Thursday, July 31, 2014

Marblehead Freemasons retrospective

On Thursday, April 8, 2010, I traveled to the “New Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism” symposium, which would take place the following day at Lexington, Massachusetts. But before heading to my hotel in Lexington, I chose to visit the Marblehead Museum and Historical Society, where an exhibit of Masonic artifacts owned by Philanthropic Lodge, in celebration of the lodge’s 250th anniversary, was closing that very day.

Timing is everything.

My notes from this very enjoyable couple of hours are long gone, but I present here more than three dozen photographs of the exhibit and from the lodge itself, courtesy of Don Doliber, Philanthropic’s highly knowledgeable and motivated historian, who just happened to have made an unplanned visit to the museum when I arrived.

Don curated this collection of centuries-old artworks and other objects. It had been a long time since I’d seen a museum exhibit of Masonic artifacts, outside of a Masonic facility, this extensive and interesting. (One of these days I’ll have to scan and post the photos I shot at both New Jersey’s exhibit at Boxwood Hall in Elizabeth, and the Livingston Library’s exhibit at Fraunces Tavern Museum in Manhattan, both c. 2001.)

Here is a brief lodge history, found on Philanthropics website:

Philanthropic Lodge was originally chartered as ‘The Marblehead Lodge’ in 1760 by St. John’s Lodge No.1 under the Provincial Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. As this Marblehead Lodge was constituted during the reign of King George III, it was considered an English provincial lodge and all ritual was conducted in accord with English Masonic customs. Thus the Philanthropic Lodge seal bears the initials “F&AM” referring to the “Free and Accepted Masons” traditions of England.

In those early days only 2 degrees were granted to members. Candidates were made Entered Apprentices and Fellow Craftsmen and then were voted members of the lodge. Most of the business was conducted on the 1st Degree. For the first few years, as was the English custom, only the Master was granted the 3rd Degree of Master Mason. Within 18 years the Third Degree was granted to all members.

A 1760 candidate was John Pulling, Jr. (1737-1787), a Marblehead shipmaster, who lived in Boston in 1775. Paul Revere said to John Pulling in April, 1775: “...if the British march by land or sea tonight, hang a lantern aloft in the belfry tower in the North Church Tower, one if by land and two if by sea, I on the opposite shore will be.” … and the rest is history. It is also said that Elbridge Gerry (1744-1814), later 5th Vice President of the United States in 1813, became a member of the Marblehead lodge in 1769.
Its name was changed to “Philanthropic Lodge” in 1797 during the tenure of M.W. Paul Revere, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts. The official seal designed sometime after 1798 consists of a 1-inch diameter circle, on the outside of which are the words, “Philanthropic Lodge, F. & A. M., Marblehead, Mass.” Inside the circle is a representation of the Good Samaritan pouring oil and wine into the wounds of a stranger, and above the inside edges of the circle are the words, “This Do Ye.”

The laying of the cornerstone and dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument took place on June 17, 1825 with Grand Lodge Officers and Bro. Marquis de Lafayette present. A delegation from Philanthropic Lodge also attended. Secretary Collyer wrote: “ was contemplated that there was the largest assembly of people that ever met at one time in the United States of America.”

Philanthropic Lodge originally met at the home of Bro. (Commodore) Samuel Tucker on what is now Prospect Street, Marblehead. Since then, the Lodge has met in several places, one believed to be Tucker Street opposite the end of Mason Street. For the last 63 years we have called 62 Pleasant Street, home.

On March 21, 2006, Philanthropic lodge approved its merger with Wayfarers Lodge of Swampscott by a unanimous vote. On October 5, 2006, M.W. Jeffrey Black Hodgdon for Massachusetts conducted the merger ceremony. With that ceremony, 146 Masons from Wayfarers were enrolled in Philanthropic Lodge.

Philanthropic Lodge is the 3rd oldest Masonic Lodge in Massachusetts and the 19th oldest Masonic Lodge in the United States. It currently enjoys one of the largest memberships (546) in Massachusetts.

Enjoy this look back at a remarkable Masonic lodge’s commemoration of its 250th anniversary in 2010.

Don Doliber, historian of Philanthropic Lodge in Marblehead, Massachusetts, strikes a pose with the portrait of Elbridge Gerry, also a lodge member in the late eighteenth century. Don curated the exhibit presented by the Marblehead Museum and Historical Society in the winter and early spring of 2010.

Bro. Edward Fettyplace (1722-1805) was a charter member of the lodge in 1760.  He held various positions in local government during the Revolution, and served as First Lieutenant of the schooner Franklin in 1776. Read more about this ship below.

Captain Joseph Lemon Lee (1785-1819).

Richard Girdler, a sea captain (1761-1847) joined the lodge in 1834. Portrait painted by William Bartoll.

Don's ancestor John Doliber (1768-1829) joined the lodge in 1809. He too was a sea captain,  owner of the vessels Union, Friendship, Two Sisters, and Five Sisters. Artist unknown, but possibly painted in France.

