A Craftman's Journey: Part XI

by Midnight Freemasons contributor
Michael Shirley

With the last of the lacquer applied, the Master Mason’s Mandolin was nearly done, save for sanding and polishing. But that would have to wait until the lacquer was completely dried, which might take up to fourteen days. And so I was able to think a bit, and reflect on what it was that Joe Hardwick was accomplishing. He had spent considerable time on this task, learning more as he went, thinking through each step with all he had learned from years of learning and preparation for this, his Master Piece.  

In York Rite ritual, the Master Piece—the stone prepared by the journeyman to demonstrate his mastery of the craft—has an important place, and Joe was demonstrating that he was no longer a journeyman: he was a master of his craft. He would likely say he had much to learn, and he does, but that is in keeping with the whole idea of craftsmanship. Once a craftsman demonstrates his mastery, he has shown that he is now in a position to learn at an entirely new level. With each new piece he creates, his skill grows, and the art of his work becomes more apparent.

Joe has reached that stage. There are no shortcuts. There is only hard work, learning from mistakes and triumphs, and skill. As the Master Mason’s Mandolin took its final form, I realized that Joe Hardwick was following the designs laid down in the trestleboard of Lloyd Loar’s F5s. Loar was a master craftsman, and the F5 he designed and built was the summit of his art. Joe Hardwick was climbing the same mountain, walking the trail Loar had blazed. The final test of his mastery would be the sound of his creation.



This is the eleventh installment of Michael Shirley's Mandolin Series.  To be continued...

W.B. Michael H. Shirley is Past Master of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and Leadership Development Chairman for the Grand Lodge of Illinois. He's also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. He's also a member of the newly-chartered, Illini High Twelve No. 768 in Urbana-Champaign. The author of several articles on British history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.

Midnight Freemason Spotlight: Sir Knight Robert Johnson

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason

Sir Knight Robert Johnson
We've got a lot of talent when it comes to contributors on the Midnight Freemasons, but there is one in particular I wanted to point out.  He works very hard, and is very talented--Sir Knight Robert Johnson. He's kind of like me.  He's dedicated first to raising a family, works, and his contributions to Freemasonry he does at home in his off hours--he truly understands the concept of the "Midnight Freemason."  I know that, because he sent me a very appropriate gift he made himself--a clock.  It hangs over where I work and reminds me to go to bed--I would imagine that Robert has learned to ignore that advice as I have.  I think I can safely say that clocks and twenty-four inch gauges are the things that challenge us the most, but doesn't seem to slow us down either. 

Robert produces a weekly podcast Whence Came You?  If you're unfamiliar with it, you should listen to it.  You can do that by clicking on the link in the right-hand column.  I can't imagine the amount of time it takes to put together enough material, and produce a show each week.  It shows his great love and dedication to the Fraternity.  His videos--well, I love his videos.  In fact, I guarantee you in the near future, Robert and I are going to work on one of these together.  I produced a video earlier this year--it's not easy.  I think Robert is a little better at it than I am.  I can't imagine what we might come up with together. 

I wanted to highlight this video again.  It's very well done, and the music is awesome! He has another video, too!  It's called "Whence Came You?" and you'll find it at the bottom of this page.  That's my favorite of the two.  It inspired me to do my own video--my video "Freemasons: Friends or Foes" is down there, too.  Watch his first, and it should be fairly easy to see where I got a few of my ideas from.


Voting Is A Masonic Principal: Part I

by Midnight Freemasons contributor
Gregory J. Knott
(Part 1 of 2)

The conventions are over, election day draws near, and the usual round of political rhetoric from candidates is blasted all over the TV, radio and internet, voters begin to wear out and are usually just ready for Election Day to be over with.  However tired we all get with the political non-sense, we should always remember to exercise our right and responsibility to vote.

