Follow Us on Facebook

About Us

FREEMASONRY: A WAY OF LIFE

The fraternity of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons is the oldest, largest and most widely known fraternal organization in the world. Volumes have been written about it. Yet, too many, Freemasonry remains a mystery.

 

HISTORY

Some historians trace Freemasonry to the 10th Century B.C. during the building of King Solomon’s temple. Records reveal that Freemasonry was introduced into England in 647 A.D.

Freemasonry is directly descended from associations of operative masons, the cathedral builders of the Middle Ages, who traveled through Europe employing the secrets and skills of their crafts.

In the 17th Century, when cathedral building was on the decline, many guilds of stone masons, known as “operative masons” or “free masons,” started to accept as members those who were not members of the masons’ craft, calling them “speculative masons” or “accepted masons.”

It was from these groups, comprising most “adopted or accepted masons,” that Symbolic Masonry or Freemasonry, as we know it today, had its beginning.

 

GRAND LODGES

In 1717, four lodges of Freemasons meeting in London, England, formed the first grand lodge.

The first grand lodge chartered symbolic lodges and provincial grand lodges in many countries, including the United States.

Today there are more than 150 grand lodges in free countries of the world with a membership of more than 6 million.

The grand lodge is the administrative authority in its territory, known as jurisdiction.

In the United States there are 49 grand lodges, covering 48 states and the District of Columbia. Hawaii is under the Grand Lodge of California, and Alaska, the Grand Lodge of Washington.

There are approximately 4 million Freemasons in the 49 jurisdictions of the United States—nearly two-thirds of the world’s total.
 

SYMBOLIC LODGE

The basic unit of all grand lodges is the Symbolic Lodge, or “Blue Lodge,” as it is commonly known.

It is the symbolic lodge that issues petitions for membership, acts on petitions and confers the three symbolic degrees, known as the entered apprentice, fellow craft and master Mason degrees.

 

MEMBERSHIP

Membership is limited to adult males who can meet the recognized qualifications and standards of character and reputation.

A man becomes a Freemason through his own volition. No one is asked to join its ranks. When a man seeks admission to a symbolic Lodge, it is of his own free will and accord. The choice is his.

One of the customs of Freemasonry is not to solicit members. One seeking admission must have a desire and must request a petition from one whom he believes to be a Mason.

The petitioner must be recommended by two members of a Masonic Lodge and pass a unanimous ballot. The petitioner must be 18 years of age, mentally and physically competent, of good moral character, and believe in the existence of a Supreme Being.

 

MASONIC SECRECY

Contrary to what many believe, Freemasonry is not a secret society. It does not hide its existence or its membership.

There has been no attempt to conceal the purpose, aims and principles of Freemasonry. It is an organization formed and existing on the broad basis of brotherly love, relief and truth.

Its constitutions are published for the world to behold. Its rules and regulations are open for inspection.

It is true that we have modes of recognition, rites and ceremonies with which the world is not acquainted. In this regard, all human groups and institutions have private affairs. For instance, families have discussions on subjects which do not, and should not, concern their neighbors.

 

FREEMASONRY AND RELIGION

Freemasonry is not a religion even though it is religious in character. It does not pretend to take the place of religion nor serve as a substitute for the religious beliefs of its members.

Freemasonry accepts men, found to be worthy, regardless of religious convictions. An essential requirement is a belief in the existence of a Supreme Being.
 

WHAT IS FREEMASONRY?

Freemasonry is not an insurance or beneficial society. It is not organized for profit. However, the charity and services rendered are beyond measure.

It teaches monotheism. It teaches the Golden Rule. It seeks to make good men better through its firm belief in the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man and the immortality of the soul.

 

TENETS OF FREEMANSORY

The tenets of Freemasonry are ethical principles that are acceptable to all good men. It teaches tolerance towards all mankind.

It is known throughout the world, even behind the Iron Curtain where Masonry cannot exist.
Freemasonry proudly proclaims that it consists of men bound together by bonds of brotherly love and affection. It dictates to no man as to his beliefs, either religious or secular. It seeks no advantage for its members through business or politics.

