"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Daniel Coxe: The Freemason Who Invented the United States

In 1722, an Englishman named Col. Daniel Coxe wrote a book with the unwieldy title, A Description of the English Province of Carolana, by the Spaniards Call’d Florida, and by the French, La Louisiane, and also of the Great and Famous River Meschacebe, or Missisipi [sic]. His father, Dr. Daniel Coxe II, physician to both King Charles II and Queen Anne, and a member of the Royal Society, had been given the largest royal land grant to an individual in America. It included everything between the 31st and 36th north latitudes, west all the way to the Pacific – almost one-eighth of the total landmass of the United States and Canada, comprising parts of what are now Virginia, Georgia, both Carolinas, Florida, Louisiana, and everything on both sides of the Mississippi as far north as Kentucky. It is an unfortunate geopolitical law of survival that land is only yours if you can keep it. For almost a hundred years Coxe and his descendents tried without much success to interest their English countrymen in colonizing the region. The family finally gave up in 1769 and returned it to the king in exchange for a nice, manageable farm in New York. Most Americans have never heard of Daniel Coxe, the onetime owner of the ground that about 95 million of us now water, mow and rake leaves off of every year—much less his book. That’s a shame, because Daniel Coxe—a Freemason—invented the United States.

In A Description of the English Province of Carolana, Coxe described the terrain, flora and fauna of this massive landscape, as told to him by traders, trappers and other ambitious travelers. It was essentially a lengthy brochure to interest potential colonists in the Carolana project. As lavish and romantic descriptions of far-flung, exotic lands go, it’s a masterpiece. Spain and France both had territorial claims to much of the same area, and in the preface to his book, Coxe admits that defending it against foreign claim jumpers would be a challenge, especially if it had no settlers. At one point, he recommends that everything west of the Mississippi be given to the Spanish and everything east of the river should be English land. Any French in the area, it was suggested, should just go home.

One of his greatest frustrations was that the other existing English colonies, stretching along the eastern coastline of America, were a fractious bunch. One thing was certain: if the Spanish or the French decided to flex their colonial muscles, it was a near total certainty that the individual English colonies would have no interest whatsoever in banding together to help defend the all but vacant land from foreign power, or even hostile Indian tribes. Isolated and stubborn, each of the various colonies had its own government, customs and attitudes. They were New York Dutch, Delaware Swedes, New Jersey Scots, Pennsylvania Quakers, Massachusetts Puritans and merchants and Virginia planters descended from fleeing English Cavaliers. Every colony had its own identity. Their neighbors were largely strangers and not to be entirely trusted. What Coxe proposed was the first plan for a Union of the Colonies, with an assembly made up of delegates from every colony, and a national executive who would unite the states for their mutual benefit and protection – an arrangement strikingly similar to the administrative system of Freemasonry’s grand lodges.

Daniel Coxe himself was a Mason, a member of Lodge No. 8 at the Devil’s Tavern at Temple Bar in London. In 1730, while he was back visiting in London, he was named Provincial Grand Master for New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and in 1731, just before his return to America, he was toasted as the Provincial Grand Master of North America.

In 1754, in response to troubles in the West, the English recommended a union and federation of the colonies in defense against the French. Freemason Benjamin Franklin, a representative from Pennsylvania to the Albany Congress, proposed a Plan of Union remarkably similar to Coxe’s. What makes the proposals of Brothers Coxe and Franklin interesting is that their plans were essentially the same system used by Provincial Grand Lodges to govern Masonic lodges in their jurisdictions. Franklin would later say that his Albany plan was not adopted because it gave the colonies too much democracy, which worried both the King (who didn’t entirely trust his subjects) and the colonies (who didn’t entirely trust their neighbors). His proposal would ultimately be voted down by the colonies, who had no desire to work together, much less be watched over by a chief executive “President-General.” But Franklin’s plan would be resurrected again and used as the framework for the Articles of Confederation that governed the states between the revolution and the adoption of the U.S. Constitution.

The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania recognizes Daniel Coxe as the first Grand Master for Pennsylvania, but William Allen as the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. The Grand Lodge of New Jersey confers a medal of honor named after Coxe.

Coxe's lodge in London met at the Devil's Tavern at number 1/2 Fleet Street, just steps from the Templar Church. The pub is gone today, although it is commemorated by an historical marker—it existed as early as 1563, and its signed depicted St. Dunstan pulling the Devil by the nose with a set of tongs. Coxe and his brother Masons picked the favorite haunt of Samuel Pepys and Dr. Samuel Johnson. The tavern was also home to the Apollo Club, a literary dining club that counted Dr. Johnson, William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith, and countless others as members. Their welcoming plaque and list of rules are preserved in the vaults of the bank that now sits on the spot today.

For an outstanding paper about Coxe, see Colonel Daniel Coxe, Father of NJ Freemasonry by Matthew Korang, published for the New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research & Education No. 1786.

Speaking at Beacon Lodge #3 in St. Louis, MO 9/18

On Saturday, September 18th, I will be speaking at a luncheon at Beacon Lodge #3 in Hazlewood, Missouri. Hazlewood is on the northwest side of St. Louis.

Lunch will be at 12 noon and is open to family, friends and anyone interested in Freemasonry. The lodge is requesting $10 for lunch. If you wish to attend, please RSVP at (314) 521-7511 (the lodge phone), or contact Worshipful Master Curtis Perkins.

Beacon Lodge has a long, proud heritage in the St. Louis area, and was chartered in 1849. Looking forward to being there!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Freemasons For Dummies: Customized Books from Wiley Publishing

I am passing along information from my publisher that Masons might find of interest.

As I travel the country speaking at lodges and Grand Lodges, Dan Brown’s novel, The Lost Symbol, is having a positive effect on Masonic membership growth. Brown’s book is a 509-page love letter to the fraternity, and many Americans are learning about Freemasonry for the first time because of it. The hardback version of the book sold 1 million copies in the first day, and 2.5 million in the first week. So far, it has sold 6.5 million in the U.S. alone. Bear in mind that paperbacks sell better than hardbacks. The paperback release of The Lost Symbol will be on October 19th, 2010, with an initial release of 4 million copies. It will undoubtedly be accompanied by History, Discovery and National Geographic Channel reruns of Masonic documentaries and tie-in programs. October would be an outstanding time for your lodges and Grand Lodge to hold open houses or other public events.

For the past five years, Freemasons For Dummies has been the best-selling guide to the Masonic fraternity in the world. Wiley Publishing now has a unique program that may be of interest to your Grand Lodge. They are able to print special versions of the book, free of extra charges, featuring a customized cover, along with custom information on the inside covers. A special version of Freemasons For Dummies with your Grand Lodge information in it would make a perfect promotion.

