Freemasonry in Maine 1762 - 1945

Author:  Ralph J. Pollard

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CHAPTER X.

The End of an Era.

Administrations of Augustus B. Farnham (1895-1896); Joseph A. Locke (1897-1898); Winfield S. Choate (1899-1900); Alfred S. Kimball (1901-1902).

In general, the conditions described in the last chapter continued during the period now under consideration. Numerical gains were small. In 1899, a decrease in membership was recorded, but this set-back was more than overcome in the following year. Palestine Lodge, No. 176, was consolidated with Dunlap Lodge, No. 47, in 1895. The following new Lodges were chartered:

Columbia Lodge, No. 200, Greenville May 7, 1896
David A. Hooper, No. 201, West Sullivan May 5, 1898
Mount Bigelow Lodge, No. 202, Flagstaff May 6, 1898
Mount Olivet Lodge, No. 203, Washington May 7, 1898
Mount Abram Lodge, No. 204, Kingfield May 9, 1901
Nollesemic Lodge, No. 205, Millinocket May 9, 1901
Island Falls Lodge, No. 206, Island Falls May 8, 1902
 

In 1896, Kennebec Lodge, No. 5, Hallowell, celebrated its centennial. The address on this occasion was given by M. W. Josiah H. Drummond. In 1901, Amity Lodge, No. 6, Camden, also celebrated its centennial, with the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Massachusetts as the guest of honor. He brought with him the golden urn made by Paul Revere containing a lock of Washington's hair. It was the second time in history that this treasure had ever been permitted to leave the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. Eastern Lodge, No. 7, of Eastport, United Lodge, No. 8, of Brunswick, Saco Lodge, No. 9, of Saco, and Rising Virtue Lodge, No. 10, of Bangor, also celebrated their centennials with appropriate exercises.

Cornerstones were laid for the new Oxford County Buildings at South Paris in 1895; for the Eastern Maine Insane Hospital at Bangor in 1896; for the Public Library at Clinton in 1899; and for the new Waterville City Hall in 1901.

The Grand Lodge made a judicial decision in 1896, which attracted nation-wide attention. One Samuel H. Hart, a member of Somerset Lodge, No. 34, of Skowhegan, had moved to Washington State, where he had become president of a bank. He embezzled the entire assets of that institution, and, by absconding to parts unknown, placed himself beyond the reach of the law. Because of this, no proceedings could be had against him either in his home Lodge or in the Lodge within whose jurisdiction the crime had been committed. This situation was brought to the attention of the Grand Lodge by the petition of Past Grand Master William R. G. Estes. The Grand Lodge assumed jurisdiction over the case, and, upon recommendation of the Committee on Grievances and Appeals, expelled Samuel H. Hart from all the rights and benefits of Masonry.

The status of rejected candidates had long been a vexed problem in American Masonry. In some States, the rejecting Lodge retained permanent jurisdiction over the rejected candidate, even though he should move outside of the jurisdiction. In other States, the effect of a rejection was limited to some definite time. In still other States, there was no rule at all. Naturally, with people moving about the country, confusion resulted. In 1896, the Grand Lodge of Maine took the lead in attempting to secure uniform legislation by the several Grand Lodges of the country. In a circular letter to the various Grand Lodges, she suggested that the effect of a rejection should be limited to five years, and that during that time the candidate should be allowed to petition only to the Lodge which rejected him or to another Lodge with the consent of that Lodge, or such consent of officers and members of that Lodge as may be prescribed by the Grand Lodge of the jurisdiction in which the rejection occurred. In the same year, our Grand Lodge received a communication from the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin asking for the establishment of uniform legislation on the subject of Masonic relief. By the suggested terms, each Lodge and Grand Lodge would have been held accountable for the relief of their own members, wherever located, and required to reimburse any foreign Lodge extending relief to such members. Most Worshipful Brother Drummond, in a powerfully written report, held such a system to be an innovation and contrary to the true principles of Masonic charity. Accordingly, the Grand Lodge refused to accept the Wisconsin proposition.

In answer to a question, Grand Master Farnham ruled that the introduction of intoxicating liquors into Masonic apartments was not in accordance with the principles of the Order.