Freemasonry is not a forum for discussions on partisan affairs.

 

A WAY OF LIFE

Freemasonry is kindness in the home, honesty in business, courtesy in society, fairness in work, pity and concern for the unfortunate, resistance toward evil, help for the weak, forgiveness for the penitent, love for one another and, above all reverence and love of God.

Freemasonry is many things, but most of all, Freemasonry is a way of life.

 

EARLY AMERICAN MASONRY

It was through the Grand Lodge of England that Masonry came to the American Colonies about 1733 and it was not long thereafter that lodges were established in all thirteen colonies. It played an important role in their struggle for independence.

Many distinguished Masons served in the Revolutionary War. In addition to the father of our Country, George Washington, there was General Israel Putnam, who commanded the American forces at Bunker Hill, and his aide, the distinguished patriot, physician and soldier, Dr. Joseph Warren, who died in the great battle, the first Mason to give his life for his country in the struggle for independence. 23 of the 39 signers of our Federal Constitution were members of the order.

George Washington became a Master Mason in Fredericksburg Virginia, when it was organized. During his term as president he served as Worshipful Master of that lodge.

Hosts of outstanding figures of American history—Presidents, Senators, and Representatives, Chief Justices, Governors and other statesmen were Masons and some can be counted as Grand Masters and many as Worshipful Masters.
 

MASONIC PRESIDENTS

George Washington - Fredericksburg, Virginia
Thomas Jefferson - Charlottesville, Virginia
James Madison - Westmoreland County, Virginia
James Monroe - Williamsburg, Virginia
Andrew Jackson  - Nashville, Tennessee
James K. Polk - Columbia, Tennessee
James Buchanan - Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Andrew Johnson - Greenville, Tennessee
James A. Garfield - Magnolia Lodge No. 20
William McKinley - Canton, Ohio
Theodore Roosevelt  - Oyster Bay, N.Y.
William H. Taft - Cincinnati, Ohio
Warren G. Harding - Marion, Ohio
Franklin D. Roosevelt - New York City, N.Y.
Harry S. Truman - Belton, Missouri
Gerald R. Ford - Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

FREEMASONRY IN ALLEGANY COUNTY, MARYLAND

Freemasonry came to Allegany County at a time when men were blazing the trail of progress westward and Cumberland was emerging from a settlement into a town. The first Lodge was established in Cumberland by a dispensation from the Grand Lodge in November, 1816. This body was known first as Allegany Lodge No. 61, but later changed its name to Cumberland Lodge No. 61

The first officers were: Worshipful Master, Dr. John M. Lawrence; Senior Warden, Matthew Wallace; Junior Warden, John A. Hoffman. Its charter was temporarily surrendered in 1828. Interest and activity among former members was renewed and application for a new charter was made in 1837. It was granted and George W. Haller was named as Worshipful Master.

In the iterim, however, a disasterous fire in Cumberland (April 14, 1833) had completely destroyed the rooms once occupied by the Lodge and all records and equipment were lost. After re-establishment, the Lodge prospered and its future outlook seemed good.
In 1839, Samuel M. Semmes deeded to the Masonic Fraternity in Cumberland a lot on the north side of Washington Street, (now No. 7), for the erection of a suitable building for the accommodation of the Fraternity. The cornerstone was laid with appropriate ceremonies on July 4, 1839.

For reasons, of which no records can be found, a number of members of a new Lodge. It was granted February 12, 1848, by Charles Gilman, Grand Master at that time. The new Lodge was named Gilman No. 90. Josiah Gordan became its Worshipful Master, James B. Gibbs, Senior Warden and Thomas Lieper Patterson its Junior Warden.

The division in the membership of Cumberland Lodge No. 61, by the formation of Gilman Lodge No. 90 brought about financial problems and the building, which had been erected and dedicated so auspiciously in 1839 and which had been their fraternal home for 12 years, was vacated at the exoiration of their lease August 10, 1852.