What this means is that your Grand Lodge or research lodge can have its own special edition of the book for your members. The seal or other artwork specific to your Grand Lodge could be featured on the outside, and a message from the Grand Master, Grand Lodge Education Committee, Lodge of Research or other official group could be printed on the inside covers. The book is a popular one for non-Masons, and your members could be encouraged to pass it to friends or family who might have an interest in the fraternity—the cover could include the Grand Lodge contact information, internet address, phone numbers, etc. It is also popular as a gift given by many lodges to new Masons. The inside cover might include a custom plate in which to inscribe the members’ name and lodge, and degree dates. Both Wiley and I are willing to work with you on design, artwork and content.

There is one caveat: No changes can be made to the text of the book itself, so if there is something in the book that is not correct for your jurisdiction, it can’t be changed. Only the inside and outside covers can be altered.

The retail price of Freemasons For Dummies is $19.99, but you can save between 50%-75% off the cover price, depending on the quantity. The minimum order for a custom version is 500 books, at 50% off, with additional price breaks at 1,000, 2,500 and 5,000 copies.

In addition, Wiley offers an Internet alternative that can be done more economically. A shorter, downloadable version of the book has been created, called Freemason Symbols and Ceremonies For Dummies, and is available on Amazon.com for the Kindle electronic book reader, smartphone, or computer. A customized version of the e-book could be made available for your Grand Lodge—again, with custom cover art and a message from you on page 1, and it can be linked from your Grand Lodge website. In this case, for $2 per download, Wiley would handle the fulfillment of the electronic order, collect the name, address and email of the person, and provide it as a new member lead back to you.

If you have any interest in these ideas, please do not hesitate to contact me directly, or Lisa Coleman, director of New Market and Brand Development for Wiley Publishing in Indianapolis at 317-572-3205, or at lcoleman@wiley.com

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Catching Up on Masonic News

I had a terrific time in Sioux Falls, SD last weekend at the Midwest Conference of Grand Lodges. Thanks to Grand Master Dean Behrens and his wife Donna, for their warm hospitality. And thanks to all of the brethren who attended. I managed to make it home without the fuel pump failure that hit me on the way out.

Here is a wrap-up of stories on the web that I missed while I was gone.

Dunes Lodge #741 in Portage, Indiana Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Indiana brethren at Dunes Lodge #741 in Portage celebrated the 50th anniversary of their charter on July 31st, and received a nice writeup in the local paper.

See Solemn ceremony marks Masonic lodge's 50th anniversary

Masonic Theatre Backdrops in Winona, Minnesota

The city of Winona, Minnesota took ownership of the town's Masonic lodge in 1979, which contains a set of almost a hundred (presumably Scottish Rite) theater backdrops. Winona Daily News editor Darrell Ehrlick had an editorial on Monday making a passionate plea for the city to find a way to restore the aging backdrops.

From Masonic Temple backdrops worth saving

It doesn't sound bad to say that a rare piece of art more than 100 years old needs about $15,000 worth of restoration.

Heck, it almost sounds reasonable.

Unless, of course, you have about 100 rare, old pieces of art, all in need of restoration.

But that's the case with the Winona's city-owned Masonic Temple backdrops.

The turn-of-the-20th-century backdrops have been a part of the Temple for presumably nearly as long as the building itself. They came with the building when the city bought the property in 1979. But 100 years of literal wear and tear have taken their toll. And now the full restoration of the backdrops will take almost $1.5 million. We'd argue this is art worth saving.

There are almost 100 unique backdrops that have been saved through indifference. That's right, because no one needed the space that badly and no one felt a push for modern backdrops, they remained. And they survived. But continued indifference may mean we continue to lose the backdrops as they deteriorate.

Now is the time to make sure we can keep and showcase these delightful pieces of art.

Winona is, after all, a community that values art. We have two universities with art programs. We are the home of the Minnesota Marine Art Museum as well as the Winona Arts Center.

We are a community that cares about art. So let's turn our focus to these.

The city shouldn't have to go this one alone.

Newberry Lodge in Newberry, Indiana Shows Outdoor Movie

Two weeks ago, members of Newberry Lodge No. 166 and Eastern Star Chapter No. 198 in Greene County, Indiana resurrected a very old tradition in the little town of Newberry. From the 1930s up into the 50s, free outdoor movies were projected onto the side of the downtown lodge building. The lodge first showed an outdoor movie in 1933, and they continued until 1952.

A "Little Rascals" feature was screened, and folks came with their blankets and lawn chairs to see it.

From Outdoor movie night to bring back memories of yesteryear in Newberry:

Wooden benches were constructed adjacent to the Masonic Lodge building for patrons to sit and watch the movie that was projected onto the side of the exterior wall.

Vehicles would also pull in diagonally to provide view of the movie.

"I went to the movies there as a child in the 1930s and 1940s. The town was just full of people. The cars would pull in where they could face it (the screen)," she said with a giggle. "Of course, I wasn't about to sit on those bleachers. I had to walk up and down the street with the kids with ice cream. There really was always a big crowd. They showed a lot of westerns. I remember seeing Gene Autry and Hopalong Cassidy, Tom Mix and probably Roy Rogers."

Wesner said she's planning to attend on Friday night.

"It think it will be fun," she added.

Newberry resident Dexter "Shorty" York remembers the movie nights of yesteryear very well.

"The seats would all be full and people would sit on the ground. They would sit outside of their cars on the front bumpers," York recalled. "We had a lot of grocery stores and businesses in Newberry then and people would be shopping and buying their groceries. There was never a movie theater in town. This was a free movie. The merchants paid for it (the movie).

"They would sometimes have a double feature. They would have a western and then some of the others. The streets would be full of people shopping. It (the movie) drew a big crowd."

Another Newberry resident, Farol Keller, said, "The movie used to be every Friday night a long time ago. The town was completely filled ... I remember the first cartoon I saw there was Mickey Mouse."

Keller, who said she'll also be in the crowd for this Friday night's movie, added, "It's hard to imagine the town of Newberry with the streets full of people."

Florida Lodge Looking for a Home

The brethren of Cornerstone Lodge in Port St. Lucie, Florida are looking for a permanent home.

From Masonic lodge aims to be cornerstone of the community:

Their altar and other ceremonial regalia are kept in a rented shed behind a Port St. Lucie church.

One night this week, lodge steward David Cartis and other members of the Cornerstone Masonic Lodge were busy pulling the altar out of the shed to set up for a special meeting when they found everything covered in ants.

“That really sums up our predicament,” Cartis said.

Their predicament is that ever since it was founded in 1984, the lodge has never had a permanent home.

For the first 17 years of its existence, the lodge rented space from a Port St. Lucie Methodist church until a new pastor decided he anted no outsdie groups using church property. These days the lodge rents space from First Congregational Church of Port St. Lucie.

It’s not as if members haven’t tried to build their own lodge. You could call Cornerstone a casualty both of the 2004 hurricanes and the subsequent busted property market.

