Most Worshipful Steven G. Swank, Past Grand Master, Grand lecturer emeritus passed away on Wednesday January 15th 2020. Visitation will be from 2 to 6 p.m. Friday January 17th at the Morgan Funeral Home located at 13411 Veterans Memorial Highway Reedsville, West Virginia… Grand Lodge will convene in Preston lodge number 90 Kingwood, West Virginia on Saturday, January 18th at 11 a.m. and funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. at the Morgan Funeral Home in Reidsville. Masonic graveside service will follow the funeral. Refreshments will be served at the Reidsville fire department following the services.
The Masonic Temple currently has elevator problems and repairs will not be complete prior to the scheduled stated session. The stated meeting for the Grand Lodge as well as the school will be held at the Scottish Rite Temple located at 406 Capitol street. Parking is available in the City Parking Building on Summers street (1 Block from the Temple). Times will be the same for the school of instruction as well as the meeting.
On June 8, 2018, Most Worshipful Harry F. Robinson, P.G.M., received his 50 Year Masonic Service Award. Brother Harry is 93 years of age but very enthusiastic. He enjoyed the day very much. Most Worshipful Carl McDaniels, Grand Master, presented the award while Right Worshipful Ralph Pence, Grand Tiler, Deputy Grand Lecturer, Worshipful Master of Clendenin Lodge No. 126, presented his gold card. Also present were: R.W. Dale C. Wanner, Deputy Grand Master; M.W. William R. French, P.G.M., Grand Secretary; M.W. Buddy Vinsion, P.G.M., M.W. Robert G. Slater, P.G.M., Grand Secretary Emeritus; M.W. Charles A. Louk, P.G.M., and M.W. Owen G. Bragg, P.G.M.
Each Mason, in our Grand Jurisdiction, is concerned about the rapid decline in our membership over these many years. We hear these concerns in our conversations both in and out of the Lodge. One of the most telling of these concerns is noted on many of the District Deputy Grand Master reports from practically every Lodge. We see and hear these comments such as, “we need more members”, or “we need better attendance”. Why is it we voice these concerns yet nothing is ever done about it. If you notice a brother not attending, find out why. Visit or call him. Yes, electronic messaging could be used but the personal touch, speaking to him directly, just seems to work better. We cannot wring our hands and worry about our Lodges and expect something to happen, it won’t, unless you make it happen. One cannot expect members to attend when all you do is open, read the minutes and close. A Lodge must have a planned program. Education must be a part of your Lodge meeting agenda. You program must be such that it causes your members to enjoy the meeting and in the process learn something about Masonry they not have know. Make sure your program includes time before and after Lodge for the fellowship we enjoy so much. Each Lodge should appoint several brothers to meet and determine the Lodge needs. They should list the needs and select those that would be most effective and recommend them to the Worshipful Master and to the Lodge, with a path to make them work. Then again, don’t wait to be appointed. Ask the Worshipful Master if you can help. Every Mason in every Lodge has the responsibility to help his Lodge grow and prosper.
TELL ME AND I FORGET
TEACH ME AND I MAY REMEMBER
INVOLVE ME AND I MAY LEARN
Brother Benjamin Franklin
THOUGHT: The past cannot be changed but – the future is in our grasp.
William R. French
-No strangers here, just friends you have not yet met.
-Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when we have trouble remembering how to fly.
-Memories give us snow in July and roses in December.
-Learning is not knowing the what but understanding the why.
-Our limitations are only in our minds.
-People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
-Not only did we take an obligation but we have an obligation to preserve this great organization as our forefathers intended and not to bow to the whim’s of a few misguide would-be- experts who try to make changes without guidance.
-I love to hear someone point out the faults of Masonry, we are in the presence of a mastermind. Generations of philosophers have made Masonry what it is today. When a Brother can plalnly see all it’s faults; he is greater than all of these.
-Place your hand in a bucket of water the take your hand out — the hole you leave will show how much you will be missed.
-May the fleas of a thousand camels infest the person who screws up your day and may their arms be too short to scratch. (not Masonic, but good) Brethren, some of these are light in nature, while others we should remember often.
I challenge you to think about what it will take to improve your lodge.
When you have several things you want to do, then challenge your members to help make it happen.
THINK about the FUTURE of your LODGE.