The two bodies then moved to new quarters located at the corner of Baltimore and Centre Streets. This building was completely destroyed by fire February 14, 1853, and all records of both Lodges were destroyed. Charters of both Lodges lapsed, however, in 1855, a new Lodge, Potomac No. 100 absorbed the members.

 

OHR LODGE NO. 131, A.F. & A.M.

CUMBERLAND, MARYLAND

Under the date of March 10, 1867, upon recommendation of Potomac Lodge No. 100, a dispensation was granted by Grand Master John M. Coates, to form a new lodge to be named, OHR LODGE No. 131. The Lodge was named in honor of Past Grand Master Dr. Charles H. Ohr, who had moved his residence from Baltimore to Cumberland around 1848. Because of his varied activities in the affairs of the Craft, it is a matter of record that to him, more than any other person, perhaps, was due the subsequent and substantial growth of Freemasonry in Allegany and Garrett County.

Our Lodge was chartered on May 13, 1867. The first elective officers were:

William Darrow…………………................Worshipful Master
George M. Deetz……………………………………….Senior Warden
William J. Taylor………………………………………. Junior Warden

William H. Loudermilk, who wrote an early history of Cumberland, was the first candidate to receive the degrees in the new lodge.

The first meetings were held in the Masonic rooms at 30 North Mechanic Street, afterwards moving to the “Little: building on Baltimore Street, sharing rooms with Potomac lodge No. 100. Rooms were next occupied in the new City hall from 1876 until March 14, 1910, when the City Hall was destroyed by fire. The Masonic bodies lost all property and many records. Subsequent meetings were held in the Schwarzenbach Building, 171 Baltimore Street, until the present Masonic Temple was dedicated on November 12, 1912, by Grand Master Thomas J. Shryock and Grand Lodge Officers.

The Thirtieth Anniversary was celebrated May 13, 1897. The anniversary committee was composed of William P. Rizer, W.M., Charles W. Donnelly, Henry A. Bachman and Charles A. Steiner. Officers for the year 1897 were:

William P. Rizer……………………………………………..Worshipful Master
Charles A. Steiner…………………………………………..Senior Warden
Joseph C. Kennedy………………………………………….Junior Warden
Louis C. White………………………………………………Senior Deacon
Carl C. Hetzel………………………………………………Junior Steward
George Bramble…………………………………………….Senior Steward
Charles M. Mansbach…………………………………….....Junior Steward
Harry A. Pitzer……………………………………………....Secretary
William T. Allee……………………………………………...Treasurer
James W. Donnelly………………………………………….Tyler

Membership was 94.

The program included work in the third degree, dinner and ceremonies with Judge David W. Sloan presiding. Speakers were: Thomas Footer, R.W., Junior Grand Warden; William P Rizer, W.M. Ohr Lodge; Charles W. Donnelly, P.M. Ohr; Eugene Hammond, Grand Inspector Third Masonic District; Dr. Charles H. Ohr, Past Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Maryland and Frank C. Grand Inspector Second Masonic District.

The Sixty-Fourth Anniversary observance was held May 13, 1931. The lodge convened at 5:30 p.m. The Third Degree was conferred on one candidate. Dinner was served in the Assembly Hall, after which a program followed with P.M. William A. Huster as principal speaker.

An outstanding event in 1893 was that of the laying of the cornerstone of the new Court House, then under construction. The ceremony was under the auspices of Ohr Lodge with Deputy Grand Inspector Eugene Hammond officiating as Worshipful Master. The Lodge conducted the ceremonies incident to the laying of the cornerstone of the New City Hall on June 6, 1911. The cornerstone of the new Masonic Temple was laid the same day by Grand Master Thomas J. Shryock and his staff of Grand Lodge officers.

 

Other cornerstone ceremonies include the First Presbyterian Church, Washington Street; Allegany County High School, Greene Street; Central Y.M.C.A., Baltimore Avenue and the Ali Ghan Shrine Club.