One of the most important traditions in Freemasonry is the secret ballot, specifically when it comes to voting candidates into the lodge.  Candidates, who petition for membership, must be elected by a unanimous ballot by the members present voting.  The Master of the Lodge will give instructions to the brethren of “white balls elect and black balls (or cubes) reject”.   This is where the term “black ball” originated and has become a part of the American lexicon. 

The ballot itself obtains a legal status within the lodge.  After all brethren have voted, the ballot box is presented to the Junior Warden and Senior Warden for inspection and then to the Worshipful Master who declares the candidate either elected or not.

When sitting in lodge, Masonic etiquette dictates that all of those present must ballot.  It is considered discourteous when a brother does not vote because he will skew the ballot and become the weak link in a strong chain.  One of the goals of Freemasonry is harmony amongst the brethren, thus by not voting a member can cause harm to this harmony.  Further by failing to vote the offending brethren is in direct conflict with the Master’s order.

Next installment:  Is the unanimous secret ballot still needed?


WB Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He's a member of both the Scottish Rite, and the York Rite, and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club in Champaign-Urbana. He's also a member of the Ansar Shrine (IL). Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts--an Eagle Scout himself, he serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois A. F. & A. M. as their representative to the National Association of Masonic Scouters.

Fred Flintstone: Freemason Or Not?

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason

Shortly after inventing the wheel, ancient
Freemasons invented the goofy hat
Between 1960 and 1966, The Flintstones was one of the most popular shows on television. It was the first prime-time animated show to last more than two seasons--a record that wasn't broken until The Simpsons hit the airwaves. Believed to be based on the popular television show The Honeymooners (a fact confirmed by one of the show creators William Hanna, and denied by the other creator William Barbera) Fred and Wilma Flintstone, and Barney and Betty Rubble entertained American families each week with those little problems that confronted the "modern stone-age family."  And over the years, we watched as their families grew--who can forget Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm? 

Pebbles arrived towards the end of the third season, but it was only a matter of time before that happened.  Did you know that Fred and Wilma were the first husband and wife to appear on American television in the same bed?  And The Flintstones was airing during the same period that Rob and Laura Petrie were still in twin beds on The Dick Van Dyke Show

Now that's suggestive--Commandery?
There were a lot of little things that fans of the show noticed--like the fact the furniture in the Flintstone home was seldom the same from week to week (Fred was obviously a very good provider, I mean seriously, even back then, imagine how much a dishwasher powered by a Woolly Mammoth would cost).  The fact that the show originally aired in black and white.  And when it went to color, sharp eyes quickly noticed the fact that the family pet, Dino, while most often purple, would often appear green, or even brown (probably a reptilian camouflage trait).  Dino's ability to blend into his environment may be the way he managed to stalk and tackle Fred Flintstone every episode.  That's just a guess.  I'm giving Fred the benefit of the doubt.  You'd have to be a neanderthal to be tackled like that again and again.  Oh wait... never mind.

But there is one myth that even the most knowledgeable show fans have argued about for over five decades now. 

Was Fred Flintstone a Freemason? 

It wasn't easy, but after exhaustive research, I believe I'm finally able to definitively answer that question.  Yes, he was.  Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble were both members of Water Buffalo Lodge No. 26 in Bedrock A.M. (Ancient Freemasons).

Note the columns . . .
Masonry was in its infancy (as should be obvious by the crude construction of the lodge), and remember, this was centuries before the invention of pancakes, so bowling was most likely their means of raising money for charity.  They had regular meetings, wore strange hats, and it was men only--should be obvious.  The secret passwords, handshakes and ritual have been long lost to history, but my research suggests that the word "Yabba-dabba-doo" may have had some Masonic ritual significance during that pre-historic era of Masonry.   

So now you know--just don't quote me.


Even as a kid I wondered why he
didn't just climb back in the window...
In closing, there was at least one very famous Freemason involved in The Flintstones--The Man of 1,000 Voices.  Brother Mel Blanc voiced Barney Rubble.  I tell his story in Famous American Freemasons: Volume II, including how he continued to work on The Flintstones from a hospital bed after surviving a near-fatal car accident. 

