CHAPTER 35: MELVIN JOHNSON'S SUPPLEMENT
Note. Here, Dr. Hamilton's manuscript ends. It was his intention to carry the history through the Bi-Centenary celebration of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in 1933. I have accepted the invitation of M. W. Grand Master Perry to add the story of the interval. This I gladly do as a very slight tribute to one of my closest Masonic and, indeed, one of my oldest friends. Bro. Hamilton and I were members of the same college fraternity, Theta Delta Chi, into which I was initiated during the collegiate year 1888-9. The following year, he was a student in the School of Theology connected with the same college, from which he had graduated in 1880, and he frequently was a visitor at meetings of his fraternity. There I met him in the fall of 1889 and our lives ran very closely together during the half century since we met until his death on May 22, 1940.
In Massachusetts, according to the English, but contrary to the American, custom the Grand Master appoints his own Deputy Grand Master, and during the second year of my term I appointed Brother Hamilton to that office. When the Grand Secretary died, the day before the installation of officers in 1914, I called in Brother Hamilton and suggested to him that I would like to see him Grand Secretary. The suggestion was a complete surprise to him but after conference with the officers of the organization by which he was then employed, he agreed to accept if elected. At the time, he was Past Master of two lodges and an Active Member of the Supreme Council for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States. There is scarcely any act which I have performed Masonically of which I am more proud than bringing about his election to that office, to which he was then and every year thereafter elected unanimously so long as he lived.
On December 11, 1935, on recommendation of the M. W. Grand Master, who accorded me the honor of moving the resolution, Brother Hamilton was unanimously elected an Honorary Past Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts. This honor had been given but once before In the two centuries of Masonry in this Commonwealth, when a previous Grand Secretary, Charles W. Moore, had it conferred upon him as he lay upon his death bed.
Dr. Hamilton was one of the giants. He had a brilliant mind. Though to some he seemed a bit austere, yet he had a very kindly and warm heart. His sound judgment, his erudition, and his profound knowledge of history, philosophy and Masonic law, made him an invaluable executive and administrative officer at the right hand of the M. W. Grand Master.
In bringing this history down to the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the founding of regular and duly-constituted Freemasonry in the Western Hemisphere, I shall endeavor to conform to M. W. Bro. Hamilton's plan and selection of material.
Melvin M. Johnson
ADMINISTRATION OF HERBERT WARREN DEAN
Grand Master Dean's first formal official act after his installation was to constitute in Lowell a lodge named after that brilliant Masonic leader, William Sewall Gardner, whose notable administration as Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts in 1869-70-71 did much to enhance the Masonic standing of Massachusetts both within and without its borders. He exercised a great influence also in the Templar and Scottish Rites in the fields of Masonic history, law and ritual; and at the time of his death was a Justice of the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This is a name well worthy of perpetuation through being adopted by one of our lodges.
On the Grand Master's recommendation, Grand Lodge voted to permit our Overseas Lodges to retain the entire amount of Grand Lodge dues collected within their respective Districts.
The much mooted question of release of jurisdiction over candidates was satisfactorily settled, as has been previously explained by M. W. Bro. Hamilton, by giving the Grand Master complete and unhampered jurisdiction over granting or refusing them.
Allusion has also been made to the construction of the Davenport Home, and the raising of a fund for the addition to the Hospital at Shrewsbury. Both were completed In 1931. In connection with the latter, there was a touching incident. Bro. Edward A. Newhall, 83, a resident at the Home, handed to Superintendent Handy a notice from his lodge, requesting contributions to the hospital fund, and he enclosed $5.00. This meant that Brother Newhall had gone without any spending money for ten weeks in order that he might share in the construction of the hospital. The allowance to residents was then fifty cents a week.
