May 2010

Commerce Lodge No. 439 A. F. & A. M.
This Month's Featured Small Town Lodge

The Commerce Lodge No. 439 A. F. & A. M. in Commerence, Texas

Texas Masons - A Photo Contest For "Grand Moments In Texas"

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Commerce Lodge No. 439 A. F. & A. M.

Grand Lodge Digs Deeper Pit

Hot day on Ice

Texas Masonic History - Samuel May Williams

The Secret Society Series - The Fifth of Six

Sydney's Masonic Secrets Revealed

The Birth of Free-Masonry; the Creation of a Myth Part 4 of 6

Don's Diary

The Genesis of Freemasonry - Freemasonry Conspiracy Theories Debunked

Masonic Impostors Redux

Civil War; Readers Write (Rural Lodge Newsletter)

Is This Woman A Freemason?

The Really Great Masonic Educational Web Sites Series

The Petitioning Process

Group Offers Local Men A Unique Social Network

The Simpsons" and the Freemasons

Building Freemasonry in the 21st Century

Masonry's Invisibility, and the Unfilled Hunger for Light.

Thoughts From Raymond SJ Daniels, Grand Master of Ontario.

Mt. Olive Lodge Has Served As Cornerstone For Rural Community.

Scotland: Masonic Lodge Is 100 Years Old.

The Internet – A Blessing and a Curse to Freemasonry..

A Look Inside A Freemasonry Lodge.

Freemasons Still Shrouded In Myth, Conspiracy Theories.

The Odds At The End.

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The Small Town Texas Mason's E-magazine
Page III
Commerce Lodge No. 439 A. F. & A. M.

History of Commerce Lodge No. 439 A. F. & A. M. There is difficulty in reducing the history of any Masonic Lodge to writing as most of the contribution of Masonry is reflected not in recorded civic activities as an organization but in the support of worthwhile endeavors such as hospitals, homes for the aged and orphaned, etc., and in the individual involvement of its members in the community, state and national affairs. The more salient facts of Masonic history are preserved, however, through permanent records and indisputable oral testimony. An even greater problem is encountered in writing a history of Commerce in that most of its early records were destroyed by fire in 1892, but as stated before much of Masonic tradition is preserved through oral testimony, from that we draw a brief history.

There were few Masonic Lodges in this area in 1875, the year Commerce Lodge No. 439 A. F. & A. M. was chartered. There were three in Hunt County, at Greenville, Lone Oak and Kingston, but the nearest was at Cumby, Hopkins No. 180 A. F. & A. M., and that is where those in Commerce went for help when the need for and desire for a Masonic Lodge was determined, and, at a stated meeting a petition to the Grand Lodge of Texas was read asking for a charter or warrant empowering the signers to constitute and set to work a new Masonic Lodge in the Town of Commerce, Texas to be known as Commerce Lodge No. 439.

The petition was unanimously approved by Hopkins Lodge and the Petitioners recommended as worthy masons. It was signed by the following brethren, Seventeen in number.

B. F. Loving
L. W. Presley
C. J. Hundley
William Jernigin
Robert Sayle
J. T. Nea l
J. Dunaway
R. W. Lilly
Wilson Riley
Grabriel Jackson
Sylvester Riley
J. M. Huges
J. Culver
G. G. Julian
G. W. Turley
J. H. Jackson
J. J. Bridgers
Commerce Lodge worked under dispensation from January ninth, 1875, until June fifth, 1875, when the Grand Lodge in its Thirty Ninth Grand Annual Convocation granted a charter to Commerce Lodge No. 439 A. F. & A. M. signed by the following Grand Officers.

Joseph D. Sayers Grand Master Marcus F. Mott Deputy Grand Master Norton Moses Grand Senior Warden E. G. Bower Grand Junior Warden Benjamin A. Botts Grand Treasurer G. H Bringhurst Grand Secretary

Commerce Lodge No. 439 A. F. & A. M. was chartered on June fifth, 1875. The original charter application shows Ashland as the location, but when the charter was issued, its location is shown as Commerce. In 1892 fire destroyed the lodge building and charter, and on December 10, 1892 a duplicate charter was issued. (In 1930 Fairlie Lodge No. 845 merged with this lodge and in 1936 South Sulphur Lodge No. 471 A. F. & A. M. merged with Commerce Lodge No. 439 A. F. & A. M.)

Commerce Lodge was instituted and set to work in the second story of Marsh Goff's Mill then located about were the Baptist Church now stands on Washington Street.

They continued to meet there until they built where the present Masonic lodge now stands. We don't know when the building was occupied. This building burned some time during the year 1982 together with all records.

The lodge then met over W. W. Rutlands store that stood where Freezia & Steger is now (at the corner of Washington and Main). From there they moved into the I. O. O. F. Lodge building until they could complete the present building where they have met since. (Although no dedication or occupant record exists it was about 1894).

The first member to join Commerce Lodge was by affiliation on March 13, 1875, was Brother J. A. Borough, Then W. H. Coats and I. E. Polk on April 10th, 1875.

The first names to be presented for initiation were G. W. Cooper, J. B. Littlepage and I. N. Marshall on March 13th, 1875. They were elected and made Entered Apprentices on April 10th, 1875.

On November 13th, 1875, G. W. Cooper and I. N. Marshall were passed to the degree of Fellowcraft and on December 11th, 1875, they were raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason.

Membership has changed with the times:

1875 Chartered with 17 members, 3 affiliations total 20

1900 growing total 70

1925 prosperity, roaring twenties total 263

1950 post WWII boom total 415

1975 leveling off from post WWII boom total 319

From 1875, with an original 17 members the Lodge grew in membership steadily until 1929, when it reached a then all time high of 278 members. Suspensions for non-payment of dues during the depression years when most had little but enough for food and clothing were high and the Lodge membership reflected it, dropping to 185 members in 1936. With the economic recovery, young men who reached the lawful age during WWII caused a boom in membership at the close of the war. Aided by the great number of veterans attending ETSU during those years the Lodge achieved a membership total in excess of 400 during the early 1950s. During 1949-50 alone 36 new members were added to Commerce Lodge No. 439 A. F. & A. M. Membership growth returned to normal there and has leveled off during recent years with total membership of the Commerce Lodge remaining around the 200 mark.

Among the many prominent individuals who have served as Master of Commerce Lodge No. 439 A. F. & A. M. were two of its more illustrious citizens, W. L. Mayo and A. L. Day. The fact that many streets and plat developments in Commerce today bear the name of many of the Past Masters and members (Jeringin, Mangum, Culver, Mayo, Taylor, Neal streets) (Hundley & surveys) reflects their involvement in community growth and activities.

Numerous individuals have served as Secretary to Commerce Lodge No. 439 A. F. & A. M. during these 100 plus years, and in this capacity contributed invaluable service. Among those serving three or more terms as Secretary are F. N. Sheely and W. Y. Goff. Herbert Wheeler, however holds the record for continuous service and for total service, having been Secretary from 1942 to 1973, over 30 years.

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Page IV
Grand Lodge Digs Deeper Pit

Reprinted From The
Rural Lodge Newsletter

Editor Rural Lodge: Report of an ongoing Masonic saga as taken from the pages of Bro Chris Hodapp's erudite and entertaining blog, which I highly commend to you.

Background info. A brother in WV was publicly humiliated in his own lodge by the then Grand Master, in conduct by the GM which is unbecoming a Mason. That brother was expelled from the WV grand jurisdiction.

This brother moved to Ohio where he was examined and made a Mason. He was voted in unanimously, and the GM of Ohio, MW Terry Posey, posted that information on his blog. The GL of WV then made itself even more of a pariah by withdrawing its recognition of the GL of Ohio.

The brother who was humiliated and expelled was a Past GM of WV. Both blogsites have been recommended in these pages before:

Chris Hodapp

MW Terry Posey had an interesting blog site even before this imbroglio started, and was recommended in these pages. The reflections are informative, generally discussing the GM's progress. Although it is ex cathedra, it cannot be regarded as an official website.

From Chris Hodapp's blog 22 April 2010:

PGM Frank Haas Initiated, Passed and Raised In Ohio

The following was posted on the official Grand Master of Ohio's blogsite last night.

Frank Haas is a Judge in West Virginia and until several years ago was Grand Master of West Virginia. The story of his being expelled from the Grand Lodge of West Virginia is well-documented in various Masonic and other publications. I have reviewed as many as were available, including West Virginia's Proceedings, the NewYork Times and .

He moved to Ohio last year. After that, he petitioned Steubenville Lodge # 45 for the degrees of Freemasonry.

I thoroughly researched the Code of the Grand Lodge of Ohio and there is nothing to prevent his receiving these degrees. Inasmuch as he is an Ohio resident, the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Ohio confers jurisdiction over his membership to the Grand Lodge of Ohio and the lodge's membership.

He made a full disclosure of the Notice of Expulsion by the Past Grand Master of West Virginia and answered all questions presented to him by the Lodge's Committee of Investigation. The Lodge did the necessary background work, including a home visit. They were assured that he was a good man and true, and he met all requirements, including residency for the requisite time, for membership. Steubenville Lodge # 45 gave a unanimous ballot approving his membership.

On April 17, he received the three degrees of Freemasonry in Steubenville Lodge.
Terry W. Posey
Grand Master

Meanwhile, Haas' lawsuit against the Grand Lodge of West Virginia is still going forward, and is scheduled for July. I have been told by more than one West Virginia Mason that the grand lodge has spent nearly $100,000 in its court battle to keep their Past Grand Master out of the fraternity. That may or may not be an exaggeration, but it seems like an awfully big price tag for the brethren of WV to shoulder. Now that Ohio has taken Haas in, my personal hope is that West Virginia will not try to retaliate against them, and that surrounding states will simply remain neutral.

Recaps of the expulsion of Past Grand Master Haas in 2007 and the subsequent actions can be found at The Freemasonry For Dummies Blogspot.

21 April 2010

Grand Lodge of West Virginia Withdraws Recognition of Ohio

This was posted today on the Grand Lodge of Ohio's website:

The Grand Master of West Virginia, Gregory A. Riley, Sr., issued an edict on April 19, 2010 withdrawing fraternalrecognition from the Grand Lodge of Ohio because Steubenville Lodge No. 45 elected Frank Haas to membershipand conferred the three degrees of Masonry on him on Saturday, April 17, 2010.

There is no information on the Grand Lodge of West Virginia AF&AM website, which has not been updated, apart from the Grand Master's name, in at least four years.

Hot day on Ice

Written by Diane Gibas  
From The
Mille Lac Messenger

Photo: Brandon Cruz from Wharton Texas decided it was time to take the chicken off the fire. He made his own rub and sauce for the chicken and cooked the bird using the beer-can method. Photo by Diane Gibas.
The Iron Chef has nothing over the Mille Lacs area. Buzzie's on the Bay hosted the Fourth Annual Fire on Ice BBQ contest. Twenty-two teams vied for first place honors, and the competition was stiff. “Them Damn Fools” —a team of rookies from Texas —  challenged seasoned contestents to making great barbecue on the ice.

Temps were below zero at 6 a.m. on Saturday as the contestents lit their cookers and got ready for the day, but when the sun came up, temperatures followed and there was a lot of good food to be tasted. Last year's winner, Dave Covington said the cold made it easier to stop the cooking immediately when he was searing his meat on a Weber before putting it in his smoker.

Dave Swenson and Wally Rich from Luck Wisconsin competed as the team, “Nothing Butt Smoke. ” They only use an all natural lump charcoal and flavoring woods for their barbecue. They are careful not to contaminate the flavor with additives from briquette charcoal. Last year at Fire on Ice they competed for the first time.

