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CharlesASkinner_GrCh.jpg CharlesASkinner2.jpg

  • MM 1864, Amicable
  • Grand Chaplain 1889-1893


From Proceedings, Page 1906-45:

I. As a Mason.

"In the departuie of Grand Chaplain Skinner from our Brotherhood circle we have lost a member cherished by all who knew him, and one widely identified with tbe Masonic Order. He was gathered, like the ripe, full sheaf, unto the Great Harvester. At the age of eighty-two years his loving heart ceased to beat and his earthly activity came gently, painlessly to its end. It seems but a short time since his voice was heard here, and we looked forward to many more occasions when he would sit in the familiar spot, or lead in the accustomed ritual. But even then the burden of years began to find expression, and a casual remark from his lips revealed a feeling of weariness. From thct time he slowly drifted away out 'over the bar,' and passed from sight April 22 of this new spring. He has seen his Pilot 'face to face.'

"I think it will be interesting to. give first the record of Brother Skinner's career and offices in Freemasonry. He has come in contact with a legion of members, in various positions and occasions, through a long, devoted service.

"Received Masonic degrees in Amicable Lodge, Cambridge. Accepted, Dec. 3, 1863; initiated, Dec. 3, 1863; crafted, Feb. 4, 1864; raised, March 4, 1864; demitted in 1868. Joined Lafayette Lodge, Hartford, Conn., 1868, and demitted, Oct. 8, 1878. Joined Wyoming Lodge, Melrose, Mass., Feb. 26, 1879; demitted Nov. 23, 1881. Served as Chaplain of Wyoming Lodge from September, 1879, to Sept. 1, 1881. Joined Soley Lodge, Somerville, Mass., Sept. 15, 1884; demitted Dec. 17, 1900. Served as Chaplain of Soley Lodge during his membership, sixteen years. Elected to Honorary Membership in Amicable Lodge, Cambridge, Feb. 6, 1902, and became an active member of said Lodge Feb. 5, 1903, and retained his membership till his decease, April 22, 1906. Served as Chaplain of Amicable Lodge 1865 and 1866. also 1904-1906. Brother Skinner was first appointed as Grand Chaplain of this Grand Lodge Dec. 27, 1889, and served until Dec. 27, 1893. He was reappointed to that position Dec. 27, 1895, and served until his decease. He was exalted in Cambridge Royal Arch Chapter, Cambridge, Mass., and became a member of that Body Feb. 16, 1866. He was received and greeted in Wolcott Council, No. 1, R.S.M., of Hartford, Conn., Jan. 30, 1868, and held the office of Chaplain therein in 1870 and 1871. Brother Skinner was appointed Grand Chaplain of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Mass., Dec. 9, 1884, and served in that position until his decease, a period of twenty-one years. He was Grand Chaplain of the Grand Council, R. and S.M. of Massachusetts, from 1891 to his decease, a period of fifteen years. He was knighted in Washington Commandery, Hartford, Conn., April 10, 1868. He was Prelate during the years 1869, 1873, 1874 and 1876. He was also its Captain General in 1871, and Generalissimo, 1877. He demitted from Washington Commandery, K.T., 1879, He became a member of Hugh de Payens Commandery, K. T., of Melrose, Mass., March 12, 1879. His membership expired Sept. 14, 1887. He was Prelate of this Commandery from Sept. 10, 1879, to Oct. 13, 1886. He retained Associate Memberslrip in Hugh de Payens Commandery, K.T., until his decease.

"Through these facts and figures shine his personality and spirit, giving them their true value and significance.

"As a Mason he gave the Order himself, and his best self. In all these relations to different Bodies at successive stages of his life he was sincerely allied with them in thought and feeling. Reverent in prayer, hearty in fellowship, buoyant in belief, genuine in conviction, Brother Skinner conveyed a helpful, strengthening tone, and proved a worthy representative at all times.

"My chief association with him has been in the Grand Chaplaincy of the Grand Lodge, covering a term of about twelve years. I desire to express my sense of indebtedness for the large, free way in which he met the duties that fell upon us both. Owing to circumstances, I was often obliged to rely on my colleague to respond to calls for dedications and anniversaries and visitations. He was not only adequate, but willing to serve for me and for himself. How acceptable aud satisfying he was at such times in the ritual all know who have listened to the full rich tones of his voice, and caught the spirit of his part."

