by Ed Halpaus
Grand Lodge Education Officer
Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Minnesota
"While those around us are groping in the darkness of ignorance, and are
enthralled by superstition, educated men are in search of truth along the
pathway of knowledge." W.E.H. Lecky1
This publication is printed with the permission of the Most Worshipful Grand
Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Minnesota.
"We don't make mistakes, we just have - learning's." Ann Wilson Shaef
I read or heard something once about the importance of a comma, maybe you've
heard about it too. The importance is in the placement of a comma, as it puts
emphasis in different places depending where it's placed, if it's placed at all
in a sentence. For instance, in the answer to this question; "What come you here
to do? (I'm sure you've run across this question somewhere in your travels.) A
man might answer it is in this way; "To learn to subdue my passions, and improve
myself in Masonry." I'd like to suggest another way by the use of the comma,
like this: "To learn, to subdue my passions, and improve myself, in Masonry."
Answering it the first way implies I want to learn how to subdue my passions,
and thus improve myself. The other way, by the use of the comma, the answer
implies that I want to learn, and I want to subdue my passions, and thus improve
myself in and through Masonry. Well, I thought the business about comma
placement was interesting, and while the answer might be rattled off as though
in a ritual, in my mind I will think of it with the commas. I do want to learn.
I do want to subdue my passions. I do want to improve myself, in Masonry. I
don't know about you, but for me, and some others, it's a lifetime job.
"You don't raise heroes, you raise sons, and if you treat them like sons,
they'll turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes. Brother
Walter Shirra Jr.
Has anyone ever accused you of belonging to a secret society? Or, has someone
said to you that Freemasonry is a secret society? Well I know those kinds of
questions come up from friends, acquaintances, and sometimes a family member, if
you haven't been asked it that's good. There is some good information that a
Masons should know in order to give an answer to the question though, should it
A secret society is one in which the members are not known. A society that
exists without common knowledge could be called a secret society. Masonry is not
a secret society. Freemasonry is well known. Masons proudly wear a well known
and recognized emblem of the fraternity as a lapel pin, belt buckle, ring, or
even a bumper sticker on their car. In America, Masonic Lodges publish
membership lists and distribute them to their members and Grand Lodges regularly
publish the proceedings of the Grand Lodge Communication listing not only the
proceedings but also, the members of the Grand Lodge who were in attendance.
Local Lodges, and Grand Lodges, are quite visible in the towns and cities where
they are located. If they have a telephone they're listed in the phone book.
It's obvious that Freemasonry is not a secret society, or if someone were to
still insist that it might be one we, as Masons, are obviously not very good at
keeping our fraternity a secret.
"The initiate takes an obligation of secrecy; if he will carefully consider the
language of that obligation, he will see that it concerns the forms and
ceremonies, the manner of teaching, certain modes of recognition. There is no
obligation of secrecy regarding the truths taught by Freemasonry, otherwise such
a book as this could not lawfully be written." 2
Secrecy is a common fact of everyday life. Our personal and private affairs are
ours, not to be shared with anyone we don't wish to share them with. Business
secrets are often of value in direct proportion to the success of keeping them.
Diplomacy is conducted in secret. Board meetings, business of banks, and
business houses are secret from those who don't have a need to know what the
transactions are. A man and his wife have private understandings for no one else
to know. So it seems all of us in everyday life privately and in our work have
things we want to keep private. Freemasonry keeps some things private from the
un-initiated for similar reasons.
Claudy Says; "The secrecy [the privacy] of Masonry is an honorable secrecy; any
good man may ask for her secrets; those who are worthy will receive them. To
give them to those who do not seek, or who are not worthy, would but impoverish
the fraternity and enrich not those who receive them." "Freemasonry is anxious
to give of her secrets to worthy men fit to receive them but not all are worthy,
and not all the worthy seek." "He who seeks Freemasonry out of curiosity for her
secrets must be bitterly disappointed." 3
" A line is length without breath." "There is no 'royal road' to Geometry."
Euclid 300 b.c.e.
In the book Centennium from the Grand Lodge of Minnesota is a short paragraph
about the death of Right Worshipful Brother Aaron Goodrich on June 24, 1887 at
the age of 80 years. The headline for the article is titled "Death Of A
Founder." It mentions that Brother Goodrich was absent from Minnesota from 1861
until his return in the early 1870's, and that he had resumed his former
interest in the fraternity. Brother Goodrich is listed in 10,000 Famous
Freemasons, his date of death isn't listed, however, but now you know the date.
Brother Goodrich was one of the founders of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota and was
its first Deputy Grand Master. He was the first Chief Justice of the Minnesota
Territory. Prior to coming to the Territory of Minnesota he had been a member of
the Tennessee State Legislature.