A Craftsman's Journey: Part X

by Midnight Freemasons contributor
Michael Shirley

Now that the stain was as Joe had envisioned it, I figured we were close to being done. Not hardly. Next came four coats of sealer and three pictures that occupied most of my day. Work? Nah. I just stared. Then came the last coats of sealer, with more staring. 

There had been sanding in between, apparently, but I was just staring at the finished product. Did I say “finished?” No, because then came the first four coats of lacquer. More staring. By this point, Todd Creason was staring too, and letting me know about it. “Maybe I should have picked another instrument,” he said. “I wonder if he builds pianos?” 

My cousin Tom commented that he admired my patience. “You know this would have me chewing my foot off,” he said. No time for chewing. I was too busy staring. I had the feeling I would do that a lot until I could actually play the thing. It was just too pretty to ignore. The Master Mason’s Mandolin was taking shape before my eyes, at least on Joe’s Facebook page.  

With every coat of lacquer, the colors deepened and the wood grain shone. I kept looking at the pictures he posted, and wondered if Joe was as stunned as I was. So I asked him. Now, Joe tends to judge himself harshly, and I had never heard him say anything that might be called bragging, but when I talked with him he said, “Mike, there are some flaws in this mandolin, but every time I look at the back of it in some light I just smile a lot.” “Me too, Brother,” I said, “me too.”

This is the tenth installment in Michael Shirley's Mandolin Series.  To be continued...


Michael H. Shirley is Past Master of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and Leadership Development Chairman for the Grand Lodge of Illinois. He's also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. He's also a member of the newly-chartered, Illini High Twelve No. 768 in Urbana-Champaign. The author of several articles on British history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.

Freemasons Support Causes Big And Small

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason

Three Midnight Freemasons:
Todd E. Creason, Judy Gordon, and Greg Knott
Last Saturday, we got the rare opportunity to snap a picture of three Midnight Freemasons regular contributors.  The Lodge Greg Knott and I belong to, Ogden Lodge No. 754, sponsored its First Annual Masonic Charity Trail Run at beautiful Homer Lake, Illinois.  We raised money for a local organization called The Developmental Services Center.  Their mission is to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities by providing services and supports which enable them to live, work, learn and participate in their communities--we felt their work tied right into the kinds of things our Lodge likes to support.  Greg and I were there to help with our Lodge's event.  Judy, and her husband Ray drove three hours to join us at the event and help out.  And the event proved to be a tremendous success.

We had a lot of help from several lodges (and spouses).
Local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were on hand as well.
Most people are familiar with Freemasonry's national charitable causes, like the Scottish Rite Learning Centers for Dyslexic Children, and the Shriner's Hospitals just to name two of many.  But small Lodges like ours, Scottish Rite Valleys, York Rite Bodies, and local Shrine Clubs do events like this all the time to raise money for causes right in their own communities.  I did a survey a few years ago to find out the kinds of things Masons support in their local communities.  They raise money for scholarships, help Little League teams buy uniforms, refurbish aging park equipment, support the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts, hold benefits to help a family in need, and support veterans groups. . . the list is endless as are the ways in which these local Masons raise money.  They hold pancake breakfasts, put on plays, organize concerts, sponsor golf outings, hold charity auctions, and even try new things--like organizing 5K runs.  This work goes on all over the U.S. every day, and they wouldn't do it if they didn't believe that even in some small way, they are making the world a better place to live--and that often starts right where you live. 

So I hope the next time you see a local Masonic group holding a charitable fundraiser, even if your not interested in attending the event, you'll think about dropping a check in the mail to them.  They wouldn't be doing it if they didn't believe it was important.

What local causes does your local Masonic group support?  And how do you raise funds?