The September meeting of Grand Lodge was a memorable occasion. The Rt. Hon. the Earl of Donoughmore, who was not only Grand Master of Masons in Ireland but also Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient and Accepted Rite of England, was a guest and was presented by a committee of Past Grand Masters under the chairmanship of M. W. Leon M. Abbott, not only a Past Grand Master of our Grand Lodge but also the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council, 33°, for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States. M. W. Bro. Donoughmore, who was in this country primarily to attend the meeting of the Supreme Council presided over by Brother Abbott, has a delightful personality. While he has since retired from his position as Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords, after twenty years of service in that capacity, he still remains as Grand Master of Ireland and Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of England. In these capacities, representatives of our Grand Lodge have frequently been in contact with him while on Masonic visitations to Europe.
M. W. Bro. Dean gave much attention to the development of the educational activities of Grand Lodge, particularly in Lodges of Instruction, and since his Grand Mastership has served for years as Chairman of the Committee in charge of that department of Grand Lodge work.
There was appointed by his predecessor a Committee to prepare and present a revision of the Grand Constitutions. After many meetings and several hearings in different parts of the State, they presented a revised code in December, 1929. This was carefully reviewed by an enlarged Committee which reported in March, 1930, when, after some amendments, it was unanimously adopted.
The purposes of Freemasonry are stated in the Preamble of this code as follows:
"Freemasonry is a charitable, benevolent, educational, and religious secret society, adhering to its own peculiar ancient Landmarks. Its methods of recognition and of symbolic instruction are secret and thereby a test of membership is provided, though a Brother be traveling Jn foreign countries and among those who would otherwise be strangers.
"It is religious in that it teaches monotheism, the Volume of the Sacred Law is open upon its altars whenever a Lodge is in session, worship of God is ever a part of its ceremonial, and to its neophytes and Brethren alike are constantly addressed lessons of morality; yet it is not theological.
"It is educational in that it teaches a perfect system of morality, based upon the Sacred Law, by a prescribed ceremonial; and it also provides libraries and opportunities for study therein.
"It is benevolent in that it teaches relief of the poor and distressed as a duty and exemplifies the duty by relief of sick and distressed Brethren by caring for the widows and orphans of the Brethren, by maintaining homes for aged and distressed Brethren and their dependents, and by providing for the education of orphans.
"It is charitable in that none of its income inures to the benefit of any individual, but all is devoted to the improvement and promotion of the happiness of mankind.
"It is a social organization only so far as it furnishes additional inducement that men may forgather in numbers, thereby providing more material for its primary work of training, of worship, and of charity.
"In ancient times, the Brethren met in General Assembly for the ordering of the affairs of the Craft. With growth in numbers, however, it became necessary, in 1717, to adopt a representative form of government, since which time the Brethren have met in Lodges and each Lodge has sent its delegates to a legislative body known as the Grand Lodge."
This code also contained a pronouncement concerning the common law and landmarks of Freemasonry, as follows:
- Sec. 100. The Common Law of Freemasonry is to be learned from the ancient usages of the Craft as developed and interpreted from and after A. D. 1721. It is the foundation of Masonic jurisprudence.
- Sec. 101. The Landmarks are those ancient and universal fundamental principles of the Craft which no Masonic authority can alter or repeal.
- Sec. 102. This Grand Lodge recognizes the following Landmarks:
- a. Monotheism, the sole dogma of Freemasonry;
- b. Belief in immortality, the ultimate lesson of Masonic philosophy;
- c. The Volume of the Sacred Law, an indispen sable part of the furniture of a Lodge;
- d. The legend of the Third Degree;
- e. Secrecy;
- f. The symbolism of the operative art;
- g. A Mason must be a freeborn male adult.
- The above list of Landmarks is not declared to be exclusive,"
While these are not new, yet they are such an important recital of the purposes and basic law of Freemasonry that they deserve a place in full in the history of this Grand Lodge. Six Grand Masters, one Past Grand Master, four Deputy Grand Masters, two Grand Wardens, and one Grand Secretary, from the New England states, New York and New Jersey, met informally in Boston in May of 1929 for a worth while exchange of ideas and discussion of matters of mutual interest. A similar conference was held in April of 1931 by the Grand Masters and Deputy Grand Masters of the same states.
