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July 2016

A Masonic Pitcher

In 1924 artist Gamaliel Beaman (1852-1937) gave this transfer-print decorated pitcher to his friend Amos Clayton Parker (b. 1885).  Parker, an interior decorator and member of Norumbega Lodge in Newtonville, Massachusetts, gave or sold it to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. It is now part of the Grand Lodge's collection on loan to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.

Pitcher, 1800-1815. England. Loaned by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.7128.

In addition to painting, Beaman also sold antiques in Princeton, Massachusetts.  He bought the pitcher some 40 years before he presented it to his friend Parker.  Beaman noted in a statement that accompanied the pitcher when it entered the Grand Lodge’s collection that he had purchased the vessel in nearby Templeton, Massachusetts, “in 1884, of Mrs. Works her Husband was the Tyler + took the Pitcher Home she said as the Lodge Closed for the last time.”  He further recorded that the pitcher was a relic from a lodge that had long since ceased operation and whose charter had been lost.  Beaman believed the pitcher was something out-of-the-ordinary stating that because of its history, “this Old Pitcher has added interest.”

Though efforts to identify a Mrs. Works who lived in Templeton in the 1880s have fallen short so far, it is possible that this pitcher may have once been used at Harris Lodge.  This group met in Athol, Massachusetts, starting in 1802.  From 1813 to 1834, the lodge met in Templeton. This lodge operated during the time when imported English transfer-print decorated earthenware, like this pitcher, enjoyed its greatest popularity.

GL2004.7128 Peace and plenty picture one
Pitcher, 1800-1815. England. Loaned by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.7128.

Two transfer prints grace this pitcher.  One, pictured to the right, shows a common design that displays a raft of Masonic symbols between two columns surrounded by swags of flowers.  The other print, pictured to the left, depicts a patriotically themed design that English pottery makers developed to appeal particularly to American consumers.  This image shows a winged bird, meant to be an eagle, atop a representation of the Great Seal of the United States ornamented with the motto “Peace, Plenty and Independence.”  This motto was a much-proclaimed toast in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The American flag is in the background and allegorical figures bookend the design.  In embellishing this pitcher with these two images, the pottery decorator hoped to attract the business of a purchaser proud to be both an American and a Mason.   


William G. Lord, “History of Star Lodge,” Proceedings of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the Year 1939 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Cosmos Press, Inc., 1940) 348-351.

S. Robert Teitelman, Patricia A. Halfpenny and Ronald W. Fuchs III, Success to America: Creamware for the American Market (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors’ Club, Ltd, 2010) 218-219, 234-235.

White Mountain Art and Artists, "Gamaliel Waldo Beaman," http://whitemountainart.com/about-3/artists/gamaliel-waldo-beaman-1852-1837/.

New to the Collection: Nathan Lakeman's Masonic Aprons

2016_005_3DP1DBSeveral generations of the Hill family, all members of Liberty Lodge in Beverly, Massachusetts, passed down this apron and two others painted with a strikingly similar design. A descendant from the family recently donated all three aprons to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.  The apron shows a common arrangement of symbols: three steps up to a mosaic pavement (symbolizing the good and evil in life), with two columns and a square and compasses (signifying reason and faith) with a “G” (an emblem for God or geometry or both) above an open Bible in the center. Other symbols are painted on each side, and an all-seeing eye decorates the flap.

While this particular apron does not have a label on the back, one of the other very similar-looking aprons in the gift does.  The almost identical appearance and the aprons' history suggest that the same maker who labeled one apron made all three: Lakeman and Hooper in Salem, Massachusetts. Nathan Lakeman (1804-1835) and Stephen Hooper started advertising their partnership in the local Salem newspapers in early 1824. An ad in the Essex Register in February 1824 explained that the men “have taken rooms in the building on the corner of Essex and Washington streets, where they will execute Masonic, Portrait, Sign, Fancy and Glass Tablet Painting with neatness and despatch.”

