American Freemasonry

Digital Collections Highlight: Theodore Gleghorn's 1921 Master Mason certificate

A2019_124_001DS1_web                                                                                                                                                             Theodore Gleghorn's Master Mason certificate is just one of many documents available in the African American Freemasonry & Fraternalism collection at the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Digital Collections website. Hermon Lodge No. 21 issued this Master Mason certificate (above) to Gleghorn (1890-1978). The certificate is dated October 10, 1921, and signed by Hermon Lodge’s Worshipful Master Charles Murdock and Secretary P. B. French. Located in Sparta, Illinois, Hermon Lodge No. 21 was chartered in 1875 by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient & Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Illinois.

Detail_of_A2019_124_001DS1_webWhat makes Gleghorn's Masonic certificate so different from the many hundreds of Masonic certificates in our collection is that it includes a photograph of the certificate's owner (at right), embossed with Hermon Lodge's seal. This, in addition to the lodge officers' signatures, and Gleghorn's own signature, helped prove the document's authenticity if Gleghorn presented it to a lodge where he was not known.

Seeing Theodore Gleghorn's portrait on the certificate makes one wonder - who was he? What do we know about him? According to the WWI registration card that Gleghorn filled out in 1917, he was born in Cutler, Illinois in 1890. In 1917, the Wilson Bros. Coal Co., in Sparta, Illinois, employed him as a miner. The 1920 and 1930 U.S. Federal Censuses also show that Gleghorn continued to work in the coal mining industry. Around 1947, Gleghorn moved north to Springfield, Illinois, where he was employed by the State Division of Local Health Services. He worked there for at least twenty-five years. A 1971 newsletter published by the Illinois Department of Health includes an article and photograph showing that Gleghorn and other long-serving employees had been honored as members of the Illinois Department of Public Health's "Quarter Century Club."

Gleghorn was married to Emma L. (Britton) Gleghorn (1907-1980) and they had a son, Emmett D. Gleghorn (1933-1987). If you know more about Theodore Gleghorn's Masonic involvement or any other details about his life, we would love to hear from you. Just post a comment below or contact us through our website.

Caption:
Prince Hall Master Mason certificate issued by Hermon Lodge, No. 21, to Theodore Gleghorn, 1921. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Lexington, Massachusetts, Museum Purchase, A2019/124/001.


Freemasonry and the First Black-Owned TV Station in the United States

A2018_153_001DS001_webWhat does Freemasonry have to do with the first Black-owned television station in the United States? A recently digitized membership application for the International Free & Accepted Modern Masons (IFAMM), pictured here, helps explain.

William Venoid Banks (1903-1985) founded the IFAMM in 1950. Although Banks' organization has been around for seventy years, it is not recognized by either mainstream predominantly white Grand Lodges or by historically Black Grand Lodges. Indeed, the International Free & Accepted Modern Masons is among the groups highlighted by the Phylaxis Society's Commission on Bogus Masonic Practices and is included in their list of "Bogus Grand Lodges." The Phylaxis Society's website includes a number of pages related to the organization, which it considers clandestine. Another article, titled "The Amway of Freemasonry? - The Clandestine Order of International Masons," lays out an argument about why mainstream historically Black and predominantly white Grand Lodges do not view IFAMM as a legitimate Masonic organization. Yet IFAMM, and in particular its founder, William V. Banks, played an important role in the history of Black-owned media, both in Detroit and in the United States as a whole.

The membership application shown here highlights Banks' involvement with the group. He is the only officer identified on the form and his title--Supreme Grand Master--makes it clear that he heads the organization. He also self-identifies as both a minister and a lawyer. Two phrases near the top of the form--"Get Involved in the Progress of Our People" and "The Owner of the First Black Owned TV in the U.S." highlight the organization's focus on Black empowerment and the importance of Black-owned businesses.

IFAMM's website gives an account of the organization's 1964 purchase of the Detroit radio station WGPR. It also notes that in 1975, IFAMM established WGPR-TV62, the first Black-owned television station in the United States. Fifty-six years later, IFAMM continues to own and operate the radio station. IFAMM owned and operated the TV station for twenty years, from 1975 until 1995, when it was purchased by CBS.

