Jack The Ripper: Freemason Or Not?

"My knife's so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good Luck."

~Jack the Ripper

Over the course of several weeks beginning at the end of August 1888, five women, all prostitutes, were brutally murdered by one of the most notorious serial killers in history--a man known only as Jack the Ripper.  Two months later, as suddenly as the murders began, the crimes stopped, and Jack the Ripper dissappeared into the London fog forever . . . the case never solved.  But there are currently more than a hundred theories on who Jack the Ripper actually was, and in on of those versions, it is alleged that Jack the Ripper was a Freemason!

This theory first surfaced in Stephen Knight's 1976 book Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution.  Knight believed that Jack the Ripper was actually Dr. William Gull--Queen Victoria's own physician.  The story goes that the Queen's grandson, Prince Albert Edward had secretly married a hooker by the name of Annie Crook, and they had a child.  As an heir to the throne, Queen Victoria (or possibly the Prime Minister) ordered that everyone who knew about the secret marriage should be eliminated--and Freemason Dr. Gull was the man selected to take care of it.  Interesting story, and Knight based it on a story told by Joseph Sickert--his grandfather was a painter and insider back in the days the murders took place (and oddly enough, his grandfather is also suspecting of being Jack the Ripper according to a couple of the theories).

Jack the Tyler???
The murders themselves supposedly indicated there was a tie to Freemasons--the mutilations of these women were supposed to allude to the Hiram Abiff allegory in the degrees of Freemasonry.  There was also a note written in chalk allegedly erased by Commissioner of Police (and Freemason) Sir Charles Warren to protect the Freemasons scrawled on a wall near one the victims that read:  “The Juwes are the men That Will not be Blamed for nothing.”  According to Knight, this reference to Juwes referred again to the Masonic ritual, and Hiram Abiff's challengers Jubelo, Jubela, and Jubelum (the juwes).

But there are a few problems with this theory.  First of all, Dr. William Gull was not a Freemason.  And another problem is that nobody besides the author Stephen Knight ever called Hiram Abiff's three challengers "Juwes."  And the biggest problem is that Joseph Sickert, the source of Stephen Knight's book, later retracted his story, and called it a hoax--or as he put it "a whooping fib." 

So was Jack the Ripper a Freemason?  Since he was never identified--who knows?  But if he was, I hope they didn't let him be the Tyler . . .


A Dark Day In History: Coffee Rationing Began In 1942

Many things were in high demand when America entered into WWII after Pearl Harbor, and to make sure there was enough, many items were rationed, including sugar, butter, gasoline, rubber, meat, etc.

But without a doubt--people weren't very happy when coffee became one of those items in high demand during the war.  The rationing of coffee began in November 1942, in order to make sure our G.I.s fighting in the war had enough.  Roosevelt even gave up his morning cup and switched to milk (or so the story goes.)  Coffee drinking Americans over the age of fifteen could get a pound of coffee every five weeks--that's barely a cup a day. 

There were a lot of tricks to stretch that out--they reused coffee grounds making a watery brew they called "Roosevelt's coffee."  They used less and percolated it longer.  They also mixed the coffee with chicory or a grain based coffee substitute called Postum to stretch the supply out further. 

However, it didn't last long.  Coffee was the first item to come off rationing--the coffee crisis was over by September 1944 although the government jacked the price up on coffee substantially to reduce the demand, and made it well known that if supplies ran short, coffee could very well be rationed again.  But that didn't prove to be necessary. 

I wonder which event during the Roosevelt years was more popular--the lifting of Prohibition in 1933, or ending the coffee rationing in 1944?


The Illustrious Red Skelton, 33°: The Pledge of Allegiance

The Illustrious Red Skelton, 33°
(1913 - 1997)
Perhaps one of the most memorable moments in television history was on January 14, 1969, when legendary comic, Red Skelton, became suddenly serious at the end of one of his television show as he reminisced about an incident from his childhood.  Something was on Red's mind he wanted to share.  You have to remember that this was during the Vietnam War when anti-war protests had rendered the American flag as much as symbol of divisiveness as that of unity.  It was also a time when the Supreme Court ruling eliminating prayer from schools was still fresh in the minds of Americans.

