From the Archives: The 50 Year Member - Part Eleven: Quality Vs. Quantity

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Bill Hosler, PM

“You should have been there.” Pudge said “It was fantastic!” The old man smiled “I wish I could have been there but the wife has this thing about me being with her on our wedding anniversary.” Pudge laughed “I totally get that but you really missed out.” The old man sipped his drink “If it is that good I am sure you will go back again soon and then I will go with you.”

The two men were sitting in the Club room of the 50 year members favorite drinking establishment. He had been coming here since he was a young man when his father first brought him there. It was a place of manly bonding with his father. Over the years the old man brought each of his sons on their twenty first birthday. He wanted the same experience with each of his sons that he had experienced with his father. He knew that his sons would go out with his friends later in the evening and have their first experience of trying that which was once forbidden to them but he wanted to bond with them and teach them that enjoying a quality beverage in an upscale establishment was just as fun as drinking in a loud watering hole, and maybe even more so!

Men had been visiting the club for over one hundred years. Although updated throughout the century the place still held its charm. The polished dark wood covered walls gleamed in the low light of the room, paintings of members from long ago watched over the room giving their approval that the current members still held their club in reverence. In the distance you can hear the clinking of billiard balls in the next room where several gentlemen were playing a friendly game.

As the old man and Pudge was sitting in their leather wing backed chairs discussing the previous evenings events a waiter dressed in formal attire approached “Excuse me gentlemen” The waiter said “Mister Johnson, your table is ready. Shall I carry your drinks to your table?” The old man nodded as the white gloved hand gently picked up their drinks and placed them on a highly polished silver tray he was carrying. “Please follow me Gentlemen” the waiter said as he led the duo to their table in the restaurant. As they walked though the building Pudge's eyes went wide with amazement as he walked though the ornate building.

“That corridor leads to the front desk of the hotel.” The old man remarked as they walked through the lobby. “This place has a hotel?” Pudge exclaimed trying to contain his amazement. “Oh yeah and it is five star too. Lots of out of town members stay here when they are in town on business.” Pudge was in awe “I can't believe a club would have a hotel!” The old man laughed “This place has everything. You have encountered the bar already. The club has a hotel, barber shop, billiards room, cigar lounge where members each have their own humidor for their cigars. They even have a cigar store. Anything a man could need.”

The men arrived in the restaurant and directed to their table as they were seated in their plushly upholstered dining room chairs the waited placed their drinks on the freshly ironed table cloth on the table before them. “Would either of you care for another drink while you look at the menu? “I'll have another scotch on the rocks please.” The old man said “Me too” replied Pudge as they picked up their menu's. “Wow! Look at this menu! Most of these things I have heard of but never actually tried!” The old man smiled “Pick whatever you want. It's on me”

Another formally dressed waiter approached and the men gave their order. “I just can't get over this place!” Pudge said “I bet it's expensive to be a member here.” The old man nodded “I think it costs about $3000.00 to join now and annual dues around a grand after that. If you want quality you have to pay for it. The thing is, just because you can afford it doesn't mean you can become a member. There is quite a lengthy process and investigation. Not everyone that applies can join. It is very exclusive ” Pudge placed his linen napkin in his lap and their drinks arrived at their table. “That makes sense but I imagine the qualifications have been loosened since it is so tough to get younger men to join things these days.” The old man laughed “Just the opposite. Our membership numbers have never faltered. In fact we have more membership applications than we can process. “Pudge shook his head “That doesn't make sense to me. Our lodge has a nice building and some pretty good guys. We don't charge a fraction of that amount to be a member and we practically have to beg men to join us. Even if they do join lots of them don't come back. I don't get it.”

The old man leaned back into his chair. “To be honest Pudge that is one of the reasons I invited you here today. I wanted to illustrate something to you. Masonry doesn't have to sell itself at bargain basement prices to be successful. If you give a man quality he will gladly pay for it. This club has been going for nearly one hundred and fifty years and shows no signs of slowing down. We have to find a way to raise the bar of the lodge. Give the men a reason to want to join and once we have them in the door make them want to stay!"

"When you came to the house the other night to tell me about Randy and his disappointment about our lodge, this club came to my mind. I don't know what Randy thought Freemasonry would be when he asked for a petition but I do know he wanted a quality experience for the investment of his time and his hard earned money. I feel if we look to a place like this we can start to be on the right track.”

Pudge smiled “I would love to be part of something like this. Something like this club is what I imagined when I wanted to renovate the Social room. If we can make our lodge more like this I can see lots of the guys coming and hanging out.”

