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January 2013

Back to Our Roots: The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, Inc.

In honor of the nation's bicentennial, the Supreme Council, Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction dedicated the museum and library in April of 1975. Just a few years before, Sovereign Grand Commander George A. Newbury (1895-1984), the motivating force behind the museum and library, conceived the institution “… to tell a thrilling story--the story of America.” Since then, the museum has collected objects, documents and books related to American and Masonic history and presented exhibitions and programs exploring the same subjects.  2010_42_61

On official documents founders called the museum the “Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Inc.” but did business and promoted the organization as the Museum of Our National Heritage or as the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum of Our National Heritage. In 2001, the public name of the museum was shortened to National Heritage Museum, but our legal name remained Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Inc.  Over the last few years, we have been getting back to our roots and using our legal name accompanied by the symbol of the Supreme Council, Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction—a crowned double-headed eagle with the motto Deus Meumque Jus (God and My Right) to acknowledge our founding, special connection to and continuing support by the Freemasons of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.  You may have seen the name and logo changes in our publications, promotional material, on our building signage and now we feature the change here, on our blog.

AChatelain 001 1975 1719s it has for the past four years, our blog will continue to explore intriguing aspects of our object, archives and library collections.  We will also keep readers abreast of exhibitions, programs and other special events.  Right now we are preparing for an exhibition of selections from our rich map collection—in its first year alone, the museum purchased over 30 historic maps for its holdings.  This image shows a detail of one of the maps that will be featured in the upcoming exhibition, "Journeys and Discoveries:  The Stories Maps Tell."  Most importantly, our blog is a place where we can hear from you.  If you have a question or comment, please get in touch!

Photo credit: 

Detail from Carte tres curieuse de la Mer du Sud…, 1719.  Chatelain family, Zacharie Chatelain (d. 1723) and Henri Abraham Chatelain (1684-1743).  Amsterdam, Holland.  Van Gorden-Williams Library, 001-1975 1719.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Scottish Rite Double-Headed Eagle Pendant, ca. 1912.  Gift of the Supreme Council, 33º, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, USA, 2010.042.61a-b.  Photograph by David Bohl.



The Rowlands Family: Freemasonry as a Tradition

A2012_64_1DS_rrowlands family_cropped versionFor the Rowlands family, Freemasonry was a family tradition.  Richard Allison Rowlands (1890-1955) was Grand Master of Masons of the State of New York from 1950 through 1952.  He often shared Masonic events with his family, particularly his wife, Gertrude, and his daughter, Patricia.  They are all seen at a visitation to the Westchester-Putnam District in New York, on April 29, 1950 in the photograph (on the left).  R. A. Rowlands is fifth from the left, Gertrude is on his left and Patricia is on his right.

Gertrude and her three daughters were also members of the Order of the Eastern Star.  Gertrude and Patricia took their turns as Worthy Matron.  Gertrude was Worthy Matron of Schnectady's Corlaer Chapter 528 during 1950 and Patricia was Worthy Matron of the same chapter during 1952.

The Rowlands family lived at 1361 Regent Street in Schnectady, New York with their three daughters:  Shirley, Virginia, and Patricia.  R. A. Rowlands' grandfathers were members of the craft.  Richard Rowlands, Sr. was a member of Stella Lodge No. 485 in Brooklyn, New York, and Gerritt Vervoort was a member of Munn Lodge No. 190 in New York City.   R. A. Rowlands' father, John S. Rowlands, was a member of Lebanon Lodge, No. 191, New York City and served as its Master in 1906.  R. A. Rowlands' mother was a member of Flatbush Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star. 

The photograph (on the right) shows Richard A. Rowlands at another Masonic event--throwing out the First Pitch at the 14th Annual Baseball Game and Circus Show, Dexter Park, on June 10, 1950.  The event was sponsored by the Brooklyn Masonic Association for Charity, Inc.  R. A. Rowlands participated in many family Masonic events as well as lodge meetings.                                                                A2012_64_1DS_rrowlands throwing out a pitch_cropped version

R. A. Rowlands' grandson, Richard V. Travis (son of Virginia Rowlands and L. Earl Travis), is the donor of this collection of materials including a photograph album, three scrapbooks, over 20 Masonic, military, and civic certificates, ephemera and museum objects.  Richard V. Travis is also Executive Director of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, here in Lexington, Massachusetts.   He is a Scottish Rite Mason, on the Board of Directors for the museum, and is a member of many Masonic organizations.

This collection is a wonderful example of how Freemasonry flowed from great-great-grandfather to great-grandfather to grandfather to grandson-- through five generations!


For Further Reading: 

Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, 1950, p. 197-200.

Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, 1955,  p.146-149.

Proceedings of the Supreme Council of Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of the Thirty-third and Last Degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States of America, 1955, p. 372-373.



Photograph Album of Richard A. Rowlands.  Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Libray, Gift of Richard V. Travis, A2012/64/1.



Independent Order of Good Templars in Oswego County, New York

A2012_44_1c_DS_web versionThe year 2012 has brought many new acquistions to the Archives and one notable collection was a group of seven ledgers from Bowens Corners Lodge, No. 67, Oswego County, New York of the Independent Order of Good Templars. These ledgers date from 1902-1908.

The ledger minutes from Bowens Corners were written during one peak of the Temperance Movement within the United States and the height of membership in the Independent Order of Good Templars. In 1907, the Independent Order of Good Templars had 350,000 members nationwide. It was an organization that had split off from the International Order of Good Templars. However, the factions came together in 1852 and formed the Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Good Templars of the State of New York. It was a fraternal order that accepted both men and women as well as African Americans (in northern states), had ritual degrees, and promoted the total abstinence from alcohol.  For further information about early temperance groups see these previous posts.

One of the ledgers contains a printed copy of the Good Templars' Constitution. Article II, Section I, of this Constitution is the pledge which reads: "No member shall make, buy, sell, use, furnish, or cause to be furnished to others as a beverage, any Spirituous or Malt Liquors, Wine or Cider; and every member shall discountenance, in all proper ways, the manufacture, sale and use thereof." Each man or woman had a membership certificate that gave them clearance into the order. Nellie Dumars had been an officer of the Bowens Corners Lodge and signed her name to this certificate (below) in 1904.

Bowens Corners Lodge minutes from another ledger reveal that certain members, Seth Johnson (b. 1879) of Granby and Earl Worden (b.1882) of Volney had "broken their pledge on April 12, 1902 and admitted their guilt." At a meeting in May 16, 1902 members decided to table this issue while they A2012_44_1_DS_IOGT certificate_web versionconsulted Article VII of their Constitution which deals with offenses and trials. If Johnson and Worden drank alcohol then they were to be expelled and restored to the order only with a restoration ceremony in open lodge within four weeks of the admission of guilt. Later that summer according to the minutes, on June 6, 1902, Johnson and Worden were in fact expelled from the Bowens Corners Lodge. One can speculate, perhaps, how difficult these two men found it to stop drinking.

Suggested Further Reading:

Bernard, Joel Charles.  From Theodicy to Ideology:  the Origins of the American Temperance Movement. Ann Arbor, MI:  UMI Dissertation, 1983.

Fahey, David M. "How the Good Templars Began:  Fraternal Temperance in New York State", Social History of Alcohol Review, Nos. 38-39 (1999), p. 17-27.

Fahey, David M.  Temperance and Racisim:  John Bull, Johnny Reb, and the Good Templars. Lexington, KY:  University Press of Kentucky, 1996.


Collection of Independent Order of Good Templars Ledgers, Bowens Corners, Oswego County, New York, 1902-1908. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, A2012/44/1a-g.