Later newspaper advertisements featured their Masonic work more prominently. Lakeman joined Jordan Lodge in Danvers in 1827, serving as Secretary from 1828 to 1832.  One ad, which appeared in 1824, began with the bold heading “MASONIC” and then specified, “Knights Templars, Royal Arch, and Master Mason’s Aprons and Sashes, For sale by Lakeman & Hooper.”  However, by June 1825, the two men seem to have gone their separate ways, judging by an advertisement in the Essex Register offering “Masonic Aprons of the newest and most elegant patterns, constantly for sale by N. Lakeman … Floorings, Royal arch Dresses, &c. furnished at short notice.”  Lakeman continued advertising alone throughout the 1820s.  A fourth apron in the Museum & Library collection (see photo at right; it is not part of the recent gift) also has a label for Lakeman & Hooper on the back, but “Hooper” is crossed out, suggesting that it was made (or sold) after the men dissolved their partnership. 94_003_1T1

In 1831, Lakeman married and took a job as cashier of the Danvers Bank. He seems to have stopped advertising as a painter, but it is unknown whether he continued to paint on the side.  Sadly, Nathan Lakeman died of consumption in 1835 when he was only thirty-one years old.   His obituary noted that “a wide circle of acquaintance lament his death—the aching hearts of more intimate friends are the melancholy testimonies of his worth.”

This selection of four aprons by the same maker in the Museum & Library collection offers a unique opportunity to study the choices made by the artist and the customer. While the design is essentially the same on each apron, they show small differences that could suggest the personal preferences of the customer or the growing skill of the artist.  For more on Masonic aprons, check out our book, The Badge of a Freemason: Masonic Aprons from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, which can be ordered here.  The apron at top left is currently [July 2016] on view at the Museum & Library as part of our exhibition of Recent Acquisitions.  For more about our exhibitions, location and hours, visit our website, http://www.srmml.org/.

Master Mason Apron, 1824-1830, attributed to Nathan Lakeman (1804-1835), Salem, Massachusetts, gift of Jon Gregory Adams Hill, 2016.005.3. Photograph by David Bohl.

Master Mason Apron, 1825–1830, Nathan Lakeman (1804–1835), Salem, Massachusetts, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Purchase, 94.003.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

Civil War Letter Highlights the Difficulties of Prisoner of War Exchanges

Research into this letter held in the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library highlights the unpreparedness of both the Union and the Confederacy to fight a prolonged war and displays how divisive the institution of slavery was, even on the battlefield.

(front of letter)  A1978_010_1DS1

 Letter from General Henry Wager Halleck to General Robert E. Lee, December, 1863

Washington, December 7th, 1863

Genl. Robt. E. Lee
Commanding &c.


I am authorized to offer, through you, to exchange all United States prisoners of war now in Richmond and its vicinity for equivalents, according to the scale of the cartel. These equivalents to be sent by us to City Point, leaving for future arrangement all questions in regard to other prisoners of war held by either party.

If the offer is accepted, you will please inform me of the numbers and grades to be so exchanged, and the times of their delivery.

Very respectfully
Your Obdt. Sert.
H.W. Halleck
Genl. in chief

(reverse of letter)

A1978_010_1DS2 - CopyResponse by General Robert E. Lee,
December 15, 1863

Head Qus of the Army
Washington, December 7th 1863

H.W. Halleck
General in Chief

Offering to exchange all United States prisoners of war now in Richmond and its vicinity for equivalents according to the scale of the cartel, these equivalents to be sent to City Point, leaving for future arrangements all questions in regard to the other prisoners held by either party.

H.Q.: 15 Dec '63

Respt. referred for information of secy of war. Genl Halleck has been informed that the cartel entered into by the Govt. provided for the exchange of all prisoners of war and that I had no authority to depart from it, and therefore could not accept his offer.

R.E. Lee, Genl

Col. Ould for information
17 Dec 63 JSS [?]
Secy of War

Both the Union and the Confederacy had predicted a short war, and because of this miscalculation, no preparations were made by either side to house and to care for the large numbers of men who would become prisoners of war. Commanders on both sides were left to decide matters on their own, and in the first few years of the war, it was common for ad hoc prisoner exchanges to take place after each battle.

These impromptu prisoner of war exchanges were replaced on July 22, 1862, when both sides adopted the Dix-Hill cartel. This agreement or cartel, as it was called, would last until July 30, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln issued an order that suspended all prisoner exchanges until the Confederacy would treat black soldiers the same as white soldiers. The cessation of prisoner exchanges led to the creation of the notorious prisoner of war camps, Andersonville in the South and Rock Island in the North.