The 50 year member smiles “I'm glad you like the place Brother. That is the other reason I brought you here today. I had a feeling you would like this place. I have never done this before, other than for my sons. But I would like to propose you for membership to this club. I know you are someone who would enjoy it and use the membership to it's fullest.

Pudge couldn't believe what he just heard! “John I am honored but there is no way I could afford the initiation fee. Let alone the yearly dues!” The old man laughed “I know that! No young man your age can afford it. But I was thinking I bought memberships for each of my sons when they turned twenty one and to be honest over the time I have known you, I have started think of you like one of my sons. All I ask is in a few years when you can find a young man you believe in and propose membership for him.”

A tear started to run down Pudge's face as he wiped it away with a napkin “I don't know what to say” Pudge said in a weak voice.” The 50 year member playfully punched Pudge's arm and laughed “Don't say anything son. Drink your scotch and decide what you want to eat. Once we are done here I will take you to the billiard room and beat you at a game of pool. Wait. I will school you at pool! I think that’s how you kids say it.” Both men laughed.


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

Happy Holidays!

Whatever you celebrate this holiday season, may you have a joyous celebration filled with family, friends, and merriment!

The Night Before Christmas, Down At The Lodge

The Night Before Christmas, Down At the Lodge

'Twas the Night before Christmas, and down at the Lodge
Not a gavel was stirring, and in the hodge-podge

Of aprons and jewels and chairs East and West
you could savor the silence, most gladly divest

All metal and mineral, it mattered not,
since Christmas was nigh and the coals were still hot

In the hearth of your homestead, all Masons abed,
as visions of trestle boards danced in their head;

When up on the roof there arose such a clatter,
Our Tiler jumped up to see what was the matter!

He picked up his sword and ran fast to the door,
three knocks shook the panels - he wondered 'What for?'

He answered the knocking with, raps of his own,
and once the door opened he saw, with a moan

Of delight it was Santa, all jolly and red
Except for one notable feature Instead!

Upon his large finger lie wore what we knew
was compass and square on a background of blue!

'Why Santa!' he shouted and lowered his blade
'I see you're a Mason!' the Tiler relayed.

He looked toward the Master's most dignified chair
and said, voice near trembling, 'Most Worshipful there

Is a Gentleman properly clothed at the gate!'
The Master replied, 'Let's allow him - but wait!

You tell me a Gentleman, but I don't see
His Apron beneath that red suit, can it be

Our visitor hasn't been properly raised?
Must we offer a test that is suitably phrased?

'I do beg your pardon,' old' Santa said quick
As he pulled up his coat and displayed not a stick

But a cane with, engraving, two balls did appear
and oh, what an apron, he wore and held dear!

Adorned like the Master' complete with a sign
Of "Lodge Number One, the North Pole" on one line!

"Now let man enter," the Master declared,
and once in the Lodge room the Brethren all stared,

For Santa was wearing a jewel not seen
for many a century - there in between

The fur of his coat and the splendid red collar
gleamed two golden reindeer that shone like a dollar!

"It's Donner and Blitzen, who, I must confess
Are actually images brought from the West

By my Warden, a craftsman like none in the world!"
And with a great laugh from his bag he unfurled

An ear of fine corn and some oil from the east,
"My friend I have plenty, tonight we will feast

On all that is good! We are Masons, kind sir!"
A murmur went throughout the Lodge, quite a stir,

As presents and promises flew from his sack
This Santa, a Mason, showed he had a knack

For making this Christmas the best you could glean,
And soon even Deacons were laughing, they'd seen

On this very night only happiness reigned!
This jolly Saint Nicholas quickly explained

That only a Mason could be so inclined
to make all kids happy, make all people find

A Christmas so special, yes, Santa was right!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

I don't know where this came from originally.  It was forwarded to me.  I really enjoyed it, and thought you might enjoy it also. 

Merry Christmas!


From the Archives: The 50 Year Member - The Ghost of Christmas Past

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Holser, PM

The glistening white tablecloths were aglow from the flickering candles which danced in the shadows of the sparkling crystal glasses, sitting near the punch bowl, filled with homemade egg nog. Silver trays of colorful Christmas style cookies of every flavor.

Pudge chuckled to himself as the children of the lodge members would slowly walk up the beautifully laid table and take a handful of these sugary goodies and run back to the playroom which was set up for them in the corner of the temple’s ballroom. The kids were fully fueled by massive amounts of sugar as they ran away with a glint in their eyes thinking they had just pulled off the crime of the century.