II. The Clergyman.

"Behind the Mason was the Clergyman, and behind the Clergyman, the Man.

"Brother Skinner was the son of a minister, and inherited the clerical mould of mind. His father, Rev. Warren Skinner, was in his day a noted Universalist divine of aggressive and resolute temper, always found at the firing line of argument. Charles, his son, partook of the earnestness of the father, but it reappeared in a modified form. Our Grand Chaplain combined strength and gentleness. Beneath his smile was the firmness of self reliance, and in his genial grasp, independence was not lost. Those who were present nt the impressive funeral services held at the Cambridge First Universalist Church will recall the estimate of Brother Skinner"s work as a minister given by Dr. Bicknell, who knew him well. He said in substance:

"Dr. Skinner was a man of strong convictions, and yet always charitable towards men of different beliefs. In every community in which be lived he was honored and esteemed. He was greatly helped and inspired for many years by his lovely and talented wife, who passed on some fifteen years ago. In the house of mourning he was a blessed comforter. In the sick room he was an arm, as it were, upon which the sufferer could lean. In companionship he was always genial, gracious and tender. In friendship he was true and warm. In the homes of his parishioners he was a sweet presence. In the pulpit his voice was strong for Christ, his principles and work. He lived the religion he preached. His faith was mighty. Death had no terrors for him. He faced the change calmly and serenely. He made every arrangement for the funeral services. These were written on a sheet of paper, and closed with these words, his dying messcge. 'My love and triumphant faith to my sons.'

"Of these three sons many will recall Otis Skinner, a leading American dramatic star.

"Brother Skinner's settlements were at Cambridge, Hartford (Conn.), Melrose, Somerville and Swampscott. A few years ago Tufts College conferred on him the degree of S.T.D.

"As I have already stated, our Brother selected those who should officiate at his funeral, and wrote full directions as to the character of the service. In company with many friends and representative Bodies, our Grand Master, and other prominent Masons in active and past service were in attendance. A brother clergyman speaks thus of the funeral event:

"It seems to us peculiarly fitting that, when after his really sixty years of Christian warfare, his life battle having been fought to a crown-deserving finish, the earthly discharge should find him in the city where he had fulfilled his longest pastorate, and where a cherished few of his old friends were yet living to be his neighbors. It was also, we think, fitting that his honorable career, by appropriate obsequies, was recalled within the same church walls that bad previously echoed to the obsequies of Thomas Whittemore and Lucius R. Paige. His rightful place is in companionship with these, and with such as these; the glorified company of the church triumphant."

III: The Man.

"A few words in closing to bring before us our friend and Brother in his essential character as a man among men.

"As we saw him in his later age - the autumn fulness of his honorable career - we found a mellow quality of good will and kindness. It waited not for speech, but was disclosed in his bearing, his eye, his look. He took counsel of patience, and his judgments were charitable. His type of preaching was, called inspirational by his brother ministers, because he was always at his best in a sermon when he had a simple, dear Gospel theme. Then he poured his faith and hope into it with such fervor as to bear his listeners along on the tide of his joyous message. So was it in his personal influence. A virtue of goodness proceeded from his calm, strong outlook on life. He took cheerful views, he hoped fol the best, be believed in his fellowmen. You felt all this when you met him.

"Freemasonry was the world-application, the mankind interpretation of his ideas. It was natural and inevitable that he should be at home in our Fellowship. He found his individual ideals multiplied a thousand times, and his personal efforts immeasurably intensified by the Lodges and Degrees of Freemasonry. Next to religion was his loyalty to our Order. Here he helped to cultivate the traits in others which make noble citizens, true worshipers and loyal patriots. As a man be brought sincerity and affection, and we as men cherished the gift.

"Not only peace to his memory, the peace of a loving remembrance, but power to his memory. that we may often recall his example in days to come, for inspiration and guidance."

Edward A. Horton.

From New England Craftsman, Vol. I, No. 8, June 1906, Page 290:

Rev. Brother Charles A. Skinner, died at his home in Cambridge, April 22, at the age of 82 years. He was born in Brownsville, N. Y., where, after he had acquired his education, he began his life as a minister. His education was obtained at schools in Vermont, New Hampshire and New York. Brother Skinner was deeply interested in Freemasonry and served for a long time as chaplain in the Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter of Mass. He was the father of the well known actor, Otis Skinner.