M. W. Bro. Dean reported three rather dissimilar but interesting events in 1930 in connection with our benevolences. The first was the completion of the construction at the Home and Hospital, to which reference has been made, amounting to $508,000.00, all of which had been paid for in full; the second was the 104th Birthday Celebration of Brother Logee, a resident of the Home who lived to celebrate there his 105th birthday; and the third was that one of the registered Ayrshire herd at the Home, having the euphonious name of "Woronoke Hollyhock" had recently broken the world's record as a milk producer and had obtained the proud title of World Champion as a junior four year old.
Grand Lodge was reminded in the Grand Master's address in September, 1930, of something too often forgotten by well disposed members of the Craft,- that the expenditure of lodge funds for the support of non-Masonic organizations is Improper and illegal no matter how good the cause.
In consequence of his recommendation, the Grand Lodge determined to collect one dollar from each initiate to be turned over to the George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association until the Endowment Fund to be established for its maintenance is completed. During the second year of his administration, accompanied by R. W. Charles C. Balcom, Grand Marshal, Bro. Dean made a trip around the world, primarily to visit our bodies in China. He used the opportunity to have a prior conference in London with officials of the Grand Lodges of England, Scotland and Ireland, all of which are equally interested in the Masonic situation in China because each has lodges there. Official visits were made to our lodges in China, and contacts were also made with Freemasonry In India, Japan, Hawaiian Islands and California. Owing to the disturbed conditions in China, this is the last visit which has been made there by one of our Grand Masters. Since Grand Master Dean was there, the Chinese situation has steadily grown worse. Some of our lodges have been unable to continue but others are functioning satisfactorily.
At the meeting in September, 1930, the Committee on Foreign Grand Lodges reported a request from the German Grand Lodge Union for an exchange of representatives with its four Grand Lodges, viz:
- Grossloge zur Sonne, whose see was at Beyrouth ;
- Grosse Freimaurerloge "Zur Eintracht," whose see was at Darmstadt;
- Grosse Mutterloge des Eklektischen Freimaurerbundes, whose see was at Frankfort on the Main;
- Grosse Loge von Hamburg, whose see was at Hamburg.
In 1933, by reason of the political changes in Germany, the Grand Lodges whose sees were at Beyrouth and Frankfort dissolved; that at Darmstadt suspended; and the one at Hamburg, in an endeavor to save its property including one of the finest hospitals in the whole of Germany - which it was maintaining for the benefit of the community, transformed itself into the "League of German Brethren." Even that, however, was put under the ban by Hitler. Consequently, our recognition was withdrawn in September, 1933.
The York Grand Lodge of Mexico, claiming to be the legitimate Grand Lodge Valle de Mexico, was recognized in 1930, and with it we are still in fraternal relationship. The Mexican Masonic situation is not clear, and while Massachusetts Is well aware that some action should be taken, yet it will have to be postponed until we have more full and certain knowledge, and the attitude of the Mexican government has become clear and stable.
Another notable accomplishment of this administration was the employment of Wor. J. Hugo Tatsch as Librarian and Curator. We had about 40,000 books and pamphlets in the Library but they had never been properly accessioned. No one knew of the rare treasures which we possessed until they were unearthed by this outstanding Masonic bibliophile who turned our Library from a cemetery into a workshop and developed a most interesting as well as instructive collection of exhibits in the Museum which was established under his direction.
An interesting legal question arose when a tyler, who was also a member of the lodge, appealed to Grand Lodge on the ground that he had been deprived of his privilege of balloting on a candidate. It is the established rule in Massachusetts that no one can enter or leave the lodge between the beginning of reports of Committees of Investigation and the balloting thereon. Also, that every member within the lodge room must ballot unless excused. The appeal was dismissed upon the ground that when the tyler accepted the office he waived his privilege of being within the lodge during its meetings; although If he had requested it in advance and arrangements could have been made for a substitute, he might have been permitted to be within the lodge. His contention that it was the duty of the officer in charge of the ballot box to open the door and let the tyler vote was overruled,
A constitutional provision having been proposed to limit the number of candidates which a lodge might annually make, It was discussed by the Grand Master, by a committee which gave it special consideration, and twice on the floor of Grand Lodge. The proposed amendment received a substantial majority of the votes cast but fell somewhat short of the necessary two-thirds required for adoption and consequently failed. The financial depression has so thoroughly taken care of this question that it has not again been brought up for consideration in Grand Lodge.
