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July 2014

Souvenirs from Solomon's Temple

GL2004_4583DP4DBAn inscription on the lid of this silver octagonal box tells its story:

"This piece of Magnesian lime stone was broken off from the side of one of the large foundation stones on which stood the renowned Temple of Solomon. It was procured by myself with considerable difficulty, the place being guarded by an armed Turkish soldier, in the spring of 1851 in the ancient city of Jerusalem, & it is affectionately presented to Hammatt Lodge, East Boston, as a memorial —J. V. C. Smith Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Boston. Feb. 22, 1860."

Applied to the front of the box is an open book, representing the Bible, with a square and compasses symbol. The box is lined with dark blue velvet. Inside rests the piece of white limestone.

Masonic ritual is based on the biblical story of the building of King Solomon’s Temple. The structure is described in 1 Kings 6–7, including its dimensions and the materials used in its construction. Builders erected the Temple in the tenth century BC as a sacred resting place for the Ark of the Covenant, which contained fragments of the Ten Commandments’ tablets. In 597 BC, Babylon conquered Assyria and laid siege to Jerusalem. Ten years later, the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar II, destroyed the Temple and stole most of the artifacts inside; the Ark of the Covenant vanished and its location remains a mystery.

For centuries, Solomon’s Temple has captured the imagination of Freemasons. Individual Masons, as well as groups of lodge brothers (like those in the photo to the right), made pilgrimages to the site of the Temple in Jerusalem throughout the late 1800s and the 1900s. These men often brought back souvenirs made out of limestone from King Solomon’s Quarry, thought to be the source of the stone for the Temple. GL2004_11735DS1

Jerome Van Crowninshield Smith (1800–1879), who obtained the stone in this box and donated it to Hammatt Lodge, of which he was a charter member in 1860, was born in Conway, New Hampshire. He attended Brown University and Williams College, eventually becoming a physician. In 1826, Smith took the post of health officer of the port of Boston, a position he filled until 1849. He also worked as a medical journalist.

Smith became a Mason in 1822 when he joined Boston's Mount Lebanon Lodge. In 1857, he demitted from that lodge and became a charter member of Hammatt Lodge. From 1852 to 1854, he served as District Deputy Grand Master of District No. 1, and, in 1860, he was Deputy Grand Master of Massachusetts. During the early 1850s, Smith traveled, going to Jerusalem in 1851, where he procured the piece of limestone from Solomon’s Temple illustrated here. He also obtained another set of stones that he presented to Boston’s Mount Lebanon Lodge in 1852. Smith published three books about his travels: Turkey and the Turks, A Pilgrimage to Egypt, and A Pilgrimage to Palestine. He also gave lectures to Masonic groups about his trips.

When Smith returned from abroad in 1854, his fellow citizens elected him mayor of Boston; he served into 1855. He also resumed his work as a medical journalist and, in 1854, became editor of the Medical and Surgical Journal. In 1870, Smith retired and moved with his wife to New York City, where he lived until his death in 1879.

Today, this box is part of the collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, which is on extended loan at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in Lexington, Massachusetts. This box is one of more than 100 objects from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts collection featured in the recent book Curiosities of the Craft: Treasures from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Collection.  You can order a copy here.  You can see this box and other souvenirs from Jerusalem in our current (July 2014) exhibition, “Prized Relics: Historic Souvenirs from the Collection.”

Box, 1860, unidentified maker, probably Boston. Gift of Hammatt Lodge, Collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.4583a-b. Photograph by David Bohl.

Massachusetts Masons at King Solomon’s Quarry, 1899, unidentified photographer, Jerusalem. Gift of King David Lodge, Collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.11735.

Sources:

Joseph Gutmann, “The Temple of Solomon and Its Influence on Jewish, Christian and Islamic Architectural Thought” in Companion to Contemporary Architectural Thought, ed. Ben Farmer and Hentie Louw (London: Routledge, 1993): 215-219.

Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1879 (Boston: Rockwell and Churchill, 1879), 67–68.


Louis Leander Alexander and the Sons of Temperance

A2014_9_5DS1Louis Leander Alexander (1828-1904) was very active fraternally from 1855 through 1887 in the state of California. The first fraternal organizations he belonged to were the Sons of Temperance and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Grand Divisions of the Sons of Temperance were established in California by 1853 according to the Sacramento Daily Union. Our certificates show that Alexander belonged to Sonora Division No. 16.  During the 1850s and 1860s he lived in the city of Sonora in Tuolumne County, California, with his wife Marta Elizabeth Farr (1840-1898) and six children. Alexander worked as a Mining Superintendent.