Red said what he had to say in his own way.  He remembered back to his boyhood, when his teacher, Mr. Lasswell, felt his students had begun to recite the Pledge of Allegiance as if it were a daily drudgery.  He decided to take a moment, and recite it to them, telling them the meaning of each word.  Ever since the first broadcast, Red Skelton's words have remained a perennial favorite--especially around patriotic holidays.

It went like this:

I -- Me; an individual; a committee of one.

Pledge -- Dedicate all of my worldly good to give without self-pity.

Allegiance -- My love and my devotion.

To the Flag -- Our standard. “Old Glory”; a symbol of courage. And wherever she waves, there is respect, because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts “Freedom is everybody's job.”

of the United -- That means we have all come together.

States -- Individual communities that have united into 48 great states; 48 individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose; all divided by imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common cause, and that’s love of country, of America.

And to the Republic -- A Republic: a sovereign state in which power is invested into the representatives chosen by the people to govern; and the government is the people; and it's from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.

For which it stands, one nation -- Meaning "so blessed by God."

Indivisible -- Incapable of being divided.

With Liberty -- Which is freedom; the right of power for one to live his own life without fears, threats, or any sort of retaliation.

And Justice -- The principle and qualities of dealing fairly with others.

For All -- For All. That means, boys and girls, it's as much your country as it is mine.

Now let me hear you recite the Pledge of Allegiance:
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance: Under God. Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said, "That is a prayer" -- and that be eliminated from our schools, too?

Red Skelton couldn't have been more right about that . . . that's exactly what's been happening with The Pledge of Allegiance in the years since.  It's been under attack.  In the end, it will be up to Americans to decide the fate of the Pledge of Allegiance in school.  But there is one place where its future isn't in doubt--within the walls of Masonic Lodges across the United States, where it is recited before the opening of every meeting. 


Author Review: The Working Tools Masonic Magazine

I meet a lot of interesting people through my books, and as a result of The Midnight Freemason blog--most of these friends I've never actually met face to face. 

I made a new friend from New Jersey this week--WB Cory Sigler.  I actually met him on Twitter (just about the time I was beginning to think everyone on there was nuts) and wound up talking to him on the phone the other day.

WB Sigler is the editor of The Working Tools Masonic Magazine which publishes monthly.  Take a few minutes and have a look--you can view all the past issues online at the link above.  He offers a great mix a materials.  He's done an excellent job at offering a little something for everyone.

I've really been enjoying it--it's not a newsletter, it's a magazine, and I'd estimate the monthly average is about sixty pages.  I'm slowly working my way through the past issues.  He does interviews, he has guest writers, profiles famous Freemasons (maybe that's something I ought to look into doing one day), and the magazine even reviews books and highlights interesting websites on the topic of Freemasonry.  Whether you're looking for deep meaning, or light reading, you'll find something that appeals to you in every issue. 

And if you enjoy it, you'll have plenty to read for a long time--I believe he's published forty-eight issues thus far. 

And of course there's a reason we were talking. Cory has asked me to submit an article to The Working Tools Masonic Magazine.  I'm really looking forward to it, and it will give me something to work on over the holidays for my new friend and Brother in New Jersey. 

And don't worry, there will be no possible way I'll let you miss it when it comes out.  For that matter, I don't think there's any way Cory will let you miss it either . . . he's everywhere!


Food For Thought: The Yellow Light

A friend of mine, WB Stephen Hooper, sent me a version of this story--I modified it some.  Bro. Hooper has been Master of two lodges in my area, and incidently, the person I first asked about being a Mason.  I hope you enjoy it--it's very funny.  And I hope you think about it over the rush of the holiday season.