The adults of the lodge were also filled with the holiday spirit. Pudge and his social room committee turned the Temples newly renovated social room into a winter wonderland which was lit only by candles and the twinkling colorful lights of Christmas tree sitting in the corner of the room. The committee had thought of everything including a sound system which was paired with wireless speakers hidden throughout the room playing a mix of soft music and Christmas classics which created a background for the joyful laughter and the clinking of crystal glasses. Pudge’s team even placed air fresheners in specific areas which tried give the illusion of a Christmas tree farm with a pine scent fragrance near the tree and a cinnamon scent near the refreshment table to give the illusion of someone baking.

The entire room was filled with smiles and laughter, except for one grinch sitting in a leather chair in the north part of the room, all alone.

Herbert Johnson was sitting all alone in a well-worn leather chair near the roaring fireplace. The older Past Master was sitting quietly, stating at his eggnog.

The 50-year member was talking to several Brethren when he spotted Herb sitting by himself. The old man walked over and sat down next to Herb, “What in the world is wrong with you? Did you find coal in your stocking?” Herb smiled a little and said quietly, “This old room, it looks so beautiful. Reminds me of the good old days.”

“Remember all the parties we used to have in here John? I keep thinking of all the old guys we used to have at these parties. They're all gone now. It’s like traveling back in time.” The 50-year member smiled and grabbed Herb’s hand. “Those were great times. I’m sure they are looking down at us smiling. But I’m sure they would be the first to tell you how lucky we are these kids started joining the lodge, and how they made it a point to restore this room back to what it once was.”

“I guess,” Herb started, “they are good kids but we have to be so PC now. Back in the old days, we called this a Christmas party. Now, to be Politically correct, it has to be a Holiday party! What’s wrong with saying, Merry Christmas for corn’s sake?!”

The 50 year member chuckled “There is nothing wrong with saying Merry Christmas. I’m sure if you said that greeting to anyone here no one would take offense. But in all honesty back then we should never refer to the party back then as a Christmas party.”

The 50 year member continued, “Herb we didn’t think about it much back then but Masonry wasn’t a Christian order back then and I bet there were non-Christians in the lodge back then but we didn’t think about things like that all those years ago.”

“Nowadays this lodge has men of all kinds of different faiths. It’s the same reason we have all of those Volumes of Sacred Law on our altar. Did you notice the Menorah on that table over there? That was donated to the lodge by Brother Epstein and his family. We have men who celebrate Christmas, Ramadan, Kwanza as well as Hanukah this time of year. It would not be fair to any of them to slight their beliefs in favor of ours. Especially since we all took the same oath to look out for each other.”

“I guess you are right John.” Herbert said “While I am sitting here missing the past I'm also missing the present. I should be thankful we are still here on Earth,  and thanks to these younger Brethren we still have a future.” The 50 year member arose from his chair, smiled and replied ”Exactly! So now quit sitting there like a lump and come join the rest of us. It’s about time for Santa Claus to pass out presents to the kids. Even a grumpy old guy like you will have to get a kick out of that.”

Herb smiled “Yes, I will John. Thank you for pulling me into the present. I think I will grab some cookies and freshen up this eggnog before the jolly old elf arrives. Merry Christmas Brother and Thank you.” The 50 year member put his arm around Herb’s back as they joined the party “No need to thank me, Brother, that’s what we're here for.”


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

The Hanukkah Story

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

I was amazed to see that when I did a search of the blog that we only had one article that referenced Hanukkah.  In an attempt to rectify this, I decided to set out to share the story of the Hanukkah celebration.  I believe that it ties in with Freemasonry because it involves the history of the Second Temple. 

In 175 BCE.  Antiochus IV becomes the ruler of the Seleucid Empire.  This empire began in 323 BCE, with the death of Alexander the Great.  Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander's generals, became the leader of a very large and culturally diverse empire, although the main cultural influence was Greek, and he expanded the territory and established his dynasty.  Seleucus' son, Antiochus I along with his son Antiochus II fought against the Egyptian emperor, Ptolemy II, as well as the Celts, who threatened their borders. Antiochus III, son of Antiochus II, expanded the empire to include parts of Judea and Syria (which had been part of the Ptolemic Empire).  