Because St. John's Grand Lodge (by which name our Grand Lodge was originally called) is not in possession of Its written records from Jan. 27, 1775 until Feb. 17, 1787, it had for many years been supposed that its activities were suspended during that period. At the September meeting in 1931, Past Grand Master Johnson presented a paper for publication in the records explaining the reason for the hiatus. It was due to the fact that the Grand Secretary in January, 1775, was Thomas Brown, a Tory, who remained shut up in Boston during the British occupation. After the evacuation in 1776, Brother Brown sought refuge in Halifax, Nova Scotia, taking with him the records, books and other Masonic property then in his possession. They were not recovered by Grand Lodge until 1787. The paper listed facts to demonstrate that the Grand Lodge had not ceased to function but that its particular lodges continued activity. He cited many instances - with the authority for them - sufficient to demonstrate that Grand Lodge had not suspended its activities. Since the writing of that paper, he has discovered in the original records of American Union Lodge, now in the possession of the Grand Lodge of New York, which lodge was chartered by St. John's Grand Lodge, records of many meetings held in 1776, 1777 and 1779, at one of which Grand Master John Rowe was present and in the chair.
During this year of 1931, Past Grand Master Ferrell resigned as Relief Commissioner in order to give his full time to the pastorate of the Second Church in Boston, and was succeeded by M. W. Bro. Arthur D. Prince.
A new decoration, known as "The Joseph Warren Medal," awarded for distinguished Masonic service, was made a constitutional medal during this administration. Grand Master Dean conferred it upon seventeen earnest and loyal brethren who had rendered devoted service and yet whose achievements had not covered the wider field of accomplishment for which the Henry Price Medal is awarded. Many of the recipients of The Joseph Warren Medal have labored as sincerely, earnestly and devotedly in their own communities as others who have achieved the country-wide or international reputations.
ADMINISTRATION OF CURTIS CHIPMAN
In December of 1931, M. W. Curtis Chipman was unanimously chosen to be Grand Master. Born in Boston on Nov. 1, 1875, he was made in Eliot Lodge in 1904, attaining all the degrees of recognized Freemasonry. He served as Worshipful Master of Loyalty Lodge in 1923 and 1924, Ex. High Priest of Mt. Vernon Royal Arch Chapter in 1915 and 1916, and Eminent Commander of St. Bernard Commandery, K.T., in 1916. He was also M. W. Master of Mt. Olivet Chapter of Rose Croix in 1931 and 1932, was M. Ex. Grand High Priest of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Massachusetts from 1922 to 1924 inclusive, and was coronetted an Honorary Member of the Supreme Council in September of 1933. He belonged to a number of patriotic societies end social clubs, and in the second year of his service was given the unique honor of being made an Honorary Member of the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland. A banker by profession, he was a connoisseur in many fields of literature and art, an interesting speaker, attentive to detail, but perhaps his outstanding quality was his capacity for friendship. He died October 9, 1935, while under sixty years of age and less than ten months after retiring from the chair of Grand Lodge.
Two of his predecessors died during his first year of service: M. W. Dudley H. Ferrell, in September; and M. W. Leon M. Abbott, in October, reducing the Past Grand Masters to five in number.
In referring to our historic Masonic treasures, he called attention to a chair and desk formerly used by Henry Price, the Founder of Duly Constituted Masonry in America,- the chair having been indefinitely loaned to Grand Lodge by Belmont Lodge in 1930,-and the desk presented by Henry Price Lodge in 1933. These, with the kettle and one of the two andirons in the fireplace of the Grand Master's office, are greatly treasured because they are authentic relics formerly in the homes which Henry Price occupied in Cambridge and later in Townsend, Massachusetts.
