Freemasonry

Newly added to Digital Collections: Scottish Rite Documents

A2019_178_0262_webDo you want to take a closer look at how the Scottish Rite developed during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library recently added a selection of new documents related to Scottish Rite history to its Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Digital Collections website. There are now over fifty primary source documents related to the history of the Scottish Rite available through our digital collections website. Viewing the documents is easy - clicking on an image will open a high-res image of the document or, in the case of some multi-page documents, a PDF.

The digitized Scottish Rite material includes some of the founding documents of both the Northern Masonic and Southern Jurisdictions, as well as official documents that show the various schisms within the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction in the nineteenth century, especially with regard to groups founded by or inspired by Joseph Cerneau.

Do you have a question about Scottish Rite history? We'd love to hear from you. Head over to the Library & Archives page on the museum's website to get in touch with us.

Caption:
Announcement of the Union of the Hays and Raymond Supreme Councils, 1863. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Gift of the Supreme Council of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite, A2019/178/0262.


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.

 


"What's in a Portrait?"

Portrait
Members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Patriarchs Militant, 1870-1900 United States Gift of Jacques Noel Jacobson Jr., 86.60.4.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library invites you to explore our new online exhibition, “What’s in a Portrait?,” now available on our website. This exhibition includes paintings, prints, and photographs from the gallery exhibition, "What's in a Portrait?," which will be opening at the Museum & Library in the coming months.

Since the formation of organized Freemasonry in the early 1700s, many men have taken pride in their association with it and other fraternal groups. In the 1800s and 1900s, many Masons commissioned portraits of themselves and, in them, chose to be presented as members of the fraternity, wearing jewelry or regalia that identified them as Masons. Some of these portraits marked personal achievements, such as election or appointment to a lodge office. Other images celebrated lodge events, like a new slate of officers or a summer excursion. "What's in a Portrait?" features portraits from the collection that help tell the story of the many people who participated in and shaped Masonic and fraternal organizations in the United States for over two hundred years.

The Museum & Library is currently closed to the public due to a state mandated stay-at-home advisory. We will keep you posted about Museum re-opening dates via our website, Facebook, and Instagram. In the meantime, visit our website to see more online exhibitions and collections.  If you have any questions or comments about "What's in a Portrait?," let us know in the comment box below or email us at [info@srmml.org]--we would love to hear from you!


More Content Added to Digital Collections Sites!

A2018_127_001_DSwebIf you haven't visited the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library's digital collections sites before, or if it's been awhile, now is the perfect time to explore them.

Museum & Library staff are currently working from home and are using this closure period to add digitized materials to our online sites, making more of our unique collections available to you. Be sure to check out all of the places where you can access our collections and virtual exhibitions online: the Museum's online collections, the Library & Archives' online collections, the Museum's online exhibitions, and the Museum & Library's Flickr page.

Among the many interesting items that the Library & Archives has added during this period is the 16th degree "Prince of Jerusalem" Scottish Rite certificate pictured here. Historically, the Scottish Rite has issued 32nd, 33rd, and occasionally 18th degree certificates, but this 1842 certificate issued by the Grand Council of Princes of Jerusalem in Albany, NY, to John Christie is highly unusual. Christie's certificate is just one of over two hundred Masonic certificates that can be viewed on the Library & Archives' Digital Collections website.

John Christie (1804-1890) was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and spent most of his life there. He became a Mason in St. John's Lodge No. 1 in Portsmouth in 1826 and later served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire from 1847 to 1850. This certificate marks Christie's entry into the Scottish Rite, which began in 1842 and lasted over half a century, until his death in 1890. In addition to this certificate, we have also digitized two other certificates that document Christie's participation in the Scottish Rite. The first is a beautifully engrossed 1845 certificate declaring John Christie an Active Member of the Supreme Council for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. The second is an 1852 certificate appointing Christie as the Supreme Council's Deputy for New Hampshire, an office he held from 1851 to 1864, and again from 1878 to 1882. The Valley of Portsmouth-Dover today still honors Christie's service to Scottish Rite Freemasonry in New Hampshire; one of its three subordinate bodies is named John Christie Council, Princes of Jerusalem.

