Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Happy Patriots Day

Once again it is time for The Beehive’s annual Patriot’s Day message. Patriots Day is an obscure holiday celebrated in just one county – Middlesex – in Massachusetts. In the early years of our nation it was a National holiday but gradually July 4th supplanted a similar celebration.

Patriot’s Day commemorates the first battles of the American Revolution in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775 where the shot was fired heard round the world. Having been born and raised in Lexington, the history of these battles was ingrained in me from an early age and later in life would mix with my Freemasonry.

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march

By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch

Of the North Church tower as a signal light,
--One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

Freemasons were prominent that day. While Paul Revere is the most notable Freemason involved, my favorite was Brother William Munroe an orderly Sergeant in the Lexington Minutemen. Brother Munroe was proprietor of the Munroe Tavern, one of two taverns in Lexington at that time, the other being the Buckman Tavern at the Lexington Green where the Minute Men assembled awaiting the arrival of the British. He was stationed on an all night watch on the Lexington Green through the night of April 18,1775 into the morning of the April 19th. It was Munroe who received Paul Revere riding into Lexington with the news that, “The British are coming, the British are coming” (although historians are apt to point out that he probably said The Regulars or The Redcoats). Revere stopped at the Reverend Jonas Clark’s house to wake up and warn Brother John Hancock and patriot Sam Adams.

Meanwhile Munroe got the word out to Captain John Parker and other Minutemen. They were able to muster some 77 patriots on the Lexington Green to face about 700 British soldiers. Of those 77 some 20+ were Freemasons even though there was no Masonic Lodge in Lexington at that time. When Percy came in with British reinforcements later in the day he took over Munroe Tavern and used it as a command post and hospital.

William Munroe was later to petition the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for a charter for Lexington’s first Masonic Lodge. When he took his request to the Grand East he was there met by Grand Master Paul Revere. Hiram Lodge became Lexington’s first Masonic Lodge and Munroe its first Master. The Lodge met for some 40 years at the Munroe Tavern.

In 1992 when I joined the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team that exemplified the Third Degree in colonial costume accompanied by a patriotic message, I searched for a Revolutionary War Freemason to represent as all the team members did. I chose William Munroe. As Master of Paul Revere Lodge in 1999 I took the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team to Simon W. Robinson Lodge bordering the Lexington Green where once again we exemplified the Third Degree remembering those who fought dearly for the freedoms we enjoy today. Afterward three Lodges that had come together for this special occasion held a Tri Table Lodge.

Today Munroe Tavern stands as a historical building just a stone’s throw from the Scottish Rite National Heritage Museum where you can visit their exhibit of “Sowing The Seeds of Liberty: Lexington & The American Revolution.” You can also see the ‘Lexington Alarm Letter” sent out on April 19,1775.

If you visit Lexington visit these two places as well as the Lexington Green and the Buckman Tavern. A great day to go is April 19th, Patriot’s Day.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009



Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A New Vision

Don't fall in love with a dreamer
'Cause he'll always take you in
Just when you think you've really change him
He'll leave you again
Don't you fall in love with a dreamer
'Cause he'll break you every time
Put out the light and just hold on
Before we say goodbye

Now it's morning and the phone rings
And you say you've gotta get your things together
You just gotta leave before you change your mind
And if you knew what I was thinking girl
I'd turn around if you'd just ask me one more time

Don't fall in love with a dreamer
'Cause he'll always take you in
Just when you think you've really change him
He'll leave you again
Don't you fall in love with a dreamer
'Cause he'll break you every time
Put out the light and just hold on
Before we say goodbye

I love those with a vision. I always fall in love with a dreamer! Those who dream and those who contemplate and meditate and get a vision and see a mission, well they are my kind of people.

So when Greg Stewart came to me with his vision, right away I was impressed. Sometimes it's just something that you have got to do. You follow your instincts and the nudges that the angels send you. And when I was asked to participate in Greg's vision - well how could I say NO.

Time to move on. For every door that closes another one opens. To be a part of something that is bigger and better and pools the resources of many great minds! Don't you see - I JUST HAD TO!


But this is not goodbye but hopefully hello again! Particulars are to follow but this is the last posting on this site except for one more to follow to tell you where to go to see the dream, the vision made real.

So as we opened with a song we shall close with one. And may you all have your own dream, your own vision and work for it to become reality!

