Benjamin B. French

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor, 
RWB Lloyd G. Lyon

Benjamin B. French
1800-1870

“Arguably no Mason has been associated with more public Masonic
functions over a longer period in the Capitol than Bro. French.”

The nineteenth century was the time of many prominent Masons, but Bro. Benjamin French was such an exceptional one that he requires special notice.

Benjamin B. French was born September 4, 1800 in Chester New Hampshire.  His father was a lawyer of high standing and for several years Attorney General of the State of New Hampshire.

In 1819 he went to Boston hoping to go to sea. Failing to obtain a berth on a ship, he enlisted as a soldier in the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Warren on Governor's Island in the harbor of Boston. He was appointed a Sergeant soon after enlisting and faithfully performed his duty for about four months when, at the request of his friends who provided a substitute, he left the army on September 12, 1819.

He then returned to his father's, he began the study of law, which he pursued with diligence for five years, that being the time fixed by the bar rules of New Hampshire. At the February 1825 term of the Court of Common Pleas for the County of Rockingham, held at Portsmouth, he was admitted an attorney at law.

He was thus a lawyer by profession and following his marriage in 1825 to Elizabeth Smith Richardson (1805-1861), daughter of Chief Justice of New Hampshire William Merchant Richardson and a cousin of Judge William A. Richardson, formerly Secretary of the Treasury, he became active in politics, serving as Assistant Clerk of the State Senate of New Hampshire (1828-1830).

Initiated in 1826 in New Hampshire and courageously serving Corinthian Lodge as Master in 1831, 1832, and 1833 during the Anti-Masonic period, he was also Grand Marshal of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire.
He was later elected to the New Hampshire State Legislature (1831-1833). While in the Legislature, he was the proprietor and editor of the New Hampshire Spectator.

French's chief contribution to an understanding of the 19th century is his eleven-volume journal of almost four thousand pages, which was begun in August of 1828 and was faithfully kept up until shortly before his death in the nation's capital in 1870. Roughly one third of the journal was published in one volume in 1989 under the title Witness to the Young Republic, A Yankee's Journal, 1828-1870, edited by Donald B. Cole and John J. McDonough.

He knew 12 presidents and their administrations intimately over 40+ years, from Bro. Andrew Jackson (1833) to Bro. Andrew Johnson (1867) and organized Lincoln’s inaugural and the Gettysburg memorial dedication (at which Lincoln have his famous address). His house was on the site of the present Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress.

After moving to Washington in 1846 he joined National Lodge No. 12, was elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Washington D.C. from 1847 to 1853, and in 1868 became Grand Master again after much persuasion. He was active in both the York and Scottish Rites.

After moving to Washington, on May 7, 1846, Brother French was affiliated with National Lodge No.12 of the District of Columbia and on November 3, 1846, he was elected Grand Master of the District of Columbia and served for seven consecutive years. While Grand Master, he laid the cornerstones of the east extension of the United States Capitol Building, the Smithsonian Institute (1847), and the Washington Monument (1848).


Companion French was exalted in Columbia Chapter No. 1 Royal Arch Masons on November 5, 1846, and later served as Excellent High Priest of that chapter.

He also served as the Most Excellent Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of the District of Columbia. Sir Knight French was knighted in DeWitt Clinton Encampment, Brooklyn, New York on April 5, 1847, and became Eminent Commander of Washington Commandery No. 1 (D.C.) on its revival in 1847, serving for eleven years.

In 1850, accompanied by President Zachary Taylor, he laid the cornerstone of the Washington Monument in Richmond, Virginia.

(George Washington’s
Masonic Apron)

Again as Grand Master, wearing the original apron used by Washington, French laid the cornerstone of the Capitol extension on July 4, 1851, following which a pilgrimage was made to Washington’s tomb with an address given by French.

In 1851 French had received the degrees of the Scottish Rite and on December 12, 1859, SGC Albert Pike conferred upon him the 33°.  He was the first Mason from the District of Columbia to be so honored.

 In 1853, French was named the Commissioner of Public Buildings under President Franklin Pierce. As the Commissioner of Public Buildings, French was responsible for the care of all federal buildings in Washington, D.C., including the United States Capitol. French would lose his job because of his anti-slavery views.