Letter from General Henry Wager Halleck to General Robert E. Lee and a Response by Lee, December 7-17, 1863. Gift of Tobin William. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, USM 001.039.


United States National Park Service. “African Americans at Andersonville.” Accessed: 7 July 2016. https://www.nps.gov/ande/learn/historyculture/african_americans.htm


Seminar: “Filling in the Gaps: Finding Your Family’s Role in American History”


Zuller Moyer Family Record A83_015_1DI1
Zuller-Moyer Family Record, 1825. Henry Moyer (b. 1785), Minden, New York. Museum Purchase, A83/015/1

August 6, 2016

9 AM-4 PM

$85 Seminar + Lunch or $65 Seminar only

Just announced! The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library will host the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s Family History Day on August 6, 2016 from 9 AM-4 PM. Entitled “Filling in the Gaps: Finding Your Family’s Role in American History,” this full day seminar will include speakers from both organizations and beyond to discuss how researchers can uncover lost stories about how their ancestors lived and worked. The seminar will take place at the Museum located at 33 Marrett Road in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Lectures will include how to use newspapers, military pension files and fraternal records to discover new information about your family’s past. Rhonda R. McClure, a nationally recognized professional genealogist and lecturer, will discuss “Finding Family Stories in Newspapers.” NEHGS’s Chief Genealogist David Allen Lambert will review “Occupations in Early New England” and “Researching Military Pension Files: Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War” to help registrants understand the daily lives of their ancestors. 

John without flash
John Coelho, Archivist

John Coelho, archivist at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library and frequent blog contributor will discuss “Researching Your Ancestor’s Role in Fraternal Organizations.” This lecture will include information on the types of Masonic and fraternal records that exist, where they are located, and how they may be useful to genealogical research. Coelho will also discuss how to use Masonic and fraternal resources in conjunction with more traditional genealogical tools to discover more detailed information about family history.

The seminar includes the opportunity to interact with genealogists and staff of both organizations, browse publications, enter to win door prizes, and meet other family historians. Details and registration are available at the NEHGS website

"In McKinley We Trust, In Bryan We Bust": Presidential Campaign Memorabilia from the Collection

It's election season! As political parties78_35_2DP1DB prepare for their respective conventions, we decided to spotlight a couple of the wonderful presidential campaign items in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection.

Glassware, pins, canes, flags, and bobble heads are just some of the types of campaign materials made and sold over the past one-hundred and fifty years. Campaign memorabilia and ephemera present a graphic record of past political climates, personalities, societal concerns, and political slogans. Although the way in which candidates campaign has changed, the goal of rallying support and winning the highest seat in American politics is the same.  The memorabilia, some whimsical, some tongue-in-cheek, echoes some of the same concerns steeped in present day politics.

Grover Cleveland (1837-1908), who served as the 22nd and 24th President of the United States, is the only president to date who served two nonconsecutive terms. This 1884 whiskey bottle in the form of presidential candidate Grover Cleveland’s bust was one of the many political souvenirs from his 1884 bid for the white house against Republican James G. Blaine. The bottle was a souvenir from a political dinner in California during the campaign.

Political campaign canes, also 77_29_2DP2DB referred to as walking sticks, were once popular campaign items and often used during political torchlight parades. In 1977, Henry S. Kuhn (1895-1984) donated a William McKinley political campaign cane to the Museum & Library. Family history relates that Samuel Kuhn (1866-1920), Henry’s father, received this cane during the aforementioned presidential stop in Cleveland, one day before McKinley’s assassination in Buffalo. The words “preferred choice” are inscribed on the cane. This phrase was one of the slogans for the 1899 McKinley/Roosevelt campaign. The cane was one of the many McKinley artifacts and campaign materials sold to supporters and visitors.

Want to learn more about our political campaign collections?  Or, which presidents were Freemasons? Visit our online exhibition “Who Would you Vote For? Campaigning for President” to explore the collection and learn more about past presidential campaigns. 




Grover Cleveland Figural Whiskey Bottle, ca. 1884, unidentified maker, United States, Gift of Dr. Sanford Moses, 78.35.2. Photograph by David Bohl.

William McKinley Political Campaign Cane, 1890-1900, unidentified maker, United States, Gift of Mr. Henry S. Kuhn, 77.29.2. Photograph by David Bohl.