"God hides some ideal in every human soul. At some time in our life we feel a trembling, fearful longing to do some good thing. Life finds its noblest spring of excellence in this hidden impulse to do our best.”
— Robert Collyer
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Brethren Pitch in the Labor and Pickering Lodge Gets a Facelift
The brethren of Pickering Lodge No. 477 came together for a work day to progress in their ongoing renovation project. The lodge meets in what once was the "Old Ag Building" at Pickering High School, which is roughly 85-90 years old. The restoration project will include remodeling the inside, adding an additional restroom, and a updated kitchen. Members hope to be done by the end of the year.
Pictured Above (at random): Donald Bush, George Trull, Ricky Pelt, Brandon Moore, Joe Dan Gibbs, Joel Gill, George Goins, Jason Millard, Jimmy Craft, Gerald Dial, Reid Askew, John Davis, and Justin Roberts
Sentiments of the American Civil War: Part 3
by W∴B∴ Chad Koelling, Contributing Writer
In this multipart series, I would like to examine the sentiments of then Grand Master M∴W∴B∴ John Quincy Adams Fellows, who was duly elected to serve as Grand Master in February 1860. Like so many before him and so many after him, I am confident he was both excited and apprehensive about what may lie ahead. M∴W∴ B∴ Fellows indeed could not have predicted what was to follow.
M∴W∴B∴ John Quincy Adams Fellows, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, 1860-1865
We left off last time with the Grand Lodge Session of 1861. The session was held on February 11, 1861. Ft. Sumter had not yet been fired upon. That event would not take place until April 12 of the same year. April 18, the Shreveport Grays left on their way to join the war effort that was about to take place. In an article of the Times Picayune, it was noted that all men in Northern Louisiana and half the married men should be prepared to protect Louisiana, which joined the Confederacy shortly before the Grand Lodge Session on January 26, 1861. Seventeen opposing votes appeared at the secession vote. Louisiana became an independent state at 10 minutes to two o’clock declaring itself “a free sovereign and independent state #” until March 26 when it joined the Confederate States of America.
Everyone did not agree with the secession. I am sure this caused ripples in Louisiana Masonry, which had just a decade earlier reconciled itself back into a singular united Grand Lodge, removing the Grand Lodge of Mississippi’s chartered lodges from within its boundaries. This could not have been an easy thing to manage. M∴W∴B∴ Fellows must have received letters and correspondence from Brothers around the state asking how to proceed. Being the Grand Master is stressful enough in normal circumstances. Throw in a Civil War or Coronavirus pandemic and you can imagine the difficulty one must encounter. Indeed, Grand Masters are worthy of thoughts and prayers that the Almighty Father of the Universe from the Grand Lodge Above will guide them to all right and just acts as they lead our fraternity.
M∴W∴B∴ Fellows is not referenced much in the newspapers of the day until about 1863 as he was prior to secession. Therefore for a good idea of what the Grand Lodge and M∴W∴B∴ Fellows were going through during his second term as Grand Master, we must turn to the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana for 1862. In 1862 he begins his address with sentiments of sadness that many Masons who had gathered over the past 10 years were not present to greet each other a reference made to the war at hand. He goes on to point out Mason’s duties, which are as essential to remember now as they were then. He says, “A mason’s duty is to his country, next after that to his God, and then to his neighbor before himself. That is the order of a mason’s duties, and the true mason knows how best to fulfill them.” Tensions must have been flaring amongst the craft as they somewhat are today. I read many brothers arguing on the best practices of the COVID-19 pandemic. I won’t share my opinions on the matter here. Let it be sufficient to say that your Brothers are your neighbors, and our duty is to them before yourselves. Let us not argue over such frivolous things, yet continue in the practice of brother love, which ultimately leads to the peace and harmony that should prevail at all of our gatherings. M∴W∴B∴ Fellows even stated that “the charity of Freemasonry is universal, and is even to be extended, so far as safety will allow, to a fallen foe.” Freemasonry was bigger than the Civil War, so should its bonds be bigger than differences of opinion.
M∴W∴B∴ Fellows called upon each lodge to preserve a record of those gone to the war, preserving their names in their returns. There are many old minute books in the Grand Lodge of Louisiana library. With enough time to research, I am sure many accounts could be uncovered. M∴W∴B∴ Fellows granted dispensation to form Pelican Lodge attached to the Seventh Regiment of Louisiana Volunteers in the style of a military traveling lodge while also denying such privilege to the Fifth Regiment ho procured dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Virginia. M∴W∴B∴ Fellows cited this as an invasion of Louisiana’s jurisdiction, acknowledging that said Brothers were Louisiana Masons and no request had been made of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana.
Little work was done in the sate. This fact was attested by the District Deputy Grand Masters reports whose reports indicated work had “generally ceased in their several districts.” Many lodges, as reported in the returns that year, were unable to pay per capita. Others were unable to fill officer chairs. Louisiana Masonry was in a desperate position. On top of these problems, the Grand Secretary died while in office, and the Grand Treasurer was out of state, unable to return due to the war.
The Louisiana Relief Lodge that year offered assistance to worthy cases of Northern Brothers to return to their home states. After hostilities had commenced, however, a new rule was adopted. It was “to grant no assistance to able-bodied men, who had no families depending upon them - believing that when our independence was at stake, it was the duty of all to defend it, and that, when no other means of support could be obtained, no good Mason would desire to eat the bread of idleness, while the opportunity was offered to him to enter the army.” The report describes the state of Masonry as “large numbers of members...are absent on the tented field...little or no work...Treasuries have been exhausted.”
On February 13, 1862, M∴W∴B∴ Fellows was re-elected for a third term as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, which he accepted.
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Dr. Mike Kearsley: Rob Morris, the Conservators,
and the Failure to Establish a Grand Lodge of the United States Wednesday, August 12, 2020 • 7 p.m. (PDT)
Who was Rob Morris? Masonic dreamer and innovator? Or a self-serving charlatan? A man whose legacy has had such an effect on the American Masonic “family” is clearly a multifaceted individual worth studying. This lecture is presented in partnership with Quatuor Coronati, the premier lodge of Masonic research.
Mike Kearsley is a prolific researcher and author, and a past Provincial Grand Orator for Middlesex. In 2011, he was awarded the Norman Spencer Prize. He was appointed Prestonian Lecturer in 2014 and ANZMRC lecturer in 2019.
Kearsley was initiated into Freemasonry in Hawera Lodge in Taranaki, New Zealand, and passed and raised in Mairehau Lodge in Christchurch. He later joined David Bonner Lodge, the musicians’ lodge of Middlesex, becoming master in 2010 and thereafter secretary. He is a member of the Temple of Athene Research Lodge, Feltham Lodge, and Quatuor Coronati.