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January 2019

A Gift to Cassia Lodge

Dedication Page smaller
The Holy Bible…, 1803. Printed by and for Samuel Etheridge, Charlestown, Massachusetts. Museum Purchase, RARE 06.25 .E84 1803.

In 1823 Medfield resident William Felt, along with other Freemasons in his community, petitioned the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts to establish a Masonic lodge in Medfield. William Felt was possibly the William Felt (1766-1843, also spelled Feltt) who received his degrees at St. Andrew’s Lodge in Boston from 1793 to 1794. In September of 1823 seventeen Grand Lodge officers came to Medfield to constitute Cassia Lodge and install its officers. A month before this event William Felt had given the new lodge this 1803 Bible, published by Samuel Etheridge (1769 or 1771-1817) in Charlestown, Massachusetts, along with a square and compasses. The lodge needed these objects to officially open for meetings

Felt's gift was recorded in striking calligraphy on a dedication page in the Bible (at left). John Howe signed the inked calligraphy and ornamentation decorating the dedication page and the page opposite (at left, below). Howe undertook the work in December of 1823, a few months after Felt gave the Bible to the lodge. The dedication honored Felt’s gift grandly, expressing the wish that Felt’s “act of munificence may remain in perpetual remembrance.”  Howe was likely John Howe who took his degrees at Washington Lodge in Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1816.  Later John Howe served as Junior Warden and Master of Washington Lodge. Intriguingly, records surviving from Washington Lodge contain pages ornamented in the same fashion as the page in the Cassia Lodge Bible (see below). Simon Willard, Jr. (1795-1874), a merchant and clockmaker who joined Washington Lodge in 1818 signed the decorations on a page from Washington Lodge's records in 1824. When these calligraphed pages are viewed together, the similar style of decorations suggest members of Cassia and Washington Lodges had shared tastes in decoration.

Though Cassia Lodge got off to a promising start, purchasing a building, “Academy Hall,” which members “fitted up for a lodge room,” the group did not prosper.  By 1830, Cassia Lodge had petitioned the Grand Lodge for help with its debt. The lodge, which claimed just twenty five members in 1830, owed $420. The Grand Lodge was not able to help, finding “no precedent…of the Grand Lodge paying the debts contracted by any subordinate Lodge.”  Though Cassia Lodge had likely stopped meeting years before, a local history recorded that the lodge gave up its charter in 1845, and sold its building “to the town for school purposes.” William Felt’s gift, with its richly decorated dedication page, serves as a tangible reminder of Cassia Lodge and its brief history.



Louis A. Cook, History of Norfolk County Massachusetts 1622-1918, (New York, NY: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1918), 450.

Commemoration of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Lodge of Saint Andrew, (Boston, MA:  The Lodge of Saint Andrew, 1907), 281.

The Holy Bible…, 1803. Printed by and for Samuel Etheridge, Charlestown, Massachusetts. Museum Purchase, RARE 06.25 .E84 1803.

Robert A. Domingue, A History of Washington Lodge A. F. & A. M., (Project 1996 Bicentennial Committee, 1996), 315, 345.

Hamilton Hurd, History of Norfolk County, Massachusetts, (Philadelphia, PA: J. W. Lewis & Co., 1884), 446.













Washington Lodge Secretary's Records, 1824. Roxbury, Massachusetts. Extended loan from Washington Lodge, A.F. & A.M., Lexington, Massachusetts, EL77.004.29


New Year's! Shriners! Football!

East West Shriner game cover 1948 - smallerSince 1925, the Shriners - one of the appendant orders in Freemasonry - have sponsored an annual all-star East-West Shrine football game. Two teams of senior-year football players, one comprised of players from colleges in the Eastern U.S. and the other with players from the West, meet in January to compete. Pictured here is the cover for the 1948 program for the game that was played on New Year's Day at San Francisco's Kezar Stadium (the first home stadium to both the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders).

Cartoonist Wiley Smith (1906-1994) illustrated the 1948 cover in a whimsical style reminiscent of his “Football Follies” comic. The cover depicts two smiling football players representing the West and East teams, as well as a fez-wearing Shriner handing off the football to a young boy wearing a leg brace, who has tossed his crutch aside.

Shriners Hospitals started providing free care to children with neuromusculoskeletal disabilities in 1922 when they opened their first hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana. Starting in 1962 they expanded services to also treat children with burn injuries and then broadened their services again in 1978 to treat children with spinal cord injuries. The East-West Shrine Game is still around today and benefits the Shriners Hospitals for Children. Players from both teams visit a local Shriners hospital and meet with patients during the week leading up to the game.

Up until 1986, the East-West Shrine game was played on or around January 1. Because of the schedule of various Bowl games in early January, the date was moved up later, to take place after the bowl games are done. Up until 2005, the game was played in the San Francisco Bay area. In 2006, the game moved to Texas and then again in 2010 to Florida where it is played today. This year's game - the 94th - takes place on Saturday, January 19, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

But what about that 1948 game? The East won, 40-9. You can view the roster here

This program and one from the 1943 East-West game are on view in the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives reading room through June 1, 2019.



Souvenir Program for Shriner’s East-West All-Star Football Game, 1948
Probably San Francisco, California
Museum Purchase, MA 110.003