In 1897, the Grand Master of Peru issued a decree ordering the removal of the Holy Bible from all Masonic altars in Peru and its replacement by the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Peru.

His action was approved by his Grand Lodge, whereupon, our Representative near the Grand Lodge of Peru, Right Worshipful Francis L. Crosby, in the name of the Grand Lodge of Maine, solemnly protested against the action taken and withdrew. He immediately informed our Grand Master of these proceedings. Grand Master Joseph A. Locke, without waiting for the Grand Lodge Session, at once issued his edict declaring that the Grand Lodge of Peru had, by its own act, ceased to be a Masonic body. His action, was, of course, approved by our Grand Lodge. Brother Drummond, in some of his strongest written reports, condemned the unlawful actions in Peru. The Grand Lodges of the World promptly severed relations with the offender. The Grand Master was forced out of power, and the obnoxious decree was repealed. When convinced by reports from Right Worshipful Brother Crosby that the Peruvian repentence was sincere, our Grand Master lifted the interdict and restored relations.

The Spanish-American War had little effect on the Masonic Fraternity in Maine. Only two deaths in the Army were reported, the Junior Warden of Northern Star Lodge and a member of Composite Lodge. Brother Henry R. Gillis, later to serve the Grand Lodge in its highest office, was a volunteer during this war. The great gale of November 27, 1898, was more costly than the war. Three Maine Masons went down in the ill-fated Steamer Portland, and nine on other vessels lost in the storm.

In answer to a question regarding the admission of Roman Catholic candidates, Grand Master Locke advised as follows: ' Masonry does not undertake to interfere with any man's religious belief, provided he believes in God, the Supreme Intelligence; but the Pope, and through him the Priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church, have denounced the Masonic Fraternity and forbidden any of its members joining the same. On this account, if the applicant is a Roman Catholic, I should deem it advisable not to receive his application. He may feel that the decree of the Pope should not control his private actions, that being a man he is entitled to join any organization he desires, and that he is not bound to the confessional; but on the other hand he takes a vow with us that he will not reveal our secrets. This vow brings him in direct conflict with his Church, and it is a serious matter for a man born and brought up a Roman Catholic, even though he may have drifted away from his religious views, not to make confession when sickness and liability of death comes; and we ought not to allow a man to be placed in a position where he will in the ordinary course of events prove faithless to his Church or violate his vow."

In 1899, the Grand Lodge of Washington, under the leadership of Grand Master Upton, adopted a course of conduct which came near to destroying the harmony of American Masonry. To understand this question, we must review a little history. In 1784, the Grand Lodge of England issued a Charter to Prince Hall and other free blacks of Boston constituting them a Lodge by the name of African Lodge. The right of the Grand Lodge of England to grant a Charter in Massachusetts at this time was, to say the least, questionable. However, even admitting the regularity of African Lodge in the beginning, its own conduct soon put it beyond the pale. Without the slightest shred of legal authority, it issued charters to negro Lodges in various other States. The Grand Lodge of England eventually erased African Lodge from its roll, but this failed to stop its activities. The negro Lodges organized their own State Grand Lodges and a national Grand Body. At no time did they ever seek to come under the authority of any legitimate Grand Lodge, nor was their legitimacy ever acknowledged by any such body. They quarrelled bitterly among themselves and doubtless had a good time playing at Masonry. But no sane Masonic power had ever considered them as anything but clandestine.

Now, however, the Grand Lodge of Washington extended recognition, as Masons, to two negroes who were members of one of the clandestine Lodges, not, by the way, located in Washington. This action was like touching a match to a powder keg. Many Grand Lodges, not all of them in the South, immediately severed relations with Washington. Many others adopted resolutions fraternally demanding that the Grand Lodge of Washington recede from its untenable position. Such was the official action of the Grand Lodge of Maine. But the loudest and clearest voice of all the voices raised against this folly was the voice of Drummond. In a series of masterly articles, he traced the history of the clandestine bodies, and defended the American doctrine of Grand Lodge jurisdiction. The color question was hardly mentioned. He showed clearly that the Grand Lodge of Washington had, by its act, infringed upon the sovereignty of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, and every other Grand Lodge within whose boundaries one of the spurious bodies was located.

