Freemasonry in Maine 1762 - 1945

Author:  Ralph J. Pollard

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CHAPTER XVI. The Appendant and Concordant Rites in Maine

Pure ancient Masonry consisted of but three degrees, the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason. At the Grand Lodge revival in 1717, no other degrees were, or ever had been known to the Fraternity.

But, as every modern Mason knows, certain additional degrees have been developed during the past 200 years, which are now, either by common consent or by positive Grand Lodge legislation, acknowledged and recognized as Masonic in most of the Grand Jurisdictions of the World. To refer to these as " higher " degrees is manifestly incorrect. There can be no higher degree than the highest under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge, the supreme and sovereign authority in Freemasonry. The words appendant or concordant more accurately describe the status of the additional degrees. The additional degrees are now grouped into orderly systems known as Rites, each having its own supreme and subordinate governing bodies. It is the purpose of this chapter to complete the story of Freemasonry in Maine by giving a brief outline of the history and activities of these appendant bodies.

I.

The York or American Rite

(A) CAPITULAR MASONRY.

The Royal Arch Degree was developed between 1730 and 1740 by expanding the concluding section of the old third degree into a separate degree with a ritual of its own. It was at first conferred only upon actual Past Masters and under the authority of the ordinary Lodge warrant. Later, separate Chapters were established and a Grand Royal Arch Chapter for England was organized in 1772.

In America, the degree was first conferred in old Fredericksburg Lodge, No. 4, of Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1753. St. Andrew's Lodge of Boston also conferred the degree at an early date. Chapters were soon established in Philadelphia, Boston, and other principal cities. The body now known as the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons for the United States of America was organized on January 26, 1798. Under this supreme body, State Grand Chapters were formed, which in turn governed the subordinate chapters within their respective boundaries.

When Maine was set off from Massachusetts in 1820, there were located within the State four Royal Arch Chapters, all chartered by the Grand Chapter of Massachusetts, viz:

Mount Vernon Chapter, Portland     Chartered June 15, 1805
Montgomery Chapter, Bath     Chartered December 17, 1819
New Jerusalem Chapter, Wiscasset     Chartered December 7, 1819
Jerusalem Chapter, Hallowell     Chartered January 1, 1820

On February 7, 1821, these four Chapters united in organizing the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Maine. M. E. Charles Fox of Portland was elected Grand High Priest. The Grand Officers were installed in ancient form by M. E. James D. Hopkins, Past High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Massachusetts. By an Act approved January 19, 1822, the new Grand Chapter was legally incorporated by the State.

In accordance with American Capitular custom, the new Grand Chapter exercised control over the degrees of Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and Royal Arch Mason.

On June 17, 1825, the Grand Chapter of Maine attended the laying of the cornerstone of Bunker Hill Monument by the Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts.

Returns of the subordinate Chapters were first printed in 1826. These showed a total of 193 Royal Arch Masons in the State.

In common with all Masonic institutions, the Grand Chapter suffered from the effects of the anti-Masonic crusade. Less fortunate than the Grand Lodge, it was unable to hold its annual meetings in unbroken continuity. No convocations were held in 1834-1835 or in 1841-1843. However, all Maine Chapters survived the storm.

Since the Morgan days, Capitular Masonry has shared in the fortunes of the general Craft. It flourished during the Civil War, lost ground during the depression of the 70's, recovered, shared in the phenomenal growth of World War I, and suffered during the recent great depression.

Maine has given two presiding officers to the General Grand Chapter of the United States. M. E. Robert P. Dunlap served as General Grand High Priest from 1847 to 1856, and M. E. Josiah H. Drummond from 1871 to 1874.

In its history seventy-two companions have presided over the Grand Chapter of Maine. The present Grand High Priest is M. E. Reginald F. Berry, of Kittery Point. The following Past Grand High Priests were still living at the time of the 1945 Convocation: M. E. Frank J. Cole, James A. Richan, Frederic O. Eaton, Fred C. Chalmers, David L. Wilson, Convers E. Leach, Perley C. Dresser, Henry R. Gillis, Benjamin L. Hadley, John C. Arnold, Frank W. Fuller, Philip G. Hodsdon, Benjamin W. Ela, James E. Stevens, D. Saunders Patterson, John M. Littlefield, and Roger L. Higgins.

In 1945, there are sixty-seven working Chapters on the Grand Chapter Roll. The present number of Royal Arch Masons in the State is 10,350. The largest Chapter is Greenleaf, No. 13, of Portland, with 550 members. The Grand Chapter Charity Fund, established in 1828, now amounts to $52,647.49. R. E. Arthur J. Floyd serves as Grand Treasurer and M. E. Convers E. Leach as Grand Secretary. The Correspondence Report is written by M. E. Henry R. Gillis.

