New Acquisitions

Play Ball! A Masonic Baseball Jersey

2015_055DP1DBWith calls of “play ball” starting the 2016 baseball season this coming Sunday, it seemed right to focus our blog post this week on a Masonic baseball jersey that we recently added to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection. The short-sleeved shirt is off-white with dark pinstripes and bears the team name across the chest, “Ionic.”  What made this an exciting find for us is the blue patch on one sleeve with a square and compasses symbol and a G in the center.  This jersey seems to have been worn by a member of a team in a Masonic baseball league during the late 1910s or early 1920s.

“A Masonic baseball league?” you might ask, “how many of those could there have been?” Turns out, there were several, so we don’t know where this shirt was originally worn.  Initially, we thought that the jersey might have been used by the Ionic team that played in Detroit during the 1910s and 1920s.  Newspaper accounts from 1917 through 1921 trace the league’s games and frequently reference the Ionic team, who were the 1918 champions.  But we haven’t been able to conclusively link this shirt to the Detroit league yet.  There was also a league active in western New York during the 1930s, although we do not have a complete list of team names.  And, Duluth, Minnesota, Freemasons organized an “indoor baseball league” in 1914, which was active into the 1920s.  Newspaper articles confirm that this league had an Ionic Lodge team, but a March 1922 article about their playoff contest refers to them as “the Red and Gray squad,” suggesting their team colors do not match this jersey. Baseball Ticket

Other items in our collection also tell us that “Masonic” baseball games took place in New Jersey. This ticket (at right), from our Archives, admitted the bearer to a game on June 24, 1911, between Irvington’s Franklin Lodge No. 10 and Newark’s Oriental Lodge No. 51.  And, a photo in our collection (below) from October 1935 documents an “All-Star Masonic Game” that was played in Trenton between National League and American League players.  The teams were made up of professional baseball players who were also Freemasons.  It seems to have been a fundraising event put on by Trenton’s Tall Cedars of Lebanon Forest No. 4.

Our Ionic shirt has a label stitched inside telling us that it was made by Thomas E. Wilson and Company in Chicago. However, a few years before this shirt was made, in 1909 and 1910, consecutive Grand Masters of Illinois ruled that a group of baseball clubs with all-Masonic players “cannot use the name “Masonic Baseball League” or any other name in which Mason or Masonic appears” in the jurisdiction.  While creating the league and playing the games was not banned, it was felt that “it would not do for lodges to vote funds for the entertainment and amusement of a few members, who desire to engage in something foreign to Masonry.” 90_42T1

Histories of Thomas E. Wilson and Company (known today as Wilson Sporting Goods Company) help us to date this jersey between 1916 and 1925, when it was using the particular label in this shirt, and the Thomas E. Wilson and Company name. Thomas E. Wilson (1868-1958), who was born in Canada and came to Chicago in 1877, joined that city’s Mizpah Lodge No. 768 in 1894.  Do you have any documents or objects associated with a Masonic baseball league?  Do you know where this jersey might have been used?  Leave us a comment below!

Masonic Ionic Baseball Jersey, 1916-1925, Thomas E. Wilson and Company, Chicago, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchase, 2015.055. Photograph by David Bohl.

Ticket, 1911, unidentified maker, New Jersey, gift of Grant Romer, A87/010/1.

All-Star Masonic Baseball Game. 1935, Moyer, Trenton, New Jersey, gift of Donald Randall, 90.42.

 


New to the Collection: Fraternal Needlework Mottoes

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Independent Order of Odd Fellows Motto, 1860-1900, unidentified maker, United States, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchase, 2015.036. Photograph by David Bohl.

Recently, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library added the needlework picture on the left to its collection.  Stitched on brown perforated paper in a tent stitch (commonly used in needlepoint, the thread or yarn is stitched diagonally, making a slant), it bears the motto “Friendship, Love and Truth” along with several symbols related to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.  Originally formed in England in the 1740s, the Odd Fellows are a fraternal organization for men.  The group’s founders looked to Freemasonry (formalized in London in 1717) as a model for their fraternity.  Like Freemasonry, the Odd Fellows perform degree rituals using a symbolic language, wear aprons and pursue fellowship and charity, among other activities.

Needlework mottoes like this one were especially popular for home decoration during the late 1800s.  The perforated paper mimicked woven fabrics and allowed the stitcher to create designs quickly using the simple tent and cross stitches.  The front of this needlework is quite faded, suggesting that it hung in a sunny area of the owner's home for many years.  The photo on the right shows the back of the picture, which was covered while it hung on the wall.  As this photo shows, the original colors were very bright.  It helps to demonstrate the fading and damage that prolonged sunlight can cause for textiles.