Lodge members bought an undeveloped lot on Dyer Road in hopes of putting a permanent building on it. First there were serious setbacks with providing utilities to the site. The city of Port St. Lucie wanted $400,000 to hook them up. Then the 2004 storms destroyed the metal building intended for the site before it could even be moved to Dyer Road.

As the price of property soared during the boom, the lodge decided to cash in. It accepted an offer of $900,000 from an Orlando megachurch to build a sanctuary there.

Not long after that, the bottom dropped out of the market. The Orlando church pulled out of the deal, and the lodge was left holding land it couldn’t afford to develop.

Yet building problems aside, the 90-plus members have soldiered on. Even with no permanent home, they’ve been recruiting new members and continued to donate to charitable causes within the community.

Texas Lodge Looking For Furniture

Brother Fred Milliken who writes on the FreemasonInformation.com site has posted a message looking for lodge furniture. His Dallas, Texas lodge, Pride of Mt. Pisgah Lodge #135, PHA, is moving into a new building, and needs to aquire an altar, East, West and South stations and chairs, the three lesser lights, chairs and/or benches for the rest of the officers and the sidelines members and rods for the deacons and stewards.

From his message:

My thoughts turned to an article I wrote not too long ago where Paul Dean Lodge AF & AM of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts merged with Paul Revere Lodge, sold its building and donated all its furniture to the Lodges of Bangor, Maine who were rebuilding after a fire completely destroyed all that they had. A delegation from Paul Dean participated in the rededication ceremony of Bangor’s new quarters and was lauded before the entire group. What a great story!


Could there be another Lodge somewhere in the U.S.A. who is also turning in its charter or merging and has furniture that they no longer have a use for? Or as a Brother and friend of mine suggested:

What about commissioning some of it from currently skilled people, some might even be retired and do it as a labor of love for cost. What an opportunity ! ” This Worhipful Master’s Chair designed, carved and assembled by ________________ for the benefit of the lodge and the good of the Craft. AL 6010 “

So if you are reading this and can be of help please get in contact. It looks like the Lodge building will be raised at the beginning of the New Year and by spring we should have the inside completed. The Master says we are probably going to be able to beat that schedule and have it completed earlier.

Pride of Mt. Pisgah Lodge No. 135 is chartered by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas F&AM.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Details of Masonic Society Semi-Annual Meeting in New Orleans 9/24-25

Click image to enlarge.

Time is running out! Join us for the Masonic Society's 2010 semi-annual meeting in New Orleans Sept. 24th and 25th, at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, right in the heart of the French Quarter! The cutoff for reservations at the hotel is this Friday, August 27th, so act now! (There is a Saints game in town that same weekend, so you need to reserve by the 27th, or lose the great rate).

The Masonic Society is the fastest growing research society dedicated to Freemasonry in the world. See more at our website.

Because we have had a number of members desire to arrive early on Thursday the 23rd (taking advantage of even better rates), we may have the LA 2nd Circle put on a yet to be developed program or get together for the early arrivers, or everyone may just want to explore the French Quarter (our hotel is right on Bourbon Street!).

There will be a dedicated Masonic Society hospitality and media room near the lecture rooms where everyone can meet, enjoy good conversations and do some Masonic shopping. Mark Tabbert and I will be there with books, along with Mike Poll's Cornerstone Books, which is the most prolific Masonic publisher in the U.S. Michael Caine Seay, the U.S. representative of the Toye, Kenning, & Spencer, the world's oldest Masonic regalia manufacturer, will be there, as well. This will be a great opportunity to pick up some of the most beautiful Masonic regalia and jewels around.

I will be speaking at the semiannual, along with Mark Tabbert, Randy Williams, Michael Caine Seay, and Louisiana's own Marc Conrad (lecture schedule will be posted soon).

On Saturday Morning (Sept. 25th) at 10 am, we will move to the lodge hall of Etoile Polaire Lodge No. 1. Etoile Polaire will call a special meeting to host the Louisiana Lodge of Research's fall meeting. As part of the LLR's meeting, Bro. Michael Carpenter, Ph.D. will present a lecture on Scottish Rite discoveries. Lodge Etoile Polaire #1 will also demonstrate the EA degree using the Scottish Rite ritual, rarely seen in the U.S. outside of just 10 Louisiana lodges from the French period. This will be a tiled event by Etoile Polaire.

If this is not enough in the way of events, the New Orleans Valley of the Scottish Rite will be be having a fall reunion and it would be a perfect time for the members of the AASR to see the New Orleans Valley at work. The New Orleans Consistory is the oldest Scottish Rite Valley in existence today, and has a history and reputation as rich and varied as New Orleans itself.

To cap off the festivities, the Masonic Society banquet will hosted by the Royal Sonesta at 7 PM on Saturday the 25th. Coat and tie please. If you have ever eaten at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, you know what a true taste treat it is, not to mention one of the most elegant experiences around.

The banquet menu will be:

Soup: Chicken & Andouille Gumbo
Salad: Romaine Lettuce with Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese, Garlic Croutons & Creamy Caesar Dressing
Entrée (Your choice of)

1. Garlic Citrus Chicken
Chicken Breast Dressed in Garlic Cream & Citrus Salsa Fresca with Grilled Asparagus & Almond Rice Pilaf

2. Seared Pork tenderloin Served with Gratin Potatoes, Vegetable Ratatouille & Caraway Sauce
Dessert: Royal Sonesta Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce or White Chocolate

The banquet cost (which also covers the cost of all events) is $65.00. You can pay this (and send in your meal selection) by going to the semiannual meeting website here. The deadline for the banquet registration is September 18th. When you make your banquet reservation, please select the entrée you wish. We are sending e-mails to everyone who has already made reservations, if we don't hear from you, we will list you as the chicken entrée.

Ladies are invited to all non-tiled events. Masons who are not members of the Masonic Society are encouraged to be invited to all events - including the discounted hotel rooms. Please spread the word to any and all who may wish to attend. We hear that several non-TMS, offsite events are also being organized such as a river boat cruse and French Quarter tours. It will be a fantastic time. See you in new Orleans!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Judge: Indianapolis' Murat Shrine Can't Block Theatre Renaming

According to a story on the Indiana Business Jiurnal website, the attempt by the Murat Shrine Temple Association in Indianapolis to block promoter LiveNation from renaming the Murat Theatre has failed.

Marion County Superior Court Judge John Hanley has dismissed a naming-rights lawsuit brought by The Murat Temple Association against California-based event promoter Live Nation and Evansville-based Old National Bank.

The Murat Temple Association is a Shriners affiliate that owns the Murat Centre, which on March 16 was renamed the “Old National Centre” in a three-year naming-rights deal between the bank and Live Nation. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Murat Temple Association, which hired Live Nation to manage the facility, sought to block the name change in a lawsuit filed March 26. Live Nation filed a legal request to dismiss the suit in mid-April.