The light turned yellow just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating man behind him was furious and honked his horn, screaming at him in frustration, because he missed his chance to get through the intersection.

As he was still ranting at the car in front of him, he heard a tap on his window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered him to exit his vehicle with his hands up...

He took him to the police station where he was searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. He was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with his personal effects.

The officer said, ''I'm very sorry for the mistake. You see, I pulled up behind you while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him.  I noticed the Square & Compass emblem mounted on the car, the Knights Templar tail-light covers, the "2B1ASK1" bumpersticker, and the Shriner's fez in the back window, so naturally....I had assumed the vehicle was stolen.''

A couple years ago, the Grand Master of Illinois said a funny thing at a dinner I was attending.  He was encouraging the Masons there to order Master Mason plates offered by the State of Illinois because a portion of the annual renewal fee supports Masonic charities.  Anyway, he said that since he'd gotten the Master Mason license plates for his car, he'd become a much more considerate driver.  Everyone laughed because they knew exactly what he was talking about. 

It's easy to become impatient behind the wheel, especially around the holidays when everyone seems to be in such a hurry.  But remember what your car says about you, and more importantly, what your behavior says about those things you choose to display on your bumper.  Many of us use our bumpers to express those things that are important to us--organizations we belong to, what church we attend, and even our political leanings.  If you decide to do that, make sure you're a good example of what those organizations and symbols represent. 

If you're an angry driver, maybe you're not the best person to advertise . . . you know?


P.S. Master Mason plates are offered by quite a few states, and they work much the same everywhere--they cost a little more, but a portion of the annual registration fee supports the charitable causes supported by your Grand Lodge.  Check with your Secretary of State to see if Master Mason plates are available in your state. 

Another Round of Famous Freemason Trivia!

 Everyone seems to enjoy the Famous Freemason Trivia posts, so here's a few more for you to enjoy. 

John Paul Jones
John Paul Jones, commanding the frigate Ranger was given a nine-gun salvo as it arrived in France in February, 1778, fired from Admiral Piquet’s flagship. That was the first time an American Naval vessel was recognized by a foreign power—it was also the first time America was recognized as an independent nation.

James K. Polk
James K. Polk was the youngest President, at age 53, to die in retirement after serving as President of the United States. He died only 103 days after he left office.

When Sam Houston enlisted in the United States Army in 1813, his mother gave him a gold ring with the word “Honor” inscribed inside the band. Before he left with the army, she told him, “While the door of my cabin is open to brave men, it is eternally shut against cowards.” He wore the ring his entire life, and while honor is a word often used to describe Sam Houston, coward is not.

Mel Blanc
As a teenager, Mel Blanc used to walk by the Shriner’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon. It’s the reason he later became a Mason. “Hearing about the work they did with crippled children was what initially piqued my interest in the fellowship and prompted me to seek admission.” He joined Demolay in 1925, and later joined Mid Day Lodge in Oregon in 1931 and the Shriners in 1951. He loved children.


You'll find many more great stories and facts about famous Freemasons in my book series Famous American Freemasons.  This seems to be a popular topic, so if you have some interesting trivia or stories about famous Freemasons you think I could use for future installments, please email them to me at webmaster@toddcreason.org and I just might use them.  If you want a few more fun trivia facts, just click on the trivia link in the Favorite Topics cloud in the right column on my blog, and you'll see them all. 

Famous Freemason: Dan Beard

I've got to thank the One Minute Mason again for the idea.  If you haven't checked out Steve Harris' blog, click on the link.  It's a great collection of short pieces that make you stop, scratch your head, and say "Huh, I didn't know that."

Dan Beard was a very interesting man, and he's been on the periphery of my research for years--his name has come up again and again, in fact, he's on the list for inclusion in the last volume of the Famous American Freemasons series.  He's best known for organizing the Boy Scouts of America.  Known to the scouts as "Uncle Dan," he also wrote a very popular monthly column in Boys Life Magazine for many years.