By the end of Antiochus III's reign, he had lost Greece to the Roman Empire at the battle of Thermopylae in 191 BCE (not to be confused with the stand of the 300 Spartans against the Persians that took place in 480 BCE) and subsequent defeats against the Roman Army and Navy, he had lost Asia Minor and he was forced to sue for Peace. As a result of the Treaty of Apamea, Antiochus III was forced to abandon all of his empire north and west of the Taurus Mountains, pay Rome tribute and have members of his family held as political hostages. Consequently, with his military power waning, the outlying provinces of his empire began to reassert their independence. Antiochus III mounted a new military expedition in Luristan (which is now part of Iran), where he was killed while pillaging a temple in 187 BCE.

Upon the death of Antiochus III, his son, Seleucus IV Philopator, became ruler of the Seleucid empire. His brother Antiochus IV was held as a hostage in Rome as part of the Treaty of Apamea.  Antiochus IV later was released in exchange for his nephew and heir to the empire, Demetrius I Soter.  Upon the assassination of his brother in 175 BCE, Antiochus through political maneuvering, usurped the Throne and became ruler of the Seleucid Empire. While his father, Antiochus III was friendly towards the Jewish people, Antiochus IV was not.  At the time, Jerusalem was part of the Ptolemic empire.  In 168 BCE, Antiochus IV attacked the Empire, and conquered Jerusalem.  In an attempt to unite his empire under Hellenistic customs and religions, he replaced the High Priest of the Temple with a political ally, Joshua, who changed his name to the Hellenic name: Jason.  

Jason encouraged the practice of Hellenistic culture at the temple, including the building of a gymnasium, where men exercised in the nude; as well as using temple funds to help Antiochus IV's war effort.  Things turned worse when Jason's messenger to Antiochus IV, Menelaus who was carrying the temple funds, convinced Antiochus IV to replace Jason with him. He promised Antiochus IV an increase of funds from the Temple.  While he was away, Menelaus, appointed his brother, Lysimachus, as High Priest. Lysimachus stole several religious artifacts from the Temple, which led to riots by the Jewish populace.

As a result of the strife, Antiochus IV, outlawed the practice of Judaism, including circumcision, Torah study, and kashrut (the obeying of Jewish dietary laws).  He erected an altar to Zeus in the Temple, stripped it of its remaining holy objects, and ordered the sacrifice of pigs (a non-kosher animal) in the Temple.  

In 167 BCE, after the altar to Zeus was erected, according to the Books of the Maccabees, a group of Hellenistic officers sent by Antiochus IV came to Mattathias, who was a popular Jewish leader.  The officers offered him political benefits to continue to desecrate the Temple with further sacrifices to Zeus.  Mattathias refused, and in the melee that followed, he killed a Jewish collaborator and one of the envoys of the emperor.  He then fled into the mountains with his friends and his five sons (John, Simon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah). 

For the next three years, Mattathias and his sons led a series of battles against the Seleucid army.  At first, they mainly fought guerilla actions, but over time, they began to organize a true army, and made strategic alliances with Sparta and later Rome.  Judah, one of Mattathias sons, was given the name Yehuda HaMakabi or Maccabee meaning "The Hammer", a reference to his ability to destroy his enemies. In 164 BCE, the Maccabees retook Jerusalem and the Temple.  

When the Maccabees and their followers retook the Temple, they reinstituted Jewish law and purified the Temple.  A new altar was built, and new sacred vessels were crafted.  One of the most important ways to rededicate the Temple was the lighting of the Menorah, or seven-branched candelabra, which was to remain lit all night, every night.  Ordinary oil could not be used for this purpose, as according to Talmudic law, only purified, blessed and properly sealed oil could be used.  Only one flask of this oil was remaining in the Temple.  The Jews lit the menorah, knowing that they only had enough oil to keep the lamp lit for a single night.  According to 1 Maccabees, the oil miraculously burned for eight full nights until a new supply of holy oil could be delivered.  This miracle led to the creation of the eight-day Hannukah or "festival of lights". 

Modern scholars believe that rather than battling the Seleucid Empire, that the Maccabees and their followers were fighting against Hellenized Jews.  They believe that Antiochus IV was intervening in a Jewish civil war on the side of the Hellenists, who had been a majority group and force in the Seleucid empire.

To our Jewish brethren, Chag sameach!


