VERGIL FRANCIS BRADFIELD 1895-1953
District Grand Master, China, 1936-1939
From Proceedings, Page 1953-232:
Born in Spring Arbor, Michigan, April 5, 1895
Died in Modesto, California, June 30, 1953
Right Worshipful Brother Bradfield was the son of Rev. George Bradfield, D.D., and Coral A. (Bentley) Bradfield. He attended the public schools in the Towns and Cities of Illinois where his father was located, and was graduated at Wheaton Academy and Conservatory of Music, Wheaton, Illinois, in 1915.
After graduation, he entered the ernploy of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad as an accountant. In 1917, he entered the Quartermaster Corps, U.S. Army, serving until the close of World War I in 1919. He then entered upon hospital work, which continued until his death, serving in administrative positions as follows:
- Williams-Porter Hospital, Techow, China, 1920_1922 ,
- Peking Union Medical College, Peking, China, 1922-1943
- Wayne University College of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan, 1941-1942
- University Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland, 1942-1944
- Kapiolani Hospital, Honolulu, 1944-1945
- Leahi Hospital, Honolulu, 1945-1951
- Department of Health, Territory of Hawaii, 1951-1952
- Memorial Hospital, Modesto, California, 1952 until his death.
His intimate knowledge of hospital and public-health operation made many demands upon him at the organization of such activities.
He was raised in International Lodge at Peking on November 21, 1923, and served as Master in 1927 and 1928. He was appointed District Grand Master for China by Most Worshipful Claude L. Allen on January 1, 1936, and he served in that office through 1939, when conditions in that stricken country compelled his return to the United States.
The difficulties of filling the office of District Grand Master in China were many and trying. Not only is that District 1000 miles in length and about 10,000 miles from the office of the Grand Master, but the means of communication and transportation are far below those to which we are accustomed. The District Grand Master, therefore, had to have a good knowledge of the Grand Constitutions and had to be possessed of fine tact in order that his decisions might be correct and the harmony of the Craft carefully maintained. R.W. Brother Bradfield was eminently successful in his conduct of that difficult position.
He was honored with the Joseph Warren Medal in 1931 and the Henry Price Medal in 1936. He was elected an Honorary Member of International, Hykes Memorial, Shanghai, and Sinim Lodges. He was active in the four Scottish Rite Bodies in Peking and served as the Head of each one. As an accomplished organist and choral director, he served as such in the Masonic Bodies and Churches where he held membership.
"Here was a friend whose heart was good;
He walked with men and understood.
His was a voice that spoke of cheer,
And fell like music on the ear.
His was a smile men loved to see;
His was a hand that asked no fee
For friendliness or kindness done.
And now that he has journeyed on,
His is a fame that never ends -
He leaves behind uncounted friends."
TO THE NEW ENGLAND CRAFTSMAN, JUNE 1941
From New England Craftsman, Vol. XXXVI, No. 11, July 1941, Page 214:
Some Lines on China
Brother Bradfield. recently returned from China to this country, gives in the following letter a glimpse into conditions in that extremely interesting and war-torn land. No intelligent observer who has visited China will fail to sympathize with the trials of the Chinese in their present ordeal and wish for them a happy release from the hands of the oppressor. The Masonic spirit runs high there and strong ties unite both Occidentals and Orientals. The future of the race and many of its most interesting problems are bound to be concerned with developments in the Far East and Brother Br ad field's comments, as a competent commentator on a familiar topic will be of interest to CRAFTSMAN readers.] — Ed. Craftsman.
New York, June 24, 1941.
Dear Brother Moorhouse:
Thank you for your cordial letter of June 16. On my next visit to Boston, probably during the first half of July, I shall want to have a chat with you ahout conditions in China.
Having just recently returned from North China, I can extend fresh greetings to the readers of The Craftsman from their brethren over there.
Nowhere else in the world is the universality of Freemasonry or the international aspect of our fraternity so prominently exemplified. There are Lodges under the Grand Jurisdiction of England, Ireland, Massachusetts, Scotland and the Philippine Islands. There are Bodies of the York Rite and of the Scottish Rite which offer to the Master Mason much valuable education in the philosophies and religions that have aided man in his search for God throughout the centuries. A Viennese Lodge in Shanghai which existed for a decade was dissolved a few years ago by order of the Nazi government hut many of its members have since affiliated with other Lodges.
American Freemasonry was introduced into China by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts about 78 years ago. Hundreds of candidates have been members of the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine forces. Massachusetts Lodges pioneered in accepting Chinese candidates and were followed in this practice by the Philippine Lodges. We have just cause to be proud of the records of our Chinese brethren. English Lodges have existed in China for a century. Scottish Freemasonry followed Massachusetts closely.
It is inspiring at all times but particularly so in these trying times to stand in the tiled company of Brethren representing many nations and religious faiths, all united in prayer to the Grand Architect for righteous peace and the establishment of brotherhood among all men.
Masonic membership has brought temporary distress to many of our brethren in the Far East. Scottish Lodges in Japan have found formal meetings inadvisable since spring of last year. Japanese military occupation of Manchuria has forced the closing of American Lodges in Harbin, Moukden and Dairen.
International Lodge in Peking continues to be staunchly supported by its Chinese members in spite of the arrest and detention of several of them for brief periods by the Japanese gendarmerie. To those Chinese brethren, I am glad to pav fine tribute for their courage and for their loyalty to the Craft. White Russians and citizens of other non-extra-territorial privileged nations, members of Lodges in Tientsin, have been refused passport visas by the new authorities on account of their Masonic affiliations. Lodges formerly in Nanking and Hangchow now hold their meetings in the International Settlement at Shanghai. Masons in Shanghai have had little interference in the practice of our Art.
It has been my observation in traveling over the China District, that the majority of active Freemasons of all jurisdictions arc conspicuous for their support of
social and religious organizations in their respective communities. President Roosevelt in an address to a national gathering of community service clubs a few years ago mentioned the Freemasons along with the Rotarians. Kiwanis, Knights of Columbus and others, as having been great stabilizing influences all through the dark years of the Depression. May we Masons continue to help stabilize society, but more effectively, through the constant practice of the tenets of our faith.
VERGIL F. BRADFIELD,
Past District Grand Master for China (Massachusetts).