Faced with the universal disapproval of the Masonic world, the Grand Lodge of Washington repealed its obnoxious resolutions. The most serious threat to the solidarity of American Masonry was ended. And the hand that ended it was the hand of Josiah Drummond.

The greatest Masonic event in the nineteenth century took place in 1899, when the Masons of America assembled at Mount Vernon, as guests of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, to honor the memory of Washington on the centennial of his death. Upwards of 12,000 were present. The principal address was by Brother William McKinley, President of the United States. Maine was represented by Grand Master Winfield S. Choate and Past Grand Master Josiah H. Drummond. In his official report, the Grand Master stated: ' The Masons of Maine would have been proud to have witnessed the great honor bestowed upon your distinguished representative, Most Worshipful Brother Drummond, and to have seen how anxious Masons from every part of the Country were to meet and greet him. Maine was first to be called in forming every procession, and whenever addresses were in order, Most Worshipful Brother Drummond was first called to respond. I assure you, brethren, that throughout the length and breadth of this nation and, more than that, throughout the world, his name, in Masonry, is a household word."

In 1901, the Grand Lodge of Maine appropriated $500.00 for the relief of sufferers from the great fire at Jacksonville, Florida.

In 1902, the Grand Lodge of Maine refused to participate in an international conference called by the Swiss Grand Lodge Alpina. Participation would have involved association with Masonic bodies of doubtful regularity.

The Charters of our old Lodges are priceless documents, some of them bearing the signatures of the very fathers of American Masonry. Some of these venerable parchments had been destroyed by fire. Others were in poor condition from over a century of use. In 1902, our Grand Lodge authorized the issue of a Certificate of Charter, which would take the place of the original document for the ordinary purposes of the Lodge, allowing the priceless original to be put in a secure place for safekeeping.

On October 25, 1902, M. W. Josiah Hayden Drummond dropped dead on the street in Portland. His funeral took place on October 28th, in the ancient First Parish Church on Congress Street. The Grand Lodge of Maine assembled in special communication, together with the principal officers of the Grand Chapter, Grand Council and Grand Commandery of Maine, and many distinguished Masons from outside the jurisdiction. The Masonic Funeral Service was performed by the Grand Lodge of Maine. Interment was in Evergreen Cemetery.

At the time of his death, Brother Drummond was, beyond all question, the best known and most highly honored Mason in the World. For more than forty years, he had given distinguished leadership to the Craft in Maine. He had written the Correspondence Reports of the Grand Lodge, Grand Chapter and Grand Council, for thirty-five years and those of the Grand Commandery for a shorter period of time. He had served as Grand Master of Masons in Maine, Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter, Grand Master of the Grand Council, and Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery. He had also served as General Grand High Priest of the General Grand Chapter of the United States, General Grand Master of the General Grand Council, R. and S. M., and Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite for the Northern Jurisdiction. He was a Knight Grand Cross of the Red Cross of Constantine and Viceroy of its Grand Chapter in the United States. He was one of the Charter Members of the Royal Order of Scotland in America, and died Provincial Grand Master of that Order. In the world of Masonic jurisprudence, he had no peer. A distinguished contemporary described him as " the most erudite and accomplished Masonic scholar of the century."

By voluntary subscription, a fund was raised for the erection of a suitable memorial, which should represent the outpouring of the great love of the Craft for its most distinguished member. On May 6, 1903, this monument was unveiled and dedicated with Masonic rites. Prayer was offered by Worshipful and Reverend John Gibson, Grand Chaplain. The Eulogy was pronounced by Most Worshipful Alfred S. Kimball, Grand Master. The monument was unveiled by Past Grand Master William P. Preble, Chairman of the Memorial Committee. The ceremonies of dedication and consecration were conducted by the Most Worshipful Grand Master, assisted by the other officers of the Grand Lodge. The Memorial Address was delivered by Most Worshipful Marquis F. King, Past Grand Master.

As a considerable sum of money remained after all expenses of the monument were paid, it was deemed fitting that Brother Drummond's extensive Masonic Library be procured and placed in the Library of the Grand Lodge of Maine as a permanent memorial to him who had done so much for the Fraternity he loved.

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