Emessay Notes

About the Emessay Notes

The Emessay (pronounced M-S-A) Notes are published monthly by the Masonic Service Association.

The Emessay Notes contain information about MSA activities and other topics of Masonic interest. 

We do not have all the past Emessay Notes online, but continue to build our archive of those that have been posted on the web.

Have an Item of Masonic Interest?

If you would like to submit a topic you can contact us by sending email or to the address below. The MSA cannot guarantee your material will be used, but it will be considered.

Brother Weeb Eubank is the only coach to win the AFL Championship, NFL Championship, and the Super Bowl. He coached the Baltimore Colts to NFL championships in 1958 and 1959; the New York Jets to the AFL championship in 1968, and then Super Bowl III in 1969.

Northern Lights Lodge moved from the Dakota/Minnesota Territory across the Canadian border to Red River Settlement, Rupert’s Land, a Canadian Crown Territory. Thus, it is the only lodge to have ever been active, sequentially, in both what was a United States territory and a Canadian territory. (Thanks to The Minnesota Mason‘s Masonic Conundrum, January-February 2019)

Emessay Notes October 2016

A Sad Ending . . . But Perhaps A New Opportunity

The Masonic Stamp Club of New York, organized in 1934, grew to be one of the largest non-profit stamp clubs in the United States.  Its quarterly magazine, The Masonic Philatelist has been published since 1944.

However, feeling the numerous pressures that most Masonic organizations are experiencing, The Masonic Stamp Club of New has announced it will cease operations for the club and its publication at the end of 2016.

In a last effort to boost the entire Fraternity, the Stamp Club this year published a booklet, “A Timely Masonic Perspective.” Authored by Christopher L. Murphy, club president, and Dr. Michael Bronner, club administrator, the book analyzes what it calls a “crisis” in Masonic membership today, outlines probable reasons for it, and offers some proposals to “arrest, and hopefully reverse, the current trend.”

The Masonic Stamp Club of New York has made 200 copies of “A Timely Masonic Perspective” available to the Masonic Service Association for distribution.

It is perfect reading for an officer of a Lodge or Grand Lodge. 

To receive a free copy, send a note or email to MSA, including your regular mailing address, and just say “stamp club booklet.”  A copy will be sent to you promptly.  Remember there are only 200 copies available, and please limit your request to one per individual or Lodge.

Louisiana Flooding Appeal Relief Hits $100,000

The Masonic Service Association has sent $100,000 to the Grand Lodge of Louisiana to help restore and aid some of the devastation from the storm and flooding that occurred in early August.

This relief from MSA has been made possible thorough the generosity of individual Masons, Lodges, Grand Lodges and other Masonic groups.

It is worthy to note that one of the first checks to help the brethren of Louisiana came from Fort Jackson Lodge in Columbia, South Carolina.  Last year, the tremendous flooding in South Carolina, caused major damage to Fort Jackson Lodge, and this Lodge received financial support from the MSA disaster appeal. Thank you for being a “first responder” for the flood victims in Louisiana.

Recovery in Louisiana is expected to take months, so the disaster relief appeal continues.

Your donations will help our devastated Brothers, their families and others in this stricken jurisdiction.  Please make checks payable to MSA Disaster Relief Fund and send them to: Masonic Service Association, 3905 National Drive, Suite 280, Burtonsville, MD 20866.  Please mark checks, “Louisiana Appeal.”

Also, donations may be made on MSA’s webpage www.msana.com — with the use of a credit card.  This allows funds to reach their destination faster.

MSA is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization.

MSA Receives Message From The Grave

In September, the Masonic Service Association received a letter that started, “Fraternal greetings and best wishes. This letter is coming to you literally ‘from the grave’ and my thanks go to my executors for sending it.” 

The brother, from Myrtle Bank, South Australia, got right to his message, “Please delete my name from your mailing list.”  He also thanked MSA for sending him the Short Talk Bulletin for many years, and, in April, 1996, for publishing a Short Talk authored by him on “The Five Noble Orders of Architecture.”

The brother concluded his typewritten letter with, “From the ‘Grand Lodge Above’ I am yours fraternally,” and he signed his name, Perce J. George.

Hand-written on the bottom of the letter was the note from his executor:  P.S. Perce passed away on 8/25/16.

Freemasonry Praised By Non-Mason

At the Annual Convocation of the Grand Lodge of Montana, Jim Smith, Mayor of Helena, had some very positive statements to make about Freemasonry, from the point of view of a non-Mason and community leader.  Here are some excerpts of his remarks:

“The history of Montana and the history of Masons in Montana, are inextricably intertwined.  It’s virtually the same history.”

 “It’s been my impression that the Masons and Shriners in communities across Montana and across the country are business and community leaders, and they’re stable, calm, composed. . . At this time in our country, and in our state, and even here in Helena, Montana, we desperately need folks who can remain calm in turbulent times.”

“I think you are the folks to whom other people in the community turn when they want reassurance, or they want to know that things are alright in this country.”

“By and large, things ARE alright in this country, despite the turbulent times that we’re in.  Our fundamental institutions of family, church, school, and civic organizations like yours, remain strong, remain vital, and remain so necessary to our common life together.  So, I think we need who you are and what you do more now than ever, and we’ll be relying on you to provide a good, calm foundation, here at this meeting, and in your home communities, wherever they may be.”

Youth Foundation Begun In Oregon

The Grand Lodge of Oregon has established the Oregon Masonic Youth Education & Literacy Foundation to improve opportunities, activities, and capabilities of youth in Oregon.

According to David H. Fryday, Past Grand Master and Chairman of the Foundation, its efforts hope to “give students in public and charter schools the tools and support to build a strong educational foundation, enabling them to be successful students now and productive citizens in the future.”

The youth foundation’s programs allow all Lodges in the Grand Jurisdiction to help children in their local communities, and participate in a fund-matching program.

Some of the programs now under the foundation’s umbrella are Bikes-For-Books, Kindles-For-Books, Raising a Reader, Child ID, and Lodge and Masonic Youth Group Scholarships.

The Grand Lodge is currently involved in a fund raising effort to assist the youth foundation, with a goal of $100,000.

Emessay Notes September 2016

The Tradition Of Masonic Cornerstone Laying

This month marks the 223rd Anniversary of the Masonic cornerstone laying of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., with President and Brother George Washington participating.  It took place on September 18, 1793.

On the 200th Anniversary of the event, the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, published a book, Cornerstones of Freedom, A Masonic Tradition, which includes perhaps the best description of Masonic cornerstone laying and its traditions available.  It contains 195 pages of enjoyable reading and great pictures.

Copies of this book are now available from the Masonic Service Association as part of a new special offer.  In addition, S. Brent Morris, author of the book, has agreed to autograph all copies of Cornerstones of Freedom purchased as part of this offer.

This special offer also includes a brochure, Cornerstones – a Mason Tradition of Dedication . . . That Makes Sense Today, which examines more recent Grand Lodge ceremonies and their significance.  The brochure, written by James Tresner for the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma, was subsequently published by MSA’s Masonic Information Center.

You may purchase both the book and brochure for $12.00, including shipping and handling.  (Out-of-U.S. purchasers should contact MSA for shipping costs.)

For ordering information email [email protected] or call (319) 206-5411

Disaster Appeal For Louisiana Flooding

The Masonic Service Association has established a Disaster Relief Fund for Louisiana, following drenching rainstorms and massive flooding.  Thousands of homes and buildings have been damaged or destroyed, with 70,000 persons reportedly displaced.

The magnitude of the storm was described by the America Red Cross as the “worst natural disaster in the United States” since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  Recovery is expected to take months, and the lack of communication in flooded areas continues to cause issues in finding information and victims.

The Grand Lodge of Louisiana reported that two Lodge buildings have been heavily flooded, and the building of the Scottish Rite Valley of Baton Rouge, which houses three additional Lodges, incurred significant amounts of flooding and damage.  Many Masons and Masonic families are among the 70,000 displaced.

Any donations you feel appropriate will help our devastated Brothers, their families and others in this stricken jurisdiction.  Please make checks payable to MSA Disaster Relief Fund and send them to: Masonic Service Association, 813 1st Ave SE Ste 357, Cedar Rapids IA 52402.  Please mark checks, “Louisiana Appeal.”

Also, donations may be made on MSA’s webpage www.msana.com — with the use of a credit card.  This allows funds to reach their destination faster.

MSA is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization.

Masonic Pictures In Washington Post

A group of Masons from Annapolis Lodge, attired in colonial outfits and Masonic aprons, marched from their Lodge building in Annapolis, MD, to the U.S. Naval Academy for a memorial service for John Paul Jones.

A picture of the group of Masons, carrying flags and proudly displaying Masonic regalia, appeared in the July 31 issue of the Washington Post Magazine – not once but twice – one above the other.

This was part of a regular newspaper feature where a dozen details in the first picture were changed for the second picture, asking the reader to identify the differences.

It turned out to be colorful, patriotic, and Masonic picture – twice.  Attention was particularly drawn to the Masonic square and compasses emblem, clearly shown on four aprons in the picture – because one of those emblems was shown upside-down in the “touched up” picture.

In all, this was a very good public portrayal of Freemasonry.

Community Outreach In Kentucky

Several examples of Masonic community charity were recognized in recent issues of the Masonic Home Journal, the publication of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky.  They included:

  • Yocum Lodge in Evarts, Kentucky, held its annual appreciation dinner for Harlan County Honor Guard, a group of Veterans and Masons that perform last Rites for fallen heroes.  To date they have performed more than 750 funerals in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, all at no cost.
  • Kentucky Grand Master Cloyd J. Bumgardner recognized Lodges that gave 906 bicycles to schools across the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
  • Members of Robert M. Sirkle Lodge, Devotion Lodge, and Buford Lodge, served pizza to 130 hungry kindergarten students at Picadome Elementary School as a service project.

Annual Membership Data Available

The Annual Membership Report of the Masonic Service Association shows that Masonic membership in the United States and Canada continues to decline. For 2015, there were 1,161,253 Masons in the U.S. and 73,007 in Canada.       

Each year, MSA surveys the Grand Lodges for their membership statistics, and each Grand Lodge receives all the statistical results.

Membership reached its peak in 1959 in the United States, with 4,103,161 Masons, and statistics have declined each year since.

The full reports – Membership in the United States, Membership in Canada, and Membership Totals since 1924 – can be found on the MSA webpage – www.msana.com.

Emessay Notes August 2016

South Dakota Masons To Celebrate 75th Anniversary Of Mt. Rushmore Completion

A gala Masonic celebration at the Mount Rushmore
National Memorial near Rapid City, South Dakota, will be held on
Thursday, September 8, to observe the 75th anniversary of its

The huge Mount Rushmore carvings of George
Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln
were designed and created by Gutzon Borglum, a Mason from New York
City.  Presidents Washington and Roosevelt were Masons.

The Masonic connections during the history of this
Memorial are many and deep. From Charles Rushmore, the man the mountain
was named for, to U.S. Senator from South Dakota Peter Norbeck and
Congressman William Williamson, project champions and overseers of
Congressional funding; to SD Governor Carl Gunderson, who spearheaded
South Dakota’s funding of the project; as well as Sculptors Gutzon and
Lincoln Borglum, Assistant Sculptors Ivan Houser and Bill Tallman, and
long-time Mount Rushmore Head and Rapid City Mayor, John Boland, who
oversaw the finances of the project — all were Masons.

The daylong celebration on September 8 includes bus
transportation from Rapid City hotels to the Mount Rushmore National
Memorial; a program at the Memorial’s Amphitheater; lunch and free time
at Mount Rushmore; return transportation to Rapid City; a chuck wagon
dinner, and a cowboy music show.

Information on reservations for the event can be found at www.visitrapidcity.com/masons for those interested.

3D Printing Among The New Techniques Now Available In Freemasonry

Once thought as a futuristic manufacturing device, 3D Printing has now joined the Masonic world.

Matt Johnson, Master of Blendon Lodge #339 in
Westerville, Ohio, has developed and is offering, at no cost, 3D
printable template files of Masonic Working Tools for download.

3D printing is a high-tech process where computer
aided designs can be made into physical objects for little cost.
“Printing” can be done in plastic, various metals, chocolate, concrete,
and more, Brother Johnson explained.

The small set of working tools “make an excellent,
cost effective, tangible takeaway for candidates as they proceed
through their degree work,” he said.

Preassembled household 3D printers can be purchased
for about $300, but many commercial vendors have them and they are
available in many public libraries.

More information, pictures, and the 3D downloads are available at www.blendon339.com/masonic-3d-printing/.
Other items – coins, award plaques, and even a miniature King
Solomon’s Temple – are also available. These latter items are
considered “open source,” meaning they are free to download, modify and
distribute.  Blendon Lodge would appreciate a picture of anything you

Blendon Lodge is also offering free high-resolution
graphics for use on websites, social media, and so on.  Those can be
found at www.blendon339.com/masonic-graphics/.