The 1849 Gold Rush in California made the state ripe for raucous behavior and insobriety.   Miners, similar to soldiers and sailors on leave, often led solitary lives seeking riches and frequently ended up in taverns, hotels, and gambling palaces or tents, all of which served alcohol.

Various temperance movements emerged as a result of the Gold Rush in California.  The Sons of Temperance was one of these organizations. Scholar Ralph Mann suggests that the Sons of Temperance offered men a rich symbolic haven outside the home and an alternative masculine image.  In 1855, when Alexander was a member, this fraternal group supported a state bill on the total prohibition of alcohol.  The law did not get passed, but the influence of this organization was clear.

By 1855, Alexander was already a Past Worthy Patriarch of his division in the Sons of Temperance.  He was then appointed District Grand Worthy Patriarch which gave him the power to perform certain duties of the Grand Worthy Patriarch, a state-wide position.  According to an 1856 certificate (above left) Alexander was appointed "Degree Regent" for Sonora and Knights Ferry.  In this role, he supervised the conferral of degrees and the compliance with ritual throughout the district.

The Sons of Temperance invited both men and women to join.  However, according to his chapter in California Women and Politics:  From the Gold Rush to the Great Depression, historian Joshua Paddison suggests that in California men continued to dominate the temperance movement until 1878 when the Woman's Christian Temperance Union became active.  This organization transformed temperance from a male issue to a woman's concern and was embraced by California women.  Members of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union sought to make public life alcohol-free.

By 1880, Alexander and family had moved to Oakland. It was here that he became a Master Mason in Oakland Lodge No. 188. Later, in 1886, Alexander became a 32° Scottish Rite Mason as evidenced by this A2014_LLAlexander_Scottish Rite certificate certificate (below right).

 

 Photo Credits:

Sons of Temperance Certificate for Louis Leander Alexander, 1856.  Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Collection, A2014/9/5.

32° Scottish Rite Certificate for Louis Leander Alexander, 1886.  Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Collection, A2014/9/14.

 

Further Reading:

Blocker, Jack S., David M. Fahey, and Ian R. Tyrrell.  Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History.  Santa Barbara, CA:  ABC-CLIO, 2003.

Cherny, Robert W., Mary Ann Irwin, and Ann M. Wilson.  California Women and Politics:  From the Gold Rush to the Great Depression. Lincoln, NB:  University of Nebraska Press, 2011.

Goodman, David.  Gold Seeking:  Victoria and California in the 1850's.  Stanford, CA:  Stanford University Press, 1994.


John S. Winner - Scottish Rite Mason killed in action on the final day of WWI

Our Honor Roll_smallIn 1919, the Supreme Council, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction published Our Honor Roll: Those Who Served, 1917-1919. The book contains a list of 14,843 Scottish Rite members from the 15 states that comprise the jurisdiction who "have gloriously served Our Country and the World in its hours of direst need, and have thus nobly assisted to fix the word American as a title of honor wherever courage and self-sacrifice are the cardinal virtues among men..." (The Supreme Council's Proceedings for 1919 noted that the list was incomplete, stating that "subsequent information indicates that the number of our Scottish Rite brethren of this Jurisdiction in the service exceeds 16,000.")

While browsing through the names, I was immediately struck by one entry in particular because of the date of death:

WINNER, JOHN SANFORD
    314th Inf.
    (Killed in action Nov. 11, 1918)

The signing of the armistice officially ended the fighting in World War I at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month) and yet there were soldiers killed in action right up until the very end.

John Winner entry croppedJohn Sanford Winner (1887-1918), a Scottish Rite Mason from Pennsylvania's Valley of Bloomsburg was killed at 9:15 on the morning of November 11 as the 314th Infantry attempted to take Cote de Romagne. An account notes:

"At 9:15 A.M. Nov 11 1918 the company passed through the heaviest artillery it had ever experienced. The company had these casualties Sergt. John S. Winner and Private Harold Edwards killed, Corp. Roy Rinner, John Bremble, and Private Edwin Spaulding wounded."

According to Winner's WWI draft registration card, he was a 30-year-old unmarried barber from Danville, Pennsylvania before joining the 314th Infantry. We hope that further research will reveal more information about Winner, including when he joined the Scottish Rite.

Our Honor Roll: Those Who Served 1917-1919.(Boston, Massachusetts: Supreme Council, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, [1919])
Call number: 17.9735 .Un58 1917-1919