Freemasonry's Missing Rings: Thaddeus Kosciuszko

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Michael Arce

Hero of the Revolutionary War. Military Leader of Poland. A Close Friend of Freemasons. How was Thaddeus Kosciuszko never made a Mason?

When you travel north to Saratoga Springs, Lake George, Fort Ticonderoga, or the Adirondack Mountains in Update New York, you will cross over the "Twin Bridges," as the locals call them. "The Twins" are much easier to say during drive time traffic reports than the Thaddeus Kosciusko Bridge. What makes the bridge unique, aside from the Polish name, is its design: two identical steel arched bridges, with decks that span across the Mohawk River. Technically, crossing the Twin Bridges to and from work would have been my introduction to Kosciuszko.

The first time I heard the name Thaddeus Kosciuszko was when I was talking about Revolutionary War history with a co-worker. She was raving about the documentary "Kosciuszko: A Man Before His Time." As she shared it, his story was one worth learning about; born into a Polish noble family, Kosciuszko would eventually leave Poland to join the American patriots in the Revolutionary War, return to Poland and lead his own people in their fight for Independence. I was compelled to learn more about this man who George Washington trusted to build and fortify West Point. In his book, "The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution," Alex Storozynski brilliantly details the life and time of Kosciuszko. You learn of a young man who, after being schooled in architecture, drawing (fine art), and military strategy, leaves Poland to join the fight on the side of the Americans during the Revolutionary War. Let me take a second to note some of Kosciuszko's military accomplishments. He protected the banks of the Delaware River, preventing the British from invading Philadelphia.

When his idea of building an attack position above Fort Ticonderoga was ignored, Kosciuszko saved the Continental army engineered a solution to slow the British Army, allowing the Americans to escape across the Hudson River. During the second Battle of Saratoga, he planned a robust array of natural defenses, using ledges, rock formations, and the terrain as cover - frustrating the British while positioning his men to victory. Kosciuszko's travels put him in direct contact with known Freemasons: Benjamin Franklin, Nathanael Greene, Marquis de Lafayette, and George Washington. Kosciuszko lived and served with these essential men in a time when the ideas of democracy, freedom, and independence were the favorite topics of discussion. George Washington hung Kosciuszko's portrait in his home, and his friend Thomas Jefferson wrote that "He is as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known."

The Case For A Missing Freemason

Thaddeus Kosciuszko possessed the two masonic principles that we are charged to embrace: Fidelity and Integrity. There are several examples in the book of opportunities during the beginning of his Revolutionary military service where General Kosciuszko could have risen in rank faster or received more pay IF he stepped on others to advance himself. Instead, he took promotions as he earned them and served for seven years without collecting a salary. His concerns were always for the care and comforts of his soldiers, who he regularly wrote to Congress and General Washington for new boots, clothing, or weapons. When I finished the book, I reached out to the author Alex Storozynski to investigate if Kosciuszko was a Mason. I couldn’t see how a man of his age who was in the company of Washington, Franklin, and many other historical Masons of that era would not have attended a Lodge or somehow escaped being a member of one.

I also contacted Kosciuszko Lodge No. 1085, the first Lodge composed of men of Polish and Slavic descent in the United States of America, which meets in the Grand Lodge of New York, to see if they had any supporting documents. I wasn't the first to ask the question. "I wish he were a Mason," stated Storozynski when we spoke. "If I had found anything, I would have surely included it in my book!" Alex and I spent the time discussing how, after the connections with Franklin, Lafayette, and Washington - considering how life was much different than now, their time huddled closely during winter or the lavish parties they would attend in each other's honor, how was it possible that the subject of Freemasonry never came up?

Both Kosciuszko and Washington were members of the Society of Cincinnati. We also couldn't fathom how, after being released from prison for leading an uprising against Catherine the Great, Kosciuszko didn't petition a Masonic lodge in Europe when he was close friends with Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was known to have attended meetings at the prestigious Lodge of Nine Muses in Paris, France. (For a more detailed look into whether Jefferson was a Mason, click here) If Kosciuszko wasn't an American Freemason, was it possible that he could have petitioned a Lodge in Europe? Again, the answer is no. Although if you search online, the Grand Orient of Poland lists Tadeusz Kościuszko on their list of our "Predecessors in the Craft." But as far as official documentation that states he was made a Mason at a certain time and place, for now, that search for Kosciuszko comes up empty.


Brother Michael Arce is the Junior Warden of St. George’s #6, Schenectady and a member of Mt. Zion #311, Troy New York. When not in Lodge, Bro. Arce is the Marketing Manager for Capital Cardiology Associates in Albany, New York. He enjoys meeting new Brothers and hearing how the Craft has enriched their lives. He can be reached at:

A Call to Service

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Travis Simpkins

Earlier this year, the Grand Lodge of New Jersey hired me to create some artwork for their dedication ceremony of the U.S. Coast Guard Enlisted Memorial. Along with the commission came an invitation to join the Grand Master and other Grand Lodge officers on a special tour of the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center base in Cape May, New Jersey. I have never served in the military, so the opportunity to learn and experience something new enticed me to make the trip down from Massachusetts and show up at the base on that cold April morning. We boarded and explored some of the boats, saw recruits training and visited the barracks before being directed towards a parcel of land that would eventually be developed for the Memorial.

