Massachusetts

In Memoriam

In October and November, many people celebrate not only the changing seasons, but the lives of those who have passed before us. We memorialize the dead with different kinds of objects, including obituaries, photographs, grave markers, and jewelry. Here we highlight some items in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection related to remembrance and memorial in the Masonic and fraternal communities.

A Masonic Funeral

Funeral

This 1916 photograph (at left), captures a group of Masons gathered in Taunton, Massachusetts, for the funeral procession of Alden Hathaway Blake (1836-1916). Blake, a book keeper, was a Civil War veteran, and member of King David’s Lodge in Taunton. He was also a Past Commander of the William H. Bartlett Post No. 3, of the Grand Army of the Republic. The photograph shows the Masonic catafalque, horses draped with Masonic mourning blankets, and Freemasons wearing white aprons and sashes.  

 

Fraternal Ribbons

In the 1800s, regalia manufacturers produced reversible Masonic and fraternal ribbons made with one side in black for mourning. The ribbons at the right were used by

Fraternal ribbons

the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Arcturus Lodge, No. 35, in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Ladies Society of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen from Denison, Texas. Badges like these, along with other funerary objects, such as casket clips, handles, and grave markers, were advertised in Masonic and fraternal regalia catalogs.

 Major John Farrar Gravestone

GravestoneAnother memorial object, the gravestone, is perhaps the most easily recognizable monument to a person’s life and death. In the past, to preserve the art and cultural significance of gravestones and burial grounds, people made gravestone rubbings. At left, is a gravestone rubbing taken from the gravestone of Major John Farrar (1741-1793) in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. Farrar became a Master Mason in Trinity Lodge in Lancaster, Massachusetts in 1781.

This massive gravestone includes not only Masonic symbols but also a family roll that outlines the names of his wife and seven children. The epitaph engraved on the stone reads, “Farewell vain world, I've had enough of thee / And now I'm careless what thou say'st of me / The faults saw'st in me take care to shun / There's work within thyself that must be done.”

Do you have familial objects related to Freemasonry and mourning? Let us know in the comments below.  

Captions

Masonic Funeral Procession, 1916. Taunton, Massachusetts. Special Acquisitions Fund, 83.18.

Independent Order of Odd Fellows Mourning Badge, 1880-1900. Pennsylvania. Special Acquisitions Fund, 88.42.133.

Ladies Society of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen Ribbon, ca. 1895. Whitehead & Hoag Co., Newark, New Jersey. Gift of Jacques Noel Jacobsen Jr., 94.011.30. 

Gravestone Rubbing, 1970. Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fred R. Youngren, 85.46.1.


The DeMolay Centennial Anniversary

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Crown of Youth, 1953. Mac & Jack, Saugus, Massachusetts. Gift of Middlesex Chapter, Order of DeMolay, Reading, Massachusetts, 2000.034.3.

One hundred years ago, Freemason Frank S. Land (1890-1959) founded the Order of DeMolay in 1919 in Kansas City, Missouri, at the age of 28. After the initial formation of the youth club, Land and other early members named the group after Jacques DeMolay (1243-1314) and met regularly at the Kansas City Masonic Temple. The Order was open to young men aged 16 to 21.The success and popularity of the original DeMolay group spurred members to set up chapters across the country.

When Land died in 1959, there were 135,000 DeMolay members and 2,097 chapters in 14 countries. Local chapters were and still are sponsored by a Masonic organization. Several objects related to DeMolay history will be on display at the Museum & Library through December 2019 as the organization celebrates its centennial anniversary in more than 15 countries worldwide.

One object on view includes a “Crown of Youth” from Middlesex Chapter in Reading, Massachusetts (at left). In 1953, the Mother’s Club for the Middlesex Chapter in Reading presented the crown to the chapter to commemorate their 30th anniversary. A plaque was later added in memory of “Dad” Herbert K. Miller.

Another object in the collection, a recently donated 1964 panoramic photograph, shows over one hundred DeMolay members and advisers at a Colorado DeMolay leadership camp outside Estes Park, Colorado. The first DeMolay National Leader's Training Camp was held at Bear Lake Lodge, Colorado, in 1924. 

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DeMolay Leadership Camp, 1964. Larson Photography Studio, Estes Park, Colorado. Gift of of David A. Glattly, 2017.021.1.

1964 New Jersey Past State Master Councilor Thomas C. Richard gave this photograph to current Sovereign Grand Commander, David Glattly, who then donated it to the Museum.

Visit the Museum & Library to see more DeMolay items from the collection! Do you or a family member have photographs or items related to DeMolay? We want to hear from you. Leave a comment in the section below. 

 


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.

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