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May 2017

New to the Collection: Centennial Odd Fellows Lodge No. 178 World War I Honor Roll

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Centennial Lodge No. 178 Honor Roll, ca. 1919. Massachusetts. Museum Purchase, 2015.030.2.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Along with lodge furniture and banners associated with a group of Massachusetts Odd Fellows, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library recently purchased this painted sign for the collection.  Centennial Odd Fellows Lodge No. 178 in West Boylston, Massachusetts, commissioned this decorative sign to honor eighteen lodge members who fought in World War I.

Museum volunteer researcher Bob Brown recently dug into the service histories of the men listed on the sign in preparation for the exhibition, “Americans Do Your Bit: World War I in Posters,” which opens on June 3, 2017.  To uncover information about the eighteen men listed on the sign, Bob consulted records housed at the National Guard Museum and Archives in Concord, Massachusetts, and resources available online.  His research into the occupations and wartime experiences of the lodge members listed on the honor roll hints at how many men experienced World War I. 

Before they left to join the Army or the Navy, members of Centennial Lodge No. 178 worked locally in different professions.  The largest number of men listed on the sign worked in area factories in different positions.  Two were supervisors, one was a plumber, one was a machinist and another was a tool maker. Four members of the lodge who served in World War I earned their livings as farmers.  The group on the honor roll also included clerks, a doctor, a college student and a college instructor.  Four of the men also belonged to Boylston Masonic Lodge before the war.  Three joined the Masonic lodge afterwards. 

Of the eighteen men in Centennial Lodge who served, the youngest was 21 and the oldest was 42.  Most were in their twenties, reflecting the age of the millions of men who registered for the draft in 1917 and 1918.  The Selective Service Act required that men from age 21 to 31 register. Though many volunteered, over 70% of the American men who served in World War I were drafted.  At least seven of the men listed on Centennial Lodge’s honor roll were drafted and inducted, illustrating the national trend.  The others listed on the honor roll volunteered, were appointed or the records about their service are unclear.  Two of the men listed on the honor roll were foreign born, one in England, the other in Canada. 

Seven of the Centennial Lodge members who served were sent overseas; the rest filled military roles in the United States.  Lodge member and dairy farmer Harold N. Keith (1890-1918), whose name is listed on the sign, was killed in action in France. His fellow member, Arthur I. Hunting (1876-1938) received an injury during his service.  Each surviving member of Centennial Lodge had to resume his life and occupation after his time in the Army or Navy concluded.  The painted sign reminded all who saw it of numerous Americans’ shared effort and, in many cases, sacrifice, during and after the war.     

 


150th Anniversary of the Union of 1867

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Proclamation of the Treaty of the Union of 1867. Gift of the Supreme Council of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite, A2002/113/1.

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction Supreme Council's "Union of 1867." Previous to the Union, two competing Scottish Rite Supreme Councils existed in the northeast and midwest of the United States, the territory covered by the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. Despite years of animosity between the two Councils, a spirit of fraternal union moved the two groups to come together. The two Supreme Councils, as they wrote, "were destined, by the power and rapid progress of the beneficent principles governing them, to lose their individuality and become merged in one Grand United Supreme Council."As they stated in the introduction to their published Proceedings of 1867, the Supreme Councils, which had each "claimed legitimacy to the discomfiture of the other," had decided to merge "as one united body with but one soul."

The merged Councils issued a proclamation, pictured here, announcing themselves to the Masonic world. In it, they declared that "all the unhappy differences previously existing among the Brethren of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in this jurisdiction, were harmoniously adjusted through a Solemn Treaty of Union."

Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly, the merger of these two organizations presented logistical challenges. Multiple subordinate bodies in close geographical proximity to each other existed throughout the jurisdiction, each of which was now subordinate to the one merged Supreme Council. This led to the consolidation of a number of these subordinate bodies in the early 1870s. (You can read about one of these short-lived bodies that was consolidated in an earlier post on the topic.)

Interested in taking a closer look? You can view a high resolution image of the Treaty of Proclamation at our Digital Collections website, where we also provide access to a number of other documents related to the history of the Scottish Rite.


"William Maxwell": One of the Most Dangerous Frauds at Large

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Portrait of "William Maxwell" from Album of Masonic Impostors, 1903.