After the tour, the Grand Lodge officers and officials from the Coast Guard base convened to the nearby Cape Island Lodge No. 30 where a small crowd had gathered for the cornerstone ceremony. Before the event began, the Grand Master pulled me aside to ask if he could call me to get up and speak to everyone. I had half-expected to be called upon going in, but I still didn't have any remarks prepared when the time arrived. In searching of what to say, I found myself looking towards the men in military uniforms seated around the room. I thanked them for their service. I then explained that not only had I not served, but that prior to becoming a Mason, I had known very few people in my immediate circles that were members of the armed forces. After joining the Craft, it seems that 3 out of every 5 Masons I meet have some kind of military background. I now count some of those men among my closest friends and kindred spirits. I wondered out loud about the common thread that draws us all to join Freemasonry. On the military end, there is certainly an ordered structure, patriotism and an instilled sense of “Brotherhood” that carries over within the Craft. But beyond that, a more universal element seems to be that Freemasonry attracts those who desire self-improvement by being part of something bigger than themselves. We, as Masons, all answer a call to service. Afterwards, I was relieved when several Brothers approached me to say that they appreciated the sentiments.

I don't have a graceful end to this anecdote. I just thought of it on the occasion of Veteran's Day, when I saw that many friends were sharing photos of themselves and loved ones in uniform. If you're in the vicinity of Cape May on the southern coast of New Jersey, construction of the U.S. Coast Guard Enlisted Memorial has been ongoing and should be nearing completion. If you're a veteran who also happens to be a member of the Scottish Rite NMJ, I'd encourage you to contact your Valley and let them know. Recently, the Sovereign Grand Commander established the “Sammy Lee Davis Peace & Freedom Award” which is to be presented to all Scottish Rite veterans with an honorable discharge.


Travis Simpkins is a freelance artist with clients throughout the United States and Europe. He currently works on projects for the Supreme Council, 33°, NMJ in Lexington, Massachusetts. He also serves as a portrait artist for the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Grand Lodge of New Jersey and other jurisdictions across North America. His artwork is in many esteemed collections, including the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum in Independence, Missouri.

Bro. Simpkins is a member of Morning Star Lodge A.F. & A.M. in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is a 32° Mason in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite- Valleys of Worcester and Boston. He is also a member of Eureka Royal Arch Chapter, Hiram Council of Royal & Select Master Masons and Worcester County Commandery No. 5, Knights Templar.

The Impact of War Part IV

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor 
WB Gregory J. Knott 

In the first three installments of this series I examined the impact the Great War (WW I) was having on Illinois Freemasonry 100 years ago in 1918.

In part one the Grand Master of Illinois Austin M. Scrogin wrote in his annual report that Illinois Freemasonry was working hard to support the troops overseas and reminded the Illinois membership that though it was important to support the French people, the Grand Lodge of Illinois did not recognize the Grand Orient of France because they did not follow landmark of belief in a supreme being as a requirement for membership.

The challenges continued in part 2 of the series as MWB Scrogin was fielding many requests for Army lodges to be formed, but he did not honor these requests. Scrogin said “…Many men who enter into the service of their country make good soldiers would not make good Masons. The uncertainties of determining the fitness of men are so apparent that there is on security against the admission of the unworthy.” Scrogin was concerned that candidate wouldn’t be properly investigated and that the west gate would admit those who were truly not worthy.

Scrogin also argued that the old standard “the perfect youth” theory was a relic that should be abandonded because so many of the soldiers serving were suffering serious wounds that in and of themselves should not disqualify a man from becoming a Freemason. Changes to the Illinois code were later changed dropping these limitations.

And in the third installment Scrogin issued an edict that all lodges must work the ritual only in English. There were a handful of lodges in the Chicago area that were using the German language as these lodges membership was those of German ancestry. There was concern that by not using the English language that lodges would develop into a class system that would not be healthy for the craft.

Today 100 years later these changes are still impacting Illinois Freemasonry. All work must be done in the English language, Illinois does not sponsor military lodges, the Grand Orient of France is still not recognized, there still concerns about guarding the West gate and the physical limitations that once limited entry into our fraternity were formally dropped in 1919.

Though we generally like to think that Freemasonry is timeless and there can be no changes, the reality is that the events of today have an impact on the fraternity just like they did 100 years ago. Freemasonry does change with the ages, even when you don’t think it can or will. The decisions we make as a fraternity today will impact the craft a 100 years from now.


WB Gregory J. Knott is the Worshipful Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 in Ogden (IL) and a plural member of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.

A Break from Politics?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson

I know at this point we're all precariously balanced, pulled in three or four emotional directions. We're tired of the robo-calls, the endless stream of cards and flyers stuffed into our mailboxes, slipped under our car wiper blades and jammed into our door handles -- despite the no solicitor stickers. We're done with the Hulu ads from candidates. We're tired of slinging the dirt. We're tired of the divisiveness. And yet, we're still fired up. We want more, we want to see what will happen in the coming weeks. The policy changes, the major upsets, the candidates who will right the wrongs.

The thing is, if you feel like this, it's normal. We're invested. This is America,"the great experiment." Countries may have surpassed us in some progressive or conservative ideas, but never forget that this country was the example. We stand today with a fresh outlook. The election results let us see where we stand, what the benchmark is. We can see the lay of the land and how to approach things.

But first, Coffee. It's Wednesday morning after "Super-Tuesday" *sips coffee*. Whether our candidates won or lost, whether we're feeling angry or elated, it's time to take a moment to yourself and just breath. Do that now. Take a breath.