Brandon Cruz and Walter Wesley came from Wharton Texas at the invitation of the “Bones Brothers,” Chris Collette and Kirby Olson from Anoka. The Bones Brothers are the only registered Kansas City Barbecue Society registered, Masonic-sponsored team on the barbecue circut.

Olson, Collette and Cruz are Masons and heard about each other's barbecue feats through the Masonic Lodge. “It started as a Facebook joke,” David Broman, a lodge brother of Cruz said.

The Texans invited  the Minnesota team to Texas last summer, and after cooking in 106 degree temperatures in Texas, they invited Cruz to the Fire on Ice contest in Minnesota. Some members of the Anoka Lodge came to cheer their brothers on in the contest. The two teams shared a tent for preparing their meat for the judges and encouraged each other's efforts. In the end, Don Bickford of Ham Lake, Todd Krynski and Mark Burgess of Effingham Ill. took first place honors as “Loose Stool Barbecue” team.

In addition they took home two trophies for fifth place in pork loin and ribs, seventh place in chicken and 10th place in tri tip. After the event, leftover meat is served with Buzzie's side dishes to all who want to eat. Proceeds of the meal go to the Isle Food Shelf.

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Page V
This Issue's Visit In Texas Masonic History

 Texas Pioneer, Businessman, and Freemason

Samuel May Williams was the eldest child of Howell and Dorothy Williams, and was born on October 4, 1795, in Providence, Rhode Island. His father was a sea captain, and instilled a love of the sea and things nautical in young Sam Williams.

His education was in Providence, R.I., and at the age of 15 he became an apprentice to his uncle, Nathaniel F. Williams, a Baltimore commission merchant. This apprenticeship afforded him the opportunity to travel, and soon he journeyed to Buenos Aires. It was here that he mastered the Spanish language and Latin American business practice. Upon his return to the United States, he settled in New Orleans. In 1822, using an assumed name, E. Eccleston,

Sam Williams went to Texas. It is unclear why he used the assumed name; some say it was because of a business deal gone bad; others say it was to escape creditors; and some say it was because of a woman – but whatever the case, Sam Williams set forth and became one of Stephen F. Austin's original "300" settlers.

A year later, Samuel May Williams resumed his true identity, and became Stephen F. Austin's translator and secretary. For the next thirteen years, Williams was Austin's lieutenant; he wrote deeds, kept records, and directed colonial activities during Austin's absences. In 1826, Sam Williams was named postmaster of San Felipe and was appointed revenue collector and dispenser of stamped paper by the state of Coahuila, Mexico. For these services he received eleven leagues (49,000 acres) of land which he selected on strategic waterways including Oyster Creek and Buffalo Bayou.

In 1833, Sam Williams entered into a partnership with Thomas F. McKinney and formed McKinney and Williams, a mercantile company, and they soon dominated the Brazos cotton trade.

Williams and Texas Independence

When Texas declared independence from Mexico, the firm of McKinney and Williams used its credit in the United States to purchase arms and raise funds for Texas. As the company relied heavily on maritime commerce, both McKinney and Williams were strong supporters of a Navy for Texas. They were successful in obtaining letters of Marque and Reprisal from the newly formed Texas government (letters granting them permission to act as warships for the Texas government), and they set about immediately to arm some of their existing fleet.

Sam Williams traveled to Washington DC to negotiate with the US government for a loan to allow the Republic of Texas to buy warships, and McKinney became the captain of his firm's retrofitted sailing ship "San Felipe". When Stephen F. Austin was released from Mexican prison, McKinney was dispatched to transport Austin, by sea, back to Texas. At the end of the voyage and as they approached the Texas shore, the San Felipe encountered the Mexican warship "Correo", which was attempting to capture a US merchant ship that was unloading lumber at McKinney and William's dock! McKinney was hesitant to attack the Mexican ship with Stephen F. Austin on board his ship, so Austin was put on a smaller boat and taken to shore. The San Felipe then attempted to attack the Correo. Both ships were sailing vessels and relied upon the wind for power, and the wind that day was such that neither ship could gain an advantage. They spent the rest of the day (for lack of a better way of saying it) taking pot shots at each other. The wind was no better the next morning, so one of McKinney and William's steamships, using the load of lumber from the US vessel as fuel, steamed out to the San Felipe and towed her over to an ideal attack location, and the Correo surrendered! The ship was seized and the men on board taken prisoner. McKinney was sure that the United States would try them for piracy, as they had attacked a US merchantman. The United States, however, refused to do so.

When Sam Williams learned that the United States had refused to hear the case against the men of the Correo, he decided that it was time to stop negotiating for a loan to buy warships, and take positive action. He purchased the newly built "Invincible" using his own credit, and this ship became the flagship of the Texas Navy. Sam Williams thus became know as the "Father of the Texas Navy." Before the revolution was over, McKinney and Williams invested nearly $100,000 (in 1836 US dollars) in the cause of the Republic of Texas.

Samuel Williams and the Republic of Texas

As an investor in the Galveston City Company, Sam Williams aided in developing the city by helping to construct the Tremont Hotel as well as the commission house and wharf. In 1842, Henry Howell Williams assumed his brother's interest in the firm, which became H. H. Williams and Company, and Sam Williams concentrated on banking. Under William's leadership, the Galveston Commission house received special permission from the Texas Congress to found a bank to issue and circulate paper money as an aid to commerce.

Sam Williams later ran for the United States Congress in 1846, but was unsuccessful. In 1848, Williams activated a charter he received in 1835, obtained from Coahuila and Texas and approved by the Republic of Texas in 1836, to open the Commercial and Agricultural Bank of Galveston, which also printed its own money. This venture was eventually closed because of unpopular sentiment about banking that prevailed during that time.

Samuel Williams and Masonry

Samuel May Williams was made a Mason at Independence Royal Arch Lodge #2 in New York, so he was a Mason when he came to Texas. There is some evidence that Williams and Stephen F. Austin worked together to attempt to obtain a charter from The Grand Lodge of Mexico to start a lodge in San Felipe, but by this time there was considerable unrest between the citizens of Texas and the Santa Anna's government, and the request was dropped. Later, Williams would affiliate with Harmony Lodge #6 in Galveston, and found the San Felipe Encampment #1 of Knights Templar. He was the first High Priest of Royal Arch Masons in Texas, and the first Eminent Commander of Knights Templar in Texas.

Although Williams is not listed as one of the original members of the Grand Lodge of Texas, it was very soon after this body's founding that he became a member. That he was not one of the original members is curious, given his history with Austin and his early work to bring Masonry to Texas. He was active in Grand Lodge, however, and served as the Grand Master of Masons in Texas in 1840.

Later Life

Sam Williams lived quietly with his wife, Sarah Patterson Scott, on a country estate west of the city of Galveston. He died September 13, 1858, and was buried with a Knight Templar ceremony. He was survived by his wife and four of his nine children.

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Page VI
The Secret Society Series - The Fifth of Six

Morristown Freemasons Offer Glimpse of Secretive Society

BY Rob Jennings • Staff Writer
From The Rural Masonic Lodge Newsletter

MORRISTOWN -- When Ulysses Reyes moved from the Philippines to Morristown about a year ago, among his first stops was a visit to the Masonic Temple on Maple Avenue. Reyes, an information technology worker, said he joined the Freemasons -- a centuries-old fraternal organization steeped in history and mystery -- in his native country and was looking to re-establish his connection. Since "modes and manner of recognition'' are among the many closely guarded secrets of Freemasonry, Reyes -- among the attendees at a four-hour open house Saturday at the temple -- did not say how he conveyed his credentials. Reyes, however, said he was quickly welcomed into the local chapter of approximately 200 members.

By 2 p.m., only about a dozen visitors had ventured into the building, home of Cincinnati Lodge No. 3 since 1938. Masonic lodges throughout New Jersey opened their doors to the public Saturday for "Square and Compassses Day,'' a longtime, semi-annual tradition whose name derives from Masonic symbols, said member Alex Gillespie. Gillespie said the square represents "squaring one's actions with virtue and morality,'' and the compass denotes "circumscribing your passions within due boundaries.'' '

Phil Caliolio, whose title is "worshipful master,'' maintained that interest in the Masons has heightened in recent years, in part due to references in movies such as "The da Vinci Code'' and "National Treasure.' Back in the old days, it was pretty much secret,'' he said.

The open house in Morristown was aimed at providing at least an overview of the still-mysterious organization. Thirteen signers of the U.S. Constitution and 14 U.S. presidents, the last being ,
Gerald Ford, purportedly were members. Gillespie, an attorney from Morristown, said members must believe in a Supreme Beingbut not necessarily a particular religion, and that Masons perform charitable works but are not a charitable organization per se. "We're not a secret society. We're a society with secrets,'' he said. Meetings are held twice per month in Morristown, at which discussion is similar to "the ordinary business of any fraternal organization,'' Gillespie said.

The goal of Saturday's outreach, Gillespie added, was not necessarily boosting declining membership but raising awareness. "Masonry in general is not as large as it was 20 years ago, but frankly that's good. Our quality is up,'' he said. Before initiating a new member, Masons proceed with diligence, he explained. "You wouldn't want someone who is right-handed to join a left-handed organization,'' he said.

Sydney's Masonic Secrets Revealed

Source: Central Sydney – Where I live

It took a Dan Brown novel to prompt them, but the Freemasons have finally come out of hiding and turned a spot light on their famously secret society.

Following a resurgence of interest in the society after Dan Brown’s novel The Symbol focused on the organisation, the Freemasons have produced a book about the society in Australia called, It’s No Secret – Real Men Do Wear Aprons by Peter Lazar.

It is the first to identify notable Australians as Freemasons, the first to include quotations from the ancient Masonic rituals still in use and the first to show Masonic “Tracing Boards”, which are at the heart of Masonic teaching.

Masons trace their origins back to the time of King Solomon and the stone masons who built his temple. Famous Australian Masons include Matthew Flinders, Robert Menzies and Don Bradman.

There are more than 200 lodges in NSW, including the Grand Lodge at the corner of Goulburn and Castlereagh Sts – home to an extensive museum collection open to the public on weekdays. Few are allowed into the inner chambers.

Almost every family has a connection with the Masons according to the society. Most have a dad, or an uncle, or a grandfather who went off to a lodge – without ever saying what happened there.

Masons believe in a higher power, but one that could derive from any number of faiths and Masonic altars contain a number of holy texts including the Bible, the Koran and the Torah.

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Page VII
The Birth of Free-Masonry; the Creation of a Myth Part 4 of 6
Eric Ward, Ars Quatuor Coronatorum vol. 91 (for 1978) pp. 77- 86 ISBN: 0 9502001 6 6.
Reprinted From The Rural Lodge Newsletter

This study is concerned with the age of our society. It is not an attempt to make it seem older than it is, for an unquestionably great history does not need to be given an artificial patina.

Eric Ward, Ars Quatuor Coronatorum vol. 91 (for 1978) pp. 77-86 ISBN: 0 9502001 6 6.


The preceding contentions should have made unnecessary any consideration of the seemingly endless other interpretations of the word free such as are found in masonic literature. However, there is one dear to many writers which keeps recurring, namely the freedom of a town, gild or company.

An apprentice to any trade centred upon a town would, on completion of his training, be approved by the craft body to which he belonged. Such approval, accompanied by some formalities, qualified him to practise his craft without hindrance from within. He was then free from the tedium of apprenticeship and free to work as a skilled craftsman, but to secure protection of his business from outsiders it was necessary to obtain the Freedom of the town.