But long before he was involved with scouting, he was a noted author and illustrator--not to mention he had a lot of very interesting friends.  He knew men like publisher James Gordon Bennet, Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Billy the Kid.  But his friendship with Mark Twain was one he is most remembered for.  It wasn't long before Twain called upon his friend's talents and asked him to illustrate his book A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.  Dan Beard went to work on the illustrations immediately, and did more than 200 for the book over the period of a single week--and Twain's book, along with Beard's illustrations, has never been out of print.

Uncle Dan Beard was a member of  Mariners Lodge 67 in New York City and later, he joined Cornucopia Lodge 563, Flushing, New York.


Famous Freemason: Mark Twain On Procrastinating

"Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

~Mark Twain
Polar Star Lodge No. 79
St. Louis, Missouri

It's easy to do--put off those unpleasant tasks we either don't like to do, or just don't want to do.  A day becomes a week, a month, a year?  But Mark Twain had a good point--instead of putting those things off as we tend to do, why not just tackle them first thing and get them over with?  Is it ever really as bad as you think it's going to be?  Do we wind up spending more time dreading things than it actually takes to do them?  Wouldn't it feel great just to get it over with and move on to something you enjoy?

This weekend, take a couple minutes and write down a few of those things you've been meaning to do.  See if by the time the weekend is over you can't just eat a few of those frogs.  You may just discover the relief you feel was well worth the effort of slogging through those tedious tasks--whatever they might be. 

Try it, and see if you don't get back to work on Monday feeling as if you've actually accomplished something.


Freemason Wisdom: Oscar Wilde On Education

"Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."

~Oscar Wilde
Apollo University Lodge No. 357
Oxford, England

There are a lot of versions of this saying.  Everyone from Benjamin Franklin to Winston Churchill have made similar remarks.  They all seemed to understand the same thing--while education is important, there's a great deal you can't learn in the classroom.  Many of mankind's most intangible strengths have nothing to do with formal education--they come from lessons we learn by living life.  The best lessons are the ones we learn the hard way. They come from failures and mistakes we make along the way.  They come from falling in and out of love.  They come from facing adversity.  They come from making friends as well as enemies.  They come from being knocked down, and from standing back up again. 

I worry about our children. We learned those lessons by surviving our childhood (which wasn't always easy).  Our children are growing up in a world where most of the obstacles have been removed.  Will they ever learn those hard-won lessons about life when they are seldom challenged by adversity?  Could that be why so many kids today have problems with anxiety?  When do kids in today's world learn how to cope with the challenges life is going to throw at them? 


Stephen King's New Novel: 11/22/63

Stephen King started publishing books about the same time I started reading them. I can tell when and where I've read every one starting in about the fourth grade or so.  I was trying to think the other day which one I read first--it was The Shining.  That would have been in about 1977, and I was ten years old at the time.  It scared the hell out of me, so naturally, I read Carrie and Salem's Lot right after I finished that one, and I've been hooked ever since.

So I've grown up with him, and every time I start to read a new one, it's like falling back into step again with an old friend.  I think I may be the guy he calls Constant Reader--that I am. I haven't like all his books, in fact, there have been a couple I never finished.

The Dark Tower returns
April 2012
But his newest book 11/22/63: A Novel is fantastic--even for those of us who weren't around when Kennedy was assassinated, I think at one point or another, we've all had that moment where we wonder what the world might have been like if it hadn't been for that one day in Dallas.  Stephen King explores that very question, as usual, in his own unique way.  He's always known how to use small details to really pull you in, and there are so many subtle nostalgic nuances, it's not long before you're completely immersed in that era in American history--it's difficult to put down once you get started.  It's available in Kindle and Nook editions as well.

Stephen King has another one coming out soon that has a lot of people excited--the latest in his epic Dark Tower series--The Wind Through the Keyhole.  I wrote about that series here.  So keep your eye out for it also--it's due out in April 2012.