In his diary French describes an early encounter with Albert Pike on Wednesday, January 12, 1853: “passed the day at my office and the Capitol, and in the evening attended a meeting of the Encampment of Knights Templars, and conferred the orders on Albert Pike, Esq. of Arkansas. He is a scholar and a poet. Was an officer in the Mexican War and a man I am disposed to hold in high estimation.”

Then, on February 6, 1853: “Thursday evening, Washington Encampment met and we conferred the orders of Knighthood on General Sam Houston. We had a full encampment, and everything went off admirably.”

Brother French had the distinction of having a Lodge named in his honor while he was a sitting Grand Master.  Most Worshipful Brother French reluctantly signed the charter establishing his namesake lodge in late 1852.  Benjamin Brown French Lodge No. 15 held its first communication in 1853. The Lodge has met continuously since in the Georgetown section of the District of Columbia.

He chaired the Board of Alderman of the District, headed the Telegraph Company, and chaired the District Relief committee to support families of soldiers during the Civil War. 

He was elected Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, U.S.A. in 1859 and served until 1865. Brother French became a Scottish Rite Mason, and on September 15, 1859, he became the first 33rd Degree Mason from the District of Columbia. At the time of his death, he was Lieutenant Grand Commander of the Supreme Council, AASR (SJ).

French had rejoiced in Abraham Lincoln's election in November 1860 and at the same time recoiled at the South's threat of secession. He had learned that his beloved wife Elizabeth had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had consented to a mastectomy (which was not successful). Elizabeth's death in May of 1861 was a profound loss for French. His family gathered round him to ease his grief.

Mary Ellen Brady (1831- 1905), a sister of his brother Edmund's wife, moved in to manage his household. With time, a romantic attachment developed between Mary Ellen who was thirty years younger than French, and within a year and a half they were wed on September 9, 1862.

French was the Chief Marshal of the March 1861 inaugural parade of Abraham Lincoln, who reappointed French Commissioner of Public Buildings in which he oversaw the completion of the new dome on the Capitol.

After his appointment, French wrote in his diary on September 8, 1861: "I was at the President's and saw Mrs. Lincoln and the President.  Mrs. L. expressed her satisfaction at my appointment, and I hope and trust she and I shall get along quietly. I certainly shall do all in my power to oblige her and make her comfortable. She is evidently a smart, intelligent woman and likes to have her own way pretty much. I was delighted with her independence and her lady-like reception of me. Afterward I saw the President, and he received me very cordially."

During his tenure, French also over saw the funeral arrangements for both Willie Lincoln (1850-1862) and President Lincoln (1809-1865). He would visit Lincoln on his deathbed at the time of his assassination.

French claimed to have prevented an earlier assault on Lincoln at the President's Inauguration on March 4. His journal relates the circumstances.

The Civil War naturally called a halt in the steady forward march of Templary. This was noticeable in only one Triennial Conclave, however, and that was the one which fell in 1862, in the time of the war. It had been previously decided to hold this Conclave in Memphis, Tennessee.

This was not feasible in September of 1862, and a special meeting, before the regular Conclave, changed the place of assembly of the Triennial Conclave for that year to New York City.   It was then twenty years since the last Conclave had been held in New York City.

The meeting was a small one. The best authorities state that only eight Grand Commanderies and subordinate Commanderies from two states and from the District of Columbia were present, and these were all northern. It is not clear that all the southern bodies had completely and finally seceded from the Grand Encampment as had their states from the United States government. Indeed, there is evidence that some friendly and fraternal relations were maintained.

This Conclave again took up the matter of Templar uniform, giving still further and more detailed regulations in the famous "Edict of 1862." In the matter of the ritual, it was decided to have a devotional service prepared for the opening of the next Conclave, the place and time for which were fixed at Columbus, Ohio, on September 5, 1865, and the week following.

 Even before the actual close of the war, the coming peace and harmony was indicated by the admission into the ranks of the constituent Grand Commanderies of two states, one of the south, Louisiana, on February 12, 1864, and one of the north, Iowa, on June 6, 1864. Subordinate Commanderies joined from three new states, Kansas, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

 There was in the entire 1865 Conclave no real note of war, and the Grand Master at the 1862 and 1865 Conclaves, "the War Grand Master," Benjamin Brown French, proved himself one of the most caring and peaceable of men. In having him at the helm throughout those troubled times, Masonic Templary was very fortunate. Calm, unruffled, broad-minded, and open eyed, he proved to be the right man to guide American Templary safely through the Civil War years.