The Order of High Priesthood was first conferred in Maine in 1820, Charles Fox, Robert P. Dunlap and Nathaniel Coffin being among those anointed at that time. The Maine Council of High Priesthood was organized in 1857 with M. E. Robert P. Dunlap as its first president. The Council is now presided over by Ex. Homer W. Lothrop, and has a membership of 757. M. E. Convers E. Leach serves as Recorder.

(B) CRYPTIC MASONRY.

The Cryptic Degrees of Royal, Select and Super-Excellent Master have had a somewhat turbulent history. It is probable that they were originally introduced into America under the auspices of the old Rite of Perfection. For many years, jurisdiction over them was claimed by both the General Grand Chapter and the Supreme Councils of the Scottish Rite. It was not until the latter half of the nineteenth century that absolute independence was achieved.

In 1829, the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Maine assumed jurisdiction over these degrees.

Councils of Royal and Select Masters, held under the authority of the Grand Chapter, were authorized in 1845. Such a Council was held in Grand Chapter itself in 1848, when many prominent Companions received the degrees.

Upon relinquishment of Chapter control, three independent Councils were organized in Maine, King Solomon's, No. 1, of Belfast, Mount Vernon, No. 2, of Brunswick, and Alpha, No. 3, of Hallowell, all with precedence from June 13, 1854. Portland Council, No. 4, dates from January 4, 1855. On May 3, 1855, the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters for Maine was instituted with M. Ill. Robert P. Dunlap as its first presiding officer.

When the General Grand Council of the United States was organized in 1880, M. Ill. Josiah H. Drummond became General Grand Master.

The Council degrees are particularly beautiful, but, as they are not prerequisite for membership in any other body, the Rite has not enjoyed the numerical increases of some other organizations.

Seventy-three Companions have presided over the Grand Council, the present Grand Master being M. Ill. Charles H. Hodgkins of Cumberland Mills. The living Past Grand Masters are: M. Ill. Convers E. Leach, Frank J. Cole, James A. Richan, Franklin P. Clark, Fred C. Chalmers, Cyrus N. Blanchard, Henry R. Gillis, D. Saunders Patterson, Warren A. Nichols, John M. Littlefield, Henry L. Hunton, Arthur H. Lander, John L. Sise, Benjamin C. Kent, Allen L. Curtis, David L. Wilson, E. Murray Graham, Thomas H. Hooper, Edgar R. Comee, Milton C. Stephenson, Emery E. Mitchell, and Benjamin L. Hadley.

Maine is honored in that Past Grand Master John M. Little-field, of Auburn, is now serving as General Grand Captain of the Guard in the General Grand Council of the United States.

In 1945, there are seventeen working Councils in Maine, with a membership of 3,807. The largest Council is Portland, No. 4, with 634 members.

M. Ill. Henry R. Gillis serves as Grand Treasurer, while M. Ill. Convers E. Leach is both Grand Recorder and Committee on Correspondence.

(C) THE ORDER OF THE TEMPLE.

The ancient Order of the Temple was founded in the year of our Lord 1118; fought valiantly throughout the Crusades; and was utterly suppressed in the year 1314, as the result of a foul conspiracy between the reigning Pope and the King of France. The Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake and the vast estates of the Order were divided between the conspirators. The Portuguese branch of the Order was revived under another name, and it is highly probable that feeble remnants of the Order continued to exist in Sweden and Scotland, where the Papal authority was not then too highly regarded.

Shortly after the speculative Masonic revival in the early eighteenth century, various bodies sprang up in England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany and Sweden, all claiming to be Masonic and also claiming to be, in some unaccountable manner, descended from the ancient Order of the Temple. The theory was advanced that certain of the ancient Knights had, upon the suppression of their Order, taken refuge in the old Masonic Guild as speculative members, and had thus transmitted the teachings and dogmas of their Order. We must admit that there is no historical proof for this theory. However, this theory, or one very similar to it, is also held by the Roman Catholic Church, which may well have access to historical material not available to outsiders. At any rate, the new Templar bodies became popular. The old Grand Lodge at York adopted them as part of its system. They were very popular with the Military Lodges attached to British Regiments and were by them undoubtedly introduced into what is now the United States. Before the Revolution, the Templar Orders were conferred, under ordinary Craft warrant, in the old Scottish Lodge of St. Andrew in Boston. Soon separate Templar organizations were set up. These were at first known as Encampments. The name Encampment was later changed to Commandery. The present Grand Commandery of Massachusetts and Rhode Island was organized in 1805. A supreme governing body known as the Grand Encampment of the United States came into being in 1816.

The outstanding characteristics of the Templar Order are its uncompromising and unequivocal advocacy of Christian doctrine and its military organization. Under the American system, three Orders are conferred in the Commandery, the Order of the Red Cross, the Order of Malta, and the Order of the Temple.

