Category Archives: History

Continued Fellowship

dscn9890In my lasts two posts I discussed my work and practice in the Fraternity since joining. In this last short post, I wanted to share some of my thoughts and hopes going forward.  You might not know this but there are many opportunities to participate in Masonry beyond your lodge.  However, you must be careful with how many commitments you take on and manage your time. As an engineer, I can usually find gems of wisdom in the popular TV and Movie Series Star Trek. For example, here is a conversation between two chief engineers, Scotty and La Forge, that speaks to time commitments:

Lt. Commander La Forge: Yeah, well, I told the Captain I’d have this analysis done in an hour.

Scotty: How long will it really take?

La Forge: An hour!

Scotty: Oh, you didn’t tell him how long it would really take, did ya?

La Forge: Well, of course I did.

Scotty: Oh, laddie. You’ve got a lot to learn if you want people to think of you as a miracle worker.

In this conversation is a helpful rule of thumb; if you commit yourself to do something you must do it, do your best to be on time for any commitments, and it is always better to be seen as a miracle worker versus a person that is late or fails to perform up to commitments that they take on. Scotty’s message is to give yourself some time for the inevitable life happenings that may impact your plans.

As for myself, in my first very active year, I have taken this to heart. While I try to help and offer myself, my time, and my abilities to my Lodge, I take the commitment very serious and I want to be successful, not just for myself or personal pride, but for the lodge and the fraternity. I have taken several rolls onto myself with my Blue Lodge:

  • I create, maintain, and upgrade the Lodge web presence, including but not limited to; Blogs, Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WordPress.
  • I have had the privilege to stand in as Chaplain
  • I have had the privilege to stand in as a Steward
  • I have tried to help in degree practices as needed
  • I even offered to be Secretary when one was needed, given my experience in life running several companies, I thought I could help, My W.M. Informed me that I was not qualified and not a Mason for a sufficient period – but I tried!

Beyond my Lodge, I have become a member of the Scottish Rite, an Appendant body of the Masons, in the Valley of Concord, NH.  I have completed a set of degrees including the 32nd Degree http://www.nh32degreemason.org/ .  I have found myself volunteering again with the Scottish Rite, where I have volunteered to be an editor of the Valley of Concord Newsletter, and I agreed to take a part in what is known as the 14th Degree. It is a different responsibility. When you take a part in the line or chairs you are committing that you have the time to take learn and perform the role as once accepted the fraternity is counting on you. Life gets busy as does work and family, but if you make the commitment to learn and do a task for your lodge or the Rite you must follow through and after some conversation with my family I accepted the commitment.
What is perhaps most exciting to me can be expressed by the Scottish Rite Passport.  When you become a member, you receive a passport book with Pages describing each degree. When completing a degree, you get a stamp – like a passport stamp! This made me think of my US Passport. I added pages twice and have many pages and many stamps, they are emblematic of my travel and my collected experience, understanding, and new friends on six of the seven continents. I do have friends that go to the seventh (Antarctica), but none of them live there!  One may view the Scottish Rite Passport in the same way. As you go through degrees you learn some things, you reinforce the fraternity’s values and you make friends.  I look forward to travelling all over the USA to experience all of the degrees. I look forward to meeting new friends and reconnecting with other brothers along the way.

As in any other organization, this fellowship requires work- but do not worry – the oaths and obligations that you will take upon yourself do provide guidance on getting along with other brothers, and truly accepting people who you might not know outside of the lodge.  If you can live up to those principals, you will do just fine with any Mason that you meet. At the very least, you are living up to your oath and obligations.

There is a huge benefit as well, in that the discipline that I believe is required for managing your commitments as a Mason can help you in other areas of your life. As an example, I will share a story. As an engineer I have come up with many processes. One process, that I’ve used professionally, for all of my teams, has been specifically around managing tasks and the progress towards completion of them. I’ve used status reports to communicate this kind of regular progress. In my experience, it was a good way to manage teams of Scientists, Sales People, Marketing, or any type of person.  One day, one of my sales managers came into my office to talk to me.  He said “I wanted to thank you.”  I responded, “For what?” He then told me that his son had been having problem managing schoolwork and sports and his grades were falling to the point of concern. He said that he implemented the Status report that we used in the company to manage tasks, and it relieved all the pressures for his family and his son improved in both grades and sports.

I share this story because it illustrates for me, how practicing the values of the fraternity has not only improved me not only in the different roles I have performed in lodge, but also it has improved me in my non-related activities. We all can be better; we all have room to improve but sometimes we forget to set goals. The fraternity can help bring focus to what you value and therefore you can adjust your actions to better achieve your goals.  And more importantly, you can have some fun and help your community. I look forward to the Continued Fellowship with fellow Masons and to receive more light.

