon represented General Lee during the formalities. Both Generals had, at some point during the war, received ghastly wounds, which had been pronounced mortal at the time by attending surgeons.
As the defeated, but still proud, Army of Northern Virginia marched with great dignity to the place of surrender; there were no catcalls or smug remarks made from the ranks of the Union army. Rather, Brother Chamberlain called his troops to attention, and they presented a crisp, sincere, military salute, honoring their former foe, and thus “welcoming such noble manhood back into the Union.”
Brother Gordon, sitting a top a fine black stallion, galloped directly toward General Chamberlain, then suddenly pulled hard on the reins, causing his steed to rear majestically. The Southerner simultaneously lowered his saber from his shoulder to touch the tip of his boot, thus returning a respectful salute in a most spectacular manner. Could such a demonstration of mutual respect, forgiveness, and brotherly love ever been possible except between two Master Masons?
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
One of the more interesting facets of modern Freemasonry is its history. From whence did we come and how did the Masonry we practice today develop into its present state? Ritual, tradition, world history and some direct written record reveal that there is no single path through which modern Masonry evolved. Much like the country in which we live, Masonry has become what it is through the contributions of numerous and varied sources. Several avenues were taken and intersected at various times to produce what we recognize and enjoy as modern Freemasonry.
Ritual and tradition teach us that King Solomon was our first Most Excellent Grand Master, and thus imply that the building of his Temple was also the birth of our Order. Obviously, the idea of King Solomon being a Masonic Grand Master, especially in context of modern Masonry, is mostly symbolic. However, the most skilled workers at the building of King Solomon’s Temple were masters of their craft and did carefully maintain trade secrets. Some of those secrets were later modified to help illustrate great spiritual and moral truths, thus developed Speculative Freemasonry.
Several hundred years after King Solomon’s Temple was completed the Roman Empire was at its height. During that time, the First Century A.D., Roman Collegia (Col le’ ge-ah) were formed throughout the Empire. Collegia is a Latin word that roughly translates: college/ board (of priests); corporation; brotherhood /fraternity/ guild. They were actually orders or associations of men engaged in similar pursuits, professional, academic, or social. The Collegia became so strong some of the Emperors or Caesars tried to abolish the right to “free” association with them, and consequently drove some of them underground to operate secretly.
However, the “Colleges” of Architects were so valuable to Rome that they were left alone to regulate their own affairs and were “Free” of restrictions from the government. They still met in secret for the purposes of training and sharing their building secrets only to with those who were found worthy. Three members were required to constitute a college and each college had a “Magister,” or Master and two Wardens. We must keep in mind that at that time, there was very little formal education available, and mathematics and geometry, essential elements to the type of building these men performed, was practically mystic arts, to which very few men had access. So those mathematical and construction secrets were incredibly valuable and could provide the possessor with much higher wages and status.
Late in the First Century Caesar Diocletian (right) tried to destroy Christianity in all of Rome. Most of the Colleges of Architects had embraced Christianity because its doctrines were so similar to their own. Many of those ancient architects, by then also known as Masons, were persecuted and their collegia broken up. Many of them even fled Rome or were exiled by the government.
The fall of Rome occurred in 476 A.D. and from that date, the next 1,000 years, until about 1475, are known as “the Middle Ages.” The time before that is considered “Ancient History” and the period after it, known as “Modern History.”
Rome had been known for its love of beautiful buildings and exceptional construction projects, most of which had been completed under the supervision of highly skilled Master Masons. However, the appreciation for such buildings and projects went dormant during the Middle Ages. During that time some Masons, members of the Architects’ Collegia, took refuge on the Island of Comacina in Lake Como in what is now northwestern Italy. There they passed on their art and secrets from generation to generation for hundreds of years and became known as the “Comacines.”
As the Middle Ages advanced, a need for Master builders was realized and the Comacines became “Free Masons,” building edifices for a privileged class, and thus they were “free” from taxes, servitude, and travel restrictions. Two distinct classes of Masons soon developed, “the Guild Masons,’ and “the Free Masons.” The Guild Masons were local in character and very strictly regulated by law. The Free Masons traveled freely form city-to-city, building beautiful structures, some of which still stand today. During that time Free Masons developed certain secret words, signs and grips so they could recognize one another during their travels. They could then vouch for other Masons, otherwise unknown to them, who traveled into a particular area and be assured they were working with true Masters of the Trade and not cowans or imposters.
Those same Free Masons also adopted many of the principles revered in our Order today. Those ancient Masons were more than builders and architects; they were the artists, teachers, mathematicians, and moralists of their time. They traveled from place to place, often away from home for extended periods of time. One can easily imagine why development of principles relating to morality, mutual respect, and obligated aid to one another would be important during such travels. So not only did these Freemasons share secrets related to construction, but also developed a beautiful system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated with symbols.
Soon other men, not operative masons, saw a goodness in those groups that they wanted to share; and this grew into Speculative Masonry. A few men were admitted into Freemason Lodges, who were not operative masons, but had something to offer the Order. They became known as “Accepted Masons,” a term still used to denote those of us who practice only speculative Masonry.
Thus the fraternity progressed into modern history and to the forming of the Mother Lodge of England in 1717. However, as I pointed out at the beginning of this program Masonry has evolved from many sources.
At the same time the Comacines were passing their secrets from generation to generation, the Knights Templars were fighting in the Crusades in another part of the world. That group of warrior-monks shared much of the same ancestry as the Comacines and kept sacred many of the same secrets and principles. Both groups and many others would make considerable contributions to the Fraternity we now recognize as Masonry.
So, whence came we? From many places, many groups and many philosophies. How wonderful it is to look back on the development of our Craft and appreciate the contributions made by all its various contributors. It should inspire us to make the most of Masonry as we practice it today, for sometime in the far distant future generations of Mason yet unborn may look back upon the contributions we making to the Order.
Jimmy Stevens, P.M. 32°
More than 4,000 years ago God gave Moses the Ten Commandments etched on stone tablets by the Supreme Architect Himself. Exodus 31:18 And he gave unto Moses, . . . tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
How valuable would be these Commandments written in God’s own handwriting, on stone tablets? Obviously, they are probably the most precious articles ever to exist on this planet. The Israelites wished to build a protective container suitable to hold the tablets. So they constructed a box known as an ark, which we know today as “the Ark of the Covenant,” because it contained the Ten Commandments, God’s covenant with mankind.
lined inside and out with pure gold. Four gold
rings were affixed to the outside through which
were inserted two carrying poles, also completely
covered in gold. Across the golden lid of the Ark,
called the ‘Mercy Seat', two cherubim faced each
other. The Ark measured 4 ft 4 inches by 2 ft 7
inches. During the long period of wandering in
the Sinai desert, the People of Israel kept The Ark of the Covenant in a special tent called the Tabernacle, made according to precise dimensions and specifications contained in the Book of Exodus.
After the Children of Israel conquered the Land of Canaan, many years passed and there had not been a suitable edifice erected to contain the Ark. Centuries passed before King David received from God the plans for the Holy House, the Holy Temple where the Ark was to be housed and where the Ancients believed God Himself would reside. Although King David coveted the special honor and distinction of being the architect and creator of the Temple, God refused him. By the time his son, Solomon, had assumed the throne, there was peace on all his borders and he had no enemies. He could begin the Holy work without interruption and focus all his energies and attention on it.
David had established a capital city and named it
‘Jerusalem'. Here it was, on Mount Moriah, that Abraham had been prepared to
sacrifice his only son, Isaac, to the Lord. Consecrated as Holy ground, it was
the logical choice for the Temple site.
Hiram, the Phoenician King of Tyre, ruled from 970-936 B.C. He had already established friendly relations with King David of Jerusalem and was involved in commercial ventures that were carried on between their two nations. When Solomon approached him for help in the great undertaking of building a magnificent Temple, King Hiram was ready to accommodate him with materials and laborers.
The Phoenicians called themselves ‘Kinahna' meaning Canaanites. The Greeks called them “Phoenicians.” These people were traders, not warriors. From history we acknowledge the Phoenicians as a very civilized and intelligent race. They were extremely skilled as artists and artisans. They had developed a high degree of skill in making glass and weaving linen. Their skill in navigation and seafaring was unparalleled and to them is credited the discovery and use of Polaris, the North Star.
They exported cedar from the Lebanon forests and many articles made from cedar, dyed woolen cloth, glassware, metal ware, pottery, and ivory. They smelted their metals with the aid of blowpipes and bellows. They even had learned the practical use of pulleys. The Phoenicians were responsible for discovering ‘bronze'. They were already familiar with tin and brass. They discovered that by mixing the two, they could get bronze. When they were working in the casting grounds of the Jordan, they discovered glass as a by-product of the bronze casting. They were great geometricians and they had a proven record of building skills.
Solomon contracted with King Hiram of Tyre to receive Cedar, Cypress, and Juniper logs from the mountainous forests of Lebanon. Cedar of Lebanon was and still is of especially good quality, solid, not many knots, and of a deep rich, reddish color. They could sometimes reach a height of well over 100 feet.
King Hiram of Tyre
2Chronicles 2:16 And we will cut wood out of Lebanon, as much as thou shalt need: and we will bring it to thee in floats by sea to Joppa; and thou shalt carry it up to Jerusalem.
What we do not realize from this passage is that once the wood was cut, it had to be taken down the mountainside to the coast. This would have been an awesome task in itself because the distance was some 15 miles north of Tyre. They rolled it down the mountainside and when it was on level ground, they pulled it to the coast by teams of oxen. There, the logs were bound together in rafts using very strong rope and floated down to Joppa, (today known as Tel Aviv). This was a further distance of about 90 miles.
city of Joppa was situated on a rocky hill rising to a height of about 115 ft.
From the coast of Joppa it was ANOTHER 35 miles to Jerusalem. A new road laid
by King Solomon enabled them to transport the cedar logs to Jerusalem. In
exchange for the wood and 30,000 laborers from Tyre, each year Hiram received
from Solomon the following: 2,000 tons of wheat; 2,000 tons of barley; 100,000
gallons of wine; and 100,000 gallons of olive oil.
We learn in the Third Degree lecture that an immense number of Operative Masons were involved in building the Temple. More accurately, there were 70,000 Entered Apprentices in the rock quarries, 80,000 Fellowcrafts who cut and polished them into perfect ashlars, and 30,000 who cut wood out of Lebanon. Additionally, there were 3,300 overseers of the work, 550 of whom were chief overseers, making a combined labor force of 183,850, roughly the total population of Durham, N.C.
1 King 7:13-14 And King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He [was] a widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father [was] a man of Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. And he came to King Solomon, and wrought all his work.
man was Hiram Abiff. In the Book of ‘Kings,’ in some translations of the Bible,
he is referred to as Huram, the widow's son. According to verses in 1 Kings
Chapter 7, Huram (the Widow's son from Tyre), Hiram Abiff, to us, was responsible
for the manufacture of:
· The two great pillars
· The two chapiters for the pillars
· The design of interwoven chains on each chapiter
· The 400 bronze pomegranates
· The ten carts
· The huge tank
· The ten basins
· The twelve bulls supporting the tank
He covered the altar in gold and also manufactured gold flowers, lamps, snuffers, tongs, cups, incense dishes, pans to hold burning charcoal, and hinges for the inner and outer doors. In all there were 5,400 gold and silver bowls and other articles, which the exiles brought back with them from Babylon.