Todd E. Creason, 33° was the original Midnight Freemason. He's the author of several books and novels, including his popular Famous American Freemasons series.  In 2012, Todd expanded his popular blog The Midnight Freemason into a collaborative effort Midnight Freemasons. Todd is the Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and a member of both the Scottish Rite, and York Rite. He's also a member of the Ansar Shrine (IL) and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL).  He is also the author of the blog From Labor To Refreshment . . .

The Hickiest Fellow You Ever Saw

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, PM, FMLR

A poll in the mid 1960s recognized the two most beloved Americans as Abraham Lincoln and humorist Will Rogers.  That's pretty high praise for Rogers, whom a Hollywood executive once described as  "The hickiest fellow you ever saw." Brother  Rogers was a member of  Claremore Lodge 53, McAlester Consistory and the Tulsa Shrine, all located in Oklahoma.  Here are a few things you might not know about the iconic American humorist.  Brother Rogers:

...did not do well in school and once joked, "I spent ten years in the fourth grade and knew more about McGuffy's Fourth Reader than McGuffy did."

...dated all seven of the Blake sisters before asking the youngest, Betty, to marry him in 1906.  Betty, apprehensive about a life in show business, turned him down.  A year and a half later the persistent Rogers changed her mind and they married.  Betty met Will when he was, what else, on a date with one of her older sisters.

...later in life, remarked about his marriage, "I'm different from other movie stars. I still have the wife I started out with."

...worked as a cowboy in Texas, Argentina and South Africa.

...rode broncos in a wild west show under the name "The Cherokee Kid."

...was regarded as the world's best lasso thrower, "Spinning a rope is fun, as long as your neck ain't in it."  Working in rodeos, he started slipping jokes into his act.  Soon the jokes became more popular than his lassoing skills.

...was a failure as a silent movie actor.

...ran a mock campaign for president in 1928 as the "bunkless candidate."  His only campaign promise was to resign if elected.  On election day he declared himself the winner and, true to his promise, resigned.

...gave what was described as a hilarious speech at the opening of the Coolidge Dam in 1930.  Former president Calvin Coolidge attended.  Those in attendance reported the taciturn ex-president did not so much as crack a smile.

...introduced Brother Franklin Roosevelt at the 1932 Democratic convention.  He explained why his remarks were short on that occasion, "You're just a candidate. I'm certainly wasting no oratory on a prospect."

...performed with the Ziegfeld Follies and said of the girls he worked with, "Isn't it sad to think that in 20 years all of these lovely creatures will be 5 years older?"

...interviewed Al Capone.  He said of that experience, "There was absolutely no way I could write it and not make a hero out of him.  What's the matter with our age when a gangster is our biggest national interest?"

...just to keep in touch with his roots, had a log cabin built on his Santa Monica estate.  He had a theater built in that same house explaining, "Acting is like getting drunk. If ya gotta do it, it's better to do it at home."

...wrote a daily newspaper column which became a national institution.

...traveled the world looking for new subjects to write about.  In the process he became known as America's self-made ambassador.

...was a passionate flier at a time when it was considered risky.  He wanted to be known as a "flying reporter."

...was one of the few private citizens permitted to fly in government mail planes.

...used airplanes to assist in disasters. It was said of him, "He usually got there before the Red Cross."

...after visiting the Soviet Union wrote a book entitled, "There's Not A Bathing Suit In Russia, And Other Bare Facts."  The publisher declined to put the suggestive second part of the title on the book's cover.

...was proposed for President at two national conventions.

...was the first mayor of Beverly Hills, a position which some say was honorary. His inauguration, nonetheless filled the streets and the top movie stars of the day and other dignitaries attended.  Rogers claimed, "My primary duty as mayor was to point out the location of Pickfair to tourists."

...is the only humorist whose statue is in Statuary Hall in the Capitol.

By 1935, Brother Will Rogers was a national treasure.  In August, he flew to Alaska with his friend Wiley Post to gather material for his newspaper column.  Nearing Point Barrow, the pair stopped confirm their position.  Post, 36, and Brother Rogers, 55, perished when their plane crashed on takeoff.  Congress suspended activity during his funeral and the outpouring of grief was called the greatest since Lincoln.