I hope you enjoyed the quick break, that's all you'll get. We're industrious, remember? There are always times in history where the hopes of a future are dashed or forged. When we think about this, it's easy to get lost in a "winner - loser" mentality. What's important is seeing the system from afar. To take a step back and look at the chess board. We should ask ourselves how we want to proceed. What are the issues affecting us today? How can we as Freemasons work for the better good? How can we see to it that we exemplify not only in our lives, but in public, the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Fortitude, Temperance and most importantly, Justice. That virtue alone is what we're built on. Justice is the level.

My opinion? Work for the change you want. Not from a Facebook post, an Instagram or casually talking to friends. Sure those things have some merit, and if that's your speed, go nuts. But if you really want to get involved, if you really want to see an impact in your lifetime, you need to take a next step. Volunteer in the community, follow the road less traveled that leads to becoming a leader.

On Saturday, November 3rd, the Mayor of North Ogden Utah, was shot and killed while on his second deployment in Afghanistan. He served his town and his state but also was a patriot. The interim mayor said of his friend of six years on NPR, "...Brent Taylor was not partisan, he wasn't a politician. He was a statesman."

That's what I think we should be. "Statesman." Upstanding dignified individuals who work for the common good, not focusing on party affiliations, red, blue, gold or anything else. If we care about the people first, everything else will fall into place.

In Mayor Taylor's final post to his Facebook account, while on deployment he said, ""As the USA gets ready to vote in our own election (Tuesday), I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote, and that whether the Republicans or the Democrats win, that we all remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us. 'United we stand, divided we fall.' God Bless America."

Remember those words, and lets get back to work -- changing the world.


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 Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183 UD. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master 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. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry" and is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.

November, Scottish Rite Month!

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson

November has been declared Scottish Rite Month, by SGC, David Glattly and what that means, is that this month in particular we should be proud to be 32nd degree Scottish Rite Masons. Back in August, I was thumbing through The Northern Light, the AASR NMJ's publication and I came to a page that was striking.

The full text of the proclamation, in case the picture is too hard to read is as follows:



Sovereign Grand Commander, David A. Glattly, 33 ̊Proclaims November as Scottish Rite Month

To all Brothers:
Let it be known and spread throughout the jurisdiction

Whereas, The Scottish Rite, NMJ believes in the values of Reverence for God, Devotion to Country, Integrity, Justice, Service, and Toleration, and

Whereas, The Supreme Council promotes the aforementioned values through the written and performance exemplification of its degrees, and

Whereas, The Valleys of the Scottish Rite, NMJ seek to further inculcate the mission of the organization through its ritual and social program- ming, and

Whereas, The members of the Scottish Rite, NMJ are committed to up- holding these values in their daily lives, and

Now, Therefore, be it resolved that I, David A. Glattly, 33 ̊, Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite, NMJ, do hereby proclaim the month of November 2018 as Scottish Rite Month in all of our Valleys throughout the jurisdiction.

I encourage all Valleys and Brothers to plan, and participate, in events that demonstrate the strength and resolve we have for our organization, and the values for which it stands, and further cement the relevance of Freemasonry as part of history, as well as the future.

In Witness Whereof, I hereunto set my hand and cause the Seal of the Scottish Rite, NMJ to be herein affixed.


Freemasonry itself is something that we perpetually celebrate, but all too often perhaps, it is part of the norm and we may take it for granted. November is a month in which we can make an extra effort to get out to our valleys, go to events, celebrate the charities, see the degrees at the fall time reunions and come together as not just Masons, but perhaps those who are of the Royal Secret. 

What can you do? What can you expect this month? Recently The Northern Light has begun a web series designed to be quick, and to the point. It's called TNL On Air. Here is the latest from them, featuring SGC Glattly speaking about Scottish Rite Month. Enjoy and remember, "Spes mea in Deo est!"


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 Spes Novum 1183 UD. He is a Past Master of Waukegan 78, and Past District Deputy Grand Master 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. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry" and is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.

The Owl, The Dollar Bill, And The Freemasons?

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°
See the little owl?  Ain't it a hoot!  Some will argue that's not an owl at all.
While I was over at our annual Grand Lodge Convocation in Springfield, Illinois last month, I found an enormous book on symbology on the clearance rack at Barnes & Noble.  Of course I bought it--you can't have too many books on symbolism, right?  Last night, I ran across a very detailed description of how the owl has been historically used as a symbol.  It reminded me of a conversation I had with a Freemason a few years ago after I'd done a presentation.

This Mason claimed there were two evidences of Masonic influence on the dollar bill--one was the back of the Great Seal of the United States, the well-known unfinished pyramid and all-seeing eye.  That's perhaps one of the most roundly misunderstood and misinterpreted symbols of all time, and about as Masonic in origin as a ham sandwich.  The other evidence was the little owl hidden in the upper right hand corner.  I knew that was there, but that was the first time it had been suggested to me that it was "masonic" in origin.

I can remember the first time that little owl was pointed out to me.  I was still in grade school, and our teacher pointed it out to the class one day.  She told us it was a symbol of wisdom, and that's why it was included in the design.  She also said that little details like that made it all the harder for anybody to try and copy a dollar bill.

But the owl isn't a Masonic symbol--it is associated more with the Illuminati.  Robert Johnson wrote a very good piece about that some years ago The Owl and Freemasonry on the Midnight Freemasons.  It wasn't easy to sell my new friend on the idea that neither the back of the Grand Seal of the United States or the owl had any strong Masonic ties--he was a true believer that they did.  I do not believe I was successful in convincing him.  And he's not alone in believing the Great Seal of the United States is Masonic--I hear Masons who should know better make that claim all the time, and I stopped trying to correct them on it a decade ago.