Adieu! a heart-warm fond adieu,
Dear brothers of the Mystic Tie!
Ye favored, ye enlightened few,
Companions of my social joy!
Tho' I to foreign lands must hie,
Pursuing fortune's sliddry ba',
With melting heart, and brimful eye,
I'll mind you still, tho' far awa'.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Interviewed on Journey In The East

Brother Due East asked to interview me and his questions and my answers can be seen on his blog, Journey In The East:

Please take an opportunity to peruse this wonderful Masonic blog and information site. It does credit to the Fraternity and is a well thought out effort of two Brothers putting their heads together to enlighten us all!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Old Past Master

The Old Past Master got to Lodge unusually early that evening. He had a hunch that there was going to be some feedback to the heated exchange that had occurred at their last meeting. As always he tried to make himself available for counsel without ever offering an opinion unless asked for. That had not been the policy of Past Master Sinclair who got up at the business meeting two weeks ago and lambasted the Lodge members for non-participation in Lodge events and programs. For fifteen minutes PM Sinclair harangued the Brothers on the past glory of the Lodge and how they were not living up to the standards of the good old days. After the meeting you could see that some of the Brothers were tight lipped while others left early rather than staying for fellowship as they usually did.

This was definitely not the Old Past Master’s style. He never offered an opinion unless he was asked. But he had to admit that Past Master Sinclair was right. Lodge participation was way down. The Brethren seemed almost lethargic and disinterested. And the new Master was young and so full of grandiose plans and programs. It definitely was an open sore that was festering. He had been giving the whole matter some serious thought himself.

As he came into the parking lot the Old Past Master could see that the Master’s car was already parked in its usual spot but all alone. Nobody else had arrived yet. When he entered the Lodge Worshipful McKinney was deep in contemplative thought starring at a blank wall.

The Old Past Master said nary a word but sat down and opened his briefcase and pored over some papers he had pulled out. Five long minutes went by with not a word spoken.

“Why”, exclaimed Worshipful McKinney. “ Why me Lord? What have I got myself into”?

The Old Past Master just continued to shuffle his papers.

“Well aren’t you going to say anything”, Worshipful McKinney broke the silence with.

“Only if you want me to.”

“Of course I want you to. I have been waiting for you to say something for weeks now.”

“And I have been waiting to be asked.”

“Well Past Master Pelham has not been shy about giving me advice. When I told him that I was going to telephone all the Brothers and remind them of the next Lodge meeting and the programs we were working on, he told me that was absolutely the wrong strategy. He said that a Mason is obligated to come to Lodge and to participate and he shouldn’t have to be reminded of his duty. Once you start that you will never get anything done unless you do it all the time. Besides it is not fair to the next Master to saddle him with such a laborious task every month.”

“Yes I have heard Past Master Pelham pontificate on the proper way to run a Lodge.”

“So what do you think of what he said”?

“It’s not my business to critique everybody else’s view. You have to be your own man, Worshipful.”

“Now you are the first person to tell me that. Does that mean you will not offer up any advice”?

“Of course I will if you want me to and you ask me for help. I would not be a Mason if I were unwilling to help a Brother in need.”

“Well what would you do about this listlessness in the Lodge and the non participation by the Brothers”?

“Well if you are asking me I would listen to everybody and then take a course of action that I thought would be most successful. It might not fit exactly what I wanted or be part of my vision but it would be what most of the Brethren desired and would sign onto.”

“Then you would let the Brethren rule the Lodge.”

“Absolutely not. But what I would do is incorporate my vision into their vision at the same time realizing the limits of what can be accomplished and the reality of the complexity of life.”

“You are saying I am too ambitious. What are the Brethren not signing onto and what will they embrace”?

“Well, Worshipful, I don’t mean to be unkind, but you show signs of ‘I’m the brand new Master and I’m going to conquer the world syndrome.’ You have initiated a whole plethora of projects and programs for the Lodge to do. It’s not that I don’t like what you are doing but Lodge should not be a burden it should be a joy. Remember that Lodge is not a job. We are all volunteers, here to celebrate life.”

“I like the way you say that. So I should not have any special projects or programs? Are you saying I should eliminate them all”?

‘Not at all. What I am saying is that quality counts more than quantity. Sometimes it is better to do one thing up proud, extra special, then to do three things rather ordinarily.”

“What would you do with the rest of the time”?

“Well let me leave you with this thought because I see others are now arriving. It’s not what you do it’s who you are. Sometimes it’s all about just being not just doing. We are human beings not human doings.”

The Brethren arrived and got Lodge ready to open. The Master can be seen on his cell phone after which Lodge opens in the usual manner. Before Master McKinney can get to the usual business Past Master Pelham rises and says, “I would like to add some further thought to the debate we had at the last Lodge meeting.”