WB Darin A. Lahners is our Managing Editor. He is a host and producer of the "Meet, Act and Part" podcast. He is currently serving the Grand Lodge of Illinois Ancient Free and Accepted Masons as the Area Education Officer for the Eastern Masonic Area. He is a Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph. He is also a plural member of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL), where he is also a Past Master. He’s also a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, Salt Fork Shrine Club under the Ansar Shrine, and a grade one (Zelator) in the S.C.R.I.F. Prairieland College in Illinois. He is also a Fellow of the Illinois Lodge of Research. He was presented with the Torok Award from the Illinois Lodge of Research in 2021. You can reach him by email at

From the Archives: The 50 Year Member - Part Nine: Those That Are Lost

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Bill Hosler, PM

It was a beautiful sunny day and Pudge was having lunch on the outdoor patio of his favorite bistro. He was reading a book on his e-reader while munching on a turkey Panini and a bowl of soup. The sandwich went very well with the soup and gave him the mental break he was in need of from the long morning at work.
As Pudge sat at the table, not paying attention to his surroundings, a voice brought him back to reality, “Pudge?” a voice said. Pudge looked around to see where the voice was coming from. “Randy”, Pudge exclaimed! He rose from his seat while putting his hand out, “long time no see! How have you been?” Pudge then motioned for him to sit and join him.
Randy replied as he placed his tray on the table and pulled up a seat, “It has been a long time. How have you been?” Pudge smiled and said, “I have been good. Just work, oh the usual stuff. I haven’t seen you at lodge in forever. Where have you been?” The smile left Randy’s face as he began to look uncomfortable. “I have decided I am not going back to lodge,” Randy said feeling apprehensive. “It just wasn’t for me.”
Pudge began to feel sad. He had liked Randy and had hoped he would become an active member of the lodge.  “Oh man that’s awful! Did we do something wrong?” “No! Not at all, Randy said. It just wasn’t what I expected Freemasonry to be. I watched movies and I read a lot of books before I joined. I thought I would learn something from lodge. I wanted to find a way to become a better man. All that seemed to happen when I attended were long winded reports given by the secretary and treasurer followed by a bunch of the older guys bickering.” 
“When I did attend, you and a couple of the other guys were the only ones who even said hello to me. Everyone else seemed to sit and talk to each other, which made it feel like those cliques we all experienced in high school. It really bothered me.  It was much different from the night I was raised, where everyone congratulated me and slapped me on the back while they told me how happy they were to have me as a brother.  Then the very next meeting they didn’t even bother to greet me. After a couple of meetings like this I thought to myself, why did I bother to come? I could be at home right now with my wife and kids. After missing a couple of meetings and it became obvious no one noticed I was not there, I thought well heck with it.”
Pudge felt really bad. Like the others, he had not noticed Randy had not attended and that no one had called to check on him. Pudge felt really disappointed with himself. “I’m so sorry Randy. I’m just as guilty as everyone else. I get so wrapped in my day to day schedule I had noticed you weren’t there. I guess I thought you were busy too. I never stopped to think about it.”
Randy smiled and said “It’s OK Pudge; I know you aren’t like that. I meant the lodge as a whole. It seemed like once I got through the degrees they didn’t care about me anymore.” Pudge understood how he felt. When he was first raised he had felt the same way. If he had not struck up a friendship with the 50 year member it would not have been long and he would have given up too.
“Let me ask you a question Randy,” Pudge said as he took a sip of his latte. “If there was a way I could make Freemasonry the way you had expected it to be, would you come back?” Randy sat for a second contemplating his answer. “I would give it a shot. But there would have to be a big change to get me to come back.” Pudge removed the napkin from his lap and placed it on his plate. “I have to get back to work, but let me work on a few things and I will give you a call. I promise to get back to you soon.” Randy smiled and said, “OK. I promise to keep an open mind and listen to you what you have to say.”
Pudge rose from his seat and took Randy’s hand and gave him the grip of a Master Mason. “I am very sorry. I didn’t fulfill my obligation to you and I do miss seeing you at lodge. I hope I can make things so that you will come back.” Randy shook Pudge’s hand as he replied, “I miss seeing you too and can’t wait to hear from you. Have a great day!”
The rest of Pudge’s work days seem to drag. It seemed he couldn’t get his mind off Randy and his opinion of the lodge and Freemasonry in general. It was really sad because he remembered how enthusiastic Randy was when he was going through the degrees. He was excited and could barely contain himself the night he was raised. How quickly the zeal faded and was replaced with disappointment. Pudge began to wonder how many other young men slipped through the cracks the way that Randy did. 
After dinner, the 50 year member was sitting in his recliner reading the newspaper. After a few minutes of reading, the old man fell asleep in his chair. It was part of his nightly ritual where he would snore in his chair until the wife would wake him and ask if he was ready to go to bed. 
As the old man was sleeping, the sound of the doorbell awakened him. As the 50 year member got up from his chair he checked his watch, “Who in the world could this be?” he wondered to himself. He opened the door and could see it was Pudge standing on the doorstep. “Hey Pudge”, the old man said as he wiped the sleepy from his eyes. “Come on in! Have you had supper yet?” “Oh yeah, I’m fine. We need to talk. I’m not interrupting anything am I?” The old man laughed, “I was just resting my eyes. Come on in the den.”
As the men sat down in the den, the 50 year member asked, “So Pudge, what’s on your mind?”  Pudge leaned forward in his chair, “I ran into Randy Petty today. He decided he is going to quit our lodge. Not because of his work or family, but because he doesn’t feel included. He also said expected to learn something when he attended a meeting. To only have bickering and the reading of the minutes was quite a surprise to him. I guess in a nutshell he expected National Treasure and he got Grumpy Old Men. After talking to him, I started to wonder about all the young guys we have brought into lodge that quit coming.  Maybe their leaving was for the same reason.”

