Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Bro. Benjamin Franklin's Quest for LearningYoung Ben Franklin would sacrifice just about anything for an opportunity to learn. Early on, he was so attracted to learning and teachings that his father believed him headed for the ministry. But since his family had no money for a college education, he ended his schooling at ten years old, apprenticing with his father as a candle maker, then to his brother James as a printer. Finding himself with little spare money for books or spare time for study, Franklin devised a plan. In his own words "I happened to meet with a book recommending a vegetable diet. I determined to [adopt] it and then proposed to my brother that if he would give me the money he paid for my board, I would board myself. He agreed, and I presently found that I could save half what he paid me. This was an additional fund for buying books. "But I had another advantage in it. My brother and the rest going from the Printing House to their meals, I remained there alone, and [eating] my light [meal] (which often was no more than a biscuit or a slice of bread, a handful of raisins or a tart...and a glass of water) had the rest of the time until their return, for study, in which I made the greater progress from that greater clearness of head and quicker apprehension which usually attend temperance in eating and drinking."(1)Benjamin Franklin understood the value of reading and learning early on. His passion for learning laid the foundation for his successful career as inventor, poet, philosopher and statesman. (1)Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 16-17.

July 5, 1810 Born - Bro. Phineas Taylor Barnum, Promotor of the bizarre and unusual. Barnum's American Museum opened in 1842, promoting unusualacts including the Feejee Mermaid, Chang and Eng (the original Siamese twins), and General (and Bro.) Tom Thumb. In 1815 he began his promotion of Jenny Lind, "The Swedish Nightingale, " and parlayed her singing talents into a major financial success. Barnum also cultivated a keen interest in politics,founding the newspaper, Herald of Freedom whose editorials resulted ion numerous lawsuits and a short term in jail for Barnum. In 1852 he declined the Democratic nomination for Governor of Connecticut, but did serve two terms in the Connecticut legislature, beginning in 1865. He was defeated in his bid for US Congress in 1866, but served as Mayor of Bridgeport, CT from 1875 to 1876. In 1871, "The Greatest Show on Earth" opened in Brooklyn, NY. Barnum then merged with his rival J.A. Bailey in 1881 to form the Barnum and Bailey circus. Bro. P.T. Barnum was born at Bethel, CT. and died at Bridgehport, CT. on April 7, 1891. Source: American Mason magazine)

DeWitt Clinton - Masonic EnigmaDe Witt Clinton was a prominent and popular American statesman, born 1769, died 1828. He was a political figure in New York State from 1797 to his death in office. He was United States Senator 1801 - 1803; resigned to become Mayor of New York City In 1817, he was elected Governor of the State which position he held until his death, except 1822 24, and in that capacity was a leader in the formation of public schools ion New York which became the model for the nation. He was made a Freemason in 1793, Grand Master in 1806, Grand Master of Knights Templar in 1814, and General Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons in 1816. He was responsible for the building of the Erie Canal, some times called "the Eighth Wonder of the World" and at other times "Clinton's Ditch." The Canal was a major factor in the opening of the west, and establishing New York as a leading commercial center. He was unfortunate in being prominent in the political and Ma sonic fields at the time two serious complication arose,(1) the clandestinism of Joseph Cerneau (q.v. 1807-1827 and (2) the Morgan Affair (q.v.) of 1826, although he did not live to see the most deplorable consequences of the latter. He became a member of and for several years head of the Cerneau body in New York, and the statement that he later withdrew is contradicted by the minutes of that body. Although Governor when Morgan was abducted in 1826 and subject to the popular hue and cry, he never wavered in allegiance to the Fraternity, but denounced the act as irresponsible and unauthorized action of mistaken individuals. At the height of this anti-Masonic craze he said: "I know that Freemasonry is friendly to religion, morality, liberty and good government. I shal1 never shrink under any state of excitement, or any extent of misapprehension, from hearing testimony in favor of the purity of an institution which can boast of a Washington and a Franklin and a Lafayette as distinguished members which inculcates no principles and authorizes no acts that are not in accordance with good morals, civil liberty and entire obedience to the government and the laws." His influence probably had the effect of softening the blows which afterwards became quite severe. (Source: Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia)

Bro. Henry Ford Caused Clockls to Shudder
While his brothers had a passion for playing sports, young BRO. Henry Ford had a passion for playing with machinery. According to biographers Peter Collier and David Horowitz, a neighbor was known to have said, "Every clock in the Ford home shudderedwhen it saw (Henry) coming."(1) Collier and Horowitz tell us that Henry would often spend all day walking to Detroit just to visit the hardware stores and look over watchmaking tools. And while people started calling him "queer duck," his mother called him a "born mechanic" and encouraged him in his mechanical endeavors. Bro. Henry Ford found his passion early in life. Add to that timely encouragement from his mother -- plus a lot of hard work -- and you have one of the great formulas for success. (1)Peter Collier and David Horowitz, The Fords (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), p. 21-22.

How Were/When Were Railroad Lodges Born?
Railroad Lodges were generally found in communities that housed what was called "Section Gangs" on the railroad. These were railroad track men who were responsible for maintaining a section of railroad, and hence, usually were/are found in small communities that, were it not for the railroad, would be called farming communities. These Lodges usually met on Friday nights, since track work generally went on till dusk, and track gangs normally quit early on Friday, giving them enough time to go home, clean up, and have supper before Lodge meeting. I've been in have talked to some fine Masons who are members of "Railroad Lodges." For example, a good friend and Mason who is a member of Gordonsville, VA Lodge once invited me to stated (which I believe was on a Friday evening) with the disclaimer: "It's a Railroad Lodge." Where to look for Railroad Lodges? Find a map of all the railroads in Virginia (or elsewhere), and search for where the old depots were...Most of those towns will have been, or had a Railroad Lodge at some point. City lodges, such as Widow's Sons' #60 in Charlottesville, VA where I am SW, may might have a Railroad Lodge in the background somewhere, but are farremoved from it today. However, many small railroad communities maintain fairly fresh memories of track gangs and the Railroad Lodge. Thanks to Bro. Tim Edwards who grew up in Verona, KY...A section gang town surrounded by farms. His Father railroaded for the L&N Railroad for 30+ years, and Bro. Tim was raised in Verona Lodge, #876, Verona, KY, which was a Railroad Lodge and met on Friday evenings.



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