In all these variations in meaning of the term free, none was used as a prefix to a trade description denoting a man's craft and in the building trade a freestone mason, i.e. a freemason was already so-called before becoming a Freeman of his town. Therefore to be awarded the Freedom contributed nothing to the derivation of free in freemason.

Municipal records throughout the country contain countless examples supporting this simple fact, as is demonstrated by the following typical extracts from the Burgess Books of Bristol:

7 Aug 1713 'William Chatterton junior ffreemason admitted into the liberties of this city for that he was the son and apprentice of William Chatterton . . .'
26 Feb 1724 'Esau Osborne ffreemason admitted freeman by marriage

Newsletter Editor: Note the ff as an initial letter in 18th century MSS merely means 'capital F', so becomes … just as means (and is pronounced) .

The freemasons in the two examples are frequently mentioned in contemporary building records and are noted for their work in freestone. Chatterton belonged to a family which, for generations, had been employed on the fabric of St. Mary Redcliff Church.


In the previous sections and in historical literature generally references are made to nonoperative masons as the opposite numbers of operatives, but such an apparently obvious distinction is not, strictly speaking, always adequate. All are familiar with the expression 'we are not operative, but free and accepted or speculative masons,' and cumbersome as it may be this phrase indicates a subtle and not so obvious difference.

It is a commonplace that from the earliest recorded times medieval trade organizations customarily elected as members prominent persons not directly interested in their trading or working activities. We have no evidence of English stonemason bodies ever doing so but Scottish mason lodges are on record from 1634 of having such members. It is however of historic importance that, despite the influx of these non-operatives, the Scottish lodges without exception remained operative in character and customs until well into the 18th century. This is true even of the lodge at Haughfoot, originally composed entirely of non-operatives but later supplemented by men of the trade. The customs of this lodge do not appear to have differed from those of other decidedly craft lodges in the vicinity. The non-operatives in Scotland evidently had no authority materially to alter trade customs and we know of no instance of such changes.

Haughfoot Lodge in Scotland Haughfoot Lodge was founded in the year 1702 and may have been the world's first lodge of purely speculative Masons.The Grand Lodge of Scotland was founded in 1736, but the Haughfoot Lodge remained independent during its existence from 1702 – 1763 The current lodge was founded in August 2002 for Masonic educational purposes and to be a continuation of the historical fact of the original lodge's existence. The Haughfoot Lodge No 1824 was set up as a new Masonic Lodge to examine, study and to exemplify the actual degree workings carried out in the original Haughfoot Lodge (and other Lodges of Freemasons working before 1700). These were the rituals being used before the formation of a Grand Lodge - (England 1717 - Ireland - 1725 - Scotland 1736.

In England an entirely different and unprecedented situation developed in the 17th century when lodges began to appear which from their inception were independent of the mason trade. Because of this autonomy, which included independence as between lodges, the members were not inhibited from making changes in rites and customs as they thought fit. These lodges being the prototypes from which Free-masonry took shape, the term non-operative if applied to the membership infers the existence of operative members. This is misleading because the trades or professions of members of this kind of lodge were immaterial and a better description is still accepted or adopted masons as was current at the time.

Thus, the difference between self-governing English lodges of accepted or adopted masons, independent of the trade of building, and the essentially operative Scottish lodges, using standardized formalities which their correctly termed non-operative members had no power to change, is historically significant. Furthermore, it provides a key to the explanation why early English lodges borrowed, assimilated and developed so much ritual matter patently of Scottish origin.


Attention has already been drawn to several early commentators who, in distinguishing between operative and nonoperative masonry, evidently recognized these two very different entities as coexisting at the time when they wrote. To carry this recognition to a logical conclusion, the emergence of Free and Accepted masonry when the building trade was still flourishing should have indicated the need for a history of its own as an independent growth. Those who gave thought to the matter must have been faced with two problems, the more urgent and difficult being to find evidence of what we call the speculative element as a feature of medieval masonry. The second problem, which followed from the first, was that, if such a speculative element had existed among working freemasons for so long, why did they allow so valuable an adjunct to their trade to fall into disuse and, by the 18th century, let it be taken over entirely by nonprofessionals ?

There was a way of reconciling these two problems, albeit at the expense of admitting that non-operative masonry had a discontinuous history and this was achieved by calling the events of c. 1717 the 'Revival'.

To exponents of this theory, revival meant bringing back to life a Free-Masonry which had become moribund when the golden age of Gothic architecture declined and was for the time being superseded by another very different style. We can here only briefly consider how the theory came about.

Continued On Page VII

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The Birth of Free-Masonry; the Creation of a Myth Part 4 of 6

Continued From Page VII

The author of the 1723 Constitutions, undoubtedly reflecting the taste of the era, deprecated the Gothic architecture of the middle ages and warmly applauded the renaissance of the Augustan style. Numerous examples could be seen in London in the works of Inigo Jones who started the movement and of Wren, Hawksmoor, Gibbs, Vanbrugh and others who broadened it. Anderson thus speaks more or less correctly of a revival of the ancient Augustan style, a conspicuous feature being the rounded arch portrayed typically in the frontispiece to the 1723 Constitutions. He then goes on to say that 'in the reign of King James II, though some Roman buildings were carried on, the lodges of Free-Masons in London, much dwindled into ignorance by not being duly frequented and cultivated'. We must return to consideration of this passage later but clearly

Anderson, obsessed as he was by a style which as he put it was recovered from the 'ruins of Gothic ignorance', could hardly have argued simultaneously on behalf of a revival of the Free-Masonry which he regarded as associated with the latter.

The cover of the Regius Manuscript
But, in the 1738 Constitutions, the author speaks of another facet of revival in 1717, that of the Quarterly Communications and Annual Assembly, without however giving any evidence that the former had ever been customary before. To annual assemblies, references occur in the Regius and Cooke MSS. which made provision for operative masons to congregate, but whether they ever did so other than on a local scale is doubtful. It is possible that local or regional meetings did take place for in 1425 the preamble to the Act (3 Henry VI c. I) cited a complaint that 'by yearly congregations and confederacies made by the masons in their general chapters assembled, the Statutes of Labourers were broken and made ineffective'. The Act made such meetings unlawful because they were believed to be concerned with wages and working conditions.

All these circumstances, together with the conspicuous absence of documentary evidence of operative mason bodies approximating in character to the nonoperative English lodges of the 17th and early 18th centuries, led to the theory that the event of 1717 was a revival of a movement whose heyday was in the Gothic era when the building of great thin-walled structures unquestionably demanded both design and manual skills of a very high order.

With the decline of Gothic architecture, so it was said, 'no more churches built; the builders die out' (Gould AQC 3, p. ii). Lionel Vibert (reprinted in AQC 85, p. ii, etc.) started his paper 'Freemasonry . . . before Grand Lodges' with '. . . when the revived Freemasonry of London and Westminster' and thereafter pursued the notion that, resulting from the decline, the operative secrets known to the builders were lost to their successors. This paper of Vibert's is a remarkably plausible mixture of fact and imagination and is quoted only as an example of a widespread belief that once existed to explain away absence of data to demonstrate continuity between the mason craft of the middle ages and free and accepted masonry of the early 18th century.

Now it is true that several examples of the original Gothic Constitutions have survived and Anderson's incorporation of a digested form of these documents in the 1723 Constitutions gave the appearance of a direct link. But the fact of stating that very few lodges were in existence in the London of the early 1700s despite the feverish activity in the building trade following the Great Fire needed explanation.

To those who believed that the fraternity c. 1723 was destined to preserve unto the mysteries prevalent in former times, the absence of operative lodges as organized entities in the South of England in the 18th century seemed inevitably to point to revival. Out of this belief there emerged the further assumption that the lodges used by medieval masons and those of the non-operatives served much the same philosophic and esoteric purposes or, at least, that there was enough in common to equate them.

But if we take 'revive' to mean assuming fresh life or vigour after nearly dying, we have to consider why the freemason's craft was thought to have passed through such a traumatic experience. In fact it did not, for building in stone continued with as much vigour in the 17th and 18th centuries as in earlier periods. Furthermore, some modern scholars (e.g. H M Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of English Architects 1640-1840) maintain that the sixty years between 1666 and 1720 constituted one of the finest eras of English architectural craftsmanship. Realization that this was a conspicuous fact probably led to the view that the Reformation and consequent reduction in church building caused the decline of Gothic architecture and with it a loss of secrets in that art.

There is no evidence of any such loss resulting from the Reformation and indeed the Gothic style was itself revived in the 19th century without any insuperable difficulties being encountered. Undoubtedly, we now know far more about building techniques than the medieval mason even dreamed of.

The Great fire of London in 1666
In a quite different sense there was a loss but it contributed nothing to help the revival theory. The Great Fire of London in 1666 destroyed not only much of the City but also such monopoly as was hitherto enjoyed by the Masons' Company. In order to cope with the vast rebuilding work necessary Parliament decreed that masons (and others) from outside London were to be permitted to work in the city and, provided that they sojourned there for seven years, they would receive the same privileges as Freemen for the rest of their lives. This edict marked the beginning of the end of any gild-like vestiges possessed by the building crafts in the capital and, by extension, elsewhere.

However, the fatal weakness of the revival theory is that not only does it by definition destroy any claims to continuity but requires a great deal more information than has ever been discovered to show clearly what it was that was being revived. The prime purpose of this section of my paper has been to demolish a commonly-held belief in a revival of Freemasonry from Gothic times, something that was lost but found again. Although such a belief rests upon the flimsiest of foundations, there was nevertheless a form of revival much more limited, quite different in character and unquestionably true.


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The Small Town Texas Mason's E-magazine
Page IX

Freemasonry Has No Dogma Or Sacraments.

By Very Worshipful Bro. Don Paterson
Article reprinted with permission of
the author and
The Lodge of Devotion # 723

Brother Don is Past Master of the Lodge of Devotion # 723 and several other lodges In Australia. He is also a member of Grand Lodge Victoria and a retired Colonel of the Australian Army and was stationed in Vietnam in the 1960's as a Combat Infantry Commander. He had a second career in transport and privatisation   Don's writes a monthly column in the Devotion Lodge News called "Don's Diary".

As boys we attended the same church. It was one that had a Freemason as its head in Victoria until less than 20 years ago, one also being a Grand Master.

Every two or three years for over 50 years when I returned to Melbourne after periods interstate or overseas it was so pleasant for us to meet with our wives. One had been a friend since we were together in 2nd Grade, I had met my wife at his home and he had been my Best Man. One of the wives was my wife’s best friend since schooldays. Five of us had become Freemasons quite independently, but only I remain affiliated. Our conversations would re-commence where we had left off. But our recent meetings have become strained. It would be cynical to say that “God had got them” because the problem has resulted from a church that they all now attend together. Their God is not the one I know. Their preacher has persuaded them that Freemasonry is one of the great evils of the world, satanic in nature. You might ask how this churches’ view has changed in the last 20 years? I do.

I have searched the volume of literature on the Internet for an explanation. Every word of the Craft ritual has been perused and invariably subject to adverse criticism. I would not attempt to respond to each comment. However, it seems that these are the main areas of criticism:

· That Freemasonry is a religion and that masons hope to gain salvation by being good people and doing good deeds and not through Jesus (Mohamed, Yahweh etc).

· That masons are sinful by not referring to Jesus by name (referring to the use of the name “Great Architect of the Universe”)

· By accepting the relevance of all religions with a Supreme Being masons are detracting from the only true church (theirs!).

