Additional Light in Freemasonry

Masonic True Stories and Events

Smallpox and the Craft
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.

Freemasons and the Mayo Clinic
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.

Freemasonry and the White House
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.

Stephens Girard's Funeral causes trouble
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 and the Craft
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..

The cup of Brotherly Love
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.

Lodge in two countries
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.

An Irish Message on a stone
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 Staue of Liberty and Freemasonry
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.

Freemasons in the Air
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.

Ancient Masons
by William R. Fischer

"Ancient Masons," was the name assumed by a body of Masons who, in 1738 seceded from the regular or legal Grand Lodge of England. They did this because of changes the Institution made on the ritual work. The Ancients called themselves "Ancient Free and Accepted Masons" and were the new Lodges. They practiced the old ritual work and condemned the Moderns, as they called them, for changes made in that work. The Moderns, were called "Free and accepted Masons" and were the old Lodges of England. They adopted the new style of ritual work formed by Anderson, Preston, and others. These differences kept the two bodies apart to the extreme, that there would be both in the same community and sometimes, side by side. They would clam the same jurisdiction and argue over who was right and who was clandestine. In 1813 the two bodies resolved their differences and joined hands, but the Lodges were spread through out the world, and particularly in America. They turned out to be impossible to align. Both are recognized by the Grand Lodge of England and both have the same rights and benefits which are accorded a legal Lodge of Master Masons. Although you will find the different Lodges in United States their jurisdictions are limited to each state. This is why we have: Ancient Free and Accepted Masons Ancient Free Masons Free and Accepted Masons and on and on.

Alexander I
by William R. Fischer

Alexander the 1st, succeeded Paul the 1st as Emperor of Russia in 1801. He then renewed the prohibitions against all secret societies, especially free Masons. Two years later Boeber, counselor of state and director of the military school at St. Petersburg, had an audience with the emperor. Boeber described the object of the institution and doctrine of its mysteries in such a way that the emperor rescinded the decrees. The emperor gave the institution protection and asked to be initiated into the Order, which was done. The Grand Lodge Astrea of Russia was established and Boeber was elected Grand Master.

The Modern Cowan
by Floren L. Quick

In Scotland, the operative Mason knew cowans to be ignorant builders who put stones together without mortar. They piled rough fieldstones into a wall without hewing them true, or squaring them. They masqueraded as Masters, but they did not have the Word. Now and again, today - fortunately not too often - we find a modern equivalent of the operative imposter. One such is the Mason who manages a place in an officer's line with little or no effect of his own to deserve it. With only that exertion that is necessary to maintain his place, he continues to advance in line until he receives the jewels and honours that he prizes so highly. But he does not know the Constitution, and he does not understand the traditions and dignity of the Craft. As a presiding officer, his vocal ability is more noteworthy than his executive ability; and when his term is ended, he is seldom seen until another honour or prize appears to be within his grasp. He is a contemporary builder who works without the benefit of the mortar of real enthusiasm or accomplishments. His structure is liken unto the rough stone wall, having little beauty of value. He is the cowans of modern speculative Masonry. He is to be pitied, for he is a Masonic failure. His honours are shallow. Bringing no interest to his position, he received little of the satisfaction and respect that belong to the real Master. Masonry has failed to reach him with a clear understanding of those marks of true devotion which she has to offer. He never knows the opportunities that the Craft makes available to those who diligently seek them. He misses the opportunities that the Craft makes available to strive for a just and worthy cause. He misses the opportunity for continuing fellowship and friendship. He misses the opportunity for loyalty and devotion. He misses the opportunity for development of his executive, intellectual and oratorical abilities. And most of all, he misses the opportunity for service - to God - to his community - and to his fellow man. These are the jewels that Masonry has to offer, but in his quest for position and honours, the modern cowan misses them. Like the operative cowan, he does not have the Word. -reprinted from the Masonic Shimbun in the GLBC Bulletin, Nov. '79

Tips for a New Worshipful Master
by WB Darin Lahners

The very first article I wrote for ‘The Midnight Freemasons’ was called: “What to Expect when You’re Expecting: Worshipful Masters Edition”. I wrote it as I was having trepidation upon going to the East in my home lodge of St. Joseph #970. I ended up setting out 5 things to follow as a guide on my way to the East.

1. Relax and have fun! You’re not going to be perfect, but you’ll be okay.
2. Communicate and be open to listening. Exchange ideas with your lodge.
3. Believe in yourself! Your brothers believe in you.
4. Have a plan. A mission statement is a good way to set out your goals in a few sentences.
5. Most importantly, invoke the blessing of Deity always before undertaking any task as Worshipful Master.

Now that my year is almost at a close, it’s time to reflect back on it. I’m going to address the first three items and then break out my Mission Statement.

1. Relax and have fun! You’re not going to be perfect, but you’ll be okay.
I don’t feel like I had time to relax or have fun during my term in the East. I had several things happen that while not in my direct control, contributed to this feeling. We spent a lot of time and money on the repairs for our stairs. Although the process of getting them repaired began while I was in the west, we went with a recommendation and bid from a contractor recommended by our Building Committee chairman. Unfortunately, once the job was done, the wood that was used began to split on the sides of stairs. When we asked him to replace it, he blamed everything on the age of our lodge. He didn’t take responsibility, so the committee chairman took it upon himself to fire the contractor. He then had to bring in another contractor to fix the stairs that were splitting. Needless to say, the effort took several thousands of dollars.