In 2017, the WGPR TV Historical Society founded the William V. Banks Broadcast Museum & Media Center, which is housed in the television station's original studios in Detroit. If you want to learn more about Banks and the importance of the founding of WGPR-TV62, we recommend this 2018 article [PDF] which appeared in the Historical Society of Michigan's magazine, Michigan History.

The IFAMM membership application featured here is among the many items that can be found in the African American Freemasonry & Fraternalism collection at the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Digital Collections website.

Caption:

Unissued International F. & A.M. Masons application, about 1975. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Lexington, Massachusetts, Museum Purchase, A2018/153/001.

 

 

 


Newly added to Digital Collections - Jacob Norton letters

A2011_017_717_webThe Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library recently added a selection of letters to its Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Digital Collections website. The digitized letters are selected from the over 700 that are in the Jacob Norton Papers collection, which consists of Norton's incoming correspondence from well-known nineteenth-century Freemasons, such as Rob Morris (1818-1888) and Enoch Terry Carson (1822-1899).

Jacob Norton (1814-1897), of Polish ancestry and Jewish faith, was born in Middlesex, England. He was a furrier by trade. He was raised to the degree of Master Mason in Joppa Lodge (London, England) on August 5th, 1839.

Norton took his business to the United States, and in 1842, demitted from Joppa Lodge. In 1844, after taking up residence in Boston, Massachusetts, Norton joined St. Andrew’s Lodge, and was made a member on November 14th. He remained a member of this lodge for almost eight years until his petition to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for the revision of its ritual and removal of overt Christian allusions was denied in June 1852. The committee members who denied this petition also recommended that he and the other petitioners had to withdraw from St. Andrew’s. He subsequently resigned from St. Andrew’s Lodge and became increasingly discontent with American Freemasonry, writing critical articles until his death. Due to this, Norton was considered to be argumentative and opinionated by the Masons of the Massachusetts jurisdiction, and beyond. He collected some of these articles and new writings in a book called Masonic Fiction Exploded: Including the Pretended Grand Mastership of Henry Price, published in 1896.

Norton did not remove himself from Freemasonry altogether, however, as he continued to attend the meetings of Joppa Lodge in England when his trade took him there and also corresponded with Masons until his death. Additionally, he joined the Correspondence Circle of Quatuor Coronati Lodge in London in November 1887.

In his personal life, Norton was married to Miriam Norton (born 1829), and had three children, Edward, Rachel, and George. Sometime between 1852 and his death he renounced his Jewish faith and considered himself an atheist. He lived in Boston until his death in March 1897, aged 83.

In addition to the letters in the Jacob Norton Papers, the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Digital Collections website includes a number of different collections of letters and correspondence, including the Armand P. Pfister Masonic Papers, 1840-1846 and the G. Edward Elwell, Jr., Autograph Collection.

Caption:
Letter from William P. Mellen to Jacob Norton, 1856. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Museum Purchase, A2011/017/717.

 


A Freemason Strives for Reconciliation as a Supreme Council Splinters

While much attention has been given to Edward A. Raymond, Killian H. Van Rensselaer, and their roles in the Schism of 1860, this document from the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library brings attention to a lesser-known figure: William Blackstone Hubbard, 33°, a Freemason from Ohio, who had served as the Grand Master of Ohio and for a year (May 1861 to May 1862) as the Sovereign Grand Commander Elect of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.

A2019_158_059DS1List of officers, members, and Sovereign Grand Inspectors Generals, 1862 February 5.

 

As readers may know, Edward A. Raymond’s tenure as Sovereign Grand Commander abruptly ended on August 24, 1860, when Raymond, accompanied by Grand Treasurer General Simon W. Robinson, abruptly closed the Supreme Council’s special meeting sine die, or with no appointed date for resumption. The ensuing chaos led to the formation of three competing Supreme Councils: the newly-formed Raymond Council; the Van Rensselaer Council led by Lieutenant Sovereign Grand Commander Van Rensselaer; and the Cerneau-inspired Atwood Council.