In the first year of M. W. Bro. Chipman's service occurred the Washington Bicentenary Celebration. Most of the lodges held observances at his request. The Grand Lodge had its observance on March 9, 1932, the addresses being given by Grand Master Chipman and Past Grand Master Johnson. The same year, Grand Lodge withdrew its recognition from the Grand Orient of Brazil and recognized the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Rio de Janiero. The following year it recognized the Grand Lodge of Bolivia and two Grand Lodges in Czechoslovakia.
On May 12, 1932, by permission of the Grand Master of Masons of Virginia, our Grand Lodge held a Special Communication, opened in Ample Form, at Alexandria, Virginia, as did other Grand Lodges, for the purpose of participating In the Dedication of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, The Dedication ceremonies were conducted by the Grand Lodge 0f Virginia, M. W. Charles H. Callahan acting as Grand Master by the generous appointment of Grand Master Green, The Grand Masters of each of the thirteen original states had a part assigned him individually. The other Grand Masters of the forty-nine in this country made responses by geographical groups. President and Mrs, Hoover attended.
The dedicatory oration was delivered by M. W. Melvln M. Johnson, by appointment of the Association.
This history will close with the great event of M, W. Brother Chipman's administration, the celebration of the Two-Hundredth Anniversary of this Grand Lodge. Indeed, it is the most elaborate function the Grand Lodge has ever held.
The actual Two Hundredth Anniversary of the establishment of the Provincial Grand Lodge, which later became the Grand Ledge of Massachusetts, was July 30th, 1933, but the celebration was planned to be held in late June that it might be more convenient to the brethren, to avoid the heat of the midsummer, and to permit Grand Master Chipman to attend the dedication in London of the Great Masonic Peace Memorial by his Royal Highness M. W. the Duke of Connaught, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England, held during the week of July 17th. All was accomplished except avoidance of the heat. Our celebration during the week of June 25th occurred during one of the hottest spells which had been experienced in Boston for some years. The celebration opened on Sunday, June 25th, with a service at Christ Church, known as the "Old North Church," in the steeple of which the lanterns hung to signal Paul Revere. The brethren were welcomed by the Rector, Rev. Bro. Francis E. Webster, and the sermon was preached by Very Reverend Bro. Percy T. Edrop, D. D.„ Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Springfield, Mass., and Grand Chaplain. In the evening, a session of Grand Lodge was held in the Temple in Boston where, within the body of the Lodge of St. Andrew "An Eighteenth Century Lodge" was presented by a group of brethren from Simon W. Robinson Lodge of Lexington, On Monday afternoon, Grand Lodge, having been duly opened, was welcomed in the body of St. John's Lodge, a lodge which had been constituted on July 30, 1733, immediately after Henry Price had established his Provincial Grand Lodge. The original petition of this lodge for a charter was present in the custody of Grand Secretary Hamilton and was exhibited and read to the brethren. At this meeting the Masonic dignitaries who had come from other lands to join in our celebration were presented as follows:
- Right Worshipful General Sir Francis J. Davies, K. C. B., K. C. V. O., Provincial Grand Master for Worcestershire.
- Worshipful Brigadier-General E. C. W. D. Walthall, C. M. G., D. S. Q), Past Grand Deacon Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Derbyshire.
- Most Worshipful The Right Honorable, The Lord Belhaven and Stenton, C. I. E., D. L., Grand Master Mason of Scotland.
- Right Worshipful F. W. Fell Clark, Substitute Grand Master of Scotland and Provincial Grand Master of Argyle and the Isles.
- Right Worshipful Thomas G. Winning, Grand Secretary of Scotland.
- Most Worshipful R. B. Dargavel, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada in Ontario.
- Most Worshipful Reginald V. Harris, Grand Master of Nova Scotia.
- Most Worshipful Robert A. Gordon, Grand Master of Prince Edward Island.
- Most Worshipful Allan P. Shatford, Past Grand Master of Quebec.
- Right Worshipful Leon N. Bensabet, Grand Orator, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Services appropriate to the celebration of the Two Hundredth Anniversary of this lodge, the life of which has been continuous - it having held about 2900 meetings - was notable for the addresses of M. W. Bro. Chlpman, Wor. Bro. Walthall, R. W. Brother Fell Clark and M. W. Bro. William B. Clarke, Grand Master of Masons in Georgia.