From the early history of Minnesota we learn that in
1853 the Territory of Minnesota stretched from the St.Croix and Mississippi
Rivers on the east to the Missouri River in the west, and bounded on the north
by the Territory of British North America, and on the south by the then
recently constituted state of Iowa. Travel throughout the Territory of
Minnesota through the lands occupied and held by the Indians [Native
Americans] could be made only along the course of the St. Peter's River,
(later named the Minnesota River,) or by the Pembina Trail. The Pembina Trail
was the route taken by the Hudson's Bay Company for their convoys of Red River
ox carts from Fort Garry, in the Red River Settlement, which was later to
become Winnipeg in the province of Manitoba.
As mentioned above, Brother Aaron Goodrich was appointed Chief Justice of the
Territorial Court of Minnesota. Our Brother was appointed to the position by
Zachary Taylor, as the 12th President of the United States and, who by the way
was in 1829 the commanding officer at Fort Snelling, in the Territory of
A number of Masons, including our Brother Goodrich, Petitioned the Grand Lodge
of Ohio for a dispensation to form a Lodge in St. Paul. The dispensation,
granted by Most Worshipful Brother Michael Z. Kreider, Grand Master of Masons in
Ohio was dated August 8, 1849. The first meeting of the Lodge in St. Paul U.D.
was held September 8, 1849, and by laws were adopted on October 8, 1849
providing that $20 be charged for the degrees and that the Lodge dues would be
25 cents a month. The Charter for the Lodge in St. Paul U.D. was granted and
dated January 24, 1853. Brother A.T.C. Pierson in a ceremony on February 7th,
acting as Proxy for the Grand Master of Ohio, installed the officers and duly
constituted the Lodge. The Lodge was given the name of St. Paul Lodge #223 on
the rolls of the Grand Lodge of Ohio. "This was [Brother] Pierson's entry into a
life-long service to the Fraternity." 4
On the same evening as the Lodge being constituted Brother Pierson presented his
Petition for affiliation with St. Paul Lodge #223, he was elected to membership
and his membership was confirmed that same evening when he signed the by-laws of
the Lodge. Brother Pierson that same night planted the seed that spouted into
the idea of forming a Grand Lodge in Minnesota. He presented a resolution that
provided that as there was now three constituted Lodges in Minnesota, which was
the minimum number required to form a legal Grand Lodge, that the Masters and
Wardens of these three Lodges be requested to meet on February 23, 1853 for the
purpose of discussing the advisability of forming a Grand Lodge and, if it was
deemed expedient, and in the best interest of the fraternity, to proceed with
On February 23, 1853 there appeared in the Lodge Room of St. Paul Lodge #223
eleven Brothers from the Three Lodges in the Territory of Minnesota for the
purpose to investigate the formation of a Grand Lodge. After a few minor
difficulties the convention was convened by Brother Pierson and, a ballot was
taken electing Brother Alfred E. Ames President of the convention and Brother
Pierson as its Secretary. Brother Ames appointed our Brother Aaron Goodrich
along with two others to write a constitution and present it for ratification
the next day.
Our Brother, Judge Goodrich, sat up that night "by the light of a tallow dip"
and wrote the first Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. It was an
extremely good yet simple document, which contained four articles, nine rules of
order, and three resolutions. It professed obedience to all the Ancient
Landmarks, established laws, usages and customs of the Fraternity.
The following day on February 24, 1853 a Lodge of Master Masons was opened in
due form. Two additional Brothers were present making the lawful representation
of the Lodges complete. The proceedings from the previous day were read and
ratified, the Constitution was read and adopted by sections, and unanimously
ratified as a whole. Brother Aaron Goodrich then offered a resolution that the
Convention proceed with the organization of the Grand Lodge by the election of
Grand Lodge officers for the ensuing year.
Elected were: Alfred E. Ames, Grand Master; Aaron Goodrich, Deputy Grand Master;
Daniel F. Brawley, Senior Grand Warden; Abraham Van Vorhes, Junior Grand Warden.
Then Grand Master Elect Ames announced the following appointments: Emanuel Case,
Grand Treasurer; J. George Lennon, Grand Secretary; D.W.C. Dunwell, Senior Grand
Deacon; David B. Loomis, Junior Grand Deacon; Sylvander Partridge, Grand
Standard Bearer; A.T.C. Pierson, Grand Marshal; Henry N. Setzer, Grand
Pursuivant; J.S. Chamberlain, Grand Chaplain; Lot Moffet, Grand Steward; C.W.W.
Borup, Grand Steward; William Hartshorn, Grand Tyler.
An interesting part of the history of the Minnesota Grand Lodge is that the
Reverend J.S. Chamberlain, who was appointed the Grand Chaplain was not raised a
Master Mason until two days later to qualify him for his Grand Lodge office.
Brother Andrew J. Morgan, of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, duly installed all of the
elected and appointed officers present on February 24, 1853 and the Grand Lodge
of Minnesota was duly constituted.