The association's suit alleged that Live Nation's lease does not include rights to rename the building, and that the name change “caused Shriners to be held in lesser light by the general public, who erroneously believe Shriners were responsible for the name change, and from whom money is raised to support ... Shriners Hospital for Children.”

Judge Hanley disagreed.

I'm no attorney. I'm not even a non-attorney spokesman. I'm just a lowly member of Murat Shrine. But I suspect that, if the lease with LiveNation granted them the right to erect new signage, while remaining silent on LiveNation's right to rename the part of the building they now control, then Murat has no case. If it wasn't prohibited in the agreement, it's allowed. Hence, case dismissed. Live and learn, brethren.

Earlier entries about this story:

Indianapolis Murat Theatre to become Old National Center. Yuck.

Indianapolis' Murat Shriners May Halt Theater Name Change

Sides Square Off In Murat Shrine Theatre Name Battle

Indianapolis Shriners sue Live Nation, Old National over Murat renaming

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Speaking 8/21 in Sioux Falls, SD

Looking forward to speaking at the banquet of the Midwest Conference of Masonic Grand Lodges this coming Saturday, August 21st, at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls, SD.

See the agenda here.

The conference takes place August 20-22, and includes representatives from grand lodges in Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Manitoba, along with presentations from the National Masonic Children’s Foundation and Masonichip International. In addition, a National Sojourners group from Nebraska will present their "Lodge of Military Tribute" after Saturday's banquet.

Many thanks to Grand Master Dean Behrens for his kind invitation!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Was the Hunchback of Notre Dame a Real Operative Mason?

Was Victor Hugo's fictional character of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo, in his novel Notre Dame de Paris, based on a real-life operative Mason? Documents from a 19th century English sculptor named Henry Sibson and recently discovered and donated to the Tate Museum reveal a heretofore unknown hunchbacked sculptor who worked on Paris' Notre Dame cathedral around 1828 when Hugo was first writing his novel.

From the Telegraph.uk article Real-life Quasimodo uncovered in Tate archives by Roya Nikkhah:

Clues suggesting that Quasimodo is based on a historical figure have been uncovered in the memoirs of Henry Sibson, a 19th-century British sculptor who was employed at the cathedral at around the time the book was written and who describes a hunched back stonemason also working there.

The documents were acquired by the Tate Archive in 1999 after they were discovered in the attic of a house in Penzance, Cornwall, as the owner prepared to move out.

However, the references to a "hunchback sculptor" working at Notre Dame have only just been discovered, as the memoirs are catalogued ahead of the archive's 40th anniversary this year.

The seven-volume memoirs document Sibson's time in Paris during the 1820s, when he was employed by contractors to work on repairs to Notre Dame Cathedral.

In one entry, he writes: "the [French] government had given orders for the repairing of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and it was now in progress ... I applied at the Government studios, where they were executing the large figures [for Notre Dame] and here I met with a Mons. Trajan, a most worthy, fatherly and amiable man as ever existed – he was the carver under the Government sculptor whose name I forget as I had no intercourse with him, all that I know is that he was humpbacked and he did not like to mix with carvers."

In a later entry, Sibson writes about working with the same group of sculptors on another project outside Paris, where he again mentions the reclusive government sculptor, this time recalling his name as "Mon. Le Bossu". Le Bossu is French for "the hunchback".

He writes: "Mon Le Bossu (the Hunchback) a nickname given to him and I scarcely ever heard any other ... the Chief of the gang for there were a number of us, M. Le Bossu was pleased to tell Mon Trajan that he must be sure to take the little Englishman."

Adrian Glew, the Tate archivist, who made the discovery, said: "When I saw the references to the humpbacked sculptor at Notre Dame, and saw that the dates matched the time of Hugo's interest in the Cathedral, the hairs on the back of my neck rose and I thought I should look into it."

Hugo began writing The Hunch Back of Notre Dame in 1828 and the book was published three years later. He had a strong interest in the restoration of the cathedral, with architecture featuring as a major theme in the book.

Hugo publicly opposed the original neoclassical scheme for Notre Dame's restoration led by the architect Etienne-Hippolyte Godde – the same scheme which Sibson describes Le Bossu and Trajan working on – favouring a more Gothic style for the cathedral.

The publication of The Hunch Back of Notre Dame in 1831, which made Hugo one of France's most acclaimed authors, is widely credited with prompting the Gothic restoration of the cathedral in 1844, designed by the architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, which Hugo had championed.

His close links with the cathedral make it likely that he would have known Le Bossu and Trajan, and further research undertaken by Mr Glew in the national archives of France has uncovered additional links between Hugo and the characters described by Sibson.

The Almanach de Paris from 1833 – which gives a list of all professionals working in the city – names a sculptor "Trajin" as living in Saint Germain-des-Pres, where Hugo also lived at the time.

An early draft of Les Misérables, another of Hugo's acclaimed novels, holds another clue indicating that Hugo drew on the Government sculptors described by Sibson for inspiration.

The lead character in an early version of the novel is named as "Jean Trejean" which Hugo later changed to "Jean Valjean".

According to Dictionnaire des Franc-Maçons by Michel Gaudart de Soulages and Hubert Lamant, Hugo was not a Freemason, but belonged to an order of Martinists.

Trevor Stewart at Missouri Lodge of Research 9/28

The Missouri Lodge of Research has announced their Fall 2010 "Truman Lecturer" will be well-known author and scholar, Trevor Stewart. His presentation will take place at the Missouri Lodge of Research Breakfast in Columbia, MO on Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 7:00am

From their announcement:

Trevor Stewart is a retired lecturer who was educated at Birmingham, Sheffield, Durham and Newcastle Universities. His academic work specialised in English eighteenth-century English literature and his doctoral research focused on a coterie of Enlightenment gentlemen freemasons who lived in the north of England.

Bro. Stewart continued to give fully documented papers on various masonic subjects in American, Belgian, French, German and Scottish lodges – at both lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge levels - as well as in many English Lodges, Royal Arch Chapters and in London’s ancient Guildhall. He has also taught in history seminars at Cambridge, Oxford and Harvard Universities (2004) which focused on newly discovered contributions made by early eighteenth-century English freemasons to the development and spread of ‘Newtonianism’. In October 2007 he was invited by the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge Masonic Academy to give his paper on ‘A Way Forward – some seminar techniques’. He was the keynote speaker at the 2010 annual dinner of the Philalethes Society in Minneapolis. He was invited by the Grand Lodge of Romania to address their May 2010 communication in Huniazilor Castle and by the National Grand Lodge of Greece in June 2010 at their communication in Athens.