For nearly ten months, from August 25, 1860, through May 14, 1861, the Raymond and Van Rensselaer Supreme Councils traded barbs as both Councils claimed to be the legitimate governing body of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. And while the maneuverings of both Supreme Councils are too complicated to outline fully in this online forum, the proceedings

for both Supreme Councils agree that William Blackstone Hubbard was one of the few, if not the only, men pushing for reconciliation. As Lieutenant Sovereign Grand Commander Van Rensselaer stated in his 1862 Annual Address,

 

The members of the Supreme Council and Sovereign Consistory, are all aware of the efforts made by our Ill. Brother William B. Hubbard, and the Princes of the Royal Secret, at our last session, May, 1861, to induce the late Commander and Treasurer to meet with the Council, resume their seats, and aid in the work. The sittings of the Council were continued for several days, in the hope that the exertions of our Illustrious Brethren would meet with success, and that peace and harmony would be restored. (1862 Proceedings, p. 588-589)

 

Hubbard’s sole intention was to broker peace between his Brothers, and only after his efforts during 1861’s Annual Session were exhausted did Hubbard leave before its closure. As Raymond reported to his Sovereign Grand Consistory on May 22, “On leaving, he [Hubbard] addressed a note to me regretting his disappointment, and declaring that he did not expect ever again to meet any of his brethren in Supreme Council on earth…” (1861 Raymond Proceedings, p. 31)

On the day after Hubbard had left Annual Session, on May 20, 1861, the five members of the Van Rensselaer Supreme Council who were present unanimously voted to depose Sovereign Grand Commander Edward A. Raymond, and elected William B. Hubbard in his place. “The reason for their doing this is plain,” Raymond stated.

 

…[T]hey felt the need of the condition to their cause of the capital which the publication of such an election might possibly bring, and therefore they elected him after he had gone, and consequently, could not decline while they were in session. (1861 Raymond Proceedings, p. 31)

 

Scan_2019-09-24_16-53-51
William Blackstone Hubbard

William Blackstone Hubbard would never serve as Sovereign Grand Commander. During the following year’s Annual Session, Hubbard offered “his well wishes to the Supreme Council” but declined “any official honors.” In the years following, Hubbard distanced himself from the Supreme Council, which in the 1865 Proceedings declared his seat as an Active Member vacant, citing his ill health.

William Blackstone Hubbard, 33°, died the following year on January 5, 1866. He never lived to see the unification of the two previously competing Supreme Councils in 1867.

 

 

 


Captions

List of officers, members, and Sovereign Grand Inspectors Generals, 1862 February 5. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, SC 300.002.


New acquisition: 1750 Masonic ritual exposure

Masonry DissectedThrough a recent donation, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library acquired the very rare book pictured here. It is one of only three copies of the 1750 edition of a famous Masonic ritual exposure that are known to exist. Generously donated by the granddaughter of Roger Keith (1888-1968), Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts from 1948-1950, this 32-page pamphlet is a 1750 reprint of a Masonic ritual exposure originally printed in London in 1730 (see a digitized version here). The book was reprinted several times in London between 1730 and 1750, but this is the first American edition of the book.

The book is reprinted verbatim from earlier London editions, although the book also contains references to a sermon by Charles Brockwell that was not published until January 1, 1750. The title page does not say where or by whom the book was printed, noting only that it was done in 1749. Bibliographer Kent Walgren explains the discrepancy between the publication date and the quotation from the 1750 Brockwell sermon by noting that, "prior to 1752 the legal year began on Annunciation Day, March 25. [The book was therefore] probably printed between 1 Jan. and 25 Mar. 1749/50." (Read more about the 1752 calendar change here.)

Walgren makes a case for this book having been produced at Newport, Rhode Island, by Ann Smith Franklin (1696-1763), Benjamin Franklin’s sister-in-law, and a printer in her own right. Walgren suggests that the book might have been issued to exploit the public's interest in Joseph Green's Entertainment for a Winter's Evening, an anti-Masonic satire of Charles Brockwell's Brotherly Love Recommended in a Sermon Preached before the Ancient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons in Christ-Church, Boston, on Wednesday the 27th of December, 1749 (see a digitized copy of that book here). Both were published in 1750.

