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October 2015

Workshop: “Exploring the World War I Home Front: How to Discover Your Family and Community History”

November 14, 2015

1:30-3:30 PM

Workshop by Jayne Gordon, Independent Consultant and Former Director of Education and Public Programs, Massachusetts Historical Society

 

Oh Boy! that's the Girl!, 1918. Sackett & Wilhelms Corp., New York. Gift of Andrew S. Dibner, A2000/37/04
"Oh Boy! that's the Girl!," 1918. Sackett & Wilhelms Corp., New York. Gift of Andrew S. Dibner, A2000/37/04.

In this workshop, Jayne Gordon, former Director of Education and Public Programs at the Massachusetts Historical Society, will teach us how to use surviving documents from the World War I home front to recreate the story of a community’s or a family’s past. Gordon will outline how to mine historical resources to discover more about the experience of families and communities on the World War I home front. At the workshop’s end, participants will leave with a set of framing questions to use for examining records related to their own research.

Free workshop; registration required by November 5. Email programs@monh.org or call 781-457-4126 to register.

This workshop at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is made possible by the generous support of the Ruby W. and LaVon P.  Linn Foundation and is part of the lecture series, “The U.S. Home Front during World War I: Duty Sacrifice, and Obligation.”  


The Organ Clock in "Keeping Time: Clockmakers and Collectors"

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Organ Clock, 1820-1850. T. Hilzinger, retailer. Germany. Gift of Mrs. Willis R. Michael, 77.80.11a-t. Photograph by David Bohl.

At almost nine feet tall, this clock, now on view in “Keeping Time: Clockmakers and Collectors” at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, makes a real impression. But sheer size is just the beginning; this clock features an automated performance by a uniformed band of six musicians every hour. Wooden and metal pipes inside the bonnet provide the music.

Like many clocks exhibited in “Keeping Time,” this one was collected by Willis Michael (1894-1969). Michael started his collection with a single tall case Pennsylvania clock. By the time he died decades later, his collection had grown tremendously. This clock was just one of the nearly one thousand clocks, watches, tools, books and automata that Michael and his wife Ruth (1904-1992) purchased and enjoyed.  In the accompanying photograph, you can see how the Michaels displayed this clock and others at their home in Red Lion, Pennsylvania.   

Interested in different kinds of mechanisms, technology and time-keeping systems, Michael amassed timepieces made in America, Europe and Asia, dating from the 1600s into the 1900s. German makers crafted this organ clock, also called a flötenuhr (flute clock), sometime between the 1820s and the 1850s. The pipes, bellows, painted elements, figures and musical mechanism were made in the Black Forest area. This clock plays several melodies, all ingeniously stored on a pin barrel (visible along with some of the pipes in the image below).  Right now, when activated, the clock plays the tune of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” also known as “God Save the King.”

Visitors to the Willis Michael clock room 1949
Willis Michael’s “Clock and Watch Museum.” Red Lion, Pennsylvania, 1949. Photograph by Henry M. Blatner.

A name painted on the clock’s enamel face, “T. Hilzinger,” probably indicates the retailer who sold the clock to its first owner. That person likely commissioned a local cabinetmaker to put together the hood and case to suit the clock owner's needs and taste. On the inside of this case a partial chalked name, “Moses…,” may be that of the cabinetmaker.   

During the first half of the 1800s, some Black Forest craftsmen specialized in producing sophisticated organ clocks like this one. Decorated with scenes from drama, mythology and other sources, and playing a variety of tunes taken from operas, dances and hymns, these clocks kept the time, but primarily delighted and entertained their owners. Today, this clock charms visitors to “Keeping Time” and will through October, 2016.

Detail organ clock 77.80.11
Detail, Organ Clock, 1820-1850. T. Hilzinger, retailer. Germany. Gift of Mrs. Willis R. Michael, 77.80.11a-t.

Many thanks to Prof. Eduard C. Saluz, Deutsches Uhrenmuseum, Furtwangen, Germany.


A Fraternity Goes to War: The History of a Masonic Civil War Certificate


From April 1861 until the end of September 1863, the Grand Lodge of Illinois issued 1,757 Masonic war certificates to Illinois Master Masons, and eventually to the sons of Master Masons, as a type of traveling certificate, which would vouch for their good Masonic standing to their Confederate brothers whom they would meet on the battlefield.

This certificate, a gift to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library from Rushville Lodge, No. 9, A. F. & A. M., had been issued to Corporal Phineas Lovejoy of the 3rd Regiment, Illinois Cavalry on December 23, 1861. Research into his life reveals that Lovejoy had been elected Most Worshipful Master of Columbus Lodge, No. 227, and was the first cousin once removed of abolitionist editor Elijah P. Lovejoy and his brother U.S. Congressman Owen Lovejoy, a friend of Abraham Lincoln.

 

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Masonic War Certificate for Phineas Lovejoy, December 23, 1861.

Census records for the years 1850 and 1860 document that Phineas worked as a farmer, and articles found in the Quincy Whig (provided by the Quincy Public Library) capture his very active political life, including Lovejoy’s election to town clerk for the township of Honey Creek (April 1859). The Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls documents that, like many Illinoisans, Lovejoy swiftly joined the army on August 5, 1861, less than four months after the first shots had been fired upon Fort Sumter, and that he and his regiment took part in the Battle of Pea Ridge.

