Masonic History and Trivia

Masonic History and Trivia

On September 7, 1929, after rising his son Brother Norman B. Hickox, Master of Events Lodge No. 524, Illinois, formally presented a beautiful silver cup to the lodge. He also presented a book of travel and a specially prepared carrying case. The cup was to be sent on a journey, traveling always from West to East by land sea or air, and always in the custody of a Master Mason.

On November 19, 1929, the book and cup were taken to Ashlar Lodge No. 308 in Chicago to start the journey. The book recorded the places and circumstances of each visit of the cup.

On the journey the cup was received by more that 150 host lodges. It touched places all over the world. On May 24, 1958, a homecoming celebration was held at Evans Lodge to commemorate the return of the cup to the lodge. The Cup of Brotherly Love, an illustrated account of this odyssey, was published by the Masonic Service Association in 1959.

At one time Golden Rule Lodge No. 5 of Stanstead, Canada, occupied a lodge room which was bisected by the boundary between Canada and the United States. It had entrances from the Vermont and Canadian sides; the membership of the lodge consisted of men from both sides of the border.

In 1860, at Limerick, Ireland, there was found in a small chapel a stone dated 1517 with the following inscription:

“I will serve to live with love and care, Upon the level, by the square.”

The famous Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor was designed by a Frenchman, Frederick A. Bartholdi, a Freemason. The Grand Lodge of New York laid the cornerstone with masonic ceremonies on August 5, 1885.

On his famous solo flight over the Atlantic in 1927 Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh wore the square and compasses on his jacket as a good luck emblem. He was a Mason at the time.

When Bernt Balchen, explorer and air pioneer, flew over the North Pole and the South Pole with Brother Richard E. Byrd, they dropped Masonic flags on both Poles. In the 1933-35 expedition over the South Pole, Brother Balchen also tossed his Shrine fez on the Pole.

Leroy Gordon Cooper, Jr., famous astronaut, on his 22 orbit flight carried a Masonic coin in his pocket as well as a blue Masonic flag which he later presented to his mother lodge, Carbondale No. 82, Carbondale, Colorado.

On August 23, 1879, Lodge No. 239 of France held a meeting in a balloon flying over Paris, at which time a Brother was initiated.

The inventors of the first balloon were Joseph Montgolfier, Michel Montgolfier, and Jacques Etielle; all were members of the Nine Sisters Lodge in France.

Brother Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I air ace, was a devoted Mason for many years.

Dr. Edward Jenner, an early English Physician, observed that milk maids who once had smallpox did not get the disease when exposed to it. After experimenting, he announced this discovery in 1789, and vaccination followed shortly thereafter. He was Worshipful Master of Royal Faith and Friendship Lodge No. 270 in Berkeley, England, in 1811-1813.

Dr. Charles H. Mayo, one of the founders of the famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, was a Mason. His son Charles W., who also was a Mason, became governor of the Clinic, which began in the Masonic Temple building in Rochester. The Grand Lodge on Minnesota for years has maintained a representative at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester to assist Masons planning to come there and to make their stay pleasant.

James Hoban was the architect who designed and supervised the construction of the White House. When the British destroyed this building during the War of 1812, he designed the one replacing it. James Hoban was a Mason. He was probably present when the cornerstone was laid by Maryland Lodge No. 9 of Georgetown on October 13, 1792, with Masonic ceremony. He was also a devout Roman Catholic.

During President Truman’s term of office it was necessary to rebuild the White House. In 1952, while the work was in progress, Brother Truman discovered that some of the original stones contained traditional “Mason’s marks”. He directed that these stones be preserved and delegated the duty to Major General Harry H. Vaughan, Brother Renah F. Camalier, and the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia. These stones were distributed to the Grand Lodges of the United States and to certain territories and foreign governments. On February 22, 1966, the last stone was presented to the George Washington National Masonic Memorial Association for display in the Temple on Shooter’s Hill.

Stephen Girard, a wealthy merchant of Philadelphia, died on February 26, 1831. His will left a fortune to many worthy causes. There was a report that when he was near death, he had requested his sister to secure a Roman Catholic priest. This was construed as a desire to become reconciled with the church; but when the priest arrived, Girard was dead. On the strength of this report permission was given to admit the body into the German Roman Catholic Church building. 400 Masons assembled at the Masonic Hall, by invitation of the Grand Lodge, and marched to the church to attend the funeral. They did not wear their aprons in order to avoid criticism. The clergy, left in a body and refused to perform any service. The Masons took charge and buried the remains of Stephen Girard in the vault he had designated. When Girard College was built under the terms of his will, the body was re-interred in a marble tomb on the grounds of the school.

Rudyard Kipling, the famous English author, was born in India of English parents. He was educated in England but returned to India in 1880. He was initiated in Hope and Perseverance Lodge No. 782, Lahore, Punjab, India in 1886. A special dispensation was necessary as he was only twenty years and six months at the time. When he took the degrees, there were four Holy Books upon the alter representing the dominant religions in the area. Upon his rising he was immediately elected secretary; and he prepared the minutes of that meeting himself.

Many years later he wrote: “I was secretary for some years of Hope and Perseverance Lodge No. 782, E. C., Lahore, which included Brethren of at least four creeds. I was entered by a member of Brahmo Somaj, a Hindu; passed by a Mohammedan; and raised by an Englishman. Our Tyler was an Indian Jew. We met, of course on the level, and the only difference anyone would notice was that at the banquets, some of the Brethren, who were debarred by caste from eating food not ceremonially prepared, sat over empty plates.”


James M. Tolley PM
Putnam Lodge 139