Walgren also notes that, although the text of Masonry Dissected is a Masonic ritual exposure, the book might have been printed for Freemasons, as an aide-mémoire for the members of Newport's first Masonic lodge. The Provincial Grand Lodge in Boston chartered this lodge on December 24, 1749. Freemasons purchasing ritual exposures may not be as strange as it seems at first. At a time when officially-sanctioned printed Masonic ritual was not available, the biggest customers for ritual exposures were likely not opponents of Freemasonry or curious non-members, but instead Masons themselves. For more on this topic, be sure to check out earlier blog post, Are Early Masonic Ritual Exposures Anti-Masonic?

Do you have a rare book that you'd like to donate? We'd love to hear from you! Send us an e-mail and tell us more.

Caption:

Samuel Prichard
Masonry Dissected, 1749 [i.e. 1750]
Possibly Newport, Rhode Island
Possibly printed by Ann Smith Franklin
RARE 19.5 .P947 1750
Gift of Carolyn Keith Silvia


Research into Socks Reveals the Role of Women Played in the Growth of American Freemasonry

Before researching these items from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, an invitation for the Westbrook Masonic (Maine) Fair and pair of colorful, miniature socks, I thought they were created by Arthur W. Greely, Treasurer of Esoteric Lodge, No. 159, whose name is printed on the outside of the envelope. However, as I continued my research and learned more about the fundraising technique of sock socials, I became convinced that the creator of the invitation and socks was Alice D. Greely, Arthur’s wife.

S-l1600Masonic Fund Raising Letter and Socks, 1904.
 
A2016_090_DS1
Masonic Fund Raising Poem
January 1904.

A2016_090_DS2
Envelope Addressed to Mrs. B. F. Joy
February 25, 1904.

 

Sock socials were a fundraising technique practiced by many women’s organizations. R. E. Smith, author of The Ladies’ Aid Manual: A Practical Work for Ladies’ Aid Societies writes that women would “meet and plan to make any desired number of miniature socks,” which would be sent along with a printed invitation similar to the invitation presented below.

 Sock Social Invitation

This little sock we give to you
Is not for you to wear;
Please multiply your size by two
And place inside with care
In silver or in cents,
Twice the number that you wear
(We hope it is immense.)
So if you wear a number ten,
You owe us twenty, see?
Which dropped in the little sock
will fill our hearts with glee.
So don’t forget the place and date,
We’ll answer when you knock,
And welcome you with open arms--
But don’t forget your sock.

In brief, each person invited to a sock social received a sock, and each sock served as that person’s invitation to the social. The person “had to have the sock to get in at the social,” the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune reported, and in “the sock, he or she would put money."

Considering this information, I believe it is more likely that Alice D. Greely produced the invitation, as well as the two miniature socks. Alice was the wife of a Mason, as was letter's recipient Edna Joy, and both women would have been eligible for Eastern Star membership. That said, my research into both women’s possible Eastern Star ties proved inconclusive. All that we know for certain is that Edna Joy and her husband, Benjamin F. Joy, a prominent local photographer, were invited to the Westbrook Masonic Fair, which was held for the week of February 15, 1904, and run by the lodge, chapter, council and Eastern Star. According to the American Tyler, the proceeds from this Masonic fair were to be used to build a “new Masonic quarters” in Westbrook.




Caption
s

Fund Raising Letter from Mrs. Arthur W. Greely to Mrs. B. F. Fox, February 25, 1904. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, MA 260.004.

References

Beckford, William Hale, and George W. Richardson. Leading Business Men of Bangor, Rockland and Vicinity. Boston: Mercantile Publishing Company, 1888. Accessed: 25 January 2017. https://archive.org/details/leadingbusinessm00beck_0

GenDisasters.com. “Ellsworth, ME Masonic Block Fire, Jan 1907.” Accessed: 25 January 2017. http://www.gendisasters.com/georgia/14194/ellsworth-me-masonic-block-fire-jan-1907

Grand Lodge of Maine. Membership Card Records: Card Listing, 1820-1995. Accessed: 25 January 2017. http://www.mainemason.org/genealogy/index.asp

Grand Lodge of Maine (1907). Twenty-first District. In Proceedings of the Grand Lodge, 1907, (Vol. 21, pp. 278 – 281). Portland, Maine: Stephen Berry.