Happy reading,


Family Fun: Ansar Shrine Circus

We had a really fun day on Sunday--we went over to Springfield, Illinois to enjoy the Ansar Shrine Circus at the Praire Capital Convention Center.  We just had a blast.  Katie is four, and can hardly wait to go again.  She got to see elephants and monkeys, loved watching the jugglers and bike riders--and much like when I was a kid, she had her eyes covered for most of the high-wire act. 

She also had a chance to try and few new things--like a snowcone and cotton candy.  It was well worth the trip over to Springfield, and the Ansar Shrine Circus doesn't only provide wholesome family entertainments (and that's not something you find much anymore) but it supports a terrific cause--The Shriners Hospitals for Children.  I couldn't believe how many fez's I saw--how many Shriners volunteered their weekend to help direct patrons to their seats, sell programs, and work the concession areas. 

So next time you see the Shriners Circus in town--go!  Have a great time with your family, and know that not only have you had a great day, but you've supported a worthy cause.


Freemason Wisdom: Dave Thomas On Success

"I think the harder you work;
 the more luck you have."

~Dave Thomas
Sol D. Bayliss Lodge No. 359, Indiana

It's easy to look at someone that has been successful in life, and say "he's lucky" or "he's had all the breaks."  But after learning about so many self-made men, what I've learned is that luck has very little to do with it.  These men, more often than not, have made their own luck by hard work, determination, and through sustained focus on their goals. Men like Dave Thomas are passionate about what they do, and had their own ideas about how it should be done. Success isn't about luck--it's about knowing what you want and being willing to work hard to achieve it.

Dave Thomas never graduated from high school, and yet, he helped Colonel Sanders turned KFC into a multi-million dollar franchise long before he founded Wendy's. It was Dave Thomas, then a restaurant cook, that first came up with the idea of selling chicken in buckets. 

Dave didn't attribute his success to luck--he knew better.  He knew exactly how he'd become successful--through long hours and hard work.


Freemason Presidents

I caused quite a stir with my blog entries George W. Bush: Freemason Or Not?  and Barack Obama: Freemason Or Not?  Apparently, I am incorrect, and either I'm not high ranking enough in the fraternity to know anything, or I'm part of the global Masonic conspiracy . . . take your pick.  I got quite a chuckle when I read through my email last night.  So, as author of two books on the subject of famous Freemasons, and probably the best authority on the subject of who is and who isn't a Freemason, let me lay it all out for you. 

Here's the whole list of American Presidents that were Freemasons. As I said in the previous post--this information is not a secret!  In fact, in my Famous American Freemasons books, I go in to much greater detail about some of these Presidents' Masonic affiliations.


Member of Fredericksburg Lodge (later No. 4) at Fredericksburg, Va. Charter Master, Alexandria Lodge No. 22, Alexandria, Va., April 28, 1788.


Initiated in Williamsburg Lodge No. 6 at Williamsburg, Va., Nov. 9, 1775, but there is no record of his taking any further degrees, however the records of Cumberland Lodge No. 8 in Tennessee, show a reception for Monroe as "a Brother of the Craft" was given for him in 1819.


Grand Master of Tennessee, 1822-23. His lodge is unknown but he is said to have attended at Clover Bottom Lodge under the Grand Lodge of Kentucky. He was present in lodge at Greeneville in 1801 and acted as Senior Warden pro-tem. The records of St. Tammany Lodge No. 29 at Nashville, which became Harmony Lodge No. 1 under the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, show that Jackson was a member.


Member of Columbia Lodge No. 31, Columbia, Tenn. Exalted a Royal Arch Mason in La Fayette Chapter No. 4 at Columbia in 1825.


Member of Lodge 43 in Lancaster, PA. Served as Worshipful Master. Also Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.