 On March 4, 1867, Radical Republicans in Congress succeeded in abolishing the office of Commissioner as a way to punish French for his loyalty to Democratic President Andrew Johnson (who was also a Knight Templar). On March 14, 1867, French surrendered books, ledgers, and accounts to the Secretary of the Interior. On March 30, 1867, Congress placed the care of the United States Capitol and grounds under Edward Clark and the newly created office of the Architect of the Capitol.

Nearly twenty years later, in 1867, he accompanied President Andrew Johnson to Boston for a national meeting of the Masonic Knights Templar, of which French had also been Grand Master.

On April 15, 1868 he presided over the dedication of Washington’s first statue of Abraham Lincoln.  Brown’s nephew, Daniel Chester Brown, would sculpt the statue of Lincoln unveiled in 1922.

In 1870, he was made Lieutenant Grand Commander of the Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction.

 French spent his final years in a minor clerk position in the United States Treasury Department, and though he found the work humiliating, he held the post until forced by politics to resign two months before his death.

He died at home on August 12, 1870, from heart failure and lung congestion. French was placed in a coffin in the front parlor beneath his portrait and in front of two little lamps. His Masonic hat, badge, and sword were on the lid of the coffin, and the room was strewn with flowers.   His body was then taken to the Congressional Cemetery where he was laid to rest amid throngs of mourners and with the solemn funeral service of Freemasonry.

 The full account of Benjamin B. French's life is not defined by his government service alone. A sociable and open man, he was likewise occupied in numerous community and business activities, including serving as Treasurer of the United States Agricultural Society and as president of the Republican Association of the City of Washington, as well as Grand Master of the Knights Templar of the United States.

He invested smartly, and his business judgment provided him a better lifestyle than would otherwise have been possible on a government salary alone.  He was also interested in cultural and literary matters, constantly composing poetry, speaking at public occasions, and discussing current authors and their works in his correspondence.

His journal is filled with descriptions of parties and other social occasions, and it was not uncommon to find him at home playing euchre well into the night with a group of friends that included congressmen and other prominent public officials. Sadly, Benjamin Brown French would likely be little remembered today were it not for his journal and letters already mentioned.

The remaining unpublished material, comprising two-thirds of the journal, is housed in the Library of Congress which is now situated on the very site where French's mansion, built in 1842, was located. The unique aspect of French's journal is the keen insight provided into political life in Washington, D.C. The workings and the key players of every administration from that of John Quincy Adams to Ulysses S. Grant are faithfully recorded.

They provide a wide window into the early years of the republic and more particularly on the Lincoln White House and are his legacy to the nation.

Sources:


RWB Lloyd G. Lyon is Editor of the Missouri Lodge of Research Newsletter, published quarterly.  For the Grand Lodge of Missouri, he is serving as a Grand Chaplin 2017-18 and sits on several state committees.     He is a Past Master of Hale City Lodge No. 216 (MO) and currently the Secretary.  He is currently the District Deputy Grand Lecturer for the 14th District and has previously served as District Deputy Grand Master.  He belongs to the York Rite and in 2016 served as Excellent High Priest of Lexington (MO) Chapter No. 10, 2016 Eminent Commander of Demolay Commandery No. 3 and 2017 Illustrious Master of John F. Houston Council No. 42.  He also holds membership in Richmond Chapter No. 255 (WP) and Lexington Chapter No. 248 (AP) Order of the Eastern Star, Harry S. Truman York Rite College No. 167, Charlemayne Council No. 79 Knight Masons, Kilwinning Council No. 19 Allied Masonic Degrees, Missouri Priory No. 17 Knights of the York Court of Honour (KYCH), Mary Conclave No. 5 Red Cross of Constantine, Order of the Past Masters, Order of the High Priesthood, Order of the Silver Trowel, Missouri Association of Past Masters and Aleppo Grotto.  You can contact him at halecitylodge216@gmail.com
  

It's Not Them, It's You: Building Masonic Infrastructure

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

I was asked recently what got me so interested in the topic of Masonic education. There were a few things, but I keep going back to the same experience. And believe it or not, it’s one of the few stories I don’t think I’ve told outside my local Lodge.

Shortly after I published my first book in 2007, I was invited by a Lodge to come and speak about it at their regularly stated meeting. I agreed. The meeting started at 7, and they dined at the Lodge at 6:30. The downside was that the Lodge was two hours away.