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Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library

988670ced60d90443ef9f2c0aa6303e1If you cannot make it to Lexington Massachusetts to visit the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library  you can view many of the collections online! http://www.srmml.org/

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Becoming a Mason

Knight Rose CroixIntroduction

This Saturday, I was at St. Johns Lodge in Portsmouth New Hampshire. I was there to receive some Degrees as a member of the Scottish Rite, a Masonic appendant body, including the 18th Degree Knight Rose Croix. The term “appendant body” basically means that to become a member of the Scottish Rite you must first be a Mason. This day made me recall how I first came to be interested in Freemasonry.  I thought I would share my personal journey in becoming a Mason on the Website of my Lodge, Harris Lodge No. 91. I think it is best to do this in three blog posts; Becoming a Mason, My First Years as a Mason, and Continuing Fellowship.  This is the first post of the three.

Becoming a Mason

It was at one score and sixteen years ago that I had met a Mason for the first time. I don’t remember his name but I do remember when I met him. The year was 1980, I was reading  a Physics book at an “Au bon Pain Café” in Harvard Square in Cambridge , Massachusetts. I was a student at the time, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as part of a Science, Technology Education and Math (“STEM”) program for qualified High school students that were invited to attend classes at MIT.

I enjoyed going to Harvard Square before going to class, as it was a “cool” place for a kid from Quincy. In this Café I noticed a man, a Harvard student (obvious by his sweatshirt), he was reading an old and tattered book with a prominent Square and Compasses emblem on the dust jacket. I was a bit curious about the book and in need of a break from my own Physics book – so I asked him, “Excuse me, what is your book about?” He stared at me for a bit and said, “How old are you?” I responded back a little indignant, “16 and soon to be 17,” (The young always want to be older.)  He responded that it was a book about Freemasonry. I asked, “Freemasonry?” He responded “Yes.” I then asked “What is Freemasonry?” He responded that it was about a fraternity of men and that I was too young to be a member. He went back to reading and I walked away with many questions unanswered.

That afternoon after class I went directly to the public library when I was back in Quincy and started to read more. I found books on Freemasons, and one Freemason in particular caught my attention, that was Ben Franklin. I was very interested in this because Ben Franklin was a founding father of the United States and a Freemason. More importantly he was a Scientist and I considered myself, even at that time, to be a scientist – or at least I aspired to become one. I read about the many great thinkers that were Freemasons and I got more excited. Then I read somewhere that you had to be 21 to be in the fraternity. I also remembered the Harvard student saying that I was too young so I returned the books to their shelves and went about my life.  Over the years I read more about the Masons and of course saw mention of Famous Masons in books. I also saw many Masonic Temples but my interest waned.

Many years later, my interest was renewed by the 2004 movie “National Treasure”, from Disney. This movie was about a treasure hunter seeking a lost treasure that was brought to America around the time of the founding of the country, by the Freemasons that were our Founding Fathers. I started reading again and several years later I found out that I had friends that were Masons. I asked a mutual friend about how to become a Mason, and he was out of state and wrote a message to a lodge in Portsmouth Ma, introducing me, and mentioning that I wanted to join the Masons.

I do not remember the exact year, but I remember the response was something like, “we like to select our own members” or something like that and I let the idea go for a while.  It was around 2013, that I noticed a square and compass present on a friend’s; sweatshirt or truck, I do not recall exactly what I saw. I remember saying, “Freemasons, I have always been interested.” I asked many questions and I was then offered by my friend to join by petitioning for membership into the Fraternity and to what would become my Lodge.  It was a short process which included meeting other members of the Lodge before officially being accepted to the Fraternity. After that, I began my degree work. There was studying!  I have learned that there is always studying and commitment, otherwise known as work, to acquire anything that is worthwhile. Being a Mason is definitely worthwhile.

In my next post I will discuss my first few years as a Mason, the parts of it that are not held as secret, something that I wish the Harvard student had explained to me. I hope to share what I have learned and have gotten from being a Mason and what I perceive the benefits of the Fraternity. I will leave the reader with a few last thoughts; If you want to be a Mason or are curious about Masonry, just ask one and yes there are programs for a 16-year-old, it is DeMolay: https://demolay.org/what-is-demolay/

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In the beginning: The first two years of Harris Lodge No. 91

img_8132In this, our first document on the history of our lodge, we will cover our Charter to our first full year of existence. The information will come completely from written documents that are used as part of the investigation conducted to compile this history. These documents include the records of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the state of New Hampshire, specifically the printed annual communication record.  Additionally, the reference material includes the “The History of Warner, New Hampshire, for One Hundred and Forty-four Years, from 1735 to 1879”, an eBook that is freely available from the internet. This book has to be used so that the history of Masonry in Warner can be described properly.

For reference, and accuracy it is important to point out that sometimes there is more than one lodge in a city and sometimes there were lodges in existence but they are gone now. In the case of Harris Lodge No. 91, the only Lodge in Warner, it was preceded by the Warner Lodge No. 35. This Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons was organized in 1819, and much of its history was lost to us because of a fire in 1849.