The old man sighed and leaned back into his chair, “I expect quite a few. This needs to be corrected. We need to come up with some way to bring these men back into the lodge and make them feel welcome. Let’s come up with some ideas that might interest them into coming back. We then need to contact them. I would prefer we visit them in person when we invite them back. I have a couple of ideas and some different ways we might be able to fix this.” 


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

From the Archives: The Eggnog Riot!

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB. Robert H. Johnson

Yes, you read that right, The Eggnog Riot. It all started back in December of 1826, when some cadets of the West Point Military Academy wanted to smuggle whiskey into said academy for the Christmas party. At that time, alcohol possession, drunkenness and intoxication were absolutely prohibited and would result in expulsion. Even use of tobacco or gambling would get you minor incarceration, loss of privileges etc.

Once the cadets had learned that the eggnog would have to be alcohol free, they promptly decided to smuggle some in. On December 22nd, a few cadets, namely William R. Burnley, Alexander J. Center and Samuel Alexander Roberts were at Martin's Tavern and almost got into a fight with another local watering hole over the business of getting this much sought after whiskey into West Point.

The three cadets managed to convince Private James Dougan to let them cross the Hudson River to smuggle the whiskey in. They had only planned on acquiring one half gallon of whiskey as a base for the eggnog, however they ended up with a whole lot more than that.

Thanks to Phillip St. George who was the Duty Guard for that day (24 hour shift), the three cadets managed to score two gallons of whiskey for the Christmas party which would be taken back to the North Barracks in room #33. However it may have been help from Bro. T. M. Lewis who came through with the clutch when he acted accordingly to acquire a gallon of rum which he delivered to North Barracks Room #5.

The cadets made their plans and while Superintendent Sylvanus Thayer was attending his own administrative holiday party, the cadets, including Bro. Jefferson Davis (President of the Confederate States During the Civil War) started to party as well, even Robert E. Lee was present. The movie Animal House comes to mind. Below is a time line of events which eventually ended with court-martials and expulsions.

Follow along carefully...

24–25 December 1826 - 22:00 to 04:15
Nathaniel Eaton (Massachusetts) was the cadet in charge of the external post of the North Barracks. Captain Ethan Allen Hitchcock, a faculty member in military tactics, was also stationed in the North Barracks. Eaton and Hitchcock met and discussed the smuggled liquor in the North Barracks.

The eggnog party started among nine cadets in North Barracks Room No. 28. Numerous cadets appeared as the party progressed, while another party began in Room No. 5, mentioned by seven cadets including Davis. Farrelly went again to North's or Havens and returned with another gallon of whiskey early on Christmas morning.

Cadet Charles Whipple (Michigan Territory), the division superintendent during the first part of the incident, went to North Barracks Room No. 5 at 02:00 after hearing a commotion, interrupting a round of singing among eight cadets, including Davis. Whipple returned to his room after a verbal exchange with Davis and the other cadets. Hitchcock made another patrol around the barracks at 03:00. Lieutenant William A. Thornton was asleep while the events unfolded.

By 04:00, voices from the floor above Hitchcock were loud enough to cause the faculty member to investigate Room No. 28, where Hitchcock knocked on the door and found six cadets drunk from the eggnog, as well as two others sleeping on a bed. Hitchcock ordered two of the cadets back to their rooms. After they left, Hitchcock woke the two sleeping cadets and ordered them to leave as well. Then he confronted Cadet James W.M. "Weems" Berrien (Georgia), who responded with equal force. Hitchcock read the Riot Act to the residents of the room for possessing alcohol on the premises. The captain left the room at 04:15. Berrien began verbalising his rage toward Hitchcock, which led William D.C. "Billy" Murdock (District of Columbia) to lead an effort to organize a riot against Hitchcock.