Grand Lodge of Maine (1909). Annual Address: Consolidation of Lodges. In Proceedings of the Grand Lodge, 1908 - 1909, (Vol. 22, pp. 21). Portland, Maine: Stephen Berry.

“Here and There.” American Tyler 18, 14 (1904): 314-319. Accessed: 25 January 2017. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000056270    

“Here and There.” American Tyler 18, 17 (1904): 410-415. Accessed: 25 January 2017. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000056270

“Masonic Buildings.” American Tyler 20, 12 (1905): 262. Accessed: 25 January 2017. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000056270

Pollard, Ralph J. Freemasonry in Maine, 1762-1945. Portland, Maine: Tucker Printing Company, (no date). Accessed: 25 January 2017. http://www.mainemasonrytoday.com/history/Books/Pollard/index.htm

“Skating Parties, Bobsledding, Dancing Were Popular Then.” Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune, February 2, 1950. Accessed: 31 January 2017. https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/17760368/

Smith, R. E. “Fancy Sock Social and Entertainment.” In Ladies’ Aid Manual: A Practical Work for Ladies’ Aid Societies, 48. New York: Eaton & Mains, 1911. Accessed: 25 January 2017.
https://books.google.com/books?id=8i8bAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA48&ots=TXjyr7GfzI&dq=%22sock%20social%22&pg=PA48#v=onepage&q=%22sock%20social%22&f=false


The North Shore Lace Industry

GL2004_0143T1
Masonic Apron, 1780-1800, Unidentified Maker, Probably Massachusetts, Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts Collection, GL2004.0143. Photograph by David Bohl.

I love learning about regional styles of craft and the cultural reasons that associate a particular style or design with a specific area. This is why when I saw a striking apron from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts on long-term loan to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, I was excited.

As recounted in Curiosities of the Craft the name “William O’Brien” is written on the underside of the apron’s flap. William O’Brien (1753-1784) was a member of the O’Brien family of Machias, Maine. William's brother, the famous Captain Jeremiah

O'Brien (1744-1818), is credited with capturing a British ship during the first naval battle of the American Revolution. The most common story associated with this apron was that it was worn during the procession held in memory of George Washington in 1800. However, this story conflicts with existing dates since William O’Brien died in Spain in 1784 and he would have been unable to participate in the processions. It is possible that the apron may have belonged to William but was worn by one of his brothers for the procession. William was a member of the Philanthropic Lodge in Marblehead, Massachusetts, while Jeremiah belonged to the St. Andrews Lodge of Boston.

The apron is made of white leather with “Memento Mori” (Remember Death) written in black ink across the front. While it is easy to be drawn in by this intriguing message, the black lace trimming on the apron also helps to illuminate the object’s history. The lace’s pattern is nearly identical to a pattern made in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Ipswich was the home of a lace industry from approximately the 1750s to 1840. A sample from

Whipple House detailWhipple House detail from The Laces of Ipswich by Marta Cotterell Raffel. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

the Whipple House in Ipswich, an Ipswich historic property named for its first owner, entrepreneur Captain John Whipple (1596-1669), shows striking similarities to the Grand Lodge apron. Both use thicker thread (called gimp) to outline parts of the design. The “spider” motif pattern under the gimp outline near the scalloped edge of the apron lace is very similar to the Whipple House sample. In Laces of Ipswich, Marta Cotterell Raffel explains that lace makers developed the Whipple House pattern in the region. In fact, the Whipple House sample was sent to the Library of Congress as part of a survey of early regional American industries. The marked similarity between the lace on the apron and the Whipple House lace sample supports the story that this apron originated in New England.

No matter who wore the apron, the time and places William and his brothers were active in a time and place when Ipswich lace would have been available. Due to trade embargoes and boycotts of British goods, Ipswich lace may have been a patriotic and also a practical decision. Though delicate and purely ornamental, this black lace helps tell a story of early industry on the North Shore and of the men who fought to win American Independence.