However, I never saw the owl on the dollar bill.  It never looked like an owl to me.  From the first time our teacher pointed it out to us in class up to this day, when I see that little engraving in the upper right hand corner of the dollar bill I see the exact same thing.  I've shown a few people over the years what I see, and they say once they saw it they never see the owl again.

Turn that dollar bill over and have a close look at it.  Do you see it yet?  Is your mind blown?

Aye, Matey . . . that be the Jolly Roger?
I never saw an owl--I saw a skull and crossbones.  I was holding the dollar under the projector for the teacher so the class could see it on the wall--so I saw it upside-down the first time.  Once you see the skull, you can't unsee it.  To me, it looks more like a skull upside-down than an owl right-side up.

And the skull and crossbones . . . well, that does have some Masonic symbolic meaning as we all well know.  For those Masonic conspiracy theorist out there, you can consider this an early Christmas gift.  You're welcome!  Run with it! 

Now as anybody who studies symbols knows (and I'm strictly an amateur), symbols always have dual meanings.  It would not surprise me in the least to find out that this duality (owl one way, and skull the other) was intentional by the engraver--the owl, a symbol of wisdom and intellect, and the skull and symbol of death and/or new life.  It's interesting to think about anyway.

So now that you've see it, what do you think?  Owl or skull?  Or nothing at all?


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 at 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 EHP.  He serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F.&A.M. as the Eastern Area Education Officer.  He is also a member of Tuscola Odd Fellows Lodge No. 316.  You can contact him at:

Night of the Living Freemasons

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

I’ve been studying our rituals and history for quite some time now, and I’ve discovered the secret meaning of our Freemasonry. Freemasonry is teaching us about Zombies. In fact, all of the degrees you take are training you for the inevitability of you rising from the grave. Yes, my brothers. I know it’s not something you were prepared to hear, but it’s true. Freemasonry teaches us all how to act as a zombie. It’s only through carefully studying our ritual and practices, that this will become apparent. Before I get into details, let’s discuss the characteristics of a zombie.

In film and television, zombies have the below characteristics:

· They were dead, but have somehow arisen from the grave

· They are able to move, however they can be depicted as moving really fast or very slow.

· They are in a decaying state

· Unending Hunger

· Clumsy

· Vulnerable to the destruction of the brain

· Unaffected by injuries, except ones that hurt the brain

· Zombies can only multiple by making other zombies.

· They do not attack other zombies

· They are industrious

Let’s break this down:

Zombies were dead, but have somehow arisen from the grave. One only needs to look at our penultimate degree. The secret lesson that we’re being taught is that we all are going to become zombies at some point. We’d better get used it.

Zombies are able to move, however they can depicted as moving really fast or very slow. The next time you’re in lodge either for a business meeting or a degree observe the floor work of the participants. You will see slow, methodical movements. Then observe the difference of the speed at which we leave the lodge at the end of a long business meeting, or to get food before or after a degree. You will observe the average Freemason moving at speeds that Usain Bolt could only dream of.

Zombies are in a decaying state. Think about ritual in the degree mentioned above. The body of Hiram Abiff was in a state of high putrefaction when discovered. Imagine how he must have looked when raised (FROM THE DEAD…INSERT OMINIOUS MUSIC HERE). We’re taught in Freemasonry to care about the internal qualifications of a man, and not the external. This is obviously because when we come back to life, there’s a good chance that we’re not going to look or smell so good.

Zombies have unending hunger. Do I really have to say it? Zombies like to eat. Freemasons like to eat. All of our meals, table lodges and festive boards are training us as Freemasons to have an unending hunger for human flesh when we become zombies.

Zombies are usually portrayed as being clumsy. When’s that last time you went to a degree where everything went perfectly? There’s usually at least some awkwardness caused by misspoken or forgotten ritual, or a misstep in the floor work. Freemasons are able to make a mistake here or there as and to brush it off and continue the ritual. This is preparing us for the inevitability that most of us are going to be shambling mounds of flesh. Sure, we’ll have a few of us that more akin to Bub from George A. Romero’s “Day of the Dead”, but that will be the exception rather than the rule.

Zombies are vulnerable to the destruction of the brain, but are unaffected by other injuries. One of the most important lessons we are taught in the second section of the Third Degree is what wounds we can sustain, and which will kill us when we are zombies. How is Hiram assaulted? He’s able to survive the first few attacks. It’s the one that final strike and where it's placed that does him in.

Zombies are individually pretty easy to kill. However, in a group they are powerful. Because of this, zombies are focused on trying to keep up their zombie membership numbers by making other zombies. Not only that, there are certain other smaller zombie groups which branch out from the main herd. The parallel to Freemasonry is uncanny.

Zombies never attack other zombies. It’s almost like the zombies have taken some sort of obligation to not harm other zombies. Why does that ring a bell?

Zombies are industrious. They work together towards a common goal of the destruction of humanity. Are we not as Freemasons taught about this? That we should also be industrious, or else be a useless drone of nature?

Still not convinced my Brethren? Let me draw your attention to this article which tells the tale of how the most famous American Freemason, George Washington almost became a zombie. From the io9 website: (

George Washington may have been America's first president, but was he nearly America's first zombie-in-chief? If William Thornton, physician and designer of the US Capitol, had had his way, Washington's body would have been subjected a scientific experiment designed to bring the deceased former president back to life.