Member of Greeneville Lodge No. 119 now No. 3 at Greeneville, TN.  Believed to be a member of Greeneville Chapter No. 82 Royal Arch Masons, since he joined Nashville Commandery of Knights Templar No. 1 in 1859. He received the Scottish Rite degrees in the White House in 1867.


He was initiated and passed in Magnolia Lodge No. 20, Columbus, Ohio, and raised in Columbus Lodge No. 3O in1864. Affiliated with Garrettsville Lodge No. 246 in 1866, and also Pentalpha Lodge No. 23 in Washington, D. C. as charter member. Exalted in Columbus Royal Arch Chapter, and became a Knight Templar.  Also a member of the Scottish Rite.


He is sometimes said to have been initiated, passed, and raised in Hiram Lodge No. 10 in Winchester, West Virginia in 1865, but this event most likely took place in Hiram Lodge No. 21 at Winchester, Virginia. McKinley affiliated with Canton Lodge No. 60 at Canton, Ohio in 1867 and later became a charter member of Eagle Lodge No. 43. He received the Capitular degrees in Canton in 1883 and was made a Knight Templar in 1884.


He was a member of Matinecock Lodge No. 806, Oyster Bay, N. Y.


Made a Mason at sight in Kilwinning Lodge No. 356, Cincinnati, Ohio in 1901.

Initiated in Marion Lodge No. 7O, Marion, Ohio, 1901. He received no other degree until after becoming President. He was passed and raised in Marion Lodge in 1920, Royal Arch Chapter degrees in Marion Chapter No. 62 in 1921; Knight Templar in Marion Commandery No. 36, in 1921. Scottish Rite and Shrine in 1921.


He was a member of Holland Lodge No. 8, New York City, a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite in Albany Consistory, and a member of the Shrine.


He was a member of Belton Lodge No 450; organized and became a charter member of Grandview No. 618. Served as both district lecturer and deputy Grand Master for several years. Elected Grand Master of Masons in Missouri in 1940. He received the first Gourgas Medal of the Scottish Rite, NMJ. He was a 33rd Degree.  He was buried on his library's grounds with impressive rites--it was the first time Masonic funeral services were ever televised.


Ford received the degrees in Malta Lodge No. 405, Grand Rapids, Michigan along with his three brothers. Brother Ford was the 1974 recipient of the NY Grand Lodge Distinguished Achievement Award, the highest honor that can be presented by the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York. He was also a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason and a member of the Shrine.


It is believed that John Adams was a Freemason by many Masonic scholars, however, no documentary evidence survives to establish it for certain.  We just don't know for sure.

It has also been argued that Thomas Jefferson was a Freemason--he was known to have attended Masonic Lodge meetings in Paris, and there are several other indications that he may have been a member of the Craft--however, there is no evidence that has survived to prove he was a Mason either.


Lyndon B. Johnson did receive the 1st Degree in Freemasonry, however, he never finished. 

Bill Clinton is not a Freemason.  He was a member of Demolay, which is an organization for boys sponsored by Freemasonry, however, he never joined a lodge when he became old enough.

And of course there's Ronald Reagan.  He's often cited as a Freemason as well.  But he wasn't.  I posted a blog about that called Ronald Reagan: Freemason Or Not? recently. 

And most recently, I talked about George W. Bush and his father George H. W. Bush and revealed the fact there is no evidence to support that either of them are Masons.  I also posted a article about President Barack Obama and the fact there is little to support the contention that he is a Freemason.

That's the entire list of American Presidents who were Freemasons, and hopefully I cleared up a few questions about which Presidents were Freemasons, and those who weren't as well. 


Barack Obama: Freemason Or Not?

Here we go again!  I had no idea until I posted George W. Bush: Freemason Or Not? that there is actually another President that is believed by some to be a Freemason--our current President Barack Obama!  It was quickly brought to my attention. So I did a little checking on that.