Bro. Stewart contributed papers on Freemasonry in the Enlightenment period to international conferences held at the Canonbury Masonic Research Centre (London), the University of Bordeaux and the first and second international UK conferences on the history of Freemasonry in Edinburgh (2007 & 2009). He has published several papers in the annual transactions of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge (AQC) and of the Leicester Lodge of Research, in Hibiscus (GL of Florida) and in The Ashlar, the leading Scottish masonic quarterly. He edited two volumes of The Canonbury Papers (2005 & 2006) for the Canonbury Masonic Research Centre (London). He has published numerous lectures in bound pamphlet format, a world-renowned English translation of Martinez de Pasqually’s crucial esoteric text Treatise on the Reintegration of Beings; and he has recently published a fully illustrated monograph on the famous 1702 Haughfoot Lodge, which formerly existed in the Scottish Borders region. He is planning three new books on the hitherto unpublished non-masonic writings of William Hutchinson (1732-1814), the founder of English masonic symbolism.

In 2004 Bro. Stewart was appointed by the United Grand Lodge of England to be its Prestonian Lecturer. He is a Past Master of three English Lodges, including the Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 (English Constitution) and in June 2010 was installed as the Right Worshipful Master of Lodge ‘Sir Robert Moray’ No. 1641 (the leading Scottish research lodge - Edinburgh).

In December 2007 he was elected to Honorary Membership of both The Alpha Lodge No. 116 (New Jersey) and St. John’s Lodge No. 1 (New York City). He was elected subsequently to Honorary Memberships of the Cincinnati and the Atlas-Pythagoras Lodges (New Jersey) and he is particularly delighted to be associated so strongly with such distinguished New Jersey masonic bodies. He was created Right Worshipful Grand Lecturer (Honorary) by the Grand Lodge of New Jersey in September 2009. He was created a Ninth Grade (Magus) by the SRICF in Washington DC (February 2007). He edited ‘From Across the Water’ an anthology of eight past papers from AQC on North American Freemasonry in the colonial era (copies may still available from the Scottish Rite Research Society, Washington DC).

Bro. Stewart has held office in all of the Orders which grace the English Masonic landscape, is a Life Member of various Scottish Orders - including the Grand Lodge of the Royal Order of Scotland - has been honoured in the Rectified Scottish Rite in Belgium and in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in Germany. In SRIA he was a member of its High Council, a Chief Adept of a Province, the Director-General of Studies and an active member of its Executive Committee. He edited the SRIA Transactions (2005).

An application to join the Missouri Lodge of Research is available here. I had the honor of being the Truman Lecturer in 2009, along with my book Solomon's Builders featured as their bonus book for the year. The brethren of Missouri are doing great work. If you can make it to Columbia, be sure to stop at their Grand Lodge building and see their outstanding museum, which is one of the finest Masonic museums in the country.

(Photo by Jay Hochberg)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Idaho Mason Expelled

An Idaho Mason has been found guilty in a Masonic trial for being associated with a new, irregular and unrecognized lodge in Boise. Krispen Hartung was tried by Boise Lodge No. 2 on August 13th for un-Masonic conduct, after disclosing his position as the new Venerable Master of Praxis Lodge F&AM of the Grand Orient of the United States of America.

Praxis Lodge was established last year, and meets in a local movie theater. They currently claim to have ten members.

Hartung was a regular member of Boise Lodge No. 2, and had attempted to demit last year. However, he still desired to retain his membership in the Shrine. Since membership in a regular, recognized lodge is a requirement for the Shrine, he tried joining Idaho Research Lodge No. 1965, as a way of satisfying the requirement. Research lodges are not, as a general rule in the U.S. (or anywhere else), considered as anything but special purpose groups that also require membership in a regular lodge under their chartering jurisdictions. So, when Hartung applied a second time for a demit this year, there was a delay while his lodge and the Grand Lodge of Idaho AF&AM considered their own positions. Rather than grant a demit, they called for a Masonic trial. Hartung was in violation of Idaho Masonic law as soon as he affiliated with Praxis.

While Hartung gave an impassioned defense of his position, he was found guilty and expelled. Membership in mainstream Masonic organizations is partially predicated on a belief in a Supreme Being, with a volume of sacred law on lodge altars, male only, no discussion of politics or religion in lodge meetings, and honoring the sovereignty of a grand lodge's territory within its agreed upon borders. The Grand Orient of the USA does not require any of these longstanding Masonic stipulations to be adhered to. By its very nature, Hartung's membership in a newly constituted lodge from a foreign jurisdiction immediately placed him in violation of his obligation.

The GOUSA is affiliated with the Grand Orient de France, which is unrecognized by the overwhelming majority of mainstream Freemasonry worldwide. Mainstream Masons should know that the Grand Orient of the United States is attempting to spread across the country, and the Internet has made it easier for them to disseminate their message. Despite their claims of a long heritage, the GOUSA is just over two years old, and received a treaty and patent from the Grand Orient de France in June 2008.

If you are not a Mason, and are looking to join the Freemasonry that is recognized the world over as regular and the legitimate heir to the traditions of the lodges that formed the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717, click here to find the regular, recognized grand lodge for your state or region, as well as links to the historically African-American grand lodges of Prince Hall Freemasonry. Be aware that membership in groups like the GOUSA does not allow you to travel and visit more than a tiny handful of these new lodges, and that the overwhelming majority of the world's Masons will not regard you as a legitimately recognized member. Only you can answer for yourself how important that is to you.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pennsylvania & Ohio Unity Night in New Castle, PA 9/14

Pennsylvania brethren of Mahoning New Castle Lodge No. 243, which meets at the beautiful New Castle Scottish Rite Cathedral, have invited Masons from Ohio and Pennsylvania to join them on Tuesday September 14, 2010 to celebrate Pennsylvania and Ohio Masonic unity.

Right Worshipful Grand Master Thomas K. Sturgeon and Officers of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania will in attendance, as will Most Worshipful Grand Master Terry Posey and officers from Ohio.

Photographs will begin at 7:00 P.M., the meeting will begin at 7:30 PM, and a light meal will follow the meeting.

Ohio Masons are asked to notify their Grand Secretary’s Office as soon as possible by telephone 1-800-292-6092, or by email gkozak@freemason.com if you plan to attend.

The New Castle Scottish Rite Cathedral is located at 110 East Lincoln Avenue, New Castle, Pennsylvania. It is a magnificent facility, and has one of the largest auditoriums in western Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra frequently travels there for concerts. The brethren have maintained it beautifully and responsibly, and they have much to be proud of. And I covet their new air conditioning.

The city of New Castle itself is a great example of historic preservation on a grand scale. The downtown area shows the proud and loving care of a community that has adapted well from its manufacturing origins. Every corner brings a new surprise, and it is well worth a visit. And the best part of all is that New Castle is home to, not one, but two of the premiere fireworks companies in the world: Zambelli Internationale and S.Vitale Pyrotechnic Industries, Inc. (Pyrotecnico). Boom, baby!