In addition to all this, the U40 Committee of Ohio’s
14 Masonic District is developing a printable guide with checklists to
help Lodges in Internet management and content creation, according to
Brother Johnson, who is also a member of Ohio’s Grand Lodge Public
Relations Committee.  Once published, this guide may be obtained at www.freemasonmarketing.com.

‘Chips From The Quarry’ 

This is the title of a new feature in the Scottish Rite Journal, of the Southern Jurisdiction.

Each issue of the magazine will include this “fun
facts” feature of interesting factoids about people, places, and things
relating the Freemasonry.

Gregory S. Kearse, staff writer, and Ted Bastien, artist, are partners in the venture.

The initial installment in the July/August, 2016
issue featured famous fast food entrepreneurs, who were active
Freemasons.  They gave some attention-grabbing facts about Bob Evans,
Harland Sanders, Roy Rogers, and Dave Thomas.

50-Year Award To Grand Master In Connecticut

One day after Annual Session in April of the Grand
Lodge of Connecticut, Most Worshipful Grand Master Gail Nelson Smith
was presented his 50-year gold membership pin in Ionic Lodge #110, his
home lodge.

The immediate Past Grand Master Charles W. Yohe presented the recognition.

What is unique about the event is that this is the
first time in Connecticut that a sitting Grand Master received a
50-year gold pin.   Brother Smith is only the second Grand Master in
the jurisdiction to serve in two non-consecutive terms.

The Grand Master was also able to assist in the presentation of a 40-year pin to his brother, Mark Q. Smith.

‘God Is Always Geometrizing’

“So said Plato twenty-three centuries ago,” wrote
Carl H. Claudy, former Executive Secretary of the Masonic Service
Association, in his book Introduction to Freemasonry (1931), in a section titled, “The Letter G.”

“It is merely an accident of the English language
that God and Geometry begin with the same letter.  No matter what the
language of the ritual, the initial of the Ineffable Name and that of
the first and noblest of sciences are Masonically the same. ‘But that
is a secret!’ cries some newly initiated brother who has examined his
printed monitor and finds that the ritual concerning the further
significance of the Letter ‘G’ is represented only by stars.

“Aye, the ritual is secret, but the (meaning of ‘G’)
is the most gloriously public that Freemasonry may herald to the
world.  One can no more keep secret the idea that God is the very warp
and woof of Freemasonry than that He is the essence of all life.  Take
God out of Freemasonry, and there is, literally, nothing left; it is a
pricked balloon, an empty vessel, a bubble which has burst.”

(Taken from the Southern California Research Lodge “Fraternal Review,” May, 2016)

Emessay Notes July 2016

President And Brother William McKinley Has Advice Of Value To Us Today

The May, 2016 issue of The Northern Light, the publication of the Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, has an excellent feature story on William McKinley.

McKinley, of Ohio, a Master Mason, was first elected President of the United States in 1896, and then, shortly after re-election to his second term, was shot and later died.  He was one of four U.S. Presidents assassinated in our country’s history.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in Lexington, MA, owns many artifacts related to McKinley’s involvement in Freemasonry, his death and his public life.

The magazine article relates numerous incidents in his life.  However, two specific stories seem to have current relevance in today’s world:

  • In McKinley’s own story, he decided to become a Mason, when, during the Civil War, he witnessed a friendly exchange between a Union doctor and some wounded Confederate soldiers.  When the doctor imparted to McKinley that they were “Brother Masons,” McKinley reportedly stated, “. . . if that is Masonry, I will take some of it myself.” He soon joined the Fraternity.  Also, throughout his presidency, he continued to meet with military veteran groups and advocate for their issues.   Today, service and assistance to our military veterans continue to be a need, presenting a wonderful volunteer opportunity for Masons everywhere.
  • The 1896 presidential election, dubbed the “battle of standards,” is known as one of the most important elections in America’s history.  Changing voting patterns, a realignment of party politics, and technology had transformed the dynamics of the political landscape and the way that politicians campaigned. (Sound familiar?)  McKinley implemented his legendary “front porch campaign.”  He did not travel, but invited delegates, visitors and the press to visit him at his Ohio home.  He easily won the election.  What a contrast to the presidential campaigns going on this year in the U.S.!

An Aussie Look At The Evolution Of American Masonic Philanthropy

Our thanks to Brother Ronald Gale, of Australia, a longtime friend of the Masonic Service Association, for sharing this description he found in his Masonic files “down under.”  It is different country’s view of changes in Masonic charities in North America, and very clearly expresses our evolution.

A study of America Masonic charities is essentially a study of evolving needs of a western society.

  • When food and shelter were both immediate and regular concerns, Masons responded with firewood and the fruits of the harvest.
  • When care of widows, the aged and orphans were worries, Masons erected retirement homes and orphanages.
  • When education was needed, Masons built schools and established scholarships.

And, as these requirements became improved upon, Masons turned their philanthropy to more specific needs within the community: to crippled children; cancer patients; burn victims; those with speech, language, sight or hearing impairments; the homeless; the mentally ill; and many others.

The True Wages Of A Volunteer

Thomas Dowman is a longtime Masonic volunteer at the Wisconsin Veterans Home and serves as the Masonic Service Association’s Hospital Representative.  He recently was awarded a certificate from Wisconsin Veterans Home Volunteer Service for 3,000 hours of time given to the Military Veterans there.

While the certificate is an honored, but routine acknowledgement, a line at the very bottom makes a thought-provoking point:

Volunteers are unpaid not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless!

Education Game Helping Kentucky Lodges

On February 21, 2016, a large group of Brothers gathered at Kentucky’s Robert M. Sirkle Lodge for a friendly competition of “Constitution Quiz.”     

The questions were developed to help Lodges review their understanding of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky Constitution.

The group was assisted by Brothers Darren Wilson and Bobby Griggs, who are available to help Lodges that would like to host the same type of fun event for their members.

A ‘Sign’ That The Lord Was There

In June, Donald W. Hensiak was installed as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin.  As part of the meaningful ceremonies, the Senior Warden of Most Worshipful Brother Hensiak’s home Lodge opened the Bible on the altar.

No particular Bible book or chapter was selected, as the Senior Warden randomly performed his duty.

The incoming Grand Master knelt at the altar during the ceremonies.  Later he commented to the crowd that the Bible had been opened to one of his favorite passages, Proverbs 3:5:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.

In front of everyone, the Grand Master asked his Senior Warden if he had precisely selected the page.  The response was, “No.”

To which Grand Master Hensiak said, “The Lord is obviously with us today.”

Some Great Mentoring Advice

The new brochure from the Masonic Service Association, “Masonic Mentoring – Providing a Helping Hand to New Members,” contains outstanding advice to Lodge members, who are working with candidates and new members.

Here is one particular nugget of information:  “I believe the key to being a successful mentor is to take everything one step at a time.  Just as Masonry is a progressive science, so should be the process of mentoring.  Understand that the candidate will have presented to him a great deal of information and ideas to assimilate.

“It will be presented in a manner that is totally new to him and in a form of language that, outside our doors, is almost never used in today’s communication.”

More information about the mentor brochure can be found at – www.msana.com — MSA’s webpage.

For ordering information email [email protected] or call (319) 206-5411


Emessay Notes June 2016

Last Masonic Rites Performed In U.S. For John Paul Jones — Finally

 The Grand Lodge of Maryland has completed the formal cycle of Masonic rites for one of the nation’s greatest military leaders, who was also a Mason.

John Paul Jones, “Father of the American Navy,” died in 1792 in Paris and was buried with Masonic Honors there.  Some 113 years later, President and Brother Theodore Roosevelt ordered the body of Jones recovered from the cemetery in France, brought to the United States, and placed in a crypt at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where visitors today can view the crypt and displays about his life.

Brother Jones, probably the best-known Naval figure in the Revolutionary War, was born in Scotland. He went to sea at the age of 12 and before he was 13, made his first trip to America. In 1770, during his career as a merchant seaman, he was initiated into St. Bernard Lodge #3122, in Kirkcudbright, Scotland.  “Masonry played a big part in Jones’ life from then on,” according to an April, 1998, Short Talk Bulletin.

He career as a merchant seaman ended in 1773, at the age of 26, when he inherited his brother’s plantation in Virginia.  There he met many patriots, including George Washington, Patrick Henry, and Benjamin Franklin.  In 1775, shortly after the battle of Lexington and Concord, Jones offered his services to the American cause and his great service to the American Revolution began.

At a later time, Jones was invited to join the Lodge of Nine Muses, in France.  Brother Ben Franklin had been the Master of this Lodge for two years and they welcomed the new American hero with open arms.

 But John Paul Jones never received any Masonic funeral services in the land he helped free and where his body lays.

So, about 250 years after his death, on April 24, 2016, more than 500 persons, including about 300 Masons clothed in full Masonic regalia, led by Grand Master Kenneth S. Wyvill, Sr., marched in a parade from Annapolis Lodge #89, down Main Street to the Naval Academy in Annapolis. The belated Masonic Service was performed in the Academy’s Dahlgren Hall.

‘It’s In The Underwear Drawer’ Is A Quick Reminder For Masonic Funeral Planners

Because many Masons only wear their own apron twice – the night they receive it and at their funerals – they tend to forget information about what their funeral plans should be.

One of the best lines to remind the family where a Mason’s apron is stored was written by Past Grand Master Dennis V. Siewert, of Wisconsin, as the headline for his column in the Grand Lodge’s monthly publication in 2012.  The title: “It’s in the underwear drawer.”

The subject is worthy of consideration by all Masons.  Do you have a plan for a Masonic funeral?  That is the key question, and Masons should tell their spouses, next of kin, or caretakers exactly what they want.

Next, where is your Masonic apron?  And the underwear drawer just might be a useful place to store, but make sure someone knows.

The Grand Lodge of Wisconsin has published a “Request for Masonic Funeral” Form, which can be downloaded from their webpage.  www.fam.wisc-freemasonry.org and look for the form among “Secretary Lodge Forms.”

(Information taken from Southern California Research Lodge’s Fraternal Review, February, 2016.)

Revision Of Popular Poem Penned

The Bridge Builder is a familiar poem, written by Will Allen Dromgoole in 1900, which is frequently used by Masonic speakers because of its positive message for Freemasonry.

Sam Katz, a Past Master of Equity Lodge #591 of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, and later a member of Endeavor Lodge #17 of the Grand Lodge of Delaware, revised the poem to give it a specific Masonic tone.  Brother Katz is a recipient of the Meritorious Service Award from the Scottish Rite and currently serves on the Grand Staff of Nathan Zahn, Grand Master of Delaware.

Brother Katz calls his revision, The Masonic Bridge Builder.

An old Brother on a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

The old Brother crossed in the twilight dim;
For the sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
To build a bridge to span the tide.

“Old Brother,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength in building here:
Your journey will end with the close of day;
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide –
Why build this bridge at the evening tide?”

The Brother lifted his old gray head:
“My Brother, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today,
A young Brother, whose feet must pass this way.

“This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that young Brother may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
My Brother, I’m building this bridge for him.”

A Good Story Of ‘Integrity’

Joseph R. Conway, Past Grand Master and Past Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, likes to tell this story about the concept of “integrity.”

Pulling into my service station 45 minutes late one morning, I shouted to the customers, “I’ll turn the pumps on right away!” What I didn’t know was that the night crew had left them on all night.  But by the time I got to the office, most of the cars had filled up and driven off.  Only one customer stayed to pay.  My heart sank. Then the customer pulled a wad of cash from his pocket and handed it to me. “We kept passing the money to the last guy,” he said.  “We figured you’d show up sooner or later.”

Emessay Notes May 2016

Modern, New Masonic Structure Set For Dedication In June In Minnesota

 The Grand Lodge of Minnesota on June 24 will dedicate its new Minnesota Masonic Heritage Center on Bloomington campus of the Minnesota Masonic Home.

The new facility is 47,000 square-foot in size, featuring a 425-seat auditorium, conference and dining facilities, a Lodge Room, and an expanded, state-of-the-art Col. James B. Ladd Museum.  During the jurisdiction’s Annual Session in April, guests wearing hard hats toured the facility and were amazed at the beauty and Masonic significance the ongoing construction is providing.

The Heritage Center indeed will be among the crown jewels of Masonic architecture in the United States.

Eric J. Neetenbeek, PGM, President and CEO of Minnesota Masonic Charities, which is spearheading the project, said he has been asked why the dedication will be held on June 24, which is a Friday evening.  His reply is that because it is St. John the Baptist Day, an important day of celebration in the history of Freemasonry.