I had to leave work early to get there by 6:30 and I got turned around and wound up getting there a little later than I planned—about 6:45. But that wasn’t a problem, because there wasn’t anybody there yet. So I sat in the parking lot and waited, and about the time I was thinking I’d written down the wrong night, the first car pulled in at a little after 7.

Now when I was told the Lodge members dined at the Lodge at 6:30, what they meant, is that they all go individually to their favorite fast food restaurant, order food, and then eat it together at the Lodge. I hadn’t had anything to eat since about 11:30 that morning, but I sat there and watched them devour their cheeseburgers and tacos--the Master didn't think I'd have time to run and get something and eat it before they were done and opened the Lodge.

The Lodge opened about a half an hour late, and we got right into the meeting. They were having a good time, but I’d never been more bored. It was a ninety minute long gossip session. They talked about their inept local school board. They talked about the township not cleaning out the storm drains. They talked about the pastor’s wife’s sister’s son-in-law with the drinking problem. There was in that ninety-minute discussion one issue relating to Freemasonry and Lodge business that caught my attention—I’ll tell you about that in a minute.

At a little after nine o’clock, the Master glanced at his watch, and said, “oh, dear, we’ve run a bit late tonight. I’m afraid we won’t have time for Bro. Creason’s talk. Maybe he'll come back next month and give it to us.  Would you like to at least tell the Lodge where they can buy your book before we proceed to close.”

I didn’t say anything. I did as I was asked and told the members of that Lodge where they could buy my book. I didn’t mention I hadn’t eaten all day. I didn’t mention I’d left work early. I didn’t mention I’d spend two or three hours on my presentation. I didn’t mention I’d driven two hours. I didn’t even get mad when the Master asked if I’d be willing to donate a copy of my book to their library shelf. It’s probably still there. By the time I stopped and got something to eat on my way home, it was nearly midnight when I rolled in my driveway.  My drive home still holds a world record for the longest continuous bout of cursing in modern history. 

As I said, there was one short discussion during that meeting that caught my attention. They were talking about their two new Master Masons. These two and gone through the degrees together, and after they were raised a few months earlier they’d only attended one or two meetings, and nobody had seen them since.  They weren't even returning calls.

Now don't you find that odd?

That’s really when things clicked with me. That’s when I first became interested in “enhancing the member experience” and began writing about it, and began setting about actually doing it in my own Lodges—and we have a lot people in my area interested in this same topic now. And there’s a lot of really interesting work being done to this end.

The problem so many Lodges have, is they go about things completely backwards. You’ve got to start with building your infrastructure. If you want to build your Lodge, you have to really take a hard look at your Lodge. What do you want to accomplish? What are your goals as a Lodge? What would a new member enjoy about your Lodge? Why are perspective members interested in joining your Lodge? What do they hope to gain, and does that exist in your Lodge. If you want to build and grow your Lodge, you have to build it first. You have to be ready for those new members when they arrive. If you don’t fix what’s wrong with your Lodge first, those new members won’t still be there by the time you figure that out.

But I can tell you without hesitation that nobody joins this Fraternity to attend a monthly meeting. Nobody. They do join for reasons, and you have to figure out what those are, and find ways to fulfill those needs. Friendship. Fellowship. Community Service. Personal Growth. Knowledge. Skills. There are many reasons why men come to us, and as we’ve been learning in my part of the world, building this infrastructure not only helps retain new members, but it also engages our long-time members as well—I’ve seen many go from grumpy Past Masters to mentors, teachers, and trainers.  And some of our biggest critics in the beginning when we were trying to improve our Lodges--well, many of them are our biggest fans now.

We've spent a great deal of time finding ways to keep our business meetings short and on point.  We have education presentations every single meeting, and we start with those!  I make notes when I see members of my Lodge looking at their watches, or glancing at the clock to see what's going on in the Lodge that has them bored.  We have great discussions.  We have guests come and speak to our Lodge from outside groups.  We learn things about our community, and we learn things about each other.  And we invite other Lodges to join us--and very often they do!  And these experiments that started in our Lodge have spread, and other Lodges are doing some interesting things as well.  I hope to share a guest post at some point from a member of another Lodge near mine that tells the story of his Lodge's journey from ordinary to extraordinary.

If your Lodge is having problems with attracting new members or retaining your old members, it's most likely not them.  The best place to start looking is at what you're doing in your Lodge. 