“Not tonight”, replies the Worshipful

“But I think we need to……………”


“I don’t think continuing such a discussion is in the best interests of the Lodge”, Worshipful McKinney states a little more forcibly.

“Worshipful are you telling me I can’t speak”?

“Precisely Brother Pelham. Please sit down.”

“Now for the next five minutes”, continues Master McKinney I would like you to sit in total silence and think of everybody in this room and remember what you admire about them the most. Then after five minutes of silence I would like to hear from each one of you.”

After what seemed more like twenty minutes Worshipful McKinney broke the silence with, “ OK the East will entertain some thoughts from the Brethren. Who will go first”?

The Old Past Master got up and said how much he admired Brother Sinclair and his passion for the Craft. “It is very rewarding and heartwarming”, he said, “To know that we have one in our midst who cares so much.”

Another Brother rose to speak, and right on his heels another, then another and another and……………well before you know it almost two hours had flown by.

Worshipful McKinney then said, “I will entertain a motion to have the Master and Wardens pay all bills, that the reading of the minutes be postponed until next meeting and that all correspondence be tabled”

“I so move”, came from the Craft

“Second”, replied another

“After we close Brethren I have placed an order of pizzas at the Star Bar and Grille and I respectfully request your presence there for fellowship”, The Master announced.

“Now is there any other business to come before this Lodge before I proceed to close”?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

William H. Upton

My Grand Lodge Sessions are usually just the most inspiring moments of my year. They are well run, move right along and have many interspersed social times, like an awards luncheon and a Family Banquet with a special guest speaker. It makes it seem much more clanish as the Heroines of Jericho and Eastern Star have their Grand Sessions at the same time and in the same building and/or hotel that we all use. So when we get together the whole Masonic family gathers and on the last day of Summer Session installations for the three are done together all in one place.

And my Grand Master Wilbert M. Curtis is the kindest, most soft spoken man I have met that has ever sat in any Grand East I have been associated with. And he is always very accessible to everyone. At summer session I happened in conversation with Grand Master Curtis to mention that I was doing some research on William H. Upton and his eyes instantly lit up. "I have something for you," he said but as if it was a Christmas present that I couldn't open until that special day had arrived, he said no more.

I had forgotten all about that brief conversation but Grand Master Curtis had not. We had just adjourned winter session when I heard my name called. "Brother Milliken" echoed in the hall but I couldn't fathom where the voice was coming from. Finally the Brother next to me nudged me and pointed to the Grand Master. And when I went up to the East to see what he wanted he handed me a DVD and said, "Here is that information on William Upton". I stammered, "But when am I going to be able to get this back to you?" "Don't worry about that, whenever we next meet", he replied.

Now this was really something quite special. It was a DVD of the joint Prince Hall/Mainstream Masonic Memorial Ceremony and monument dedication of June 8, 1991 in Walla Walla, Washington.

By now perhaps you are asking who was William H. Upton and why was a monument being dedicated to him? This remarkable man was the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Washinton State Mainstream Masonry in 1898 who first recognized Prince Hall Masonry. Yes I said 1898! To let you know how long ago that was, William McKinley was President and we had declared war on Spain. Teddy Roosevelt led the charge up San Juan Hill and the Buffalo Soldiers were in the thick of the battle.

But tremendous pressure was brought on the Grand Lodge of Washington including losing Mainstream recognition in many other states. So the recognition of Prince Hall was rescinded. But William Upton never ceased working to try to reinstitue the recognition. When he died his will stated that there was not to be any marker on his grave until such time as Black Masonry and White Masonry had joined in mutual recognition in Washington state.

It took almost a hundrd years but in 1990 the two Grand Lodges were joined in mutual recognition. And on June 8, 1991 Both Grand Lodges gathered to now lay a marker on William Upton's grave.

The DVD which the Grand Master gave me showed the full ceremony that day. Both Grand Lodges marching down the road to the cemetary in full Masonic dress, Prince Hall members on one side of the road and Mainstream on the other. Side by side they marched in this huge long line.

And when they got to the cemetary there were speeches and prayers and hugs and recognition of William Upton's surviving family that were there that day.

And above all there was the ceremony of the tombstone dedication where members of both Grand Lodges using the working tools of a Master Mason declared the work of engraved stone square, level and plumb. And as the veil was lifted from the stone all could read these words inscribed on it.