In December 1799, 67-year-old George Washington took a ride through the wet winter rain and, shortly afterward, developed a fever and a sore throat. When his condition became so bad that Washington could no longer swallow the concoctions of vinegar, molasses, and butter with which he was trying to treat himself, Washington called in his livestock and slave overseer, who drained three-quarters of a pint of blood from the ailing man. When bleeding failed to have the desired effect, three physicians were called in, all of whom recommended emetics and — you guessed it — more blood to be drawn. Over the brief course of his treatment, Washington's stomach and bowels were repeatedly evacuated and the puncture-happy docs took nearly two and a half liters of blood. Just two days after that fateful morning ride, Washington closed his eyes for the final time, after telling his doctors, "I die hard, but I am not afraid to go."

But Washington's body was not buried immediately after his death. The president may not have feared death, but he did fear being buried alive. Before he died, he commanded his secretary, Tobias Lear, to make sure that he would not be entombed less than three days after he died. In accordance with Washington's wishes, his body was put on ice until it could be moved to the family vault.

That's where the story gets a little strange. The morning after Washington died, his step-granddaughter Elizabeth Law arrived with a family friend, William Thornton. History best remembers Thornton as the architect who created the original design for the Capitol building, but he was also a trained physician, having studied at the University of Edinburgh. Although he did not practice medicine for much of his life, Thornton always had a keen interest in the workings of the human body, and he suggested a novel method for resurrecting the fallen warrior. Thornton told Washington's wife Martha that he wanted to thaw Washington's body by the fire and have it rubbed vigorously with blankets. Then he planned to perform a tracheotomy so he could insert a bellows into Washington's throat and pump his lungs full of air, and finally to give Washington an infusion of lamb's blood. Friends and family declined Thornton's mad scientist offer, not because they thought his solution impossible, but because they felt the nation's first president should rest in peace.

So what gave Thornton the idea to play Dr. Frankenstein? Susan E. Lederer, author of the book Flesh and Blood: Organ Transplantation and Blood Transfusion in Twentieth-Century America, notes that many physicians in the late 18th Century believed that lamb's blood had special properties, and believes Thornton meant to give Washington's circulatory system "a spark of vitality" that might jolt him back to life. But Paul Schmidt, in his article "Forgotten transfusion history: John Leacock of Barbados" published in the British Medical Journal, suggests that the University of Edinburgh may have been on the forefront of transfusion research (unless you count all those transfusion experiments in 17th-Century France). 

Thornton wasn't the only Edinburgh alum thinking about blood transfusions during that time period. Philip Syng Physick, an earlier Edinburgh grad (who incidentally practiced in Philadelphia, where Thornton himself briefly practiced medicine), is reported to have performed a human blood transfusion as early as 1795. John Leacock, a later graduate, performed successful transfusion experiments, believing an infusion of blood would "excite" the recipient heart. Leacock's experiments in turn influenced James Blundell, who is credited with introducing the process to the mainstream medical community. Schmidt wonders if the Edinburgh community took particular interest in those early French transfusion experiments, planting the idea in Thornton's mind.

Oddly, reanimation wasn't Thornton's only thwarted plan for Washington's body. Thornton secretly included a burial vault in his designs for the Capitol, hoping that it would be Washington's final resting place. After Washington's coffin was placed in the family vault, Martha did agree that he could be later removed to the Capitol, on the grounds that her body could join his when she died. Alas, the transfer of burial chambers, like zombie Washington himself, was not meant to be.

Story discovered via Holly Tucker's book Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution, which details a series of blood transfusion experiments undertaken more than a century before Washington's death.

It’s my belief that George Washington instructed his secretary to not entomb is his body until 3 days had passed because he knew full well that he was going to return as a zombie. Unfortunately, he didn’t pay attention to our degrees. Hiram Abiff was raised after being dead 15 days. For whatever reason, that’s the amount of time we as Freemasons will remain dead before re-animating. Thornton’s attempts to re-animate our beloved first president was just a clever cover up to explain why Washington would have returned from the dead. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. I suspect that what Thorton did was actually prevent George from re-animating.

I hope that my satire was well received. What is clear however, is that with a little imagination, how one can take some of our rituals, and apply them for nefarious purposes. One just needs to go to YouTube and type in "Freemason conspiracies" to get a full dose of this. You’ll quickly find out that the Freemasons are responsible for not only plotting to take over the world and institute a one world government, but for also faking the moon landing (Freemasons control NASA), waging a war on Christianity, Islam and/or Judaism, controlling Hollywood, worshiping Satan, being in league with the Illuminati (some of whom are Reptilian Shape Shifting Aliens), and suppressing the “truth” that the earth is Flat. I’m sure I’m missing some. I can only wish the Freemasons were so cool. Seriously. If we were responsible for all of these things, it would mean we had an active and engaged membership. I think that what many of the YouTube conspiracy theorists fail to realize is just how dire our situation is. In the past 6 months, I have been to two meetings that couldn’t make quorum. If we can’t get Freemasons to come out to meetings, then how in the heck would we be able to do any of the things they accuse us of doing?

Quite frankly, when I wrote above that zombies are in a decaying state, the tie to Freemasonry is obvious. Freemasonry as a whole is in a decaying state. We’re fighting a declining membership due to the attrition of members dying, and not being able to bring new members in. When we are able to bring in new members, we’re having a hard time in retaining or engaging them. Existing active members see apathy all around, and slowly start to succumb to it as well. We’re unable to adapt to the times, instead clutching our ancient landmarks for dear life. 