William R. French PGM
Have you ever wondered what keeps a hot air balloon flying? The same principle that keeps frozen food in the open chest freezers at the grocery store allows hot balloons to fly. It is a very basic principle: hot air rises and cold air sinks. So while the super-cooled air in your grocer’s freezers settles down around the food, the hot air in a hot air balloon pushes up, keeping the balloon floating.
There are three major components of a hot air balloon: the envelope, the burner, and the basket. The basket is where the passengers ride.
- The burner is positioned above the passenger’s heads and produces a huge flame to heat the air inside the envelope.
- The envelope is the colorful fabric bag that holds the hot air. When the air inside the envelope is heated the balloon rises.
- Now, what does this have in common with Freemasonry? Let us make some comparisons.
Like the envelope, Masonic information is stored in our memories, and when we need information on a certain subject, we “turn up the flame” and extract what we need.
In order to keep the balloon in the air, hot air is needed. It is the driving force.
In Masonry, strong leaders keep the Lodge operating, and are its driving force. As we need to rise to certain challenges, we need to increase the heat in our memories to make the right decision.
The basket in Freemasonry is the area where the officers await their turn to step up to the next position. It is an area where they can contemplate their plans and execute their designs.
To descend the balloon, the pilot allows the air to cool, and the balloon becomes heavier than the air. The pilot has complete control of the up and down movements by controlling the heat in the envelope. So is the case with the Master of a Lodge. He controls the up and down attitude of his Lodge.
Once airborne, balloons just float with the wind. It is true that the pilot does not know where the balloon will land ahead of time, but that does not mean he cannot control the landing.
In Freemasonry, the Master of a Lodge, in many cases, just let their Lodge “float with the wind.” The difference is, a Master CAN CONTROL THE DIRECTION OF HIS LODGE, thereby controlling where it will land.
Before the balloon is launched, the pilot knows which way the wind is blowing so he knows which way the balloon will go. The air is in layers, and the different layers may be moving in different directions. Although the pilot cannot steer the balloon, he can move up and down to find a layer that will allow the balloon to change direction.
In Freemasonry, a Master has the same options as the pilot of a balloon. If a situation arises and a solution is needed, the Master can find that “layer of air” which will allow him to change direction and find the solution.
Before the balloon takes off, many things have to be done. This takes a team of individuals working together for the same purpose. In Freemasonry, every task has to be done by teamwork, from the operation of the Lodge to maintaining the premises.
After the balloon lands, the crew packs the balloon back into the chase vehicle and everyone returns to the launch site.
Therefore, it is with Freemasonry. After the meeting is over, implements are stored away and we leave for our respective destinations. It is then we remember, that our balloon is our Lodge, and our memories of a great “hot air balloon” ride is the true desire to return repeatedly, to enjoy, for however a brief period, the camaraderie and Brotherly Love that also “floats” within our Grand Fraternity.
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
By: S.K Baril PM and Dan Keith PM
The following story was told by the late Jack McGinnis, Past Master and former Secretary of Minerva Lodge No.13 located in Barboursville, West Virginia. Jack related this story during a visit to Western Star Lodge #11 in early 1995. Some of the details of this account have been historically verified, while some cannot. Jack’s intent was to demonstrate the historically strong bond between the two Lodges. To this day, they still refer to each other as “sister” lodges. This is a story which demonstrates (then and now) the bond of brotherhood and friendship which defines Freemasonry.
Likely, to quell Confederate sympathies in the area; the 9th West Virginia Infantry Regiment established a Union recruiting office and training camp at Guyandotte, West Virginia in October of 1861. The Union recruiting office was in a building on Main Street across from the existing V.F.W. building. On November 10, 1861 a combined force of Confederate Cavalry and local confederate militia (called Border Rangers) led by Col. John Clarkson and Cabell County native Col Albert Jenkins, surrounded the town of Guyandotte and attacked this camp. During the battle, 10 Union and 3 Confederate soldiers were killed. A total of 98 Union troops and Civilian Union collaborators were arrested and eventually marched to imprisonment in Richmond, Virginia.