Oh no! There's that Masonic
"Rock On" hand sign again!
Just like with George W. Bush, the "evidence" President Obama is a Freemason seems to be blurry photos of odd handshakes and hand signals, an anonymous report that somebody once sat next to him during a Masonic meeting, and there was a Time Magazine photo of his hands on the Presidential seal that sported a Masonic ring.  All the details about the sources of these stories are documented in an article posted by the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon

Definitely a Masonic ring, but are those the
 hands of the President?
One thing about that photograph of the ring immediately struck me. As the article from the Grand Lodge of British Columbia pointed out, that photo was probably taken for the article, and those hands most likely aren't Barack Obama's. I think that's probably correct. One thing I did notice is that ring is on upside down--at least it would be in Illinois. And it is presumed if Barack Obama is a Mason, he was made a Mason in Illinois. In Illinois, the general custom is for Freemasons to wear their rings with the points of the compass worn towards you--that ring is being worn with the points outward. Of course, he could have joined a lodge in another state--he has lived in several states over his lifetime and customs vary in different locales. I'm sure I'm going to be schooled about how rings are worn--if there's an expert on Masonic ring customs out there, please feel free to do so.

There is no evidence that Barack Obama is a Freemason--neither the Grand Lodge of Illinois nor the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Illinois have any record of him being made a Freemason.  And no information has come from the Grand Lodges of any other state he lived in indicating he was ever a member of the fraternity.  If President Obama were a Freemason, you'd hear about it.  Those Grand Lodges would be proclaiming that fact far and wide as they do with every President and famous man that has been a Freemason. 

And that makes guys like me who write about famous Freemasons very sad.  President Obama would make a great subject for the last volume of my Famous American Freemasons series.

George W. Bush: Freemason Or Not?

The Masonic sign for "rock on?"
For a long time, it has been rumored that George W. Bush (as well as his father George H. W. Bush) are Freemasons.  The internet is full of blurry photos of awkward handshakes and signs both George H. W. Bush and his son George W. apparently displayed that are supposed to provide evidence that both of these former Presidents are Freemasons.  Of course these "secret handshakes" and "signs" Masonic conspiracy theorists use as evidence of a connection to Freemasonry have nothing to do with Freemasonry at all. 

And that's because neither George W. Bush, nor his father George H. W. Bush are Freemasons.  And if they were, there would be no reason to keep it a secret--there were fourteen Presidents that were Freemasons.  The last was Gerald Ford.  That's a well-known fact.  And it's possible there were one or two more, but no documents survived as evidence. 

Secret handshake?  I don't know
what that is exactly, but it seems a
little obvious for an ultra-secret
society--doesn't it?
The Bushs' are, however, members of a secret society--they are both Bonesmen.  Alumni of the secret society at Yale University called Skull and Bones.  Each year, the Skull and Bones members "tap" fifteen new members at Yale University to join their society--usually those seen by the society as prominent leaders and other notable figures on campus.  The list of alumni of Skull and Bones is impressive--along with the Bushs', other members include John Kerry, President William Howard Taft, and former Secretary of War Henry Stimson just to name a few.

But there is no connection between Skull and Bones and Freemasonry--they aren't related in any way.  One is an international fraternity of men, and the other is a college society.


Author Updates

I had a very busy weekend, and a busy week coming up, so The Midnight Freemason may be a little light on content this week.  I usually type those blog entries up over the weekend and schedule their release throughout the week.  Didn't happen last weekend.  But I thought I'd give you a few updates on my projects.

-A Shot After Midnight, my second novel, and a sequel to One Last Shot, is through the first editing round, and that process was a monster.  It should be easier going forward.  It's right on schedule for a Spring 2012 release.  I'm not planning on giving out many details about it, or what it's about until we're closer to release.  I will tell you I plan on enlisting the talent of Brion Sausser again for this book cover. 