Phineas Lovejoy did not survive the war, and records consulted for this blog post do not reveal the cause of his death. What we only know for certain is that Lovejoy was mustered out on August 9, 1862, and died on that same day on the Steamer “White Cloud,” somewhere offshore near Memphis, Tennessee. Having said that, after consulting the National Park Service’s website Battle Unit Details, we do know that Lovejoy’s cavalry unit was stationed at Helena, Arkansas, from July 14, 1862, until December 1863. Historian Rhonda M. Kohl explains in her article “This Godforsaken Town”: Death and Disease at Helena, Arkansas, 1862-63, the Union camp at Helena was a sickly place. It “created an unhealthy environment for residents and soldiers,” and “as soon as the Union troops occupied Helena, sickness [dysentery, typhoid, and malaria] overtook the men.” From Kohl’s account of the conditions at Helena, it seems likely that Phineas Lovejoy may have been seriously ill when he was mustered out in August and died while being transported north for medical treatment.   



Caption

Masonic War Certificate for Phineas Lovejoy, December 23, 1861. Gift of Rushville Lodge, No. 9, A. F. & A. M. (Rushville, Illinois). Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, MA 007.

References

Ancestry.com. U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, Utah, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2012.

Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, Utah, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, Utah, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2009.

Bateman, Newton, and Paul Selby, eds. (1899). William Owen Lovejoy. In Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and Knox County. (pp. 735-736). New York: Munsell. https://books.google.com/books?id=Oj5JAQAAMAAJ  16 October 2015.

Grand Lodge of Illinois (1861). Returns of Lodges: Columbus Lodge, No. 227. In Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, (pp. 227). Springfield, Illinois: Steam Press of Bailhache and Baker.

Grand Lodge of Illinois (1863). War Certificates. In Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, (pp. 15). Springfield, Illinois: Steam Press of Bailhache and Baker.

Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, Utah, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2009

Kohl, Ronda M. “‘This Godforsaken Town:’ Death and Disease at Helena, Arkansas, 1862-63.” Civil War History 50, no. 2 (June 2004): 109-144.

State of Illinois. “Lovejoy, Phineas.” Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls Database. Accessed: 16 October 2015. http://www.ilsos.gov/isaveterans/civilMusterSearch.do?key=154306

United States National Park Service. “3rd Regiment, Illinois Cavalry.” Battle Unit Details. Accessed: 16 October 2015. http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=UIL0003RC


Busy Beaver Lodge

2014_099_6DS1One of my favorite things about being a curator is connecting objects to each other. Recently, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library received a photograph of the officers of Beaver Lodge in Belmont, Massachusetts, in 1932. Two rows of men are arranged in their Masonic best in the lodge room with the Master’s chair and two columns visible behind them. They wear aprons, collars and jewels. The Deacon and Steward each hold their respective rods. Accompanying the photo in the gift to the Museum & Library were these rods – a wonderful opportunity to connect the objects to the photograph to help visitors and researchers to visualize how the lodge room looked in the early 1930s and the scale of the rituals that these men performed. 2014_099_9DP1DB

Beaver Lodge was chartered in Belmont in 1922. The population of the town had doubled between 1910 and 1920 and would do so again between 1920 and 1930. Members of the existing lodge, Belmont Lodge, numbered more than 500 and the officers realized that the time had come to form a second lodge in town. The name “Beaver Lodge” was chosen due to the location of Beaver Brook and the beaver ponds and dams nearby, as well as the inclusion of the beaver on the official seal of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. 2014_099_8DP2DB

The lodge’s history recounts that “most of the Lodge equipment was donated by various Brethren, and the aprons, jewels, collars and other articles of equipment procured as soon as they could be made.” Presumably, this included the two rods shown here. Both are decorated with silver depictions of the lodge seal and the top of each is engraved “Beaver Lodge.” The Deacon’s rod is also marked “Presented to Thomas Stewart,” suggesting that he served the lodge in this office at some point. Stewart (1885-1968), who was born in Scotland, worked as an electrician and joined Belmont Lodge in 1917. He became a charter member of Beaver Lodge when it formed.

Reference:

Amos L. Taylor, “History of Beaver Lodge,” Proceedings of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the Year 1947 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Cosmos Press, Inc., 1948), 330-341.

Beaver Lodge Officers, 1932, Fairfield Studio, Boston, Massachusetts. Gift of Keith C. MacKinnon, 2014.099.6.

Beaver Lodge Deacon’s Rod and Steward’s Rod, circa 1922, United States. Gift of Keith C. MacKinnon, 2014.099.8 and .9. Photographs by David Bohl.


Lecture: “The Boston Red Cross in the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic: Vanguard Fighter or Rogue Chapter?”

Marian Moser-JonesOctober 17, 2015

2 p.m.

Lecture by Marian Moser Jones, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, Department of Public Health

As World War I drew to a close, a new crisis appeared at home: the worldwide influenza pandemic had reached American shores. In August of 1918 the first influenza cases began to appear in sailors stationed in Boston Harbor. Within months the disease spread across the country sickening as many at 25 million Americans and killing over 550,000 of them. With most nurses still overseas and local authorities overwhelmed, the government turned to the Red Cross to care for the sick.  Boston’s local Red Cross chapter acted quickly to meet the needs of the emergency. However, once the Red Cross National Headquarters stepped in to call the shots, the headstrong Boston chapter ignored or rejected their directives. 

In this, the fourth of a five part series exploring The U.S. Home Front During World War I, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library has invited noted scholar Marian Moser

Jones, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, to explore the Red Cross-led response to the 1918-1919 flu in Boston and New England, and discuss whether the local officials acted wisely in charting their own course during this deadly public health crisis.

This lecture is made possible by the generous support of the Ruby W. and LaVon P.  Linn Foundation and is part of the lecture series, “The U.S. Home Front during World War I: Duty Sacrifice, and Obligation.”

References:

Jones, Marian Moser. The American Red Cross: from Clara Barton to the New Deal. (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).