W.B. Steve Harrison is a Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri.  He is a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research and also serves as its Junior Warden. He is the editor of the Missouri Freemason Magazine, and is the genius behind the One Minute Mason blog.  I've discussed the topics of some of his pieces on The Midnight Freemasons and on From Labor To Refreshment many times.  And the pieces he's written for the Midnight Freemasons are always very popular.

I was pleased to learn that W.B. Harrison is the author of a new book Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi.  It was an effort that took him six years to accomplish.  Right now, it's only available to Missouri Freemasons, and will be offered to members of the Missouri Lodge of Research.  When it becomes widely available, we'll be sure and let you know where you can get your copy.  Congratulations, Steve.


Harry Truman: Lessons Learned Behind A Plow

by Midnight Freemasons contributor
Michael H. Shirley

Harry Truman behind the plow . . .
Harry Truman, after he entered political life, always described himself as a Missouri farmer, but he did not start out that way. He had been working at a bank in Kansas City, doing well and enjoying city life thoroughly, but he returned to the family farm at age twenty-two because his father needed help running it. And there he stayed for eleven years, rising at five, working alongside his father and brother, doing everything that needed doing, and working to improve production (being a perpetual reader, he devoured every bit of information he could about modern farming methods).

He also took the time to become active as a Mason, and found his time in the fields valuable for memorizing ritual, among other things. “Riding one of these plows all day, day after day, gives one time to think,” he would say later. “I’ve settled all the ills of mankind in one way or another while riding along.” 

He and others would credit his time as a farmer with giving him the habits of early rising and hard work. It also gave him another habit: enjoying himself when work ended. He took the time to court Bess Wallace, got involved in local politics, and generally had as much fun with his friends as he could in the little free time he had. He learned, while riding those plows, that work wasn’t all there was to life. “My favorite animal is the mule,” he said later. “He has more horse sense than a horse. He knows when to stop eating -- and he knows when to stop working.” A mule is apparently a pretty good teacher if you pay attention, and Harry Truman knew how to do that.

He was always a student, even when staring at the back end of a mule.


W.B. Michael H. Shirley is Past Master of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and Leadership Development Chairman for the Grand Lodge of Illinois. He's also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. He's also a member of the newly-chartered, Illini High Twelve No. 768 in Urbana-Champaign. The author of several articles on British history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.

Could A Freemason Be President Today?

by Midnight Freemasons contributor
SK Robert Johnson

 President Teddy Roosevelt--WAS a Freemason
In the chaos that ensues in Washington and all around the world around election time, there are feelings and ideas being challenged, debated and argued. Freemasonry holds the idea that no two things separate men like religion and politics and thus, those topics are generally forbid in lodge. This post does not seek to win the favor of the reader in a political party nor sway any opinion of the sort, but rather examine the idea that if a known Freemason ran for the presidency of the United States of America, would he win?

President Lincoln--NOT a Freemason
The answer, I fear is no. Why not? My first thought was that a Freemason could not secure the backing of any one religion, simply because Freemasons are open to all faiths and thus there is that taboo of being a part of an organization which has many faiths under one roof. I believe this would be a cause of lost votes. For instance, and I am in no means purposely picking on them, but if the Catholic Church did not back the candidate because he was a Freemason, then logically the followers of Catholicism may not vote for that candidate in the same respect. I am equally as sure that the number of folks that think we're out to rule the world, would make up at least a small percentage of lost votes as well.

I believe if a Freemason stood in front of the United States of America and said what he believes in, good and true Masonic ideas, he could win. But alas, that is assuming of course that the people vote for ideals and not for popularity. Being a Freemason is in itself unpopular with much of today's culture. The young know little about us, except for our vague and mysterious mentions in comic books, television shows or movies. The elderly certainly know of it, but are passing away. The average person just doesn't care. They seem so wrapped up in the day to day droll that they fail to realize they are playing a game that doesn't matter (wrapped up in the pursuit of the material).