 Kayla Bishop is a volunteer in the Museum's collections department. For the past 5 months, Kayla has assisted in all aspects of collections management. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University.

 

References

Marta Cotterell Raffel, The Laces of Ipswich (Lebanon, New Hampshire, 2003); 86-87, 142-143.

Aimee E. Newell, Hilary Anderson Stelling and Catherine Compton Swanson, Curiosities of the Craft:  Treasures from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Collection (Boston and Lexington, Massachusetts:  Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts and the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, 2013), 234.


Quilted Celebrations of Masonic and Fraternal Activity

2011_059DP1DBThe Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library received the Masonic quilt at left as a recent gift.  It was made in 1981 and helps us bring our fraternal quilt collection closer to the present, allowing us to compare and contrast this quilt with others from the 1800s and early 1900s (see these previous blog posts!).  Anyone who quilted or sewed during the late 1970s and early 1980s may recognize some of the fabrics if you look at them closely.  We loved the story that the donor told about this quilt's history.  His aunt, a lieutenant commander and nurse in the U.S. Navy, made this bed covering for him on the occasion of his installation as Master of Crescent Lodge in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, for the second time.  Edith Bowen, the quilt's maker, bought a book about Masonic symbols here at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library to help her design the quilt, which includes appliqued squares and compasses, cornucopias, a lyre and other recognizable symbols.

Shortly after we received this Masonic quilt, we were also given the fraternal quilt at right.  Made in 1989, it shows the symbol of the Pythian Sisters, a female auxiliary of the Knights of Pythias (for more on this group, see our posts), which was formed after the Civil War.  This quilt was a gift, honoring the accomplishments and volunteer efforts of one Pythian Sisters member, on the occasion of the group's centennial. 2011_066_4DP1DB

Have you made any Masonic or fraternal quilts?  Have you received one?  If so, we'd love to hear about it in a comment below.

Masonic quilt, 1981, Edith M. Bowen, United States.  Gift of Stephen J. Twining, 2011.059.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Pythian Sisters quilt, 1989, unidentified maker, United States.  Gift of the Estate of Geraldine M. Worley, 2011.066.4.  Photograph by David Bohl.

 


A Centennial Textile Souvenir

2008_025DS1The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library has many images of George Washington (1732-1799) in its collection (stay tuned for more on that over the coming months!).  This banner features an image of the first president standing next to his horse.  So far, the source for this image of Washington is unknown.  The portrait may be original to the banner. 

The banner was probably produced as a souvenir in 1876, when the United States was celebrating its centennial.  Textiles like this one, along with many other items, were available for sale around the country and especially at the Centennial Exposition held that year in Philadelphia.  The red, white and blue color scheme was popular, along with the star, stripe and shield motifs, which were clearly understood as American symbols.  The shields are expressly identified on the banner as "Shield of U.S. America." 

Washington is reading a letter inscribed "Victory is Ours, Paul Jones."  This seems to be a reference to Revolutionary naval hero John Paul Jones (1747-1792).  Jones's best-known battle occurred in September 1779 while he served as captain of the Bonhomme Richard.  Jones engaged the Serapis, a British warship.  Outgunned from the beginning, Jones's ship suffered an onboard accident early in the battle when two of its guns exploded.  To compensate, Jones brought his ship close to the Serapis and secured the two ships using grapples and lines.  When the British captain asked Jones if he surrendered, Jones is famously said to have answered "I have not yet begun to fight."  Indeed, Jones led his crew to victory by repelling a British boarding party and causing significant damage to the Serapis

George Washington is well known as a Freemason; he joined Virginia's Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 in 1753.  John Paul Jones was also a Freemason.  He joined Saint Bernard Lodge No. 122 in Scotland in 1770, later becoming a member of the Lodge of Nine Sisters in Paris.

Do you have a centennial souvenir in your collection?  Have you ever seen a similar portrait of George Washington?  Let us know in a comment!

George Washington Banner, ca. 1876, unidentified maker, United States or England, gift of the Valley of Peoria, Illinois, A.A.S.R., N.M.J., 2008.025.  Photograph by David Bohl.


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.