Each year in May, we return to the topic of Masonic impostors, which we covered in our first blog post back in 2008.

This year we present a man called William Maxwell, who was featured in the 1903 booklet, Album of Masonic Impostors. He was previously published in the Masonic Relief Association's Official Warning Circular No. 209. The Album colorfully describes him as having changed "his name and the Lodge he claims membership in, as easy as a rapid change artist in a vaudeville show." The description also suggests that Maxwell knew what cities and towns to avoid, stating, "Since we first published him he did a big business where our circulars do not reach."

George Fleming portrait
Portrait of George Fleming from January 23, 1898 edition of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

 

In January 1898, Maxwell - whose real name appears to have been George Fleming - was arrested in Seattle, Washington, and convicted of obtaining money under false pretenses. He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. The January 23, 1898 edition of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer carried a front-page article about Fleming titled "Bled Masons for Eight Years: George Fleming Confesses to a Long Career of Crime." In the continuation of the article, on page 7, an illustration of Fleming makes it clear that the "William Maxwell" pictured above and the George Fleming convicted in Seattle are the same person. Fleming claimed a number of different aliases and boasted of having made of career out of defrauding Masons and taking their money. By way of showing how successful he was at posing as a Mason, Fleming claimed to have duped Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, who was then the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England out of $150 while dining with him in Paris.

Although the article mentions various aliases used by Fleming during his eight years of swindling, one name, "William Maxwell," is conspicuously absent. It seems likely that this was a new alias that Fleming began using after having been released from prison. If Fleming served the entirety of his two-and-a-half-year term, he would have been released in the summer of 1900. Existing evidence suggests that it did not take him long to resume his career as a Masonic impostor.

For example, the 1903 Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska mention Maxwell and their encounter with him, calling him "one of the most dangerous frauds at large." A brief entry in the Omaha Daily Bee for January 28, 1903 reads, "William Maxwell, the alleged Masonic fraud, has left for parts unknown." It is unclear where Fleming/Maxwell went after leaving Omaha or when he died.

If you want to read more about Masonic impostors, be sure to check out all of our previous posts on the subject.


"Down in a Shell Crater We Fought:" World War I Stereoviews

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"Down in a Shell Crater We Fought like Kilkenny Cats--The Battle of Cambrai," 1917. Keystone View Company, Meadville, Pennsylvania. Gift of Karen Jacobsen Lenthall, 2014.074.40.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The United States entered World War I, often referred to as “the war to end all wars,” on April 17, 1917. Many Americans on the home front witnessed the war through stereoviews, also known as stereocards or stereographic views. These cards featured two identical photograph prints mounted on card stock. Stereocards were viewed through a stereoscope in order to produce a three-dimensional image. To learn more about stereoviews visit our previous blog posts here.

Most of the World War I views were created and manufactured by the Keystone View Co. and Underwood & Underwood Publishers, two of the most well-known American stereoview manufacturers. The views were produced over a period of three years and circulated in books and collections long after the war ended in 1918. The stereocards depict life in the trenches, European cities, and military meetings and ceremonies during the war.

The stereocard above shows men hiding in shell craters during the 1917 Battle of Cambrai in France.The battle began on November 20, 1917, when British forces launched a surprise attack on the German front in Cambrai. The attack marked the first large-scale use of tanks in a military offensive. The battle officially finished by December 7th and paved the way for new forms of  warfare in strategic military battles. The title of the stereoview "Down in a Shell Crater, We Fought like Kilkenny Cats" references a famous Irish limerick and story about two tenacious cats, tied to one another by their tails, who fought to their deaths. Many historians and writers believe the story refers to Irish civil disputes and turmoil in the late 1700s and early 1800s and is often used to describe a "no-holds-barred" fight.

The stereocard  below shows a view of an underground trench kitchen along the Salonica Front (also known as the Macedonian Front) which stretched from Albania to the mouth of the Struma River in Greece.

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"View in a Trench Kitchen Underground on the Salonica Front," 1914-1918. Underwood & Underwood Publishers, New York, New York. Gift of Karen Jacobsen Lenthall, 2014.074.13.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit our Flickr page and online collections site to see other World War I stereoviews in our collection.

Interested in learning more about World War I on the home front? Come visit our exhibition, "Americans, Do Your Bit: World War I in Posters," opening June 3, 2017.

 

 

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