"This memorial commerates the fruition of the last will and testament of William H. Upton MW Past Grand Master Wash. F & AM who desired that all Masons regardless of color, should dwell together as recognized Masonic Brethren. This was accomplished in 1990 by actions of both Grand Lodges MW GL F&AM of Wash. and MW Prince Hall GL F&AM of Wash. Dedicated June 8, 1991 AL 5991"

If you go to the Internet you will find very little information about William H. Upton even though he authored the work "Light On A Dark Subject". Neither the Grand Lodge of Washington Mainstream or The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington show any material to this man on their websites. One of the few places that has anything solid on the man is Phoenix Masonry, that well run repository of so much fraternal history and objects. See:

That's a crime. This Mason that should be revered and talked about and written about so that his story is within easy reach of any casual observer. As I sit here burning this DVD into copies, I know that this will be one of my Masonic treasures and I thank a thoughtful, kind Grand Master who follows in the footsteps of such a great man as William H. Upton. Thank you Grand Master Curtis!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Document Discovery Sheds Light On First American Grand Lodge

Most of us remember that the first Grand Lodge in the world, the Premier Grand Lodge, is the Grand Lodge of England, now The United Grand Lodge of England, formed in 1717. Many of us remember that the second Grand Lodge in the world was the Irish Grand Lodge formed in 1725. I used to think this quite strange as one hears much more about how pervasive Freemasonry is in Scotland and not so much about Irish Masonry. But one must remember that it was common in these early years for Catholics to be Masons. The first Papal Bull written to condemn Freemasonry wasn’t published until 1738.

But that’s neither here or there. The $64 thousand dollar question (gosh bringing that phrase up to modern times it must be the million dollar question by now) is, what is the 3rd oldest Grand Lodge in the world? That depends on whom you are listening to. One thing for sure is that it is an American Grand Lodge.

Both Pennsylvania and Massachusetts claim that they are the 3rd oldest Grand Lodge in the world. Now it is obvious both can’t be right. Yet that hasn’t stopped a hotly contested argument that has been simmering for more than a century.

We know from records that are on file from the 1720s that both states had Masonic Lodges that met prior to any Grand Lodges being formed. And we also know that the Grand Lodge of England appointed two men to form Provincial Grand Lodges in “The Colonies”. It is on record that Daniel Coxe was deputized in 1730 for Pennsylvania and Henry Price was deputized in 1733 for Massachusetts.

Now best I can tell from the dispute is that Massachusetts claims that since Coxe did nothing and Price right away formed a Grand Lodge that it is entitled to the claim of 3rd oldest Grand Lodge. But Pennsylvania claims that the mere act of deputizing is sufficient evidence that a Grand Lodge was granted to Pennsylvania first. Massachusetts has always seemed to have a leg up in the dispute because of a letter written by Grand Master of Pennsylvania Benjamin Franklin in 1734 to Massachusetts Grand Master Henry Price requesting that a charter be approved for his Grand Lodge under the authority of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

Wikipedia states:

Daniel Coxe
“However, it does not appear that Daniel Coxe ever organized a Provincial Grand Lodge, nor to have erected any lodges, nor ever exercised his authority in any way as Provincial Grand Master prior to his death on 25 April 1739. In fact, his death which was reported in the Pennsylvania Gazette by Benjamin Franklin, a member of the Tun Tavern Lodge in Philadelphia, does not even mention that Coxe was a Freemason, indicating that Franklin and the other members of the Craft in Philadelphia were unaware of his affiliation.”

Now further supporting the Massachusetts position is a recently discovered document in the archives of the Samuel Crocker Lawrence Grand Lodge library. It shows a Warrant for the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in the year 1764. But this whole situation is clouded by the quarrel between the Antients and the Moderns.

In Massachusetts the Antients and the Moderns went on fighting it out until 1792 when they merged, the Moderns winning out on most of the disputed positions. One of the stipulations to the merger was that there would be no numbers on any Massachusetts Lodges, thus neither an Antient Lodge nor a Modern Lodge could be #1.

In Pennsylvania the Antient/Modern split took on a different tack. The Moderns were the first Grand Lodge with the unknown date of charter the basis for this dispute. In 1757 the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania (Moderns) chartered Lodge #4. Lodge #4, however, insisted on practicing the Antient ways. Six months later their warrant had been recalled because of their actions. Lodge #4 then petitioned the Antient Grand Lodge in England for a charter to form a Provincial Grand Lodge for Pennsylvania. The Antient Warrant was issued in 1758 but lost in transit in 1761, reissued in 1763 and lost again and finally issued for the last time in 1764, which was retained.

Meanwhile the Modern Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania folded in the early 1760s. So the Grand Lodge that exists today is a descendent from the Antient Provincial Grand Lodge of 1764. And the document uncovered in the Massachusetts archive is that 1764 Warrant. Hopefully this settles the argument. But I doubt it.