25 December 1826 - 04:30 to 06:05
Hitchcock went down to his room to sleep. Three times he heard knocks on the door only to find no one there. After finding another cadet drunk, Hitchcock saw Davis head over to Room No. 5 where thirteen cadets were partying. Davis, seeing Hitchcock's arrival, warned the other cadets. The captain entered the room, ordering one of the cadets to open up another cadet's footlocker, but the cadet refused. Hitchcock ordered no more disorder, left the room, and started looking for Thornton around 04:50.

Meanwhile Thornton had strolled the North Barracks between 21:00 on the 24th and 02:00 on Christmas Day observing the ongoing partying, before going to sleep at 02:00. He was awoken by loud yells and, once out of his room, was attacked by two cadets. Thornton then put cadet William P.N. Fitzgerald (New York) under arrest for brandishing a weapon. Fitzgerald retreated from Thornton, then told two cadets in Room No. 29 about the arrest.

At this point, noises erupted from the South Barracks which distracted Thornton. While going to investigate that commotion, Thornton was knocked out by Roberts, who had been ejected from Room No. 28 by Hitchcock earlier that evening.

Davis was asleep, but other cadets went looking for Hitchcock. Three other cadets were discovered by Cadet James G. Overton (Tennessee), a relief sentinel and not involved in the parties, and questioned about their actions. They gave a drunken explanation about needing drums and a fife.

At around 05:00, Hitchcock found another inebriated cadet wandering the academy.

By this point, several window panes had been broken. Hitchcock returned to the room where he was staying, No. 8. Several cadets then attacked his door, Guion drawing his pistol and firing a shot into the room. Hitchcock opened the door and yelled at the cadets to stop. The captain then began arresting cadets.

Hitchcock ordered Eaton to find Worth's headquarters. Overton asked Hitchcock to find Thayer and Hitchcock replied "No, Mr. Overton. Fetch the 'com'(Commandant Worth) here!" Several of the drunken cadets thought Hitchcock had stated the Bombardiers would be the ones to quell the riot, using heavy weapons, causing several cadets who were not drunk to take up arms in defence of the North Barracks. Thayer had been awoken at 05:00 by the sound of drums. He ordered his aide, Patrick Murphy, to get Major Worth because of what he could hear going on in the North Barracks.

Hitchcock continued restoring order in the North Barracks, getting into a fight with Cadet Walter Otey (Virginia).Thornton awoke from the stairway where he had been knocked out and returned to his room. Hitchcock greeted him in his room at 05:45. By 06:00, other cadets who were not drinking were also involved in restoring order. The main rioters were attempting to recruit other cadets, but with no success.

Overton could not find Cadet Eaton, who was checking the South Barracks, but did find Major Worth. Hitchcock met Worth and told him what had transpired. By this time, Thayer's aide had arrived in the North Barracks' guardroom. The Second Artillery had arrived at the North Barracks by the time of Reveille at 06:05.


Reveille sounded at 06:05, along with gunfire, the sound of glass breaking, profanity by cadets, cries of pain, and threats on Academy officials. North Barracks residents who were not drunk from the eggnog were appalled by the damaged property. Cadets in the South Barracks were well rested, while other cadets in the North Barracks were disheveled. Some of the cadets remained in their rooms drinking, although some appeared in parade formation despite being drunk. Worth met with Superintendent Thayer after the first formation to discuss what had happened in the North Barracks the previous evening. Thayer instructed Worth to get the officers into the North Barracks and restore order.

Captain Mackay, Academy quartermaster, took down details of the damages to the property at North Barracks so repairs could take place in the following days. Many cadets who were drunk made it to company roll call at 06:20, though they were subdued. The mutiny officially ended when Cadet Captain James A.J. Bradford (Kentucky) called the corps to attention and dismissed them from the mess hall after breakfast. Chapel formation took place after breakfast, followed by two hours of service, with most of the drunk cadets still recovering.

Thayer was advised by Worth regarding the events at North Barracks. Captain Hitchcock and Lieutenant Thornton were bruised, while several cadets suffered minor injuries, and Fitzgerald suffered a hand injury. Worth told Thayer that between fifty and ninety cadets had been involved in the mutiny. Later that day, Thayer met with Governor Kemble, an ordnance manufacturer in Cold Spring, New York, to discuss different items, including the events at West Point. Kemble asked Thayer what he would do about the misconduct, to which Thayer replied he did not know.