King Solomon began construction of the Temple in the year
957 B.C. during the 4th year of his reign. The Temple was built due east and
west and was surrounded with high walls built of stone and timber. The masons
devised a fascinating method to build the walls. They placed 3 rows of stone
and followed that up with a row of interlocking cedar beams. This provided a
sort of elasticity as a safeguard against the earth tremors, which were
prevalent in that area. For seven years Jerusalem was filled with busy workers
engaged in leveling the chosen site, building vast retaining walls, laying
broad foundations, shaping the heavy timbers brought from the Lebanon forests,
and erecting the magnificent sanctuary, all without any heavy machinery or
equipment. At the same time, the manufacture of the furnishings for the Temple
was steadily progressing under the leadership of Hiram Abiff. It has been
estimated that 20+ tons of gold were used in the building of the Temple.
The Temple stone was immediately at hand in the hills around Jerusalem and even in the city itself. The stone was quarried and prepared by masons mostly from Tyre. Entered Apprentices prepared the rough ashlars in the quarries, then carried them up to a place close to the building site where more skilled and expert craftsmen gave them their fine finish with the result that they were perfect ashlars. These stones were the famous white limestone, which was so easily worked and carved. 1 Kings 6:7 And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe [nor] any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.
The blocks of white limestone slotted perfectly together in their placement. The largest stone to be found in modern Jerusalem measures 38 ft 9 in. long and weighs 100 tons. The marks of Phoenician masons are still on some stones.
Various researchers cannot come to a consensus with respect to the actual dimensions of the Temple; however; even by today's standards, King Solomon's Temple was immense. It was somewhere in the neighborhood of 125 ft long, 65 ft wide and about 40 ft high. That would have provided a minimum of nearly 24,000 square feet of floor space assuming it contained at least three stories. Unfortunately, the only illustrations of the Temple that exist are artists' conceptions.
The Temple was finished in 950 B.C. having taken a little more than seven years to build. The estimated cost to build the Temple today would be 174 Billion dollars! That is an incredible 7.25 MILLION dollars per square FOOT (including furnishings)!!
On the Day of Dedication, the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the ‘Holy of Holies' beneath a huge cherub, and the staves were withdrawn from the Ark for the last time. They were no longer needed to carry it; God did not plan for it to be moved ever again. On this same day all the holy vessels were lodged in the Temple.
Over a seven-day period, King Solomon dedicated and
consecrated it by solemn prayer and costly sacrifices. He caused 22,000 cattle
and 120,000 sheep to be slaughtered and burned on the huge altar outside the
Temple. The Queen of Sheba was so impressed with Solomon and the Temple that
she delivered to him 120 talents of gold -c. $46.2 million- precious stones and
balsam oil in great quantity.
King Solomon's Temple overlooked Jerusalem from its hill until 586 B.C. when it was destroyed at the command of Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon. In 538 B.C., the Persians under Cyrus captured Babylon. King Cyrus issued a proclamation, which allowed the Hebrews to be freed from their Babylonian captivity. They returned to Jerusalem to assist in the rebuilding of the second temple on the site of the first. The task of rebuilding the Temple was initiated under Zerubbabel, Prince of the People of Judah. Because of meager resources and many difficulties, which delayed completion, the second temple was not completed and rededicated until 515 B.C.
The Romans, under Titus, completely demolished Jerusalem along with the Temple in 70 A.D. Thus, the final chapter, thus far, was written and history closed the King Solomon's Temple book for the time being. Today, not a fragment of that magnificent edifice remains. However hundreds of years later Herod’s Temple was erected on approximately the same ground and a portion of that temple’s outer wall still exists, and is known as the "Wailing Wall" of Jerusalem.
The Wailing Wall
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
26 February 2007
Modern Freemasonry as we practice it today was officially born in June of 1717, when four Lodges gathered at London's Goose and Gridiron Tavern to form the first Grand Lodge. By 1723 the organization had adopted Brother James Anderson's Constitutions as a guideline. Brother Anderson's work clearly represented a distinct change from the Old Charges of Operative Masonry, which had been in use since the fourteenth century. The Old Charges were purely Christian in character. Brother Anderson’s Constitutions, however, was more acceptant and tolerant in nature and spoke of a religion in which all men agree, that is the acknowledgment of a Supreme and Divine Being, the Creator of all things, God.
Brother Anderson’s Constitutions and other Masonic documents he wrote helped Freemasonry make the transition from an organization of operative builders to that of predominantly Speculative Masons. The new Speculative Masons interpreted the symbols and artifacts of Operative Masonry in an allegorical, and symbolic manner. Masonry evolved from being groups of Operative Masons building stone edifices, to being brotherhoods of Speculative Masons seeking to build spiritual edifices.
This new Modern Masonry then spread to France and other European countries. At that time a woman's legal status was about the same as that of a minor, with very limited civil rights. Additionally, one of the recognized ancient landmarks of Masonry provided that only free men could be made Masons, therefore women were refused membership into the Lodges. This did not set very well with some women, especially those who were members of royalty or well-connected, influential families.
From the beginning, French Masons held a much more liberal view of the tenets and Landmarks of our Order than did their English Brethren. Almost immediately Masonic-like organizations, which included women, were formed. Evidentially some of those Orders were recognized and made a part of regular Freemasonry in some countries. These groups became known as “Adoptive Lodges,” because they were “adopted into recognized Masonry in some particular jurisdictions.
Surprisingly, there probably were a few operative and speculative English Lodges in the 1600’s and very early 1700’s that included female members. The first known female Speculative Mason was Elizabeth St-Leger Aldworth, of County Cork Ireland, who is said to have been initiated by her father in 1712, after she was caught spying on the Lodge's proceedings. She even received a Masonic funeral at the time of her death.
However, with the creation of the Grand Lodge in London in 1717 and the publication of Anderson's Constitutions in 1723, women were barred from what became known as Regular Freemasonry. Some archived English Masonic records do mention a Mrs. Harvard, in 1770, and a Mrs. Bell, in 1790, but these are isolated cases and do not prove the admission of women into Masonic Lodges. Legend provides that these ladies were caught spying on Lodge meetings and since they had learned the secrets of the Craft, the only way to prevent them from divulging them was to initiate them right then and there and make them take the oath of silence of a Freemason.
The most widely circulated story of a female Mason in the U.S. is that of Catherine Babington, who lived in Kentucky in the 1800's. Near her house was a two-story building used by Masons as a Lodge room. Catherine is said to have concealed herself in the hollow altar at every communication of the Lodge for more than a year, seeing all the degrees and learning all the work. She was finally discovered and on being closely examined, she showed a remarkably proficient knowledge of the rituals. She was held in custody for more than a month, while the Lodge decided what to do with her. Ms. Babington was eventually obligated but not admitted into the Order. If the story is true, it is again an isolated case and is not indicative of the acceptance of women in American Masonic Lodges.
It seems, however, that a Women's Lodge did exist briefly in Boston in the 1790's. Its Master, Hannah Mather Crocker, penned a series of letters on Freemasonry, which were published in Boston in 1815. She claims she had knowledge of the craft because "… in the younger part of life, [she] did investigate some of the principles of Free-Masonry" to relieve the fears of her friends whose husbands were Masons. And she claims that she had the honor to preside as Master of a regular Lodge, consisting of females only.
It is believed that French officers in the Continental Army formed the first American Lodge of Adoption in Philadelphia in 1778. Then in the 19th Century, Albert Pike, Supreme Commander of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, created a Rite of Adoption based on the French ritual. However, unlike the French Lodges of Adoption, the American versions were not intended to make women true Masons. One of the first women to be initiated in Brother Pike’s Lodge of Adoption was the sculptor Vinnie Ream Hoxie, who created the statue of Abraham Lincoln displayed in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.
Adoptive Masonry in the United States owes a great deal to Rob Morris of Kentucky. Dr. Morris, the Master Builder of the Order of the Eastern Star, received many educational advantages, including a splendid college training that qualified him as a successful lawyer, lecturer, educator and instructor in Freemasonry. He devoted many years of research and creative writing that benefited all aspects of Freemasonry.
Dr. Morris became a Master Mason in Oxford, Mississippi, March 5, 1846. He soon became interested in an idea that the female relatives of Master Masons should share, in a measure, the benefits from knowledge of our Fraternal Order. While President of Mt. Sylvan Academy, he met and later married Miss Charlotte Mendenhall. Several children were born of this union. Mrs. Morris was an inspiration to Dr. Morris and a real helpmate for nearly fifty years. They both worked tirelessly on the idea of the Order and invited Brother Masons and their wives to discuss the possibilities. This may be rightfully termed the origin of the Order of the Eastern Star.
Brother Morris worked with zeal writing a Ritual of the Order of the Eastern Star. In 1850, he systematized the Degrees with the idea of giving them form, he decided on the degrees, contemplated the themes, incorporated from the pages of antiquity the heroines and names upon which the beautiful work is built, established the signs and passes, colors and emblems of the Order and promulgated the fundamental principles which have remained unchanged through the years.
The first Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star was organized in Michigan in 1867. Three years later, Grand Chapters were organized in Mississippi, New Jersey and New York. The OES now claims a membership of more than one million worldwide.
The first so called co-Masonic Lodge was founded in the United States in 1903. In 1907, the American Federation of the Human Rights was incorporated in Washington D.C. It has several Lodges in the U.S. There are other unrecognized co-Masonic bodies, among them George-Washington Union and the Grand Lodge Symbolic of Memphis-Misraïm. There are also in existence, what are known as Women's Lodges or Grand Lodges working exclusively in Spanish, French or German. The four Lodges created by the Women's Grand Lodge of Belgium since 1992 hope to one day form the Women's Grand Lodge of the United States.
Today, two female organizations in England, that call themselves Masonic, claim as many as 60,000 members. In March 1999, the Grand Lodge of England finally acknowledged their existence, recognizing that "Freemasonry is not confined to men" and stating that except for the fact that the Lodges consist of women, they are otherwise "regular".
Temperance Fortitude Prudence Justice
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
14 February 2005
I believe one of the great shortcomings of the English language in found in the word “Love.” The ancient Greeks had more than a dozen different words, which translate to our modern word love. For example, eros was romantic or sexual love, philus was friendly or brotherly love, agape was perfect, complete Godly love. Today we us the exact same word to express that we love our wife; love our children; love ice cream, love our country, love our neighbor, love our dog, love our car, love the Lord, and a naughty joke. On this Valentine’s Day it might be well to examine that word love, its meaning and its application in Masonry.
Depending on which dictionary you consult, you will find anywhere from ten to twenty-five definitions for love. It can mean anything from charity, to fondness, to absolutely, complete devotion. Some people, more especially men, often have a difficult time expressing the love they feel. There was once a man who wife of 40 years complained that he never says he loves her. The man replied, “So what’s the problem, I told you when we got married and I ain’t told you no difference since.” In modern society we rarely hear one man tell another he loves him although I think we all would have to admit there are other men we love.
We learn in the Entered Apprentice Degree that the principal tenets of Freemasonry are Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. By a “tenet” of Freemasonry we mean a teaching that is so obviously true, so universally accepted, that we believe it without question. Examples lie everywhere about us. Good health is better than illness; a truthful man is more dependable that a liar; education is to be preferred over ignorance; and brotherly love is preferable to hatred, indifference, or self-centeredness. These are but a few of the countless examples of teachings that no intelligent man can possibly question. We do not have to contemplate upon them; we take them for granted so they are Tenets.