Be well, be safe, and happy online exploring from all of us at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library!

 


A Supreme Council, and a Nation, Mourns the Death of a President

In commemoration of President Abraham Lincoln's life and the impact that his assassination in April 1865 had upon the nation and the fraternity, the staff of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library wish to present this highlight from the collection, Supreme Council member Benjamin Dean's hand-written preamble and resolutions regarding the death of President Lincoln. This document demonstrates how, as Freemasons, one of the fraternity’s governing bodies, the Supreme Council, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, expressed not only their sorrow for the President's death, but how the Lincoln assassination was an affront to what Freemasonry embodied.  

A2019_097_003DS1Handwritten preamble and resolution of Benjamin Dean, 1865 May 17.
 

In the Supreme Council of Sovereign Inspectors General 33º for the Northern Jurisdiction of the United States,

May 17, 1865.

Since the last annual meeting of this Supreme Council the nation has been deprived of its chief magistrate by the hand of an assassin.

It is peculiarly fit + proper that a body assembled from all the States of our Jurisdiction, and representing so largely our numerous + influencial [sic] brotherhood, a brotherhood whose ancient charges inculcate among its first duties – “to be peaceable citizens + cheerfully to conform to the laws of the country in which we reside – to avoid being concerned in plots and conspiracies against government + cheerfully to submit to the decisions of the Supreme Legislature; it is fit + proper that such an assemblage – true to its teachings – should give some expression to the family of our deceased + honored President, of our sympathy with their misfortunes, + pray for the restoration of peace to their troubled minds.

Therefore, resolved – that we deplore the untimely end of our late honored President Abraham Lincoln – cut off by horrid violence – in the midst of the high dignities imposed upon him by this people.

Resolved – that we sympathize with the nation + with his distressed family in their unparallelled [sic] affliction.

Resolved, that this expression of our sympathy be spread upon our records, + a copy thereof be sent by our Secretary General to the family of our deceased President.

Unanimously passed by the Supreme Council, Dean’s measure was only one of many tributes paid by Freemasons to the martyred President throughout the summer of 1865. And although the President was not a Freemason, in an interview in October 1860 with the American poet and Freemason Rob Morris, presidential candidate Lincoln intimated his “great respect” for the fraternity, and it was widely speculated and reported that Lincoln had only “postpone[d] his application for the honors of Masonry” until after his second term as President and the great burden of office had passed.


Captions

Handwritten preamble and resolution of Benjamin Dean, 1865 May 17. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, SC 300.002.

References

“A Conversation with Mr. Lincoln.” Voice of Masonry and Tidings from the Craft 3, no. 6 (June 1865): 248.

 


Astronaut Buzz Aldrin in Action

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G.I. Joe Classic Collection Colonel Buzz Aldrin Astronaut in NASA Space Suit, 1999. Hasbro, China. Gift of Robert V. Monacelli, 2019.015. Julia Featheringill Photography.

Astronaut and Freemason Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., was born in 1930 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. Aldrin, the lunar pilot for the 1969 Apollo 11 space mission was, with fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong (1930-2012), one of the first humans—and one of the first Freemasons—to walk on the moon. American manufacturers made a number of wonderful commemorative items, including posters, plates, and toys, memorializing this historic event.  

In 1999 the Hasbro Toy Company released a special edition Buzz Aldrin action figure celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the moon landing. The Aldrin figure was part of the G.I. Joe: Classic Collection set produced by Hasbro in the late 1990s. 

Buzz Aldrin was initiated into Oak Park Lodge No. 864 in Alabama in 1955 and raised in Lawrence N. Greenleaf Lodge, No. 169 in Colorado in 1956. He is also a member of Clear Lake Lodge No. 1417 in Texas. 

This action figure complements the many other items we have related to Buzz Aldrin in the Library and Archives Buzz Aldrin ephemera collection.  

Buzz
Buzz Aldrin Masonic Ephemera Collection, 1969-1975. Gift of Ben B. Lipset. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, MM 001.012.