The first Commandery in Maine, Maine Commandery, No. 1, of Gardiner, bears a Charter dated in 1821, with precedence from May 29, 1806. Portland Commandery, No. 2, of Portland, dates from 1847, and St. John's Commandery, No. 3, of Bangor, from 1850. The Grand Commandery of Maine was organized in 1852, with Right Eminent Sir Charles B. Smith as its first Grand Commander.

During the latter half of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth, the Order of Knights Templar was immensely popular. Membership therein was accounted a real mark of social distinction. The great parades held at the Triennial Conclaves of the Order were the most gorgeous pageants in contemporary American life. The various Grand Lodges were ordinarily escorted on all their public appearances by a detachment of armed and uniformed Knights. The Pilgrimages of the various Commanderies from city to city and the public appearances of the Knights on Easter Sunday all served to keep the Order in the public eye.

The Commandery, as an organization, suffered severely in periods of financial depression.

Since its institution, seventy-five Sir Knights have served the Grand Commandery of Maine in its highest office. The following Past Grand Commanders are still on duty in 1945: Right Eminent Sirs Ralph W. Crockett, Edward W. Wheeler, Cyrus N. Blanchard Frank C. Allen, George F. Giddings, David L. Wilson, Isaac N. Jones, David E. Moulton, Charles W. Vigue, Edward W. Cram, Walter P. Dow, Frank E. Fleming, Frank E. Southard, Benjamin C. Kent, E. Murray Graham, Arthur H. Lander, Albert E. Anderson, Robert C. Whitman, and John L. Tewksbury.

The present Grand Commander is Right Eminent Sir Paul R. Baird, of Waterville. Sir Arthur J. Floyd is Grand Treasurer and Sir Convers E. Leach is Grand Recorder. Past Grand Commander David L. Wilson is the Templar Correspondent.

The Grand Commandery has twenty-four subordinates, with a membership of 5,199. The largest Commandery is St. John's, No. 3, of Bangor, with 697 members. The Grand Commandery Educational Loan Foundation of Maine amounts to $114,454.97.

II. ANCIENT ACCEPTED SCOTTISH RITE.

The first Supreme Council of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of thirty-three degrees was established at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1801, under the authority of Constitutions purporting to issue from Frederick the Great, King of Prussia.

The name " Scottish Rite " is somewhat of a misnomer, since this Rite did not originate in Scotland, has no connection with legitimate Scottish Masonry, and is totally unrecognized by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Its name is probably derived from the fact that Scottish Jacobites in France had a leading part in its origin. In the year 1754, the Chapter of Clermont, presided over by the Chevalier de Bonneville, evolved a Rite of twenty-five degrees, which was denominated The Rite of Perfection. This rite embodied all the principal degrees now possessed by the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite. Its culminating degree was that of the Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret, now the thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite. In 1758, this rite passed under the control of a body calling itself, " The Council of the Emperors of the East and West." This body was purely French, working in the French language, and officered by Frenchmen.

The Rite of Perfection was first introduced into America by Stephen Morin, acting under the authority of the French Council of Emperors. He introduced the Rite into Santo Domingo and Jamaica. In the latter colony, Henry R. Francken was admitted, who, in turn, was commissioned by Morin to introduce the Rite into what is now the United States. In 1767, he established a Lodge of Perfection in Albany, New York. In 1781, a similar body was erected in Philadelphia, and another in Charleston, S. C, in 1783.

The first reference to the Scottish Rite under its present name occurs in the Constitutions of 1786, which remain the supreme law of the Rite. It was under this authority that the body which has become the Supreme Council for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States was organized in 1801. The Supreme Council for the Northern Jurisdiction of the United States was organized in New York, in 1813. In 1851, Ill. Robert P. Dunlap, of Maine, became an Active Member of this Supreme Council.

The Scottish Rite was introduced into Maine in 1857 by the organization of Dunlap Chapter of Rose Croix, Portland Council of Princes of Jerusalem, and Yates Lodge of Perfection, all of Portland. Maine Consistory of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret was formed at Portland in 1862.

The Rite was rather slow in getting started, but once under way, it has enjoyed an ever-increasing degree of popularity. In many countries of the World, the Scottish Rite is today the only Masonic authority.

Most Puissant Josiah Hayden Drummond served as Sovereign Grand Commander of the Northern Supreme Council from 1867-1879.

The following Illustrious Brethren have served as Deputies of the Supreme Council for the District of Maine: Abner B. Thompson, William Pitt Preble, George W. Deering, Josiah H Drummond, Marquis F. King, William C. Mason, Frederick C Thayer, Harry R. Virgin, and Frank C. Allen, the present incumbent.