He noted that the dedication would occur on the 299th anniversary of the creation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717.  Brother Neetenbeek explained that the day of the week was less important than the date, and that the Grand Lodge of England was actually started on a Thursday in 1717.

Regius & Friends: Oldest Masonic Document, Plus Companion Manuscripts, Now Available 

The Regius Poem, believed to be the oldest surviving Masonic document, is considered to be one of the “Old Charges”– that is, a description of the requirements to be a Freemason.

There are other ancient manuscripts and documents, which also fall into the category of “Old Charges.”

The archives of the Masonic Service Association contain descriptions, insights and commentary about at least four of these historic documents.  They are:

  • The Regius Poem (Halliwell Manuscript), circa 1390
  • The William T. Boyden Manuscript, circa 1700
  • The Shadwell-Cameron Manuscript, circa 1700
  • The Thomas Carmick Manuscript, circa 1727

For those who want to learn more about some of the earliest historical documents about Freemasonry, MSA has assembled of packet from its archived material.

The Packet includes 2 Digests, 2 historical Short Talk Bulletins, and 2 copies of other saved documents from MSA’s archives, all of which try to explain and translate what our Masonic forefathers considered important.

These items, if obtained individually from MSA, would cost $21.  Together in the special offer, they are available for $15, including shipping and handling.

For ordering information email [email protected] or call (319) 206-5411

Masons’ Building Of Europe’s Cathedrals Described At Connecticut Seminar

How were the great cathedrals of Europe constructed, centuries before today’s advanced equipment?  The processes and primitive hand tools of the time were explained in detail by Russell Herner, an Ohio Mason, who has been researching and photographing cathedrals for more than 40 years.

The presentation was made at the annual seminar, which opened the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut in April in Cromwell.  Each year, a noted speaker brings a program for those attending the session.

Brother Herner described the organization, dress, habits, and building practices of the operative Masons who designed and built the cathedrals.  He also compared the different styles and origins of the architecture of time.

The speaker is the author of a recently published book, “Cathedrals Built by the Masons,” a 224-page, hardcover volume that includes more than 250 photos and drawings of the cathedrals.  The book is available at shiefferbooks.com, at amazon.com, or at most bookstores.

Brother Herner is also a collector of historic tools used by the ancient Masons, and displayed and demonstrated many of them at the seminar.

Visit To U.S. By Pope Francis Actually Supported Precepts Of Freemasonry

According to Christopher L. Murphy, editor and publisher of The Masonic Philatelist, in its December, 2015 issue, “Pope Francis used the same words we use: fraternity, love, liberty, brotherhood, faith, hope, charity, and the list goes on.”

“Every Mason since at least the mid 1700s (probably long before) has been entreated to apply the Masonic ‘creed’ in his daily life.”   The creed covers:

  • Temperance
  • Fortitude
  • Prudence
  • Justice
  • Faith
  • Hope
  • Charity
  • Friendship
  • Morality
  • Brotherly Love
  • Relief
  • Truth

“Pope Francis touched on each of these ‘virtues’ in his well-crafted talks. The importance of the Pope’s visit was that he stated these age-old requirements on a world stage, and at a time when their importance is paramount.” Brother Murphy concluded.

Emessay Notes April 2016

The Value Of Masonic Education Revealed In A ‘Parable’

R.W. Brother Samuel H. Bennett, a District Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Florida, wrote the following:

Somewhere at sometime an Investigation Committee was examining a candidate for the three degrees of Freemasonry.  One of the questions asked was, “What part of Freemasonry interests you the best?”  To which the candidate replied, “I like the concept of the moral compass best.”  The inquiry continued, “What part of the moral compass?”  “Well, I guess the parables.”  The committeemen raised their eyebrows, but persisted, “Would you relate one to us?” 

The candidate really didn’t know what to say, so he ran a bluff.

“Once upon a time a Mason was traveling and fell among thieves, and his cable-tow slid up and was choking him during the struggle.  He broke free and jumped into his convertible car and drove away furiously.  As he was driving his hair got caught in a low branch of a sycamore tree and pulled him from the car and left him hanging there.  He hung there many days and nights, and ravens brought him food to eat and water to drink.  Then one night, while he was hanging there, his wife came along and cut off his hair, and he fell to the ground.  Then it began to rain 40 days and 40 nights, so they hid in the cleft of a nearby cave for protection.  The next morning they met a wayfaring man who said, ‘Come in and take supper with me.’  The Mason answered, ‘I can’t at this time for a man is chasing me.'” 

The candidate eventually concluded his long drawn-out story.  The members of the committee looked at one another with definite bewilderment.  No one felt qualified to question the candidate further, for each member had a deep suspicion about his own knowledge of Freemasonry.  So the candidate’s petition was approved without further discussion. 

We have always been known as “Men of Honor and Distinction.”  And yet I feel that sometimes we spend more time talking about Freemasonry than we do studying Freemasonry.  Even the education of a 50-year member of the Craft does not preclude the need for an on-going program of Masonic Education.  I encourage each of you to stretch your cable-tow and attend whenever you’re able the “Schools of Instruction,”  “Masonic Leadership Training,”  “Open Books,” other educational opportunities, and, of course, your Blue Lodge. 

Sample Of Dedication Of MSA’S Volunteer Program For Military Veterans

For nearly a century, the Masonic Service Association has administered a program of volunteer service for our Military Veterans.  One report, recently received from an MSA Hospital Representative in New Jersey, helps communicate the dedication and service this program provides:

 “I should explain a bit about this Veterans Home.  This is a full nursing, dementia, and hospice care facility.  No resident is here to be cured. Stability and support is the best that can be expect for these residents. In 2015, we saw roughly 50% of the Home’s patients not survive the year.  This is not easy for our team of Masonic volunteers, but I cannot overstate the importance of the friendships, of having familiar faces there regularly. 

“The Masons are on a first-name basis with many residents, and we always have time to hear a story and share some smiles with any resident that is seeking an attentive or sympathetic ear.”

These MSA volunteers are just one example of the type of work being accomplished by Masons for our Military Vets across the country.

Another 90-Year Old Master Identified

The Grand Lodge of Vermont has a current Worshipful Master who is 92 years old.  He is Donald A. Brown, of Red Mountain Lodge #63 in Arlington, VT.

On November 25, 2016, he will have been a Mason for 70 years.

His first time as Master was in 1959 – that’s 57 years ago.  He served as District Deputy Grand Master in 1992-93 for the Grand Lodge of Vermont.

(Information provided by Robert J. “Butch” Donnelly, Jr., Grand Secretary, Grand Lodge of Vermont.)

Pictures Of Baseball Player (And Mason) Prove To Be Very Valuable Discovery

Ty Cobb was an extraordinary baseball player.  He compiled 4,189 hits, 897 steals, and a .367 batting average in his 24-year career, and was one of the first to be elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

He was also a Masonic Brother. Tyrus R. Cobb was a member of Royston Lodge #426 (now #52) in Royston, Georgia, joining in 1907 at the age of 21.  He joined the Scottish Rite in Detroit in 1912, was elected an honorary member of City of Straights Lodge in Detroit, and was a Shriner in Moslem Shrine Temple in Detroit. 

The problem for baseball fans is that he played from 1905 until 1928, and any photos or baseball cards of Ty Cobb, known as the Georgia Peach, are difficult to find.

That is, until a family recently found seven rare Ty Cobb cards in an old crumpled paper bag in the house of their deceased great-grandfather.  The cards likely came from the printing period of 1909-1911.

According to ESPN, a professional sports authenticator rated the century-old cards in good condition at a total value which could exceed $1 million.

Another Long-Time Grand Lodge Officer Recognized For Service

Many active U.S. Masons over the years have met Jess Minton, who was a frequent visitor at the annual Conference of Grand Masters of North America.

R.W. Brother Minton served for nearly 50 consecutive years as a Grand Lodge Officer of the American Canadian Grand Lodge within the United Grand Lodges of Germany.  Beginning in 1965 as Grand Junior Warden, he served subsequently as Grand Senior Warden in 1966 and Grand Master in 1969. 

Brother Minton then was elected Grand Secretary, a position he maintained for 43 consecutive years.  He was great Masonic servant!

Emessay Notes March 2016

A Training Course, ‘Gentlemen 101’ — Who Better To Teach It Than Masons?

In early 2015, the Lodges of Appleton and Neenah,
Wisconsin, undertook a pilot program aimed at giving something of value
to the community.

The Lodge decided to give away, to young men of good
character and financial need: a sit-down meal, tuxedo rentals,
corsages, and haircuts, enabling them to attend their school prom.
Local restaurants were contacted, who provided discounted meals for the
same purpose.

In exchange for these gifts, the Brothers of the
Lodge asked only one thing – an opportunity to share a bit of their
wisdom on how to treat women like ladies, during the big event.

A spokesman for the Lodges explained:  “We did this for only one real reason.  The need existed and we were able to help.

“There is no other organization on the planet that is
better equipped to make good young men better men.  We did not
undertake the event with the desire of getting something in return.”

Here are few comments from those attending:

  • Just wanted to say thanks for putting on such an
    awesome event! Thanks to you guys, I’m able to treat my girlfriend as a
  • Thank you for teaching us how to escort our dates properly.
  • I found this event extremely helpful in more than just the tux.  You taught us how to properly have a date plan.
  • And from one mother: I was so moved by the
    outpouring of love and unselfish sharing of oneself.  Thank you for
    taking such a special high school moment and making it a life lesson on
    so many things . . . especially on how real men reach out to change
    the world one boy at a time.”

(From “The Wisconsin Masonic Journal,” February 2016, publication of the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin.)

 Illinois Lodge Gives Custom-Built Bicycles To Special Needs Children In Its Area

Three-year-old Genevieve “GiGi” Hanck of Spring
Valley, IL, is the latest recipient of a custom-built bicycle presented
by Marseilles Lodge #417 to area youths with special needs.

The bike is a first for GiGi, who has Down syndrome, a
genetic condition.  Approximately 400,000 Americans have the
syndrome.  Nationwide, about 6,000 babies are born annually with it.

This bike is the 16th given at no cost by Marseilles
Lodge to special-needs children in the LaSalle County area.  Worshipful
Master Charles Wood III said the four-year-old Lodge bike giveaway
program continues the Masonic tradition of caring for children,
including the challenged.

The bikes are individually produced by Ambucs, a
national charitable organization founded in 1922 to promote mobility
and independence for those with disabilities.  The bicycle prices range
from $300 to $1,200.  Grant Crockett, owner of Gay’s Body Shop in
Ottawa, IL, and his wife, Becky, donated the cost of GiGi’s bike to the

The continual support of funds generated throughout
the community make the program a success, Worshipful Master Wood said.
He noted that this program creates an “overwhelming and heartfelt
feeling of pride and sense of accomplishment for all of us.”

(From “Illinois Freemasonry,” Winter, 2016, publication of the Grand Lodge of Illinois.)

Transportation Golf Cart Donated To VA By Grand Lodge Of Rhode Island

Military Veterans who visit the VA Medical Center in
Providence, Rhode Island, often must walk a good distance from the
parking lot to the entrance.  For those with walking disabilities, the
VA has a shuttle service of a couple of golf carts.  However, these
vehicles have aged and needed to be replaced, so the VA put out a call
for help.

Russell Kawa, the Masonic Service Association’s
Representative at the Providence VA facility, approached the Grand
Master of Rhode Island, the Grand Lodge Charity Committee and the Grand
Lodge Investment Committee and worked out a plan to purchase a new
golf cart right away.

The presentation of the new shuttle vehicle included
Grand Master Raymond E. Hassell; Grand Secretary Wyman P. Hallstrom
(PGM), Brother Kawa, and VA officials from the Medical Center.

This is an example of the type of programs which
dedicated Hospital Representatives, working as volunteers for the
Masonic Service Association can accomplish to enhance their service to
our Military Vets.

(From “Rhode Island Freemason,” February/March, 2016, publication of the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island.)

A Couple Of Explanations About The Origin Of “Tiler” Or “Tyler”

The outer guard of a Masonic Lodge room is called a
“tiler.”  In some jurisdictions, the word is “tyler.”  According to
Gary A Littlefield, Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut,
there are at least two theories of the origin of the word.

He said that famed Masonic author Albert Mackey
believes that, since tilers were workmen who installed materials to
cover the buildings where Freemasons met and shut it off from the
outside world, the symbolic name of tiler was given to the Brother who
guards the outer door.

Another theory is that in England around 1700, men’s
hats were sometimes called “tiles” and the doorkeeper of clubs,
fraternities, and societies was called a “tiler” because he took care
of the tiles.  This theory has a flaw, Brother Littlefield says, since
some clubs called their “doorkeeper” a beadle.