The brother that was going to serve as Junior Warden informed me shortly after being elected that he had been accepted into a program sponsored by his church that would allow him to continue his education. Unfortunately, his classes met on our Stated Meeting night, so he would only be able to make a few meetings. Around the same time, my Junior Deacon had to go back into the workforce and ended up getting a job which was second shift and would also keep him from the meetings. I was essentially two officers down, which I had to replace every meeting. Luckily my Senior Deacon stepped up to fill the Junior Warden’s station in his absence. I was also able to place one of the younger members of the lodge to the position of Junior Deacon from Junior Steward. All of this along with the items below contributed to a stressful time in the East for me.

2. Communicate and be open to listening. Exchange ideas with your lodge.

It’s difficult to communicate and exchange ideas with your lodge when nobody is showing up for a stated meeting. Of course, missing two members that regularly attended lodge meant that we were scrambling for quorum every meeting. There was actually one meeting where I had the bare minimum to open. While we were able to open every meeting, there were members that had missed meetings where we had discussed items and they had been voted on. Members would then occasionally show up for a meeting and question the items that had been voted on in previous meetings. This came to a head last meeting where I felt the choice of our scholarship winner was questioned. To be frank, I lost my temper when it was questioned. I blew up at the brother asking about it. In the not most gentle way possible, with probably not the gentlest of words, I told him that I felt that if he had made the meetings where we had discussed and voted on this, that he could have brought up his objections then. I felt that he was criticizing the decision and took it personally even though he was just trying to point out the original objective for the scholarship. My point is, it’s hard to communicate when there’s very few people to communicate to.

3. Believe in yourself! Your brothers believe in you.
I worked very hard with some other members of the lodge last year when I was Senior Warden to receive the Grand Master’s Award of Excellence. At our Grand Lodge session as the Master of St. Joseph Lodge last October, we did it. Not only did we receive it, we also were awarded second place in the state for lodges under 80 members. In order to receive the award, there are a number of things that the lodge must do. These items always involve having at least 3 elected officers and a total of 5 to seven members doing them [the GMAE tasks]. For whatever reason this past year, very few members of my lodge were willing or able to make these events. It got to a point where I signed in as a member of another lodge to which I belong so that they would get the credit. While some of these events took place on dates where members couldn’t go because of family commitments or work, I feel that there is little to no desire by the membership to attend any lodge activities, especially ones needed to qualify for the award. It’s hard to believe in yourself and to believe that your brothers believe in you if you don’t share the same commitment to the lodge.

4. Have a plan. A mission statement is a good way to set out your goals in a few sentences.
In order to begin, I want to look back upon my Mission Statement. It was as follows:
I want to make Saint Joseph Lodge a better place. A place for brothers and their families to spend time, and a better asset to the community. A place that men in my community want to join. I want to educate the brethren not only using traditional education, but also teach some of the esoteric meanings of the ritual as well. Lastly, I want to raise some funds by having fun. So, let’s see if I achieved any of what I set out to do.

I will begin with: “I want to make Saint Joseph Lodge a better place.” It’s a pretty broad statement. There’s two ways to answer it. What is a lodge really? Is it the building or room where you hold your degree work and stated meetings? Or is it the members that gather for the degree work or stated meetings? Every Mason should know it’s both. What did I do to make the Lodge a better place? From the building standpoint, several improvements were instituted. The very first thing we did was we improved the lodge room itself. We had our old degree trestle boards framed to keep them from deteriorating. We installed the internet, a wireless network and mounted a Flat Screen television on the wall so that we could cast the Degree slides from our phones instead of needing to have someone bring a computer and projector into the lodge. Our stairs were in dire need of repair so we had them fixed. We had some boiler repairs that needed to occur also. Finally, I took an old lodge computer and converted into a Chromebook, so that we would have another device to cast from if needed.

The second line of my mission statement covers the Lodge from the member perspective: A place for brothers and their families to spend time, and a better asset to the community. I tried very hard to make our lodge better. I tried to have two separate movie nights for the members and community. On the couple of occasions when I did this, I was able to get a total of 4 members combined at both events including myself. We did have moderate success at holding a trunk or treat event for the local food pantry. The idea that was communicated to our community, was to have them show up and bring items for the food pantry and get candy. I had a total of 6 members including myself show up and help me hand out candy while we collected items for the food pantry. We collected a decent amount for a donation. We also held a chili dinner that we participated with Ogden and Homer lodges. This event brought out a good number of brethren and their families from across the area. We had a good meal and good fellowship as well. I have one more event planned before my time in the East is at a close. We’re having a dinner to recognize the veterans and first responders in the Lodge prior to our stated meeting in June. As of right now, I have one RSVP, but the mail just went out, so I’m hoping that I get more responses.