One of those who died in the battle was identified as a Mason. The members of Western Star Lodge (then chartered by the Common Wealth of Virginia Grand Lodge as Western Star Lodge #110) had much influence in the community and decided to perform Masonic Rites. However, the Worshipful Master of the Lodge, Henry Carter, was away in service due to the war. The Master of Minerva Lodge No. 57, in Barboursville, West Virginia, agreed to conduct the services.
The brother’s body was taken to a funeral home in Barboursville where it was quickly prepared in the usual fashion. The body was then transported on a river barge, down the Guyandotte River to Western Star Lodge, which at that time, was located near Water Street and 6th Avenue along the Guyandotte River. Freemasons from Minerva Lodge as well as both Confederate forces and Union prisoners, and a few citizens of Guyandotte entered the building where they conducted “a lodge of sorrow” led by the Worshipful Master of Minerva Lodge.
The Masonic record is not clear, so while it is not known for certain, it is believed the assembly then proceeded to the most likely place of internment, the cemetery located just a block and a half away, on 5th Avenue between Water Street and Main Street in Guyandotte. There the assembly conducted grave side rites and retired.
There are 31 markers in the cemetery most of which are weathered and worn to the point of being illegible. It is also likely that several graves lay unmarked, the stones having been broken, removed or buried in the more than 150 years since. No map of the cemetery exists therefore it is impossible to say where this Masonic Brother is buried.
On the following day, most of the Confederate forces (led by Col Jenkins) left Guyandotte with prisoners in tow, inroute to Richmond, Virginia. Some of the 130-150 Union soldiers and recruits managed to escape the initial attack and made their way to a Union encampment at town of Ceredo, down the Ohio River Just West of Guyandotte.
Having been advised of what was described to them as a “massacre”, Members of the 5th West Virginia Infantry Regiment marched from Ceredo toward Guyandotte.
A large number of Union troops boarded a steamer, which travelled up the Ohio River to the mouth of the Guyandotte River, where they fired their rifles and a small deck gun at Confederate forces. However, realizing they did not have the strength of numbers, these troops withdrew and crossed to the Ohio side of the Ohio River, where they assembled additional reinforcements from a local Ohio militia. These soldiers and militia, together with the main body of troops advancing from Ceredo attacked and entered Guyandotte, driving out the remaining Confederate forces.
Almost immediately, the Union troops began to set fire to the town. Virtually the entire business district of downtown and most of the homes on the Western side of Guyandotte were set ablaze and burned to the ground. A few homes were spared and still stand today. The Masonic Temple of Western Star Lodge was also set ablaze. One of the Union Soldiers was himself a freemason. This soldier rushed into the masonic temple while his companions were moving about setting the building afire. This soldier, being a Mason, knew the importance of certain items and could remove the Jewels, Virginia Charter and a minute’s book before the building was consumed.
Although this soldier’s identity is unknown, it is known that he found a local farmer to whom he entrusted these precious items. Some years after the war, this masonic soldier returned to Guyandotte and sought out members of Western Star Lodge which now held its meetings in a room above a drug store in Guyandotte. This soldier did not recall the name of the farmer or know where he lived, but was able to describe him to the assembled members. Piecing together his identity they proceeded towards the Lesage area which is on the Ohio River North of Guyandotte, where they were able to locate the jewels, Charter and, Minutes restoring them to Western Star Lodge.
The identity of the farmer and location of his farm have been lost to the fog of history. What is known today is that the story has been repeated many times down through the years. The Lodge Jewels, original Virginia Charter and minutes were kept in the loft of a barn for several years during and after the war. Although “outside” the barn protected these items from the elements and allowed them to be preserved until they were finally recovered.
Although the Lodge is now chartered by the Grand Lodge of West Virginia as “Western Star Lodge No.11, the recovery of Its original Virginia Charter, jewels and minutes obviously meant a great deal to the grateful brothers of this Lodge. To this day, those jewels, the original Virginia Charter and the recovered Minute book are safely housed inside a glass case where they are displayed just outside the lodge room within the present Masonic Temple now located at 222 Richmond Street in Guyandotte, West Virginia.
At the conclusion of dinner on “Past Master’s Night”, the Lodge proudly points out the saved Jewels Charter and Minutes to visitors. The members of Western Star No.11 then recount the story of how they were saved and use the occasion to impress on their visitors the strong bond that exists in Freemasonry.
-Charles E. Kingery; WM, Western Star #11
April 5, 2017.