On Tuesday, the guests of Grand Lodge were taken to visit the Home and Hospital, luncheon being served on the lawn of the Hospital. That evening, the Officers and Permanent Members of Grand Lodge, guests, Grand Representatives, Committee Members, and escorts, assembled in the Ballroom of the Copley-Plaza Hotel for the Grand Master's Dinner, at which the principal speakers were our Brother, the Hon. and Major General Erland F. Fish, President of the Massachusetts State Senate; R. W. Bro. Winning; M. W. Charles H. Johnson, Past Grand Master of Masons in New York; M. W. E. S. C. Baker, Grand Master of Masons in So. Carolina; M. ff. George 0. Foster, Grand Master of Masons in Kansas; M. W. and Rev. Bro. Allan P. Shatford, Canon of the Cathedral of Montreal and Past Grand Master of Masons in Quebec; M. W. Sam H. Goodwin, Past Grand Master of Masons in Utah; and R. W. Leon N. Bensabet, Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge of Rio? de Janeiro.
On Wednesday afternoon, Grand Lodge formally received its guests who came from England, Scotland, twenty-five Grand Lodges of the United States, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Queensland and Brazil. Many of them spoke, and representatives of other Grand Lodges presented addresses end messages. The Grand Master decorated R. W, Bro. Davies and M. W. Lord Belhaven end Stenton with the Henry Price Medal. He then presented The Joseph Warren Medal to Worshipful Brigadier General Walthall and Right Worshipful Bro. Fell Clark. Many cablegrams, letters and addresses were presented which are of record in the proceedings.
By reason of limitations of space, the only meeting of the celebration which could be thrown open to the fraternity at large, and which even then had to be limited to ticket holders, was the mass meeting at the Boston Arena that evening. The great auditorium, seating approximately 15,000, was completely filled. M. W. Grand Master Chipman made a most gracious address of welcome. In behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it was responded to by Bro. the Honorable Gaspar G. Bacon, Lieutenant Governor R. W. Bro. Sir Francis J. Davies presented a letter from His Royal Highness, the Most Worshipful Grand Master of England, together with the felicitations and best wishes of that Grand Lodge. This was followed by a most interesting address by M. W. Bro. The Right Honorable, The Lord Belhaven and Stenton, Grand Master Mason of Scotland, who informed us that it was the first time for almost 200 years that the Grand Master of Scotland had left his jurisdiction while in office. Greetings were presented from Very Worshipful Burnett Brown, a direct descendant of Lord Montague, who as Grand Master of Masons in England in 1733 presented to Henry Price the deputation authorizing him to establish duly constituted Freemasonry in America. Brother Brown had intended to be present but was prevented by sudden illness. Greetings were presented also from the Rt. Honorable The Earl of Donoughmore, Grand Master of Masons in Ireland, whose health and the pressure of public business presented his attendance. The formal address was made by Past Grand Master Melvln Maynard Johnson who summarized the history of Masonry in Massachusetts and its major accomplishments. Before closing the meeting, the Grand Master also called upon R. W. Lewis B. Bates, District Grand Master for the Canal Zone; R. W. and Honorable Benjamin Page, Grand Master of Masons in Pennsylvania; and R. W. Walter B. Darker, Assist&nt Grand Master of Queensland.
The celebration was closed by the vast audience standing and singing one verse of "God Save the King," in honor of our guests, followed by one verse of "America."
It is fitting to close this story of Freemasonry in Massachusetts by quoting a paragraph from the historical address:
"The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, now and here assembled in Special Communication, is the oldest Masonic organization in America, or, indeed, anywhere in the world outside of the British Isles, Established as a Provincial Grand Lodge July 30, 1733, it is the only Masonic Grand Body in America which has functioned continuously for two hundred years with unbroken succession of officers end members. This statement is not controversial. In the light of present knowledge, it is certain and definite. Moreover, it is the only Masonic Body in the Western Hemisphere, grand, particular, or subordinate, which is two centuries old, except its own child, formerly the First Lodge, now St. John's Lodge of Boston."