26 December 1826 - 07:00–08:00

A faculty and staff meeting took place, with all but Captain Thomas C. Legate of the 2nd Artillery A Battery and a few assistant professors in attendance. Thayer informed them that Major General Alexander Macomb, Chief of Engineers and Inspector General of the Academy, had been told of the riot, and that he was awaiting orders from Macomb. The superintendent also informed the attendees that an inquiry would take place during semester finals in January 1827, so some of the cadets would face simultaneous examinations and inquiry.

Cadet Battalion Order 98 was read at formation and posted at several prominent locations at the Academy. Twenty-two cadets were placed under house arrest until further notice; among them was Davis, who had been reported as a malefactor by Hitchcock and Thornton.

Certainly a good time and a bunch of cadets, a handful of whom were Brothers of the craft were determined to have some spirits for their Christmas party. Perhaps keeping passions within due bonds was a lesson they forgot about. Either way, I hope you found the story interesting and maybe just a little funny. 

The timeline above was published on wikipedia with multiple cited references.

Bro. Robert Johnson, 32° is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the First North-East District of Illinois. He is the Master of Waukegan Lodge No. 78. He is also a member of the York Rite bodies Royal Arch, Cryptic Council, Knights Templar, AMD, The Illinois Lodge of Research and a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago as well as a charter member of the Society of King Solomon, a charity organization run by the Grand Lodge of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts a weekly Podcast (internet radio program) Whence Came You? which focuses on topics relating to Freemasonry. In addition, he produces video shorts focusing on driving interest in the Fraternity and writes original Masonic papers from time to time. He is a husband and father of three. He works full time in the safety industry and is also a photographer on the side as well as an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays.

From the Archives: Mistletoe: Mythology, Meaning, And A Representation Of The Craft

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Sir Knight Robert Johnson, 32°

December, the time of each year where the masses get ready to embrace a new year and rebirth. Holidays are plenty, Hanukkah, Christmas, The Solstice, Kwanza and during these time there are seasonal plants which bare special meanings. Two such plants ring aloud like a beautiful song, and when you put those notes on paper, you eyes would behold an evergreen and the mistletoe commonly brought into homes this time of year. The meaning of the Christmas tree goes back to Scandinavia, when the people would bring the still green tree into their homes as everything else died in the winter months. This was done as a good luck symbol, as a symbol of life that conquers death. We in Freemasonry call it the Acacia.

But as you have no doubt read, this article is entitled Mistletoe. The mistletoe has also an astounding significance to Freemasonry. The mistletoe was a sacred plant among the druids and symbolized immortality, again a direct correlation to our acacia. In Scandinavia they called it simply mistle. In Scandinavian mythology, the second son of Odin was named Balder. Balder had a dream that he would die, upon waking he held council with the Gods. His mother Frigga then cast a spell which gave him immunity from all harmful things, poisons, darts, water, earth, fire, birds, plants reptiles and beasts. After some time the Gods began to test Balder's immunity by sending danger his way. This displeased Loki, God of mischief. So he disguised himself as an old woman and secured from Balders mother the one thing omitted from the spell that protected her son. The shrub mistletoe. Loki fashioned a dart of mistletoe and gave it to the blind God of war who was still having fun testing his non-vulnerabilities, helped him take aim, and pierced Balders heart killing him.

The piercing of Balder's heart
Sorrow among the Gods was immeasurable. The tears of Balder's mother Frigga, are said to have formed the white berries on the mistletoe plant. And from then on Balder is said to to wait in Hades until the end of the world. The power of mistletoe to symbolically pierce ones heart by commanding a kiss from any who walk under it is what we perceive today. However mistletoe has one last interesting point that I wish to convey before the end of this short piece. It is a shrub that many cultures have deemed sacred because the leaves and berries always grow in three and come from one common stalk. Like Freemasonry, we two have three which delineate from one stalk or in our case the men who were first prepared to be a Masons in that place in which the mistletoe can pierce, the heart.

Happy Holidays!


Sir Knight Robert Johnson, 32° is a Freemason out of the First North-East District of Illinois. He belongs to Waukegan Lodge No. 78. He is also a member of the York Rite bodies Royal Arch, Cryptic Council and Knights Templar, and a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago.  Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts a weekly Podcast (internet radio program) Whence Came You? which focuses on topics relating to Freemasonry. In addition, he produces video shorts focusing on driving interest in the Fraternity and writes original Masonic papers from time to time. He is a husband and father of three. He works full time in the safety industry and is also a photographer on the side as well as an avid home brewer. He is also working on two books, one is of a Masonic nature.