(From “Connecticut Freemasons,” January, 2016, publication of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut.)

Emessay Notes February 2016

Baseball, Helping Veterans Good Mix For Snowbound Northerners

With baseball’s Spring Training on deck this month in warmer climates, there is a natural tendency to dream about winners and losers, statistics and accomplishments. Or course, at the Masonic Service Association, service to Military Veterans has always been its cornerstone program.  But when baseball and service to Vets come together, it seems to deserve a standing ovation.

In January, baseball pitcher Justin Verlander visited the VA Medical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to take part in a ribbon cutting ceremony.  It was inside a newly renovated wing, now called “The Fastball Lounge,” which was made possible in part because of Verlander’s personal donation – his most recent one – to help Veterans.  A crowd of baseball fans, VA patients and employees, were there to thank him.

“Standing here, a lot of people have said thank you to me.  That’s not what this is about.  This is my way to say ‘thank you’ to you, and this is something that I’m passionate about.”

Verlander’s passion became evident in 2013, when he committed $1 million to start the “Wins for Warriors” program, which provides support to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans in the Detroit, Michigan, and Richmond and Norfolk, Virginia areas.  He also makes hundreds of free tickets available for Veterans to watch in Detroit, where he pitches for the Detroit Tigers.

Many Masonic volunteers provide services to the Veterans at VA facilities in Detroit and Ann Arbor, and at four VA facilities in Virginia.  Verlander is a native of Virginia and attended college there.

Verlander, who has won the prestigious Cy Young and Most Valuable Player Awards in baseball, commented, “I feel honored to play this game because of our men and women veterans.  I wouldn’t be able to play this game in this great country if it weren’t for them, and I want to give back, so I do.”

Scottish Rite Day Across The Nation Scheduled For Saturday, November 12 

Valleys from both the Northern and Southern Scottish Rite Jurisdictions will unite on Saturday, November 12, to celebrate the Scottish Rite.

It is the first time the fraternity has held such a nationwide day of honor.

All Valleys in the country are being asked to plan fun, memorable occasions that reach out to, and connect with, members old and new. 

Several states are planning statewide 32nd Degree conferrals.  Other events may include banquets, presentations of rings, caps and jewels, and noted speakers.
“Scottish Rite Day” is intended to be an enjoyable, inspirational, and meaningful experience for members.  It seeks to accord the 32nd Degree with special recognition and prestige.

More information can be found on the web pages of each Jurisdiction, and each Valley will be promoting its individual activities.

List Of 90-Year Old Worshipful Masters Grows Again This Month

For a number of months, EMESSAY NOTES has been paying tribute to Masons – 90 years old and up — who are presiding over their Lodges. We never thought the list would grow as it has. This “90-Year Club” has no dues, no certificates, but just gives recognition to those veteran Worshipful Masters who still preside. Two more receive due attention this month.

Frederick W. Palmer is 90-years-old, a 67-year Mason, and the longest surviving Past District Deputy Grand Master in the 19th Masonic District of Ohio. He is currently Worshipful Master of Center Star Lodge in Heath, Ohio.  He first served as Master in 1956 – 60 years ago – and presided again in 1992.  Grand Master of Ohio Robert C. Rill made a special visitation in January to watch Brother Palmer preside at the Lodge’s annual inspection.

Right Worshipful Brother Palmer has been active in numerous Masonic groups and has received several prestigious awards for his service.  Outside the Lodge, he has been active in many community and church positions, is a U.S. Army Veteran, and served two terms each on the Granville and Licking County Joint Vocational School Boards.

Keith Baldwin is currently serving as Worshipful Master of the Lodge of Instruction at the Wales Home in Cleveland, Quebec, Canada, and is 93 years old. This Lodge meets monthly, but does not confer degrees.  He has been a member of Ascot Lodge in Lennoxville, Quebec, for 52 years and served there as Master in 1990 and 2000.

Very Worshipful Brother Baldwin served as Grand Steward of the Grand Lodge of Quebec in 1995. 

Subscriptions Come To MSA From All Over The World

MSA’s Short Talk Bulletin has subscribers all over the world, who look forward to the monthly issues.

Recently, MSA received a note from an ardent reader, Nikolaus Schwaerzler, who happens to be a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Austria, living in Haag, a town in the district of Amstetten in Lower Austria.  Haag is known as the “geographical center of Europe.”

While renewing his subscription this year, M.W. Brother Schwaerzler wrote: “The Short Talk Bulletin is very interesting — in some aspects a little bit strange for a European Freemason, but nevertheless of great value and really of outstanding high interest.  (There are) other traditions of Freemasonry all over the world, but also partly different centers of gravity.  Thank you for the differences.”

Emessay Notes January 2016

Aud1ts And Numb3rs: A Quick Guide For Lodge Auditing

William J. Thomas, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York, in his “From the East” column in the Winter issue of the Empire State Mason Magazine, wrote a very useful article on some simple concepts for members of the annual Lodge Audit Committee, and MSA thought it valuable enough to reprint in this issue.  Please clip this out and share it in your Lodge.

Oh, give me your pity; I’m on a Committee,
Which means that from morning to night
We attend and amend, and contend and defend
Without a conclusion in sight.

I received a frantic call from a Brother recently: “I’ve been assigned to the Lodge Audit Committee, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I asked both the Master and the Chairman of the Committee, and they didn’t seem to know either. Help!”

I could visualize the sweat on his brow, the distress in his eyes – and the Masonic signs he must be making.

This seems to be one of those questions that everyone has, but nobody wants to verbalize. Who wants to admit that he doesn’t know something that should be common knowledge to everyone?

Common knowledge? Or is it?

I can assure you that it is NOT common knowledge to everyone, and ignoring the question is much like the ostrich putting his head in the sand, and hoping that it will go away. But I can also assure you that the work is not complicated.  Here are some simple guidelines to help get you started:

Note that there are only three things that happen with monies of the Lodge:

  • Money comes in
  • Money goes out
  • Money remains in an account

The Audit Committee’s work is simply looking at those three things and confirming that they happened.  Nothing more need be done. And most Lodges’ financial transactions are few and simple enough that it can be done in short order.

Here’s the short course:

  • Make a list of all the Lodge accounts, including account number, location:
    1. Bank accounts
    2. Savings accounts
    3. Investment accounts
    4. Cash accounts
  • Make your audit:
    1. Use monthly statements to confirm the beginning balances. 
    2. Confirm the monies going in, and confirm the source (addition).
    3. Confirm the monies going out, and confirm the vouchers (subtraction). Vouchers should include a paper trail, including a receipt and what it was for. Your by-laws might have additional requirements, such as finance committee review or Lodge approval of payment.
    4. Use monthly statements to confirm the ending balances.
  • Write a report for each account
    1. The balances agree, or
    2. The balances don’t agree, and give your opinion why they don’t agree.

And that’s it. 

  • You don’t need an accounting degree. 
  • You don’t need to pay for an expensive outside audit.
  • You don’t need special software.

There are some pitfalls:

  • Cash in:  The paper trail with cash is feeble at best, and lends itself to questions. It is much easier to document transactions with a non-cash paper trail and nobody is being accused of irregularities.
  • Cash out: Avoid cash disbursements completely.
  • Third-hand receipts: Vouchers should reflect who paid for something and how. It’s difficult to follow a paper trail that travels among multiple people.

Keys points:

  • Avoid cash
  • Keep the payment system simple
  • Avoid cash
  • Make monthly audits, rather than waiting until the end of the year.
  • Avoid cash
  • If you don’t understand the answer to a question, ask it again until you understand the response. Don’t be hoodwinked by terminology that is otherwise simple.
  • Finally, avoid cash

Yes, there are other issues to consider. This is not an all-inclusive primer. But it will help get you started.

The Art Of Being A Gentleman In The 21st Century

The California Freemason, among the best Masonic periodicals in the country, often selects a theme for each issue.  The current December/January 2016 issue focuses on “The Art of Being a Gentleman.”

The magazine explains:  “The quest to be a better man – and a gentleman – is the heart of Freemasonry’s teachings.  But what does it mean to be a gentleman in present-day society?  Is the concept of the gentleman still relevant and valuable?  And if so, what does it take to be a gentleman today?” 

This issue offers a number of interesting and thought-provoking stories on the subject, and provides good Masonic reading.

The magazine can be read in full on the webpage – www.freemason.org — of the Grand Lodge of California.

Emessay Notes December 2015 

William G. Roberts, PGM, MSA Chairman, Passes To Celestial Lodge 

William G. Roberts, Chairman of the Masonic Service Association of North America, died on November 21, in Reno, Nevada, following a brief illness.

Most Worshipful Brother Roberts was an Executive Commissioner for MSA, representing the western U.S., for 16 years, and subsequently was elected Chairman for an additional 9 years.  He presided over many annual and semi-annual meetings and provided outstanding guidance for MSA during his tenure.

He was a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Nevada and a Past Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, of Nevada.

Brother Roberts was born in Tonopah and spent most of his life in this community.  For many years, and until his death, he worked in nearly all areas for the Tonopah Times-Bonanza newspaper, and specifically served in positions as editor, reporter, and columnist.

He was also active in many Tonopah civic organizations, including being a director of the Tonopah Chamber of Commerce and of the Tonopah Convention Center.

Survivors include his wife, Barbara Jean (B.J.), and son, Matthew W., and two grandchildren.

The Grand Lodge of Nevada conducted Masonic Funeral Services on Nov. 29.

George Washington Annual Birthday Gala Set For Saturday, February 27, In Alexandria, VA

Each year, Freemasons, their friends, and families gather at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial to honor the life of Brother Washington with an educational program, and a gala dinner and entertainment. The Memorial has extended a special invitation to all.

Events for the 2016 Washington’s Birthday Celebration will take place on Saturday, February 27. Activities begin at 10 .m. with an unveiling ceremony for a new plaque designating the Memorial as a National Historic Landmark, with special tours following.

At 1 p.m., the annual George Washington Symposium will begin. This year’s theme will be “From Relics to Repositories: Preserving George Washington’s Legacy Yesterday and Today.” This free educational event features three presentations by notable speakers, followed by a panel discussion.

The Memorial’s annual Washington’s Birthday Gala begins. This is a black tie event, and tickets are required. The general reception begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by special entertainment. The Gala Banquet will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets and hotel reservations are available on its website at www.gwmemorial.org.

‘Ooops’ – Headline From A Grand Master’s Message

Numerous Grand Masters around the country are communicating with their members with periodic email messages.

Franklyn J. Struble, Grand Master of Wisconsin, in one of his weekly issues of “Masonic Update for the Badger State,” turns a bad experience into a good Masonic message:

Last night, Wendy and I decided to have some bratwurst for dinner.  Well, I cut up the Vidalia onions, put them and the brats in my special brat pan, 2 cans of beer, seasonings and Worcestershire sauce.

Put them on the hot grill in the pan.  Came out after 15 minutes, put the brats on the grill to finish went in the house, got sidetracked and ruined the meal.  Talk about a burnt offering!  Wow, I felt like I should apologize to the butcher.

I’ve seen similar things happen with lodge meetings.  Everything is in place for a dynamite meeting then someone gets distracted and Brothers don’t get notified.  Or maybe, the Brother scheduled to make tonight’s presentation lost track of what day it is…a senior moment.  Perhaps the lodge is coming out of darkness and we didn’t practice an opening before that night and we are all rusty and stumble through things we would normally handle.  

Please, give some thought to staying on task better than I did with the brats.  I was able to start over and cook some more and we just ate a little later.  A poorly executed lodge meeting can turn your Brothers off on coming to meetings.  We cannot afford that.  We need every Brother in the Lodge we can get.

Better not schedule me as the cook.

90-Year Old Lodge Leaders Continue To Be Acknowledged 

EMESSAY NOTES has been paying tribute to Masons – 90 years old and up — who are presiding over their Lodges.  This “90-Year Club” has no dues, nor certificates, but just gives attention to those veteran Worshipful Masters who still preside.

This month, honor is extended to Merlyn E. Meredith, who, as the Worshipful Master of the new East Gate Masonic Lodge in Lyndhurst, Ohio, accepted the Charter from Grand Master Steven E. Cokonougher at the Grand Lodge Annual Communication in October.

Brother Meredith is 92 years old and a 70-year Mason.

Leadership in the Fraternity has been constant during his entire membership.

He began as a DeMolay, later serving as Master Councilor, District Governor, Executive Officer, and DeMolay Supreme Council Member.  In Scottish Rite, he has presided over two Bodies, received his 33rd Degree, was elected Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and has served as Dramatic Director since 1977.

In York Rite, he is a Knight of the York Grand Cross of Honour, Past Illustrious Grand Master of the Grand Council of Ohio, and for 25 years was Grand Secretary of the Grand Council.