President Truman-WAS a Freemason
PGM in Missouri
 How did former Freemasons become presidents? Well to make a long answer short, people cared about the right thing to do. And at those times, a Freemason was in the pool of eligible candidates. It just so happens that Freemasons are always in the business of doing the right things, the honorable things, and the hardest things. And in those days that's what Americans wanted. Today is a different day, it is a race to collect the most money, and if they get enough, they can stand on the soap box and spout their mighty plans and ideas. If those ideas resonate with the populous, then they gain ground on their opponent, forcing the other opponent to gain ground by dishonoring the other in television commercials and social media campaigns. The people are only concerned with themselves instead of their once mighty and world respected country.

President Obama--NOT a Freemason
One day, I hope to wake up in America, open my front door and look out onto my glistening green grass, hear my wooden sailboat wind chime and take a good clean breath, bend over and pick up my newspaper and see the face of a Freemason as the president. The headlines would read, “The housing market matches the wage of the average American worker”, “Unemployment to a record low”, “We landed on the moon again!”, “US Steel in high demand”, “Tech giant to open US Manufacturing plant”.

But until then, I'll open my front door, look out at my dehydrated lawn and then over at my neighbor Gary's nuclear Green chemlawn, take a hit of my inhaler shake my head at the number of bank owned property signs across the street, close the door, sit on the couch and eat my bologna sandwich while I read the news on my $900.00 Chinese made iPad. 


RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Waukegan Lodge No. 78 where he is a Past Master. He also serves as the District Deputy for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry and is also an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.

The Craftman's Journey: Part IX

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Michael Shirley

I nearly had a heart attack!

I’m not sure about other musicians, but I want an instrument that appeals to the eye as well as the ear, so the color and visual tone of the Master Mason’s Mandolin mattered a lot to me. Fortunately, it mattered to Joe too. We both like the look of old wood, and we both wanted the mandolin to have a vintage look, so a stain with wood tones was the logical choice.

The first picture he posted once he started the staining process was after he’d sanded and wetted (and sanded and wetted, and…you get the idea) the body, and it just looked beautiful. The maple back just shone. Then he posted the first step in the staining process. It didn’t look beautiful. He said he posted it to give me a heart attack, and he nearly succeeded. It was black.

Apparently, he needed to put that on and then wipe off most of it so that the gradations in tone would work. Who knew?  The black didn’t last long, and the first pictures of the stain he posted after that looked great. But Joe had a picture in his head and the color didn’t quite conform to that vision.

So he removed the stain and started over. The pictures he posted when he was done had the caption, “Finally got it where I want it.” Me, I was too amazed to be able to use words. All I could do was stare. I didn’t know then that I’d have to get used to staring. A lot.


This is the ninth installment of Michael Shirley's Mandolin Series.  To be continued . . .


W.B. Michael H. Shirley is Past Master of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and Leadership Development Chairman for the Grand Lodge of Illinois. He's also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. He's also a member of the newly-chartered, Illini High Twelve No. 768 in Urbana-Champaign. The author of several articles on British history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.

Freemason Wisdom: Bro. Everett Dirksen On Community

by Midnight Freemason contributor
Judy Gordon

Everett Dirksen Past Grand Lodge Orator (IL)
"When all is said and done, the real citadel of strength of any community is in the hearts and minds and desires of those who dwell there." 