Freemasonry considers Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth to be that kind of teaching, no reasonable man can question them; they are obvious. Freemasonry does not tell us that the principles of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth ought to be true, that it would be better for us all if they were true – it tells us that they are true. They are tremendous realities in human life, and it is impossible to question their validity. Our question is not whether to believe them or not, but what are we going to do with them?
Love places the highest possible valuation on another person. We value our mother and father, wife or sweetheart, children, and closest friends not for any advantage we might gain form them, not for their usefulness; but rather we love or value each one in his own person and for his own sake. We work for those persons, we make sacrifices for them, we delight to be with them; in short we love them.
What then, is Masonic Brotherly Love? It means that we place on another man the highest possible valuation as a friend, a companion, an associate, and a neighbor. We do not ask that, from our relationship, we shall achieve any selfish gain. Our relationship with a brother is its own justification, its own reward. Without brotherly love would not life be lonely, unhappy, and somewhat hollow? Could Masonry, as we know it, exist? Freemasonry provides opportunities for us to have fellowship, and encourages us to understand and to practice Brotherly Love, and to make it one of the laws of our existence, one of our own Principal Tenets.
The Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians probably defined love as well as any person who ever lived as I read his word, mentally substitute the phrase Brotherly Love everywhere he uses the word love:
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
If brotherly love, as Paul defines it, is the true measure of Masonry, how would you evaluate yourself as a Mason?
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
12 April 2004
The success of our fraternity in general and especially the success we experience as a local Lodge is greatly influenced by our elected and appointed leaders. Here in Garner 701 we have been fortunate to enjoy some very strong and dynamic leadership over the years. Looking around this Lodge room one can safely assume that tradition is secure for many years to come as well. However, some of our newer Masons, who might be contemplating their own journey toward the East, need to understand exactly what are the duties of our officers.
Obviously, every Mason who enters our brotherhood will not attain the honor of sitting in the East as the Master. But what a worthy and wonderful goal that is! Initially, a couple of basic facts must be acknowledged and understood by a brother aspiring to “go through the chairs” in his Lodge. First, being the Master of a Masonic Lodge is an honor of the highest order, and requires considerable work and dedication. Second, the work of your own Blue Lodge must be a high priority in your life. Of course, church, family, friends, and occupation must take precedence, but the work of your own Lodge has to come before some other activities even other Masonic activities.
Once a Mason is “placed in line” it is normally expected that he will advance through the chairs, if he does his part, he will ultimately become Master of the Lodge. It usually takes five to seven years to advance through the chairs to the Master’s Station in the East, so once one becomes a line officer he should begin preparing for the next office and be ready to fulfill those duties if called upon to do so.
What are the duties of the various Blue Lodge Officers?
The Worshipful Master is a Past Master or Warden who has been elected by his Brethren to fulfill one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a Master Mason. No Mason should begin climbing the flight of stairs to the Master's Chair in the East without first pledging to himself that he will dedicate and devote his energy and zeal to fulfilling his duties to the best of his ability. The trust placed upon him by the Brethren should never be violated.
The North Carolina Grand Lodge Code (Chapter 59) offers a partial list of fifty duties to be assumed by the Master, due to time restrains we will list but a few here:
1. Be a good and moral man; a peaceable citizen, who pays proper respect to lawful civil authority.
2. Know, understand, and follow the laws, rules, and landmarks of Masonry.
3. May discharge ALL of the EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS of his Lodge.
4. Call the Lodge to order in stated and emergent communications as appropriate.
5. May decide who may be admitted into the Lodge, and may deny admission to a visitor, or member under certain circumstances.
6. Preside at the meetings of the Lodge. Control all discussions and preserve harmony and good order within the Lodge. May refuse to entertain a motion. Allow, prohibit, or limit debate.
7. Pass upon the proficiency of candidates for advancement or find them not to be proficient and order them re-examined at a later time.
8. Control the voting process within the Lodge and see that each member present casts a vote or is legally excused from voting.
9. Preserve the Lodge Charter as its lawful custodian.
10. See that the degree work is exemplified with dignity consistent with the requirements of the Grand Lodge.
11. Carefully select all appointive officers and committees of the Lodge and see that they are at labor.
12. Approve all warrants drawn on the Treasurer with consent of the Lodge.
13. Fill temporarily all vacant stations and place with proficient members.
14. Read and discuss in Lodge the proceedings of the Grand Lodge.
15. Make immediate personal contact with the family of a deceased brother who is a member of the Lodge and offer appropriate assistance. Preside at the Masonic Burial or Memorial Service if requested, or cause the same to be done.
16. Represent the Lodge at Grand Lodge Communication, area meetings, Schools of Instruction, educational meetings, etc.
17. Maintain harmony and good will within the Lodge
The Senior Warden
It shall be the duty of the Senior Warden to look well to the West and serve as an assistant to the Worshipful Master in the government of the Lodge. It should be for him a year of planning, keeping in mind that a primary duty upon reaching the Master's Chair is "to set the Craft to work and give them proper instruction."
The obligations of the Senior Warden as listed in Chapter 59 of the Code are:
1. Serve as Master in his absence.
2. Be able to open, close, and confer all degrees.
3. Know the business of the Lodge and have knowledge of all committee work, and candidates in process, and coming events.
4. Help secure instructions for the candidates.
5. Have knowledge of the finances of the Lodge.
6. Have knowledge of the Code, which relate to proper discussions, Lodge procedure, Lodge jurisdictions, Masonic conduct, authority of the Master, etc.
7. Observe the various Brethren who would best fulfill the duties of a line officer, as next year he must appoint new officers.
The Junior Warden
The Junior Warden is primarily a liaison officer or coordinator of activities.
The obligations of the Junior Warden as listed in Chapter 59 of the Code are:
1. To serve as the Master in the absence of the Worshipful Master and Senior Warden.
2. Know the opening, closing, conferring of degrees, and how to conduct a business and/or stated meeting.
3. Promptness and regular attendance at all Lodge meetings and special social functions.
4. Assisting the Senior Warden in "special functions."
5. Carrying out any duties assigned by the Worshipful Master, such as
a. Supervision when the Lodge is at refreshment.
b. Being a part of the Lodge Greeting Committee.
6. Continued study of the Grand Lodge By-laws.
7. Supervision of arrangements for visitations to other Lodges and return visitations.
8. Assume responsibility for the conferring the Third Degree, including recruiting a Degree Team for both Sections and sitting in the East for the First Section.
9. Work closely with the Committee on Reference and receive complaints of unMasonic conduct as provided by the Code.
The Senior Deacon
The Senior Deacon is the appointed messenger of the Worshipful Master. One of his most important duties is to welcome visiting Brethren, make them feel at home and introduce them to the Lodge. Both ritual and floor work are a part of the required operation of this station.
He should be prepared to:
1. Introduce and accommodate the visitors of the Lodge.
2. Receive and conduct candidates.
3. Prepare the ballot box at the order of the Worshipful Master.
4. Proceed with the study of the Book of Constitutions and By-laws and the By-laws of the Lodge.
5. Attend and participate in the Lodge schools of instruction.
6. Carry out the duties assigned by the Worshipful Master.
7. Assume responsibility for the conferring the Second Degree, including recruiting a Degree Team and sitting in the East for the Degree.
8. After Communications the Deacons should assist the Tyler secure and store all implements used during the meeting, since the Stewards are usually outside the Lodge preparing refreshments.
The Junior Deacon
The Junior Deacon is the appointed messenger of the Senior Warden. His duty is the custody of the door opening from the Tyler's place. He permits no one to enter or retire without consent from the Master or Senior Warden.
He should be prepared to:
1. Prepare and introduce candidates.
2. Reach a high degree of proficiency with the staff and floor work.
3. Assist in introducing visiting Brethren and see that they feel at home.
4. Proceed with a study of the Book of Constitutions and By-laws.
5. Attend all called meetings of the Lodge except when he has been officially excused.
6. Carry out Lodge assignments given by the Worshipful Master.
7. Assume responsibility for the conferring the First Degree, including recruiting a Degree Team and sitting in the East for the Degree.
8. After Communications the Deacons should assist the Tyler secure and store all implements used during the meeting, since the Stewards are usually outside the Lodge preparing refreshments.
The Treasurer is elected. Receipts, financial records, monthly reports of expenditures and income, and proper investment of Lodge funds are his responsibility and duty to the Lodge. It is his duty to:
1. Receive all funds from the Secretary and issue a receipt to him.
2. Keep an accurate account of Lodge moneys.
3. Disperse funds consistent with the Code.
4. Give an annual account to the Lodge.
5. Deliver all Lodge funds, books, vouchers, and all documents to his successor.
The duties of the elected secretary and the importance of his office cannot be emphasized too strongly. This is an office of confidence and respect. The secretary is the ambassador of good will and an administrator of Lodge affairs. His records are a part of the story of the Lodge. Prompt attendance to all business, neat and complete minutes and records are a must for this office. A secretary should never be late at the meetings, but be there in time to have everything in readiness, so the business may be conducted at the pleasure of the Master. The secretary should familiarize himself with his duties.
It is his duty to:
1. Observe the will and pleasure of the Worshipful Master.
2. Record all proceedings of the Lodge that properly should be recorded.
3. Receive all moneys paid into the Lodge and transfer them to the Treasurer taking his receipt thereof.
4. File all Documents of the Lodge.
5. Collect all dues of the Lodge and issue receipts.
6. Make appropriate reports on time to the Lodge and to the Grand Lodge.
7. Maintain an up-to-date roster of all members.
8. Keep in trust the Seal of the Lodge.
9. Handle all the Lodge’s routine correspondence and other responsibilities as directed by the Worshipful Master.
10. Deliver to his successor all books, papers, records, vouchers, etc.
The Chaplain is appointed and has the obvious duties to:
1. Open and close all meetings with prayer.
2. Attend Masonic funeral services and offer the prayers of that service.
3. Learn and deliver the scripture readings for the various degrees if assigned by the Master.
A good Lodge will always give great value to the work of the Stewards. It shall be the duty of the Stewards to assist the Deacons and other officers in the discharge of their duties. It is their duty to:
1. Prepare and present candidates and to assist the Deacons and other officers in performing their duties.
2. Aid in making visitors feel welcome through introductions and providing a good seat in the Lodge Room.
3. Become proficient in staff and floor work.
4. Attend to other such duties as may be directed by the Worshipful Master.
5. Assist the Tyler prepare the Lodge room for Communications. This includes setting in place all the implements for the particular degree and assuring the cleanliness of the Lodge room, the Ante-room, and the restrooms.
6. Prepare refreshments after Communications and assure the kitchen is left in good condition.
The Master appoints the Tyler. He should be prepared to:
1. See that all paraphernalia is kept clean and in good repair.
2. Assist the Senior Deacon and the Lodge to accommodate all visiting Brethren and act as host of the Lodge.
3. Inform the Master of a visiting Brother to be examined for admission.
4. See that all Brethren in the Lodge Room are properly clothed.
5. Register all regular and visiting Brethren and see that they are properly vouched for or examined.
Only a past master or warden can be elected to the office of Master. In order to hold any other office in the Lodge, except Secretary, Treasurer, or Tyler, a Mason must have successfully returned his Third Degree catechism in open Lodge.