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The back shows the original colors. Photograph by David Bohl.

Shortly before we acquired the Odd Fellows motto shown above last year, we also added the motto at the bottom to our collection.  Initially, because of the all-seeing eye and the square and compasses symbols, the dealer offered it to us as a “Masonic picture.”  However, the lettering, which reads “Honesty, Industry and Sobriety,” identifies it as an Order of United American Mechanics motto.  Patterns for these mottoes came in many designs, including ones targeted to members of American fraternal groups.  Like the Odd Fellows, the Order of United American Mechanics also took inspiration from Freemasonry when establishing itself.  This is evident from the symbols on this motto.

The Order of United American Mechanics was founded in 1845 as a nativist anti-immigration organization.  One of its objectives was to help its native-born members find employment.  Given its focus on labor, the square and compasses emblem used by the OUAM usually has an arm in the center wielding a hammer, although that part of the symbol is not included on this motto.

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Order of United American Mechanics Motto, 1860-1900, unidentified maker, United States, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchase, 2015.018. Photograph by David Bohl.

New to the Collection: Scottish Rite Rose Croix Apron

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Scottish Rite Rose Croix apron, 1810-1840, unidentified maker, France or United States, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchase, 2015.053.

Recently, we were able to add this Masonic apron to our collection.  It shows symbols associated with the Rose Croix degree of the Scottish Rite, which is the fraternity that founded and supports the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.  Many people, Freemasons and non-Masons alike, assume that the fraternity’s name, “Scottish Rite,” honors the roots of the group and that it originated in Scotland.  Some historical sources have fostered this story by suggesting that Scottish supporters of the Stuarts of England invented the Scottish Rite degrees in the 1600s to advance their political cause.  The Scottish Rite was actually established in France in the 1700s, followed trade routes to the West Indies and was then imported to North America.

Once a man becomes a Master Mason, he may choose to join additional Masonic groups, such as the Scottish Rite.  Today, members perform a series of twenty-nine degrees (4th-32nd) as morality plays.  Freemasons often call the Scottish Rite “the University of Freemasonry,” as the degrees are designed to supplement and amplify the philosophical lessons of the first three degrees by exploring the philosophy, history and ethics that guide members.  A 33rd degree is conferred as an honorary degree on selected members.

The Rose Croix degree, for which this apron was used, is the 18th degree in the Scottish Rite’s Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.  It tells the biblical story of the building of the Temple of Zerubbabel on the site of Solomon’s Temple, which had been destroyed.  The apron shows the symbols used in the ritual: the pelican piercing her breast to feed her children with her blood; a cross with a rose; and several symbolic tools along the side.  As the symbols on the apron suggest – note the implements of the crucifixion at bottom center – the ritual explores the idea of resurrection and alludes to the story of Jesus Christ.

The design of this apron is probably French, although it can be hard to tell if an apron was actually made in France, or was influenced by French style and made in the United States.  The motif of the ribbons along the sides with tools is often seen on French aprons.  For more examples of Rose Croix aprons, see our recent publication, The Badge of a Freemason: Masonic Aprons from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, which can be ordered here.

 


New to the Collection: IOOF Astoria Lodge No. 38 Apron

2015_027DP1DBFreemasonry is widely recognized as the first fraternal group to organize in America.  There are accounts of men meeting together in informal lodges during the 1720s. The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was formally established in 1733.  As the most venerable group of its kind, Freemasonry served as an inspiration for other American fraternal groups throughout the 1700s and 1800s.  When the Independent Order of Odd Fellows began in England in the mid-1700s, and came to the United States in the early 1800s, it followed the degree structure of Freemasonry and incorporated similar symbols and regalia. 

Among the early regalia items worn by the Odd Fellows were aprons.  Recently, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library acquired this Odd Fellows apron that was originally worn by a member of Maine’s Astoria Lodge No. 38.  Based on the lodge’s history, the apron dates between 1846 and 1862.  In 1846, the lodge was founded in Frankfort, Maine.  By 1849, the lodge numbered 83 members.  The last meeting of the lodge was held on December 30, 1862.  A brief published history of the lodge alludes to its dramatic end, “various causes combined led to the death of the Lodge.  Many of the members moved away, others lost all interest in the order, and a few proved themselves unworthy.  One, who held a prominent position, used a large portion of the fund, leaving worthless paper as security.  This soured and disappointed many, and finally the Lodge ceased work.”