· Taking an obligation is sinful.

· There should be no secrets that cannot be revealed to your Confessor.

Freemasonry has no dogma or sacraments. Nor does it offer salvation. Freemasonry itself says it "is not a religion". I do not know a single Freemason who believes that he will gain salvation by being strictly obedient to its laws. You see Service Chaplains from all churches jointly participating in military services and governments that recognise all churches – are they all sinful too? An oath of office is an obligation and these are taken by Doctors, Ministers of State and members of the Judiciary– are they also sinful? It is in fact an offence to reveal corporate information in certain instances and I would hope no State security secret would be revealed to a Confessor.

But how should one try to explain all this to a zealot, one who is prejudiced or feels some threat from Freemasonry that offers a brotherhood to all good and God believing men? Let us then look at the credibility of some of our accusers who condemn a Fraternity whose sole objective is "brotherly love, relief and truth". Clearly this does not apply to all but we have seen behaviour that cost a Governor General his commission. Some we know would make a Madam blush and sadly too many children cry. Freemasons, elders of a church, have been denied a church funeral but such a service has been given even recently to those who have erred in a way which would offend religious standards. It seems hard to believe that there are principles behind the criticisms, but just prejudice and self interest. Ignore them and suffer some religious isolation.

I have found that in the long run nobody prospers simply by criticizing others. Churches used to be one of the main providers of welfare, education and healthcare and well as providing spiritual nourishment. It is time some focused on these ministries.

The Genesis of Freemasonry
The Masonic Myth: Freemasonry Conspiracy Theories Debunked

Reviewed by David M. Kinchen

English historian  David Harrison, PhD, explores the origins of Freemasonry in a scholarly but very readable book The Genesis of Freemasonry (Lewis Masonic, an imprint of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd., Hersham, Surrey, England, 244 pages, $31.95, available on and other online booksellers).

Harrison sent me a review copy of his book after reading my reviews of books on Freemasonry on this site. He suggested that it would be useful to understand the intellectual underpinnings of Freemasonry via a scholarly book like his. As I write this review, I'm watching a program on American Freemasonry on the History Channel, which has an endless fascination with the subject, along with the Illuminati and the Knights Templar.

Masonry has been described as a "society of secrets" as well as a "secret society." Historian Harrison is a lecturer in history at the University of Liverpool, where he earned his doctorate. He reconstructs the hidden history of the movement, tracing its roots through a mixture of medieval guild societies, alchemy and necromancy.

He examines the earliest known Freemasons and their obsessions with Solomon's Temple, alchemy, and prophecy, to the formation of the Grand Lodge in London in 1717, which in turn led to rebellions within the Craft throughout England.

Harrison also analyzes the role of French immigrant, Dr Jean Theophilus Desaguliers, a Protestant refugee from Roman Catholic persecution, in the development of English Freemasonry, focusing on his involvement with the formation of the mysterious modern Masonic ritual. All Freemasons and more general readers will find much of interest in this fascinating exploration of the very beginnings of Freemasonry, still one of the most mysterious brotherhoods in the world, he says.

Freemasonry had its origins in the guilds of  "operative" masons -- actual stoneworkers -- who attracted the attention of "speculative" masons, mostly gentlemen and members of mercantile and aristocratic classes in the United Kingdom. It soon became fashionable for intellectuals and scientists and architects to become masons, where, Harrison says  they could leave their religious and political differences at the door to the lodge, often a tavern or pub. It afforded like-minded men of all classes in the heavily class conscious UK  to get together and eat and drink -- lots of drink -- Harrison says, and discuss intellectual and philosophic and scientific ideas.

Harrison discusses the differences between the "Antients" and the "Moderns" in Freemasonry -- differences which led to rebellions and schisms in the "craft," as Masons call their system of belief. Originally, speculative Freemasonry had only three degrees, as compared to the 33 of today's "supersized" Freemasonry. Initiates of the First Degree were called "Entered Apprentices," while Second Degree masons were called "Fellow Craft." Those attaining the highest degree, the Third Degree, were called "Master Masons."  Before the 1720s, there were only two degrees, Harrison says: "These were extended into three degrees by the leaders of the 'Moderns.'"

I was startled, to say the least, to find in Harrison's books descriptions of licentious clubs called Hell Fire Clubs, organized by prominent Freemasons, where the men dressed like monks and the invited women, including local talent, dressed like nuns, engaging in orgiastic ceremonies.

I queried the good doctor by e-mail and he confirmed my interpretation: "Yes, you are absolutely right, the Duke of Wharton and later, Sir Francis Dashwood (both Freemasons) used the Hell Fire Clubs as a pseudo Masonic orgy on their country estates; the mix of secrecy, ritual and sex being an attractive way to spend the time with their close circle of influential friends, very much like [Stanley] Kubrick's [1999] film 'Eyes Wide Shut.'"

Read Harrison's fascinating book to expand your knowledge of Freemasonry, including its attraction to men of letters like Alexander Pope, Byron, Ben Jonson and James Boswell, along with scientists like Sir Isaac Newton and architects like Sir Christopher Wren, Inigo Jones and Nicholas Stone.

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Page X
Masonic Impostors Redux: "sleight-of-hand and song-and-dance man"

From the
National Heritage Museum

Our blog turns one year old this week, and we thought we'd harken back to our first post and return to the subject of Masonic impostors, by featuring another image from the Album of Masonic Impostors, published by the General Masonic Relief Association of the United States and Canada in 1903.

But first a little background about the organization that published the Album. In 1885, a number of Masonic organizations in North America met in Baltimore to organize the General Masonic Relief Association of the United States and Canada, in order “to establish a central organization for the purpose of facilitating the discovery and exposure of persons traveling about the country and imposing upon the charities of Masons.”

One of the main ways that they accomplished this was by publishing a warning circular that was distributed to relief boards in major cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. From there, the relief boards would pass on the information within their local jurisdiction. The goal of all this? To try to spread information about known frauds and impostors who were looking to bilk Masonic relief boards out of money. The Masonic Relief Association compiled physical descriptions, and sometimes photos, of known impostors into their circulars and sent the circulars to relief boards - hopefully in advance of the arrival of the Masonic impostors described within.

Shown above is Patrick Logsdon, from the Album of Masonic Impostors. He is described as follows:

Traveling showman, sleight-of-hand and song-and-dance man. Claims to have been a rough rider and wounded at San Juan Hill. Says he is a member of a Lodge in Lexington, Ky.

The Album contains impostors who all originally appeared in one of the warning circulars. But what exactly was this circular and what purpose did it serve?

The Official Warning Circular (No. 503, September 1928 is shown here) was distributed by the Masonic Relief Association to the various masonic relief boards throughout the country. The hope was that by centralizing communication, word could spread faster than a Masonic impostor could travel. For example, if the relief board in Chicago discovered someone trying to defraud them, they could send a telegraph or place a telephone call to the Masonic Relief Association. The Association would include this information in the compilation of their four-page monthly circular - publishing names, descriptions, and sometimes photographs of known Masonic impostors who had been caught attempting to defraud local relief boards. The circular was mailed out to all the relief boards that belonged to the Association. By the time the Masonic impostor in Chicago made his way to Boston, the Boston relief board would already have seen his mug shot in the warning circular. (An aside: if you're interested in communication networks and how news travels, check out our post on the spread of the Lexington Alarm from last month.)

In addition to publishing newly reported impostors, the Official Warning Circular also republished old cases, reported missing persons, and gave a list of "Lost Receipts" - i.e. Masons who had lost their membership cards - cards which subsequently might have fallen into the hands of a current, or future, Masonic impostor, who might assume the name and identity from the membership card.

Civil War; Readers Write

From the
Rural Masonic Lodge Newsletter

My dear brother I really enjoy reading the Rural Lodge Newsletter. I would offer a comment about the picture that accompanies the notice of RWB Drouin's presentation on the civil war. I am not sure of the Masonic relation of the officer of Battery A 2nd US Artillery (whose photograph is used in the newsletter), but there is another photograph of the officers of the combined Batteries B and L which was taken at the same time as the one used.

I would have loved to be able to attend the lecture since military masonry is a passion of mine. Thank the Junior Grand Warden for offering more information on a subject that is often overlooked.

Editor. This is the photo I selected to advertise the upcoming 8th Lodge Of Instruction presentation on Wednesday 7 April.


This second photo has on the far right Lt Carle Augustus Woodruff, a very renowned member of the craft. Lt Woodruff was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, and when he retired as a Brigadier General in 1906 had served as the founding Master of Winfield Scott Hancock Lodge #311 on Fort Leavenworth as well a charter member with Arthur MacArthur of Abdallah Shrine on in Overland Park KS.

Hancock 311 Lodge Web Site

RW Herbert F Merrick, Jr. DDGM #2 District MWGL of Kansas
Asst. Professor Lewis and Clark Center
Fort Leavenworth KS 66027

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The Small Town Texas Mason's E-magazine
Page XI
The Really Great Masonic Educational Web Sites Series
This Month - The British Columbia And Yukon Grand Lodge Web Site

By Corky

(Editor's Note - For this E-magazine and my Lodge newsletter I borrow many of the stories from a number of sites with permission of the editor or authors and give proper credit when known. Although I try to pick out some of the better stories and articles for Masonic news, education and even a little fun, some viewers would like to read more. For that reason I am introducing some of the better Masonic education and news sites with this series. - Corky)

The "British Columbia And Yukon Grand Lodge" web site is one of the Masonic web sites that I used to find Masonic material when I first started writing Masonic newsletters back in 2000. So, I have been using the site for about 10 years and I still go back to it every so often. Although it is a Canadian Masonic Grand Lodge web site it has excellent library of Masonic essays and papers for researchers or just to enjoy reading.

On the Main page, (pictured above) click on the INDEX OF RESEARCH PAPERS link. On the index page (pictured on the left) ,you will find papers in eleven different catagories. Click on one of the four different links in the box on the left side of the page, ANTI-MASONRY. ARS QUATUOR CORONATORUM, SYMBOLISM INDEX and HISTORY PAPERS for many other papers. This box also also contains a link to the site's Search Engine to locate topics of interest, or you can also email requests for specific information to the Grand Lodge Librarian.

Is This Woman A Freemason?
It Depends Who You Ask.

From the
National Heritage Museum

"Brother" Mary Arlotte
In the world of Freemasonry, 'recognition' and 'regularity' are important. Some Masonic bodies don't 'recognize' other Masonic bodies because they consider them 'irregular.' That is, one Masonic organization will not - for various reasons - consider another Masonic organization legitimate. Tony Pope explains the concepts of 'regularity' and 'recognition' fairly succinctly in his essay At a Perpetual Distance: Liberal and Adogmatic Grand Lodges, and so I quote him briefly:


Every autonomous Masonic body has its own tests of regularity, based on its perception of its own character. Thus, each Grand Lodge considers itself to be regular, and requires its constituents to abide by its criteria, whether clearly defined or not. Consequently, every Mason considers himself to be regular because he (or even she!) was 'regularly' initiated in a 'regularly' constituted lodge, chartered by his (or, indeed, her) Grand Lodge."

Within the closed system of the autonomous Grand Lodge, determination of regularity—or its converse, irregularity—is a relatively easy process, and entirely valid. Problems arise when the definition of 'regularity' of one autonomous body is applied to another autonomous body, because 'regularity' is a factor in determining whether Grand Lodge A should 'recognise' Grand Lodge B, and vice versa.


