Buffalo, New York

"Bogus Mason Was Locked Up": Masonic Impostor Duncan C. Turner

MasonicImpostor_Turner_smaller_cropped Long-time readers of our blog will know that every May we return to the topic of our very first blog post: Masonic impostors. This year we focus on a man named Duncan C. Turner (born ca. 1847), 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. 147. The Album of Masonic Impostors' description of Turner is brief and to the point:

"Alias McNeill. Acacian Lodge No. 705, Ogdensburg, N.Y. Served time in prison."

An article published in the Buffalo Courier newspaper on November 14, 1897 makes it clear that the circulars published by the Masonic Relief Association worked. The newspaper recounts how Turner's profile was published in recent issues of the monthly Official Warning Circular - first showing up in the July 1897 issue. The article continues, noting that a "more recent letter announced that he [i.e. Turner] had been arrested in Cleveland and sentenced to the workhouse for sixty days, for working his swindle in that city. He recently regained his liberty and a still later [note in the Association's] circular stated that he was on his way East, all Relief Boards being instructed to keep a sharp lookout for him."

The article also reports how it was that Turner was apprehended in Buffalo by a Mason who had, indeed, kept a sharp lookout for him. After having met a local Mason, Henry Cutting, in town, Turner claimed that he had just arrived in Buffalo and had "fallen into a little ill luck." Cutting gave him the business address of Charles F. Sturm, who ran a furniture store in Buffalo and was the secretary of Buffalo's Masonic Board of Relief, which coordinated Masonic charity in the city. Turner made his way to Sturm's furniture store and "told Mr. Sturm a pitiful tale, which he concluded with an appeal for enough money to take him to New York." The article continues, noting Sturm's reaction to having a known impostor present himself to him: "On hearing the man's name, Mr. Sturm almost leaped from his seat in surprise." The article notes that Sturm called the police, who arrested Turner, "who was charged with being a tramp."

The Buffalo Courier reported about Turner's appearance in court on November 14. At that hearing, it was revealed that Turner had defrauded Masons in Briar Hill, NJ, Toronto, and Cleveland. The judge noted that Turner had already served sixty days in the Cleveland Workhouse for "obtaining money from Masons in that city by fraudulent pretense. The judge in the Buffalo courtroom sentenced Turner to sixty days in the penitentiary. At the sentencing, the judge declared that Turner "was the greatest liar with whom he had come in contact during his career as a dispenser of justice."

Want to read more about Masonic impostors? Be sure to check out all of our previous posts on the topic.

 


Fraternal Order Orioles

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Fraternal Order Orioles Plate, 1913. Buffalo Pottery, Buffalo, New York. Museum Purchase, 2017.007.3. Photograph by David Bohl.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library recently acquired a group of ceramics related to a variety of fraternal groups, including the interesting Fraternal Order Orioles. Founders established the Fraternal Order Orioles, a social and charitable organization, in Rochester, New York, in 1910. The Orioles, first named Order of Owls, was modeled after fraternal groups like the Oddfellows and Freemasons. Local Oriole groups still meet today in "subordinate nests," regional groups in “grand nests,” and the national governing group in “supreme nests.”  They continue to fundraise for charitable causes and for provide benefits for members and their families.

Buffalo Pottery, an American ceramics company, made these particular Oriole steins and plate in Buffalo, New York, in 1913. The date, April 16-27, 1913 and the German words “Deutscher Jahrmarkt,” which translates to “German Fair,” are printed on all three pieces accompanied by an image of an oriole or the Buffalo Orioles hall. The name and dates suggest the wares may have been created to commemorate a German cultural fair sponsored by the Orioles in Buffalo in 1913. The Orioles were headquartered in Buffalo in the early 1900s and Buffalo Nest #1 built a hall in downtown Buffalo in 1914. The Buffalo hall is printed on one of the steins pictured below. A Ukrainian American community group purchased the building in 1955.

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Fraternal Order Orioles steins, 1913. Buffalo Pottery, Buffalo, New York. Museum Purchase, 2017.007.6 & 8. Photographs by David Bohl

In 1901, the Larkin Soap Co., a Buffalo soap manufacturer, created Buffalo Pottery to produce premiums for soap products. Premium products included pottery and art wares, handkerchiefs, small lithographs, and furniture. They were included in single or bulk soap purchases made by mail order or at certain retail outlets and meant to entice customers to buy more soap products.The Larkin Soap Co. was one of the country’s largest mail-order companies in the early 1900s. Buffalo pottery created individualized commemorative wares for different organizations and civic groups in the early 1900s. Many of these wares were similar in design with the same deep blue-green edges and gold trim seen on these examples. 

Buffalo pottery changed its name to Buffalo China, Inc. in 1956 and became one of the largest suppliers of commercial dinnerware through the 1960s. Oneida Limited company purchased Buffalo China in the early 1980s. The Buffalo production facility closed down in the mid-2000s. Are you or someone in your family a member of the Orioles? Do you have any items, information, or photographs related to the Orioles?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

References:

Seymour and Violet Altman, The Book of Buffalo Pottery (New York: Crown Publishers Inc., 1969)