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September 2018

Another Masonic Certificate by Doolittle and Parmele

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Master Mason Certificate, ca. 1818-1821. Issued to Charles Otis Nye, Moriah Lodge No. 195, DeRuyter, New York, Engraved by Amos Doolittle (1754-1832), New Haven, Connecticut, Published by Henry Parmele (d. 1821), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, GL2004.8765.

A few months ago, we posted about a certificate for the mark degree engraved by Amos Doolittle (1754-1832) that was published by Henry Parmele (d. 1821) and, previously, about an apron engraved from the plate the Parmele used for another certificate.

Though many aspects of Parmele’s biography are, as yet, unknown, the engraved and printed material he produced speaks to his interest in selling material to the Masonic community.  Along with the certificate for the mark degree and the Royal Arch apron, Parmele also produced at least two certificates for the Royal Arch, a Masonic handbook called Key to the First Chart of the Masonic Mirror that was meant to be used in conjunction with an engraved Masonic chart and a Master Mason certificate.

Parmele’s Master Mason certificate (at left) shared an inspiration with or was based on certificates used and produced in Massachusetts in the early

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Reverse, Master Mason Certificate, ca. 1818-1821.Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, GL2004.8765.

1800s.  You can see an example of one of these earlier certificates in this past post.  As was the case with Parmele and Doolittle’s mark degree certificate, Parmele, who census-takers recorded as living in Philadelphia in 1820, worked with printers and engravers in different East Coast cities to retail his certificate.  A line engraved at the bottom of this document (see below, at left) notes that it was sold by G. Fairman in Philadelphia, A. Doolittle in New Haven, Samuel Maverick in New York and by I. W. Clark in Albany.  Gideon Fairman, Doolittle and Maverick were all engravers.  Israel W. Clark was a publisher, printer and editor.  The note also identifies all the men as “Brothrs,”or Freemasons.

Interestingly, this certificate does not seem to have been given to a Master Mason.  Though a name, Charles Nye Otis, and lodge, Moriah Lodge No.  120 (recorded as No. 195) of De Rutyer, New York, are written in ink on the front of the certificate, a handwritten note on the back of the document (at right) shows that Parmele used it as an example of his work.  In a note signed “H. P,” (initials thought to stand for Henry Parmele), the writer discussed how he provided this certificate, or diploma, as a sample.  He also thanks the unknown recipient of the note for his “influence in obtaining subscribers” for another publication, Parmele’s Masonic charts.  Parmele planned to publish two charts to go with his Key, which came out in 1819, but likely only issued one before he died in 1821.  From the wording of Parmele’s note, it is difficult to tell if the recipient had already helped Parmele gain subscribers or if Parmele just wanted to let the recipient know that any help in the future would be appreciated.  This certificate offers some tantalizing clues about how publishers and engravers undertook their business in the early 1800s at the same time it prompts questions about their endeavors.

Reference: 

Kent Logan Walgren, Freemasonry, Anti-Masonry and Illuminism in the United States: 1734-1850: a Bibliography (Worcester, Massachusetts: American Antiquarian Society, 2003).

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Detail, Master Mason Certificate, ca. 1818-1821.Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, GL2004.8765.

Assistance from Those "Whose Benevolent Hearts Glows"

At the core of Scottish Rite Freemasonry is a vision to be a fraternity that fulfills its Masonic obligation to care for its members. In this week’s post, we highlight two documents from the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library that illustrate this vision in action, as well as the “benevolent hearts” of Freemasonry.

In the first document, an 1810 letter to Columbian Lodge in Boston, Massachusetts, Susanna Kelly, the widow of Joseph Kelley, a Freemason, petitions Columbian for relief as she and her children await safe passage to Suriname, the home of Kelly’s mother. Susanna’s letter highlights the difficulties that unmarried or widowed women faced in nineteenth-century America and provides insights into how the embargo and Non-Intercourse Act of 1809, two events that led up to the War of 1812, affected everyday Americans.

The second document, an 1810 report submitted by the committee to aid Susanna Kelly, outlines Columbian Lodge’s efforts to aid the Kelly family in conjunction with St. Andrew’s Royal Arch Chapter and its High Priest, John B. Hammatt. Hammatt, who had been initiated at Columbian Lodge, personally paid for many of the family's expenses and advanced Mrs. Kelly $15.00, which may have been used to aid the family during the voyage.     