Philip Bessom (1746-1836) joined the lodge in 1797. Soldier, sea captain, Marblehead Selectman, and Representative to the Massachusetts General Court.

Possibly the lodge's warrant. My notes are gone. Perhaps someone from Philanthropic could leave a comment below.

One sees these punch bowls in Masonic collections up and down the East Coast, and elsewhere I'm sure. This one is of Chinese manufacture, mid nineteenth century. Known as Armorial or Societal China, such pieces were commissioned by American and English consumers. Masonic symbols were sent to China for the porcelain artists to copy.

Dr. Elisha Story (1743-1805) joined Philanthropic Lodge in 1778. A participant in the Boston Tea Party, he also stole a British cannon from Boston Common. Joined the Sons of Liberty, served as a doctor to Colonel Little's Essex regiment, and fought as a volunteer at Lexington and Bunker’s Hill. He aided General Washington on his campaigns to Long Island, White Plains, and Trenton. He was a doctor for the rest of his life at the practice he settled in Marblehead. 

Dr. Story's medical kit. It is said he used this during his service in the Revolution.

Elbridge Gerry painted by William Goodwin. From the lodge’s website: 'Elbridge Gerry was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts on July 17, 1744. He studied at Harvard to be a merchant, graduating in 1762. He was elected to the Massachusetts Legislature in 1773 and was selected to attend the Provincial Congress in 1774. He was a member of the Marblehead Lodge of Masons. He signed the Declaration of Independence. He was then appointed to the Continental Congress, where he was engaged in committee work on commercial and naval concerns. He attended the Constitutional Convention in 1798 but was opposed to the new Federal Constitution, refusing to sign it. He was elected to the first two Congresses from Massachusetts and, in 1797, was one of several envoys sent to France. He was elected governor of Massachusetts in 1810 and 1811. He was much criticized for redistricting the state to the advantage of his own party (Democratic-Republican). That incident was the source of the term gerrymandering. In 1812 he was elected Vice President of the United States. He died in office, on November 23, 1814, at the age of 70.'

John Glover (1732-97) joined the lodge in 1760 as a Charter Member. An illustrious military career before and during the Revolution. Google him.

Elisha Story was Philanthropic's fourth Worshipful Master at the time of George Washington's death in 1799.  For thirty days after Washington's death, the brethren wore armbands similar to this one.

Philanthropic Lodge's Master's gavel, fashioned from wood taken from the USS Constitution.

Medallion profile of George Washington, carved as a decoration for Washington's visit to Salem and Marblehead in 1789. Attributed to Samuel MacIntyre.

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Click to enlarge. Masonic apron from the museum's archives.

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Replica of the Masonic apron of Richard Harris, a Charter Member of the lodge, and its second Worshipful Master. The original apron is among the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Library and Museum in Lexington.

250th anniversary apron depicts the lodge emblem and the historic square and compasses you'll read about below.

Click to enlarge. Captain James Mugford was not a Freemason. A Marblehead hero of the Revolution, he commanded the Franklin, which captured the HMS Hope.

Samuel Russell Trevett (1751-1832). Served in the British army before the Revolution, fought against Britain in the Revolution, and fought the British again in 1812, when he was captured. He was Philanthropic's third Worshipful Master in 1781. In 1779, he was co-owner of the brig Freemason.

Shot of the museum.

Philanthropic Lodge is located at 62 Pleasant Street, just around the corner from its previous digs, appropriately on Mason Street.

A Masonic temple. Remember those?

If I understand correctly, this flag flew on the USS Constitution during its July 21, 1993 voyage, its first in 116 years.

Masonic apron made of kangaroo skin, given to Bro. Floyd Soule during his trip to Australia in he may be properly attired there.

Past Master apron of W. Chester Damon, who presided over the lodge in 1931-32.

Best I can tell, this is an invitation to a Brother to attend the lodge's St. John's Day festivities, year unknown.

Click to enlarge. A Dudley Masonic Emblem pocket watch. Read more about that here.

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Click to enlarge. There are so many Masonic treasures in the possession of Philanthropic Lodge, including this priceless pair of Great Lights kept at the lodge. The brethren call the set the '1776 Square & Compass.'

On May 17, 1776, the schooner Franklin, commanded by Captain James Mugford, captured the Royal Navy schooner Hope, which wound up providing essential materiel for Gen. George Washington’s forces at Cambridge. Mugford, not a Freemason, was killed in action later that year. The compass, termed a 'divider,' and the square are believed to have been the working tools of the British ship’s navigator. Bro. James Topham, a descendent of Mugford, donated the compass to Philanthropic Lodge in 1858, and then gave the square in 1862. The have been used to make Masons in Philanthropic ever since.



jimmiraybob said...

Thanks MM. Fascinating history.

Magpie Mason said...

My pleasure!