Each Master Mason also has a number of duties and responsibilities, which may be explored later when we consider Masonic Etiquette.
By Jimmy Stevens 32°
Garner Lodge #701
The beauty of Masonry is multi-faceted; one aspect of which is motivation. Motivation is a tremendous part of Masonry’s beauty, for without a basic motivation, a man would not seek association with the Order. Every Mason at some point was motivated to approach, unsolicited, a Lodge member and on his own initiative begin his journey through the annals of Masonry. It then becomes the obligation of the Lodge to develop further, and nurture the Mason’s motivation throughout his Masonic life, until he and his apron are laid beneath the silent clods of the valley.
Why is the Junior Warden primarily responsible for the motivation of the Lodge and its individual members? Because motivation is best developed and discerned during the hours of refreshment. The results of motivation are realized while at labor. The athlete usually motivates himself or is motivated by others at times when he is not actually competing. The results of that developed motivation may be seen in a gritty determination, a refusal to quit, a disregard for pain, a dedication to teamwork, and achieving beyond his native ability. The soldier is motivated by patriotism which is taught and ingrained before he ever sees combat. During the heat of battle he may respond to deadly situations, and one might say he is motivated to fight by his desire to live. However, that is not truly motivation, it is reaction and natural instinct. The soldier who most often really excels is the one who has been properly motivated by love of his country, and appropriate preparatory training.
In a like manner, the Mason who truly excels, is the one who, during his hours of refreshment, is nurtured and motivated by his brethren. The greater his motivation, the greater the probability he will ascend the ladder that leads to fame in our Mystic Circle. Both he and the Fraternity will be enriched if he receives the proper motivation. That proven truth places a great duty and responsibility on the Junior Warden, because as the representative of Masonic beauty and supervisor during the hours aside from labor, that laudable undertaking falls upon his honored shoulders.
Proper motivation is the only type of encouragement, which is ever appropriate in a Masonic Lodge. No man or Mason can, nor should be pressured or “shamed “ into fulfilling obligations that he has voluntarily assumed, nor into accepting new and expanded responsibilities. Proper motivation is as contagious as the most communicable disease. In order to motivate another Mason properly, the Junior Warden, must be sincerely motivated himself. The Junior Warden should affirmatively converse upon the most positive aspects of the Order as a matter of course, always emphasizing the importance of the individual Mason and the value of his potential contribution to the Fraternity. Encouragement, positive re-enforcement, open recognition, and ongoing Masonic education are the best motivators. Condescending words, expressions of frustration and disapproval, appeals to one’s conscience, and high-pressure tactics are the worst motivators.
There is an appreciable difference between officers or supervisors and leaders. The optimum situation entails the placement of a true leader in a position of responsibility and authority. A real leader is neither an autocrat, nor a passive officer. An authoritative style does not provide for active nor creative participation. A member will quickly become frustrated, and feel he is not really making any positive contribution to the Order. The autocrat leaves no room for discretion, creativity, nor various points of view. The authoritarian may force compliance, but he will very rarely motivate anyone in a positive way. Conversely, the passive or laissez-faire officer is neither a leader nor a motivator. His hands-off attitude demonstrates that he himself is not motivated and does not place much importance on the job at hand. His actions, which rightly or wrongly may be perceived as indifference, will usually promote conflict, frustration, and the eventual collapse of any undertaking.
A good leader in the Junior Warden’s station is personally motivated, having arrived at an understanding appreciation for the institution of Masonry. Masonry is an important priority for him, and his desire is to share the great truths of Masonry with others. This leader understands he has certain responsibilities and the authority to carry out those duties. More importantly, the Junior Warden should thoroughly understand that responsibility cannot be delegated; the one who has the responsibility for any task cannot transfer that responsibility to another. However, authority can and should be delegated in order to realize the achievement of goals.
Giving others authority, while retaining the ultimate responsibility is a great motivator. It demonstrates a confidence in worthy brothers, uplifts them, and often results in an increase of self-confidence, which enhances a Mason’s comfort within the Lodge. Obviously, when a Mason is comfortable, he is willing to undertake more, and both he and the Lodge benefit. In retaining the responsibility while delegating authority, the Junior Warden places himself in a position of support, ready to advise or assist where needed, yet allowing other members space to learn, growth, and contribute to the Lodge. That means he must be very much aware of the work in progress and be readily available for consultation.
It is also important to remember that while the Junior Warden affords others such opportunities, he must never allow them to feel subordinate to himself. The universal brotherhood of the Fraternity is one of our basic tenets and loving support and instruction must always be extended on equal footing. Equally important is the Junior Warden’s level of Masonic knowledge. He must be a very knowledgeable craftsman in order to motivate, support and instruct others. High standards of performance should be set, exemplified, and expected. The Order deserves it and such reasonable standards enhance motivation.
Controversy and conflict most often will annihilate motivation. As long as Masonry is composed of human beings, there will always arise some conflict, controversy, and discontent. Of course these sad attributes are usually and most obviously manifested during times the craft is not at labor. The Junior Warden therefore should be most directly concerned with these problems. Just as the Junior Warden’s traditional model, Grand Master Hiram Abiff, addressed many problems during the building of the Great Temple, and confronted in truth, honor, and integrity those who were intent on doing him harm, we should emulate his example. Controversy should not be ignored, nor should it be approached from an emotional perspective. Some controversies probably cannot be resolved this side of the Pearly Gates, but the impact of those disagreements can and should be minimized. That can be achieved by fairly and open-mindedly confronting the issues, not the personalities, to set aside oneself, and consider what is really best for the institution of Masonry.
Several questions may be asked about the
Masonic ballot, such as:
Where did it originate?
Why do we elect by ballot?
Why are black balls really cubes?
Why black and white? Black and white are obviously extreme opposites. Not only are they considered colors; one refers to light the other darkness. Therefore, they present the most perfect symbols of complete opposites. In Masonry, and other disciplines darkness has long been the symbol of ignorance, while light represents knowledge. Interestingly, a man may be color-blind to the different colors in the spectrum but no man is so color-blind that he cannot tell the difference between black and white unless he is totally devoid of sight. Therefore, almost anyone can clearly distinguish between his choices in a ballot.
Now to the question of why the ballot is made up of black and white balls. It must be remembered that throughout the vast majority of human history, most men could neither read nor write. This was a common fact even among the nobility; often kings engaged scribes for the purposes of writing their letters and dispatches. Therefore, it is only natural that a secret ballot could most easily be held by the simple process of black and white pebbles or stones. As the colors of the stones were direct opposites, there could be no question in counting the ballots as to the intention of the voter. Additionally, a small pebble could be held out of sight in the hand until deposited in a common bowl, providing for a truly secret ballot.
Why do we have a secret ballot at all? The ballot on a petition should always be strictly secret and inviolable and should be so spread that no one present will know, how any other brother has voted. We must not allow personal prejudices or private piques and grudges influence our ballot. We should only consider the moral qualifications of the petitioner. In casting our ballot as a Freemason it is every member’s duty to pay close attention to the reading of the report from the investigation committee on a particular candidate. This committee is charged by the Worshipful Master to investigate the petitioner’s motives for wanting to join Freemasonry and to determine whether he is a man freeborn, of lawful age and well recommended.
How many black balls or cubes reject? According to the Code of the Grand Lodge of the State of North Carolina, the ballot on a petition for initiation, or for affiliation, can be taken only at a stated communication, and if the ballot shall contain one or more black cubes, the petitioner shall be rejected. However, if only one black cube is present on the first ballot, the Master must order a second ballot, just in case that one cube was dropped by accident. If the black cube is present on the second ballot the candidate is rejected.
Who may vote upon the petition of a candidate? All members present must vote, no member present may be excused from voting. No one can ask to be excused or state any reason for voting or not voting.
In closing I cannot stress the importance of a secret ballot. To secure this secrecy and protect the purity of choice, it has been wisely established that no brother may in anyway displace or otherwise indicate the nature of his ballot. No officer may ever reveal the number of balls and cubes seen in the box and no member may inquire about a secret ballot, or how another Mason voted. Additionally, once the Master declares the results of the ballot, there is no appeal.
Jimmy Stevens 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
Masonry exists today as the world’s oldest fraternal organization. But there are other aspects of Freemasonry that render it unique and distinct from other associations, orders, or societies. A man has the opportunity to join any number of various groups, but I believe we all understand there is something singular, matchless, and very special about being a Mason. Part of that, which sets us apart is our tradition comprised of our laws, obligations, and conventions.
By conventions I am not speaking of any type of gathering; rather I refer to rules that we have made for ourselves, without the force of law, but serve to help Masons meet and work together in harmony. In other words Masonic conventions may also be referred to as Masonic etiquette or perhaps manners.
Now, Masonry has developed its own etiquette, by which its members should conduct themselves in the Lodge and Anterooms. To violate most of these rules of etiquette is usually not a Masonic offense, but is more of an indication of a Mason’s knowledge of the Craft, and the true degree of his respect for it. Often times brethren display poor Masonic manners out of ignorance, because no one has ever told them any different; or simply because they have become too comfortable in the Lodge and are overly lax. Very rarely does a Mason violate the rules of good etiquette deliberately to demonstrate his disrespect; to do so would be completely unMasonic. More likely we are Masonically impolite through some oversight on our part. We are all human and just need to be reminded sometimes. So then let’s review a few of the very basic Masonic rules of etiquette.
The Lodge represents many things; among them King Solomon’s Temple and the world itself. God created the world in His infinite wisdom, and blessed it with incredible beauty and unspeakable wonders. King Solomon built the Temple to honor and worship God, the Great Architect of the Universe. There is no place in the Lodge building therefore, whether at work or at refreshment for profanity, course language, or off-color comments. If through habit or choice we engage in that type of discourse, there is plenty of time away from the Lodge to do it.
While the Lodge is open, it is considered very rude to walk between the Worshipful master in the East and the altar. This tradition is rooted in the theory that the Great lights shed their eternal light and wisdom on the Master. It is a courtesy to the Master therefore, not to break the line of sight between him and the altar, except of course as is appropriate and necessary during degree work.
Have you ever wondered why no one ever sits in either of chairs to the immediate left and right of the Master’s Station? Well Masonically, it is considered discourteous to do so without being invited by the Master. From time to time the Master may desire to especially honor a brother by extending an invitation to join him in the East. But to take that seat without an invitation would be similar to sitting at a banquets head table without an invitation.
Probably the most often violated rule of Masonic etiquette concerns members’ demeanor during open Lodge. The rules of order in Freemasonry do not permit discussion between individual brothers during a communication. To share comments, a brother of course should rise and be recognized by the Master; otherwise he should remain quiet. Other than the Master, no Mason should speak in open Lodge without standing. Of course, common sense dictates exception to this rule for special physical needs and conditions. But, as far as casual conversation is concerned, surely there is ample time after the meeting to share in fellowship with our brethren. Have you ever been to a movie, church, or some other event to listen to a speaker and could not hear for someone else near you talking? I am sure you thought them rude. It is the same principle during an open Lodge.
The apron is the emblem of innocent and the badge of a Mason. Obviously, we should be very proud of our Masonic apron and wear it with pride and honor. It of course needs to be worn properly and in place BEFORE we enter the Lodge. We would not think of combing our hair and tying our necktie as we entered our church’s sanctuary; nor should we enter the Lodge without being properly clothed. Of course officers in this and most Lodges have their aprons waiting for them at their places and stations.
