Sunday, April 18, 2010

ALR anniversary

Happy Anniversary wishes are in order! On this date in 1931 was held the Constituting Communication of American Lodge of Research under dispensation of the Grand Lodge of New York. (May 21, 1931 was the date of the first Stated Communication held under its own charter.)

The Magpie Mason is still playing catch-up in its reporting of recent events, the March 29 meeting of ALR among them, but before I tell you about that, let me share some ALR-related good news:

  • The lodge's Publications Committee has been revamped by the Worshipful Master, with RW Bill Thomas serving as its new chairman, and the Master, Bro. Henry, Bro. Miller, and myself working together on the next book of transactions, which will go to the printer very soon.
  • And ALR has a new website, one that is not hosted through Grand Lodge's site. Click here.
  • In addition, there is a new Yahoo! Group for discussion of research, events, etc. Click here.
But about the latest meeting.

W. Bro. Uwe Hain presented "German Freemasons in the American Revolutionary War," which recounted the contributions of brethren from Germany... on both sides of the conflict.

That is the work of the lodge, and I'll explain more below but, in lodge business, there are a few announcements to make.

  • Appointed to serve the rest of the year as Secretary Pro Temp, following the retirement of Harvey Eysman,  is none other than Michael Chaplin of Shakespeare Lodge No. 750, The Masonic Society, et al. The lodge extended a vote of thanks to Harvey, a Past Master and Fellow of the lodge who had served as Secretary for 23 years.

  • Under membership, four new Active Members were elected, including Bro. Chaplin, our speaker Bro. Hain, and Bro. Mark Koltko-Rivera.

  • A Special Communication has been called for Wednesday, September 29, when the lodge will meet in Syracuse. Details to be announced.

And in a related matter, Thomas Smith Webb Chapter of Research No. 1798, chartered under the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of New York, has published its first book of transactions. Its contents include "Symbolism, and Freemasonry as a Mystery School" by R.E. Piers A. Vaughan, Grand Principal Sojourner of the Grand Chapter of New York.

But back to Uwe's paper. He did a fine job of identifying the key military personnel from Germany who fought for the American and British causes, and who were Freemasons. The American War of Independence factors heavily in the story of Masonry in the United States, but it also is a component in the histories of Masonry in other countries.

Explaining how as much as one-third of the forces under British command actually were Hessians, the mercenary troops from Germany, he narrowed his focus, for example, to the 3,000 troops from the Braunschweig (Brunswick) region, including nine who would be initiated into the arts and mysteries of Freemasonry in an Irish military lodge, a lodge in which St. Patrick's Lodge No. 4 (Previously No. 8) has roots.

Nicholas Herkimer, of the Mohawk Valley area of New York (where there has been a village, a town, and a county named for him since 1788) would fight both for and against the British, but in both instances fighting for sovereignty. In the 1750s, during the French and Indian War (Seven Years War), Herkimer fought on the British side, against the invaders, but when the Revolution began, he quickly became a brigadier general of Colonial militia in his native area. He was made a Mason in St. Patrick's Lodge during peacetime in 1768.

Also on the side of American independence, of course, were the giants of history, like Baron von Steuben, the Prussian general staff officer under Frederick the Great, credited with creating the Continental Army by instilling the training and discipline the troops had lacked. He was a member of Trinity Lodge No. 10 (now No. 12) and later affiliated with Holland No. 8both in New York.

And there is Baron DeKalb, the native of Bavaria who served under the French flag, under LaFayette, and became a major general in the Continental Army. He died of wounds sustained during the fighting at Camden, South Carolina in 1780. He funeral was a Masonic obsequy, officiated by none other than Gen. Charles Cornwallis, commander of the British forces in the south.

Of course there is much more information and many more details in the paper itself, which will be published in a forthcoming book of transactions of the lodge.

The next Stated Communication of the lodge will be Friday, October 29 at Masonic Hall in Manhattan. On the agenda thus far is the Magpie Mason, delivering "An Emblem of a Pure Heart: An Aromatic Editorial," which discusses the Pot of Incense as a Masonic symbol. I hope I'm only an opening act for someone better.

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