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Letter from Susanna Kelly to Columbian Lodge,
June 2, 1810

Boston 2nd June 1810
To the Right Worshipful Master, officers, and members of Columbian Lodge – Gentlemen

It is with extreme reluctance your petitioner again solicits your attention, a widow, with several helpless children, in a country without connections, without money, and without friend (excepting indeed the charitable and humane society of free masons, of which my deceased husband was a member) where can I turn for assistance, but to those, whose benevolent Hearts glow with pity and friendship for the unfortunate. Soon after the death of my husband I determined to return to my mother who resides at Suriname, and who, having heard of my loss, kindly invited me to her arms. But the Embargo and non intercourse laws, prevented my taking advantage of her protection. + I have been obliged tho very reluctantly to request assistance of your fraternity to save myself and children from perishing. Intercourse between this + other countries, having been restored, I hope soon to be able to take a passage to Suriname + am at present in cheap lodging at Charlestown waiting on opportunity for that purpose. But, Gentlemen, I am without resource to obtain a subsistence, a stranger, and a foreigner, who will employ me. I appeal therefore to that generosity, that charity and to that humanity which is so often exercised in the cause of distress – whatever you may be pleased to grant me will be received with the most heart felt gratitude by, gentlemen, your devoted servant--

Susanna Kelly

A1980_013_26DS1Committee Report to Columbian Lodge, 1810  

The committee chosen by Columbian Lodge to alleviate the distress of the widow + children of our late Br. Joseph Kelly by presenting them certain sums of money according to votes of said Lodge, + also to procure a passage for them to Suriname, with deference state, that in conjunction with a committee from St. Andrews Chapter, for that purpose, they have accomplished the above object, but not without expending more money than was appropriated by said Lodge for that purpose as will appear by the following statement,

Cash advanced Mrs. Kelly $25.00
Cash paid for bread 10.50
Cash paid Mrs. Johnson for Mrs. Kelly and children’s board 2.90
Cash paid for wine, eggs, butter [carg. hack hire?] 7.30
Cash paid for beef + bread 7.36
Cash paid for [meal?] and washing floor 1.75
Cash paid for [sundries?] by J. B. Hammatt 34.25
Cash paid for [sauce?] by J. B. Hammatt 9.00
Cash paid for [Truck.g?] by J. B. Hammatt 2.00
Cash advan[ce]d Ms. K. by J. B. Hammatt 15.00
_____
$115.06

That the committee from St. Andrew’s Chapter have paid fifty one dollars of the above sum. Thereby leaving $64.06 paid by your committee, + that they have received 25$ of the Sec.y, which deducted from the above sum leaves $39.06 for which no provision has been made.

Dan.l Baxter      Committee
Sam. Smith

Caption

Letter from Susanna Kelly to Columbian Lodge, June 2, 1810. Gift of Columbian Lodge, Boston, Massachusetts, courtesy of Mrs. Godfrey S. Tomkins, MA 002.

Committee Report to Columbian Lodge, 1810. Gift of Columbian Lodge, Boston, Massachusetts, courtesy of Mrs. Godfrey S. Tomkins, MA 002.

 


Who were the Independent Odd Ladies?

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Quilt, ca. 1915. Probably Massachusetts. Gift of Jean Burditt. 2016.066. Photograph by David Bohl.

Perhaps you have heard of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows or the Daughters of Rebekah, but are you familiar with the United Order of Independent Odd Ladies?

In 1845, a group of women in Boston, Massachusetts, founded the United Order of Independent Odd Ladies, a mutual aid and benefit society.  The women were interested in the laws and principles of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows but were unable to join as equals. They created their own order, six years before the Odd Fellows female auxiliary group, the Daughters of Rebekah, was formed. The Museum recently acquired a "redwork”  cotton album quilt embroidered with emblems and names related to the Independent Odd Ladies. "Redwork" describes a a quilting style with red embroidery on a white back ground, popular in the 1910s.The quilt includes over fifty lodge names from throughout the state of Massachusetts. Some of the symbols on the quilt squares, including a cross and crown, scales, a hand and heart, and sheaves of wheat, are similar to emblems in Freemasonry and the Odd Fellows. Several of the lodge names feature establishment dates and the years 1914 or 1915, helping to date the quilt to about 1915.

According to a 1922 Boston directory, the Independent Odd ladies held their annual and semi-annual meetings at the local Elks and Odd Fellows lodges in town. Officer titles and roles included Supreme Lady, Supreme Secretary, Lady Governess, and Vice Lady Governess. 

It is currently unclear when the order stopped meeting, when the lodges closed, or if the IOL spread beyond Massachusetts and New Hampshire.The IOL is mentioned in local newspaper articles and directories through the 1950s. Read our previous blog post about Independent Odd Ladies ritual guides and minute books in the Library & Archives collection.

Do you have any items or information related to this intriguing but relatively unknown group? Let us know in the comments section below.

2016_066DP4DB

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Quilt, ca. 1915. Probably Massachusetts.Gift of Jean Burditt. 2016.066. Photograph by David Bohl.