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is an award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series.  He is the author of the the From Labor To Refreshment blog.  He is a Past Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) where he currently serves as Secretary.  He is a a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research (FMLR).  He is a charter member of the a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 and currently serves as Excellent High Priest of that Chapter.  He serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F.&A.M. as the Eastern Area Education Officer.  You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Joseph Brandt

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners


Joseph Brant was a Native American war chief of the Tribe of Mohawk who sided with the British during the American Revolutionary War. Born in 1742, while his parents were on a hunting trip, he was born on the banks of the Ohio River. He was named Thayendanega, which means “he places two bets”. While a young man, he became of favorite Sir William Johnson, who was the British superintendent of the northern Indians of America. Sir William Johnson was also a Freemason and a former Provincial Grand Master of the New York Colony. After his wife died in 1759, he married his former mistress, Molly who was Joseph Brant’s sister.

Brant was selected to attend Moors Charity School for Indians which was located in Lebanon, Connecticut. (As an aside, this school would later become Dartmouth College). He learned to speak English and studied Western history and literature. He left school to serve under Sir William during French and Indian war from 1755-1759. After this, he assisted Sir William with running the Indian Department, administered by the British out of Quebec. He also acted as an interpreter for an Anglican Missionary, and helped translate a prayer book and the Gospel of Mark into the Mohawk language. He married in 1768 to Christine, a daughter of an Oneida chief. He then settled with his wife on a farm near Canajoharie.

He continued his translations of Anglican and Biblical text into Mohawk. His wife passed away in 1771, leaving him with a son and a daughter. In 1773, he married his late wife’s sister, Susannah. She passed away a few months later. Both of his wives died due to Tuberculosis. In 1774, Sir William died. He was succeeded by his son, Sir John Johnson, and his son in law, Col. Guy Johnson. Both John and Guy were Freemasons. In August 1775, the confederacy of Six Nations staged a council fire near Albany, after the news of Bunker Hill. After much debate, the decision was made that the war between the British and American Colonists was their own affair, and that the Six Nations should stay out of it. However Brant and the Johnsons were able to influence four tribes to the British Side, namely the Mohawks, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. The other two tribes, the Oneidas and Tuscaroras, sided with the Americans.

In 1776, Brant became the principal war chief of the confederacy of Six Nations. He also received a Captain’s commission into the British Army in charge of the Native troops who were loyal to the Crown. Upon receiving his commission, he made his first trip to England. He was made a Freemason "and admitted to the Third Degree" at London, England, on April 26, 1776. This was in a Lodge of the Moderns, the Falcon, in Princess Street, Leicester Fields. He had the distinction of having his Masonic apron given to him from the hand of King George III.

Brant returned from England and saw action in the Battle of Long Island in August 1776. He then snuck back to his homeland. Upon returning to his tribe, he attempted to stir up support for the British cause in the villages in his region. He is linked to participating in several battles in the war, The siege of Ft. Stanwix; Oriskany; the Wyoming Valley of the Upper Susquehanna; Mohawk Valley and German Flats; Cherry Valley; Minesink-Port Jervis; Chemung River-Elmira area; Johnstown; Fort Plain; Fort Clyde; Fort Plank; Mohawk Valley and the Western Frontier, all of which occurred during the six year period from 1775-1781.

However, the incident that Brant is Masonically famous for occurred following the surrender of American Forces at the Battle of the Cedars on the St. Lawrence River in 1776. Colonel John McKinstry, who lived near Hudson, New York, at the time was a captain of a company in the unfortunate invasion of Canada, by American troops in 1776. At the battle of the Cedars, forty miles above Montreal, in May of that year, in a severe engagement, Captain McKinstry was wounded and taken prisoner by the Native forces. They intended to torture him and/or burn him alive, and had made preparations to do so by tying Captain McKinstry to a tree. McKinstry knew Brant to be a Freemason. He gave the Grand Hailing sign of distress to Brant. Upon seeing this, Brant, with other British officers (one can also assume they were Freemasons), bought an ox which they presented to the Native forces in place of Captain McKinstry. There was then a feast. McKinstry was then given to some English Freemasons, who returned him to the American lines.