He is a Past Master of Heights Lodge and Past District Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, in addition to many other presiding titles of related organizations and other honors.

Now, Brother Merlyn is back in the Master’s Chair of a new Lodge at age 92.

Emessay Notes November 2015 

Disaster Relief Appeal Issued After South Carolina Flooding 

The Masonic Service Association has established a Disaster Relief Fund for South Carolina, following a weeklong drenching of rain, causing rivers to overflow, dams to burst, roadways to flood, and homes and businesses to be inundated with water, resulting in major damage or destruction. 

Officials said billions of dollars of destruction has occurred to roadways and bridges, in addition to building damage, in this historic flooding.

In the Columbia area, one Lodge building has been virtually destroyed. It is a Lodge whose membership is heavily composed of active military personnel.  Other Lodges, plus homes of Masonic members, have been seriously damaged, and the toll to life and property is still growing and being assessed.

Please forward to the MSA such donations that you feel are appropriate to help our devastated Brothers, their families and others in this stricken jurisdiction.  Please make checks payable to MSA Disaster Relief Fund and send them to: Masonic Service Association, 813 1st Ave SE Ste 357, Cedar Rapids IA 52402.

When remitting funds to MSA, please mark checks, “South Carolina Appeal.”

  Also, donations may be made on MSA’s webpage www.msana.com — with the use of a credit card.  This allows funds to reach their destination faster.  MSA is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization.

Another 90-Year-Old Worshipful Master Reported

Very Worshipful Brother Jim King, a 64-year Mason, presided over his Lodge in Kettle Falls, Washington, last year at age 91, “presenting his Masonic rituals flawlessly.”

He was raised in 1951 in Pioche, Nevada.  Then, after moving to Washington, served as District Deputy Grand Master in 1994-95.  He has served in the East four times, including once as Master of Spokane’s Lodge of Research.

According to the current District Deputy Grand Master Nick Pemberton, “Even today at 92, VW Brother Jim attends Kettle Falls Lodge twice each month, sitting in the Steward’s chair. . . He has set the bar for other Masons at the highest level.”

25 Consecutive Years As A Grand Lodge Officer! Can You Beat That Record Of Service?

In October, Benny L. Grisham was re-elected Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of Illinois – his 25th consecutive year of elected service for the Grand Lodge.
Brother Grisham began his string of service as an elected Grand Warden in the Grand Lodge, served as Grand Master in 1997-98, and then continued as Grand Secretary, and currently Grand Treasurer.

Active in numerous Masonic organizations, Most Worshipful Brother Grisham is also the Scottish Rite Deputy for Illinois for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.

Perhaps there are others who are currently serving in elected Grand Lodge positions for more than 25 years.  If so, please let us know.

Who, Again, Was The First President Of The U.S.?

It was quite a surprise to see the headline in a Lodge newsletter, saying that John Hanson was the first president of the United States.

Hanson, not known to be a Mason, was an American patriot.  He was elected to the Provincial Legislature of Maryland in 1775, and then in 1777 became a member of Congress, where he distinguished himself as a brilliant administrator.  Then, he was elected as the first President in 1781.  What?

The new country was actually founded on March 1, 1781, with the adoption of the Articles of Confederation, and John Hanson was chosen unanimously by Congress, which included George Washington. 

Six other presidents followed John Hanson, with each serving a one-year term. Why don’t we hear of the first seven Presidents?  It is quite simple – the Articles of Confederation did not work well.  The individual states had too much power and nothing could be agreed upon.  A new doctrine needed to written – something we know today as the Constitution.

George Washington was the first President of the United States under the Constitution we follow today.  His term as President was from 1789 to 1797.

But John Hanson accomplished much in his one year in office.  Almost immediately, the troops who fought in the Revolutionary War demanded to be paid.  There were no funds for salaries. The soldiers threatened to overthrow the new government and put George Washington on the throne as a monarch.  Hanson calmed the troops and held the country together.

Other accomplishments by President Hanson included ordering all foreign troops off American soil, removal of all foreign flags, establishing the Great Seal of the United States (still in use), created the first Treasury Department, the first Secretary of State, the first Foreign Affairs Department, and declaring the fourth Thursday of November to be Thanksgiving Day.

Hanson and the other six Presidents under the Articles of Confederation are forgotten in history.  Today, we proudly proclaim Brother George Washington as the first President and Father of our Country.

(Thanks to the “Trestleboard” of Washington Daylight Lodge #14 in the District of Columbia for the history and research for this article, February, 2014.)

What Is ‘Untempered Mortar?’

It is a symbol of faulty preparation.  Untempered mortar is mixed without sufficient amounts of any ingredients — sand, lime, and water.  The Jews, during the captivity, who had to make bricks without straw, were working with untempered clay.  The cowan, who builds walls with sand or stones alone between the greater boulders of the wall, works with untempered mortar.  Its use insures failure.  Proper preparation does not assure success but makes success possible.

            (From “Pocket Encyclopedia of Masonic Symbols,” published by the Masonic Service of North America.)

Emessay Notes October 2015 

‘To Be Or Not To Be . . .’ Or, ‘To Go Or Not To Go’ 

In William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, the soliloquy by Prince Hamlet begins, “To be, or not to be, that is the question.”

Wisconsin Past Grand Master Jack C. Allord paraphrases Shakespeare in an article in the September, 2015 issue of the Wisconsin Masonic Journal, when he asks his brethren, “To go, or not to go . . . to Lodge tonight?”

He speculates that brothers may think they are too busy or don’t have enough time, and so he responds:

“If Brothers George Washington and Gerald Ford found time to attend Lodge, can you?  If Grand Masters Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, Andrew Jackson, and Harry Truman found time to attend Lodge, can you?  If the two Mayo Brothers and the seven Ringling Brothers found time to attend Lodge, can you? If astronaut Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin and Green Bay Packers legend Bart Starr found time to attend Lodge, can you?”

In a parenthetical comment, Brother Allord wrote that six of the seven Ringling Brothers sat in the chairs to raise their father in Baraboo Lodge in Baraboo, Wisconsin, in 1891.

The Past Grand Master concluded his article:  “We really want to see you in Lodge, Brother!”

Audio Subscription For Short Talk Bulletin Now Available From Online Library 

A new style of subscription for the Short Talk Bulletin, is now available for those who may be visually impaired or just prefer an audio version.

By subscribing to the Short Talk Bulletin Online Audio Library, every month you will receive the current Short Talk Bulletin as a spoken audio file.

The Masonic Service Association is working with Brother Michael Smith, of Freeport, ME, and Anaba Publishing, who recently published an audio book of Short Talks from many years ago.

The subscription fee for the special audio Short Talk is $20 per year.  For more information, go to the MSA webpage – www.msana.com.

For ordering information email [email protected] or call (319) 206-5411.

The subscription also provides notification of the growing collection of historical Short Talks, as audio versions are produced.

Masonic-Stamp Nuggets Of Historical Happenings

A study of postal stamps and history often brings to light some previously unknown Masonic facts.  Here are a few of them, taken from the June, 2015, issue of The Masonic Philatelist, a quarterly publication from the Masonic Stamp Club of New York:

  • A stamp of the Comoro Islands honors Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin and the execution device, the “guillotine,” which became named for him.  In truth, Dr. Guillotin did not invent the device and it had been used in Italy, Germany and England, before it was associated with him in France.  He simply proposed the use of the device to carry out death penalties as a less painful method of execution.  Dr. Guillotin was one of the founders of the Grand Orient of France and was Worshipful Master of Lodge La Concordia.  He knew and worked closely with Brother Benjamin Franklin.
  • The U.S. Postal Service had designed two stamps to recognize the 50th anniversary in 1995 of the exploding of the atomic bomb. Brother Harry S. Truman, as President, had approved its use. Japan objected to the stamp, and to maintain good relations, the issue was cancelled.  In July, 2014, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, Theodore Van Kirk, died.  He was a member of Eureka Lodge in Northumberland, Pennsylvania.

Another example comes from the May-June issue of The Philatelic Freemason:

  • The name, La Guardia, is known by many as one of the major New York City airports.  Others know Fiorello Henry La Guardia as the Mayor of New York City from 1934 to 1945, who was acclaimed by some as one or the three or four greatest mayors in American history.  He was a member of Garibaldi Lodge in New York City.  Only five feet tall, he was called “the little flower.” Fiorello is Italian for “little flower.”  A postage stamp recognized him in 1972.

How Active In The Fraternity Were Our Masonic Presidents?

We know which of the U.S. Presidents have been Masons, but how active were some of these Brethren in their Lodges?  Their Grand Lodges?  Other Masonic bodies?  Gary A. Littlefield, Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut, reported on his research of these questions:

  • Only two Presidents have held the office of Grand Master of their Grand Lodges – Andrew Jackson of Tennessee and Harry S. Truman of Missouri.
  • Two Presidents served as District Deputy Grand Masters – James Buchanan of Pennsylvania and Truman.
  • Four were Worshipful Masters of their Lodges – George Washington of Virginia, Jackson, Buchanan, and Truman.
  • Besides those who presided over their Lodges, two others served in Lodge officer lines – James Garfield of Ohio and James K. Polk of Tennessee and North Carolina.
  • Eight U.S. Presidents were Royal Arch Masons – Jackson, Polk, Buchanan, Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, Garfield, William McKinley and Warren Harding, both of Ohio, and Truman.
  • Knights Templar among the Masonic Presidents included Johnson, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, and Truman.
  • Those who were Scottish Rite Masons were Gerald R. Ford of Michigan, Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York, McKinley, Truman, Johnson, Garfield, and Harding.  The 33rd Degree was conferred on Truman and Ford.  Harding was elected to receive the 33rd Degree but died before receiving it.

(The Connecticut Freemason, July/August, 2012)


Emessay Notes September 2015 

A Voice Of Hope Out Of Iran

The Masonic Service Association often receives email contacts from around the world.

In July, an email came from a man in Iran, wanting to know how he could become a Freemason.  The reply sent from MSA explained that he must petition a local Lodge, which must accept him.  Then, the reply continued that MSA information shows there are no Lodges in Iran.  “There may be laws against Freemasonry in your country.”

The man’s response was of understanding, but still a desire to enjoy the freedom to become a Mason that is available in the United States.

He wrote back: “Thank you so much for responding to my request.  I hope I find a way to become a Freemason.  I know my country’s government is against Freemasonry and many other people all around the world, but I believe God loves Freemasonry and become of this, Freemasonry is still alive and active.”

How would you like to live on a street named for you?

Joseph R. Conway, Past Grand Master of Kentucky, retired last year after many terms as the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky.  He also served for many years as Chairman of the Board of the Masonic Home in Kentucky.

Brother Conway now lives in an apartment at the Masonic Home on Joe Conway Circle – the street named as a tribute to his outstanding service to the Grand Lodge and the Masonic Home.

New Book Published About Famous 18TH Century Freemason

Andrew Michael Ramsay (1668-1743), better known as Chevalier Ramsay in Scotland and England, probably became a Mason in England between 1728-1730.

A new book about him is written by Andrew Mansfield, a lecturer in history at Goldsmiths, University of London (U.K.) While the book does not examine Ramsay’s activities as a Freemason, it does assess his Jacobitism and views on the role of government and monarchy in Britain and France.

The title is Andrew Mansfield, Ideas of Monarchical Reform: Jacobitism, Fenelon and the political works of the Chevalier Ramsay. Studies in Early Modern European History.  For more information go to:  www.manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk/cgi-bin/indexer?product=9780719088377.

According to 10,000 Famous Freemasons, “In 1737 as chancellor, or orator of the Paris Grand Lodge, (Chevalier Ramsay) delivered his celebrated oration in which he attributed the origin of Freemasonry to the crusaders rather than to operative Masons.  He addressed it to the Pope and the King – the Pope, incidentally, ordered it burned.  He is sometimes credited with the development of several Masonic degrees and rites.”

New York Mason Elected President Of Major Veterans Organization 

John Rowan has been elected to his sixth consecutive two-year term as President of the Vietnam Veterans of America.  The election took place in Springfield, Illinois, in July.

Brother Rowan is the Treasurer General of the Grand Post of the Masonic War Veterans of the State of New York, a unit of the Grand Lodge of New York.

Another 90-Year-Old Master Identified

Port Jervis Lodge #328 in Port Jervis, New York, recently elected and installed a Worshipful Master over the age of 90, Lodge Secretary Bob Rodriquez has reported.

Ed Worzel, who turned 94 in August, 2015, is now serving in his first term as Master of the Lodge.

Military Vets In Baseball Hall Of Fame Honored With A Ship Named After Them

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has announced that the next Freedom-variant combat ship will be named the USS Cooperstown (LCS 23), the first such ship to bear the Cooperstown name.