The next line of the mission statement is the big one: “ A place that men in my community want to join.” During my year as Master, we have had three petitions to join our lodge. We also have one candidate that is an EA but is a college student and has trouble scheduling his next degrees. Of the three petitions, two are now Fellowcrafts and one is getting his EA degree this coming Thursday. I think that getting any new members is doing a decent job, I’m a member of a few lodges where they’re lucky to get a new petition a year.

Did I really make the lodge a place the men in my community want to join? I certainly tried. I advertised on social media to have men come and meet us at a local establishment before our meetings. I tried to have community movie nights as well. We held the trunk or treat as a community event. I used the new materials from the Scottish Rite and posted the short video, “Not Just a Man, A Mason” all over social medians well. I’ve also discussed with the lodge using the Invitation to Petition in order to get new members. We’re giving away our yearly scholarship and teacher of the year award at the High School this week, which is another chance for us to get community exposure. My hope is that maybe one man in the audience will be interested in joining us.

I want to educate the brethren not only using traditional education, but also teach some of the esoteric meanings of the ritual. My biggest failure as Master has been in the area of Masonic Education. Quite frankly, compared to Homer where Education is the first and foremost item at every stated meeting, we have a fair amount of business to get through at St. Joseph. I absolutely tried to institute a meeting structure where Education was the first item, followed by the regular meeting, but it ended up being close to a 2-and-a-half-hour affair. Many of the older membership complained about the length of the meetings. Of course, this had nothing really to do with the education which might have added 10 minutes to the meeting. Some of the older members like to hear themselves talk and like to motion for items on the floor for votes. They also like to have me explain items that we are discussing multiple times because they are hard of hearing, even though they are usually at the front of the lodge. By the time we get to where education is on the agenda, most of the older membership will audibly groan or sigh when I mention it. It’s gotten to the point where at the last meeting, I told everyone that I had an education piece that I would give after the meeting if anyone was interested. Of course, the younger members of my lodge were interested, while the older guys just packed up and left.

The last item on my Mission Statement was a personal goal. Lastly, I want to raise some funds by having fun. At St. Joseph, we have a building with retail space downstairs. We have a renter that guarantees us fixed income every month, so we really don’t have to do any fundraising. The idea for my fund raiser was simply to help bring awareness that our lodge is more than a bunch of guys who dress up and wear aprons. The idea was to show us having fun in a relaxed setting. From my time being a Cub Scout Leader, the best event of every year was always the pinewood derby. So, my idea of having an Adult Pinewood Derby was one that I thought would be well received. As we began planning the event last June, the vision took twists and turns. However, I could not be more pleased to be partnering with some adult leaders from local Scouting units to have our lodge sponsor the event. The fundraiser has become an event with a real date, place and time. The fundraiser will donate a majority of the funds to help local scouting programs, while the Masonic Lodge will receive a small portion of the funds for sponsoring, which I plan in asking the lodge to donate to the Venturing Scout Crew that we charter.

5. Most importantly, invoke the blessing of Deity always before undertaking any task as Worshipful Master.
I know that we open and close every meeting with a prayer. I don’t know that I have really taken the time to pray before writing every email to the lodge. I know I haven’t done it as much as I probably should have. Maybe that’s what made the difference. I guess all I can do is hope to do it more during this next year. You see my brethren, I am hoping to be elected as Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge for the next Masonic Year. Which leads me to add a new item to my guide.

6. Never give up.

One of my favorite movie quotes is probably going to surprise you. It’s from Batman Begins. “Why do we fall, sir?” Alfred asks Bruce Wayne in the scene, and Bruce looks at him unable to come up with an answer, so Alfred says “So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” Yes, I didn’t accomplish everything that I wanted to during my year as Master in St. Joseph. I made some mistakes, some things were out of my control, and some things just aren’t worth worrying about. I have to learn from my mistakes and refocus my efforts for the coming year at Homer. I am not going to let what happened at one lodge take away from my enthusiasm for the coming year. I have to pick myself up.

WB Darin Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. When he’s not busy enjoying Masonic fellowship, Darin spends his time as a DM for his children’s D&D campaign, reading, golfing, watching movies and listening to music. You can reach him by email at

Rules to teach your Son

1. Never shake a man’s sitting down

2. Don’t enter a pool by the stairs.

3. The man at the BBQ Grill is the closest thing to a king.

4. In a negotiation, never make the first offer.

5. Request the late check-out.

6. When entrusted with a secret, keep it.

7. Hold your heroes to a higher standard.

8. Return a borrowed car with a full tank of gas.

9. Play with passion or don’t play at all…

10. When shaking hands, grip firmly and look them in the eye.

11. Don’t let a wishbone grow where a backbone should be.

12. If you need music on the beach, you’re missing the point.

13. Carry two handkerchiefs. The one in your back pocket is for you. The one in your breast pocket is for her.

14. You marry the girl, you marry her family.

15. Be like a duck. Remain calm on the surface and paddle like crazy underneath.

16. Experience the serenity of traveling alone.

17. Never be afraid to ask out the best looking girl in the room.

18. Never turn down a breath mint.

19. A sport coat is worth 1000 words.

20. Try writing your own eulogy. Never stop revising.