In 1945, Maine has three Active Members of the Supreme Council, Ill. Frank C. Allen, Ill. Edward W. Wheeler, and Ill. John C. Arnold.

At the present time, there are located within the State five Lodges of Perfection, five Councils Princes of Jerusalem, five Chapters of Rose Croix, and one Consistory. The number of Masons in the State adhering to the Scottish Rite is 4,487.

The Most Illustrious Frank C. Allen, thirty-third degree, is Commander-in-Chief of the Maine Council of Deliberation and Ill. Convers E. Leach, thirty-third degree, is Grand Secretary. Since the introduction of the Rite into Maine, 119 brethren have been honored with the thirty-third degree.

III.

Today, as always in the long history of Maine Masonry, all is harmony between the various Masonic bodies in the State. One and all, they co-operate loyally in advancing the common interest of the whole Fraternity.

It will be noticed that the brethren who are most active in one body are also active in the others as well. Of the Most Worshipful Brethren who have served as Grand Master of Masons in Maine, twenty have also officiated as Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter, twenty as Grand Master of the Grand Council, nineteen as Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery, and four as . Deputy of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite for Maine.

So interlocking are the activities of the various bodies, that it is often difficult to tell where one leaves off and another begins. All the Grand Bodies of the York Rite meet during the same week in May, in Portland. Their membership is largely identical. To avoid duplication, the charity of the Grand Chapter is administered in synchronization with that of the Grand Lodge. The libraries of the Grand Lodge, Grand Chapter and Grand Commandery are merged in a single unit. All the Grand Bodies of the York Rite share the expenses of the Grand Secretary and Recorder's office.

All branches of Maine Masonry gave splendid co-operation in raising the Maine Masonic War Fund. Forty Chapters of Royal Arch Masons contributed $1,140.50, seventeen Commanderies of Knights Templar $975.00, six Councils of Royal and Select Masters $120.00, and the Scottish Rite Bodies of the State $2,300.

Today, all the Masonic Bodies in Maine are sharing in the general prosperity which has again come to the Craft. Every Grand Body in the State reported numerical gains in 1945. Outstanding instances of this prosperity were Garfield Chapter, No. 48, R. A. M., of Caribou, which made a net gain of 102, St. Aldemar Commandery, No. 17, K. T.,of Houlton, which gained seventy-one, and the five Scottish Rite Lodges of Perfection which made a combined gain of 618. And so, in prosperity as in adversity, Maine Masonry goes forward as a welded unit on a common front, dedicated to the same purposes and principles, and rendering a common service to God and to Mankind.

" Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in Unity."

IV.

The Order of the Eastern Star is, of course, no part of the Masonic Institution. Vet, this Order has rendered such practical and unselfish service to the Craft during the past fifty years that it would be not only ungallant but ungenerous not to accord the Sisterhood the courtesy of a passing mention.

The Order of the Eastern Star, open to Master Masons and their near female relatives, was founded in 1850, by M. W. Bro. Rob Morris, of Kentucky. It was rather slow in getting started in Maine. It was frowned upon by the elders of the Craft, and laughed at by the rank and file. The epithet " Hen Masons " was one of the mildest applied to the Sisterhood. It was not until the closing decade of the nineteenth century that the wall of prejudice was broken down and an attitude of tolerance adopted toward the Star.

Soon the beneficent effects of the Order began to be felt. If the Lodge brethren desired a particularly attractive supper, the Star Sisters stood ready to provide it. If a dirty and dingy Lodge-room needed cleaning and brightening up, the Star Sisters were ready to do the necessary work. If a new carpet were needed, or new dishes, or new silver, or new tablecloths, or a new Altar Bible, or even a new piano, it was the Star Sisters who took the lead in procuring the desired items. Soon most Lodges grew to wonder how they had ever gotten along without the assistance of the Star.

The Star Sisters fully realize that they are not Masons but they are, by working in their own Society, brought to understand more fully the aims and purposes of our Fraternity and to appreciate their relationship to its members. No woman, who is active in a Star Chapter, is likely to offer any very strenuous opposition when her husband wants to go to Lodge.

In recent years, the Star Chapters in and around Portland have been of tremendous service in connection with the operation of the Portland Masonic Service Center. One Star organization, the White Ray Club of Rose of Sharon Chapter of Augusta, contributed to the Maine Masonic War Fund.

There are now (1945) 187 Eastern Star Chapters in the State, with a total membership of 30,149.

Many prominent Masons have also served the Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star in the office of Grand Patron, among them being Past Grand Masters Ashley A. Smith and Henry R. Gillis, and Past Grand High Priest D. Saunders Patterson. Past Grand Masters George F. Giddings and Benjamin L. Hadley are at present serving as Worthy Patrons of subordinate Chapters.

 

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