It was named to honor the veterans who are members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, located in Cooperstown, N.Y.  All 68 of the veterans now in the Hall served in conflicts ranging from the Civil War through the Korean War.

The ship, described as a “fast, agile surface combatant,” will be 388 feet long and can travel at speeds in excess of 40 knots.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame, on request, provided the following names of its Military Veterans:

The Civil War

World War II

Korean War

Morgan Bulkeley – US Army

Luke Appling – Army

Ernie Banks – Army


Al Barlick – Coast Guard

Whitey Ford- Army

World War I

Yogi Berra – Navy

Whitney Herzog – Army

Grover Alexander- Army

Willard Brown – Army

Eddie Mathews – Navy

Oscar Charleston- Army

Nestor Chylak – Army

Willie Mays – Army

Ty Cobb – Army

Mickey Cochrane – Navy

Ted Williams – Marines

Eddie Collins – Marines

Leon Day – Army


Red Faber – Navy

Bill Dickey -Navy


Warren Giles – Army

Joe DiMaggio – Army


Burleigh Grimes – Navy

Larry Doby – Navy


Harry Heilmann – Navy

Bobby Doerr – Army


Waite Hoyt – Army

Bob Feller- Navy


George Kelly – Army

Charlies Gehringer – Navy


Larry MacPhail – Army

Joe Gordon – Army


Rabbit Maranville – Navy

Hank Greenberg – Army


Rube Marquard – Navy

Billy Herman – Navy


Christy Mathewson – Army

Monte Irvin – Army


Herb Peacock – Navy

Ralph Kiner – Navy


Sam Rice – Army

Bob Lemon – Navy


Branch Rickey – Army

Ted Lyons – Marines


Eppa Rixey – Army

Larry MacPhail – Army


Bullet Rogan – Army

Lee MacPhail – Navy


Louis Santop – Navy

Johnny Mize – Navy


Joe Sewall – Army

Stan Musial – Navy


George Sisler – Army

Pee Wee Reese – Navy


Tris Speaker – Navy

Phil Rizzuto – Navy


Casey Stengel – Navy

Robin Roberts – Army


Jud Wilson – Army

Jackie Robinson – Army



Red Ruffing – Army



Red Schoendienst – Army



Hoyt Wilhelm – Army



Enos Slaughter – Army



Duke Snider – Navy



Warren Spahn – Army



Bill Veeck – Marines



Ted Williams – Marines



Early Wynn – Army


Emessay Notes August 2015 

Masons Rank High In List Of U.S. Presidents 

As we enter a new political season, writers and researchers again attempt to rate the achievements of past Presidents of the United States.  One recently published list – by Rantpolitical.com – ranked all presidents from best to worst.

While the list may spark a variety of different opinions, this list is noteworthy as it rates very highly a number of U.S. Presidents, who also happen to the Masons.

Three of the top 4 Presidents on this list were Masons; 4 of the highest 10, and 6 of the best 12.

While many would produce a different order, the top 10 of this list (with an “M” after a name indicating a Mason) are:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • George Washington (M)
  • Franklin Roosevelt (M)
  • Theodore Roosevelt (M)
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • John Adams
  • Harry Truman (M)
  • Dwight Eisenhower
  • Ronald Reagan
  • James Madison
  •  Masons James Polk and James Monroe followed as numbers 11 and 12.

Other Masons on the list were:

  • Lyndon Johnson, an EA only (16)
  • Andrew Jackson (17)
  • William McKinley (21)
  • William Howard Taft (22)
  • James Garfield (23)
  • Warren Harding (28)
  • Gerald Ford (31)
  • James Buchanan (42)
  • Andrew Johnson (43)

Is A Graduate’s ‘Mortarboard’ Hat A Tradition Dating To Operative Masonry?

 The meaning behind wearing a mortarboard hat at graduation “slipped through the cracks and was lost over the generations,” according to Russell Herner in his new book, “Cathedrals Built By The Masons.”

In the book he describes many customs and traditions of Operative Masonry. He notes that a skullcap was a small brimless cloth cap typically worn in the ancient stonemason’s day.  Taken together, the mortarboard (a flat, square piece of wood on which the stonemason placed his wet mortar) and the skullcap look remarkable similar to the modern graduation cap.  What if the modern graduation cap came into being as the result of medieval Master Masons graduating from apprenticeship schools?  Brother Herner suggests this possible scenario:

Reg Eaton from Norfolk, England just graduated from apprenticeship school after many long years of intensive training, achieving the level of Master Mason. Wanting to celebrate with other masons and fellow workers, he invited them to a festive gathering with food and drink.

“Let’s crown Reg “King of the Master Masons’ with a king’s crown,” said one of the guests.

“No, we can’t do that.  He’s not a king.”

“Well then let’s crown him with his own mason’s mortarboard and use it as a crown of our craft and authority”

So the old mortarboard was washed and tacked to Reg’s skullcap and placed upside down on his head. “King of the Master Masons!” they all cheered and toasted their drinks to him in celebration.

Could such a ceremony have led to a tradition among other apprenticeship schools?  Over time, Brother Herner writes, colleges and universities may have embellished the mortarboard hats with modifications and decorations, such as tassels and colors.  “I believe the origin of this age-old tradition of wearing a mortarboard hat at graduation ceremonies has been rediscovered,” he said.

Brother Herner, an Ohio Mason, has been researching cathedrals in Europe for some 45 years.  This hardcover, 224-page volume includes more than 250 photos and drawings of cathedrals. 

After numerous chapters about the development of architectures and how the ancient craftsmen constructed the beautiful cathedrals in Europe, Brother Herner ends with several chapters about the origins of Freemasonry, connections that link modern Masonry and ancient craft stonemasonry, and what the Fraternity is today.

The book is available at shiefferbooks.com and amazon.com or at most bookstores.

What Makes A Successful Lodge? Here Is One List Of Attributes

Over the years, many writers have addressed the subject of making a Lodge successful.  Here is a list from a recent article by the Rev. K.G. Maxwell-Whale, published in British The Square, The Independent Magazine for Freemasons.

Attributes of a Successful Lodge:

  1. A careful selection process for new members
  2. A fully committed membership who are keen to learn and promote Masonry
  3. Fully committed Officers of the Lodge
  4. A Master who can control the Lodge, together with the Lodge Committee, and also protecting tradition together with the Lodge Director of Ceremonies
  5. A strong but fair Director of Ceremonies with the necessary knowledge to oversee the training of members and officers of the Lodge
  6. A strong Lodge Officer Instructor.  Acknowledging the failings of others and having a willingness to help each other
  7. Humor and friendship between members
  8. Compassion for all, from all
  9. A sincere acknowledgement of visitors

Emessay Notes July 2015 

Freemasonry Continues To Be At Work In Our World Today

 The efforts of Freemasonry are alive and well in 2015, as this story reported by the Grand Lodge of Ohio shows:

Recently a young couple began a new chapter in their lives.  Having secured new jobs, they loaded up a moving van, hitched their car to the back, and left northwest Ohio for Tucson, Arizona.

Things went well until they reached Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they stopped overnight. They awoke the next morning to discover that their moving van and car had disappeared.

They called the local police to report the theft and then the young man’s mother and stepfather back in Ohio. Everything they had was in that van and car, but they had insurance.  They needed to get to Tucson for work, so they rented a car and headed on down the highway.

The police found their car and van.  The car’s rear window was smashed in and both were empty of their belongings.  The couple was at a loss as to what they were going to do once they got to Tucson.  They had neither friends nor family there, neither did they know how long it would take for the insurance company to respond.

The young man’s stepfather is a Freemason – Master of his Lodge, in fact.  So he called the Grand Lodge office late on Friday afternoon, asking for help.  In turn, a call was placed to Arizona’s Grand Secretary and then to the Junior Grand Deacon, who resides in Tucson.

Within an hour of the young couple arriving at their new apartment that same day, the Freemasons of Tucson arrived with an air mattress, sheets, towels, pots, pans, dishes, kitchen table with chairs and a TV.

Freemasonry is very much an extended family.

(The Ohio Beacon, Spring 2015, publication of the Grand Lodge of Ohio.)

Florida Honors Masters Who Were DeMolay

At the May, 2015, Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Florida, Russell B. Glendinning introduced 12 men currently serving as Worshipful Masters of their Lodges, who are also Senior DeMolay.

This is an annual recognition given by Florida’s Grand Lodge. Brother Glendinning, an Active Member of the DeMolay Supreme Council, believes the practice is unique to the Sunshine State.

Do any other Grand Lodges recognize active Masters who are Senior DeMolay?  If not, perhaps this would be a good year to begin.

Mason Honored With North Dakota’s Highest Award

Brother Herman Stern, a prominent citizen of Valley City, ND, has been posthumously presented North Dakota’s highest honor – the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award.  His portrait now hangs in the State Capitol and includes the Masonic emblem.

Governor Jack Dalrymple recognized Brother Stern as a businessman, a visionary leader, and a humanitarian, who quietly saved many from the Holocaust.

Speaking at the induction ceremony, North Dakota Supreme Court Justice Dale Sandstrom said, “He didn’t do it all alone.  He worked with people. But when Herman Stern got involved, things happened, goals were achieved.”  (Brother Sandstrom is also Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of North Dakota.)

Born in Germany, Stern came to America at the age of 16 and became active with the Straus Clothing Store, a family enterprise.  He was a founder of the North Dakota Chamber, the Valley City Winter Show, and Boy Scout Camp Wilderness.

When World War II approached, Brother Stern, working with state and federal leaders, made it possible for between 175 and 200 German Jews to escape the Holocaust and come to America.

A book, which chronicles his life, You Have Been Kind Enough to Assist Me: Herman Stern and the Jewish Refugee Crisis, by Terry Shopbaugh, is available at books stores and from Amazon.com.

Brother Stern joined Casselton Lodge, later transferred to Valley City Lodge in 1913, and was active in the Fargo Scottish Rite.  He died in 1980 at the age of 92.

The new honor he has received was named for President Theodore Roosevelt, a Master Mason from New York.

(North Dakota News, May, 2015)

90-Year-Olds Continue To Be Masonic Leaders 

This publication established a “90-year-old Masters Club” a few months ago to honor Masons who served in the East while over 90 years of age.

One new nominee doesn’t quite qualify for our “Club,” but certainly deserves recognition anyway.

Elmer Bradbury, at age 95, serves as Treasurer of Perry Lodge #95 in Perry, Illinois.  Two years ago, he stepped down as Secretary after 15 years in that position.  He served as Worshipful Master four times, once during the 100th Anniversary of the Lodge and then for its 125th Anniversary.  He is a 70-year Mason.

In 1932, during the Great Depression, Perry Lodge lost its building.  It was owned by a man who was not a Mason and the building fell into complete disrepair.  Brother Bradbury bought the building for $1,000 and sold it to the Lodge for $500, with the promise that he would work on the building until it was ready again for use.  With the assistance of other Masons and his family, he restored the building for the Lodge, which still uses it today.

He is part of a large Masonic family.  His father, eight uncles and a dozen cousins were Masons.  Both of his sons are Masons, and Brother Elmer presided numerous times with his wife in the Order of Eastern Star. His sons say that Brother Elmer “has inspired many young men to become a part of our Fraternity and does so even now.”

New Book: Masonic Aprons Through History 

A new book, The Badge of a Freemason: Masonic Aprons from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, has been published by the Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, and is now available.

The hardcover book has 248 pages and full-color photos of more than 80 aprons from its collection. Written by Dr. Aimee E. Newell, Director of Collections, the aprons are arranged chronologically from the 1700s to the 1900s. 

For more information and ordering go to http://www.scottishritenmj.org/shop.

Emessay Notes June 2015 

Quarry Project To Offer Instruction On Social Media, Masonic Research/Writing, Library/Museum Work

Are you a Masonic writer or researcher?

Are you interested in Freemasonry being more effective in using social media?

Are you concerned for the preservation and display of Masonic archives?

If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” you may be interested in attending The Quarry Project, a symposium being planned by three Masonic organizations for September 18-20, 2015, in Indianapolis.

Organizers are the Masonic Society, the Masonic Library and Museum Association, and the Masonic Information Center, which is an arm of the Masonic Service Association.

The Quarry Project is a continuing effort to promote Masonic research and preservation by providing instruction to Masonic writers and editors, and to Masonic librarians and museum curators on the display, preservation, and cataloging of Masonic archives.

New this year is a set of presentations on public relations and advertising, with a focus on the use of social media.  This portion of the Quarry Project might be particularly helpful to Grand Lodge officers or staff members, or Masonic Lodge and district officers.
The conference is open to anyone with an interest in these topics.