When a decision of allowing Trans men to join and Trans women to retain their membership in UGLE was made, the hope that I had that a sea change was coming was quickly dashed by the troglodytic comments made by my Brothers on Social Media. As other organizations like the BSA allow women, we hold steadfast. After 300 Years, we need to start to realize that as the ancient landmarks were written in a time where women did not have equal rights, and men, women and children were held as property, we might need to start to change them. Yes, we can still guard the West Gate, but we need to at least allow more people to approach it. My brothers, we can do better and we must do better. If we don’t do something radical and soon, the trend of the continuing decline of membership will continue until Freemasonry is dead. I fear that once that happens, unlike the zombie, we won’t be able to raise it from its grave.


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

Cemetery Gates

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

The afternoon after the morning session of Grand Lodge Sessions in Illinois last past, fellow Midnight Freemason Greg Knott and I found ourselves exploring Springfield. Our journey began at Oakridge Cemetery, which is best known for being the location of Lincoln’s tomb. After paying our respects to President Lincoln, we traveled through the cemetery, until we came upon the most curious gravestone. The grave on the front, had a solitary square and compass. Upon the back, it read:



BORN NOV. 11, 1851

DIED MAY 3, 1921









JOHN 8:32

On top of the grave, is what appears to be a very faded astrological or astronomical chart.

Needless to say, the grave was unique enough for me to want to find out more about this individual. Upon getting back to the hotel room, I found a biography of him published originally in a book entitled: “Past and Present of the City of Springfield and Sangamon County Illinois” by Joseph Wallace, M.A. of the Springfield Bar by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL. 1904 and found on the following website. ( In keeping with our policy of providing free information on the Internet, data and images may be used by non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied material. These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format for profit or for other presentation without express permission by the contributor(s).)I present it below in its entirety.

Webner E. Loomis, a lawyer of Springfield, traces his ancestry back to Joseph Loomis, of Braintree, England, who sailed from London on the ship Susan Ellen and arrived at Boston, Massachusetts, July 17, 1638. He settled in Windsor, Connecticut, in 1639, and among his descendants are those who have been prominent in public affairs and successful in private business interest. Horace Loomis, the grandfather of our subject, lived in Herkimer county, New York, and married Julia Tuttle, a native of that county. He removed from there in 1838 with his wife and children, Thadeus L., William B. and Horace J. Loomis, who located at a point at the extreme end of the prairie about a mile and a half east of Chesterfield, Illinois, and which extended to the site of Chicago without the intervention of a single tree or anything else other than the tall prairie grasses in its season. Horace Loomis pursued farming and stock-raising until his death, December 20, 1850. His widow passed away in 1864 and both lie buried in the Loomis cemetery near Chesterfield. 

William B. Loomis, father of W. E. Loomis, was born in Herkimer county, New York, April 28, 1829. He married Mary A. Eldred, who died October 5, 1854. She was a daughter of William and Ruth (Brace) Eldred. Her father had come from Herkimer county, New York, in 1822, and located on a farm two miles and three-quarters west of Carrollton, this state. The Eldreds and Braces were of English lineage, descended from ancestors who came to America about 1640. The mother of Mrs. Ruth Eldred, was a member of the Bushnell family and a near relative of Horace Bushnell, the eminent theologian who was born at Litchfield, Connecticut, April 14, 1802, and died in 1876. It was in honor of this family that the city of Bushnell, Illinois, is named. Many of the Braces have been noted educators and public spirited citizens.

To the marriage of William B. Loomis and Mary A. Eldred there was born a daughter that died in infancy. The other children were Webner E., born November 11, 1851; and Leverett W., who was born February 8, 1853, and died April 8, 1896, at Carrollton, Illinois. He had there founded and built up the largest jewelry store and business of that city. He made and gave to Blackburn College at Carlinville, Illinois, a six inch achromatic clock movement and astronomical equatorial telescope in 1885, valued at several thousand dollars. In 1887 he made an absolutely universal focus lens instrument of nine lenses that was never before equaled and cannot be excelled. The seven and a half inch astronomical visual and photographic telescope that he made and which is now in possession of his brother, is in every respect superior to any other make of its size and class. He was equally renowned in connection with his labors in electricity and chemistry, astronomy and other branches of the learned and skilled sciences. A fair estimate of the evidence of his accomplishments would place him as the most skilled and learned person in the sciences of mechanics of his day. It was well said that his death was a loss to the whole world.

Webner E. Loomis, the subject of this sketch was born on his father's farm a mile and a half east of the village of Chesterfield, Illinois and near there he attended the country schools, while in the periods of vacation he worked in his father's grist and saw mill and also on the farm, being thus employed until 1865, when he went with his father's family to Minneapolis, Minnesota, but upon the death of his father in 1867 he returned to and became a member of the family of his uncle, Horace J. Loomis, who was living about a mile southeast of Chesterfield. There Webner E. Loomis attended school in the village in fall and winter, and worked on his uncle's farm throughout the remainder of the year until he became a student in Blackburn University, now college, in 1870. He was graduated from that institution in June, 1873, with the degree of Bachelor of Science; earning his way by working on the farm and teaching school. During the fall of that year he began the study of law in the office of the late United States Senator John M. Palmer, at Springfield. He was admitted and licensed by the supreme court of this state on the 8th of January, 1876, to practice as an attorney and counselor at law.