-I finished a limited book tour, and I've got some books left over.  If you want autographed copies contact me at webmaster@toddcreason.org and I'll get them out to you.  There aren't a lot, so if you want them, it's on a first-come-first serve basis.  I won't be ordering additional copies.  I'm working on getting a an online store set up on here so you can order autographed copies through Paypal.  I hope to get that up and running over the weekend.

-The Midnight Freemason blog is finally taking off--I think I've finally found a formula that works.  I'm getting tons of emails from all over, and believe it or not, we've got more than 350 Twitter followers!  Thanks for your support.  As I've said many times before, if you run across something interesting you think would be good for The Midnight Freemason blog, send it my way.  As you are undoubtedly aware, I get my material from many sources--keep it coming!

I should be able to get back to regular posts tomorrow.  Sorry for the interuption in service.  In the meantime, I noticed the One Minute Mason has been busy--you can get your trivia fix there until I get caught up.  I also noticed there are a few new podcasts at Whence Came You  you can listen to. 

Thanks again,


Another Good Trivia Blog: One Minute Mason

The readers of The Midnight Freemason seem to enjoy my trivia posts, so I thought I'd point out another place you can find interesting facts about famous Freemasons.  Check out the One Minute Mason.  Bro. Steve Harris posts short, very interesting, and always amusing facts about famous Freemasons (and related topics). 

I'll give you one from his blog. Did you know this?

Brothers George Washington, Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson each became President of the United States without having anything more than a grade school education.


The Myth Of Hatless Jack

I've written a few posts now about hats, including a series about Freemasons and their hats.  I love hats, and I always have.  Perhaps it is my love of old black & white movies, or perhaps I was born too late.  I've always wondered why men stopped wearing hats, so I did a little research about it.

It would have been unthinkable until the late 1950s early 1960s to leave the house without a hat.  It was part of a gentleman's wardrobe, and deeply ingrained in the American psyche.  That was back when men were men.  But in the 60s, that tradition for the most part, faded away.  And it's all John F. Kennedy's fault.  He didn't like hats, and rarely wore one.  In fact, he was the first President who didn't wear a hat to his inauguration.  He set a new trend--the heyday of the fedora was over.

The only problem with that story is that it isn't completely accurate.  It's true Kennedy didn't like hats, but he did wear a hat to his inauguration.  He didn't wear it when he gave his speech, however, as far as anybody knows, no President ever did wear his hat during their inaugural speech--including Lincoln.  That would have been considered very disrepectful.

And the other part of the story is that hat sales had been in decline for more than a decade before Kennedy took office.  What most likely killed the hat was technology.  A hundred years ago, men spent much more time exposed to the elements.  He wore a felt hat in the winter to keep himself warm and dry, and a straw hat in the summer to keep shelter himself from the heat and keep the sun out of his eyes.  A man's hat wasn't a fashion statement--it was a necessity.  The more advanced our technology became, the less we needed that protection.  Many Americans today are rarely exposed to the elements for any length of time--maybe a quick walk from your heated car to the entrance of the grocery store.

However, the hat isn't dead yet. More and more men are rediscovering those classic styles, and are beginning to appreciate again the artistry and workmanship that goes into a truly great hat.  Slowly but surely, hats are making a come back--and I'm not talking about those ridiculous Alpaca knit hats or baseball caps.  I'm talking about fedoras, and Hombergs, and Panamas.  And there are good reasons why American men are going back to brimmed hats--protection from UV radiation.  We've finally figured out that sunlight isn't always such a good thing and maybe wearing a hat that covers our ears and our neck is a good idea.

And if you're looking for a hat, many of the best hat makers are still in business today, and producing hats the same way, and to the same exacting standards they always have--names like Stetson, Borsalino, and Bailey.  There isn't a hat store on every corner anymore, but there are a lot of places you can order quality hats online.  I buy only from one outstanding company--Delmonico Hatter.  They are a family business that has been around since 1908, and their selection and service are absolutely outstanding. 

So get out there and hat up!