~Bro. Everett Dirksen
Pekin Lodge No. 29 (IL)

There are a lot of festivals in Illinois…we have your Morton Pumpkin festival, Sugar Creek and Arts festival, Sweet Corn Blues Festival, Art & Balloon Festival, but the one festival that is celebrated in honor of Senator Everett Dirksen is the Marigold Festival. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everett_Dirksen) Senator Dirksen was a member of Pekin Lodge #29 and a 33ยบ Mason as well. Senator Dirksen loved marigolds so for the past 40 years, Pekin has had this festival. Crafts, food, entertainment, celebrities, parade, Medallion hunt and did I say food! This year’s celebrity was Cindy Williams (AKA Shirley from the 70’s sitcom-LaVerne and Shirley)

The citizens of Pekin work together as a community and we pray for no rain. Unfortunately Friday night family fest had to be postponed to a later date (rain). From what the Pekin Daily Times said, this was the biggest and best festival we have had in years. Bethel 55 Job’s Daughters can attest to that. They sold pulled pork sandwiches, ribs, tips,(smoked all night long) homemade shortcakes with either strawberries or peaches and assorted soda’s and water. Did this make your mouth water? I told them if we had a successful weekend, they could perform cartwheels…as you can see from the cartwheels, it was a successful weekend.

Every year the citizens of Pekin look forward to this weekend, not only to honor Senator Dirksen, but to meet up with friends, family, food and fellowship. If you have never come to Pekin for the Marigold festival, please do. It’s always the first weekend AFTER Labor Day. We will see you next year!


Judy Gordon is very active in Job's Daughters. She's the Past Honored Queen, and Bethel Guardian of Bethel No. 55, Pekin (IL). She received the Cryptic Masons Masonic Youth Leadership Award along with her husband, Ray Gordon in July 2007. She's also Past Matron of the Morton Chapter No. 974 (IL) of the Order of the Eastern Star and Historian of the Emblem Club No. 424 of Pekin (IL) Judy is the recipient of the Degree of Royal Purple (2012) and elected as the Grand Marshal for Illinois Job's Daughters (2015-16). Ray and Judy have three grandkids, and a very spoiled dog, Reggie (who incidentally volunteers as a Therapy Dog at local hospitals and nursing homes.)

Masonic Artifacts Can Tell A Story

by Midnight Freemasons contributor
Gregory J. Knott

One of the things I enjoy most is walking through antique stores looking for Masonic artifacts.  On a recent trip through Decatur, Illinois, we stopped at a very nice shop and I set upon my hunt.  They had a few items, but none of them really caught my interest until I ran across a small framed case with 3 medals in it.  Upon closer review I knew that these were Knight Templar Medals.

SK Orlando Powers
The three medals were from Beaumanoir Commandery No. 9, which was and still is at home in Decatur, Illinois.  The medal on the left is the Order of the Temple member medal, the middle is a Past Eminent Commander’s jewel and the one of the right is a drill attendance medal with a number 32 on the bar in the middle.

As I was checking out, I asked the clerk if she knew of any history of these medals.  I was in luck because she did!   It turns out they belonged to Orlando Powers, who was an early prominent settler of Decatur.  He was born in 1812 and came to Decatur in 1849 and died in July 1902.

Powers Opera House
Bro. Powers built a tremendous Opera House in 1889 at Decatur where many of the most prominent settlers of the day performed.  It burned to the ground in 1895 and was later rebuilt, but burned again in 1914.  His son built a hotel on the same site that is still run as a residential hotel today.

The Powers Mansion--haunted some say . . .
But it is the Powers Mansion that seems to be his real legacy today.  According to a couple of websites that I visited, the mansion seems to be haunted.  Perhaps the ghost of Orlando Powers is still looking over his house.

I couldn’t find a Masonic record for Bro. Powers.  I can only assume he belonged to a local lodge and perhaps other York Rite bodies.   

But it was purchasing these medals and learning about a man who died over 110 years ago and seeing his impact upon the Prairie of Illinois that gave me the greatest pleasure.


 WB Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He's a member of both the Scottish Rite, and the York Rite, and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club in Champaign-Urbana. He's also a member of the Ansar Shrine (IL). Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts--an Eagle Scout himself, he serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois A. F. & A. M. as their representative to the National Association of Masonic Scouters.