Mr. Loomis has since been a most indefatigable worker in searching after the truest and best knowledge connected with every side and phase of whatever question he undertakes. While on the farm he thoroughly studied that great department of labor, putting his scientific knowledge to the practical test. He learned much of the best pedigrees and valuable points of the horse and other domestic or farm animals. As a school teacher and citizen he early realized that the aristocracy controlled the system of education of our public schools, so that if its pupils ready anything it must be mostly fiction and satisfied only by the charms of poetry, music, art, display and athletic sports and that this would create a distaste for good reading or the hard study necessary to grow in knowledge. This in time would develop a people unfit for self-government and, therefore Mr. Loomis has with word and pen fought against such conditions in our schools. Senator Palmer said that Mr. Loomis was the most industrious law student that he had ever had and after his being admitted to the bar certified amongst other good qualifications, that Mr. Loomis was of the strictest honor and integrity.

Mr. Loomis has a genius for discovering defects in the law or procedure that come under his investigation. He showed through a habeas corpus application that the city of Springfield had been for some forty years imprisoning violators of its ordinances with legal right and a new ordinance had to be enacted to cure the defect. He proved that the form of notice as published to get service on defendants in chancery cases, as had been used about thirty-five years in this county, was void; and his corrected form of the same has now been in use for quite a number of years. Mr. Loomis also discovered that the ordinance for fixing and collecting water taxes or rates were illegal and they were amended to cure the defects. He put a stop to prosecutions without trial by jury under the vagabond act. On his suggestion the bar association of this county introduced bills in the recent Illinois Legislature for limiting to one year the right to contest wills and for establishing a jury commission that would apply to this county. 

The former bill became a law. Mr. Loomis, as a trial lawyer, has accomplished some remarkable successes, among which may be mentioned the clearing of the defendant that was immediately found after and within a few feet of the place in possession of a thirty dollar overcoat that had been stolen; and his successful defense of the young girl indicted for the larceny of ninety-two dollars after some six person testified at her trial that she had confessed to them that she had taken the money, and the defendant did not deny it. Another notable case was that in the United States court where Mr. Loomis' masterly argument caused the jury to find the defendant not guilty when charged with passing counterfeit money, after the associate counsel for the defendant had given up the defense, taken his hat and left the courtroom. In the two famous cases, charging Dr. Lawrence with the murdering of two different young women in this county several years ago, Mr. Loomis' genius and learning were found able to overcome the difficulties that puzzled other counsel for the defense so that the defendant was acquitted.

Mr. Loomis is equally as resourceful in the control of civil suits. The late Judge Matheny declared that Mr. Loomis had more influence over a jury than any other member of the bar of this county, still he never takes his client's case into the court if it can by any manner be fairly adjusted without recourse to trial.

Mr. Loomis has probably the largest collection of works on parliamentary law of any one person in this county and in a series of articles published in a periodical a few years ago he gave for the first time definite and accurate definitions of constitution, by-laws, rules and other words and phrased that had not been before defined in any work on that law. Mr. Loomis has traveled quite extensively in this country and abroad, visiting England, Belgium, Luxemberg, Germany, Switzerland and France. His store of knowledge enables him to do much as a critic with word and pen concerning the works of the artist, teacher, law writer and inventor. He was glad to note that his criticism of the United States officials caused them to abandon the use of the twenty-three caliber rifle in the navy. Mr. Loomis steps higher and into the great problems of astronomy and has written instructively on the subject. 

He influenced his brother to give the telescope to Blackburn College in preference to others and has built the Loomis observatory at Springfield and placed therein the foregoing seven and a half inch telescope and hopes that the public will learn much from its use. He has never married, but resides with his nieces, Misses Mabel and Myra Loomis, in the city of Springfield. He is so quiet and unpretentious and is engaged so much with his labors in higher and useful fields that he is not as well and favorably known as he deserves, yet he has many friends who entertain for him the warmest regard because of his personal worth and his splendid mental land professional accomplishments.

I found it curious that the biography had no mention of him being a Freemason, or belonging to the lodge in Springfield. This brought me to MORI, in which I was able to find his Masonic resume. Webner was initiated as an Entered Apprentice on December 9, 1872 into Springfield Lodge #4. He was passed to the degree of Fellowcraft on January 13, 1873. He was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason on February 10, 1873. He affiliated with Chesterfield Lodge #445 on September 5, 1887. He died as aforementioned on May 3, 1921 in Springfield, IL and the cause of death is listed as Pneumonia.

One of the things that most impresses me about our fraternity is that men think proudly enough of their membership in it to put the square and compass on their gravestones for generations forward to see. For many men, this is the only lasting memorial to them. In Webner’s case, I want to find out more about his life as a Mason. I plan on reaching out to Springfield Lodge #4 to see if they have any records regarding Webner. I think it’s important to know if he served as an officer, if he was involved in any concordant bodies, or if he was just an upright Mason as his biography describes. If I receive any updates, I’ll be sure to pass them along.


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

A Lodge Talks Itself To Masonic Education: Part 3 The Conclusion

by Midnight Freemasons Guest Contributor
Brian L. Pettice, 33°

Part 3 Leading The Lodge To My Conclusion, Or Not 

In the first installment of this series I shared Olive Branch Lodge No. 38’s statement on Masonic Education and established that generally Freemasonry had lost its focus. In the second installment I talked about my and other’s experience with establishing mission, vision, and goals statements for a lodge and how I hoped the Lodge would come to the conclusions I already had. In this last installment we will see how what has happened and why I am excited about the course the Lodge has decided to follow.