 

The 75th Anniversary was celebrated May 14, 1942. A dinner was served in the Banquet Hall of the Temple with 170 members present. A 32 page souvenir program was prepared which contained a progress report of activities over the years and also photographs of some of the officers from 1897 to 1942. A feature of the dinner was the presentation of a 50 pound birthday cake. The third degree was exemplified with Past Masters filling the chairs.

In the early 1940’s a choir was organized, composed of Ohr members, which entertained on special occasions.

The One Hundredth Anniversary was celebrated in May, 1967, beginning with Divine Worship at St. Lukes Lutheran Church, on Sunday, May 7, at 11 a.m. The Anniversary Communication was held Thursday, May 11, in the Temple. The Jubilee Banquet, for members and their Ladies took place at the Ali Ghan Shrine Club. On Thursday, May 25, the Lodge was honored by the presence of the Most Worshipful Grand Master Hon. W. Norman Penn. Degree work was presented by Cumberland Assembly No. 6, Order of Rainbow for Girls. Other special events were observed during the Centennial Year. Officers in 1967 were:

Worshipful Master…………………………………………………………....…John T. Morris
Senior Warden………………………………………………………………….William F. Taylor
Junior Warden…………………………………………………………………..G. Allan Twigg
Acting Senior Deacon…………………………………………………………..David W. Abernathy, P.M.
Junior Deacon…………………………………………………………………..Leonard Brewer
Senior Steward…………………………………………………………………Wilbert F. Mowen
Junior Steward…………………………………………………………………Harry F. Hess
Secretary………………………………………………………………………Frank J. Byer, P.M.
Treasurer………………………………………………………………………Elmer J. Hite, P.M.
Chaplain……………………………………………………………………….Randolph C. Swann, P.M.
Tyler…………………………………………………………………………...Frederick W. Schanning, P.M.

 

FORT CUMBERLAND LODGE NO. 211, A.F. & A.M.
CUMBERLAND, MARYLAND

Fort Cumberland Lodge was chartered May 13, 1913, and on June 24 a special communication of the Grand Lodge of Maryland was held in the Temple for the purpose of constituting the new Lodge and installing the officers thereof. The Chartered members numbered sixty-two, representing thirty-two Lodges from nine Masonic jurisdictions.

This was the first new lodge to be chartered in Cumberland since Ohr Lodge No. 131 was so formed forty-six years before in May, 1867. It was also the first Lodge to be constituted in the newly built Temple which had been dedicated only a few months previously on November 12, 1912.

Many different names were suggested for the new organization, however, the one finally adopted was deemed to be the most appropriate since the Temple was situated on the site of old Fort Cumberland, thereby giving the Lodge an historic background worthy of remembrance.

The first officers were: Harry E. Kenah, Worshipful Master; Franklin H. AnKeney, Senior Warden; Irving T. Holland, Junior Warden; john R. Atkinson, Secretary; John E. Edwards, Treasurer; George O. Sharrett, Senior Deacon; Harry Footer, Junior Deacon; W.R.E. King, Senior Steward; and Harry W. Fielding, Junior Steward.

With invaluable help from Potomac and Ohr Lodges in its early years, Fort Cumberland became firmly established as a local Masonic body.
In 1923 the Lodge was honored by being selected as one of two Maryland Lodges to receive and use the George Washington Memorial Traveling Bible. This Bible was being exhibited and used in every state of the Union in selected Masonic Lodges, having been started on its travels, several years before, and after completing its journey was placed in the George Washington National Memorial at Arlington, Virginia.

The minutes contain references of many outstanding events, anniversary celebrations, visits by the Grand Master and his Staff Officers along with other activities.

The Lodge had one member who received a 70-year pin—William R. E. King and three others who were accorded 60 year honors: John R. Atkinson, Franklin H. Ankeney and Thomas E. Gilchrist, Sr. A large number, over the years, received 50 honors.

The fiftieth anniversary was celebrated May 13, 1963, with a dinner and program at the Ali Ghan Shrine Club for members and wives. There were 280 reservations and the affair was honored by the presence of the Most Worshipful Grand Master Ernest L. Poyner and 27 of his line officers and wives.