This collection includes a photograph fraternally inscribed to Ben B. Lipset, and a photograph of Aldrin walking on the moon addressed to former Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, George Newbury (1895-1904).

Do you have any ephemera related to Freemasonry and NASA? Let us know in the comments below! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Digital Collections Highlight: Frederick P. Wahlgren's life-long Masonic membership

A1996_041_9aDS1_webBetween 1902 and 1909, Frederick Peter Wahlgren (1859-1935) made a lifetime commitment to Freemasonry by paying for lifetime memberships in the eight different Masonic bodies of which he was a member. Wahlgren was a 24-year-old Swedish immigrant when he arrived in the United States in 1883. He owned a house painting business and lived in the Roslindale neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1899, at age 40, he became a Master Mason in Prospect Lodge in Roslindale. A few years later he joined all four Scottish Rite bodies in the Valley of Boston, as well as Boston's York Rite bodies.

A1996_041_6aDS1_webA small collection of certificates and receipts in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library's collection show evidence of Wahlgren's decision to become a lifetime member of his Blue Lodge, all four subordinate bodies in the Scottish Rite, as well as all three subordinate bodies of the York Rite. By becoming a lifetime member in these organizations, Wahlgren paid a larger membership fee up front, with the guarantee that he would not have to pay any other membership fees for the rest of his life. One receipt in the collection shows that in 1902 Wahlgren paid $180 to become a lifetime member of all four subordinate bodies in the Valley of Boston: Lafayette Lodge of Perfection, Mount Olivet Chapter Rose Croix, Giles F. Yates Council Princes of Jerusalem, and Massachusetts Consistory. Wahlgren received attractive lifetime membership certificates for each of the four bodies, two of which are shown here. In 1904, he became a life member of the York Rite bodies and, finally, in 1909, he became a life member of Prospect Lodge.

How were the life membership fees calculated? In 1900, the Massachusetts Council of Deliberation unanimously adopting a resolution which stated that

the minimum fee for life membership in any of the subordinate bodies shall be fifteen times the annual fee of that body, and shall in no case be less than thirty dollars in a Lodge of Perfection, a Council of Princes of Jerusalem, and a Chapter of Rose Croix; nor less than forty-five dollars in Massachusetts Consistory, provided, however, that in the Consistory, the fee for the life membership of a member who resides more than ten miles from Boston shall be ten dollars less than the fee herein established.

The 1900 resolution further mandated that the total fee to belong to all four Scottish Rite bodies in the Valley of Boston should be no less than $135. Two years later, Wahlgren paid $180. Nonetheless, it still would have made financial sense for Wahlgren to pay the fee, as he lived for another 33 years. Wahlgren died on April 30, 1935, just four days after his wife, Ida S. (Dufva) Wahlgren (1855-1935). His lifetime commitment to Freemasonry is evidenced by the life member certificates he was issued. We have digitized and made available most of the Frederick Peter Wahlgren certificates in our collection. You can view them at our Digital Collections website, along with hundreds of other documents that we have digitized and made available.

Captions:

Life membership certificate issued by Massachusetts Consistory to Fredrick Peter Wahlgren, 1903. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Gift of Mrs. Lucian D. Warner, A1996/041/009a.

Life membership certificate issued by Boston Lafayette Lodge of Perfection to Fredrick Peter Wahlgren, 1903. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Gift of Mrs. Lucian D. Warner, A1996/041/006a.


Vietnam Veterans and Freemasonry: MSA’s Hospital Visitation Program

Your Masonic Hospital Visitor September 1966_smallerFounded in the aftermath of World War I, the Masonic Service Association (MSA) has performed a number of services for Masons since 1919. The initial impetus for the MSA's formation was to coordinate U.S. Masonic efforts to provide aid to American military servicemen near the end of World War I. In 1966, the MSA published a book called Fifteen Years of Masonic Service to Hospitalized Veterans, 1952-1966, a copy of which is in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library's Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives collection. The book reprints the MSA’s bulletin, originally titled Army and Navy Masonic Service Center and, in 1960, changed to Your Masonic Hospital Visitor, a name it carried for years. Most of the reprinted bulletins feature news of Masons visiting veterans of both World War II and the Korean War, but the end of the book sheds light on service to a new group of veterans.