As its hall, furniture, records, &C[SIC]., were destroyed by fire in May, 1849, and the lodge thereafter soon ceased to exist, but little is known of its history or its work. [1]

Masonry in Warner then ceased to exist until it was reconstituted in Warner, on September 30, 1875. With its first WM being Gilman C. George, there is a photo of him at the beginning of this article.

The following are the names of those installed as officers of Harris Lodge [1] :
• Gilman C. George, Master.
• Wesley K. Leversee, Senior Warden.
• Philip C. Wheeler, Junior Warden.
• Alonzo C. Carroll, Treasurer.
• James G. Ela, Secretary.
• Augustus R. Pitman, Senior Deacon.
• John R. Cogswell, Junior Warden.
• Rev. Lemuel Willis, Chaplain.
• Frank W. Graves, Marshal.
• Samuel Davis, Senior Steward.
• Stephen W. Davis, Junior Steward.
• Wm. W. Davis, Tyler.

Fast forward to 1876, we can find the report to the M.W. Grand Lodge regarding the Harris Lodge No. 91 in Warner. In the Annual communication it discusses the visitation of the District Deputy Grand Master and the Grand Secretary to Harris Lodge No. 91 on March 15th. The report was but two paragraphs, and it mentioned that the attendance was rather small but those present were “Zealous in the success of their enterprise.” If you consider that this lodge was just chartered at the 1875 Annual Communication this was a resounding endorsement. The report went on to say that our W. Master George was “thoroughly qualified for his position and I doubt not the Lodge will prosper while under his care.” It is clear that W. Master George did get us off to a good start. During the visitation two candidates were raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. Emphasis is placed on the lodge accommodations, as the report states that in our first year we commenced our career with “Good and Appropriate furniture and Jewels, and free from debt.”

Our next lodge history post will cover 1877-1890. But you do not have to wait that long to learn more about Masonry in Warner. Why not stop by our Lodge on October 15th (9 am-3 pm) and visit us during our Open House. If you are not from Warner look to your particular town because this is a state and New England (USA) Wide Masonic Open House.

For more information regarding the Open House please view this web page: http://www.harrislodge.com/open%20house.htm

You can also find more ways to contact our lodge by:
• Visiting our “contact us” page: http://www.harrislodge.com/contact.html
• Visiting our Twitter page: https://twitter.com/HarrisLodge91
• Visiting our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HarrisLodge91/

References
1. The History of Warner, New Hampshire, for One Hundred and Forty-four Years, from 1735 to 1879 p.312 (Published 1 January 1879) Republican Press association

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Become an Editor – Wikipedia Freemason Portal

Square and CompassI posted a page yesterday regarding famous masons. The post referred to a Wikipedia page that is created based on public editors. It is really cool because it is a huge free encyclopedia. This is great because information is freely shared. They actually have a whole portal on Freemasonry including histories, quotes, notable masons, and more.

This is actually run as a project and anyone can join Wikipedia.   There is actually a project on WikiPedia for this portal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Freemasonry  The page lists that people can participate.

It is fun to participate in sites like this, and of course it can be educational.

The quotes section on the page only has four quotes, I am sure there are more but contributors are surely needed. Signing up for Wikipedia is easy so that you can start contributing.   If you do not have an account simply sign up for one it is free:  https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:CreateAccount&returnto=Portal:Freemasonry

Here are some of the things you can do, as quoted from the portal page, have a great day!

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Famous Masons in History

Bolivar_Arturo_MichelenaThroughout history there have been many famous masons. On multiple websites you can find listings of different masons and many are not all inclusive. There are many reasons for this:

  • Some websites are interested in individual sayings or masons
  • Some have a few lodge brothers of note
  • Some times the list is simply incomplete.

Most people know that one of our founding fathers George Washington was a mason but there is another founding father of a different continent that was a mason that I wanted to point out in this post.

Simón Bolívar,  a central figure in South America and is the equivalent of George Washington, to South America,  as he fought for and won independence from the Spanish.  Take a look around when traveling in South America ; Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima, or Caracas, I am sure you will find statues to him. Just as today you can find statues to George Washington all over the USA.

There is a public list of Notable Freemasons on Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_FreemasonsLink opens in new window

Now the list is sorted alphabetically from last names of A-Z.  You can browse through and read this list and find out more about the two Masons I mentioned on Wikipedia; Simon Bolivar and George Washington.

One of the things I like about Wikipedia  is that they are very straight forward about their sources.  When it comes to this list they know it is incomplete, however they publish right on it that you can help make it better and add to the list:

“This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.”

I hope you have found this post helpful, and you enjoy browsing the list and reading more about notable masons in history!

Also at the bottom of the Wikipedia page they list all 434 sources that they used to get this list – so if you will be asking them to add someone be sure to have a valid source.   A source could be:

  • A book you read
  • An Official Lodge Web Site
  • Government Documents

Basically anything that a college professor would accept as a source!

Enjoy the list and when reading it it is hard to not see how the values of the Fraternity have impacted the world that we live in today.

 

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