Dr. Marsha Keith Schuchard, at Atlanta Peachtree Lodge This Thursday 8/19

A reminder...

New information on an enduring Masonic controversy involving Prince Charles Edward Stuart (1720-1788) of Scotland will be presented in a lecture by noted Masonic researcher Dr. Marsha Keith Schuchard, on Thursday evening, August 19, at the Atlanta Masonic Center. The presentation is sponsored by Atlanta Peachtree Lodge #59, F.& A.M. It is free and open to the public. The lecture begins at 7:00 p.m. The Atlanta Masonic Center is located at 1690 Peachtree Street, NW

RSVP at http://bonnieprincecharlie.eventbrite.com/

Dr. Schuchard, who was formerly on the faculty of Emory University in Atlanta, is the author of several books on aspects of Masonic history. Her recent research findings contradict claims of English Grand Lodge historians that "Bonnie Prince Charlie" as Stuart was known, was never a Mason at all. Archival evidence unearthed in Sweden by Dr. Schuchard reinforces Scottish claims that the Prince was, indeed, a Mason and was a secret Grand Master of the Templars for more than twenty years.

Dr. Schuchard will present the details of her findings and take questions from the audience. She is the author of "Restoring the Temple of Vision: Cabalistic Freemasonry and Stuart Culture." She has has published extensively on eighteenth-century Cabalistic and “illuminist” Freemasonry and its influence on Swift, Ramsay, Swedenborg, and Blake.

Friday, August 13, 2010

113 Year Old Scotch and the Famous Mason Who Owned It

Antarctic explorer and Freemason Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton is in the news this week, in an unusual story. Shackleton was born in County Kildare, Ireland, on February 15, 1874. Educated at Dulwick College, he entered the mercantile marine service and became a lieutenant in the Royal Navy Reserve. During his lifetime, he made four daring expeditions to the Antarctic attempting to reach the South Pole.
Shackleton was initiated into Navy Lodge No. 2612 (UGLE) on 9 July 1901, although he took his sweet time advancing Masonically—he was a little busy. Right after his initiation he left on Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s failed Antarctic expedition to reach the South Pole. Shackleton returned three years later, but set out on his own expedition in 1907 that came within 114 miles of the South Pole in January 1909. Shackleton was finally passed to the Fellow Craft degree on November 2, 1911 in Guild of Freemen Lodge No. 3525, and was raised to the Master Mason degree by that lodge on May 30th, 1913. This Lodge was technically restricted only to Freemen of the City of London, but the lodge conducted his degrees by courtesy, and he was made an honorary member on April 28th, 1914.

Competing explorer Roald Amundsen (who is also claimed by some to be a Mason, although there is no verified record) made it to the South Pole in 1912, so Shackleton's next exploit was to attempt to cross Antarctica from coast to coast, by way of the Pole. His Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition between 1914–17 became most famous for the disastrous wreck of his ship, Endurance, and the survival and rescue of the crew and exploration team. When their ship was crushed by ice floes, 28 men fled in lifeboats to a desolate island, while Shackleton and five others rowed 800 miles in an open boat to South Georgia Island for help. All survived. (See Leon Zeldis' excellent paper, Sir Ernest Shackleton and Luis Pardo: Two Masons Joined by Fate and Heroism for the story of this incredible adventure.)

Shackleton died on January 5, 1922 at the start of a new expedition, which he had publicly announced in London at a Ladies Festival of the Guild of Freemen Lodge.

His family motto, Fortitudine Vincimus means 'by endurance we conquer.'

So why is this of any interest to anyone besides Antarctiphones and Antarctists?

It seems that during Shackleton's 1907 attempt to make the Pole, he left behind some very special provisions in his small wooden shack at Cape Royds. In 2006, archeologists examining the hut discovered a crate buried in the ice, containing 11 bottles of Mackinlay's Scotch whisky, wrapped in paper and straw to protect them from the cold. The frozen crate was carefully removed from the ice earlier this year, and in spite of the minus 22 Fahrenheit (-30 Celsius) temperature, the whisky, bottled in 1896 or 97, could be heard joyously sloshing in the bottles.

This Scotch is unlikely ever to be tasted, but master blenders will examine samples of it to see if they can replicate the brew. The original recipe for the Scotch no longer exists.

Once samples have been extracted and sent to Scottish distiller Whyte and Mackay, which took over Mackinlay's distillery many years ago, the 11 bottles will be returned to their home—under the floorboards of Shackleton's hut at Cape Royds on Ross Island, near Antarctica's McMurdo Sound.

"Those bottles have to go back to that hut in Antarctica. It's where they belong," Lizzie Meek from the Antarctic Heritage Trust told New Zealand television.

Whisky lover Michael Fraser Milne, a Scot who runs the Whisky Galore liquor outlet in Christchurch, described the rare event as a great experience.

"Tasting something distilled in 1896 would be a whisky person's ultimate dream," Milne told New Zealand television.

The crate will remain in cold storage and each of the 11 bottles will be carefully assessed and conserved over the next few weeks.

Some samples will be extracted, possibly using a syringe through the bottles' cork stoppers.

McChoppin blogsite gives more details about Shackleton's 1907 Nimrod Expedition, from which this case of whisky came. According to McChoppin:

Whisky wasn’t the only thing they brought with them. On Christmas Day, 1908, while navigating the Beardmore, the four men, Shackleton, Wild, Marshall, and Adams celebrated the day with cigars and crème de menthe. So maybe there is some crates of McGuinness crème de menthe and a couple boxes of Dunhills. I wonder what else is buried under the ice of Antarctic?

Dunkirk, NY Masonic Temple Demolished

The Masonic temple in downtown Dunkirk, New York is almost gone. The 1909 building was heavily damaged by an electrical fire back in February. While some local residents and Dunkirk's mayor sought a way to at least save the facade of the historic building, engineers determined it was too heavily damaged to remain standing.

The Dunkirk Temple was originally home to Irondequoit Lodge #301 F&AM. Today, Dunkirk-Irondequoit Lodge No. 301 is located in Fredonia, New York.

See the article End of an era on today's Observer website:

The Temple structure was completed in 1909, constructed on land purchased from Elizabeth Newton. Designed by architect J. Mills Platt of Rochester and constructed by the Meister Contracting Co., the cornerstone was laid June 27, 1908. Dwarfing the wood-frame structures that went up in the city in the 1850s, the Temple enjoyed a grand opening.

According to City Historian Robert Harris, the Temple was formally opened in 1909 with a grand ball attended by more than 1,400 people, with music provided by the 74th Regimental Orchestra of Buffalo. Joining the Masonic Lodge as first tenants of the building was the Safe Store, owned by Adolph Weinberg and having a staff of 75.

Over the years the building housed organizations from stores to churches to medical offices and fitness-related businesses. That all changed with the February fire that marked the beginning of the end for the familiar structure.