If two autonomous Grand Lodges wish to establish and maintain a fraternal relationship with each other, it is customary for them to 'recognise' each other by formal treaty. This usually involves a comparison of the two systems, to determine if they meet each other's criteria for recognition. Each Grand Lodge has its own list of requirements which, in most cases, may be summarised as follows:

(a) Regularity of origin;
(b) Regularity of conduct; and
(c) Autonomy"

I think that Tony Pope's explanation is fairly clear, but if not, here's a real-world example: let's say you join the American Federation of The Order of International Co-Freemasonry (a.k.a. Le Droit Humain). You will consider yourself a legitimate Mason, the body which conferred degrees upon you considers itself perfectly legitimate, and you may know other men and women who consider themselves Masons and who will consider you a Mason. Yet there will be other Masonic bodies (e.g. any of the "mainstream" Grand Lodges in most U.S. states) that will not consider you a Mason. This is because there is no formal recognition between, say, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and The Order of International Co-Freemasonry. (Curious about who the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania does recognize? They maintain a list of Grand Lodges that they recognize on their website.)

So why do I bring up such a confusing subject? To educate, of course!

More to the point, I bring this all up to mention that our Library & Archives collects broadly about the world of Freemasonry. Because we are interested in giving researchers the ability to look at the history of Freemasonry and fraternalism in its entirety, our Library & Archives collects broadly in both Freemasonry and other fraternal groups (focusing especially on Freemasonry and fraternalism in the United States), so our collections contain publications by and about any number of different Masonic organizations. Some of these organizations admit just men, some both men and women, and some just women.

While we'll refer you to a particular Masonic body if you've got specific questions about whether one Masonic body recognizes another or considers them regular, we'd be happy to assist you with learning and conducting research on any aspect of Freemasonry - whether you consider it regular or irregular.

The photo above shows Worshipful Brother Mary Arlotte, Grand Sword Bearer. It's from the May 1933 edition of The Ray, a magazine published by The Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons. (And, yes, members of this self-described "masonic fraternity of women in the U.K." do refer to each other as Brother, something that they address on their FAQ page.) This organization is not recognized by a lot of the "mainstream" Masonic bodies, and I include it as an example of something that might be surprising and eye-opening to folks who know little about the rather large world of Freemasonry in general. If you're curious about women and Freemasonry and you're in London, you might want to check out an exhibition called Women and Freemasonry: The Centenary, that's currently on view at the The Library and Museum of Freemasonry.

As for our collections, we have a single issue of The Ray:
The Ray. London: The Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons, 1933. No. 24 (May 1933).

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The Small Town Texas Mason's E-magazine
Page XII
The Petitioning Process

By Grand Master Barry A. Rickman of S.C.

My Brethren,

On occasion, we see a bumper sticker that says “TO BE ONE, ASK ONE.” It is referring to what must be done to become a Mason but if we give it only a small amount of thought we know it just is not true. In fact, that statement cannot be any further from the truth. Nevertheless, to the non-Mason and some Masons alike it implies all that is required to gain membership in a Masonic Lodge is to ask a Mason and it will be done. It is true a man must ask to enter our Honorable Institution but that does not secure his place among us. It is sad to say that many within our Lodges believe this to be the truth.

First and foremost, the man asking should not receive a petition “unless you are convinced he will conform to our rules; that the honor, glory, and reputation of the Institution may be firmly established, and the world at large convinced of its good effects.” That is one of our first lessons learned as a Mason in the Charge of an Entered Apprentice. It is our duty to decide if he is worthy long before we ever give him a petition to our Lodge. I know of Masons who believe they must give a man a petition merely because he asks for one. The man must next find a second Mason who is a member of his Lodge of choice who knows him well and will also sign his petition. We should never be a second-signer unless we do indeed know the man. Hearing about him for the first time at the Secretary's desk is not knowing the man.

If he is found worthy to receive a petition from the two of you, he must complete it in his own handwriting and present it to the Lodge. His name and information is then read in Open Lodge and he must be able to pass an investigation of a committee composed of three Master Masons. These Brethren are to check into the life and character of the man. Interviews are to be conducted with his employer and fellow employees, his family and neighbors along with anyone else who may be able to shed light on the prospective member. Once all this is complete, the committee must next agree the man would still be worthy to be called a Mason. If he is, it is on to the next step.

The time has now arrived when the Lodge decides if he will join the Fraternity. His name is once more brought before the members and he must be approved at the ballot box by unanimous consent. Therefore, you see, one does not become a Mason simply by asking one. Much has to happen before that day may or in some cases may not come.

Our Institution of Freemasonry could be at jeopardy. Our Lodges today have many members who do not contribute of themselves to the Fraternity. They may have influence within our membership, be a member of many Masonic organizations, come to all the meetings and be some of our best ritualists but they have no concept of what it is to be a Master Mason. It never occurs to them that their daily life, the window for the world, is being looked at by the public every day and that the Fraternity at large judged by their public dealings, associations, actions and language. These Brethren through no fault of their own were allowed to enter through the West Gate without being properly investigated and we are now suffering from this deplorable mistake. Our once brilliant luster is now faded.

We must be jealous of our membership and hold it in highest regard. It must mean more to us than merely having a dues card in our pocket. We are members of an Honorable Institution. We have standards to live up to and obligations to keep and that is why “Our Focus is on Quality.” We have got to have quality with our candidates. Starting now, we must guard the entrance to Freemasonry much closer, which begins at the end of our hand. Be cautious to whom you give a petition, because the future but more especially the “honor, glory and reputation” of Freemasonry depends on it…one new member at a time.

May God continue to bless America and our great Fraternity and may the blessings of Heaven rest upon you and your families.


Barry A. Rickman
Grand Master

Group Offers Local Men A Unique Social Network

Posted By SARA ROSS,

Living a more fulfilled life is the benefit of becoming a Freemason, said Ontario's Grand Master, Raymond Daniels.

"It's basically a self-learning organization," he said. "The men through our lectures, our charges associating with other good men, we learn more about ourselves."

Freemasonry is the largest and oldest fraternal organization in the world, Daniels said.

Daniels, who was initiated at Orillia's Masonic Temple more than 50 years ago, joined his mother lodge on Saturday for the annual ceremony of installation, which sees a new set of officers put in place.

The Orillia temple has about 145 members, said outgoing Worshipful Master Soo Lem.

"It was very rewarding for me personally, very rewarding, very fulfilling," he said. "The underlying value is supporting each other; it gives us, as men, a social network."

The temple is a place where all men are equals, said Daniels.

"Any man who has a belief in something beyond himself is welcome to join us," he said. "The Masonic question we ask 'Do you believe in a supreme being?' But we never define that. Every man decides for himself what he believes in and beyond that question, we would never ask him."

Misconceptions surround the brotherhood organization with some saying they're a cult or a secretive society, Lem said.

"It definitely is a group that people don't know a lot about," he said. "I think we're becoming more mainstream especially in light of the Dan Brown novel."

The Lost Symbol,Dan Brown's sequel toThe Da Vinci Codehas brought Freemasonry into the public, Daniels said.

Advertisement "He's chosen to focus on it and that is all public information," he said. "If we're trying to keep a secret we're not doing a very good job at it."

Although not a service club, the organization does a lot of charity work because of the principles they believe in, Daniels said.

Locally, funds have been donated to the Salvation Army's Kettle Campaign and the Santa Claus Parade. They also have a child identification program.

Though most members are older, the younger generation is beginning to take an interest in becoming Freemasons, Daniels said.

"People of (the current younger generation) didn't join anything, church, the (YMCA) or anything else. Now, young men are starting to come back to us," he said. "That trend has been gradually increasing bit by bit -- not spectacularly, but significantly."

Over the past year, the organization initiated 1,300 young Ontario men, Daniels said.

The Orillia lodge has some younger members and is hoping more join, Lem said

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The Small Town Texas Mason's E-magazine
"The Simpsons" and the Freemasons

From The Freemasonry: Reality, Myth, and Legend BLOG

Homer is sworn in as a member of the Stonecutters by Number One

That cultural icon, the television show The Simpsons, has long been known for its depiction of a faux Freemasonry. A 1995 episode titled “Homer the Great” featured a fraternity called the Stonecutters. Now, The Simpsons has mentioned Freemasonry explicitly and at some length, in the recent episode “Gone Maggie Gone.”

The episode identifies itself in its opening moments as a spoof on The Da Vinci Code. During the episode, a couple of groups seek the fabled Jewel of St. Teresa of Avila, which is prophesied to lead to an era of peace.

In an encounter at the foot of the Springfield sign atop Springfield Hill (reminiscent of the climax of Hitchcock's North by Northwest), sleuthy Lisa—accompanied by Principal Skinner and Comic Book Guy as 'the Brethren of the Quest'—are confronted by Mr. Burns. Burns explains that a group of high-ranking Freemasons have been searching for the Jewel of St. Teresa for years. In fact, he says, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and King George III conducted the American Revolutionary War just to cover up their entirely amicable association, as they searched for the Jewel. Burns goes on to claim: “I joined the Freemasons before it was trendy. That's my eyeball on the dollar bill. That's also my pyramid.” (See image above.)

It is unwise to read too much into a Simpsons episode: the writers simply do things because they're funny. But it is also unwise to just pass over details in The Simpsons as if they were totally unimportant, either: the writers are famous for working cultural references into their episodes, sometimes quite subtly; if nothing else, a Simpsons episode is an expression, intentional or not, of the cultural Zeitgeist. What, if anything, does “Gone Maggie Gone” have to say about the way that Freemasonry is perceived by the general public? How is this different from the depiction of Freemasonry in its guise as 'the Stonecutters' in “Homer the Great”?

The Image of Freemasonry in The Simpsons

I found it interesting that, in “Gone Maggie Gone,” the writers saw no need to explain who the Freemasons are: the writers just made the reference, with the assumption that the audience would know who 'Freemasons' are, in the same way that they expected the audience to know who Ed Begley, Jr. is (Begley also showing up briefly in the episode). At least for the Simpsons writers, the Masons are sufficiently well-known to need no introduction.

It was nice to hear Burns refer to joining the Freemasons as now being “trendy.” I wish I had more hard data on this issue, but the notion that Freemasonry is becoming popular again certainly fits with my anecdotal experience, as I see a substantial number of men in their twenties and thirties entering the Fraternity through my mother Lodge in Florida over the last couple of years, and the Lodges and affiliated organizations that I have been visiting in New York City over the last few months.

Of course, having Burns as a Mason does lend at least a slightly sinister cast to Masonry. I was happier when Grandpa Simpson casually identified himself as a Mason during “Homer the Great.”

It is interesting to see how the two Simpsons episodes reflect two different caricatures of Freemasonry. The Stonecutters of “Homer the Great” are heirs to a noble tradition that they have sold out for drunken entertainment. As their Chapter leader, Number One (voiced by Patrick Stewart) tells Homer immediately after his humiliating initiation: “You have joined the sacred order of the Stonecutters, who since ancient times have split the rocks of ignorance that obscured the light of knowledge and truth. Now let's all get drunk and play ping-pong!” When the Chapter brothers discover that Homer's birthmark identifies himself as the prophesied 'Chosen One' of the Stonecutters, they elevate him to a high rank of leadership—but when Homer tries to lead them into a variety of service projects, the entire membership of the Fraternity defects to form another self-centered fraternal group: the No Homers Club.