After the war, Brant was a warm and devoted friend of McKinstry, making an annual visit at his house near Hudson. Brant strongly urged McKinstry to move and settle near him in Canada, offering to give him five hundred or one thousand acres of land from the grant made to him by the British Government after the close of the war. Brant also would attend the meetings of the Masonic Lodge in Hudson with McKinstry. Brant became affiliated with Lodge No.11 at the Mohawk village at Grand River, of which he was the first Master. He later affiliated with Barton Lodge No. 10 at Hamilton, Ontario. The town of Brantford, Ontario, is named in his honor. Brant died on November 24, 1807, at the age of nearly sixty-five years at his home on Grand River, Ontario. In 1850, the Freemasons restored his tomb, and placed and inscription on it. 

~DAL

WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. You can reach him by email at darin.lahners@gmail.com.

Freemasonry and the Chinese Bamboo Tree

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM



Not long ago I saw a video of a motivational talk given by a man named Les Brown. In this talk, Mr. Brown began to explain how a person’s life and their success is like growing a Chinese bamboo tree.

The Chinese bamboo tree isn’t easy to grow. In order for the tree to grow, the ground in which the seed is planted must be watered and fertilized every day without fail for five years, but thetree doesn’t sprout until the fifth year. After that five years, the grower’s patience and hard work are rewarded when the tree grows over ninety feet tall in that fifth year.

Brown explains in the video how many people will allow the tree to die because they get discouraged doing all that work, spending all the time fertilizing the soil and watering the seed without seeing any progress from all their labors. After all that time, they have spent so much doing the necessary work in order for the tree to sprout without seeing any progress. They begin to lose faith in the process or their own abilities, or even worse, they begin to listen to naysayers and the tree dies when they give up the hard work needed to make the tree come alive.

In today’s Microwave society where we want to start out at the top of the heap and success is assured, many of us will become frustrated when the goal we want to reach or the objective we have in mind doesn’t happen right away or fails to fall into place on the first attempt. Many times we get frustrated or dejected and we begin to listen to that little voice in the back of our head, or worse yet,  those who don’t want you to succeed because of their own agendas and prejudices. We give up and move on and the Chinese bamboo tree seed we planted will wither and die because we quit watering and fertilizing the ground in which it was planted.

Brethren, in my opinion, Masonic renewal is much like that Chinese bamboo tree. In the decade and a half since I was raised to the sublime degree, I've began to get interested in the Masonic renewal movement. I have worked with many dedicated Masons who put their lives and treasure into the Craft with the hope of making Freemasonry grow strong again, and to help it take it’s legitimate place in society. But I also watch them grow weary in their labors and slowly give in to the naysayers who place obstructions in their path. They either don’t see the progress being made or the tree of their labors isn’t sprouting quickly enough, or even worse, their skin gets too thin when dealing with those who wish the Fraternity to stay as it has for the last half-century. Sadly they just throw their hands up in the air and leave our speculative quarries and give up on Masonry.

It’s really sad for so many reasons. First of all, in just a few years I have been a Mason there has been tremendous progress, such as the mutual recognition of Prince Hall Grand Lodges (including in many formerly Confederate states), many jurisdictions have begun allowing business meetings on the first degree, more Masonic education is being introduced into lodge settings. In just the last decade and a half, our progress has been beyond what any of us thought could happen, just a decade ago.

Every year the Masonic renewal movement continues to make progress, it may not be as fast as many of us wish it would happen, but progress is being made nonetheless. But if we want it to continue to progress we need to continue to work the soil in which we planted that seed so many years ago.

Brethren, the Craft needs you. Each one of you to continue to advance and work toward making Freemasonry strong again. For each Mason who leaves our Fraternity is one less man to work in his local lodge, mentor younger Brethren and vote in Grand lodge communications. Like it says in the York Rite’s Virtual Past Master’s degree: “From a grip to a span; from a span to a grip; a two-fold cord is strong, but a three-fold cord is not easily broken.” We are all stronger as a group than we are as individuals.

Each one of us has our own strengths and talents given to us by our Creator, whether you are a writer orator, ritualist, builder, cook…each one of us has a place in this Masonic renaissance. No matter who you are, we need you. Each of you is important and hard to replace.

Brothers if you know a man who is thinking about leaving the Fraternity, try to convince them to stay and continue their labors. Explain to them how they make a difference to you, the lodge and to the Craft as a whole. If they have already left, try to convince them to come back and rejoin us in our efforts.

If we want this fraternity to grow strong again we need each of you, your efforts and support.

~BH

WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.