Each day of the conference will begin with a general session, featuring a keynote speaker.  Attendees then break into instructional sessions of their choice on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, the final day, the program will end with a round table discussion following Sunday’s keynote address. 

Specific programs are currently being developed and will be made available as soon as they are complete.  Please visit The Quarry Project website at www.thequarryproject.com for more information, registration and accommodations.  The conference will be held in the Hilton Indianapolis Hotel and Suites.

Audio Book Of MSA Short Talks Now Available

Michael A. Smith was serving as Tyler of Freeport Lodge #23 in Freeport, Maine, when he noticed a copy of the book, Short Talks on Masonry, by Joseph Fort Newton, originally published by the Masonic Service Association in 1928.  As he read the pages (while guarding the door, of course), an idea formulated:  Short Talks should become an audio book, useful to the visually impaired and others who prefer to listen to “talks.” The fact that Brother Smith is the owner of Anaba Publishing, which produces audio books, undoubtedly helped the idea.

MSA granted copyright permission to Brother Smith to produce the new audio book, with a portion of the sales being donated to MSA.

The book contains 33 talks about the allegories, symbols, and lore of Freemasonry – about 10 to 15 minutes each — written by Brother Newton, and now narrated by Brother Smith.

Short Talks on Masonry, the audio book, is available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

Connecticut Masonic Scouters Association

In many parts of the country, Freemasonry and the Scouting movement have been closely associated, with joint programs acknowledging some of the common goals of both organizations.

In fact, the Daniel Carter Beard Award is given to Masons, who have been very active in Scouting.  Beard was a Mason and one of the founders of the Boy Scouts. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania created the award in 2001 and offers it to Grand Lodges nationally.

Another excellent program is the Connecticut Masonic Scouters Association (CMSA), founded in 2009, “to promote and build upon the long standing positive relationship between Freemasonry and the Boy Scouts of America.”

Since its creation, CMSA members have participated in more than 200 Eagle Scout Courts of Honor.  Each new Eagle receives a personalized Commendation Award and letter from the Grand Lodge of Connecticut.

In addition, the CMSA conducts an Entered Apprentice Degree at a different Boy Scout Reservation annually, open to any Master Mason.  The group is also active in numerous other events each year in Connecticut.

‘Most Powerful Man In Baseball’ Was Mason

Byron Bancroft “Ban” Johnson, around the start of the 20th Century, was known as “the most powerful man in baseball” – not because of his home run ability, but for his influence as the national game developed.

Brother Johnson was born in Norwalk, Ohio in 1864, and was a member of Nova Caesarea Harmony Lodge, #2, in Cincinnati, Ohio.

He went to college to become a minister, and then began to study law, before becoming a newspaper sports writer.  In that role, he met Charles Comiskey and formed the Western Baseball League, with Johnson as president.

In 1900, the league was renamed the America League, and Johnson enticed leading National League players to join the new league.  Brother Johnson is credited with cleaning up the sport by doing away with gambling, rioting, brawling, and crookedness.
He helped establish the World Series between the American and National League Champions.

After his retirement, Brother Johnson helped to organize the Little League, which for many years was called the Ban Johnson Little League.

(Excerpted from articles in the Indiana Freemason, Spring, 2014, and the Fraternal Review of the Southern California Research Lodge, October, 2014.)

Volume III Orders Arriving Daily

Volume III of the Complete Collection of Short Talk Bulletins is producing a steady flow of orders, both in the mail and from MSA’s online sales.  By ordering now, a purchaser qualifies for special “pre-publication” prices, which will last until September 1, 2015.  For ordering information email [email protected] or call (319) 206-5411.

Both Volume I and Volume II have been hailed by readers as outstanding.  Volume III covers Short Talk Bulletins that were printed between 1953 and 1967.  It will be more than 700 pages, re-edited, re-typeset, and indexed.  (Please note that there is a special price for Lodges.)

For those who may have missed Volume II, there is a supply of available at the post-publication price.

Emessay Notes May 2015 

‘Rock And Roll Musick’  

No, that is not a misspelling, but a former nickname for a Past Grand Master. Delbert R. Musick completed his term as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee in March, but many years before, he acquired a nickname from a very famous singer.

Brother Musick went to basic training for the U.S. Army at Fort Hood, Texas.  Among the recruits was a fellow Tennessean named Elvis Presley.  While the two never established a close friendship, their first meeting was memorable.

When Elvis first heard Brother Musick’s name, he said, “So, your name is Music?”  Afterward, Elvis started calling him Rock and Roll, a nickname that stuck with him for many years.

A Highlight Of The Day About Masonry

Today in Masonic History is a new site on the web that provides daily information about historical events and people associated with the Masonic Fraternity.

You also can follow them on Facebook (masonrytoday), Twitter (@masonrytoday) and Google + to get the daily post. In addition, you can read a more complete account of the event or the person on the website at http://www.masonrytoday.com.

Also on the website, you can review old posts and search the database. All articles and daily posts on the site are available for use at no charge for Lodge education, trestleboard, or other Masonic-related needs. Simply follow the instructions provided under “Resources” on the website.

Today in Masonic History is operated by Brother Eric Steele from the Grand Lodge of Vermont.  Brother Steele is a Past Master of Washington Lodge No. 3, a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, and a member of the York Rite bodies of Vermont.

Freemasonry in D.C. Helps with schools

Members of Masonic Lodges and Eastern Star Chapters in the District of Columbia are helping one school improve communication and provide lunch tables for students.

DC Public Schools hosts an annual “beautification day,” when they invite parents, friends and community organizations to spruce up and prepare the schools for incoming students.

In 2014, William R. Singleton Lodge #7 partnered with School Without Walls at Francis Stevens.  The Lodge asked, “How can we best help?” The answer was that the school wanted to have bulletin boards in the hallways to showcase student work and to make the school more inviting.  Also, there was a need for picnic tables, on which students could eat lunch and do work.

School Without Walls provides students in Washington, DC, with a rigorous college preparatory, humanities program that incorporates global and local resources in experiential and interdisciplinary methods of teaching and learning. It ensures that each student acquires proper social and life skills to be responsible global citizens. Today, SWW encourages students to “use the city as a classroom” and it draws students from all parts of the city.

Singleton Lodge agreed to fund 10 picnic tables.  For the bulletin boards, the Lodge reached out to the Masonic & Eastern Star Home (MESH) Charities of D.C.  Jesse Villarreal, Past Grand Master and MESH chairman, worked with Carroll Collins, head of the MESH grants committee, and by the end of the week, 20 new bulletin boards arrived.

On August 24, 2014, parents, teachers, and volunteers showed up at the school and put in six hours of work, used 10 drill bits and thousands of screws, and ate 309 pizzas (supplied by the Lodge).  When they concluded, the school was all set for the start of the new academic year.

One teacher had already begun decorating her board with the message, “Watch Us Soar!”  The Mason Lodge and Eastern Star Chapter members assisted with the soaring.

(The Scottish Rite Journal, March/April, 2015)

Club For 90-Year-Old Masters Initiates New Member 

Since the December issue of Emessay Notes, we have been looking for Masons, who would be members of the “90-year-old Worshipful Master’s Club.” Previously, three such members were introduced.

Now, we recognize Frank Engel, Jr., who served as Master of Ashlar Lodge #332 in Wallingford, CT, in 2013 at the age of 95.

In an email, Brother Engel tells the rest of his own story: 
I was raised in George W. Guthrie Lodge #691 in Pittsburgh, PA on October 23, 1947, and served four years going in the officers’ line before having to drop out. I later served as Master of Belmont-Beaver Lodge in Belmont, MA in 1986 and again in 1989.

While I was never installed as Worshipful Master of a Pennsylvania Masonic Lodge, I have actually raised more Master Masons in Pennsylvania than in any other jurisdiction. In the years following the war, our lodge was holding two or three extra meetings each month, with three to five candidates receiving their degrees, so there were many opportunities to do the work in any station when one knew the Ritual. 

I also performed as Worshipful Master on the Westinghouse Atomic Power Division Masonic Degree team conferring third degrees on fellow employees in various lodges.

So congratulations to a long-time ritualist, who served as Master while in his mid-90s.

Words To Live By

“Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none.”
Brother Benjamin Franklin

Emessay Notes April 2015 

Heart And Soul Of Freemasonry 

Bill Norton, a Past Master of Tompkins Lodge in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, was prompted by a Short Talk Bulletin article to write an essay about the “Heart and Soul” of our Fraternity.  Excerpts from his words are reprinted here:

History is covered with displays of passion, relief and aid. Even in times of war and times of desperate need, lives have been saved, individuals as well as families, Masonic and non-masonic, due to the teachings of Freemasonry.

Brothers have been saved by physical and/or monetary methods, saved by Masonic brethren, whether they were officers or soldiers of war  — simply by displaying or noticing a Masonic emblem. Even though the recipient of this grace or charity was a perceived enemy, but still recognized as a brother or brother’s family in need.

Famous men abound in historic lore of Freemasonry — from Kings, Princes, Potentates, Presidents, and Founders of our country and elected leaders of many paths. Since time immemorial, legends of acts of charity and forgiveness have abounded.

The heart and soul of Freemasonry is and always has been within every Mason. It is their passion, their teaching, how they display their belief, learning to adhere to the ceremonies of Freemasonry and showing their passions of brotherly love for each other and their families. Carrying the emotions of life and their love for the craft.  As it was when they were first brought to light. 

Oregon Lodge Helps Homeless

During this winter’s many bouts of freezing weather, Florence Lodge, near Florence, Oregon, opened its doors to homeless individuals, who were seeking shelter from the cold.

In November, Lodge members voted to make their building available as an emergency warming shelter whenever temperatures drop below 30 degrees F., or a combination of wind chill, wind, and rainfall make it necessary to provide shelter from the elements.

The Florence emergency cold weather shelter committee supplied cots, blankets, and pillows.  Volunteers helped prepare and serve dinners, remove tables and chairs and set up the cots, and monitor the premises throughout the night.  In the morning, a second shift of volunteers set up tables and prepared breakfast.

Members of several local churches, and others in the community, helped the Lodge in this effort to relieve the distressed in Florence.

(From Oregon Masonic News, February, 2015.)

200th Anniversary Of Battle Of New Orleans

On December 24, 1814, Great Britain and the United States signed a treaty in Ghent, Belgium, to end the War of 1812.  However, news was slow to cross the Atlantic, and on January 8, 1815, the two sides met in what has been described as one of the conflict’s biggest battles, the bloody Battle of New Orleans. 

Andrew Jackson, with an assortment of militia fighters, frontiersmen, slaves, Indians, and even pirates weathered an assault by a superior British force, and won a momentous victory.

This victory vaulted Jackson to national prominence and ultimately the Presidency of the United States.

Andrew Jackson was a Tennessee Mason, although there is some debate as to which Lodge he belonged, according to 10,000 Famous Freemasons, published by the Missouri Lodge of Research.  However, he was elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee in 1822 and again in 1823, serving until October, 1824.

He was elected President of the United States in 1824 and again in 1828, and holds the distinction of being one of only two Freemasons to serve as both a Grand Master and U.S. President. (Harry S. Truman was the other.)

John Steinbeck’s Masonic Connection

 The famous author, John Ernest Steinbeck, Jr., was born in Salinas, California, is 1902.  Among his greatest books are The Grapes of Wrath (which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1939), Of Mice and Men, and “Winter of Our Discontent.” He earned the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

Steinbeck’s father and paternal grandfather were both active Masons. Young Steinbeck was a member of the Order of DeMolay and received his degrees in Masonry in 1929 in Salinas Lodge.  He reportedly stated that he joined the Masons to please his father, finding the Fraternity rather pompous, staid and conventional, and dismissed it as “flumdummery.” He withdrew from the Lodge in 1933.

However, there is good reason to assume that he believed in the principles upon which Freemasonry is built, as his work over a large number of years is suffused with many references to the Fraternity.

Following his death — some 40 years after he joined Salinas Lodge — a certificate was found, preserved, in his New York apartment, that had been presented to him by the Lodge at the time of his raising – not the act of someone for whom Freemasonry was considered irrelevant.
(From The Philatelic Freemason, March/April, 2015)

How A Few Rock Bands Got Their Names

  • Chicago.   They originally called themselves Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), but had to shorten it after the City of Chicago sued.
  • Alice Cooper.  Lead singer Vincent Furnier (a Senior DeMolay) claims to have gotten his stage name from a Ouija board through which he met a spirit with that name.
  • Metallica.  Drummer Lars Ulrich was helping a friend name a heavy metal magazine. Ulrich’s two suggestions: (1) Metal Mania (which the friend used, and (2) Metallica.
  • Black Sabbath.  From 1963 Boris Karloff horror movie.
  • Def Leppard.  Singer Joe Elliot once drew a picture of a leopard with no ears – a “deaf leopard.”