Accompanying the apron is a receipt dated July 1, 1849, documenting that Brother Leonard B. Pratt (1820-1882) paid his quarterly assessments for nine months, for a total of $2.25.  Pratt lived in Bucksport, Maine, near Frankfort, where the lodge met.  Like many Odd Fellows aprons, this one is shield shaped and includes the fraternity’s three-link chain emblem, signifying “the only chain by which [members] are bound together is that of Friendship, Love and Truth.”  Odd Fellows used the red and white colors for regalia worn by the Noble Grand, the Outside Guardian and state Grand Officers.

The apron will be on view in our lobby, starting in February 2016, as part of a small exhibition of some of our recent acquisitions.  We hope you will be able to come by and see it in person.  See our website for hours and directions.  And, if you have seen any similar aprons or know more about Astoria Lodge, please leave us a comment!

Independent Order of Odd Fellows Astoria Lodge No. 38 apron, 1846-1862, unidentified maker, probably Maine, Museum purchase, 2015.027.

 


New to the Collection: A Miniature Chair in a Bottle

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Miniature Chair in Bottle, 1924, George Barnhart (b. 1851), Liberty, Missouri, Museum purchase, 2015.044. Photograph by David Bohl.

Recently, this small chair inside a bottle caught our eye because it is inscribed on the legs, "Liberty / Odd F. Home / FLT / IOOF / G.G. Barnhart 1924."  We were charmed to add it to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection.  I am pleased to share what I've learned about it so far, but I hope that readers will help us to learn even more about it.

The bottle is only 4 1/2 inches high and 1 3/8 inches square, just to give you a sense of its diminutive size.  Crafting small items like this and placing them in bottles was a popular pastime during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Perhaps the most well-known example is the ship in a bottle.  However, chairs were not unusual.  There are several known examples that show a strikingly similar style to this one and most are inscribed with Odd Fellows initials, or "Odd Fellows Home."  Several also have inscriptions suggesting that they originated in Liberty, Missouri, like ours.

The Odd Fellows Home in Liberty, Missouri, was one of many institutions erected and run by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows fraternity across the United States.  Odd Fellows members are encouraged to visit the sick, educate the orphan and bury the dead, so homes like this, which offered lodging and care for orphans, the elderly and the destitute, fit well with the tenets of the organization.

The first home in this location burned down in 1900 and was subsequently rebuilt.  The "School Building" was erected in 1904; the "Old Folks Building," originally known as the "Old Folks Pavilion," was built in 1907 and 1908; and the hospital went up in 1923.  Given the inscriptions on this chair, it seems likely that it was made by a resident at the Home in 1924.  Further research suggests that the "G.G. Barnhart" named on the chair was George G. Barnhart, born in Missouri in 1853.  According to the 1920 United States Census, he was living at the "Odd Fellows Home" in Liberty, Missouri.

Have you seen other chairs in a bottle like this?  Do they have a connection to the Odd Fellows Home in Missouri?  Do you know anything about George Barnhart's life?  If so, please write a comment below!

 


Busy Beaver Lodge

2014_099_6DS1One of my favorite things about being a curator is connecting objects to each other. Recently, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library received a photograph of the officers of Beaver Lodge in Belmont, Massachusetts, in 1932. Two rows of men are arranged in their Masonic best in the lodge room with the Master’s chair and two columns visible behind them. They wear aprons, collars and jewels. The Deacon and Steward each hold their respective rods. Accompanying the photo in the gift to the Museum & Library were these rods – a wonderful opportunity to connect the objects to the photograph to help visitors and researchers to visualize how the lodge room looked in the early 1930s and the scale of the rituals that these men performed. 2014_099_9DP1DB

Beaver Lodge was chartered in Belmont in 1922. The population of the town had doubled between 1910 and 1920 and would do so again between 1920 and 1930. Members of the existing lodge, Belmont Lodge, numbered more than 500 and the officers realized that the time had come to form a second lodge in town. The name “Beaver Lodge” was chosen due to the location of Beaver Brook and the beaver ponds and dams nearby, as well as the inclusion of the beaver on the official seal of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. 2014_099_8DP2DB

The lodge’s history recounts that “most of the Lodge equipment was donated by various Brethren, and the aprons, jewels, collars and other articles of equipment procured as soon as they could be made.” Presumably, this included the two rods shown here. Both are decorated with silver depictions of the lodge seal and the top of each is engraved “Beaver Lodge.” The Deacon’s rod is also marked “Presented to Thomas Stewart,” suggesting that he served the lodge in this office at some point. Stewart (1885-1968), who was born in Scotland, worked as an electrician and joined Belmont Lodge in 1917. He became a charter member of Beaver Lodge when it formed.