By the time late July rolled around I realized we would not have adequate time to have these discussions during the “Masonic Education” portion of our meetings, so I moved that all interested brethren meet at the restaurant down the street two hours before our first stated meeting in August to begin our discussions. On Tuesday August 1st a dozen Masons met at that restaurant to start the process. I reiterated to them what I wanted to eventually accomplish—to deliberately and intentionally establish mission, vision, and goal statements that would guide our future Lodge experience. I told them we were beginning an experiment to see if an existing lodge, one with long-standing traditions, could do that—to see if its members can reflect on and exam themselves and their Lodge and define the mission and purposes they want to pursue- to deliberately define their culture and the changes needed to realize that culture.

I told them to begin the experiment we need to answer two questions. What is each of our purposes or missions as individual Masons? And, in light of our purposes as individuals, what is the Lodge’s purpose or mission and what should the Lodge experience be in order to accomplish it? I thought I already knew the answers to these questions and, though I intentionally didn’t share this with the brethren, I thought the lodge would in short order come to the same conclusions I did. I was mistaken. We had great participation that night with many brethren talking about what they liked and didn’t like about being a Freemason. They mentioned family traditions and being part of something bigger. They mentioned charity and fellowship with moral men. They mentioned history. But these comments weren’t my answer—that by studying the meaning of the ritual, symbolism, and philosophy of Freemasonry we can truly subdue our passions and improve ourselves in Masonry, we can lift ourselves up morally and especially spiritually—and I was initially a bit disappointed. I thought this, leading the brethren to my conclusions, will take longer than I thought. Two really significant things did come out of that evening though, an enthusiasm among the brethren to continue the discussions and a suggestion by one of the brethren that we devote time, at least forty five minutes, at the beginning of the next stated meeting to the discussion. This suggestion led to a motion later that evening that we devote time at the beginning of every second stated meeting of the month to continuing these discussions, still with the goal of documenting mission and vision statements.

 In preparation for the next meeting I asked the brethren to think more about what being a Freemason meant to each of them and we would continue our discussions in that vein. Something else happened though as well. I began to think at how I arrived at my conclusions as to what Freemasonry is and ought to be and I realized that it took me twenty-two years to arrive at where I am right now and truthfully I am still evolving. My experiences and studies in that twenty-two years are not the same as that of my Brethren. Their experiences and conclusions are the product of their experiences and studies and are as valid to them as mine are to me. When we arrived at the next stated meeting we started our discussions and the comments were already on a different level than the last meeting. The brethren talked about their feelings; how following in their uncles’ footsteps made them feel; how they felt about meeting and talking with brethren of different generations (I found out I am not in the younger generation anymore); how just being with each other made them feel. I began to re-think my emphasis on everyone agreeing to the same mission and vision. I began to think this was the important part—the brethren of the Lodge devoting themselves to learning and sharing with each other without worrying necessarily where that would lead. I began to think a better idea would be for us to just study and discuss and learn together and see where that led. So, I suggested to the Lodge that we continue to dedicate time at the beginning of each second stated meeting for discussion and study. I said that I would draft a statement for the Lodge to approve at our next stated meeting describing our commitment and suggested we begin our new program with study and discussion of the Grand Lodge of Illinois Intender program which is designed to teach the fundamentals of Freemasonry.

I formulated the statement and then something happened that confirmed to me the correctness of my new perspective on the way our lodge would execute Masonic Education. I was at another Lodge’s degree conferral one night when I noticed their business meeting agenda taped to the Master’s pedestal. It was dated from 1973, forty-five years ago. I had seen the same agenda in nearly every lodge I have been in. Nowhere on that agenda was anything about Masonic Education. Nowhere was there anything about studying Masonic symbolism or philosophy. Nowhere was there any indication of how Freemasonry was to go about making good men better. I realized that an existing lodge will not easily turn a corner quickly, nor should it be expected to. Will we ever document our mission, vision, and goals? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe those are not necessary. Maybe they would be the sort of static ideas that would still be taped to a pedestal forty-five years from now. But dedicating ourselves to devoting time to studying and discussing Masonic ritual, symbolism, and philosophy does change the experience in the Lodge. It does and will continue to change its culture. Dedicating ourselves to this does offer to each of us the opportunity to subdue our passions and improve ourselves in Masonry. It offers the members of the Lodge the opportunity to always reflect on what the Lodge is and what they it should be. That is the important thing and all you have to do is make time for it. The subjects a lodge might study are endless. We chose a readily available program already provided by the Grand Lodge to give everyone a good basic knowledge and understanding of Freemasonry. The important thing is we chose. We approved the statement and we began our studies and discussions September 18th. If you are in Danville, Illinois on the third Tuesday of the month, stop by and see how we are doing.


Brian L. Pettice, 33° is a Past Master of Anchor Lodge No. 980 and plural member of Olive Branch Lodge No. 38 in Danville, IL and an Honorary Member of a couple of others.    He is also an active member of both the York and Scottish Rites.  He cherishes the Brothers that have become Friends over the years and is thankful for the opportunities Freemasonry gives and has given him to examine and improve himself, to meet people he might not otherwise have had chance to meet, and to do things he might not otherwise have had chance to do.  He is employed as an electrician at the University of Illinois and lives near Alvin, IL with his wife Janet and their son Aidan.  He looks forward to sharing the joy the fraternity brings him with others.  His email address is