In “Gone Maggie Gone,” the Freemasons are shown in the light of the currently popular stereotype, as devoted to the pursuit of secrets and mysteries. Masonry, in this view, is the possession of men like Burns, who hold power, but not a decent character. (At one point, Burns is talked into giving Lisa and others a ride on the skids of his helicopter. During the flight, Burns' lackey Smithers asks Burns if it feels good to help people. Burns' response: “No. It feels … weird.”)

What Masons Can Learn From The Simpsons

Of course it is the case that the image of Freemasonry in these episodes is shot through with inaccuracies. (Hey, lighten up, fellas: it's a cartoon, not a documentary on Discovery Channel or The History Channel.) However, rather than catalog these inaccuracies, it might be worthwhile to consider what these episodes have to say that might have some relevance. What might Freemasons have to learn from these caricatures? Several things come to mind.

First, Freemasonry would do well to look to its noble traditions, and emphasize the unselfish service to others that is a core value of the Fraternity. I have been fortunate to see several lodges and affiliated Masonic organizations of my acquaintance engaged in such service, often in secrecy. I think that this is closer to the norm than The Simpsons would lead one to believe—but one cannot emphasize enough the need for us to remember that our fraternity is supposed to be about something, and service to others is a central part of that something.

Second, we would do well to remember that, in point of fact, part of the mission of Freemasonry indeed is, as Number One put it, to “split the rocks of ignorance that obscured the light of knowledge and truth.” Real Freemasonry uses different language and symbols, but the mission of the Masonic Fraternity is actually rather well expressed in the language of the cartoon episode.

Masons would do well to remember two things about our fraternity: (a) Masonry is supposed to change the individual Mason, to help him on a journey to knowledge and truth that will require serious inner growth; and, (b) Masonry is supposed to help the individual Mason to affect society for the better, dispelling ignorance with knowledge and truth. Not for nothing did the Masons of an earlier era establish public education in different nations. Not for nothing did Grand Lodge Masonry emerge during an era that is now known as the Enlightenment. No, Masons do not possess the secrets of the Pharoahs—but they are supposed to possess a degree of personal enlightenment that is more valuable than any external secret. What are we doing, as individual Masons, as particular Lodges, and as Grand Lodges and affiliated organizations, to further that goal?

Third, we do need to correct the notion that Freemasonry is about gaining unfair personal privilege and power. I have already mentioned the implication of having Mr. Burns as the example of Freemasonry in “Gone Maggie Gone.” In “Homer the Great,” the power trip is even worse, with Homer Simpson (after his initiation as a Stonecutter) obtaining preferential treatment in everything from getting his plumbing fixed to receiving a massage chair at work. In my experience, lodges do emphasize that a desire for preferential treatment is an unworthy motive for entering the Fraternity; we need to emphasize this even more, and counter this image in the mind of the public, as well.

The Buddhists say that 'one can learn from a stone.' I hope that we as Freemasons can learn from a cartoon show.

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Page XIV
Building Freemasonry in the 21st Century

Part 1: The Membership Challenge

From The
Masonic BLOG

Masonic Membership
Over the last three centuries, Freemasonry has played a major role in improving millions of individual lives; it has even contributed to the development of global democracy. We should not just preserve Freemasonry, but nurture and develop it, as a force for good in the world. However, in the United States today,

Freemasonry faces a membership challenge, for several reasons. If Freemasonry is to continue as a force for good, in individual lives and in society, Freemasons must come to grips with this challenge. This will involve activities on the part of Grand Lodges, local lodges ("Particular Lodges"), and individual Masons. In this series, I respectfully offer some suggestions to help Freemasonry to thrive. In the series as a whole, I consider these topics:

· the membership challenge in Freemasonry today
· an overall approach to meeting this challenge
· membership development
· membership retention

The Membership Challenge in Freemasonry Today

In 2003, there were about 1.7 million Masons nationwide, a membership figure even lower than during the Great Depression year of 1941. As the Masonic Information Center put it, "Freemasonry is at its lowest membership level in at least 80 years" (It's About Time!, p. 3; see image above). We may think about the Blue Lodge's membership problems in terms of two factors: low rates of entry into the Craft, and high exit rates. Each of these is described below.

Low Entry Rates

It is well known that fewer people enter Freemasonry today than entered in earlier years. The situation in any given Grand Lodge can be established by considering the statistics reported in its Grand Communications. One example--neither better nor worse than the typical Grand Lodge, I would guess--is the Grand Lodge of Florida. In Florida, the number of men initiated was flat over each of two recent years (2004 and 2005), at approximately 1,480 per year, even as the population of Florida itself increased each year. (There was a 7.5% increase in the number of initiations during 2006, to 1,591; of course, 2006 was the year of the release of the motion picture, The Da Vinci Code, which mentioned Freemasons and, more especially, the Knights Templar. It is yet to be seen whether this increase will be permanent or not.)

High Exit Rates

Men exit Freemasonry in several ways: through death; through official voluntary exit, or "dimit"; through suspension, and, through expulsion. Suspension can be for a number of reasons, the most common being suspension for non-payment of dues (NPD); thus, we may think of a suspension for NPD as a sort of 'silent dimit.' Thus, official dimits and suspensions for NPD together can be labeled "voluntary attrition." Again, using the Grand Lodge of Florida only as a typical example, for the period 2004 through 2006 (see References below for sources), we note the following:

· The number of deaths averaged 1,449 annually during this period, while the number raised as Master Masons averaged 1,217 annually. Thus, deaths alone outnumbered the number raised as new Master Masons by over 19%.
· Voluntary attrition during these years averaged over 1,640 annually. Thus, just by itself, voluntary attrition exceeded the number of those raised as new Master Masons by almost 35%.
· The number of those who officially dimitted increased from 2004 to 2006 by a startling 31%.

These statistics are no doubt what led the distinguished Brother giving the Welcome at the opening session of the 2007 Florida Grand Communication to state, "We are one generation away from extinction." This Brother might as well have been saying this to just about any Grand Lodge in the United States.

It is a little-known but crucial finding that the amount of time that many Brothers remain in Freemasonry before attrition has sharply declined in recent generations. In one study, the average number of years between initiation and either dimit or suspension NPD has shown a stunning decline, from 17.8 years (for those initiated in the late 1940s) to 6.5 (for those initiated in the early 1980s). Thus, those who join and then ultimately leave have remained for a much shorter period of time, "about 20-30% of the time they [remained in Masonry] half a century ago," as John Belton put it. As noted Masonic author Chris Hodapp has observed:

In jurisdictions across the U.S. and Canada, the losses of members from deaths have been statistically tapering off, while the losses due to Freemasons walking away from the fraternity have been rising. ... [M]en whom we have initiated, passed, and raised are deciding in increasing numbers to say "No thanks" to what their local lodges offer.

What could be the cause for this painful situation?

In Part 2: The root causes for membership problems in the Blue Lodge.


Statistics of annual returns. (2006). In Proceedings of the One Hundred and Seventy-Seventh Annual Communication of the M:.W:. Grand Lodge of F. & A.M. of Florida, Held at Orlando, Florida, May 29, 30 and 31, 2006 (p. 111). n.p.: The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida..

Statistics of annual returns. (2007). In Proceedings of the One Hundred and Seventy-Eighth Annual Communication of the M:.W:. Grand Lodge of F. & A.M. of Florida, Held at Orlando, Florida, May 28, 29, and 30, 2007 (pp. 115-116). n.p.: The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida..

Statistics of annual returns. (1008, May). In Report of M:.W:. Robert P. Harry, Jr., Grand Master, M:.W:. Richard E. Lynn, Grand Secretary, to the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida (p. 65). n.p.: The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida.

Part 2 On Page XV

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Page XV
Pt. 2: Masonry's Invisibility, and the Unfilled Hunger for Light.
(Series: Building Freemasonry in the 21st Century)

From The
Masonic BLOG

As I promised I would at the end of Part 1, today I will consider the root causes of the membership problems in the Blue Lodge. I see these as being three-fold:

1. The general public simply does not know about Freemasonry anymore. This contributes to the low entry rates noted in Part 1.
2. In many local lodges, the membership is left without understanding either the meaning or application of Masonic symbolism. This leaves some members of these lodges disappointed; some of these members may simply fall away from Masonry. This contributes to the high exit rates noted in Part 1.
3. Anti-Masonry misdirects sincere seekers away from Freemasonry. Ultimately, this may contribute to both low entry rates and high exit rates.

I consider the first two of these issues below.

The Invisibility of Freemasonry

Freemasonry has made an appearance twice during the 20 seasons of The Simpsons (as I describe in another post), and has been mentioned, almost in passing, in Dan Brown's hugely popular novel, The Da Vinci Code. Of course, Freemasonry was mentioned extensively in the motion picture National Treasure (and briefly in its sequel). However, aside from these noteworthy exceptions, Freemasonry is all but invisible in popular culture and general society. As the Masonic Information Center (MIC) put it, the public's perception of Freemasonry can be summarized by three terms: confused (as in, 'is Freemasonry a religion?'), mistaken ('is it a devil-worshipping religion? Is it just for older gentlemen?'), and oblivious. Concerning this last point, as the MIC stated, "people are not even aware Masonry still exists" (It's About Time!, p. 9).

The Unfilled Hunger for the Meaning of Masonic Symbolism

Many lodges do a very creditable job of instructing their brethren in the details of performing our initiatory rituals. However, all too many lodges need help to guide their brethren in investigating the meaning of Masonic symbolism, and in the application of that symbolism to their daily lives. (Consider, for example, the commemorative plate shown above, which displays several Masonic symbols. Has your lodge discussed the meaning and application of any of these, lately--outside of the degree work?) There is a great hunger, perhaps especially among newer brethren, for this kind of Masonic education; without it, brethren are more likely to slip away into inactivity, or even leave the Fraternity. Consider the following:

· We Initiate, Pass, and Raise brothers in ceremonies of high drama and mystery. Then, when these brethren finally are able to attend Stated Communications as Master Masons, in many local lodges they find that these are typically business meetings, with no discussion of the meaning of the complicated symbolism with which these brothers have been entrusted, and about which they thought they would learn more.
· At present, in many local lodges, the focus in Masonic Education is almost solely on the memorization and performance of the ritual, not on the investigation of the meaning or application of its symbolism. This must be unsatisfying to our new brethren. Certainly this much was suggested at the 2007 Grand Oration in Florida: "We must strive to stimulate the new Mason and instill in him a thirst for continued knowledge and quest for enlightenment. Without that stimulation many new members can easily become disenchanted and lose interest, resulting in demits and NPDs" (Hudson, 2007, p. 273).

The current mini-spike in Masonic membership, which many have noted anecdotally around the country, apparently is driven by new initiates seeking just the type of esoteric wisdom that Freemasonry has. As Brother G. Cliff Porter, a relatively new Mason in his mid-thirties, stated in the March-April 2007 issue of The Scottish Rite Journal:

The young man approaching the Craft today does so to supplement and add to what his church and family have already given him. A certain tugging at his soul speaks to him to seek a deeper meaning in life, in family, and in God. He researches and desires an initiation into the esoteric and ancient quest for Truth. He requests a petition with these hopes in mind. Why shouldn't he? The eloquent writings of Masonic scholars ... have hinted at the existence of such knowledge, and Masonic writings abound with hints of this very thing. ... We as Master Masons should return Masonry from a primarily social institution to one that studies ancient symbolism and the truths so revealed. (Emphasis added.)

In sum, there is a hunger among the brethren--now, largely going unfed--for a thoughtful consideration of the more esoteric aspects of Masonic symbolism. The more this hunger is left unfed, the more it inclines brethren interested in this material to drift away from Freemasonry.