The Master of any Masonic Lodge demands and deserves the utmost respect. While we love the man as a brother, we are obliged to respect his symbolic position as well. It is extremely disrespectful to address the Master in open Lodge while seated, without giving the PROPER due-guard, or without being recognized. Saluting the Master with a hasty, sloppy, or haphazard due-guard is almost as insulting as not giving one at all. Have you ever telephoned a friend and they answered by saying, “Yeah, what is it?” instead of “Hello”? One might relate such a slur to not giving a formal and proper salute.
We do not attend a Lodge Communication in our capacity as a private individual, but as a Mason. Therefore, out of respect for one another, we should always address each other properly in open Lodge. The Master is “Worshipful,” and we are “Brother John,” “Brother Smith,” or “Worshipful Brother John Smith” to each other.
A courteous brother does not refuse a request made in the name of the Lodge. If asked to serve on an investigative committee, to examine a visiting brother, or to assist with degree work, barring some compelling reason, to decline is deemed bad mannered.
Failure immediately to obey the gavel is a grave discourtesy. The Master runs the Lodge; he can refuse to accept motions; he can limit or disallow debate; he can decline to recognize brethren that wish to speak. If his actions are unfair, arbitrary, or illegal the brethren have regress through the Grand Lodge. But in the Lodge the gavel, as the emblem of authority, is supreme.
Similarly, the Master generally determines the Rules of Order within guidelines established by the Grand Lodge. For a member to request that Robert’s Rules of Order or any other course be followed would be considered offensive in the extreme. Respect for the position of the Master is a universally accepted custom in Masonry. For anyone to correct him or criticize him during labor is deemed very rude. Although usually very well meant it is impolite to prompt the Master or any other member unless asked to do so.
While none of the behaviors we have discussed are really Masonic offenses that carry some sort of penalty for their violation, they are important elements of Masonry. They are a part of our tradition, a part of our heritage, and a part of what makes us what we are.
Several years ago I was working in the Highway Patrol’s exhibit booth at the State Fair. I was passing out posters and sticker badges to children, talking to them about safety and answering their questions. After the first day, I began to notice how differently the various children responded to me. On the second day I put a $5.00 bill in my pocket and secretly decided I would give that $5.00 to the first child that told me “thank you” without being told by someone else to do so. Three days, and about 5,000 children later a little blonde-haired boy about four-years-old said “Thank you, sir” when I handed him a sticker.
Now was it really important that the kid thanked me? Not really, but it sure was nice. Is it really important that we know and practice Masonic etiquette? You answer that one.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
14 June 2004
As Masons, something we should all consider in a timely manner and especially while we are of sound mind is our instructions regarding our possessions and last wishes. Considering this undertaking from the standpoint of a Master Mason, we must deal with the tradition not to discuss, in detail, the business and customs of the Lodge even with family members. Therefore, many widows and children have no idea who in the Lodge needs to be notified at the time of our death.
It would be a good idea to write a draft giving instructions and noting those things that are important to you, in your life, so they will be known to others after your passing. It also insures your Masonic memberships, titles, and honors are spelled accurately. Include the full name of each body as well as the complete title of each office you have held. Be sure to also include specific instructions on the disposal of your Masonic ritual books, pins, aprons, and related items. This may be to a Masonic relative who is interested, to the Lodge for their library, or a brother who you know will keep and treasure your books as you did. Alternatively, you may want to donate your books to the Lodge with instructions to sell them and use the money earned for upkeep of the Lodge hall or for a Lodge charity. Whatever your personal wishes, make timely plans and leave clear instructions. It is sad to go to a flea market or yard sale and see someone's Masonic book collection lying in a neglected heap on a dusty table.
As in disposition of your Masonic belongings, it should be a priority with every brother to make final plans. Make known the type of service you would like and what should be included in the service; such as if you desire a Masonic funeral, specific casket bearers, Masonic emblem on your tombstone and/or the service folder and so forth.
There are few occasions when we as Freemasons may perform our ceremonies in public. Certainly, the most common is our Masonic Funeral Service. During these solemn rites many non-Masons are first introduced to Freemasonry. There is an old saying that you don’t get but one chance to make a first impression, so that is just one of the reasons it is important that we perform high quality work at Masonic Funerals. It is at and during that somber service that many people will form a lasting opinion and perception of our Fraternity.
The traditions of Masonic Funeral Services are as ancient as the Fraternity itself. In the days of Operative Masonry, stonemasons buried their own with great reverence, honor and respect. They celebrated his virtues and the contributions he had made to the Craft's work. They acknowledged eternal life after death, and the advantages of performing good humanitarian works throughout the course of a man's life. This tradition has been passed down from time immemorial right up to our present day Speculative Masonry.
The first thing any Mason or non-Mason will notice is the size of the Masonic representation. If it is small, they may conclude that his Lodge did not hold the deceased Brother in very high esteem. If the turnout is large, the non-Mason is likely to come away with a very different impression of both the Fraternity and the deceased Brother.
Always remember that a Masonic Funeral Service is the final tribute we can pay to our fallen Brother. Attending these services are, in many ways, just as important as attending Lodge meetings -- perhaps, even more so, because, as we can do nothing more for our Brother, the Funeral Service is really for the benefit of the deceased Brother's family and friends, and it exhibits our genuine care and concern for one of our own.
The Masonic Funeral Service is one of the most beautiful pieces of literature ever written. It offers each of us an opportunity to reflect upon our own mortality, and to reaffirm our individual faith in the Supreme Grand Master of Heaven and Earth. No one, can listen to our service and not be impacted by the gentle, yet powerful, words that touch the heart of every person present -- both Mason and non-Mason alike. This is one obligation and commitment that each of us should earnestly strive to fulfill even if we cannot always attend Lodge meetings. Let us demonstrate before the world that we are men who practice Brotherly Love -- all the way to the grave's edge.
GRAND LODGE REQUIREMENTS
Chapter 82 of the Code addresses burials. In a nutshell here are some of the more important points:
· It is the duty of the Master to ascertain from the family of a deceased brother if Masonic Rites are desired; and his responsibility to determine whether or not they will be administered. (82-1)
· It is also the Master’s duty to determine eligibility. Essentially only a Master Mason in good standing is eligible for a Masonic Funeral service. (82-2)
· The Master also has the option of opening a Lodge of Sorrow at the beginning of the year and not closing it until the end of the year. If that is the case, at the time a Masonic Funeral is to be conducted the Master informs the brethren where to meet for instructions before the Service. If an annual Lodge of Sorrow is not convened, a Lodge of Sorrow must opened before each funeral. It is opened on the 3rd Degree, and the Master and Brethren complete a responsive reading as noted in the North Carolina Masonic Ceremonies publication. The role of the deceased brother is read, appropriate remarks are made by the Master and surviving brethren, and instructions for the funeral given. The Lodge is then closed in due form and proceeds to the place the funeral is to be conducted.
Page 72 of the Bahnson manual provides more detail about the actual funeral service. Regulation and tradition leave room for some adjustment for the service, but some basic essentials should never be altered.
The North Carolina Masonic Ceremonies publication provides two burial services, either of which may be selected. The first is used less often. Probably because it is not printed in the Bahnson manual, but is just as beautiful as the more traditional rite. The Master is responsible for conducting the service, but is not required to do so if he delegates that great honor and privilege to another Mason. It is highly recommended that the service be committed to memory, but in cases of exigent circumstances, it may be read if there is absolutely no alterative.
LODGE OF SORROW
MASTER: What man is he who lives and shall not see death? Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave?
RESPONSE: Man walks in a vain shadow; he heaps up riches and cannot tell who shall gather them.
MASTER: When he dies he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him.
RESPONSE: Naked he came into the world, and naked he must return.
MASTER: The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord.
The Master then taking the roll on which has been inscribed the name, age, date of initiation or affiliation, date of death, or any matters that may be interesting to the brethren in the future, and having read the same aloud, shall say,
MASTER: Let us live and die like the righteous, that our last end may be His.
RESPONSE: God is our God forever and ever; He will guide even unto death!
MASTER: Almighty God, into Your hands we leave with humble submission the soul of our deceased brother. Brethren join me in giving the Funeral Grand Honors.
(Both arms are crossed on the breast, the left arm over the right, and the open palm of the hands sharply striking the shoulders; they are raised above the head, the palms striking each other, and then made to fall smartly upon the thighs.
ALL: The Will of God is accomplished! So mote it be. Amen
The Will of God is accomplished! So mote it be. Amen
We cherish his memory here. We commend his spirit to God Who gave it, and commit his body to the tomb.
MASTER: Most glorious God, Author of all good, and Giver of all mercy, pour down Your blessings upon us and strengthen our solemn engagements with ties of sincere affection. May the present instance of mortality remind us of our approaching fate. Draw our attention toward You, our only refuge in time of need. When the moment of death arrives, when we are about to quit this transitory scene; may the enlivening prospect of Your mercy dispel the gloom of death. After our departure hence in peace, and in Your favor, may we be received into Your Everlasting Kingdom, to enjoy, in union with the souls of our departed friends, the just rewards of a pious and virtuous life. Amen
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
16 March 2009
In order to become a Master Mason a man is required to make several promises and obligates himself under risk of some pretty harsh penalties to keep them. As Masons we are obliged to support and adhere to laws, rules and regulations of our order. Some of them are very clearly specified and repeated as part of our obligations; others are found in the Code, in the OSW, in Masonic tradition, and in other official edicts issued by the Grand Lodge.
Now, most of us have little trouble remembering the guidelines specified and contained in the obligations. Unfortunately, some Mason apparently under the mistaken impression that they are the only rules to which we obligate ourselves as Masons. The truth of the matter is that we are under just as much obligation to those other regulations, though they are usually less emphasized.
Chapter 86 of the North Carolina Masonic Code identifies at least 59 acts or omissions that are considered Masonic Offenses, and it is important to remember that each of us have most solemnly sworn to refrain from committing any of them.
Let’s take a very brief look at a few of the specified offenses. Some of them are quite obvious, and readily accepted, a Mason cannot
However, some Masonic offenses are less obvious and sadly some Masons do not even realize they are Masonic Offenses. Nevertheless, they are spelled out in black and white and are just as binding as any other principle we swear to uphold as Masons. For instance:
Masonic law is like any other law, each of them is enacted for a specific and good reason. Can we strictly abide by every single rule and regulation down to the finest point and minutest detail? Probably not. But like man-made and God-given law should we sincerely try our best to obey them? Without a doubt, for if we do we will be better men and better Masons.
Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Garner Lodge # 701
Passion is a word, which is often misused, or at least has taken on a somewhat negative connotation over the years. When we hear the word “passion” most of us tend to think in sexual or sensual terms, and indeed that is a valid application of the word. During every stated and emergent communication, the Chaplain implores the Supreme Architect to help us subdue all our irregular passions. Of course one of the first questions asked an entered apprentice also involves the subduing of passions.
Now, the dictionary also defines “passion“ as boundless enthusiasm, which is a most positive quality! Yet I am sometimes afraid that too many Masons have learned not only to subdue their irregular passions, but their passion for the institution of Masonry as well.