In early March fire investigators determined the fire was of accidental nature with an electrical problem the cause. According to the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office, an electrical problem in the service disconnect located in the northwest corner of the building's basement sparked the fire. The city served a raze or repair order to the Temple's owners in the first week of March.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Indiana Masonic Home Festival September 12th

If you are in or near the central Indiana area on September 12th, visit the 63rd annual Indiana Masonic Home Festival in Franklin. Food, fun & entertainment. There will be a live band, Blacklhawk helicopter landing, skydiver, a Civil war re-enactor's camp, crafts and huge food tent. BouncerTown play center for the kids. And it all ends with a huge parade around Red Skelton Circle.

Opens at 11:00AM, parade at 2:30. There is free parking, and this event is open to the public.

For more information call 317-736-6141 or 888-464-6077

The Indiana Masonic Home is located at 690 S. State Street in Franklin, IN.

Prestonian Lecturer John Wade in Indianapolis 9/11/2010

A world-class evening of Masonic education in Indianapolis!

Brother John Wade, the Prestonian Lecturer for 2009 from England, will present his lecture, "‘Go and do thou likewise': English Masonic Processions from the 18th to the 20th Centuries"
on September 11, 2010 at the Indianapolis Scottish Rite Cathedral.

To register for dinner and the lecture, see the Grand Lodge website at:

$60 Lecture & Dinner, $25 Lecture Only or $35 Dinner Only

The Lecturer

Brother Dr. John Stephen Wade was born in Edinburgh in 1947, but moved to Leeds when his father was appointed lecturer at the university there. He was educated at High Storrs Grammar School Sheffield and the University of Durham where he read Classics. Following a 20 year career as a Classics teacher in Sheffield, during which time he wrote a thesis on Philip of Macedon for his MA dissertation, he transferred his Classics teaching to Further Education and then on to Higher Education at the University of Sheffield, where he finished his full-time career as Teaching Fellow in Latin and Greek. Having taken an early retirement in 2005, Bro. Wade continues to teach Latin to postgraduate students at the University, to assist in the Centre for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternity in the Humanities Research Institute, and has just successfully completed his doctoral thesis on the Latin writings of the Tudor martyrologist, John Foxe.

Bro. Wade was initiated into Fellowship Lodge No. 4069 in 1981 and exalted into Fellowship Royal Arch Chapter No. 4069 in 1985. He was installed as the Master of Fellowship Lodge in 1991 and was the founding Master of Amadeus Lodge No. 9359 in 1994. He is a Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in both Yorkshire West Riding and Derbyshire, and a Past Provincial Grand Sojourner in the Royal Arch, as well as a Past Sovereign in the Rose Croix. In the Mark degree Bro. Wade has just been appointed acting Provincial Grand Registrar for the Mark Province of Derbyshire. A Past Sovereign in the Red Cross of Constantine, he is currently a Divisional Steward, as well as being an active member of a number of other orders. From 2003-2005 he was President of the Sheffield Masonic Study Circle. Having been elected a full member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge in 2005, he was appointed Secretary of the Lodge in November 2008

Brother Wade also manages to find time to be a member of lodges in Scotland, Ireland, Italy and the United States and to be the musical director of the Sheffield and District Masonic Choir which he founded in 1991.

His Lecture

‘Go and do thou likewise': English Masonic Processions from the 18th to the 20th Centuries.
(The Prestonian Lecture for 2009)

In this paper Brother John Wade looks at Masonic processions, which were a regular occurrence in many parts of England from the first quarter of the eighteenth century to the immediate pre-second world war period in the late 1930s. Very few have occurred in the last seventy-five years. He asks why we have retreated from public space during the last seventy-five years, and whether, perhaps, we have got nervous about the public perception of masons, or whether we are embarrassed about ourselves. The paper surveys public processions of masons over two centuries and examines the association of civic, ecclesiastical and Masonic bodies in public ceremonies of foundation stone laying, the dedication of completed buildings and other occasions for public thanksgiving. Bro. Wade suggests that as we move further into the twenty-first century, we need to be protagonistic about our civility and civil identity. For the man in the street we should be demonstrating that we have a civil association with the community, and that we are not a secret society or private members' club. Bro. Wade suggest that we explore the possibility for a return of some of these public activities. He considers that as far as our public image is concerned, we have lost that civil association that we have had for hundreds of years. Our forefathers among the leaders of both the civic and ecclesiastical authorities appreciated the symbolic importance of the presence of the masons on these major occasions for the community.

The History

The Prestonian Lectureship

William Preston (1742-1818), a very active Freemason at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries, developed an elaborate system of Masonic instruction, by means of catechetical lectures, which was practiced in association with the Lodge of Antiquity of which he was, at one time, Master.

At his death, he bequeathed to Grand Lodge the sum of £300, the interest from which was to be applied to some well informed Mason to deliver annually a Lecture on the First, Second or Third Degree of the Order of Masonry, according to the system practiced in the Lodge of Antiquity during Preston's Mastership.

With occasional intermissions, lectures on his method were accordingly delivered from 1820 until 1862, when the Lectureship was allowed to lapse. In 1924 it was revived, with certain modifications of the original scheme: the lecturer delivering a paper on a Masonic subject of his own selection.

The Prestonian Lecture is the only lecture held under the authority of the United Grand Lodge of England and, with the exception of the years 1940-46, regular appointments have been made annually since 1924 to the present day.


Cost Options: $60 Lecture & Dinner, $25 Lecture Only or $35 Dinner Only (electronic option includes $3 processing fee)

Dinner Menu: Hors D’Oeuvre - Imported Cheese wedges with Grapes and Strawberries garnished with Dried Fruits, Marcona Almonds and Imported Crackers

Salad - Caesar Salad with fresh grated Parmesan Cheese

Entree - Boneless Breast of Chicken with Corn and Basil Relish, Herbed Mashed Potatoes,
Fresh Green Beans Amandine with Basil, Thomas’ Homemade Rolls with Butter

Dessert - Assortment of Seasonal Cheesecakes

The Man

William Preston
By Trevor Stewart

William Preston was born in Edinburgh where his father was an attorney. He was well educated there. He came to London in 1760 and worked for one of the King's Printers. He was initiated into Freemasonry in 1763 in a newly constituted Antients' lodge, No. 111.

In the following year its members accepted a warrant (or charter) from the Moderns' Grand Lodge as Caledonian Lodge No. 325, which still exists at No. 134.

Preston was Master of several London lodges and in 1774 he visited the famous old Lodge of Antiquity, now No. 2, and he was immediately elected a joining member and also their Master! He also held an appointment as Deputy Secretary to the Moderns' Grand Lodge and as such he compiled an appendix to the Book of Constitutions in the 1776 edition.