In Part 3: The challenge of Anti-Masonry; and, an overall approach to meeting the membership challenge. Reference Hudson, Phillip A. (2007). Grand oration. In Proceedings of the One Hundred and Seventy-Eighth Annual Communication of the M:. W:. Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of Florida, Held at Orlando, Florida, May 28, 29, and 30, 2007 (pp. 272-275). n.p.: The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida.

Thoughts From Raymond SJ Daniels, Grand Master of Ontario

During an interview with the press… after briefly outlining our moral standards and ethical principles based on mutual respect, the journalist asked, “Do you not feel that Freemasonry, holding fast to such old-fashioned values is anachronistic, and passé in modern society?” Given the headlines and news-making frequency of corruption in politics, betrayal of trust by teachers, clergy, and sports icons through unacceptable social behaviour, fraudulent business practices, and blatant misuse of high profile positions of authority, I had to agree that perhaps our gentle Craft was ‘out-of-sync’ with society.

However, that is precisely why we have an important role to play in the 21st century, and disillusionment with modern society may be one reason why young men are turning to Freemasonry in search of that stability, security, and trust that comes from our timeless principles – a fraternity where a man’s word is his bond.

What the journalist, who was not a Freemason, did not and could not understand was that the man initiated into the ancient mysteries of Freemasonry views life in a new light, and plays out the game of life according to different rules. As Freemasons, much has been given to us and, therefore, much will be expected of us.

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Page XVI
Mt. Olive Lodge Has Served As Cornerstone For Rural Community

By Nicholas W Inman
From The Marshfield Mail, Missouri

Drivers along Route KK have passed the Mt. Olive Lodge for generations, and many have likely viewed it simply as an old church with a cemetery, with few understanding the rich history associated with the structure and surrounding property.

The story of Mt. Olive Lodge begins in 1871 when a group of Dallas Township citizens (a rural township between Rogersville and Marshfield) came together with the idea of constructing and organizing a church for their small farming community.

Information contained in the Webster County Historical Society Journal explains that most of those citizens had come from areas of the South and brought with them to Missouri the traditions and allegiances of the Southern Methodist Church and the Masonic Lodge.The original piece of land totaled one-half acre and was donated by Christopher W Brooks and Jomanda Dameron Brooks. CW Brooks was born 5 February 1844 in North Carolina and became a resident of Webster County in 1854. It is believed that Brooks' father, Robert H Brooks, decided to move to the Ozarks after a friend and neighbor, James K Dameron, relocated 10 miles southwest of Marshfield. Soon the Brooks family settled in the area and purchased a farm from the Breedlove family. Having established roots in the area, the family found it crucial to establish a place of worship for all of the neighbors and relatives. The original donors deeded the acre to William R “W.R.” Brooks, who was a trustee for the Methodist Episcopal Church South.

Presently, the Mt. Olive Lodge is the oldest Masonic Lodge west of the Mississippi River that is still meeting in the location where it was chartered. Mt. Olive Lodge No. 439 was chartered on 16 October 1872, and the first Master was Worshipful Brother James H Williams. The first meeting of the lodge was held on 27 March 1872, and the following charter members were present: CW Brooks, JH Williams, JR Johnson, Micahah Aldridge, Thomas Henslee, John Reid, TF Henslee and JK Dameron. Samuel T Brannock served as the head carpenter of the building project and oversaw the work, which was completed by local individuals. The foundation for the building was made of stone laid on top of the ground, leveling the foundation with smaller stones and mortar. The building was completely finished in the spring of 1872, and soon the downstairs was being used for worship services and the second floor as the lodge.The building was completed as the Mt. Olive Methodist Church, and its first minister was Dr. CH Briggs.

Founding fathers of Mt Olive Lodge
Today, the building has been renovated and updated with wiring, plumbing and a modern heating and cooling system. The renovation effort began with fundraising in September 1998, and on 27 August 2000, the building was rededicated. The rededication came after numerous hours of work conducted by Elkland's Bill Stacy and numerous Freemasons. Glen and Joe Cron had initiated the campaign to renovate the building. Lodge members Nick Breedlove, Art Wolfe and Mike Walker assisted Stacy in tearing into the stone foundation.

The Methodists held services at the building until 1965, when the church dissolved. The lodge presently uses the first floor on the historic building as a fellowship hall. Many members of the Brooks and Dameron family can be found buried in the cemetery around the building. Robert H Brooks passed away in 1862 and his family later removed his casket from its original burial location, and relocated it on the Brooks farm, where they had planned a family cemetery. His grave was on the one-half acre that Letha Boswell Brooks had her oldest son deed for the church and lodge. This established the surrounding ground for a burial location, and later additional land was added by the Dan Brooks and Sharpensteen families. The original donor for the invested cemetery account was a granddaughter of Robert H Brooks.

The lodge continues to hold monthly communications and maintains an active membership, hosting the annual Christmas dinner in Fordland at the end of last year. The group has donated several items pertaining to the grange and the lodge history to the Webster County Historical Society.

Bob Courtney is the current Worshipful Master for the Mt. Olive Lodge. The building is located at 6078 State Highway KK.

Scotland: Masonic Lodge is 100 years old

From The Largs & Millport Weekly News
Largs, Scotland

Lodge at 100 ... Frazer Street Masonic Lodge reaches centenary in May An archaic and mystical masonic initiation ceremony is one of the major events happening this year to mark the centenary of the Masonic Lodge St John's in Largs this year. The Frazer Street masonic premises opened on Monday 9 May 1910 and this year's celebrations include a number of different events.

Secretary Alan Galt told the 'News' that the private re-enactment of a historic masonic ceremony will be a spectacular sight to mark the centenary. He said: "Lodge Mother Kilwinning will be performing the enactment of an old degree of 300 years ago. It will be more of a theatrical re-enactment of the masonic meetings of Kilwinning from a long time ago. They have only done it once or twice in the past and have agreed to do it to mark this special occasion of the centenary."

A special commemorative eight page brochure encapsulating the history of the freemasons in Largs will also feature as part of the celebrations to co-incide with the date of the laying of the memorial stone. A copy of the Largs and Millport Weekly News from 1910

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The Internet – A Blessing and a Curse to Freemasonry.

From the Palmetto Mason BLOG

The Internet has become both a blessing and a curse for Freemasonry. On one hand, the Internet is a tool of immeasurable value to those that are involved in research and writing about the world's oldest fraternity. Imagine what Albert G. Mackey could have done if he had the Internet! The World Wide Web provides a quick and easy way for Freemasons to communicate over great distances and to keep current on the various activities of the fraternity. On the other hand, the Internet also makes it easy for clandestine masons and those who oppose Freemasonry to express their views – sometimes in a disproportionately loud manner – to the unsuspecting public. Recognized Freemasons – if they are not sufficiently knowledgeable and careful – can also often be trapped into discussing Freemasonry in an inappropriate manner.

Let this be made clear – Freemasonry can not be practiced on the Internet. There are, however, Internet sites that have Freemasonry as their predominant subject material. This is often commonly referred to as e-Masonry. Most readers will already be familiar with the websites that belong to Grand Lodges, subordinate lodges, and appendant bodies. Those types of sites are not the subject of this piece as we all know about those sites and their purposes. Many readers will also be familiar with the conspiracy theory and anti-masonic sites and, since those can not be considered as containing accurate information about Freemasonry, they will also not be examined in this article.

A plaque commemorating the birth of the Internet at Stanford University
The push to discuss and form connections about Freemasonry on the Internet has blossomed in the last decade or so. The somewhat legendary CompuServe Masonry Forum existed until at least 2001 and gave birth to much of what is often called e-Masonry. From this, Masonic forums blossomed and personal websites were created in an ever evolving landscape in cyberspace.

The situation today finds a variety of e-Masonry sites. The ones that most folks come into contact with are the forums and it is in these sites that many Masons first experience e-Masonry – often leading to other Internet sites and ventures. There are a variety of forums that are oriented toward Freemasonry, of which The Sanctum Santorum and the Forums are but two examples.

Beyond the forums, one can find the personal websites, of which there are many. An example of one of the longest running can be found in Anti-Masonry: Points of View, which makes a point of exposing anti-masonic rhetoric as well as bogus or quasi-masonic organizations. Anti-Masonry is now in its eleventh year of existence. The Masonically inclined personal websites multiplied drastically as people discovered the ease and cheapness of using existing blog services. Such services as Blogger and WordPress gave even the most website design challenged folks an easy way to share their message. One of the more popular examples of these types of sites can be found at Freemasons for Dummies. Even some Grand Lodge officers have began to use blogs to communicate their messages to their jurisdictions and with others. An example of this can be found at Grand Master's Musings.

Despite the perceived popularity of e-Masonry, the most prolific forum posters and the website owners represent a very small percentage of Freemasons. This relatively small group of e-Masons has, over time, loosely organized itself into an online community by way of cross links to each other's sites and cross posting of various articles. One can go to a variety of forums and sites that allow outside comments and find the same screen names over and over. This has resulted in a loose nucleus of sites and Internet personalities that could be thought of as the unofficial news network for Freemasonry. The King Solomon's Lodge Blog Aggregator is representative of one useful method that has loosely tied these sites together.

This NeXT Computer was used by Sir Tim Berners-Lee at CERN and became the world's first Web server.
As should have been expected, this relatively small group of e-Masons began to talk by using various voice programs available – ultimately leading to podcasts such as Masonic Central. These podcasts are often populated by the very same nucleus of online personalities that are so often found in the forums and blogs.

Relatively recently, an effort to more formally organize some of these sites was undertaken and Freemason Information was the result. Freemason Information brought some of the more popular sites – all of which happened to be blogs – under one umbrella along with the Masonic Central podcast.

In what is probably the greatest concentration of serious online students, researchers, and writers of Freemasonry; a new research society – operating almost entirely on the Internet – was born not very long ago. The Masonic Society includes many of the "who's who" of modern day Masonic researchers and operates its own forum for members only. The methodology of The Masonic Society has allowed it – best as is possible at this time – to solve the problems associated with anti-masons and clandestine masons on the Internet.

Due to the nature of their fraternity, Freemasons have understandably been hesitant to jump into the Internet world without caution. Like those that feel the need to spout anti-masonic rhetoric, people belonging to some of the clandestine, quasi-masonic bodies have never – for the most part – been constrained by this sense of caution. This resulted in a proliferation of sites and online personalities which represent irregular and unrecognized masons. As Freemasons explore their fraternity on the Internet, they can not help but to run into these types of sites and personalities. Therein is found one of the dangers of e-Masonry. The other danger arises when Freemasons – out of ignorance – engage in discussions that can be construed as Masonic communication of an unauthorized nature or divulge internal Grand Lodge or lodge business that should not be shared with the rest of the world.

There can be little doubt that Grand Lodges were caught off guard by the proliferation of e-Masonry. Quite frankly, the codes and constitutions of the various Grand Lodges were not written to directly deal with this phenomenon – though the obligations should be sufficient. The phenomenon is here, however, and time will tell whether Grand Lodges are able to effectively cope with it by way of education and guidance to their members – and it must be coped with in this age of an increasingly Internet savvy society where a young man will "Google" first and ask questions later.

The Internet is a tool and, like all tools, Freemasons must use it with caution and respect. Remember – a hammer can bless you with a properly driven nail or curse you with a busted thumb.

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A Look Inside A Freemasonry Lodge

From The

Masons at the Pialba lodge are (left) RW Bro. Tony Ozanne and RW Bro. Arnold Horne.
THREE thousand years after the symbolism of King Solomon’s Temple continues to inspire Freemasonry on the Fraser Coast [Australia], the doors of a local lodge have been opened.