After a recent First Degree, in which I was most honored and privileged to present the lambskin apron, several of my brethren made me feel especially good and uplifted by the extremely kind compliments they gave me. I am not recalling that incident as a means to boost my ego, nor am I fishing for compliments, but only to provide a frame of reference to help you understand my line of thought.
One of the brethren told me that he enjoyed my apron presentations, because I always delivered them in an enthusiastic manner. That is what initiated my thoughts on enthusiasm, and more specifically “passion.”
Masonry, dear brethren, is as worthy and deserving of passion, boundless enthusiasm, as any fraternity ever entered by man. We learn that Masonry encourages all that is good, kind, and charitable; and reproves all that is vicious, cruel, and oppressive. If we cannot be passionate about Masonry, about what can we be passionate? For a few moments, let us more carefully examine the word “passion.”
Perhaps P represents Performance. Performance is extremely important when it comes to Degree Work. The Degrees are based on rituals, which have been practiced and esteemed since time immemorial. The Degree Work, which we practice today, has been essentially unchanged for more than 200 years. When the Degrees are performed correctly, no Broadway production company of professional actors could approach the moving beauty, or meaningful impact of a dedicated degree team.
The Degrees are truly a performance, which depicts wonderful, time-tested and proven truths about man’s relationship with the Grand Artificer of the Universe. Such a story deserves to be told with absolute respect, and adherence to the traditions of the Degree. The three Degrees of the Blue Lodge are worthy and demand to be depicted in the very best possible manner. Only our best efforts are good enough, when we are afforded the great privilege to actively participate in a Degree. Our passion for Masonry should be reflected in everything, from the dialogue to the floor work, that we perform.
Another aspect of performance is the performance of our duties as Masons. Each of us voluntarily took a most solemn obligation to perform certain tasks. Every single day, while in the Lodge or while we mix again with the world, those obligations should be undertaken with passion.
A might stand for attitude. What kind of attitude should a Master Mason maintain? A passionate, positive attitude about the inestimable gifts God has given him, including the physical and mental ability to be a Mason. A Mason’s attitude should be pleasant and always reflective of the benefits he has received from the fraternity. A Mason with a bad attitude cannot be passionate for the Craft and will always cast an unflattering shadow upon it.
We should also maintain a respectful attitude for the Order and for the Lodge while at work. Strictly adhering to Masonic law, tradition and etiquette honors Masonry and increases our passion for it. Our attitude about Masonry is always reflected in the way we conduct, or misconduct ourselves in Lodge.
Sincerity, and Seriousness may be the two words which best fit the SS. About what can any man be passionate if he is not serious and sincere about it? Candidates for initiation, passing, and raising should be impressively struck by the sincerity and seriousness of the Degree team. The lessons taught through Masonry are doubtless among the most serious ever conveyed by mortal man. They must be taught in a serious manner to be effective, and can only be learned if the teacher is sincere in his instruction and his fraternal feelings for his brother.
Obviously, the Lodge is also a place of fellowship, good-natured fun, and relaxed interaction. But to develop the appropriate passion for Masonry we should be sincere and serious about our obligations to God, our country, and one another. Our demeanor in a Lodge at work, and especially during Degree Work should be serious and sincere, thereby necessarily increasing our passion for the institution.
I believe that “I” should represent integrity, personal integrity and the assurance that the integrity of all Masonic rituals remains in tact. I become excited when I realize that some of the greatest men in recorded history experienced the same emotions and heard the very same beautiful words spoken that I have experienced and heard in this very Lodge. How can one help but become passionate after pondering that peculiar circumstance? I am grateful for those Masons who preceded me, and faithfully maintained the integrity of the forms and ceremonies, and am passionate in my determination to do so for those Masons who will ere long follow me.
O of course is representative of obligation. A Mason should be passionate about his obligations, both spoken and tacit. Because God has given to me bountifully and revealed so much to me through our Mystic Circle, I feel obligated to share a part of those blessings. To do that successfully, brethren must have a passion burning in their hearts for Masonry, and all it represents.
Finally the N may stand for Nurturing, the key element in all Masonic work. We nurture the less fortunate through our charities. We nurture one another through friendship, morality, and brotherly love. We nurture our relationship with Deity through the practices of the Order. We nurture our candidates through the forms and ceremonies we practice and perform for them. To truly nurture another, one must become not only compassionate, but do so with a passion.
Passion! When a Mason stops to reflect upon this great fraternity, surely he must become involuntarily overwhelmed with passion. It seems it would take a good deal of effort not to experience that. So, dear brethren let us take the step beyond subduing our passion, and direct our passion for the institution toward the best possible results. Let us unashamedly, and overtly demonstrate our enthusiasm, yes, even our passion for Masonry at every opportunity.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
26 March 2007
One of the very first things we are taught in Masonry is that we are not to bring anything offensive or defensive into the Lodge. That’s pretty simple and straightforward isn’t it? But have you ever wondered why that is the case?
One reason is quite obvious, offensive or defensive weapons are not needed in a Lodge where our brothers surround us. We are sitting with men pledged never to harm us physically or otherwise, so long as we preserve the character of Masonry. In fact our Masonic brothers are obligated to aid, assist, and protect us within the boundaries of Masonic ethics; as we are them.
In the early days of American Masonry, when our country was subjected to a much wilder environment most men carried weapons with which to hunt and to protect themselves from predators, both animal and human. Yet upon entering the Lodge all weapons were left without the door in the Tyler’s care. Even members of Military Lodges, meeting during times of war, left their weapons behind when they entered the sacred confines of the Lodge. The walls outside St. John’s Lodge #3 in New Bern still bear the scars of civil war bayonets left leaned against them while their owners met in their sacred retreat of friendship and virtue.
George Washington is said to have always been very careful never to wear his ceremonial sword into any Lodge, even though it is hard to image anyone would have voiced an objection. During Most Worshipful Brother Harry Truman’s tenure as President of the United States, Secret Service agents, who were also members of the Fraternity, readily divested themselves of all weapons to enter Lodges with their charge, where it is said the president insisted they call him Brother Harry, but only in the tiled confines of the Lodge. I suspect it was a most welcomed relief for both President Truman and his security force to enjoy a brief time of complete friendship and brotherly love in a safe sanctuary and among the best of comrades away from the concerns and employments of the outside world.
Another reason we bring nothing into the Lodge offensive or defensive in nature lies in age-old tradition. Our ancient brethren met in their Lodges when they were not at the labor of performing their usual tasks. They had no need to bring their tools into the Lodge, and as we all have learned, some of the tools of Masonry can be used as deadly weapons, and therefore certainly qualifying as something offensive. Bringing tools into the Lodge could also be a distraction and disrupt the harmony so very important to any Masonic Communication.
There is also the possibility of terrible accidents occurring when we bring such items into our Lodge. Need I remind anyone of the tragic, but accidental shooting of a New Jersey Mason in his Lodge a few years ago? Although it was not any part of a Masonic Degree a brother was being initiated into a Masonic Club, which by the way are prohibited by our Grand Lodge, and was shot and killed by a brother Mason.
Several law enforcement officers are members of this Lodge and are always very careful never to bring a weapon to a Communication. We also have a number of brothers who possess Concealed Carry Permits and are armed most of the time, but never in the Lodge. I think we all go out of our way never to bring any offensive or defensive ITEM into the Lodge, but does that mean we are indeed meeting the Masonic requirement?
Have we ever brought anything offensive or defensive into the Lodge? Have we ever come into this room harboring hard feeling for another brother that we had not sincerely tried to resolve? Have we ever whispered insulting or derogatory words about one brother to another? Have we ever brought anger, or jealousy, or selfishness into this sacred circle of fellow Masons? Have we ever been argumentative, when in the long run the difference of opinion could be resolved just as well one way as the other? Are all of these things not offensive or defensive in nature?
What is your opinion about homosexuality, divorce, abortion, immigration, or reincarnation? Would our country be better off with a Democrat or Republican in the White House? Why are you a Methodist, or Baptist, or Presbyterian, or why don’t you go to church regularly? There is a place and time to address all those issues, but because Masons are taught to bring nothing offensive or defensive into the Lodge, such matters should never be the subject of Lodge discussions. We are taught in the Third Degree Lecture that although our thoughts, words, and actions may be hidden from the eyes of man, that is not the case with the All-seeing Eye. Let us then all endeavor to consider carefully our own words and attitude. Are they really for the good and advancement of Masonry or are they offensive or defensive in nature? So the next time we hear a new brother instructed not to bring anything offensive or defensive into the Lodge, perhaps that admonition will have deeper meaning for us as well.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
19 July 2004
One of the first things an entered apprentice learns after being brought to Masonic light is a sign of Masonic recognition. During each successive degree the candidate is instructed with additional signs that can only be taught in the tiled recesses of a lodge at labor. However, as a practical matter those formal signs are less often used than an informal and “unofficial” system of recognition, which has developed over the years. New Masons in particular should be aware of some of these subtle signs of recognition and also be aware that at times clandestine masons and cowans, with some limited knowledge of Masonry, may attempt to use them in order to inappropriately gain Masonic information or favor.
usually result in mutual smiles and the initiation of a conversation about the two Mason’s respective Lodges.
There are of course some other means of recognition, which are not formally taught. One might be asked the question, “Are you a traveling man?” or “I see you are a traveling man.” Or perhaps “I see you’ve done some traveling.” Most any reference to traveling, which may not be in context with the ongoing conversation probably relates to Masonry. The traveling alludes to the candidate’s movement in the degrees, particularly the second section of the Third Degree. It also alludes to our ancient brethren who traveled from place to place practicing their art.
Another phrase that is some times used is Hiram. For instance, “Well hello there
Hiram, I like your ring.” Again, of course this reference relates to a candidate’s experience in the second session of the Third Degree. Referring to lights is also sometimes used as a Masonic overture. I have had a person say to me, “I see those lights on your hand,” referring to my ring. We may also be asked if we have ever been to the “East,” or if we are going to or coming from the East. The meaning here should be clear to any Mason and relates to his having gone “through the chairs.”
A stranger might ask you “How old is your grandmother (or granny)?” If you are a knowledgeable Mason you will respond with your Lodge Number. For instance my “grandmother” is 701.
Some older, more experienced Masons will sometimes use particular words, word combinations, or phrases that are clearly Masonic in nature. Occasionally even politicians will pepper their speeches with terms, which will fall with easy familiarity on a Mason’s ear, but go practically unnoticed by the non-Mason.
There are of course times we should be careful when encountering those who appear to be attempting to make Masonic contact with us. When a person, whom you do not know, makes a statement to the effect of “this is on the square,” you should be very careful. You may want to stop him before he continues. In a similar manner be extremely careful when you impart confidential information even to a known brother. Make absolutely sure that he is receiving it in the same manner you are imparting it; remember the exact wording of your obligation.
We should also be aware that there are a considerable number of clandestine, expelled, suspended, or simply unworthy masons who have knowledge of many of our signs and secrets. In my profession as a law enforcement officer over the years I have had a very few individuals, mostly clandestine masons, recite some portion or all of the grand hailing sign after I had stopped them for sometimes serious violations of law. A truly worthy brother should never invoke his Masonic ties in an attempt to influence another Mason to do something illegal, immoral, or unethical.