(From an article by Oliver Perry Steward in Masonic Temple Topics in October, 2014, and reprinted in “Fraternal Review” of the Southern California Research Lodge.)

Emessay Notes March 2015 

Where is Joppa?

As Freemasons, we hear of this city, as a destination by three villains, but we are never told where Joppa is, only that it is a “seaport” town, which from context, must be relatively near Jerusalem.

We read that “The gate of Joppa” is noted in the Tell el-Amarna Letters as guarded by an Egyptian officer in the service of the Pharoah Amenhotep IV. Relative to the Temple of Solomon, Jonathas, the Chronicler, reports that the cedars of Lebanon were brought in on floats, where they were transported to Jerusalem by the workmen of the King of Tyre.

Joppa, today called Yaffa (Jafa), is a suburb of Tel Aviv, 32.8 miles from Jerusalem. It is written that the pillars of the Temple could be seen from Tel Aviv, due to the Temple Mount raising the structure above the line of sight of the hills between there and the coast. Modern Yafa is built on a rocky mound, 116 feet high, at the edge of the sea.

A reef of rocks runs parallel to the shore a short distance out and affords a certain amount of protection from weather and the sea. There is a gap in the reef through which the boats pass, though during a storm the passage is dangerous even today. On one of these rocks, Perseus is said to have rescued the chained Andromeda from the dragon.

Yafa is a prosperous town, profiting much by the annual streams of pilgrims who pass through it on their way to visit the holy places. Trade passes through the port to this day, with ships arriving from Egypt, Syria and Constantinople.

(From Lance Rommerdahl’s online “The Old Past Master,” and quoting the late Brother Theron Dunn.)

Recommended Reading In Nebraska

Since 2000, the Grand Lodge of Nebraska Education Committee has been producing an annual “Recommended Reading List,” with three to five suggested Masonic books.  The 2015 list was distributed in February at the yearly Education Breakfast during the Grand Lodge Annual Communication.

This year’s recommended books are: Making Light; A Handbook for Freemasons, by Julian Rees; The Initiatic Experience, by Robert Herd, and Masonry and Its Symbols, by H.W. Percival.

The four Disciples? 

Who are the four best-known disciples?  Maybe Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?

At a recent communication of Friendship Tuscan Lodge in Manchester, Connecticut, four Brothers were raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason.  Ironically, their names were Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

(From the “Fraternal Review” of the Southern California Research Lodge, excerpted originally from “CT Freemason,” of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut, October, 2014.)

More New Reading Opportunities

Two newly published books by Masonic authors show potential as upcoming best sellers for Masons:

  • Cathedrals Built by the Masons, by Russell Herner.  Through well-researched text, as well as some 250 photos and drawings, this book captures the magnificence of European cathedrals and the brilliance of the craftsmen who designed and built them.  It also describes the development of Freemasonry.   Brother Herner is also author of Stonehenge: An Ancient Masonic Temple.  See “new releases” – at www.schifferbooks.com — the publisher’s website.
  • The Craft Driven Lodge, by Dan Hrinko.  This book examines the principles and process used during the formation of Arts & Sciences Lodge in the Grand Lodge of Ohio.  It provides excellent ideas about how a Lodge can evolve, with more exciting Masonic experiences during meetings and other activities.  See www.mccoy.com/The -Craft-Driven-Lodge-P9398.aspx for more information.

Texas Proclamation Enhances Education

Michael L. Wiggins, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas, shortly after his installation in December, 2014, issued a proclamation that all Texas Lodges, at stated meetings at least once a month, would present a Masonic education program furnished by the 2015 Grand Master’s Resource Team.

“It is the fundamental duty of Freemasonry to teach the meaning and mission of the symbolism, allegories, philosophy, morality, history, and traditions of Freemasonry to its members, the Grand Master wrote. “Furthermore, it is incumbent upon each Freemason to engage in a life-long quest to improve his understanding of the nature and purpose of God and the Universe.”

California Conference on ‘Secrets’

The 4th International Conference on Freemasonry at UCLA, sponsored by the Grand Lodge of California and the UCLA History Department, will be held on March 21.

This year conference title is, “Secrets Revealed: Freemasonry and the Conspiracy Theories it Evokes.”

Interested persons can attend or view as a live web cast.  Details about the event, including presenters and registration, are available at  

Emessay Notes February 2015 

Paul Revere Time Capsule Opened; No Surprise For Massachusetts Masons

The national news media covered it.  No surprise — there was no mention of Freemasonry. But Massachusetts Masons knew the full story.

On December 11, 2014, a work crew removed the cornerstone from the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill and discovered a time capsule, reportedly from the 1795 Paul Revere era.

However, because The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has kept detailed proceedings since its inception in 1733, “The contents of the capsule are well known to us.  Why?  We were there,” according to the Grand Lodge webpage.

In 1795, Boston had purchased a plot east of Beacon Hill, on land previously part of Governor John Hancock’s estate, to construct a new state house.  Governor Samuel Adams asked Massachusetts Grand Master Paul Revere to lay the cornerstone in a Masonic ceremony on July 4, 1795.

Grand Lodge records provide a detailed account of the exact contents of the capsule. Only their current condition, after more than two centuries, was unknown.

The capsule was not opened until January 6, 2015.  The contents, exactly what the Massachusetts Masons expected, were in great shape.  See more details and pictures at – www.massfreemasonry.org — the Grand Lodge website.

Facility Renamed: Masonic Children’s Hospital

A gift from Minnesota Masonic Charities (MMC) has prompted the renaming of the hospital at the University of Minnesota to Masonic Children’s Hospital.

The facility is one of the country’s premiere children’s health research and treatment facilities.

“We didn’t just want to simply write a check and get our name on a building,” according to Eric J. Neetenbeek, Past Grand Master and President of MMC.  “We wanted to improve outcomes for children and their families.”

Minnesota Masonry has been a key partner with the University of Minnesota for about 60 years and has donated $125 million to this cause.

Masonic Research Project Follow-Up

Thank you, Emessay Notes readers, for participating in the Masonic Research Survey, described in our November, 2014, issue. 

The Masonic researcher doing the survey, promised to give results to each person taking the survey.  Each participant received a unique identifier at the time they answered the questions.  Using this identifier, participants should go to – www.wr-psychometrics.com/surveys/results.htm — for results.

Virtually all the persons participating were active Masons.  No candidates participated, and only a handful of former active members and the general public took part.  Anyone in these latter categories is still encouraged to take the survey at the – www.wr-psychometrics.com/surveys/mqr.htm — web address.  If you know someone in one of the groups, encourage them to take the survey.

90-Year-Old – Or More — Masters

In the December issue of Emessay Notes, we introduced Odis Jackson, who was installed as Worshipful Master last year in Alabama on his 97th birthday.

Since then, we have heard of two others in the “90-year-old Worshipful Master’s Club” – both of whom are World War II Veterans.

Marion J. NeSmith was installed as Master of Gwinnett Daylight Lodge in Lawrenceville, Georgia, in December at age of 93.  He was raised in Virginia Corinthian Lodge in Norfolk, VA, in 1966.  He reconnected with Masonry in Georgia following his retirement, and has become active in many related Masonic bodies.  He joined the First Virginia National Guard in 1938, was activated for World War II in 1941, deployed to England in 1944, and landed in Normandy, France, a few weeks after D-Day.  Brother NeSmith was highly decorated with the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantry Badge, and other ribbons.  In 2012, France awarded him the rank of Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honor.

Warren Musch, Worshipful Master of Virginia Lodge in Illinois during 2014, also is 93 years of age. His term concluded in January, 2015. He has been a Mason for 71 years, since receiving his Master Mason Degree in 1943.  During World War II, Brother Musch enlisted in the Marines and saw considerable combat in the Pacific, including on Iwo Jima.

2015 Revised MSA Catalog Now Online

 The updated MSA Publications Catalog is ready for viewing at www.msana.com — MSA’s website, the only place the Catalog is available.  You may download or print a copy. NOTE: This replaces all previous editions of the Catalog, and orders placed should be at the current pricing.

The redesigned Catalog shows updated prices on publications, which are required due to the increasing costs of printed materials. We have adjusted our shipping charges and now any order totaling $5.00 or less will ship for free.

  Everything that MSA offers in its Catalog is not at the Online Store, but the most popular publications and those, which we periodically offer at special discounted prices, can be found there. MSA’s Online Store may be used for ordering those items using a credit card. All items in the Catalog can be ordered by mail, using the order form and a check.

The list of Short Talk Bulletins–from 1923 to the present–which in the past was printed in the Catalog, is now available as a separate document on the MSA webpage.


This Is Where It Happens

“Masonry is about brothers – and it’s about the lodge room.  It’s what you do there that counts the most.  Research Lodges, Grand Lodges and other bodies are here to help.  But the future of Masonry is actually in your hands – the hands that welcome each candidate, touch the altar, and raise the Master Mason.  This is where it happens.”

(Sanford Holst, Editor, of the SCRL (Southern California Research Lodge) Fraternal Review, December, 2014.)

Emessay Notes January 2015 

Freemasonry: Diversity Of Opinion; Unity Of Purpose 

“How interesting it is to see brothers so diametrically opposed on issues, but united in the principles and purposes of Freemasonry.”

These are the words of the Rev. and Right Worshipful Brother Bruce R. Bellmore, Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut, in his regular column, “Grand Chaplain’s Pulpit,” in the July-August, 2014, issue of the Connecticut Mason.

His comments followed two recent Supreme Court decisions, in which the social media, as well as many ordinary citizens, made strong comments on both sides of the issues.

“What I found particularly interesting was the wide range of opinions expressed by my brothers on these rulings,” Brother Bellmore wrote.  “Some of my brothers felt that these decisions were vindications of the Constitution while other brothers felt that this was a very dark day for American jurisprudence.”

We meet in the Lodge on the level of equality, united in the principles of brotherly love, relief, and truth, he stated. 

Whether differences of opinion exist in political or social situations outside the Lodge – or by opposing beliefs even on matters of importance within a Lodge or Grand Lodge – we, as Masons, should remember our obligations and keep our principles ever before us, Brother Bellmore said.

The United States was founded on the belief that, in spite of our differences of opinions, we are united.  As Masons, the Connecticut Grand Chaplain concluded, “Let us ever stand united in the bonds of brotherhood.”

God’s Plumb Line, Straight

Many times each year, in churches around the world, the words to a popular hymn catch the ears of Masons with its familiar phrases.

Jane Parker Huber wrote the words to Let Justice Flow Like Streams, and in her third stanza, these words are sung:

                        So, may God’s plumb line, straight
                        Define our measure true,
                        And justice, right, and peace pervade
                        This world, our whole lives through

MSA’S Hospital Reps On ’60 Minutes’

When the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert A. McDonald, visited the VA Medical Center in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, a camera crew from 60 Minutes filmed the event, for a show later broadcast on the Sunday before Veterans Day.

Volunteers from the hospital were invited to greet the new VA Secretary on his arrival.  Among those invited were Brother Harvey Simons, MSA Hospital Representative, and his wife, Lillian Simons, Deputy Representative.

Not only was this meeting of MSA Representatives and the VA Secretary shown on 60 Minutes, but pictures and references to their encounter have been published in several magazines, including the Winter, 2014, issue of the Trowel, the official publication of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

The Wardens

The name, “Warden,” is derived from the Saxon word, “weard,” meaning warder or guard.  The “gu,” instead of “w,” comes from the Norman French, where the “gu” sound usually replaces the English “w.”

In the lodge at York Minster in the 1300s, there were two principal officers, principal and secondary masons, who were responsible for notifying the building owner of any defects in the work and of any absences, which needed deductions from wages. 

The agreement between the lodge and the Dean and Chapter refers to them as Masters of the masons.  In 1370, the Chapter records show a mason had to be approved by the common assent of the Master and Wardens of the work and by the Master Masons before he could be employed.  During the 1400s, there are regular references to a Warden or Wardens of the lodge.

Other records show that, by the 1500s, there were two Wardens and that they were supervisors of the work.  In some places, there appear to have been wardens for each of the three classes of masons – those who prepared stones, the setters who put them in place, and the roughlayers who were responsible for the rubble filling the walls. 

In was not uncommon for the Warden to be promoted to Master to fill a vacancy.

In English practice, the Master appoints Wardens.  In Scotland, New Zealand and most American jurisdictions, the Wardens are elected.

(From the Beginners’ Corner in the September, 1999 bulletin of the United Masters Lodge No. 167, New Zealand, and later from the September, 2000, Southern California Research Lodge Fraternal Review.)

The Gift Of Light

            “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark.  The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

                                                            — Plato (a wise man, but not a Mason)