The new Grand Lodge didn't have an official name. Back in 1849 when the first
Lodge was formed the Brothers in St. Paul called themselves "Ancient York
Masons." Brother, and Judge, Goodrich when he wrote the constitution titled it
"The Constitution of the Grand Lodge of the Territory of Minnesota." In 1853 the
Grand Lodge was incorporated by an act of the Territorial Assembly and, the
title in the articles of incorporation was "The Grand Lodge of Minnesota." Those
titles didn't make any reference to Masonry and thus didn't state what it was
the Grand Lodge of. Other titles were used in early documents of the Grand
Lodge, namely: Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons; Grand Lodge of Ancient
York Masons. However, the charters of the 3 Lodges of the new Grand Lodge,
issued by the Grand Lodge read: "The Most Worshipful Alfred E. Ames Esq., Grand
Master of the Most Honorable Society of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the
Territory of Minnesota." And in the Grand Master's Address at the Grand
Communication in 1854 Grand Master Ames addressed the Grand Lodge as; "The Most
Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Minnesota," And
that became the official name of the Grand Lodge.
Back to our Brother Aaron Goodrich. While he was elected to the office of Deputy
Grand Master, he never became Grand Master. After he left the Bench, he
practiced Law in St. Paul, and as Minnesota became a state in 1858 he was on the
commission to revise the laws and prepare a system of pleading and practice. In
1861 President Lincoln appointed him secretary of the U.S. Legation at Brussels,
Belgium and, he served in that capacity for eight years. Brother Goodrich's
Masonic Career began in Dover Lodge #29 in Dover, Tennessee, and St. Paul Lodge
#223 of the GL of Ohio, which became St. Paul #3 of the Grand Lodge of
Minnesota, being a Past Master of the Lodge in St. Paul, and Deputy Grand master
of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota.5
("Ira furor brevist est.") = "Anger is a short madness." Horace, 65 b.c.e.6
Here is a Masonic Poem I came across that I really like, I think you might like
THE SEA CAPTAIN, by Anonymous
I sailed my ship for many a day / across the stormy sea;
Many a ruffian I have carried / and never refused but three.
They met me on a summer day, / and saw my gallant ship,
And sought a passage to the other side / upon a hurried trip.
They offered all the dough they had, / mixed with a little sass;
That made me kinda hesitate, / and ask them for a pass,
They deemed a pass unnecessary / for men of their degree,
And insisted that I take my ship / and sail it out to sea.
An old man who was standing by, / and noted what they said, saw them kick me in
And strike me on the head, / he heard them say they'd steal a boat,
And put it out to sea, / and sail away to the other side
To some strange countr'ee. / but no! The coward of the bunch -
The one you'd think was brave - / suggested that they turn again
And hide in a mountain cave. / And as the day went slowly by,
I heard the truth in time; / I found that they were murderers,
And guilty of a crime. / So as I sail my sturdy ship,
Until my life has ceased; / I know not whom my friends may be
Unless they've traveled East.7
"The man that lays a hand upon a woman, save in the way of kindness, is a wretch
whom t'wer gross flattery to name a coward." John Tobin 1770 - 1804
"Though a man go out to battle a thousand times against a thousand men, if he
conquers himself he is a great conqueror." Budda
Here is something else from Brother Claudy's Book on the Entered Apprentice
Degree in Introduction to Freemasonry. This is regarding the working tools of
the 24-inch gauge and the common gavel.
"The 24 inch gauge is well explained in the ritual, but the significance of one
point is sometimes overlooked." "There is no time to be wasted. There is no time
to be idle. There is no time for waiting. The implication is plain; the Entered
Apprentice should always be ready to use his tools." "Freemasonry is not only
for the Lodge Room, but for life. Not to take the 24 inch gauge into the world
and by its divisions number the hours for the working of a constructive purpose
is to miss the practical application of Masonic Labor and Masonic Charity."
"The common gavel which "breaks off the corners of rough stones, the better to
fit them for the builders use" joins the Rough and Perfect Ashlars in a hidden
symbol of the order at once beautiful and tender." "In the Great Light we read:
'The kingdom of God is within you." Brother Gutzon Borglum, (who sculpted Mount
Rushmore in South Dakota,) once said, "Images are made by a process of taking
away." "The perfection is already within. All that is required is to remove the
roughness, the excrescences, 'divesting our hearts and consciences of all the
vices and superfluities of life' to show forth the perfect man and Mason
within." "Thus the gavel becomes the symbol of personal power."8
"Most of us would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism." Brother
Norman Vincent Peale.
One final note on Masonic information: Brother Lyndon Baines Johnson, President
of the United States of America from 1963 to 1969 took his Entered Apprentice
Degree on October 30, 1937 in Johnson City Lodge #561 in Johnson City, Texas. He
never took any other degrees of Masonry, so our Brother remained an Entered
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