Are there other signs of recognition that you have experienced? No matter how a brother identifies himself as a Mason, in my own experience, I have found one unfailing constant; when a previously unknown brother is discovered both men always break out in wide smiles. That alone speaks volumes for our fraternity.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
For centuries our wonderful fraternity has used a number of abbreviations. Often times their appearance is unusual or mysterious, and is sometimes misinterpreted by the uninformed. Some of them are rarely used any more and some of those still in use are not familiar to many Masons. So here are a few, some of which you will quickly recognize, others may be not so familiar.
A.F.&A.M. – Ancient Free & Accepted Masons. Also F.&A.M. – Free & Accepted Masons
There has been much confusion over the years and misinformation about these abbreviations. When I first became a Mason in 1975 I was instructed that the Ancient referred to the old operative masons, the Free was a man born free and not a slave, and the Accepted referred to speculative masons. It was also implied that F.&A.M. masonry was somehow somewhat inferior to A.F.&A.M. Now while that explanation was not off target too terribly much the true explanation is appreciably different.
F.&A.M. masonry is actually older. The F stands for Free and refers to the old operative masons who built the castles, cathedrals, and other marvelous edifices during the middle ages. They were FREE from many of the restrictions imposed on other citizens. They were FREE to travel from place to place to work. They were FREE to practice their art. Hence they were FREE masons and are a truly huge part of our Masonic tradition. The A stands for Accepted. We know that accepted masons were men who did not practice the craft of architecture, but were ACCEPTED into the fraternity for other attributes they possessed. Masonry began initiating ACCEPTED masons in the late 1600’s. The A stands for Ancient. The word Ancient was originally spelled using the old English spelling a-n-t-i-e-n-t but had the same meaning.
In 1751 Brother Laurence Dermott a Mason in London, England led a movement to establish a competing Grand Lodge to the Mother Lodge that had formed in 1717. There was some concern that the Original Lodge was drifting away from some of the ancient landmarks of Masonry primarily pertaining to the second section of the Third Degree. In a very savvy manner, Brother Dermott named his new order the Antient (Ancient) Masons and the older Original Lodge became known as the Moderns. They competed for membership for years and their rivalry extended across the Atlantic to the colonies, therefore some states are A.F. & A.M. Lodges and some are F.&A.M. The truth of the matter is they all have the very same heritage and in 1813 the two Grand Lodges patched up their differences and reunited into the United Grand Lodge of England, just as it is today. A long story for a short abbreviation.
A.L. Anno Lucis Latin meaning "In the Year of Light," the date used by Craft Masonry. (Add 4000 to the current date.) In 1701Irish Arch-Bishop James Ussher calculated that the universe was created in 4004 BC. He also calculated that Jesus was actually born in 4 BC therefore by adding 4000 to the present date one could represent “the year of light.” How it worked its way into Masonry is somewhat a mystery, but it began showing up in Masonic documents in the mid 1700’s. Perhaps it was adopted because light is so important in Masonry.
DDGM / DDGL District Deputy Grand Master / District Deputy Grand Lecturer
G.A.O.T.U. Grand Architect of the Universe. An older version of this was G.O.A.T. God of all things. Of course both of these abbreviations stand for God, our Father, Creator, and Sustainer. Of course we know that we do not worship a “Masonic god” as some of our detractors claim. We simply refer to the One True Living God by a variety of names, as does the Bible. The second abbreviation has been the cause of some confusion and misinformation in the past. You might read an old Masonic document, which states something like “We, as Masons, place our trust in the G.O.A.T. (God of all things).” However the uninitiated might read it as Goat, therefore some of the erroneous myth and legend was born about Masons and their worship of the goat god, Pan, or other heathen gods.
G.O.D. The initials of Gomer, Oz, Dabar. In Genesis 10:2 we are told that Gomer was the son of Japheth and thus Noah’s grandson. His name means Wisdom. Oz is an ancient Hebrew word translated Strength. Dabar is an ancient Hebrew word that translates beauty. Thus what an incredible coincidence it is that the initials of the Hebrew words for Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty, the three great pillars that support Masonry, result in our English word for Deity or God.
H.K.T. Hiram, King of Tyre.
ILL. Illustrious. A title used in addressing members of the 33rd Degree. The 33rd Degree is not actually a degree, as most of us understand a degree. Rather it is an honor bestowed upon certain Scottish Rite Masons for extraordinary service. Remember the highest degree any Mason can obtain is the 3rd Degree. The rest are simply added instruction.
O.E.S. Order of the Eastern Star.
O.S.W. Official Standard of Work. This is used in North Carolina Masonry and is encrypted in order to assure a standardized work is passed on from generation to generation and still maintains our secrecy and conforms to our obligations.
P.H.A. Prince Hall Affiliated
P.M. Past master.
U. D. Under Dispensation. These letters are placed after the names of Lodges, which are lawfully working but have not yet received a Warrant or Charter from the Grand Lodge. In the United States when a Lodge is started it is known as being Under Dispensation and after a certain time has elapsed and the members are found worthy they receive a regular Charter. Until that time they are working “Under Dispensation.”
W.M. / W.B. / M.W.B. Worshipful Master / Worshipful Brother / Most Worshipful Brother. Worship Master or Worshipful is the proper title for the Master of a Lodge; Worshipful Brother or Worshipful is the proper title for any past master; Most Worshipful Brother is reserved for the Grand Master or Past Grand Master. The old Anglo Saxon term “weorth” designated something honorable, deserving of respect, an object or person of great importance. Eventually the word “Worshipful” evolved and describes something full of those qualities. It was used in medieval times to refer to one’s parents, officers of the state, leaders and so forth, signifying that such persons were of high station or entitled to respect. So over the years the term “worshipful” was adopted in England to mean respected or worthy of respect and came into regular use by our fraternity as a title of honor and respect as used in “Worshipful Master.” The term has no religious or sacred implication.
.: Is often used in place of a period in Masonic abbreviations, particularly the Scottish and York Rites. The three dots are said to represent all things associated with the number 3 in Masonry.
In the Bahnson Manual:
In the 3rd Degree Lecture we are told that there are in that degree 2 types of symbols the first of which are monitorial. That means they are printed and can be found in the monitor, which is another word for manual, as in the Bahnson Manual.
**** Means text from OSW is inserted here.
W.M. Worshipful Master
S.W. Senior Warden
J.W. Junior Warden
E.A. Entered Apprentice
F.C. Fellow Craft
M.M. Master Mason
On page 44 there is picture of two columns with Globes on their tops. They are labeled B & J, which represent their names.
On page 61 the following is printed:
7 1/6 G.F. 5 2/3 M.C. 3 S.S.
Its esoterical meaning.
By Jimmy Stevens 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge # 701
Some of the most beautiful aspects of Freemasonry are found in the words and phrases used to convey the tenets, rituals, and ceremonies of our Order. Today some of the language, though lovely, sounds a little strange to our modern ears. The original meaning of some of the words also has faded with time and becomes less clear. Most of the degree work we practice today was written in the mid 1700’s by English Masons, based on oral traditions and ancient rites. Most veteran Masons are quite familiar with the terms we will address this evening, but some of our newer brethren may be a little confused by a few of them, so I hope they will find this presentation helpful and informative.
A question that often arises is what is the difference between “Ancient Free and Accepted Masons” and “Free and Accepted Masons”? There are many theories, legends and stories about this particular circumstance. When I first came into the Lodge I was told that “Ancient” referred to our ancient brethren, who wrought in operative Masonry and built the great temples, cathedrals, and edifices of antiquity. “Free” supposedly referred to a requirement that Masons must be free men, and “Accepted” referred to all of us who practice speculative Masonry.
Careful research indicates the foregoing explanation is not entirely accurate. In the early 1700’s Masonry was in serious danger of becoming extinct. We all know that the first Grand Lodge was formed in the England in 1717 and modern Masonry grew from that. But a few years later a grim division took place in the Lodge based largely on a disagreement about conferring the 3rd Degree, and requiring all Masons to be Christians. In a stroke of political genius, the new Grand Lodge that broke away from the older Mother Grand Lodge called itself “The Most Antient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons.” Calling itself “Ancient” and calling the older body “Modern” caused the new Grand Lodge to receive support immediately from hundreds of brethren who did not bother to determine for themselves what each Lodge represented.
Eventually, the two Lodges resolved their differences and essentially became one in the early 1800’s. However, by that time various Lodges throughout Europe and the developing North American continent were identifying themselves by various terms relating to the Ancient, the Free, the Accepted, and so forth.
“Accepted,” does generally refer to most of us Masons, who practice speculative Masonry only. “Free,” originally was a term that referred to a particular group of operative Masons who were free to travel from one place to another and practice their trade. Generally, the Fraternity of Masonry recognizes and sanctions equally bodies calling themselves “Ancient, Free and Accepted” and “Free and Accepted;” except those bodies that they view as clandestine.
In the 2nd Degree lecture we are told that when societies were first being formed primitive men attempted to contrive shelter by placing trees on end and then laid others across to support a covering. The bands that connected these trees at top and bottom are said to have given rise to the idea of “base and capital of pillars.”
We all are familiar with pillars or columns erected to support roofs. The Base is, as one might expect the enlarged and often decorated section located at the bottom of the pillar to enhance its strength, stability and beauty. The capital is basically the same apparatus at the top of the pillar; sometimes in the shape of an opened scroll.
Most of us know that “Blue Lodge” is a term for our local lodge. But why blue? In the First Degree we are taught, “A Masonic Lodge is a symbol of the world.” We also learn that “The covering of a Lodge is a clouded canopy . . .” Thus “blue” is derived from the beautiful blue sky, which embraces the world. Additionally, blue is recognized as the distinctive Masonic color.
Is there a more confusing term in Masonry? Candidates wear a cable tow, indicating it is an object, which usage is described in the lectures. We speak of a cable tow’s length indicating it is a measurement. We further indicate Masons should perform certain duties, if within the length of their cable tow, indicating it is a measure of ability. So which is it? Actually it is all three.
We are all very well versed with cable tow as a tie or rope used in all three degrees. However, as a measure of length, does anyone know how long a cable tow is?
In the infancy of Modern Freemasonry a cable tow was considered approximately three miles and brethren were expected to attend Lodge, whether they wanted to attend or not, if the Lodge was “within the length of their cable tow.” That is three miles from their residence. Of course we now understand there is no value to a man attending Lodge against his will.
From this idea of Lodge attendance developed the idea of the cable tow being a measure of ability. At the Masonic Convention held in Baltimore, Maryland in 1843, it was determined that the length of a cable tow is “the scope of a brother’s reasonable ability.” Obviously each of us has cable tows of various lengths.
We are told that the pillars in the porch of King Solomon’s Temple were adorned with chapiters five cubits high. What are chapiters? Most dictionaries do not contain that word, but chapiters were similar to capitals at the top of pillars, but usually larger and more ornamented.
Here we find two words that are used at every Stated and Emergent Communication. In the early days of Operative Masonry, Free Masons, who knew the Mason’s secret word, could travel to foreign countries and receive “masters’ wages.” Many would not or could not conform to the standards of Master Masons and thus never invested with the Word. They would therefore attempt to steal that which they could not otherwise obtain.
Eavesdropper is a familiar word to us, but is often mispronounced ease-dropper. The expression originally referred to a person who secretly listened from the eaves of a building, and thus was the recipient of droppings from the roof. Masonically, eavesdroppers are no more than thieves who would try to learn by stealth that which they would not learn by work.