“We don’t drink goat’s blood, we don’t commit murder and we don’t bring down governments,” Pialba Lodge’s RW Bro. Tony Ozanne said yesterday.

“We have only one edict for members and that is they must believe in a supreme being.”

Mr Ozanne (past junior grand warden) and RW Bro. Arnold Horne (past assistant grand master) were speaking to the Chronicle on the eve of the national launch of a new book on Freemasonry.

It’s No Secret – Real Men Wear Aprons, edited by Peter Lazar (pictured below), will be launched in Sydney on Thursday.

“Far from being secret,” said United Lodge of Qld grand master Graeme Ewin, “Freemasons in Australia have worked hard to make the ancient craft more widely known and better understood.”

Mr Horne, a retired dairy farmer who has reached the 33rd Degree, the highest symbolic level of Freemasonry in the world, says the society promotes self-discipline, personal development, compassion and concern for others and the value of community service.

“Men join us because they’ve heard of our intentions to do good, for fellowship, because a family member or friend belongs and because they want more out of life, something with meaning.

“We give away thousands of dollars to good causes and to care for people.”

Tony Ozanne, a manufacturer in Hervey Bay, said Masonic temples are now mostly called lodges and on the Fraser Coast there are two in the Bay and three in Maryborough, including the women’s lodge, Star of the East.

Pialba Masonic Lodgeodge
“We meet once a month and, yes, we do have ancient rituals and we share moral and metaphysical ideals.”

Middle Ages stonemasons travelled widely and developed secret handshakes to identify themselves.

Today Freemasonry uses the metaphors of operative stonemasons’ tools and implements, against the allegorical backdrop of King Solomon’s Temple, to convey what has been described by both Masons and critics as “a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols”.

Mr Horne says a “little black book” does exist in lodges but everything is learnt from memory.

“We learn charges, or parts of the ritual, and pass those on to initiates.”

Both men said Masons and Catholics now got along and Catholics were often Masons.

“You take the vow not to divulge any secrets you’re given but frankly we don’t have very many secrets left.”

Members can also hold their own beliefs and religion and politics are not allowed to be discussed in lodges.


Chips Rafferty was a Mason, and so were Charles “Bud” Tingwell and prime ministers William McMahon, Robert Menzies and John Gorton

The secret handshake and words have no practical meaning or purpose except to identify Mason to Mason

Sixteen Australian VC winners were/are Masons

Modern Masonry began in England in 1717

When a Mason dies a white lambskin apron and a sprig of green leaves are placed on the casket

Men can join at 18

Masonic lodges are oriented east and west

The Master’s chair is in the east, recognising the sun rises there and that learning comes from there

Masonic Lodges in the 1700s and 1800s often met in taverns and it was common to wear swords for protection

Military men brought Masonry to Australia. There are Lodges in Iraq and Afghanistan today

Masons don’t ride goats or drink their blood at Lodges– early documents refer to the supreme being as “God of all Things” – GOAT

Mock murders can be carried out as part of the Third or Master Mason Degree

1816 was the year of the first Lodge in Australia

The floor of a Lodge always features black and white squares like a chessboard

The Masonic apron comes from those worn by stonemasons in the Middle Ages

The Australian Order of the Eastern Star – secret women’s business for Masons but men can come along – began in Qld in 1912

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Page XIX
Freemasons Still Shrouded In Myth, Conspiracy Theories

By Greg Mercer

Waterloo Record, Waterlloo ON From The
Rural Lodge Newsletter

Retired Kitchener high school teacher Raymond Daniels is the top-ranking Freemason in Ontario.
Raymond Daniels has never drunk blood from a skull, sacrificed a virgin or ridden a goat inside his lodge. Or so he says.

As the top-ranking Freemason in Ontario, the retired Kitchener high school teacher has heard just about every far-fetched accusation you can imagine: that Freemasons, one of the world's largest “secret societies,” are devil worshippers, a Jewish front for world domination, and evil plotters who arranged the assassination of JFK.

Yes, there are people who genuinely believe those things. Which means Daniels, the first grand master for Ontario's 50,000 Freemasons to hail from Kitchener, spends a lot of his time dispelling the myths and conspiracy theories that have dogged his organization for centuries.

Though Freemasons first built lodges in Galt and Kitchener some 150 years ago, the society still remains an obscure organization for many non-members today. Daniels is trying to change that with a new openness for a group that was once very closed to outsiders.

“Conspiracy theories sell more books than the truth,” Daniels said during a recent sit-down interview. “There are people who delight in calling us a cult ... but I've never attended a lodge ceremony where we sacrifice virgins or kill babies. I'm still waiting for that.”

The truth about Freemasons may be far less exciting. What if they're just a bunch of guys who are into brotherhood, non-satanic rituals, self-improvement, and charity work?

In its heyday in the 1960s, there were some 120,000 Freemasons in Ontario. Then, the Masons went into a long, slow decline where “no one joined anything,” Daniels said. Today, there remain about 1,000 members in Waterloo Region.

Daniels thinks things may finally be changing for the better. His organization inducted about 1,350 new members last year, most of them “disillusioned young men” who are “looking for something more” in their lives, he said. And they just christened a new Masonic lodge in Afghanistan, a sign that Freemasonry is growing in popularity among Canadian troops, he said.

Though Freemasons went “underground” in the early part of the last century, Daniels said, it's hardly a secret society anymore.

“We're in the phone book. I wear a ring. I have a decal on my car. We have quite an extensive web page. We publish a magazine that anyone can see. Now, if that's being secretive, we're not very good at it,” he said.

But that hasn't stopped detractors, including religious fundamentalists, from accusing Freemasons of everything from conspiring with aliens to holding wild orgies and occult rituals to secretly running the world — or trying to destroy it.

Part of the conspiracy theories may be blamed on the number of important men in history who have been Freemasons. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Sir John A Macdonald were all members. So was John Diefenbaker, and about a dozen premiers of Ontario. And so was Horatio Herbert Kitchener, the British war hero this city is named after.

Even in the age of the internet, Freemasonry still retains enough mystique to invite uninformed speculation. Lodges keep their doors closed to non-members, except for rare open houses, and windows are generally made of concrete, not glass. The organization places great importance on Egyptian symbols, secret passwords and hidden meanings. But even the secret Masonic handshake, once a way for Masons to identify themselves around the world, can be found in a quick Google search. Daniels, as grand master, carries his ceremonial clothes in a plain black briefcase. Inside, there's a gold collar with entwined serpents and the North Star, attached to the Masonic symbol of a compass and ruler. There's the “all-seeing” eye — yes, the same one you can find on the U.S. dollar bill — and an ornate lambskin apron decorated with lotuses, suns and pomegranate.

Though few Freemasons actually work in stone anymore, the stonemason imagery at the centre of their organization still has meaning — the idea that like stone, the lessons of Freemasonry outlasts all else.

Kitchener The Soldier
“As builders of character, we're trying to build lasting character in our members,” said Daniels, who was elected to a two-year term in 2009.

He says Freemasonry has given him a good life. He joined his father's Orillia lodge in 1959 and remained active during the 23 years he taught music and history at Eastwood Collegiate in Kitchener. In 1993, he became a worshipful master, or a Masonic teacher, and worked his way up the organization's ranks.

“The men I have been associated with have changed my entire outlook and my entire being for the better,” he said. “I'm so grateful for the things they've given me.” It's not all about self-improvement, though. Ontario's Freemasons do charity work, too. In 2005, they raised $2 million for hearing research at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Every year, lodges across the province give away thousands in bursaries and scholarships, and money to a wide range of local charities, from summer camps to the Children's Wish Foundation.

You don't need a connection to join, and any man over 21 can apply for membership. Because Freemasons put such importance on being law-abiding citizens, applicants will need to go through a background check and a criminal record check.

Applicants who pass that process will be visited by three Freemasons, who will try to gauge their character through a series of interviews. They may speak to family, too. Lodge members then take a vote on the applicant's admission, and undergo an initiation rite that is imbued with symbolism.

“It's almost like getting a job at Wal-Mart,” Daniels said.

Not everyone makes the cut. And about once or twice a year, a Freemason in Ontario is kicked out of the organization for bad behaviour, a delicate procedure that Daniels oversees.

Local Masons include Christians, Jews and Muslims, and the whole spectrum of trades and professions, he said. The only religious questions applicants are asked is: “Do you believe in a greater power than yourself?”

The famous recruiting poster by Alfred Leete featured the mustachioed Kitchener, and the concept was successfully reused in the US.
The draw, Daniels said, is the character-building lessons and mentorship offered by an organization that has been around for more than 300 years. Masons call each other brother — and live by a code of fraternity and equality that overrides everything else, Daniels said. That appeals to many men, he said.

“Where else does a young man look today for role models, stability and trustworthiness?” he said. “The old trustworthiness of another man, that's something we cherish.” With an emphasis on gentlemanly behaviour and being a good citizen, Freemasons offer members strict moral principles in a morally deprived society, Daniels said. And if that makes Freemasons old-fashioned, so be it, he said. “You're darn right we're out of step with modern society,” he said.

Editor:What WM Daniels says makes good reading — of course, he's a retired high school teacher. Brethren, you should re-read the RED paragraphs above, so that when you are asked why young men are being drawn into the craft, you can provide an answer.

Brother Kitchener

Kitchener is not a household word in America, but in Canada and Britain it certainly is.

Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, (24 June 1850 – 5 June 1916) was a soldier, diplomat and statesman, famous for his roles in Egypt and Sudan, in the Anglo- Boer War and WWI.

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The Small Town Texas Mason's E-magazine
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The Odds At The End

The Chalk Guy

Julian Beever is an English artist who is famous for his art on the pavements of England, France, Germany, USA, Australia and Belgium. Its peculiarity?

 Beever gives his drawings an anamorphosis view, his images are drawn in such a way which gives them three dimensionality when viewing from the correct angle. It's amazing !!!

Drawn On A Flat Sidewalk With Colored Chalk.

The 710

Yesterday at the car dealer.  A blonde woman came in and told the mechanics she needed to buy a seven-ten.

They all looked at each other, and one mechanic asked, "What is a seven-ten?"

She replied, "You know, the little piece in the middle of the engine. I lost it and need a new one.  It had always been there."

The mechanic gave the woman a piece of paper and a pen and asked her to draw what the piece looked like. She drew a circle and in the middle of it wrote 710.

He then took her over to another car which had the hood up and asked, "Is there a 710 on this car?"

She pointed and said, "Of course it is, it's right there."

Actually, this was a test. You have all seen one but, how many of you shade tree mechanics know what a 710 is? Skip down to the bottom of the page to see one.

Impress your neighbors with an Amazing Garage Door"

A German firm called "Style Your Garage" - creates posters for garage doors that make it look as if it's actually showing the interior of your garage, and what's in it! Prices range from $199 to $399 for the double-door! All but guaranteed to make passersby take a second look!

A great idea to freak out the neighbors! Click Here To Learn More

The Lord be praised for those wonderful Church Bulletins!

Thank God for church ladies with typewriters. These sentences (with all the Bloopers) actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:

The Fasting and Prayer Conference includes meals.

The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on the Water.' The sermon tonight: 'Searching for Jesus.'

Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house Bring your husbands..

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say 'Hell' to someone who doesn't care much about you..

Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help..

Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation..

For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs..

Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get..

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days..

A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow..

At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice ..

Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

The 710

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