Unfortunately, partly as a result of personal disputes, Preston and several others members of the Lodge of Antiquity fell foul of the Moderns' Grand Lodge when they appeared in public in 1777 wearing their Masonic regalia while returning from a church service. A complaint against them was investigated and in 1778 Preston was expelled after he claimed that the Lodge of Antiquity, since it was a ‘Time Immemorial' lodge that pre-dated the Grand Lodge, was not subject to the rule of the Grand Lodge.

On withdrawing this claim he was reinstated, but the majority of the members of the lodge expelled three members whereupon they were all expelled by the Grand Lodge. An ‘authority' was obtained from a rival Grand Lodge of York to establish yet another Grand Lodge, to be known as the Grand Lodge of England South of the River Trent. After a while Preston became Deputy Grand Master of that new Masonic body. It was never very active and ceased to exist in 1789. After that, all of the members of the old Antiquity Lodge who had been disqualified by the Moderns' Grand Lodge were admitted back into the fold and into the Lodge of Antiquity.

In 1772 Preston had published his book Illustrations of Masonry and it became enormously famous for 100 years, running through no less than seventeen editions. He also wrote his famous catechetical lectures of the three Craft Degrees and, with help from teams of fellow enthusiasts, he delivered them to lodges. He formed the Grand Chapter of Harodim to promote these texts.

He was buried in St Paul's Cathedral and one of his legacies instituted the Prestonian Lectures.

Coming from out of town?
Overnight Accomodations: Omni Severin Hotel, 40 West Jackson Place, Indianapolis, IN 46225. Call 1-800-THE-OMNI using the password Prestonian Lecture for the special rate of $99.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Masonic Tragedy in Honolulu

Freemasons in Hawaii are in mourning in the wake of a freak accident last Thursday that left two brethren dead. Illustrious Brothers Dexter Lum, 68, and Martin H.Y. Wong, 77, of Kaneohe both died of multiple internal injuries after being pinned under an SUV driven by Grand Master Charles L. Wegener, Jr. Two other brethren were also hit—Abraham “Sonny” Nahale’a was hospitalized, and Tim Yuen was knocked down, but uninjured.

After a lunchtime meeting of the Red Cross of Constantine in Honolulu, brethren were in a restaurant parking lot. Witnesses said GM Wegener seemed unfamiliar with how to drive the Lexus SUV, which had been modified for a handicapped driver. According to an article in the KITV-4 website, the car belonged to Brother Nahalea:

Friends of the men said the vehicle had been modified to enable its owner, Abraham “Sonny” Nahale’a, whose right leg was disabled by a stroke, to drive with his left foot.

Witnesses said Nahalea was unable to get into his car in the congested parking lot, so another of the Masons, Charles Wegener, 65, tried to move the SUV out of the parking space for him. The vehicle accelerated suddenly, striking the three friends. Nahalea was injured and was listed in stable condition at Straub Clinic.

The modification was done at Maxi Mobility Center, the only auto shop in Honolulu specializing in modifying vehicles for the disabled. Mechanic Joe Aduna said someone trying to drive with the left-foot pedal for the first time could definitely have problems. “It does make perfect sense that somebody accidentally done this, sure," Aduna said.


Aduna said trying to drive the car with the left foot is more difficult than people expect. “It can be very confusing,” he said. “Step on what you think is the brake and you're actually stepping on the accelerator and you're going to accelerate right on through. Go into panic mode and all your going to do is step on that accelerator a little harder instead of actually hitting the brake.”

Witnesses said they believe that’s exactly what Wegener did. Police placed him in handcuffs, drove him to the police station in a police cruiser, gave him a blood test and booked him for investigation of negligent homicide in the second degree, a felony punishable with a maximum five years in prison.

Victim Dexter Lum’s cousin, Daniel Nishihama, said the arrest of Wegener made him uncomfortable. “They handcuffed the guy like he was a criminal, that was pretty tough to see,” he said.


"Two very good men passed away they were a credit to themselves, their family and this organization and institution in particular. The best way those men can be honored is to do good for your fellow man. Treat your fellow man as he would have him do and every day endeavor to become a better individual, said Lodge Master Andy Geiser.

Members are reaching out to comfort the others who were at Paradise Park, including Nahalea who is hospitalized at Kaiser Permanente Moanalua, and Charles Wegener who was behind the wheel.

Police said speed and alcohol were not factors in the incident. From a story on Saturday, Victim's sister has kind words for driver in fatal SUV accident:

Suzette Oide, sister of one victim, 68-year-old Dexter Lum, said she met with Wegener yesterday to talk about the fatal accident.

"Hopefully, it helps him to get through this because he's really hurting a lot," said Oide. "We don't feel any animosity or blame, and we want him to get better and everyone else involved."

She said she misses her brother but worries for Wegener, adding, "He's hurting so badly. I want to help him in any way."

Grand Lodge of Ohio F&AM Considering Move to Dayton

The Grand Lodge of Ohio F&AM is considering moving its offices and museum out of the 190-year old complex it shares with New England Lodge #4 in Worthington, Ohio. New England #4 has the oldest Masonic temple west of the Appalachian Mountains. Apparently, the Grand Lodge is now contemplating a move to the Dayton Masonic Center.

Grand Lodge moved to the Worthington location in 1953 from Cincinnati, in an effort to be located closer to the center of the state. Now they are seeking ways to cut costs. According to an article in the Columbus Dispatch, Grand Secretary Michael Watson says moving to the Dayton Masonic Center would cut annual operating and maintenance costs by $100,000. A 12-member advisory committee met Saturday to discuss the move in order to make a recommendation at the annual communication in October.

If they move, ownership of the Worthington site will fall to New England Lodge #4, which will then become responsible for the maintenance of the property. The Grand Secretary is not in favor of the move, and Worthington City Council president, Bro. Lou Goorey isn't happy about it either.

The Dayton Masonic Center (right) is home to six blue lodges, three RA Chapters, two Cryptic Councils, two Commanderies, a Scottish Rite Valley, and more. Moving there would place Grand Lodge in the far western part of the state.

The Grand Lodge of Ohio F&AM has 108,000 members 513 lodges statewide. The 2010 annual communication will be Friday, October 15 and Saturday, October 16 at the Dayton Masonic Center.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Masonic Society in New Orleans in September - Reserve Now!

Click image to enlarge.

Time is running out! Join us for the Masonic Society's 2010 semi-annual meeting in New Orleans Sept. 24th and 25th, at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, right in the heart of the French Quarter! The cutoff for reservations at the hotel is August 27th, so act now! (There is a game in town that same weekend, so you need to reserve by the 27th, or lose the great rate).

Lodge Etoile Polaire #1 will demonstrate the EA degree using the Scottish Rite ritual, rarely seen in the U.S. outside of just 10 Louisiana lodges from the French period.

List of more speakers and programming to follow soon.

Make your event and hotel reservations now! CLICK HERE.

The Masonic Society is the fastest growing research society dedicated to Freemasonry in the world. See more at our website.