Reference:

Amos L. Taylor, “History of Beaver Lodge,” Proceedings of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the Year 1947 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Cosmos Press, Inc., 1948), 330-341.

Beaver Lodge Officers, 1932, Fairfield Studio, Boston, Massachusetts. Gift of Keith C. MacKinnon, 2014.099.6.

Beaver Lodge Deacon’s Rod and Steward’s Rod, circa 1922, United States. Gift of Keith C. MacKinnon, 2014.099.8 and .9. Photographs by David Bohl.


Skeletons in the Lodge Room

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As we often like to remind our readers, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library actively collects materials associated with any and all American Masonic and fraternal groups.  This recent acquisition is a pin that was produced for members of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction (SJ) in 1905.  The two American Scottish Rite jurisdictions co-exist in the United States.  The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (NMJ) oversees Scottish Rite groups in fifteen states in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest.  The SJ administers Scottish Rite groups in the other 35 states, as well as Washington, D.C. where their headquarters is located.  The NMJ founded the Museum & Library in Lexington, Massachusetts, in 1975.

The two jurisdictions don’t always follow the same ritual, but the symbols on this pin were also used by the NMJ during the 1800s and early 1900s.  An illustration in The Book of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, written by Charles McClenachan (1829-1896) in 1867 – who served as Chair of the NMJ’s Ritual Committee from 1882 to 1896 – shows the same skeleton holding a chalice and a banner (at the left side of the illustration - click on it to see a larger version).  This prop was used in the ritual for the fraternity’s honorary 33rd degree ritual. When McClenachan wrote his book in 1867, the Scottish Rite conferred degrees in much the same way as local lodges.  McClenachan’s illustration shows the men wearing sashes over their street clothes.  A few years later, members changed their rituals to theatrical endeavors complete with sets, costumes and props. RARE14.7.M126 1867DP1DB

The shape and materials of this pin were popular among fraternal groups during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  The shield shape relates to fraternal symbolism, while the enamel face allowed for colorful and detailed decoration.  The Museum’s collection includes at least one similar pin associated with the NMJ from 1901, while the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts collection includes several round enamel pins produced for local Knights Templar Commanderies in 1895.

This pin was probably given or sold to attendees of the SJ’s biennial meeting in Washington, D.C., in October 1905.  Along the bottom is the Latin phrase, “Post Tenebras Lux,” which translates to “Light After Darkness.”

Top: Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction pin, 1905, unidentified maker, United States, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchase, 2014.057.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Bottom: Frontispiece, The Book of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, 1867, Charles T. McClenachan, author, Masonic Publishing and Manufacturing Company, publisher, New York, New York, Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.  Photograph by David Bohl.

 

 


Royal Arch Chapter of the Tabernacle Meeting Notice

Tabernacle meeting notice frontThis meeting notice is among the new acquisitions currently on view in the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives. This notice was sent to all members of Tabernacle Chapter, inviting them to the December 20, 1915 meeting. Depicted on the front of the notice is an illustration of the Biblical Tabernacle, the chapter’s namesake. The illustration has further symbolic resonance as well, since the Royal Arch Chapter’s room is meant to be a representation of the Tabernacle, in the same way that the lodge room of Craft Masonry is patterned after Solomon’s Temple.

The inside of the notice includes information about what business would be conducted on the evening of December 20, 1915. The business of that evening included voting ("balloting") on new candidates, as well as the conferring of two Royal Arch degrees: Mark Master Mason and the Past Master Mason degrees. Near the end of the notice, on the right hand page, is a reminder to members about an upcoming social event. Under the heading "Don't Forget Ladies Night," the notice reminds members that tickets were available for that year's New Year's Eve party, to be held on the last night of 1915.

 

Tabernacle meeting notice inside

 

 

 

Above and at left:

Meeting Notice, 1915
Tabernacle Chapter
Malden, Massachusetts
Gift of the Royal Arch Chapter of the Tabernacle, Malden, Massachusetts, MA 300.