From Proceedings, 1904-205:

MOST WORSHIPFUL GRAND MASTER AND BRETHREN: — I think it is a matter of prudence to call us from refreshment to labor, at this time, otherwise some of us might be in the condition of the boy whose mother took him out to a public dinner, where, for once in his life, he got all he wanted to eat; and when he got filled up, he said to his mother, "Take me home, but don't bend me." {Laughter.} It might be disastrous to attempt to bend some of us. Brother Storer sits pretty straight, I see; but you must

"Take him up tenderly,
Lift him With care;
Fashioned so slenderly,
Young and so fair."

Well, we have the same thing year after year, essentially. We have come to the end of another year, and I suppose that will disappear in "the hole in the bottom of the sea." We have this splendid chorus here to-night, as usual; but there is one thing that we miss very much from our gathering this evening, at least I do, for I have been made a target on many similar occasions for the quips of my dear friend, Brother Horton, who has always stirred us up each year and set us the pace.

Well, these recurrences, the same thing, essentially, I say, over and over again, remind us of the family where there was a succession of twins. In the first place there came a pair of girls, and they called them Kate and Duplicate. In the course of time there came a pair of boys, and they christened them Peter and Repeater. Not to give over the good work, after a time there came two others, and they named them Max and Climax. I suppose this is the climax.

I am very sorry, my Brothers here to-night, that I come to you with this cold that renders it very uncomfortable to me to talk, and I am quite sure, makes it uncomfortable to you to listen; but I shall attempt to say some few things to you. We make this an occasion, I suppose, that many of us look forward to, or that many of you look forward to as the great occasion, perhaps, of the year. You are thinking of this Festival of St. John, perhaps, from one year to another, and, after it is past, regret that it must be a year until it comes around again. Now, I think it would be a good plan for us, instead of anticipating these special occasions of life,—for. instance, the Fourth of July, or Patriots' Day, or Thanksgiving Day, or Christmas, or our birthday,—instead of thinking so much of these special occasions, I think it would be a splendid thing if we could try and get this good cheer into our lives all the year round. Make every day a day of good cheer, and make it our duty — and may I say it very soberly — to get this good cheer into our lives, and into the lives of others with whom we associate, — make it our duty to make life as bright and peaceful and cheery as we possibly can. I know that it is a matter of constitution and temperament in a large degree. There are those who look always on the shady side of life; life is always a shady way with them; they are fond of going to funerals; they enjoy poor health; nothing looks bright to them in life; and if they read, it is an Ode to Melancholy; and if there is an expression of their religious feeling, it is, "What miserable sinners we all are, and it is our duty to be as miserable as we possibly can here, in order that we may be happy when we get over there." "It is our duty to be miserable here in order that we may be happy there;" as though it were a virtue to be happy there and miserable here!

Well, one method of getting this good cheer into our hearts and lives is to think not so much of what we have not, but of what we have to enjoy,— our homes, our friends, our associations in life. Let me illustrate it by this: "Not what we lose, but what we have." It is related that, a gentleman visited a hospital where there was a soldier who had lost his leg in the army, and he was pitying him, and said to him, "What a pity it is that you lost your leg." "Yes," he replied, "but how splendid it is that I didn't lose both of them." That is the way to look at life, I think, to see the bright things that are for us and that do us good. And I want to read to you this little poem:

"It is easy enough to be pleasant
When life flows by like a song,
But the man worth while is one who will smile
When everything goes dead wrong.

For the test of the heart is trouble,
And it always comes with the years,
And the smile that is worth the praises of earth
Is the smile that shines through tears.

It is easy enough to be prudent
When nothing tempts you to stray;
When without or within no voice of sin
Is luring your soul away.

But it's only a negative virtue
Until it is tried by fire;
And the life that is worth the honor of earth
Is the one that resists desire.

By the cynic, the sad, the fallen,
Who had no strength for the strife,
The world's highway is incumbered to-day,
They make up the sum of life.

But the virtue that conquers passion,
And the sorrow that hides in a smile;—
It is these that are worth the homage of earth,
For we find them but once in a while."

I, really, Brethren, must desist, for I find myself in great discomfort in attempting to talk to you to-night. I can only wish you a Merry Christmas, although that is past, of course, but a Merry Christmastide, and a Happy New Year, and you must excuse me.


Distinguished Brothers