A Focus on Masonic Research, News, and other Tidbits

Homo sum; humani nihil a me alienum puto.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Laying of a Cornerstone

Yesterday, 13 September 2008, I had the pleasure of traveling to a Cornerstone Laying and Lodge Dedication ceremony at a new Lodge hall located outside of my district. I am almost ashamed to say that it is the first I have been able to attend during my ten years as a Freemason.

My traveling partner, my Lodge’s Senior Warden, and I were both immensely impressed with the ceremonies, which were conducted in fine style by our Grand Master and the Grand Lodge officers. The famed, one hundred and seventy-three year old Lafayette Trowel was used in the Cornerstone Laying.

The event was well attended – so much so that my Senior Warden and I ended up eating outside of the Lodge hall for want of a place to sit in the dining room. I didn’t complain, however, since the chance to gather with so many Masons and to participate in the Grand procession was well worth the inconvenience of squatting on my haunches as I ate a fine meal prepared by our immediate Past Grand Master. It is not everyday that you find a Grand Master serving as the cook!

If you have never witnessed a Cornerstone Laying or a Lodge Dedication, I highly recommend that you look for the time to attend one. I should not have waited so long to see one for myself.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Firing of Guns

In the course of other research, I came across some interesting tidbits of information from the past that I’d like to share. The following newspaper accounts illustrate the enormous respect that Freemasonry apparently enjoyed during the 1700s.

The South Carolina Gazette reports on 28 December 1738:

Yesterday being the Festival of St. John the Evangelist, the day was ushered in with the firing of guns at sunrise from several ships in the harbor with all their colors flying. At 9 o’clock all the members of Solomon’s Lodge, belonging to the Ancient and Honorable Order of Free and Accepted Masons, met at the house of the Honorable James Crokatt, Esq., Master of the said Lodge, and at 10, proceeded from thence, properly clothed with the Ensigns of their Order, and Music before them, to the house of the Provincial Grand Master, James Graeme, Esq., where a Grand Lodge was held…

The Gazette further reports on that same date:
After an elegant dinner, all the brethren were invited by Capt. Thomas White on board the Hope; there several loyal healths were drank, and at their coming on board and return on shore, they were saluted by the discharge of 39 guns, being the same number observed in each of the different salutes of this day, so that in all there were about 250 guns fired. The evening was concluded with a ball and entertainment for the ladies, and the whole was performed with much grandeur and decorum.
The 1 January 1741 edition of the Gazette published the following – almost word for word as the December 1738 account:

Saturday last [27th of December, 1740] being the festival of St. John the Evangelist, the day was ushered in with firing of guns at sunrise, from several ships in the harbor, with all their colors flying.

After an elegant dinner, all the brethren being invited, went on board the Lydia, Capt. Allen, and from thence on board the John and William, Capt. Fishbourne, where several loyal healths drank under the discharge of a great many guns. The above ships were on this occasion, decked out with a great many colors, and illuminated at night with a great number of lights, regularly disposed on the yards, both of which made a very grand and agreeable appearance.
From the 2nd of January 1742 edition, the Gazette reports the following pertaining to events on 27 December 1741:

Great numbers of guns were discharged from the ships in the harbor during the procession and afterwards; and the whole was conducted with the greatest order and decency, the night concluding with the illumination of the vessels of the brethren in the harbor, and a ball to the ladies.

The above excerpts from the South Carolina Gazette pertain to events in Charleston, South Carolina. There are further reports, however, of similar Masonic events and firing of guns in Beaufort and Port Royal, South Carolina. I will not bore the reader with all of these newspaper accounts as the mirror what I have already provided.

Many of the newspaper accounts speak of grand processions - in full Masonic regalia, balls, banquets, and church services. It must have truly been an exciting time to be a Freemason in the South Carolina colony.