     


Charles Sewall Norris and the Royal Arch Chapter of the Tabernacle

Norris petitionNew acquisitions are currently on view in the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives. All are a generous gift of the Royal Arch Chapter of the Tabernacle, Malden, Massachusetts. The contents of Charles Sewall Norris’s (1871-1919) membership file from Tabernacle Chapter are among the items on view. They include his petition to join the Chapter (pictured, left), his “Mark,” (below, right) as well as other material, including a thank you card from his family, in response to receiving a sympathy card from the Chapter after Norris’s death. Norris became a Mason in Converse Lodge in 1890, where he served as Master in 1905 and 1906. He joined Tabernacle Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, in 1906. In the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts he served as Grand Standard Bearer in 1914 and District Deputy Grand Master for District No. 7 in 1917-1918. On March 26, 1919, Norris died at noon, just six hours after his wife, Emma Frances (Brown) Norris  passed away.

Norris mark cardNorris was born in Wenham, Massachusetts in 1871, but moved with his family to Malden when he was ten years old. According to Norris's obituary in the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Proceedings, "After graduation from the High School in 1890 he was connected with the Malden Savings Bank as one of its incorporators and also its Teller until August 1, 1907. Resigning that position he was chosen Treasurer and Trustee of the Home Savings Bank, in Boston, positions which he held at the time of his decease. He was also a director of the new Second National Bank in Malden." For his Masonic mark, Norris chose the town seal of his birthplace.

You can read more about Norris in the obituary from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Proceedings, as well as from  the Proceedings of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, of which he was a member.

Caption:

Membership File for Charles S. Norris, 1906-1919
Tabernacle Chapter
Malden, Massachusetts
Gift of the Royal Arch Chapter of the Tabernacle, Malden, Massachusetts, MA 300


New to the Collection: A Masonic Punch Bowl

Punch Bowl Inside BottomAs the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library’s current lobby exhibition, “Called to Refreshment,” makes clear, Freemasons often socialized as part of their meetings.  Masonic lodges invested in pitchers, platters, bowls and other kinds of serving ware for the time when they were “called from labor to refreshment.”  Freemasons – then and now – also socialized outside of the lodge.  Using objects decorated with Masonic symbols on these occasions let everyone know that their owner identified with Freemasonry and valued his association with the group.

This bowl, which was recently acquired by the Museum & Library, is almost thirteen inches in diameter and shows a total of eleven transfer-printed images in the bottom and on the inner and outer sides.  Bowls of this size and shape were generally used to serve punch.  The image inside the bottom of the bowl features two classical figures with a series of five architectural columns.  Several Masonic tools are scattered on the ground.  A verse reads “To heavens high Architect all praise / All gratitude be given / Who design’d the human soul to raise / By secrets sprung from heaven.”  This verse appeared as early as 1769 in A Candid Disquisition of the Principles and Practices…of Free and Accepted Masons by Wellins Calcott.

Punch Bowl Masonic SceneThe decorations on the outside alternate between Masonic and non-Masonic.  The Masonic image shows a temple with three figures wearing their aprons and other Masonic symbols.  Another image is American in subject with a liberty cap at the top.  Dating back to ancient Rome, the liberty cap was often used as a symbol of freedom during the American and French Revolutions.  A verse below the cap reads “As he tills the rich glebe the old peasant shall tell, / While his bosom with Liberty glows. / How your Warren expir’d, how Montgomery fell. / And how Washington humbled your foes.”  These lines come from the poem “American Freedom,” written by Edward Rushton (1756-1814) of Liverpool, England. Punch Bowl Liberty Cap

The name of the original owner, Ephraim McFarland, is printed inside the bottom of the bowl.  The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts lists an Ephraim McFarland as a member of Boston’s St. Andrew’s Lodge.  This man was initiated in January 1801 and received the second degree in December 1801, but his membership record does not indicate that he ever received the third degree of Master Mason.  Information given to the Museum & Library with the bowl suggested that the original owner was the Ephraim McFarland who was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1763 and married in 1782. 

Further research suggests that the bowl’s owner might actually have been the Ephraim McFarland who lived in Belfast, Maine.  This Ephraim was born in 1765 in Boothbay, Maine, and died in 1849, also in Maine.  This Ephraim was a ship captain who sailed between Maine and Boston.  He both owned and commanded several ships.  His travel to Boston would have provided opportunities to join St. Andrew’s Lodge and to purchase this bowl.

Masonic punch bowl, 1790-1820, England, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchase, 2015.029.