A cowan, not to be confused with coward, was an ignorant or unskilled Mason who laid stones together without mortar, or piled rough stones to form a wall, without working them square and true. He was a Mason without the Word, an apprentice trying to pass off himself as a Master.
I venture to say that very few Masons are really aware of this word, though we have all used it in our obligation. The confusion probably exists mainly because the expression is so similar to a more commonly used word that is pronounced identically.
”Hele,” H-E-L-E rhymes with “Hail,” H-A-I-L. H-A-I-L means to salute or greet. When we speak of always heling, ever concealing and never revealing something, one might easily think we meant we would salute, or hold dear that thing. However, actually H-E-L-E means to cover or conceal. It is an ancient root word from whence we derive our modern expressions, “cell,” hull,’ “hollow,” and “hell,” a covered place. In old English one who covered roofs with slate or tiles was called a “heler,” compared that word to “tiler.”
This word is familiar to almost everyone as meaning that which is irreligious or blasphemous. However, it has a very different Masonic meaning. Relative to Masonry the word is derived from the Latin pro: “without,” and fanum: “sanctuary or temple.” Thus literally, “without or outside the temple.” To a Mason a profane is one not a Mason; the profane world is all that is not in the Masonic World, but in a Masonic context, does not necessarily refer to profane as being in any way unsavory.
One of the most fascinating historical accounts in Masonry is contained in the 2nd Degree lecture detailing the history of the word “shibboleth.” Its basis can be found in the 12th Chapter of the Book of Judges, which details the war between to the two Hebrew tribes, the Gileadites and the Ephramites. As Masons we all know what the word means and how it is represented. The original definition of the word was an ear or head of grain. It also was defined as a flood of water. So it had a double meaning, both of which symbolized abundance, plenty, and wealth.
Ancient Operative Masons guarded their assemblies from cowans and eavesdroppers, who would steal their secrets, but no one knows for sure when Speculative Masons first posted a guard at the door of working lodges. Tilers were anciently men who put on the roofs or tiles, thus completing a building and making those within secure. Thus the officer charged with the security of a lodge at labor was called a “Tiler.”
Interestingly, Wardens are found in all bodies of Masonry, worldwide. The word “warden” is derived from the ancient Saxon word “Weardian” which means to guard or watch. The expression evolved to mean one who oversees, watches, keeps ward, or observes.
Here we find another word that often is Masonically misunderstood. Worshipful is most often used in connection with our Master, the Worshipful Master. It does not mean we worship him, as all Masons firmly believe only Deity is worthy of worship. Nor does it mean we worship the position our Master holds, again only God is to be worshipped. Worshipful does not indicate that our Master worships the Great Artificer any more than any of us do, though that may be the case.
Masonically, in reference to the Master, worshipful means, “greatly respected,” and is based on Biblical terminology. Some very old Bible texts read, “Worschip thi fadir and thi modir.” That is translated Honor thy father and thy mother. Even to this day in parts of England one might hear a Mayor or other dignitary referred to as “the Worshipful.” In an ancient sense the word was used to denote one who is worthy, honorable, and respected; a very apt description of the Master’s position in the Lodge. We worship God and no man. By calling our Master Worshipful we are but paying a well-deserved tribute of respect in language that was common two or more centuries ago.
A Masonic Trivia Quiz
Jimmy Stevens 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge # 701
GENERAL MASONIC QUESTIONS
When was the Mother Grand Lodge of England formed?
In 1717, in London.
When were the Constitutions first printed?
How many lodges formed the Mother Grand Lodge?
What Presidents have been Masters of lodges?
George Washington, of Alexandria Lodge, Alexandria, Va., James Buchanan, of Lodge No. 43, Lancaster, Pa., and Harry S. Truman, of Grandview Lodge No. 618, of Missouri.
What President was a Grand Master?
Andrew Jackson. He was never a Master of a lodge, but was elected from the floor of the Grand Lodge to be Grand Master of Tennessee, Harry S. Truman, Grand Master of Missouri, 1940.
Name the Presidents of the United States positively known to have been Freemasons.
Washington, Monroe. Jackson, Polk, Buchanan, A. Johnson, Garfield, McKinley, T. Roosevelt, Taft, Harding. Roosevelt, Truman, L B. Johnson. (E.A. only)
Were Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, or Robert E. Lee Freemasons?
No, there is no evidence that any of these men were raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason.
Is there a General Grand Lodge of the United States?
There is not. One was proposed in the early days of Freemasonry in this country, and George Washington was approached as a possible General Grand Master, but refused.
What is the meaning of the word "profane" as applied to a non-Mason?
Literally, "without the temple;" uninstructed, uninformed, ignorant of Masonry, not a member of the Order. In this connection it does not describe the non-Mason as a blasphemous person.
What is the meaning of the word Abif?
Literally, "His father." As used in the days of Solomon, "My father," meaning one having authority, an elder, a wise man looked up to. Hiram Abif thus means "Hiram, my father," a man venerated for his wisdom and his accomplishments.
Why do we call a Master "Worshipful?"
From the old English word "worchyp," meaning, "greatly respected." In the Wycliffe Bible, "Honor thy father and thy mother" is written, "Worchyp thy fadir and thy modir." "Worshipful Master," then, does not mean, "Master to be worshipped," but "Master, greatly respected."
Is a Worshipful Master obliged to wear a hat?
Yes & No. It is his privilege, and his alone, to remain covered in the lodge. In ancient days the king or ruler remained covered, his subjects removing their headgear as a sign of respect. Brethren remove their headgear before entering a lodge as a sign of respect; the Master remains covered to signify that his position is that to which the greatest respect should be paid. The hat is a symbol of his office.
Why do Masons salute the Master on entering and retiring from lodge?
To avow before all the brethren that they remember their obligations; a visible evidence that they recall what they promised and under what penalties they are bound. In most Jurisdictions a Mason salutes before casting his ballot, to signify that he does so with memory of his obligations as Mason, and with the good of the Order and his lodge uppermost in mind.
Has a would-be visitor to the lodge the right to ask to see the Charter of the lodge?
He has the same right to ascertain that the lodge he would visit is "legally constituted," as the lodge has to ascertain, by an ex-maintain of his knowledge and his credentials, that he is a regular Mason.
Has a would-be visitor the right to demand a committee?
All affiliated Masons have the right to visit other lodges, provided that right is not in conflict with the prerogative of the Master to exclude from the lodge any brother whose presence, in his judgment, would interfere with the peace and harmony of the meeting; or the right of any brother of the lodge to object to the presence of a visitor with whom he cannot sit in peace and harmony. A well-informed and courteous visitor will not demand, but request a committee to examine him.
Can a Master Mason sit in lodge without an apron?
He can. So can he keep his hat on in church. But he should not, if aprons are available. A Mason is not properly clothed in lodge without an apron. At a communication attended so largely as to use all the aprons available, it would be unthinkable to exclude later comers who would clothe themselves properly if they could. Most Master Masons, if all the aprons are in use, will use a pocket-handkerchief as a substitute, merely as evidence to all that they know how a Mason should be clothed.
Can a lodge adjourn?
No. A lodge must always be in one of three conditions:
Nor can a lodge dictate to the Master when the lodge must be opened or closed. A Master cannot legally open his lodge before the stated time, but can open it as much later as he chooses; he has the sole power of calling special communications, and can close any communication at any time.
Is it permissible to offer a motion to lay on the table?
It is not. The Master has complete control of debate. He may initiate it, curtail it and close it, at his pleasure. Robert’s Rules of Order do NOT apply to Worshipful Masters presiding over their Lodges. No motion which curtails his power to control and limit debate should ever be offered. If offered, the well-informed Master will decline to accept it.
By Jimmy Stevens, 32°
Past Master Garner Lodge #701
6 November 2007
At our recent Grand Lodge communication a visiting Grand Master delivered a very timely and impressive oration entitled “What is Wrong with Masonry Today.” In that speech he very correctly pointed out a number of shortcomings and even failures on the part of our membership today. Certainly, there are many areas of Freemasonry that desperately need to be addressed, and the visiting Grand Master did an admirable job in pointing out those areas and offering ways to make improvements.
However, as I listened to him, two facts became very clear to me. First, every issue he raised related in someway to a substandard performance by some of the men who are Masons. Therefore, I concluded there really is nothing wrong with the fraternity of Masonry, in fact as we all know, no institution was ever founded on a more solid foundation or upon better principles. Some of us as Masons may not be practicing the Craft as we should, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with Masonry itself. Of course one might argue that if there is something wrong with those who make up an organization, then there must be something wrong with the organization per se. So for the sake of argument let us accept that supposition.
However, secondly, I was struck by the reality that there is much more right with Masonry than is wrong with it. Therefore, viewing the institution in a favorable light, let us for a few moments examine what is right with Freemasonry.
What is right with Masonry is that our beloved fraternity raises and donates more than two million dollars PER DAY for charities in the United States alone. Orphanages, Assisted Living Facilities, Children’s Hospitals, Burn Centers, Speech Therapy Centers, College Scholarships, and more all benefit from American Masonic Charity. This does not include the considerable amounts of money and other aid Brother Masons extend to each other privately, which may go unnoticed and unnoted except by Our Supreme Grand Master Who presides in the Celestial Lodge Above. Is it not wonderful and wondrous that about 1.5 million Masons in this country can raise almost $800 million annually to benefit others? What can be more right than that?
What is right with Masonry is that it is God-based. No atheist can be a Mason, for Masonry is, simply stated, another means of recognizing and improving our daily relationship with God. God’s Word is open and read in our Lodges, we pray to Him and exalt Him at every one of our Communications. We teach and practice principles He has handed down since time immemorial. Masonry without being God-based would be like a pillow without any stuffing, flat and useless. Masonry is God-based, what could be more right?
What is right with Masonry is that we have preserved our history, our customs, and our traditions. Some of our rituals are rooted in rites that were performed thousands of years ago. Most of our ceremonies have been basically unchanged for the past two hundred and fifty years. How thrilling it is to know that men like George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Neil Armstrong heard the same words, learned the same lessons, and experienced the same emotions that I have experienced as a Freemason. Oh how right it feels to appreciate such a rich tradition.
What is right with Masonry is that it takes good men and makes them better. Masons may have disagreements among themselves, they may even disappoint one another, but because an indissoluble chain of brotherly love and sincere affection links us together, we are much better able to lay aside differences, misunderstandings, and bruised egos. Masons are not only able, but also anxious to forgive and forget trespasses against one another and move on to more noble uses of their time and efforts. Obviously that is the right thing to do.
What is right with Masonry is that we obligate ourselves to aid, serve, and instruct one another and to honor, respect, and assist each other’s family. We can not only depend on our brother Mason, we can trust him whether he is a member of our own Lodge, or a Mason we have just met hundreds or thousands of miles from home. How I wish all organizations were like that, surely that is the right way to conduct ourselves.
Finally what is right with Masonry are its Masons, and their families. Men like our past masters, who invest so much into our fraternity. Men like our line officers, and our members who not only faithfully attend meetings but also practice Masonry everyday. Men who form our degree teams, who learn the degree work, who provide the lectures and conduct the funerals, who coach new Masons with their catechisms and nurture them. What is right with Masonry are women like our wives and daughters who support us and encourage us, who may wonder about some aspects of our strange Craft, but never question our motives, or complain about the time we put into it.
Those are some things that are right with Masonry and I thank God for His blessing of it.