The lead article in the September 1966 bulletin is titled “A New Call for Service, The Veterans of Viet Nam.” The article begins:

Our sons and brothers are coming back from South Viet Nam, the sick and wounded, I mean. The war in Southeast Asia is a hot war; the build-up of men and material is increasing. A lot more boys will be going over before most of them come home.

At the beginning of 1966, the U.S. military personnel in South Vietnam numbered nearly 185,000. By the end of 1966, the United States had over 385,000 troops there – an increase of 108%. That year, more than 6,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam, and 30,000 were wounded.

The article in the 1966 bulletin is accompanied by three photographs of wounded soldiers being visited by Masonic Service Association staff. The men shown are Norman C. Weiffenbach, a member of Ft. Benning Lodge No. 579 (Columbus, Georgia), pictured at Walter Reed Medical Center; Johnnie S. Miller of Tarpon Springs, Florida, at the V.A. Hospital in East Orange, New Jersey; and Thomas E. Bennett of Atlanta, Georgia, at an unidentified hospital.

The work of the MSA’s Hospital Visitation program continues today, with Masons volunteering their time to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans. The MSA’s website describes the program as “much more than merely ‘visitations’ to the disabled and lonely patients in V.A. Hospitals, State Veterans Homes and Extended Care Facilities. It is the rendering of personal services to all our sons and brothers, Masons and Non-Masons alike, who now need someone to turn to for encouragement and to make life a little more pleasant.”

Do you have any items related to Freemasonry and your time in service during the Vietnam War or related to your time as a hospital visitor? We’d love to hear more about them. Please leave a comment below.

 

Caption:

Fifteen Years of Masonic Service to Hospitalized Veterans, 1952-1966 (Washington, D.C.: Masonic Service Association of the U.S., 1966), Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, 45.D614 1966.

 

A version of this post originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of The Northern Light.


"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.

 


Emil Cruz: From the Philippines to Michigan

2016_070_19DS1 - Edited
Emil Cruz, 1965-1980. Probably Michigan. Gift of Patricia Fé Andrews, 2016.070.19.

Emil Cruz (1904-1983), born in Camilng, Tarlac, Philippines, as Emiliano Cruz Quindiaga, emigrated to the United States in 1924 at the age of 19. He settled in San Francisco in 1925 before moving to the Detroit, Michigan, area sometime in the 1930s. It was in Michigan that Cruz started a family and begin his Masonic career. Cruz was a member of Schiller Lodge No. 263 and Damascus Commandery No. 42, both located in Detroit. 

In 1912, twelve years before Cruz set off for the United States, representatives of the three American lodges in the Philippines—Manila 342, Cavite 350 and Corregidor 386—met to organize a Grand Lodge of the Philippine Islands. Today there are more than 300 lodges in the Philppine Islands. It is presently unclear if Cruz had any familial relationship with Freemasonry before becoming a Mason in Michigan.

Cruz's daughter recently donated a group of items to the Museum & Library that relate to Cruz's Masonic affiliations. The objects date from the mid 1950s to the late 1970s and include photographs, aprons, ribbons, and certificates. One object in particular, a wooden gavel made in the Philippines, and pictured to the right, illustrated Cruz's pride in both his Filipino heritage and Masonic accomplishments. On the gavel, it reads "Emil Cruz / Schiller Lodge No. 263-F & A.M. 1970 / Made in the Philippines /

Emil Cruz
Gavel, 1970. Phillipines. Gift of Patricia Fé Andrews, 2016.070.11.

"Philippines Acacia."

Philippine acacia, also known as Formosa acacia, is a perennial tree native to Southeast Asia and is commonly used in boats, furniture, carvings, and jewelry.

Do you have any information or items related to Filipino Americans and Freemasonry? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

References:

Philippine Center for Masonic Studies, "History of Masonry in the Philippines," http://www.philippinemasonry.org/, Accessed April 2019.

Emil Cruz,1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA Year: 1940; Census Place: Detroit, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: m-t0627-01881; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 84-1384. Ancestry.com, Accessed April 2019.